Because I don't keep a lot of unnecessaries around the house, for me that meant making a lot of stuff.
Little creations that I was dyeing to share and simply couldn't wait to give!
This year turned me into a huge fan of this kind of christmas.
I felt like for every person I invested so much more thought and time towards them.
For my sisters it was necklaces crafted from beads & ribbon already on hand, and wrapped up in boxes left over from these neighbor gifts a couple years ago.
I might have been tempted to keep a couple of these myself.
And they were a really fantastic way to use up a whole bunch of beads I keep thinking I'll find a use for.
Now I have!
We made vanilla extract (using a tutorial similar to this) in these stout little ginger ale bottles we saved and just spray painted the lids gold and added a little tag to fancy them up a bit.
The green bottle wasn't just cute but worked completely in our favor because, just like balsamic vinegar and wine, light is no friend to vanilla. (although we chanced it and filled a couple larger clear bottles as well) We dressed these little guys in some old sweaters & ribbon and voila!
This was definitely our most expensive undertaking, and yet still saved us mucho dinero!
A similar concentration sells for $19 a bottle here, for a bottle about 1/2 the size.
Here's our breakdown:
bottles - $0 (leftover ginger ale bottles
spray paint - $0 (already had)
vanilla beans - $15 (from local distributer)
vodka - $20
tags - $0 (printed on brown card stock scraps)
sweaters, ribbon, & tags - $0 (already had)
Total - $35
Total per bottle - $3.88
For the kidlets: magnetic paper dolls, a fort kit, and a little white knitted infinity scarf.
Paper dolls were quite possibly my favorite childhood toy growing up.
I can still remember vividly a pair of paper doll books I got one year for Christmas.
I remember their hair, and their dresses, and their accessories, and the myriad of stories I would tell myself about each of them. And so making these little kits for my nieces wasn't just fun, but was a distraction that kept me entertained and far away from other more adult pursuits for hours.
I printed these out at home onto magnet paper from here, housed them in some metal DVD cases, slapped a cover on them with the name of each doll, and called it a day!
These were actually pretty time consuming, but I made ryan contribute by doing most of the cutting, so that helped. Also, I think paper dolls of this magnitude are totally worth it. I'm so in love with them I almost made extra just for
Magnet paper - $10
DVD cases - $6 (including shipping)
paper for the cover - $0 (leftover scraps)
Total - $16
Total per kit - $4
Ah, the fort kit.
This may have been better in theory than in practice.
Or maybe I got the age appropriateness wrong.
Nonetheless, it was cheap.
I sewed the bag using two old pillowcases (one for the b) and used some of the rope included inside for the drawstring. The only cost here was $1 for rope and $1 for the flashlight, which may have been the redeeming quality in all this, because that Benj LOVED!
And the gifts I didn't photograph: Herb, citrus, & cinnamon filled fire starters wrapped in newspaper & twine for my wood-fire loving parents. Orange milk chocolate cookies and salted caramel sauce for our delightful neighbors & friends. Sugar cookies with gold & silver sparkles for our primary kids and other miscellaneous and anonymous giving.
No doubt about it, it is a lot of time & work doing Christmas this way! But I also felt so connected to those I was giving too. It's the same way my dad's parents always did christmas, everything was always built, and baked, and sewed, and made. It was that way with all their kids, and that way for all their grandkids. And those handmade gifts were always so treasured. I think it's a valuable part of giving, to place a portion of yourself into a gift.
So it may not be everything homemade every year, but it will always be something homemade. Maybe its pure selfishness, but I just like way too much the way it makes me feel!