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Friday, November 14, 2008

A Homemade Christmas

Remember when you were little and you made gifts for your family and friends each year for birthdays and Christmas? Have you done that lately? I know I haven't - five years of having college exams up until just a few days before Christmas sort of precluded having time to make gifts. This year I'm making things for family and close friends, and I'm so happy that I have the time to do so, and I think the people I'll be giving gifts to are exactly the kind of people who will appreciate my time and effort more than they'd appreciate a $10 DVD, anyway. At least, I hope so!

The first homemade gift I decided to make was lip balm, inspired by Cocoa at Chocolate on my Cranium. While the initial purchase of ingredients and chapstick tubes (I ordered them online) was a definite expense (around $50), it wasn't comparable with what we would have spent on Christmas anyway, and the amount of chapstick I can make from these supplies brings the cost down to around 15 or 20 cents a tube. I dragged my friend Story into the scheme and we spent a couple of fun evenings making lip balm.

The result? Pink Grapefruit, Lime, Peppermint-Rosemary (similar to Burt's Bees), and Vanilla. All scented with essential oils (no fragrance oils) and 100% natural, and definitely the best lip balm I've ever used. The lime is my favorite so far, with pink grapefruit a close second. We're envisioning cranberry and cinnamon on the horizon!

Next I decided to make magnets, inspired by Angry Chicken (who does some super cute crafts and sewing projects). I got super-strong neodynium magnets and Diamond Glaze from this Etsy shop, and wooden discs from a local wholesale craft store. Again, I pulled my friend Story into the crafting craze, and we glued cute paper onto the discs, glazed, attached magnets, and... done!

Finished products:

We've also made some glass marble magnets:

I'm completely in love with these magnets, and feel a compulsion to make more magnets than any one human could ever need, so it's a good thing I have plenty of people to give them to for Christmas! And yes, I realize that lots of the people we'll be giving gifts to read this blog, but that's okay, because this is your chance to comment and say, "Hey, I espcially like such-and-such a set!" I just couldn't wait until after Christmas to share these fun gift ideas.

Nathan and I are planning to spend less money and more time for family and friends this Christmas, and so far I must say the process is vastly more enjoyable than the usual Christmas shopping process! And the money we save can be used to make Christmas a little brighter for people less fortunate than ourselves. (For just a few ideas, check out World Vision's Gift Catalog, where you can give animals, clean water, education, and much more. You can give someone hope this Christmas.)

Serendipitously, my sister-in-law Jenn just shared a wonderful post on her blog about The Advent Conspiracy and her thought that in giving more and spending less, we come nearer to the heart of God and the true meaning of Christmas. Last year Americans spent $450 billion on Christmas. Just $10 billion would provide clean drinking water to everyone in the world, saving 1.8 million lives a year by preventing water-borne illnesses. You can find out more about the Advent Conspiracy (make sure to watch the great video), and learn how to give clean water through Living Water International.

If you have ideas for handmade gifts, please comment and share! I'm particularly wondering what kinds of handmade things might be guy-appropriate.


  1. Sarah, I think I've said this before, but you are my hero. :) I read posts like this and just want to be a creative, crafty person! But man, it's hard to find the time. Last year (before I went back to work) I made sets of greeting cards for my friends with some of my Scotland photographs. It was fun to do and my friends loved them. Now you've got me thinking what I can do this year...with much less time.

  2. Anonymous4:04 PM

    CarolMom will really like any of the magnets. I'm partial to cranberry for my lip balm...

  3. We get to pick our Christmas presents? Cool! I love your lip balm idea - pink grapefruit sounds lovely, and I always like vanilla. And the magnets are so cute!!! In the order you posted them, I like #3, 4, 8, 10, and 12. And of the marble ones, #2. :)

    I'm planning on making handmade soaps for some of my gifts, and maybe handmade chocolates, too. I'm all about the use-up-able gifts this year, probably as a reaction because my house is so darned full of STUFF.

    Anyway, I totally love your gift ideas. And I totally love you, too. :)

  4. I've decided to make most of my gifts this year...and those marble magnets look like so much fun! Great ideas!

    There are also organizations like World Vision where you can give a donation to a 3rd world country in honor of the recipient. Ben and I were given a goat as a wedding gift from this site. (Which has caused us no end of glee...)

  5. Wow, those magnets are fantastic!! I so want to make some of those. I'm trying to think of/find ideas of things I can do - and things I can do with the kids for gifts. Thanks for sharing what you've done, I am definitely inspired!

    Now I just need to figure out when I can do this stuff!!