December 18, 2012

Gift-Crafting for Yule

Photo by Polly Taskey, Pagan by Design
Who says you have to fight the crowds and spend money on meaningless plastic toys or the latest novelty items? The gifts that often mean the most are those you've thoughtfully hand-crafted. In keeping true to my "Pagan Style", I've gathered the leftover and natural items (as shown in the photo above), recycling things when possible and including the assistance of my grand-children. (The first thing my four-year-old grand-daughter asks me upon arriving at my home is, "Can we make crafts today, Gramma?"). This post is made in response to the 21 Days of Yule Blog Party hosted by the Domestic Witch

From left to right in the photo above, I've shown some thin-sliced oranges drying along with cinnamon ornaments and an old, unused green garland; a basket of pine cones, pine tree "cuttings" and acorns I've collected from the yard; a glass container with small, shiny ornaments inside; and in front of that is a box of holiday greeting cards used for various purposes (including making small gift boxes or decoupage crafts).

Image from Lavender World
Orange-Slice Garland: Inexpensively re-create this garland of approximately 18" length (sold by Lavender World for about $26).

About 5 oranges, sliced 1/4-inch thick and dried thoroughly
Cinnamon sticks, cut in half
Bay leaves
Floral wire, 22 gauge
Ribbon or Raffia for making a bow at each end

Orange slices can be dehydrated in about six hours in a 150 degree oven. Along the wire, string 3 half-sticks of cinnamon, followed by 3 dried Bay leaves and 3-4 slices of dried orange. Repeat this pattern until all orange slices are used, ending with cinnamon. Make a loop in the wire at each end to hold the garland together and tie a ribbon or Raffia bow at each end. Hang vertically from one of the loops in the wire, or arrange in a ring around a large white candle to make a beautiful centerpiece as shown here.

Image by Polly Taskey, Pagan by Design
I've made a few scented decorations (one of them shown above) from mine to include in (or attached onto) gift packages. Each one is a little different and is small enough to be hung on the tree or around the home. 

Image from Pinterest
For an edible holiday treat, try these Rainbow Orange-Peel Jell-O Shots by Megan Finley at Offbeat Home. You can make them with or without the alcoholic beverage.

Image from McCormick
Cinnamon Ornaments: (*NON-EDIBLE)
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of ground cinnamon
3/4 cup applesauce
rolling pin, cookie cutters and cooling racks
waxed paper and a drinking straw or small eye-dropper

Combine cinnamon and applesauce thoroughly (may need to work the material by hand to fully mix), using about half of the dough each time, roll to 1/3 to 1/4-inch thick between two sheets of waxed paper. Cut out shapes as desired. (I used a shot glass to make small, round "Prosperity Pentacles", and cookie cutters in the shape of a star, oak leaf and bell). Carefully place the shapes onto the cooling racks to dry and poke a hole for hanging. Dry for about two days, turning occasionally. Thread a ribbon through the hole for hanging. This is an easy project to share with the kids, but be cautious not to let them lick their fingers. *Cinnamon contains an ingredient called Coumarin which can be toxic in large doses.

Acorn and Pinecone Gnomes:
Natalie Woolhalla has a great tutorial for creating these cute little treasures at Natural Kids. Check out her instructions complete with step-by-step images.

Image from NapaStyle
Winter Forest Mason Jar Oil Candles:
These originally sell for around $50 from NapaStyle, however, you can make your own for about $5 with some simple, natural ingredients.

Canning jar with lid (ring and flat-top)
Fiberglass wick and wick holder insert
Smokeless, odorless paraffin oil
Various pine cones, berries, pine sprigs

Drill or punch a hole in the center of the flat lid for the jar the same size as the wick insert. Attach the wick holder insert and wick onto the flat lid. Be sure the jar is clean and dry, then arrange the pine cones, pine sprigs, etc as you like inside the jar. Arrange the wick so it is hanging positioned in the middle of the jar. Pour the paraffin oil carefully into the jar and seal tightly. Trim the wick as needed. It may be necessary to soak the extended part of the wick in a bit of paraffin oil so that it will "wick up" the oil without burning the wick itself.

Image by Polly Taskey, Pagan by Design
Holiday Card Gift Boxes:
Quickly recycle those old greeting cards into unique and pretty gift boxes, decoupage crafts, gift tags and more! Step-by-step instructions (with photos) are found here for making Gift Boxes from Greeting Cards. Try using other items for various sizes as well (such as used cereal boxes, baking soda boxes, extra photos, etc). If you don't like the printed material shown, then create the box making the blank side facing out and use paints, stencils, glue-on googly-eyes, tiny pom-poms, ribbon, etc, for a personalized look. I made this one out of an 18 ounce Cheerios cereal box in about five minutes. Note, I measured the folds around the edges at 2 inches each (instead of 1 inch) to make the box "deeper". Finished box shown measures 5 1/2" x 9" and is two inches deep.
Inspired by her Native American roots and Bradbury lineage, Polly Taskey is a writer and grandmother in the northern USA.  She shares her wisdom and pagan interests through Pagan by Design and The Moonlit Grove.


MagicLoveCrow said...

Polly!!! I love all of these ideas!! I have to start drying some oranges!! Wow!! Fantastic my friend ;o) Happy Yule ;o)

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