Friday, January 3, 2014

A Homemade Christmas

As many of you know, I've been at home due to illness for several months which created some new factors for our Christmas this year (and was the motivation behind starting this blog).  Firstly, with me not working finances were more tight than in previous years.  Secondly, I had a lot more time on my hands!  Because of this we decided to do almost entirely homemade Christmas gifts this year, which was a delight and perhaps a new tradition in the making!  The only gifts we didn't attempt to partially home make were the ones we shipped (sorry to those of you we shipped to, maybe we'll be more on it next year).

The idea originally began the first year we were dating when I received a lovely homemade fleece blanket from my love.
Yellow side
Tree side
Isn't it holding up well after 10+ years?

Then last Christmas my husband and I decided to do only homemade gifts for one another.  What a joy this was to be able to put so much time, effort and thought into a gift and to know that the whole time I was making it I was thinking about him.  I made him a chessboard and chocolate chess pieces and he made me a wonderful fountain for our future front patio area.
Chocolate Chess Pieces
Chess Board

Fountain, the dogs approve!
They turned out wonderfully. So, with that inspiration we delved into this year's Christmas gifts which was a much bigger undertaking.  We also received several homemade gifts from our family as well which was equally delightful.

As you may guess a true homemade Christmas starts with homemade Christmas cards (actually our making process ended with these as we were further behind on gifts than we had planned, but alas I think most of them arrived by Christmas).

Our cards (next year hopefully the embossing works a little better, I'm still playing with this):

This was followed by peppermint themed gift baskets for some of my local and dear friends and their families.  They included:
White Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Oatmeal Cookies:
Layered Cookie Mixes

Peppermint Hot Chocolate:
Layered Hot Cocoa

and Peppermint Sugar Scrub:
Sugar Scrub

One had Peppermint Play Dough as well for her kiddos.
Play Dough

I think they turned out rather well.

Basket 1
Basket 2

Basket 3
Basket 4

We made several magnet boards this year, one for both of our moms, and one for my dad.  I even made the magnets.
Dad's for his shop
Dad's with magnets

Mom-in-laws with magnets

Mom's for her sewing room
Mom's with magnets

My parents just moved which inspired some of our choices for them as they are still working on getting settled into retired life and their new house.  In addition to the magnet board for my mom, we made (with my dad's help) a thread and bobbin holder for her sewing room.
Thread and Bobbin Holder

The folks love spending time outside and have a wonderful campfire area at their new place so for my dad we made a set of cornhole boards.  I even sewed the bags (with serious supervision and tutorials from my mom, I'm not much of a sewer at this point).

Tree design on one board

Deer design on other board

Cornhole bags (4 of each kind)

We were so blessed to get my brother's girlfriend this year for Christmas and for her my folks and I made a photo ladder. We had the birch branches from some trees my parents had cut down this fall. I've now decided I like it so much I must need to build one for myself!

Photo ladder out of birch
For my brother we made a chess board (this year's model came with upgrades as you can see in the picture including dual sided purposing and grout in the lines between squares making the whole board flat and smooth).  On the other side we put a picture from a hike we had gone on several years ago just out of Bozeman.  We also equipped this board with hooks so he could hang it and display the picture when he wasn't using the chess board.  And we got some unfinished chess pieces and stained them to match his chess board.  We aren't yet quite to the chess piece making point yet.  Maybe next year.

Picture side
Chess board side

My father in law also got a chessboard (as you can see each one comes out slightly different and unique), though the backside was an entirely new creation.  An intricate cribbage board with a photo my husband took of the mountains where we grew up in the middle.  Let me tell you, drilling 242 holes in the right spot takes time!

Cribbage side with picture
Chess board side

On to my husband's gifts this year.  We have been experimenting with transferring pictures to wood and have have been successful as long as we make sure the paper is correct (trust me this is very important).  So, in cleaning out papers in the office I happened across a sketch I had done years ago of the mountain range where we grew up and my husband loves mountains.  So, I scanned it in, added a poem, inverted the image and wallah:

Picture transfer

I also made for him a table that folds up for his side of the couch/love-seat as we don't have one there since it's a high traffic area.

Table in down position

Table when it's set up

For me, he made a beautiful bath tray to hold my drink, book, iPad, etc while I enjoy our jetted tub.  This will be put to good use!

Bath tray

So handy!

Beautiful router work on the edges and a separate drink spot!

After all that we wrapped everything up in brown paper, tied bows with red tulle and labeled packages with photos of who it was to and from.  That was very fun, I'm sure we'll keep up the photo labeling!


Phew, that's it for the gifts we made, here are the homemade gifts the rest of our family made.

My brother's girlfriend made a myriad of delightful bath salts and scrubs for me (anyone else feel like the bath is beckoning now?)

Bath salts and scrubs

For my husband (and dad and brother) she sewed reversible hunting hats which turned out great!

Cammo side
Orange side

My folks knew I had been wanting a memory board in our office forever and my decorating theme in our house is canoes and cabin and outdoor based.  So I got this beautiful memory board and matching pillow!

Paddle Pillow

Memory Board

My husband had been wanting a rice bag & a long blanket for the winter as he always complains the blankets aren't long enough to cover his feet when he pulls them up.  Not an issue anymore!  My mom made him this tree blanket and rice bag:

Tree blanket
Rice bag

My brother outdid himself this year.  As I said earlier, I love canoeing and the decorating theme is prevalent in my house.  From shelves to figures to pictures and maps, etc.  For years, I've been eyeing this canoe shelf wine rack that I've seen online, but at over $2,000 I couldn't even bring myself to semi-seriously consider it.  I've just held out hope that someone would make one for me someday.  And guess what, this Christmas my brother did!  He had been given a couple of canoe shelves by a friend and he refinished it to match all the wood furniture in my house and added the wine rack.  How beautiful is this!?!

Canoe wine rack

What a talented family!  We are so blessed to have had such a wonderful homemade Christmas.  If you, or anyone you know are interested in any of the products in the first half of this post (the ones we made or my folks made) please let me know as we are willing to custom make them and sell to others.  We also have a PDF step-by-step tutorial on making the chess boards that is available for a small fee.  Feel free to contact me with any questions.  I hope all of your Christmases were equally blessed and that 2014 is starting out brightly!


  1. Wow, you guys are an inspiration. I made a few things this year and thought I was doing well. I may use a few ideas for next years Christmas presents. This is such a great idea you had about the blog. I look forward to hearing from you again. I'm keeping you in my heart and prayers. Love you, "Mother Mary"