Sunday, December 16, 2007

I Come Bearing Gifts

I LOVE Christmas!

I do, I really really do. My extended family gets together and is disgustingly happy - playing games, sledding, and doing things like exchanging sappy letters instead of useless gifts. We even have a caroling party. (It seems like no one carols anymore. People don't know what to do when we come to their front door. Not like I'd have any clue, either: "Crap! It's cold and I'm wearing pajamas and I can't leave or I'll look rude! Smile and endure the singing.")

I usually spend lots of time the month before Christmas trying to find exciting, personal, unique gifts for everyone. No cheap, plastic, battery operated toys for my godson (or new nieces and nephews)! Wooden personalized name puzzles or photo books or wooden sushi sets, like I'm giving this year. I love the personalized gifts for EVERYONE - Snapfish has been my best friend for the past few years. There aren't a TON of people we get gifts for - immediate family, grandparents, and my godson. Maybe some friends? That's over 20 people right there.

This year, newly married, trying to save money, and enjoying the added bonus of not doing too much of the commercial Christmas thing, (I did go Black Friday shopping. It's FUN! I like buying stuff. Retail therapy and all that, I believe in it. :) But I definitely keep it to a minimum. Because not being able to pay my bills would cause way more stress.) we decided to make our own gifts. We have been saving our glass jars from salsa, applesauce, and jelly. Plus, we have lots of mason jars lying around -- so we decided to do gifts in a jar! Sand Art Brownie Mix, Cappuccino Mix, Friendship Soup Mix, French Vanilla Hot Chocolate, Candy Cane Bath Salts, and the most endeavorous of them all - Homemade Candles.

I'm not sure how well received they will be, but they were so much fun to make together. I got to be crafty, have an excuse to watch more TV, and test the mixes, of course. :) Yum! I went the grocery store to buy all the food mix ingredients - it was less than $50. Add to that the craft store materials (wax crystals, wicks, salts, fabric, ribbon, etc) and we made 25 jars for less than $100. That's less than $4 a gift. Shhh, don't tell. We'll probably give one or two to everyone on our list (except the little kids - they get sushi), plus a small gift that is more personal. It's really hard for me to restrain from not spending more on everyone -- I just want them to know how much I love them. :)

Here's the finished product of the cappuccino, hot chocolate, and brownie mixes:

After I made the mixes and put them in jars I decorated some of the jars with green and red fabric cut into stars or trees, a la this salsa jar turned cappuccino mix:

I also cut squares out of the fabric and hot glued them to the lid, then used some hemp string to tie the fabric around the jar. For most of them, the lid can easily be unscrewed with the fabric and string still in place. I cut the labels out of card stock, decorated them and put instructions on the back. This project is pretty darn environmentally friendly PLUS it's super affordable. Score. You're reusing old jars, buying some simple food and craft items, and spending a little time to create some really special gifts.

As far as wrapping goes, it would be most eco-savvy to not wrap the gifts at all. However, seeing as how we have a bazillion bags left over from our wedding, we'll be using those some some reused tissue paper to give most of these gifts. They are sort of wrapped already, but I really love the prolonged suspense of giving and getting gifts. Kids don't love gift bags so much, since they just want to tear through the paper. So I wrapped those in classifieds and added some cloth ribbon:
it's da sushi!

The ribbon, hemp string, and fabric really made a few simple gifts look nice. I'm really excited to give these out!

Here are a few more pictures of our hard work::
First time making candles -- they smell like lilac!

Sand Art Brownies
Yum. Chocolate chips.

(Recipes are from, razzledazzlerecipes, and


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