The pressure is on – we are officially into the ’12 days before X-mas’ and a week to countdown to Hanukkah. Many of you may already have your gifts purchased, cards mailed and dishes planned. But if you are like the rest of us the Christmas songs came on the radio a little too soon – while the turkey and pecan pie were still digesting in our bellies. I am not here to give you tips on how to avoid the last-minute rush or to somehow grapple with your own procrastination but to at least give you some creative ideas of how to not feel so wasteful (in mind and wallet) during this holiday season.
Make your own:
Materials : Brown paper bag or Newspaper, scissors, old sponges, stencils, brushes
Find some old paper you have not yet recycled – brown paper bags or newspaper is a good idea. If you are using the brown paper bag cut the bag along one corner and discard the bottom so that it lays out flat as one sheet. Cut the old sponges up into fun shapes, circles, triangles, if you are adventurous a star. Dip the sponges in holiday-themed colors of paint and create a unique and fun pattern or design all over the paper. After it dries go back in with a brush and outline some shapes, add decorative lines or even put a tree trunk and a star on one of those triangles!
An alternative idea is to do leaf prints on the paper to impress your family and friends! Refer to my previous post, Fall Leaf Prints for detailed instructions!
Materials: Old Christmas cards, regular or decorative scissors, hole punch
I know it is hard to get rid of all those beautiful old Christmas cards that you so carefully hang around a doorway or place on your mantle each year – but don’t you think the hot pink snowman from the 80’s deserves to be put to rest?! Well how about better yet – re-created! Cut up your old Christmas cards into yuletide shapes or traditional squares with regular or even better decorative scissors, punch a hole in one end and tie it to your present with non-synthetic ribbon. Write your merry messages on the back and relish in the rewards of re-use!
Environmental Art Holiday Cards
Materials: Natural Materials, Imagination, Construction Paper, 5″x7″ envelopes, camera, glue
It’s quite the tradition to send photo cards during the holidays. Why not get a little creative and instead of sending photos of the family again send a message of peace, love and environmental art! Go to your favorite natural place – beach, woods, park, pond – collect a sampling of natural materials or a lot of one object. Arrange the materials on a flat surface- sand, rock, bench, ground – in a holiday shape. Think a peace sign, a star, an angel or even spell out a written message like “Peace on Earth”. Take a few photos from different angles (don’t worry your subjects won’t talk back, or blink) and leave the ‘message’ for someone else to enjoy!
Making the cards: Print out the photo(s) you like the best, I find the nicest outcome is doing matte with borders. Fold the construction paper in half and decide if you want the fold to be at the top or on the side. Glue the photo in the appropriate orientation and let dry. Write your inspiring message on the inside and voila! your friends and co-workers will be forever impressed with your creativity. One way to save paper & money is only use envelopes if you are actually mailing the card.
* To really think environmentally, digitally scan or download the photo onto a computer and send it as an email attachment wishing Peace and Joy
Making your own gifts can be more of a challenge especially if you feel like you are lacking in the ‘crafty’ department. However I’m of the belief that everyone has their own unique gifts that they can give during the holidays! Usually homemade gifts take more time, but I think people realize they are more thoughtful and usually quite special. I have made a list of some ideas for holiday gifts as well as some links to a few websites that expand these resources:
A gift of giving your time and skills – Home Maintenance (painting a room/ fixing a leak), Beauty (massage/manicure), Tea or coffee date, Washing the car, Pet-sitting, Baby-sitting, Cleaning the house, Making breakfast/dinner, Teaching a new skill, Yard work, Creating music playlists or cd’s… the list can go on and on
Art & Crafting – Drawing or Painting a picture of something or someone special, Sewing a felt ornament or silly animal, Making simple jewelry, Creating a set of recycled stationary, Making bookmarks from old National Geographic magazines, Using old candles to make a new one, Creating buttons or pins, Using flexible wire, string and found objects to make a hanging mobile, Altering a book to form a new work of art, Accordion Books, Finding a piece of driftwood to make a sculpture…
Culinary – Baking bread, Baking sweets, Making candy, Cooking a dinner for two, Cooking a week’s worth of dinner
Websites with more great ideas:
Of course if you are going to buy gifts this season try as hard as you can to be sustainable – support your local businesses & artisans. Pack those boxes you are shipping to your friends in Tasmania with your plastic grocery bags (how dare you still use those!) or newspaper instead of styrofoam and try to get a bit of that homemade chocolate through customs.
I hope you truly enjoy this holiday season and yes with 12 days left start belting out those holiday songs, wearing those cheesy holiday pins and please stop to smell the Christmas trees – it only happens once a year!