Handmade gifts can be more fun, more personal, and sometimes more inexpensive than store bought gifts. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing!!
Fresh pasta, whether given as a hostess gift or placed under the tree for family and friends, can be a wonderful present for anyone on your list. Simply fill a treat box or cellophane bag with dried homemade pasta, tie with a decorative ribbon, attach a gift card, and voila! A homemade holiday gift no one will be able to resist.
Put a pretty, personalized spin on a gift of assorted teas. Make sachets to fill with a mix of favorite loose teas (or create custom blends from dried herbs and edible flowers, such as mint and hibiscus). Add tags, and place in a gift box. Tools and Materials
Cheesecloth, cut into
Craft punches in different shapes
Card stock, plain or patterned
Hole punch or screw punch
Craft glue Make the Tea Bags
1. Choose loose teas, and create desired blends. Place 2 tablespoons toward top edge of a cheesecloth square. 2. Roll up cheesecloth. Gather ends of bundle to create a pouch, and tie closed with cotton string. Repeat to create more tea bags. 3. Make a tag for each flavor using craft punches and card stock. Punch a hole in the center of each tag. Thread tea-bag strings through each tag, and knot. Source: Craft punches and screw punch available at Martha Stewart Crafts at Michaels. Make the Gift Box
1. Cut 2 rectangles from card stock to fit inside top and bottom of gift box. Snip corners to create flaps. Glue bottom rectangle inside box. 2. Use craft punches and card stock to cut out more tags. Glue tags to top card-stock rectangle, and label. Glue to inside lid of box.
Homemade marshmallows floating in mugs of hot cocoa are joyful signs of the season. The marshmallows' geometric patterns are easily formed with snowflake-shape cookie cutters. Place a bunch in a clear gift box lined with glassine, and attach a recipe for hot chocolate. Enlarge or reduce the clip art label; cut out. Stick one to each box with double-sided tape.
Cherished photos, essays, and even a child's drawings can be hand-bound into a book your recipient will cherish forever. Follow these simple instructions to bind your own professional-looking book at home.
Tools and MaterialsSheets of paper for binding into a book
StudioTac double-sided adhesive
Heavyweight papers for end pages
Binder's board (acid-free)
Iron-on transfer paper (optional)
Binding a Book How-To1. Collect all the sheets of paper you wish to bind into a book. Fold each sheet in half, with the image or text on the inside, using a bone folder.
2. Start with the folded sheet that you intend to have as your first and second pages. Place double-sided adhesive on the half of the folded paper that is the back of the second page. Burnish with the bone folder, remove protective backing and place the next folded page over it, lining up the folds and the edges; burnish to secure. Repeat to create the rest of the pages.
Note: If you are creating a blank book, or the pages are printed double-sided, you do not need to adhere the pages to each other. Arrange the folded pages in order and allow the loose pages to fall, folded-edge-down, onto a flat surface to make sure all pages are aligned at the spine. Then, continue with step 3.
3. Fold the two sheets of paper that you are using for the end pages in half. Use double sided adhesive to add these to the top and bottom of the stack of adhered sheets.
4. Place the stack of folded pages on edge of table, hanging off a quarter inch. Place several heavy books on top. Brush five coats of Jade glue onto the spine, allowing to dry for 10-15 minutes between coats.
5. Add headband tape to both ends of spine.
6. Trim the edge of the pages with a craft knife, if necessary. Place pages onto binder's board and trace around them. Add a quarter inch to the height of the tracing. Cut out two of these rectangles from the binder's board with a craft knife to make a front and back cover.
7. Cut a spine from the binder's board that is the same height as the two covers and a width that is equal to the thickness of the pages plus the two covers when placed together.
8. Place covers and spine on canvas, leaving a quarter-inch between the covers and the spine. Trace around each cover and the spine with a pencil, making a template for gluing everything down. Cut the canvas 1 inch around entire layout. Cut an ellipse out of each corner.
9. Brush glue onto one binder's board cover, being sure to cover the whole surface to avoid air bubbles. Glue the cover in place on the canvas. Flip the canvas over and burnish with a bone folder to remove air bubbles. Repeat for the second cover and spine.
10. Once the covers and spine are glued and burnished, brush a layer of glue along the extra inch of canvas on one of the sides. Fold canvas over to inside of cover and burnish to secure. Repeat for all sides, paying close attention to corners to be sure they are tucked in correctly. Once all sides are glued, do a final burnish all around with the bone folder.
11. Iron an image onto the front of the finished book, if desired.
12. Place book pages within the covers. Place a piece of scrap within the folded end pages on one side. Brush glue onto the back of the end page (the one that is facing up when all the pages are closed), being sure to cover the whole surface. Carefully close the cover onto the page with glue. Press down. Flip book over, open to the page you have glued, and burnish the page onto the cover. Repeat to attach the other end page to the other cover.
13. Place scrap paper within the front and back covers, and place several heavy books on top of the book. Let dry for an hour.
Traditional fudge recipes require a candy thermometer and a fair amount of precision to get the texture just right; this streamlined recipe is simple enough for children to make (with supervision, of course) and relies on the addition of mini marshmallows for silkiness.
Makes 24 two-inch pieces
Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
3 cups semisweet or white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy
Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with two sheets of waxed or parchment paper in a crisscross manner (one lengthwise, one crosswise) so ends overhang sides of pan; coat evenly with cooking spray.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, cook sugar, salt, butter, cream, and marshmallows, stirring, until butter and marshmallows are almost melted, 5 to 6 minutes.
Bring mixture to a boil; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add chips and vanilla; stir until chips are melted. Pour mixture into lined pan.
Let fudge cool in the pan at room temperature, 3 hours. Use edges of paper to lift out fudge; place on cutting board, and remove paper. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters, or cut fudge into bars. Sprinkle evenly with crushed candy. Fudge can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.
Crisp anise cookies become even more memorable when they're presented in small compotes, wrapped in sparkling cellophane, and adorned with red ribbons.
The cookies can be wrapped in cellophane and then tucked into the compote (shown here on the left), or the entire compote can be wrapped (shown here on the right side of the photo). Instructions for both variations follow.
Option 1 (wrapped in cellophane): Fill a compote or decorative dish with red shredded paper or Easter grass, and top with a small mound of cookies. Top with a sheet of cellophane, and invert. Remove dish, and trim cellophane to cover bottom of shredded paper, allowing edges to overlap. Seal with tape. Invert again, and place wrapped cookies and paper in dish. Wrap a length of satin ribbon around dish and cookies, taping ends of ribbon to bottom of dish. Tie several lengths of bakers' twine around ribbon, and attach a gift tag.
Option 2 (wrapped compote): Fill a compote or decorative dish with red shredded paper or Easter grass, and top with a small mound of cookies. Wrap a sheet of cellophane around dish and cookies, taping cellophane to bottom of dish and leaving sides open. From a sheet of red glassine, cut a 1-inch-wide length for ribbon. Write a name or greeting on ribbon with a white-gel pen. Place across top of dish. At rim of dish, gather cellophane and ribbon on each side, and tie with silver cord. Trim cellophane, and notch ribbon ends.
Spice up a gift of coffee by creating a distinctive flavor. Mix one or two teaspoons of cinnamon or nutmeg into a pound of freshly ground coffee beans; or scrape the seeds from four vanilla beans with a paring knife, and add them to a pound of coffee. For the best flavor, use a medium-bodied coffee, such as one from Kenya or Colombia. Scoop into a coffee bag with a coated lining, available at kitchen-supply stores. Finish with a ribbon and a decorative sticker. Download our sticker template.
The shimmering magic of snowfall is always transfixing, whether it's outside your window or inside this classic toy. Homemade globes let you create a wintry scene straight out of your own imagination.
Almost any jar works for this project: Baby-food, pimiento, and olive jars are good choices. Look for plastic or ceramic figurines (metal ones are prone to rust) at flea markets and hobby or model-railroad shops. Synthetic evergreen tips are available at many floral-supply stores. You will also need oil-based enamel paint, sandpaper, epoxy, distilled water, glitter, and glycerin (available at drugstores).
If the jar lids are not in seasonal colors already, paint them with oil-based enamel paint. Sand the inside of the lid until the surface is rough. With clear-drying epoxy, adhere the figurine to the inside of the lid, and let the epoxy dry.
Fill the jar almost to the top with distilled water; add a pinch of glitter and a dash of glycerin to keep the glitter from falling too quickly. Don't add too much, or the glitter will stick to the bottom of the jar when it's flipped. Screw on the lid tightly, being careful not to dislodge the figurine. Turn the jar over and back again -- and let it snow.