Christmas gifts

It’s that time of year againJ
For as long as I can remember my mother did handicrafts as gifts with us around Christmas to give to grandparents and godparents.
Most of our relatives and friends do hold up this tradition with their children.
Having three girls with each a set of two godmother’s, one godfather and in the case of my eldest with  three  sets of grandparents, it is not easy to find every year a craft to do that is useful, does not just stand around and collects dust and easy to make and does not cost and arm and a leg, and this without repeating the things we make………………..
I have started with each of my girls to make things as gifts, when they started Kindergarten and were able to cut with scissors a pattern or could use glue without having it in their hairs and other such funny places……………………
The things we made are not outstanding as such, nor are they pieces of art. But they were made with the goal to a) make pleasure to the recipients and b) to show a little thanks and gratefulness to them for being there for my children.
And IMHO, this is what gifts are about anyway.
Here are some of our ideas, what we already did or what we plan to make this year,and of course we did not make all of them at once:-).
- With  Schubimehl (this is a mix of sawdust and plaster), also called HOBBY MODELLIERMEHL, we made small candle holders after the idea of some that I made when I was in kindergartenJ
Add water to powder according to the packets inscription, then quickly form a dough, keep it covered with a moist old cotton cloth (old hankie or such) roll out one part of the mix to approx 5mm to 1cm thickness then cut round or square shapes of ca 8cm in diameter, these will serve as a bottom, that’s why they need to be a bit bulky.
Push a candle into the middle of the cut out shape and start to decorate around the candle (not to high up, fire hazard!!) with all kind of shapes made of the mix . Once you are satisfied with it, remove candle and let dry at an open, warm place.
When it is completely dry, you can work on it with a file or sandpaper to smooth edges and then paint it according to your child’s liking J don’t forget to finish it off with a lick of varnish.
This method is especially easy for making these gifts with smaller children. Bigger kids, could try to form exact copies of a (smaller) style and create a set off two candleholders, painted in a not too bold colour, they will decorate a dining table beautifully.
Big bulky wooden wardrobe hangers were painted, decorated and varnished
White mugs were painted with special colours, that you could burn in and make the pattern dishwasher safe, then given with a small bag of tea or coffee (according to the recipients preferences).
Soap dispensers and big flowerpots also got a colour treatment:-) and were further decorated with glue-on material such as glass pebbles, pailettes etc.  The dispensers were filled with a lovely, not sickly smelling soap and the big flowerpots served as ‘holders’ for small pots. Once the flowers were wilted, they could just be replaced with a new pot-plant.
‘Empty’ white calendars were personalized page after page, with various materials from drawings to photos to collages to little essays to read.
With another batch of the ‘Schubimehl’ we made photo holders, roll out the dough and cut out with cookie cutter shapes, the size got gradually smaller (we used hearts and stars) place the biggest shape on the bottom and carefully lay the two others on top. Push a piece of special twisted  thick( but still pliable) wire through it and secure on the bottom. Let stand to dry. Once dry, fix a so called ‘crocodile clamp’ on the upper end of the wire and paint the bottom part, once dry, cover with a layer of varnish.
A prepared wooden board or shape, special blackboard paint and some colour, make a handy notice board, where one can write on with a chalk crayon. First paint the blackboard paints on the main side and in the size and shape you want it to be, then make a lovely patterned rim outside and then, if you want to, paint the back as well. This is also a very handy gift for people who play card games like JASS, add a chalk crayon and a little sponge on a thread and you have a handy and useful gift.
Tie-dye or use silk paint to create unique oven mittens or paint and decorate a cotton spectacle case, the basic material can be bought in all craft stores including at craft sections at large Migros and Coop stores.
Bigger kids might enjoy to make creations with silk and silk paint, by example a square shawl  to keep grannies neck and shoulders warm under the coat in winter or a silk tie for men, just don’t splash too much colour on and keep to a colour theme and scheme, remember, it should be worn by the recipient and not everyone loves to look as colourful as a parrotJ
One thing we are going to do this year is a joke gift (but still useful) we will decorate marigolds J (household rubber gloves) I have seen a store full of them in London and got some very good ideas. The rim may be trimmed with a featherband or similar and then we will glue on some beads and such, so that they can still be used for washing up etc.
These are just a few ideas, which are easy to make and assemble for kids of almost all ages, don’t cost too much or need too much preparation time.
We mums have already enough on our plate at this time of year………………….
Almost all materials needed , are available at a normal cost in specialized craft stores or in the large supermarkets aisle of crafts.

posted: 05.12.05