So this Christmas season (2011) I had a crazy idea to make Christmas gifts for everyone. I wouldn’t consider myself “crafty” & although, in the past, I have enjoyed doing craft projects (pottery, painting, etc) by no means do I practice my craft skills on a regular basis. In June of this year, my brothers, sister-in-law, & I threw a surprise 30th anniversary party for my parents so I’ve gotten more craft experience this year than I ever have in my life! So naturally with my over-achieving ego & know-it-all personality I figured I was an expert & Martha Stewart could take lessons from me & decided to make all my Christmas gifts this year. This was definitely a lesson in humility!
Because I’m an obsessive, compulsive list-maker I started off by making lists of everyone I was giving gifts to & jotted down basic ideas of what I had planned. Then I hit up pinterest & the internet for ideas on how to make those ideas happen. Between the anniversary party & Christmas I have visited Pat Catan’s so much that I actually was remembered by employees. I don’t know if that’s sad or impressive! Many of the finalized gifts were the results of piecing things together, then taking them apart, then re-piecing & rearranging again…in some cases completely scrapping & starting over. But in the end they all came together & most turned out better than I had even expected them too.
What I learned most from doing this is how much “homemade” gifts are loved. And, although, many times swear words & throwing of objects was accompanied during the process, in the end I loved making these gifts for people who I love more than anything. Anytime you can work the creative part of yourself & put it to good use in a positive outlet, it really does leave you with a feeling of satisfaction. Nothing beats the personalization of gifts that come from the heart & the time, frustration & annoyance truly was washed away when I saw how much my gifts were loved & appreciated. I don’t know if I’d ever do it again in such a lump sum, but I have never given gifts that had so much of my heart in them & I think that really showed this holiday season.
“Family Wreath” made for my mom. This sucker is HUGE, much bigger than I had originally planned. I started off with different icons representing each member of our family, along with pictures in frames. It looked way to crowded so it was downsized to just pictures. Good lesson that oftentimes simpler really is better!
For my sister-in-law, Robin, I found a hand print vase on pinterest. I tweaked the style & project a little bit, added some flowers & voila…it turned out great! This was time-consuming & had to be done in stages, due to the paint & glue needing to be COMPLETELY dried before moving on to the next stage. I learned this out the hard way by not waiting until the paint was completely dry & ended up having to re-do the whole thing. My nieces loved playing in the paint & being able to print up the vase, I added their pictures on the back & had them sign/date their names on the side. Couldn’t be any cuter!
My brother Chad, is a police officer. For him I created a collage of local area police cars & uniform patches. His gift was the most time-consuming to make, but it didn’t have anything to do with putting the collage together. It was contacting police stations, organizing schedules to meet up with those that helped me get photos, & trying to keep all of it quiet so he didn’t find out. That process took almost 3 months to complete & the actual putting together of the collage only took a few hours. I threw a Bob Dylan quote on the top, popped it into a cool frame, & his was probably the gift I was most in love with. Really proud of him & the profession he choose to dedicate his life to & this was such an honor to put together for him.
What in the world do you even make for someone who has everything? When it came to my Papa & Grandma Cooper I had no idea what to do. My Grandma Cooper is fighting her 4th bout with cancer. I knew I wanted to remind her of how much she’s loved & give her something encouraging to hold onto when she’s ever doubting that she can do it. I thought of a scrapbook full of pictures of all the grand & great grand-kids, but her eyesight’s a little fading due to the chemotherapy. Again, pinterest pulled through for me on this one. Someone had posted a picture of rocks that the guests signed at her wedding instead of a guest book, she then put them in a flower vase to display in her home. I decided to do this for my grandparents. I had all the grand & great-grands send me some of their favorite memories of my grandparents. I painted each memory on individual rocks (I got so many memories I didn’t think I’d have enough rocks, but God is so good & I ended up having the EXACT amount rocks needed), placed them in a decorative basket, & added a picture sign that said, “Thank you Papa & Grandma for laying down our stepping stones”…making this gift & seeing my Grandma read through them, laughing & smiling, made this so memorable. It was amazing to me how each grandkid had their own special memories with my grandparents. You never know what the future will hold & being reminded of memories is one of the greatest gifts.
My Grandma Martinez has had a rough year. My step-grandfather, Harvey, passed away a few months back after a tough battle with brain cancer. My grandma was his strength & she loved him through it. After he passed away she moved from North Carolina back to Ohio & started the next chapter of her life. I wanted to do something to let her know that it’s time for her to relax & pamper herself. I have super-sensitive skin & a TON of skin allergies & have always been interested in making my own all-natural products. This Christmas gift created the perfect opportunity to try out my hand at making lotions, body washes, face cleanser…everything! This was by FAR the most frustrating of all the gifts. I made so many batches of lotions & spent so many hours researching different natural ingredients that I began dreaming (nightmares) of working on this “Reasons why” basket. In the end, I made homemade hand/body lotion, a sugar scrub, bubble bath & body wash, and bath fizzes. I even attempted lip balm, but wasn’t happy with how it turned out. Everything was made with all-natural ingredients with no chemicals, preservatives, or any ingredients that can’t be pronounced. I made labels for each item & labeled them, “Reasons why you deserve…” & put a cute picture of different stages of my grandma’s life on it. I then added pistachio’s (my grandma’s favorite), some chocolates, some candles, a bath loofah, & added a poem that I wrote to it. It turned out so adorable & she is so deserving of a night to pamper herself.
My dad, brother Luke, & nieces didn’t get homemade gifts this year. My dad’s birthday is the beginning of December & he did then, but not for Christmas. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to, it was simply that I didn’t have enough time. Considering I got my brother a “Damn right I drive a dodge” hoodie & my nieces doorbell’s for their rooms…I think they were just as happy with those!