Christmas for the Craft Impaired

by Rebecca Underwood

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We've all heard how much less expensive Christmas gift-giving can be if we make our own gifts. But, for someone like me who isn't exactly artistic, that always seems like it would take more talent than I have. Not so! The following crafts are inexpensive, require little or no artistic ability, and make wonderful gifts for teachers, colleagues, and the like. If you want to give a more substantial gift, just group together several and package them as a "set." These projects are even simple enough to get the kids involved for a little quality time during the holiday season. If you get an assembly line going, it won't take long to make a stack of Christmas treasures!

Silvery Stuffed Ornaments

1 clear glass ball ornament, any size
Silver Christmas "icicle" shreds (about 1/2 pkg.)
1 Christmas tree bow with wired hanging cord*
Pencil with eraser
Hot glue gun or craft glue

Carefully remove cap from ornament. Use eraser end of pencil to stuff icicles inside ornament; keep stuffing until nicely filled. Use scissors to trim any stray icicles from top of ornament. Replace cap. Center bow on cap, sliding hanging wires straight through ring on cap. Attach bow with hot glue or craft glue. When dry, trim away excess bow wires from back of ornament. If desired, attach a loop of ribbon to top of ornament, or leave as is. These are especially pretty when packaged together 3-4 at a time.

If you prefer a different color, you can substitute the metallic shreds normally used for packing gift bags. They come in a variety of colors and can usually be found in any discount or party store.

* These bows normally come attached to cards in groups of 4 to 12. You can find them in a wide variety of colors and sizes in the Christmas tree decorating section of most stores.

Pine Cone Ornaments

1 clean pine cone, medium to large
12" Christmas ribbon, 1 1/2 to 2" wide
1 candle ring (taper size)
White, silver, or gold craft paint
Scrap of household sponge
Hot glue gun or craft glue

If pine cone still has its stem, remove with scissors or wire cutters. Fold ribbon in half and glue together ends ("ugly" side together, if ribbon is two-sided). Glue ribbon ends to center of pine cone where stem used to be. Slip candle ring over ribbon and slide down to rest on top of pine cone. Adjust ring to be sure ribbon ends are covered; secure with glue. Put a little paint on sponge and dab all over pine cone, just coating tips of scales. Allow to dry. These are very pretty on the Christmas tree, hung in a doorway, or dangling in groups from a fireplace mantle.

Candle rings look like miniature wreaths with greenery and tiny decorations. They can usually be found in pairs at dollar stores and discount department stores.

For more sparkle, sprinkle on glitter while paint is wet. If you prefer, substitute white, gold, or silver glitter fabric paint.

Sparkling Glittered Ornaments

1 plain colored or clear glass ball ornament
Small star-shaped stickers (or other Christmas shape)
Spray glitter
1 Christmas tree bow with wired hanging cord
Pencil (optional)
Styrofoam egg carton (optional)
Hot glue gun or craft glue

Carefully remove cap from ornament. Place stickers on ornament, spacing randomly and not covering it entirely. Spray ornament lightly with one or more coats of glitter until you are satisfied with the results. (Note: Stick pencil in upside-down egg carton; slip ornament neck over pencil eraser for hands-free spraying.) When glitter is dry, carefully remove stickers. Replace cap on ornament. Glue bow to front of ornament cap, threading wired hanging cord through ornament loop. When glue has dried, use scissors to snip away excess hanging cord. Thread a loop of ribbon through hanging loop if desired, or package as is.

Spray glitter is a sort of clear varnish that has tiny flecks of glitter suspended inside it. It usually takes a couple of thin coats to achieve nice coverage. Alternatively, use the same process to coat clear ornaments with "frosted" glass spray.

Snowflake Ornaments

3" to 5" crocheted doilies
Liquid starch OR plain white glue
Waxed paper
Thin ribbon
Tiny bows and/or ribbon flowers (opt.)

If using plain white glue, mix a small amount with an equal portion of water; stir until well blended. Dip doily into glue mixture or pure liquid starch; completely squeeze out excess. Spread doily out onto waxed paper, nudging it back into shape as needed. Allow to air dry overnight or until completely dry and stiff.

Finish snowflake by attaching a hanging loop of thin ribbon. If desired, decorate further by attaching bows and flowers with craft glue or hot glue. Attach them in any design you wish, but keep the shape of the doily in mind. Give a single snowflake as a token gift, or gather 4-6 as a set for a larger gift.

Of course, you can crochet the doilies yourself with some cotton twine, but I'm not that talented. I find mine very inexpensively (25 to 50 cents each) at craft stores or even discount stores where Christmas/craft items are sold.

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