Saturday, November 30, 2013

ghosts of christmas presents past


As a poor college student with an addiction to Pinterest, the Christmas season was {and still is} a creative endeavor. Putting together beautiful, meaningful gifts that were under budget was the game and receiving smiling, grateful reactions was the best of prizes. 

I can’t tell you what I have up my sleeve for this year, but I can share with you some DIY gifts of Christmases past. I wish I had pictures of everything I have made, but maybe just the idea will get your creative juices flowing.

For Mom: Painted Sunshine Canvas

My mom would sing “You Are My Sunshine” to my brothers and I when we were little. When I got married this past summer, she had the lyrics put in a locket for me. But before that, I made this canvas which now hangs in the hallway. I saw the layout on Pinterest {of course}, and thought that I could easily replicate it with a couple of acrylic paints. The painting wasn’t difficult, but the words were meaningful, and that’s what made it so special.

For Dad: Fun Animal Coffee Mugs

Getting DIY gifts for men is always a challenge, but I managed to find something fun and practical for my dad this particular year. I was inspired by this particular picture floating around Pinterest of a coffee cup with a pig nose on the bottom. So I bought three plain white coffee cups at the dollar store. Then I used the same enamel paint to paint Dad’s favorite sports teams on each cup. One for the Razorbacks, one for UCA Bears and one for JBU Eagles (where I attended school at the time.) Then, on the bottom of each one, I painted a pig nose, a bear snout and an eagle beak, so when he tipped up the cup it looked like he was wearing each. After the paint dries, you can put them in the oven and bake them to set the paint and make it dishwasher friendly. Unfortunately, I did not use enamel paint like I said above, and the paint came off after several, several hand washes, or I would have definitely snapped a picture for you while I was at home.

For Mama Fish: Initial Glass Jars

My mother-in-law is one of the toughest people to buy for {I love you, Mama Fish}, so that’s why I usually try to “make” for her. This particular year I found some simple glass jars at Hobby Lobby for half price, and thought it would be great to personalize them. I bought some enamel acrylic paint to use on glass, taped a fancy letter “F” I printed out onto the inside of the glass, and then spent hours carefully painting the letter onto the glass. It was tough. We made these same gifts for my bridal shower hostesses, except that time we used vinyl cutouts from Mama Fish’s Cricket machine - those things are amazing. I also know they make glass paint pens, which might be easier to handle if you can find them.

For Brother & Sister-in-Law: Custom Coasters

This is probably one of my favorite gifts because they are so customizable! I have made them using scrapbook paper and stenciled initials, but for these two, I used wedding photos. {You definitely need to make sure its okay with the photographer for you to use them.} I bought four 4” x 4” tiles from Lowes for less than $1 each. Then, I had four wedding photos {that I knew would look good cut to 4” x 4”} printed at Walmart. I also bought some sturdy felt at Hobby Lobby. I cut the photos down to size and then used Modge Podge to stick it to the tile, and then again to cover the photo. After several coats of Modge Podge had dried, I sprayed them down with clear matte spray paint. Then, I used a pretty strong glue to attach the felt to the bottom of the tiles. Beautiful, and condensation-friendly, if you don’t mind putting a cup on someone’s face.

For Mammie & Nana: Family Tree Print

My mom actually found this design on Pinterest {she loves it as much as I do}, and asked me if I could replicate it for my grandmothers. It was a pretty simple design, and was easy to copy using Illustrator. We then printed it on stationery paper and had them framed. Mom has asked me to do an update this year, since Mammie has had several great-grandbabies born since then. However, I have found a better design that I can’t wait to try out.

For the Brothers: Custom iPhone Cases

If dad was hard to DIY for, the boys are even tougher. But I was up for the challenge. All three were getting iPhones that year for Christmas, so I bought some cheap clear plastic iPhone cases off of Amazon for a great price. Then, I bought a bunch of scrap paper in different designs. I also printed and cut out some images off the Internet. I traced my iPhone on the back of the scrapbook paper to get the right size, and then made sure to cut out holes for the camera and flash with my x acto knife. When I was done, each of my brothers had iPhone covers with Danville Little Johns, camouflage, UCA Bears, Razorbacks and solid colors that they could switch out under the clear case at any time. Yep, I was impressed with myself, too.

For Friends: Crocheted Headband

A couple of Christmases ago, my Nana taught me how to crochet. I haven’t done it in a while, but I am convinced it’s like riding a bike, and I could pick it up again with a few lessons. However, that year I wanted to crochet everything. So I made all my girlfriends crocheted headbands that kept your ears warm in the cold. This is where I go into detail and tell you how I made them, but how about a link to the pattern instead? I made at least eight or nine of these for just the cost of the yarn and the buttons and didn’t even make one for myself!

For Friends: Custom Photo Album

Last year I lived in a house with seven other girls. We called the house “the zoo” because we each had a favorite animal. I wanted to get them each a little something, but seven gifts can quickly add up to big bucks. So, I found these cute 4 x 6 photo albums with a cut-out front for a great price. Then, I used each person’s favorite animal to create a graphic. When you looked at the photo album with the cover closed, you could only see their favorite animal and their name. When you opened it, there was a note around the animal saying how much I loved living with them and how we needed to fill these albums full of memories before the year ended. I then included several pictures from the first semester.

For the Husband: Initial Print

Of course this DIY gift was given before he was my husband, but it will work just as great after the wedding. Using Illustrator, I filled in the outline of our initials with words and phrases that were important to us or were an inside joke. I had lyrics from certain songs, many of the jokes Daniel likes to make and details from our favorite memories. Together the words formed a D, an ampersand (&), and a J. I printed it out on 11” x 17” in paper and framed it. It hung in his dorm room at school. If you have great penmanship, you could also do this with a pen and paper. It might even turn out better.

For the Husband: Scarf

Remember that Christmas when I was really into crocheting? Well, that Christmas I also crocheted Daniel a scarf. I used the most simple stitch, and I just kept going until it was wide enough and then kept going until it was long enough. I used a really soft gray yarn. I’ve seen Daniel wear it once {apparently it was too girly of a yarn}. But, I’m convinced you can crochet a manly warm scarf for the man in your life.



I can’t wait to show you what DIY gifts I have prepared for this year, but they are some good ones! Do you have any DIY projects that are your favorite to give?

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