In the Thoughts on Translation household, we try to make most of our holiday gifts. It’s fun, it’s personal, it fits with the frugal lifestyle and it keeps us occupied during the time of year when the sun goes behind the mountains at 3:30. Here are a few ideas that you can try, even in the days left before Christmas and New Year’s; I give you my permission to steal any or all of these ideas, as long as you send me a brag photo of the results!
For kids: Zombie stuffed animals
Or maybe not just for kids!
These require a minimal amount of sewing skill, and remember that the weirder a zombie looks, the better it is. These were my 11 year old’s idea, and we were pretty happy with how they turned out! Basic instructions: get some fuzzy fabric and cut a square with a rounded top. Use other colors to line the ears and make eyes, mouth, etc. Sew on the ears, eyes and mouth before you sew the two sides together, then stuff your zombie. Sew on a tail if you want (we used a feather boa off an old Halloween costume). Or make this zombie teddy bear:
For this guy, I taped two pieces of printer paper together and drew a pattern, then cut the basic shape out of brown fleece. Then do some zombie’d-out eyes, a scar, etc. The really cool element is the stomach pouch, out of which you can pull the bear’s “intestines,” which appear here as the pink tab on the right side of the abdomen. Make an oval out of black fleece and cut a narrow strip of pink fleece about a foot long. Sew one end of the pink fleece to the bear’s stomach, then sew the black oval over it to create a pouch. Have lots of fun pulling the intestines out and stuffing them back in again.
For anyone: origami cranes in a tree
I was inspired by a book on “origami bonsai,” but the origami flowers and leaves looked fairly time-consuming (but beautiful!) to make. So I hired my daughter to fold a bunch of origami cranes of different sizes, then I pruned some branchy twigs off our apple trees and hot-glued them onto some interesting rocks. Then I hot-glued the cranes to the twigs. Fun for anyone! You could do this type of project with other origami objects, or glue them to wood blocks, rocks, whatever.
For your special person: a love poem on a stone
A translator friend of mine has a fridge magnet with this poem, Recipe for happiness in Khabarovsk or Anyplace by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I immediately loved it, and this year I’ve been on a poetry kick so I decided to make a gift for my husband from it (don’t worry, he’s too busy skiing to read my blog, so the surprise won’t be spoiled). You could do lots of things as poetry crafts, but I just printed the poem out in large font and laminated it onto an interestingly cracked marble tile that was left over from a renovation project. For the lamination, I used Mod Podge (a decoupage sealer that you can get in craft stores), but Elmer’s Glue would work in a pinch. Just use a small paint brush to apply a very thin layer of glue/podge on the surface of the tile, then lay the paper on the wet glue/podge, and paint another very thin layer over the paper. Put your tile on a plate stand for display in your house or in your loved one’s office!
Slightly woo-woo but fun: messages/poems on the rocks
Note: I’m not sure if “woo-woo” is a universally understood term. Here in Boulder we associate it with New Age kinds of things like crystal healing. Anyway: this idea is an amalgam of things I saw on Pinterest. I made a bunch of sets, and for what it’s worth, all of the recipients seemed to really like them. Here’s what you do:
Get yourself some small rocks; I purchased these “accent rocks” in the craft department at our local dollar store, so this gift literally costs less than a dollar. If you live near a beach, you could probably get nice rocks for free. If you have small and very neat handwriting, you could paint or write directly on the rocks. If, like me, you have large and messy handwriting, avail yourself of a computer printer and print out some quotes, sayings, or poem verses that you find inspiring, beautiful or just fun. Then, take your Mod Podge or Elmer’s glue, and follow the process described above for the poem-on-a-tile project. Use a *thin* layer of glue! I made a couple of sets with (short) poem verses, and couple of sets with little sayings, like “The best is yet to be,” “Laugh more,” “Be the change,” If not now, when?” etc.
Then make a card with suggested uses for the rocks: the recipient could keep them, give them to friends, or leave them in random places for strangers to find! As I mentioned, a little woo-woo but fun for the right person.
And with that, happy 2013 and have a crafty holiday season!