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gift ideas for girlfriends

  • Creative Use of a Button

    rustic buttonOne of the things my creative mind loves doing the most is finding multiple uses for simple, ordinary things. It is my industrious character trait coupled with creativity and, of course, frugality at work! And, what could be more basic than a button?

    I dare say few things are more rudimentary than a button. :) Think about it, we've been making buttons to clasp things closed for a very long time, way before we learned to make them in a factory. Wood sticks and loops of twine is just one example!

    I think we can take this inexpensive little thing called a button and make some really charming Christmas items. Here are just a few examples:

     

    button card

    Now isn't that just about the cutest card you've ever seen? It has that minimalist look too that is so popular, and what you see ends up being way more than the sum of its parts.

     

    button cookies

    How about button cookies? These are simple sugar or butter cookies, too! After you roll out your dough and cut your circle, take a cookie cutter just a little smaller and press lightly for the groove. Then poke 2 holes in the center with a skewer. I think these would be adorable as a table favor at a ladies Christmas party, or a very creative way to bundle up plain sugar cookies for a cookie exchange.

     

    button ornament

    I LOVE this idea. It involves a package of colored buttons in various shades, some thin wire and ribbon. These can be ornaments for the tree or even gift tags! This is a tag that your sewing friend will definitely not throw away, and will forever think of you as their most creative friend.

    While going to the spendy department store for their annual Christmas ornament is a tradition for many, I simply love the idea of crafting one of our own annual ornaments from the staples of life.

     

    Photo credit:  Wooden stick, card, cookies, ornament/gift tag

     

     

  • 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

     

  • Helping Others Help Themselves

    stormWe had a rip roaring storm blow through last night, complete with 50-60 mph gusts and golf ball sized hail. It was over in a matter of minutes, and wasn't as severe as others have been. However, for people who have ever lived through a tornado or hurricane level straight line winds, any event like this is scary.

    Best to be prepared, no? It may not be on the top of everyone's I-gotta-have-this-for-Christmas-or-I'll-die list, but you can be sure that adults who HAVE survived these horrible storms will be so grateful. There are lots of resources online for putting together emergency kits, many of them selling you something. I have compiled a list of items to stock up on, and if you are building your own emergency kit, it's the perfect opportunity to buy double or triple quantities to give to loved ones.

    • Water - the recommended quantity is one gallon per person per day, 3 days minimum. Nursing moms and those who are sick may need more. Purchase bottled water, and store in a dry, cool place without opening.
    • Food - canned foods with high water content, dry cereal, salt free crackers and dry mixes . . . things that don't require refrigeration. Include a manual can opener too. :)
    • Mess kit, complete with paper plates, cup and towels and plastic utensils.
    • Battery powered or hand-crank weather radio. I picked up one of the hand cranked types for my husband a couple years ago and they work well. Most come with a battery option, so keep plenty of batteries stocked with it.
    • Flashlight AND extra batteries! Enough said.
    • Emergency candles and matches, stored in a water proof container.
    • First aid kit - doesn't have to be huge, but a basic one with sterile dressings, cleaning agent, antibacterial ointment, and latex gloves. A first aid reference manual is a great idea too.
    • Whistle - if there is a rescue team trying to get to you, this will be such a great help.
    • Extra cell phone battery and non electric charging devices.
    • Pet food and water.
    • Blanket for each person.

    This list is clearly not exhaustive, but any of these items would be a great way to say "I love you", don't you think? Last night's storm reminded me that I want to get some of these things for my 20-something kids. I know they're invincible, but I can't help myself. ;)

     

    Photo courtesy

     

  • A Gift for That Special Teacher

    I'm so pumped about finding and sharing unique and affordable gift ideas for our Christmas Notebooks! Last week we found some rather tasty savory and sweet recipes for the holidays, plus a very cool gift idea that utilizes the Christmas cards from past years. If you missed those posts, make sure to check them out and print for your notebooks.

    Today's creative idea comes from none other than the ever-lovely Martha Stewart. What you see pictured to your left is a glycerin soap that is easily made in a mini loaf pan! This is a project that the kids can help with, and would make a terribly unique and welcomed gift for their teacher. Equally, these happy little striped soaps work well as stocking stuffers, secret Santa gifts, and even hostess gifts.

    Here's what you'll need:

    • 2 cups clear glycerin soap (available at your craft store)
    • 2 cups white glycerin soap
    • peppermint oil
    • red food coloring
    • plastic spoon
    • mini loaf pan
    • isopropyl alcohol in spray form (98% preferred)

    Instructions

    1. Melt glycerin soap according to the package directions 1/4 cup at a time.
    2. Stir in a drop of peppermint oil with the plastic spoon.
    3. For the clear glycerin, add drops of red food coloring until you get the shade of red you like.
    4. Pour the 1/4 cup of melted glycerin into the loaf pan, and cool in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
    5. Remove from fridge, score the top with a fork and lightly spray with alcohol (this helps the layers adhere to one another).
    6. Repeat the layers, alternating the colors until the pan is full.
    7. Set in refrigerator for 4 hours.
    8. After 4 hours, set the pan in the freezer for 20 minutes (this makes removing the soap from the pan a cinch).
    9. Carefully slice so as not to dislodge the layers, and wrap!

    Make sure to print this gift idea and put it in your Christmas Notebook. If you haven't created your Christmas Notebook yet, it's not too late! This simple organizing task with really pay off as the holidays approach, so take the time to put yours together. You can find the posts for that here, here, here and here.

    Merry soap making!

     

    Photo courtesy

  • 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!

  • Top 3 Inexpensive Gifts for Your Spouse

    A recent survey released by ConsumerAffairs.com found that people are spending less on gifts to significant others because of the economy.  Although the survey was made in time for Valentine's Day, it is safe to assume that the pattern will hold for other holidays, even Christmas.

    You may have a tight budget to run this Christmas, but that does not mean scrimping on your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend.  MerryStockings.com have come up with the perfect and inexpensive gifts for your significant other this Christmas.  These cost-efficient gift ideas is guaranteed to surprise them and make them feel loved!

    1. Portraits or hand-drawn pictures.  A perfect gift for your spouse would be a his or her own portrait.  It could be something that you made yourself or you could have it done by a professional artist.  Pick a candid photo of him or her doing what he or she loves most and create a portrait.  Another idea is to draw their favorite things, or something sentimental for them.

    2. Get them something that they have been looking for... for years!  If your husband has been looking for an old Platters album, you could try and find out what songs he is looking for then download them from iTunes or wherever they are available then make a CD.  If your wife has been looking for the same cookbook that a friend has, consider scouring the Internet for second-hand copies of the cookbook.  In this age of the Internet, it is easy to find obscure items that your significant other has been pining for ages!

    3. Plan on a romantic dinner or night out.  If you have been married for so long, you might want to surprise your spouse with a romantic night out or vacation.  Drop the kids off at your parents or in-laws, and then settle for a romantic night spent in each other's company.  If you can pull it off, schedule for a few days off at the place where you spent your honeymoon, a secluded cottage or a beach resort.  If you are dating, it might be nice to have some alone time together without any distractions.  You can catch a movie after dinner and then unwind near the fireplace for a nightcap.

    The trick to keeping the romance alive is to make sure that you surprise your significant other with your creativity.  The gift you have for him or her should be creative and exclusive.  And by that, it should be something that he or she ahd wanted all along, but never expected to get from you.  If all else fails, you can easily get personalized Christmas gifts at MerryStockings.com!

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