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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cute and Crafty DIY Christmas Gift Ideas for Teachers, Friends, Family, Co-workers, etc

Best Hot Cocoa Mix
The secret ingredient in this mix is the mini chocolate chips, which melt when combined with the boiling water and give the cocoa an extra-rich flavor. The recipe makes enough for four gift-size portions, each of which can be measured into a small plastic bag and tucked into a cup or mug filled with mini marshmallows, candy stick stirrers, and a spoon. Wrap each filled gift cup in cellophane and don't forget to include a tag with the following instructions: "Spoon 3 or 4 generous tablespoons of cocoa mix into your cup (depending on the size), add boiling water, and stir well."
What you'll need
2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup powdered nondairy creamer
1/8 teaspoon salt
How to make it: Measure all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk them until they are evenly blended. Store the mix in a tightly covered container at room temperature until you're ready to package it. Makes about 4 cups of mix.

Cookie Cutter Candles
These holiday candles are ideal gifts and fun for kids to make. Beeswax is a joy to work with: it's flexible, gently scented, and easy to cut with a cookie cutter.
What you'll need
Cookie cutters (choose shapes that can stand up)
Honeycomb wax sheets in various colors (an 8- by 16-inch sheet will make 1-2 candles)
Wicks
How to make it: For each candle, use a cookie cutter to make 10 identical shapes from the wax sheets. Divide the shapes into two stacks of 5. Sandwich a wick between the two stacks, starting at the bottom and extending it beyond the top by at least an inch. Press the sheets together gently. If they don't stick together, take the wax layers apart and use a hair dryer to gently warm each one before restacking them, adding the wick as instructed above. Trim the wick to about a half-inch. Stand your candle up, shaping the base as needed to make it sit securely.

Handy Coasters
These cleverly personalized coasters offer a fun, open-handed expression of your child's generosity: "Here," they seem to say. "I brought you a drink." For extra appeal and versatility, we've applied different fabrics to the sides of the coasters.
What you'll need
Card stock
2 coordinating or contrasting cotton fabrics
1 package double-sided stiff fusible interfacing
How to make it: Trace your child's hand on a piece of card stock and cut it out to make a template. Use a pencil or chalk to trace the desired number of coasters on one of the fabrics. Trim the fabric into a rectangle that contains all of your tracings, then trim the second fabric and the interfacing to match its size. Following the interfacing package's instructions, fuse it between the two fabrics with an iron (an adult's job). Cut along the traced lines with scissors.

Memory Lane Picture Frame
Is your mother's or grandmother's jewelry box a treasure trove of elegant baubles? Ask her to donate some trinkets to your cause, then use them to decorate a picture frame for a sentimental sister or cousin. Want to get down to brass tacks instead? Make a treasure box with little pieces of hardware scavenged from Grandpa's tool chest. Use any family trinkets and treasured hardware odds and ends to decorate a personalized picture frame and box.
What you'll need
Picture frame (flat wood or plastic works best)
Costume jewelry
Foam brush
Strong craft glue
How to make it: To prepare the jewelry, remove earring and brooch backs and unstring any beads. Remove the glass from the picture frame. Working in sections, use the foam brush to apply a thick layer of glue, then press on the beads and jewelry. When the frame is completely dry, reinsert the glass.

No-Sew Sachets
These sachets are the perfect gift for all kids to make.Even kids who don't sew can help fashion a bunch of these fragrant, colorful sachets. It's a great way to use up all your fabric remnants.
What you'll need
Fabric scraps
Fabric glue
Potpourri, such as lavender flowers or balsam fir needles
How to make it: For each sachet, place 2 matching 5-inch fabric squares back-to-back and glue the edges together on 3 sides. Spread the glue close to the edges to prevent fraying. Once the glue is dry, fill the sachet with about 1/2 cup of potpourri. Then glue together the open edges and again let the glue dry. Arrange the finished sachets in multicolored stacks and tie them together with a festive ribbon or yarn.

Off-the-Cuff Bracelets
Repurpose old wool sweaters by felting the fabric -- shrinking the wool until it's thick and ravel-proof -- and then it's a cinch to create a bevy of stylish bracelets.
What you'll need
Old sweater
Embroidery needle
Embroidery floss
Buttons, felt shapes, paper flowers, and other embellishments
How to make it: To felt the wool, wash the sweater in hot water and dry it on high heat. Repeat, if necessary, so that the fabric's weave is tight enough to be cut without fraying. Cut loops from the sweater's cuffs and arms. Next, decorate the bangles by using embroidery floss to sew on buttons, felt shapes, paper flowers, and more. NOTE:If the diameter of a loop is too big, cut it open, trim the excess length, then overlap the edges and secure them by sewing on embellishments.

Printed Memo Blocks
This gift is super simple to make if you start with a cube of precut memo sheets. Still, if you have a paper cutter available, this project is perfect for using up a stack of old scrap paper.
What you'll need
Colored duct tape
Memo cube pad, memo filler sheets or scrap paper cut into small squares
Ink stamps or Foamies craft foam, plastic bottle caps and double-sided tape
Ink pad
How to make it: Cut a strip of duct tape that measures 2 inches longer than the height of the stack of paper you plan to use (it should be 1 1/2 inches or more). Lay the tape sticky side up on a table. Grasp the stack and tap the sides against a flat surface as you would to straighten a deck of cards, then hold it on its end and press one edge down onto the center of the tape. Wrap the tape ends over the top and bottom of the stack, pressing down firmly to bind the paper. Use more tape to cover the edge, if needed. Now, lift the top sheet of paper and cut the tape just above the second sheet so that the binding is flush with the top of the pad. If you don't already have an ink stamp, cut a fun shape from Foamies craft foam and use double-sided tape to stick it onto a bottle cap. Then use the stamp and an ink pad to print a design on the three untaped sides of the block.

Pinup Containers
These handy holders make a welcome addition to an office or kitchen and a great gift that kids can make. Thanks to a double layer of cork, they also serve as miniature bulletin boards. If you like, make a desk set with a pencil holder and a vase and add a scatter of pretty tacks so that the recipient can pin up a picture of her favorite person (aw, shucks).
What you'll need
Colored or patterned duct tape
14- or 15-ounce can, washed, dried, and label removed
Thin cork sheets or roll
Tacky glue
Rubber bands
Hole punch
Decorative paper
Thumbtacks
How to make it: Fold a strip of duct tape over the can's top rim (if the rim is sharp, this should be an adult's job). Wrap another strip around the can's bottom portion. Cut a 3-1/2- by 20-inch rectangle of cork. Adjust the size as needed to fit your can. (It should be long enough to wrap around the can twice.) Run a thick line of glue along one narrow edge of the rectangle, then lay the can over the glue. Roll the can along the cork, adding another line of glue every couple of inches. Run a last line of glue at the cork's edge, then wrap the container with rubber bands to hold the cork in place until the glue is dry. Use a hole punch to cut circles from decorative paper and glue them to the heads of the thumbtacks.

Family Photo Books
Showcase family photos in an elegant book filled with favorite photos, this is just the present for a relative or special family friend, particularly one your family sees less often than you'd like.
What you'll need
Assorted photos
Craft knife
4-ply and 2-ply rag board (sold at art supply stores)
26-inch-long piece of ribbon
Colored paper
Glue stick
How to make it: Choose seven favorites from a stack of family photos. Use a craft knife to cut two 5- by 6 1/2-inch rectangles from the 4-ply rag board for the book covers. For the inner pages, cut one 5- by 39-inch rectangle from the 2-ply rag board. Lightly mark 6 1/2-inch increments along the long edges of the 2-ply rag board, and accordion-fold the sheet at those marks Use a ruler edge to press the folds into sharp creases. Lay the ribbon on a tabletop and center the folded rag board on top so that the side with three creases is on the left and lines up with the midpoint of the ribbon Apply glue to the top of the folded rag board. Then lay the left side of the ribbon over the glued page and top with one of the book covers, pressing firmly until well stuck. Flip over the book and use the same method to attach the right side of the ribbon and the back cover. Now, cut the colored paper into seven 4- by 5 1/2-inch rectangles. Glue one onto the center of each page and the front cover. Then glue the photos onto the colored paper. Finally, print the year on the front cover.Open the album into a full circle, tie the ribbon binding into a bow and it's ready to display on an end table or dresser.

Beautiful Beaded Rings
These glamorous rings look so good, the recipients might not even guess they're homemade. Kids can customize them with their favorite beads, and an elastic band means they'll fit any finger (or toe!). They make great gifts for aunts, grandmoms, and friends.
What you'll need
Clear elastic beading cord
Beads
How to make it: Cut a piece of elastic. To make the beading easier, we started with a 10-inch length for an adult's ring finger and a 6-inch length for a child's pinkie. Thread the bead or beads onto the elastic (for our larger ring, we used 18). Using a helper's finger as a guide, knot together the ends. Finally, trim the ends and slide the knot into the middle of a bead so it's hidden from sight.

A New Use for an Old Scarf
If last year's scarf doesn't match this winter's wardrobe, turn it into a bolster pillow that'll help you hibernate in comfort and style.
What you'll need
densely woven or fleece scarf
2 hair elastics
fiberfill
How to make it: Cut a densely woven or fleece scarf in two, as shown. Use a simple running stitch to sew the long sides together, forming a fabric tube. Wrap a hair elastic around the tube, a few inches from one end. Stuff the tube with fiberfill, then cinch the other end closed with a second hair elastic.

Felted Sweater Surprises
Felting a sweater is a great way to get more life out of a favorite top that's outgrown or damaged. Use your felted sweater to make a sleeve for a hot to-go drink, or create one of our cozy bags. For the tightest and strongest felt, use a sweater that's at least 90 percent wool. Wash it in hot water (along with a few pairs of jeans or towels for extra friction) and dry it on high heat. Repeat, if necessary, until the fabric's weave is tight enough to be cut without fraying.
Cup Cuff
No tricks up this sleeve, just slip it onto a paper cup to keep your drink hot while protecting your hands. It's reusable, so it's earth-friendly. To make one, simply cut a 2 1/2-inch length from the end of a felted sweater's sleeve, then add a decorative felt shape with fabric glue or a needle and embroidery floss.
Swing Bag
Our blue bag is a cinch to make, requiring only a little sewing. Save the sleeves to make cup cuffs, described above. First, turn the felted sweater inside out. Cut off the sleeves and cut open the top shoulder seams. At the center of the back of the neck, mark a 1 1/2-inch width with chalk; this will be the strap. Use a paper plate or pot lid to draw curves from the mark to the edges of the sweater, as shown. Cut along the lines. Turn the sweater right side out, then overlap the strap ends about 1 1/2 inches and sew them together. Sew the bottom of the sweater closed and add a button to the strap for decoration.
Sleevie Wonder Bag
Depending on how long you choose to make the strap (formed from a sweater's sleeves), you can create a messenger bag or a short, under-the-arm purse.Start by cutting off a felted sweater's sleeves and upper chest as shown; leave the back intact. Fold the back panel flap over the front of the sweater. Trim and round the corners of the flap. Add a flower made from a sweater scrap, if desired. Use embroidery floss to whipstitch the bottom of the sweater closed.Cut one sleeve open lengthwise along the seam, iron it flat, then cut a 4-inch-wide strip from the sleeve. Repeat for the second sleeve. Overlap the ends of the strips about 1/2 inch and sew them together. Trim the strip to your desired strap length. Fold the strip in half lengthwise (creating a 2-inch-wide strap) and whipstitch the sides together. Sew the strap ends to the back of the bag.

Treasure Gift Box
Present collectors with handy decorated boxes to house their trinkets.These boxes are also great for holding earrings, golf tees, loose change and other treasures collected by the grown-ups on your kids' holiday list.
What you'll need
Small wooden box (available at craft stores)
Acrylic paint (or stain) and brush
Tacky glue
Assorted decorating supplies (stamps, magazine pictures, photos, labels, stickers, wrapping paper, wooden or plastic toys)
Nontoxic acrylic sealer and/or Mod-Podge
How to make it: First, apply a light coat of paint or colored stain to the box. While it's drying, pick a theme for the box, such as jungle animals, golf, travel, classical music, cars or ballet dancing, and choose a bunch of fitting decorations. Here, for a nature-loving friend, we chose a bird theme and decorated our box with bird stamps, cutout magazine pictures and bird stickers. Glue the decorating supplies onto the box (and maybe even put a few inside). When finished, brush on a coat of acrylic sealer or Mod-Podge. Lastly, glue a three-dimensional object -- say, a golf ball, a plastic toy or a wooden figurine -- to the top of the box.

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