gift ideas for co-workers

  • DIY Snowy Ball Ornaments

    snowy ballNobody here in the upper Midwest has spoken the "S" word yet, but we all know that these beautiful autumn days are numbered. Despite our best attempts to bribe the gods, winter will come, the snow "S" will fly and we will do what we hearty Minnesotans do in these situations: embrace it complain. I moved here from Washington state 10 years ago, and have never stopped being amazed at how long a Minnesotan can discuss the weather when they don't like it, lol. So it is with great hesitation that I show you this very doable, fun DIY project today. But, never mind the naysayers, here we go!

    This project has been posted on Pinterest from several different people, but I think the idea may have originated with the ever lovely Martha Stewart. I love the look of these, they look so lacey and sparkly, and the fact that it uses common crafting supplies is a big bonus in my book.

    So, let's get started. The gist of this project is that the snowy ball is made out of string that is wrapped around a small water balloon and then dipped in watered down glue. A wise suggestion would be to make just a couple of these to see how it goes before delving into the 100 that you will undoubtedly want once you see them. Okay, slight exaggeration, but maybe not. I love the idea of giving these as gifts to coworkers, extended family, girlfriends, etc. It is a small, thoughtful and very creative gift that anyone would love to receive. That said, there's also nothing wrong with  making these for ourselves, right?

    SUPPLIES

    • small package of water balloons
    • tacky glue
    • plain white string
    • glitter
    • ornament hooks
    • water
    1. Blow up your balloons so they're about 2" in diameter and tie a knot.
    2. Without cutting a piece of string off the roll, attach the end to the knot on the balloon.
    3. Then randomly wrap the string around your colorful little sphere. Isn't this fun?!
    4. Squeeze some tacky glue into a 4" bowl and add some water so it's pretty runny.
    5. Roll your string-wrapped balloons around in the glue until all the string has been coated.
    6. Sprinkle on glitter to your hearts content.
    7. Attach a twist tie to the end of the balloon and twist the end closed to form a small loop.
    8. Using a small piece of string, hang the twist tie loop on your shower curtain rod.
    9. After 48 hours, pop the balloon using a pair of tweezers, and remove the balloon.
    10. Wrap it up in a pretty box or hang on the tree!

    Project credit

  • DIY Sugar Cubes

    diy sugar cubes

     

    We were talking yesterday about fancy teacups, and so today I thought I'd jump off that topic and delve a little deeper into the cup. Yesterday we made really easy candles in our sweet little cups from the thrift store, but today we're actually thinking about and planning for a tea party!

    Plain ol' sugar just won't do with such precious cups, so we're going to get creative and make our own cute sugar cubes. Can you even believe how adorable these are?! And, as always, easy. I do easy well. :)

     

    Here's what you'll need to gather (and it's not much!):

    • granulated white and/or brown sugar
    • water
    • bowl
    • teaspoon
    • candy molds

    Step 1:  Pour about 1/2 cup of sugar into a bowl. Using a teaspoon, pour smal amounts of water on the sugar, little by little mixing until you have a paste-like consistency. Make sure the sugar doesn't melt!

    Step 2:  Fill the candy molds about halfway full with the sugary paste, pressing firmly into the mold. Let it dry overnight and carefully remove the adorable lumps.

    Step 3:  Pick up little cellophane bags at the craft store and tie closed with a ribbon to give as a Christmas gift.

     

    Recipe adapted

  • Tea Cup Candles

    tea cupI was shopping at Pier 1 the other day and couldn't get over how just walking close to the area where the candles are displayed gave me a strong whiff of those fabulous scents! I think they had an entire wall dedicated to candles, it's one of those home items that have been popular for a very long time. Today's craft idea takes advantage of the universal love of candles and combines it with a charming holder: the tea cup.

    This tea cup belonged to my mother, and when I saw it I instantly fell in love with it. It is so very delicate, the rim so thin, and it's yellow. Yellow is my favorite color, plus there are daisies! I carried a bouquet of daisies at my wedding! I was thrilled when she passed this cup and a matching saucer down to me.

    For today's gift idea, you don't need to use a family heirloom tho! Thrift stores have bunches of these fancy, sweet tea cups, usually without the saucer and that suits our project today just fine. They are almost always just a buck or two also, so super affordable. Even if you aren't making these lovely candles, pick up a bunch of those for an eclectic tea party for your girlfriends. :)

    For the candles, here's what you'll need to have on hand:

    • double boiler pan
    • partially burnt candles
    • candle (0r candy) thermometer
    • tongs
    • new wicking
    • teacups
    • wick sustainers
    • wooden skewers

    teacup candle1.  In a double boiler pan, melt down old candles. Clip your thermometer to the upper pot where the wax is, and keep the temp around 185 degrees. As the candles melt, use your tongs to remove the old wicks.

    2.  Cut a piece of wicking that measures the height of the cup plus 2". Attach one end to a wick sustainer and tie the other around a wooden skewer as shown in the photo to the right. Dip the wicking and sustainer into melted wax just to coat them, then adhere the sustainer to the bottom of the cup.

    3.  Pour in the melted wax to within 1/2" from the top of the cup. Allow to set for about an hour. Then, using another wooden skewer, prick a circle of holes around the wick. Pour in more melted wax to within 1/4" from the rim. Cut wick.

    These adorable, sweet gifts are perfect for girlfriends, daughters, grand-daughters and moms.....basically any female will love them, especially since you made them yourself.

     

    Photo courtesy

  • Upcycling Canning Jars

    votive candle holderHave you ever walked around Michael's or Blick's or any other craft supply store and had your imagination run wild with ideas?! Before I was really into hand-crafting, I'd visit there with a coworker on lunch break, and just be sort of lost, wondering what on earth a person would do with all these little things. It only took a couple of browsing sessions through Pinterest or decorating magazines, however, to get the creative juices flowing, and now I am hooked!

    Today's Christmas gift idea uses the simplest of materials and yet delivers really big. The light that flows out through the cuts in the jar as well as the gems, the way they dance as the tealight candle flickers inside, it is delightful! Here's what you'll need:

    • Pint size canning jars or wide-mouthed vase
    • Hot glued gems (available at the craft store for $2)
    • Tea light candles
    • Glue gun

    Using your glue gun, attached the gems to the outside of the jar, and place a tea light candle inside. If you want to deck it out just a little more, add a ribbon to the threaded area of the jar, but I really love the rustic yet gorgeous appearance of the bare top.

    These make really nice hostess gifts around the holidays or any other time for that matter. Choose gem colors that fit the occasion, and these are just so simple and fun that you could probably do one up quickly before you leave the house. Do you have a friend or two who are really into candles and how the light dances through the candle receptacle? These would make a great gift item.

    I adore ideas like this, and hope you do too!

     

    Photo courtesy

     

  • A Gift That Keeps on Giving

    festive pomandersMy mother told me about a little cooking trick that she used for our evening meal. My father often came home very hungry and tired, and if dinner wasn’t ready or at least filling the kitchen with wonderful aroma’s when he arrived, he would grab the peanut butter and saltines and snack. So, the trick was to chop up an onion, put a little oil in the skillet and sauté the onions. Worked every time to make my father just a bit more patient for dinner!

    We all love to walk into someone’s home, and especially our own, and smell something wonderful….fresh baked cookies, bread coming out of the oven, etc. Today’s craft is just one more aromatic you can add to your repertoire….the Festive Pomander. Here’s what you’ll need to pull this one off:

    • thin-skinned oranges
    • ribbon, ¼” wide in 1 yard strips
    • straight pins
    • scissors
    • large paper clip
    • cloves

    If you’ve been reading this blog long enough you know I’m not going to suggest any craft or recipe that is complicated. Well, at least not very often. This craft is like so many others that I share….easy! This one is so easy that it has been used as a craft for grade school children. I think we can do this one with no problem.

    1. Put your orange on top of a strip of ribbon, and pull the ribbon up along the sides.
    2. When you get to the top, cross and turn them, then pull the ribbon back down to form quadrants. Secure the ribbon with straight pins to keep it in place.
    3. Tie the ends of the ribbon in a knot, then a bow, and trim ends to desired length.
    4. Next, take the end of the paper clip and punch small holes into the orange skin about 1/8” apart along both edges of the ribbon, one side at a time.
    5. Working quickly so that the holes don’t close back up, push cloves into the holes. Repeat along all the edges of the ribbon.
    6. Remove the straight pins, and you’re done!

    These make lovely hostess gifts around the holidays, and smell so darn good!

     

    Photo courtesy

  • Better Than Nutella?

    nutellaI remember the first time I tasted Nutella. My step daughter brought it over, and I thought it had a weird name and at the time I wasn't very adventurous with food. I almost didn't try it, can you imagine?! But just one lick, and I was hooked.

    And, apparently I'm not alone, because back in 2007, February 5 was chosen as World Nutella Day! A couple of fans decided that just enjoying it in the privacy of their own homes was simply not enough. They reasoned that any food that has the capacity to create childhood memories that last for a lifetime should have it's own day, no?  Not sponsored by Nutella, these fans stepped up and created a day set aside to celebrate, to get creative with, and most importantly, to EAT Nutella. Sounds good to me!

    Imagine what a homemade version of Nutella would do for your awesome factor with  friends and family. You don't have to tell them how easy it was either....they will think you are pure genius when they taste it. Who knows, maybe you could even give Nutella a run for their money.

    You'll need:

    • 1 cup hazelnuts
    • 4 teaspoons coconut oil
    • 6 ounces 65% dark chocolate, melted
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    1. Dump your hazelnuts onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and roast in a 350* oven for about 10 minutes.
    2. Let the nuts cool, then wrap them in a dish towel and shake to remove the skins.
    3. Next, put the nuts in your food processor and process until smooth.
    4. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until you have a nice smooth butter.
    5. Jar it up, and store in the fridge until you're ready to give it away (unless you eat it first, which is likely to happen so you may as well just make a double batch). It'll keep for a good month if you manage to resist.

    I dare you to try this.

     

    Recipe adaptation

     

  • Peach Freezer Jam

    Is anyone else's garden going absolutely nuts about now? We've got an abundance of fresh food that we're gobbling up, but it's just too much for the two of us. So, we've been sharing some of it with coworkers and friends. This must be a common "problem" because, just yesterday, one of my husband's coworkers gave him a jar of Raspberry Refrigerator Jam that his wife had made, saying "take these to work and give them away, there are just too many for us!" Looking forward to cracking that jar open.

    This, of course, got me thinking about my favorite fruit of all time, the Georgia Peach. Is there anything better than a ripe, juicy peach, you know the kind that drips down your chin when you bite into it?  Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about.

    So, let's buy extra at the market and whip up some super easy Peach Freezer Jam to give away during the holidays. It'll keep in the freezer for up to a year, and in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Here's what you'll need to fill 7 pint jars:

    • 14 large, ripe peaches
    • 10 cups of super fine sugar
    • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 2 packages of Certo (pectin)
    • 1 1/2 cups water

    Did I mention this is an EASY recipe? Here's what you do:

    1. Peel, cut and mash peaches, leaving some texture.
    2. Add sugar, stir and let sit for 10 minutes.
    3. Combine both packages of Certo with the water, and bring to a boil.
    4. Boil for 1 minute until the Certo is completely dissolved.
    5. Add the prepared Certo and the lemon juice to the peaches and stir for 3 minutes.
    6. Pour into prepared pint size jars and cover with lids.
    7. Let the jam sit at room temperature for 24 hours until set, then freeze.
    8. DONE!

    These make perfect hostess gifts, and I bet your neighbors, coworkers, and family members won't turn them down either. Really, who wouldn't love a jar of Peach Jam any day of the year?

    Merry jam making!

     

    Recipe adapted from

     

  • Top 5 Gift Ideas Under $20 for EVERYONE!

    Times are rough, but that should stop you from buying your friends, family and loved ones great Christmas gifts. MerryStockings.com suggests these gifts under $20!

    1. Personalized Christmas Stockings. We all know just how great it feels to get personalized Christmas stockings that we can decorate with all around the house, so why not give it to your friends and help them start a tradition?

    We recommend four designs:
    Felt Applique Christmas Stocking Kit: Sequined Santa
    Felt Applique Christmas Stocking Kit: Toboggan Trio Stocking
    Felt Applique Christmas Stocking Kit: Winter Snooze
    Felt Applique Christmas Stocking Kit: Peace Santa

    2. Spiderpodium. Almost every one has an iPod, iPhone, e-book reader and a host of different gadgets, but there is no single way to hold or store them on their desk, in their car, or everywhere else. The Spiderpodium can take care of that.

    3. Plain Classic Brass Christmas Stocking Holder. Christmas stocking holders make it easy and convenient for people to hang their Christmas stockings. This plain classic brass Christmas stocking holder is an elegant and simple piece of art that will delight your recipients!

    4. Solar Powered Mosaic Jar Globe with Jewel Tones. A great way to light up the evenings outdoors, this is one cool and elegant lamp that is both earth-friendly and captivating to the eyes!

    5. Gift Certificates. As much as you would want to choose the perfect gift for everybody, there will always be those people who you can't seem to find a gift for. Don't sweat it! You can always give them a gift certificate that would allow them to choose their gifts for themselves. MerryStockings.com have just recently added gift certificates to its roster of Christmas products, so that you could truly give them the best gift they want!

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