12.27.2012

A Very Handmade Christmas.

I knew I wanted Christmas to be different this year. Less materialistic, more about showing the people I care about that I...well...care about them. I've really grown to embrace the crafty side of myself in the last year and a half. I love being crafty. I love taking my two hands and some raw materials and turning it into something. Anything. Few things are more satisfying. So this year, I went the way of what has become oh-so-popular and we had a handmade Christmas.

Not every single thing we gifted this year was handmade, but I did at least try to be eco-friendly and buy used things from Craigslist for the kiddos. The objective wasn't so much about saving money, but about being mindful and intentional and kind to the planet. I had a lot of fun brainstorming what to make. I started back in April or May. I was gigantic pregnant and knew if I didn't get a head start, I'd be coming out of the cloud of the newborn phase staring a whole bunch of Christmas projects in the face.


I made lavender foot soak, lotion bars, vanilla extract, a shave bar, goat's milk soap, oatmeal milk bath, beeswax furniture polish and a chocolate chip and oatmeal quick bread mix. I had so much fun designing labels for everything, but I ran out of time (and waterproof labels) and the poor oatmeal milk bath never got a label. I also made laundry detergent that never got labeled, either. I even designed labels for this.


I fell in love with the idea of lotion bars a few years ago when I first discovered MadeOn. Obviously my kids have awful skin, so the idea of using a lotion bar that contains only beeswax, coconut oil and shea butter is stupid appealing. And what was doubly cool about it was that it wasn't one of those "sacrifice" sort of products. You don't have to sacrifice moisture to be green and non-toxic. This stuff works…and it works better than the lotion filled with chemicals. And it's easy to make! I'll post about it soon.

I checked out two books from the library to help in my soap making endeavors and I highly recommend both! The first was Soapmaking The Natural Way and the second was Smart Soapmaking. I got my supplies from BrambleBerry (including the waterproof inkjet full sheet labels I used for most of my labeling).


My friend Melissa inspired me to make my own vanilla extract last year when she made a big batch. I bought some from her and love knowing that it's completely pure with no additives. While making your own is definitely a beginner's project, it takes about three months of sitting-in-a-cupboard time before it's ready. Here's a tutorial. I got all my bottles (except for the mason jars) for everything at Speciality Bottle. It was the cheapest I found and I was really happy with them. Even the shrink wrap bands came from Specialty Bottle - you just use a blow dryer to secure them on the lids.


I, like everyone else, pinned a recipe for Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Quickbread ages ago. I knew last year I wanted to make it for everyone for Christmas, but I never had a chance. So this year I started early. I just went simple, created a label and printed it on kraft paper, which I then used double-sided tape to stick to these mason jars. I had to work like mad to cram all the ingredients in this jar. I ended up using a wooden spoon to press each layer down a little.

I found the recipe for the beeswax furniture polish in one of my favorite books I own, Little House in the Suburbs. It has just a few ingredients. Easy, peasy. I made it and poured it directly into little hinged tins I got from Speciality Bottle.

The lotion bars were also really easy. I didn't have a ton to spend on a nice soap mold (which, um, dang, I should be in the soap mold making business mkay), so I just used a drawer organizer (think those little Rubbermaid tray organizers). It worked just fine, and I did purchase one of these crinkle cutters to cut the finished, dried lotion square into small bars. I did the same when I made soap. You use this just like a soap bar and the heat from your hands instantly melts a little of the lotion. Everyone got a variation of the above stuff.


My parents got Adalyn that cradle for Christmas. The bedding that came with it was a joke. It was flimsy, tacky, ugly and I knew would be demolished in no time at all. The cradle itself was surprisingly well made and I'm hoping will hold up, but I wanted something a little nicer for the bedding. I have so. much. fabric (honestly, it's a problem). So I went to work over the weekend to make a little matching pillow, crib mattress and blanket. I also made a little matching zipper pouch she can use for her doll accessories, or just as a pencil pouch if she wishes.





We put together a little tool bench for Ben for Christmas (and my parents got him a HU-U-U-U-GE set of tools), so I used some leftover denim fabric (felt like it should be heavy duty fabric) and a scrap of this guitar fabric as well as a piece of ribbon I saved when I ordered some fabric a long time ago (I have a stockpile and it has come WAY in handy) to make him a tool belt like Daddy. I just slapped this together with no tutorial so it is far from perfect, but Ben thinks it's perfect, so that's what matters.

 Next year I want to make everyone something special, unique to them, rather than the same thing for everyone. So I'm starting, uh, now. Did you make Christmas gifts this year? I'd love to hear what you made! I'm in the market for ideas. :)

2 comments :

  1. Wow! Who wouldn't love any of the items you made and gifted. I'm especially fond of the quick bread. Sounds divine and looks so cook all packaged up.

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  2. Did I MAKE Christmas gifts this year? Ha!

    But I would have LOVED to be on your list. Good stuff!

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