Homemade Christmas Part I

To me, the words Homemade + Christmas just seem to naturally go together. I can't imagine one without the other. So many of my favorite traditions (since having children) involve the things we make together, either for the tree, the house, each other, or for our friends and family, this time of year.

As we head into The Last Week Before Christmas, I decided the entire week (well, OK, at least most of the week) will be devoted to homemade gift making.

Last year our little children's store was located across the hall from a pottery studio, so we had the opportunity to throw clay and make bowls and cups for everyone on our list. It was great fun, and we thought about doing the same this year, but alas, not only is our store closed now, but the pottery shop, after 20 years, closed it's location as well.

The owner is now in a town that's 30 minutes away and we thought about scheduling a day of clay spinning (he still offers occasional classes) so we could make more pottery gifts, but the month got away from us. That's a project that needs to be started months ahead so there's plenty of time for the baking and firing.

Sigh...we sure miss our pottery neighbor.

So I had this crazy idea to make paper mache bowls instead. And we may still get to that project, but I'm not sure it will be in time for Christmas. Instead, this last week will involve some shrinking, some baking, and alot of knitting! Here's some of what the elves are working on this week:

More cinnamon ornaments! We make these every year and still have some from nearly 10 years ago hanging on the tree - they don't smell as strong but are some of our favorite ornaments. They make great gifts, as well. Here's a link to a tutorial with printer friendly recipe. The recipe I've used for years and years goes something like this:

Cinnamon Ornaments
3/4 cup cinnamon, 1 cup applesauce, 1 T ground nutmeg, 1 T allspice, 1 T ground cloves. Mix and form dough. Dust work area with cinnamon. Roll to 1/4 thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes. Let them dry in the sun on wax paper or cookie sheets (don't forget to poke a hole with a straw before they dry). Takes about 2 days to dry fully (if you're in a hurry you can bake them for several hours at 250 degrees). Turn to prevent curling. We sometimes put a little glue on them and dust them with glitter and add buttons after they're dry.

Here's one towards the top of the tree the girls made a few years ago...and below it is another easy ornament project made from recycled juice can tops. I save these tops during the year (from frozen juice cans) so I can make a big batch all at once. All you need is a nail and a small hammer. Position the nail where you want your holes to be, put the nail in place and hammer it in till it makes a dent. This creates the pattern. For the ribbon hole, you have to hammer the nail in all the way thru (we used old wire bent into a hook shape to hang ours).

Peppermint Bark - to put in decorated jars. Found this picture over at One Crafty Mumma (my new favorite craft blog) and was inspired...and drooling. I can't wait to try it out! The recipe can be found here.

Decorated gingerbread cookies. These will go in holiday tins and make great hostess gifts.

And of course, Shrinky Dinks. We make zipper pulls, necklaces, ornaments, gift tags, etc out of these. The kids never get bored watching them shrink up. Last year we had a tabletop shrinky dink tree. Very cute. More ideas here.

Now get to work little elves!

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