Thursday, December 18, 2014

7 Free last-minute holiday gifts & Crafts

Citrus and apples are in season, of course I have been buying them every week.

Instead of discarding orange peels, I have been drying them for POTPOURRI. I hate the holidays, but I always try to make crafts (free gifts) for family members since they give me gifts. Normally I eat the peels of apples, but I'm going to start saving them to dry and add to the containers of potpourri. Actually the jars I'm using were found from the woods.
This last week I've been eating Mint and vanilla bean in my smoothies, so I've saved the stems of Mint and pod of vanilla for making potpourri. I have a variety of scents I'm going for, so one of the jars will contain Orange peels, mint, and vanilla pod. Then another will have Orange peels, apple peels, and cinnamon sticks.
For a fresh Pine smell, I go to my Pine trees to pick off needles and pine cones. A different jar will contain bits of Pine cones, pine needles, and other earthy or woody materials. For example, I just-so-happened to have a piece of cedar, so James shaved curly pieces of cedar to add to the jar of Pine cones/needles.
I have a Maple tree dropping limbs, so I collect the twigs of Maple--which have small red buds during the winter. With the Maple twigs, Pine cones, pine needles, cedar shavings collected in a jar, it embodies or captures the essence of Fall and winter.
Instead of putting a lid on the jars, I have taken a piece of fabric to cover the top of the lid, then placed a rubber band around the top to hold fabric in place.

Here are some of the combinations you can work with:
Jar #1: Pine cones, pine needles, cedar shavings, maple buds, Sumac seed pods, and various Fall & winter fragrances/materials.
Jar #2: Orange peels, dried mint and other herbs, vanilla bean pods.
Jar #3: Orange peels, apple peels, cinnamon sticks, and other spices.
Jar #4: Special rocks you have found.
Jars of potpourri

Pine cones, pine needles, cedar shavings, Sumac seed pods, and maple buds

All jars seen in the photos were found in the woods. So all the materials except the fabric were "free". The other jars I found in the woods--extra small or extra large bottles--were used for a different project. Instead, I painted one bright yellow with red and orange squares around the base and neck of the jar. This jar is used for a lantern. I may not give this away as a gift.

I painted another jar with flowers and bees. As mentioned, you can make a jar filled with "special rocks" which I may do for this particular jar, seen below.

Instead of using the jars for painting and potpourri, you could make Homemade bath soaps and scrubs, or bath salts as well. One Foot Scrub (or facial scrub) I would make would be using Brown Sugar, Lemon Juice, Aloe Vera, Coconut oil. Then put mixture in a jar.
A dried toothpaste to package would be a mixture of baking soda and cinnamon.
An Oatmeal Bath could include a Jar of Rolled oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.

Another idea is to make a Paper sack basket, which you can find tutorials on youtube. In fact you could make a basket out of newspaper even and fill it with your homemade Soaps and scrubs, or other hand crafted items.

Other gifts I created were painting rocks. One rock was painted with my dad and his wife's name with flowers and bees. A smooth and small rock was painted with a cat's face. I really enjoy looking at others' rock painting creations, so I have posted a few pictures of other people's creations including my own.
If you intend to place these rocks outside, I recommend using Outdoor Spray paint with primer and Acrylic clear coat spray. 

Of course a painting on canvas is highly respected and valued. I give a way a couple of paintings every year. So far I've made a painting of yellow flowers (Tickseed Sunflowers) seen below. I will give this to one of my Grandmothers. I made her a small painting last year of a tiny bird, which you can see here: December 2013 Painting of Bird.

painting gift

Another great gift is to give someone a House plant or fruiting tree. I grow about five Aloe Vera plants in my house, so the "pups" or Aloe babies can be transplanted into a small container and given as a gift.

Aloe pup as gift
These creations can be given as birthday presents or a sign of gratitude. Creating your own gifts shows thought and dedication while a card or something you purchased may seem thoughtless. Plus,  I hate the idea of supporting corporations to give a gift that represents American consumerism based around a Pagan holiday turned religious. Muhaha!

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