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Twenty-Five Small Christmas Gift Ideas and Crafts

This week has been crazy busy so I thought it would be a fantastic time to share a few of my projects with you from last year that you maybe haven't seen yet.  One of these days I'm hoping to finish up a thumbnail menu of past projects so they are easier to find.  I'll be sure to let you know if I ever get it done. :)


I'll be back with not one, but TWO fun Christmas Countdown Prints! :)

Today's Fabulous Find...25 Small Christmas Gift Ideas
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Marshmallow Wonderland Vignette {6 Tutorials}

Recently I was given the wonderful opportunity to guest post at Under The Table and Dreaming for Handmade Holidays (featuring STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam), which was really such a huge thrill for me.   Stephanie Lynn's blog is one of the first blogs that I started reading and has always been a favorite of mine and a source of inspiration.  This is the post that I shared.

Imagine a world with marshmallow trees and whipped cream days.  A place where the sun shines so your nose won't freeze, and marshmallow clouds are being friendly.   Doesn't that sound so fun!   These images come from the song 'It's a Marshmallow World', which was the inspiration in creating a whimsical marshmallow wonderland for my kids that will keep them dreaming all Winter long.

In our marshmallow world there is a tree made of white fluffy 'marshmallows' with polka dots that look strangely similar to the berries in a certain crunchy holiday cereal we enjoy! 

Our wonderland has a tree that is made up entirely of 'mints', a tree topped with yummy whipped cream, and a 'fur' tree that is softer than any fir tree we've ever known! 

Our marshmallow world is a magical place full of wonder and fun and I'm so excited to be here today to show you how you can make one of your own.  If you're not a sewer, don't worry, you will only need some hot glue and a whole lot of straight pins!

For all Five Trees

Cut a tree branch in varying lengths for the trunks of the trees.  It's best to use a saw, but large pruning shears will work okay.  For the tree bases, cut a small log into varying sizes.   Hot glue the branch to the log (use plenty of glue) and then glue moss around the base of the trunks.
Tree #1:  'Fur' Tree

Supplies Needed:
  • One 12" x 4" Cone of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam
  • 13" x 17" Faux fur remnant
  • Ribbon
  • Extra long satin pins
  • Hot Glue Gun
1.  Wrap the fur around the cone of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam on a diagonal and pull the fabric together tightly.

2.  Pin along the side, then cut the fur next to the pins.

3.  Fold the fabric on the end up to the base.  Cut the fur to fit the base. 

4.  Pull the fur together on the side, overlapping it slightly, and pin it in place.  Trim if needed.

5.  Trim the fur at the top of the cone of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam (if necessary) and pin in place.

6.  Cut a small hole in the circle of fur at the base large enough to fit the diameter of the branch for the trunk.

7.  Fold the fur under at the edges and pin it in place at the base.

8.  Wrap the ribbon around the tree on a diagonal.  Pin at the top and the bottom.  Cut the ends of the ribbon on a diagonal to reduce the risk of fraying.

9.  Hot glue the tree to it's base.

Tree #2- 'Peppermint' Tree

 Supplies Needed
  • One 8" x 3" Cone of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam
  • 13" x 14" Fabric Remnant (A heavier decorator fabric works nicely.)
  • Ribbon to Embellish
  • Extra Long Satin Pins 

1. Wrap the fur around the cone of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam on a diagonal, overlapping the fabric.

2. Fold the fabric on the tree top under and pin in place by sticking the pin straight in to the cone of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam.

4.  Fold and pleat the fabric at the tree base, pin in place.

5.  Trim the extra fabric, leaving an opening that is the size of the branch for the trunk.

6.  Hot glue the tree to it's base and pin the fabric close to the cone of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam.

7.  Pin a ribbon(s) around the top and around the base of the tree.  The finished tree pictured in the vignette has on ribbon over top of another.

Tree #3-(No Sew) 'Whipped Cream' Tree

 Supplies Needed
  • One 6" x 3" Cone of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam
  • 2 1/2" Strip of 45" wide fabric in white and one 4" white fabric square
  • 2 1/2" Strip of 45" wide fabric in green (or another accent color)
  • Extra Long Satin Pins 

1.  For the Ruffles:  Of the green fabric, cut two 2 1/2" x 11" strips, one 2 1/2" x 10" strip, and one 2 1/2 x 9" strip.  Of the white fabric, cut one 2 1/2" x 11" strip, two 2 1/2" x 10" strip, and a square 4" x 4" piece for the top.

2.  The order of the ruffles starting from the bottom is:  11" green, 11" white, 11" green, 10" white, 10" green, 10" white, 9" green, and white 4x4 square on the top.

3.  Fold the fabric strips in half.  Wrap the bottom strip around the bottom of the cone of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam overlapping the edges.  Pin it.

4.  Pin the fabric strip on the opposite side, then again in the middle of the other sides and then once more to gather the ruffle.

5.  Make a 'bubble' of white fabric (steps shown below), pin it to the top of the tree.  Tuck any raw edges under and pin it so the bubble of fabric hides the pins.

6.  Glue the tree to it's base.

Tree #4-'Marshmallow/Bubble' Tree
 Supplies Needed
  • One 12" x 4" Cone of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam
  • One package of sixteen 1" Balls of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam
  •  3/4 yd of 58" wide heavy weight white fabric (The tree pictured is made of white stretch taffeta.)
  • Paint
  • Extra Long Satin Pins 

The Marshmallows/Bubbles
(This tree was inspired by my Burlap Bubble Wreath.  I thought it would be fun to try the bubble on another shape.)

A pin is used in the pictures to show where you will hold the fabric with your thumb and index finger when folding it. You don't need to pin it until step five.
1. Cut six 4" strips that are 58" long and then cut each strip into 4" squares. 
2. Fold the square in half to form a triangle. Take the right hand corner (pinch one layer of the fabric on the very tip) and bring it to the front. Line up the corners.
3. Take the left hand corner (pinch one layer of fabric on the very tip) and take it to the back. Line up the corners.
4. All four corners should be lined up at the bottom.   Puff out the center, it should be in a bubble shape now.
5. Pin through all four layers of fabric.
6. Pin the 'bubbles' to the cone of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam. Pin one bubble on and then place the next one close to it so that it hides the pin on the one that you just added. The bubbles should be just close enough so that you don't see any of the cone of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam or the pins.

Polka-Dots/Berries (To add a little whimsy.)

Push a pin through the center of each of the sixteen 1" balls of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam.  Hold onto the pin to paint them.  Let fully dry.  Push the pin in between the bubbles on the tree.

Tree# 5- 'Mint' or 'Jelly Bean' Tree

Supplies Needed

  • One 6" x 3" Cone of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam
  • Bag of baby lima beans
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Accent ribbon
  • Off white spray paint
1.  Glue the beans on in rows one at a time with hot glue until the tree is completely covered.

2.  Pick off any strands of hot glue, then spray paint it with off-white spray paint.

3.  Glue the tree-top onto the trunk and base and pin a ribbon bow to the top.
Subway Art Sign
  • One 12"x18" Board of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam
  • Four 1/4" x 3" x 24" Poplar Boards (They actually measure 2 1/2 inches wide, not a full 3" and can be found at Lowes.)
  • Four large 5 gallon size paint sticks.  You can buy them at some paint counters.  (You could also use ribbon instead.)
  • Dark Walnut Stain
  • Off-white Paint (Sherwinn Williams Alabaster was used for this sign.)
  • Sand paper
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue
  • Black spray paint or craft paint

1.  Spray paint the front of the 12" x 18" board of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam.  Be careful to keep the coats light.  If you spray too heavily in one place it can damage it.  (This step is only necessary if the white color will show through between the wood slats, you could also use craft paint.)

2.  Cut the 1/4" x 3" x 24" poplar boards in half.  Measure first before you cut.  You may need to trim them down some so the will fit.  Cut the paint sticks to fit around the board of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam.

3.  Use a rag to stain the 4 paint sticks and the poplar boards with dark walnut stain.  Let fully dry.

4.  I used a vinyl cutting machine and contact paper to make a stencil for the subway art.  The font used is called Latha.  Another option is to print out the words you want to use and cut out a stencil with an exacto knife.  You could also print the subway art words on your home computer, take it to a copy center and copy it (prevents the Mod Podge from smearing the print), then trim to size and Mod Podge onto the boards. 

5.  If you are using a vinyl cutting machine:  Cut out the subway art words onto contact paper.  Weed out the background.  Apply the lettering to the boards and paint over it.  It may take 2 coats.  While the paint is slightly dry yet still tacky, pull up the contact paper with some tweezers.  Let dry and then sand to distress, sand all edges and lightly over the top of the stencil.

6.  Glue the paint sticks around the perimeter of the board of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam.   Glue each board slat into place with a dot of hot glue on each side.

*I'm planning to buy more boards to put on the back of the subway art to make it reversible.  I'll use words that are not seasonal so the board can be used year round.

This vignette took some time to put together, but wasn't difficult to make.  It was nice to be able to use pins with the STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam.  If something didn't look quite right, I simply pulled out the pin and tried again.  Also, if I ever want to dream up a new look for the trees, I can easily unpin the fabric and recover them with something fun and new!

This was a lot of fun to put together and has now given me a reason to look forward to the month of January. :)

Edited to Add:  If you'd like to see my full Marshmallow Wonderland Mantel and My Christmas Mantel, click here.

Linking to:  Beneath My Heart   Creations by Kara   Tator Tots and Jello   Funky Junk Interiors   Creation Corner  Someday Crafts  Domestically Speaking  Blue Cricket Design  Today's Creative Blog  Home Stories A to Z

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned in this post for free in the hope that I would mention it.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe my readers will enjoy. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Craft Stick and Clay Pot Children's Nativity Set {Tutorial}

Last week I guest posted at Design Dazzle's 100 Ideas of Christmas Wonderful (which is still going on) and shared this tutorial.  Thanks to all of you who came over. :) 

I just finished my very first Christmas craft of the season:  A Childrens' Nativity Set made with craft sticks and clay pots.  I'm so excited to show you how to make one for your own family or to give away as a gift!

This nativity set is especially for kids.  They can play with it, keep it in their room, and best of all...they can help you make it, which makes it even more special and memorable! 

(The clay pot figures were inspired by a set that a good friend made for me years ago, there are many versions floating around so choose the one that you like best.   The stable and manger are my own designs.) 

 Craft Stick Nativity Stable
(Finished size:  Height 7" without the star, width 8")

Supplies Needed
Pkg. of craft sticks
Wire cutters and scissors
Hot glue gun and glue
Sm. pkg. of sheet moss
Dark brown stain or paint
Black craft wire
Wood star
Gold/yellow and cream/gray paint
Rag or foam brush
Sand paper

 1.  Using a pair of wire cutters, cut two paint sticks in half.  Pinch the stick tightly with the wire cutters and then carefully break it off in two or one side may just flip across the room.  Yes, we know from experience. :)  Cut one-fourth of the length off of 4 more paint sticks.  The rest of the sticks used will be full-size. 

2.  Lay out two sets of four sticks.  Hot glue the half-size sticks to the top and bottom.  Lay out 9 sticks, glue a full-size stick to the top and bottom.

3.  Glue the X on.  (You may want to wait to do this step until after your stain/paint the back piece.)

4.  Glue the three wall pieces together as pictured above.

5.  Lay out two sets of seven sticks.  (Leave a small space between two of them to string the wire through for the star.)  Glue a stick across, one inch up from the bottom.  Glue another stick across at the top so it hangs over the top of the sticks by 1/8" (this will be the peak of the roof).

6.  Glue the two parts of the roof together in the center.  Use plenty of hot glue.  Hold the two pieces in place on the sides of the stable and at the angle you want the roof as the glue dries.

7.  Use a rag to stain the craft sticks and the star or paint them dark brown with craft paint and a brush.  Let dry.  With the rag, gently rub some cream or gray paint over the stain to give it a weathered look.  Blend it in with a clean part of the rag as you go.

8.  Glue the roof in place on the side walls.  Lay out sheet moss on the roof, glue in place, and then roughly trim the edges with scissors. 

9.  For the star: Paint over the stain with gold paint. Sand to distress. Ink around the edges with a distress ink pad if necessary.  Cut a piece of wire, thread it through the roof.  Curl the end and hot glue it to the underside of the roof.  Curl the top of the wire around a pencil and hot glue the star to the wire. 

Clay Pot Nativity People

Supplies Needed
2- 1 3/4" to 2" clay pots (This is a seasonal item, I found mine at Jo Ann's)
2- round wood balls (1 1/2")
1- round wood ball (5/8")
Fabric scraps
Craft sticks
Permanent marker
Small dowel (you can also use an old foam brush handle)
Spanish moss
Blue, black, and flesh color paint and foam brush
Hot glue gun and glue
Small pin
Wire cutters

Baby Jesus and Manger

1.  Cut 4 sticks just under 2" long using the rounded end, and 6 sticks 1 3/4" long.  Criss-cross and glue the rounded sticks at the center.  The legs must be glued exactly as shown in the picture for the manger to work correctly. 

2.  Glue 4 sticks on for the bottom of the manger, glue the remaining two sticks to the ends and then glue spanish moss onto the manger. 

3.  Cut a dowel 1" long.  Glue the 5/8 ball to one end.  Paint with flesh color paint.  Draw the face on with a fine tip permanent marker.  Dip the head of a small pin into white paint and dot the eyes and cheeks.

4.  Cut a scrap of fabric.  Fold the top of the fabric down an inch, wrap over the head, swaddle the fabric around the baby, tuck the ends under and glue to the back.

Joseph and Mary

1.  Paint the pot and the head then hot glue the head to the pot. 

2.  For the robes, cut a square of scrap fabric.  Fold the top inch under and place it over the head.  Glue the sides of the robe to the pot.  Bring the fabric around and glue at the bottom center.  Trim off the excess fabric around the bottom with a pair of scissors.

3.  Draw the faces on with a fine tip permanent marker and dot eyes and cheeks with a pin head dipped in white paint. 

4.  Separate one strand out from a piece of jute and tie it for Mary's bow.  Tie some jute (all strands) in knots for the head bands.

I thought that Joseph and Mary could be a little taller, so I cut a piece of wood, painted it black (brown may have looked better), and set it inside the stable.  It made them just the right height, you won't notice it there when Joseph and Mary are in place.

 As you can see, this nativity set is not too hard to make.  My daughter made the stable pictured below almost all on her own.  She painted it a dark brown instead of staining it.  Paint made the clean-up a lot easier, as you can imagine. :)

If you're looking for an activity that will entertain your kids/grand kids, I suggest buying a large box of craft sticks.  Pictured below are a few of the things my kids have made 100% on their own, without any help.  It's amazing the creativity that can come from a pile of craft sticks, a hot glue gun, and a little paint.  It's so much fun!

We adore our little nativity set and hope that this is something that you can make and enjoy with your family as well! 

Today's Fabulous Find...DIY Children's Nativity Set


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