Creating for Christmas

Today’s post is especially designed for the crafters and artisans who enjoy giving their work as gifts.  It is incredibly fulfilling to have put your heart, soul and creative energy into any creative work, but even more so if you get to create thinking about presenting a specific individual with the gift.  There are tons of ways you can show off your creative abilities this holiday gift-giving season, some even simpler than you thought.

-Make unique touches on a simple base: Start with something simple, like the same glass vase, or plain white snowman.  Then decorate it in a special way to match the individual you are gifting.  This is more challenging for those who knit because you don’t have a real “base” to start with.

-Make a gift basket/bag for all to share: Make a collection of your favorite creative ideas.  For example, if you’re gifting food, put several different types of food mixes, drink mixes and cups/bowls/serving trays in the basket/bag and let them pick out the items they want.

-Spicing up a simple item: For example, adding marshmallows, spoons and cups to hot chocolate mix, adding your own touches to a simple wooden item, taking a picture frame that has words on it and decorating it with color, or adding embroidery or knitting to a towel, or throw.  This idea doesn’t mean that you’re using the same item and adding variations for each person.  It means you’re taking an item that’s already great and transforming it into something amazing.

-Create something special from the bottom up: Yep, no shortcuts, decorating bases or sharing.  Here we’re talking about making something extra special for each and every person you’re gifting.

As an artist, one of the most satisfying things is seeing others enjoy your work.  Gifting your work during the holidays is especially rewarding and even if they don’t give you a super personal gift, it’s always worth it to give them something special.

Share your favorite items to gift and thoughts on gifting your creativity for the holidays below.

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Holiday Collections

Gather some holiday cheer with holiday memorabilia.  What holiday items do you collect?

Santa:

Santa in Texas

A collection of Santa’s

What better place to find Santa but at SantaCollectors?

About shares several Santa collections

Nutcrackers:

About’s collection of Nutcracker memorabilia

The official collection from a Nutcracker Museum, including some non-traditional ones!

Steinback Christmas Nutcrackers

An Etsy collection of Nutcrackers

A Washington, USA store for Nutcracker collectors

Ornaments:

About’s collection of glass ornaments

A collector’s website for ornaments

ChristmasPast shares Hallmark ornaments and others

Nativity sets:

A selection of Nativity collections from About

Another collection of Nativities

Bronner’s collection of Nativities

Other great collectibles are angels, advent calendars and lawn decorations!

Share your display tips, favorite collections and links to your blog where you have pictures featuring your collections!

Thanksgiving Celebration!

Well, Thanksgiving is almost here in the USA!  Today I’m excited to bring you thoughts about your Thanksgiving celebration!

Food:

Food is a must.  Whether you prefer the traditional turkey, a fried turkey, a turduckhen or are going vegetarian, there are lots of great options out there.

Food Network has a whole section of their website devoted to the festive foods of thanksgiving.

Epicurious has a great selection of food ideas, as well as drinks and videos to help you.

Family Fun has desserts, appetizers and more.

Eating Well has some suggestions for a healthier Thanksgiving dinner table.

101 Cookbook shares some ideas for a Vegetarian Thanksgiving.

Last but not least, some cute dessert ideas.

Setting the table:
  • Flowers and centerpeice:

Creative, colorful, unique and easy to do ideas for flowers from The Full Bouquet.

And a cute and easy pumpkin and candle addition to the table or any decoration.

  • Place settings:

Festive and easy napkin rings from Merriment Design

A great placecard idea for a turkey-themed celebration.

Decorations:

Send out your invitations and Thanksgiving greetings on this gorgeous, homemade card.

If you’re a woodworker or fan of painting, check out this idea for a funny Thanksgiving decoration (and some early Christmas ones too!)

Two more great ideas, one for indoors and one for outdoors that will add charm and feelings of warmth to your celebration.

Last but not least, get the kids involved in some creative, but messy papier mache creating gourds and pumpkins.

Share your favorite recipes, decorations and thankful thoughts below!

Knitting for Love

Well, the Holidays are upon us!  The holidays are usually a time for enjoying each other’s company, doing special activities with friends, decorating our houses and eating lots of food.  For some though, the holidays are a stressful time.  There are some without homes, without money to put food on their tables and without friends to share with.  This holiday season, I encourage you to take part in making the holidays a special time for someone in the community.  There are tons of ways you can do this, from volunteering at a soup kitchen or food pantry, donating a box of food to a community organization, bringing a group of musicians and singers to a senior citizen home, and sending out cheerful cards to those in your community without family.

But the one way I want to encourage you to use your time and talents today, is with knitting.  Many organizations in your area ask for donations of knitted items in these cold winter months.  And if it happens that you’re fortunate enough to live in a warm climate during these months, you can still contribute your knitted goods by mailing them in to a donation center or organization who will put them to good use.

Some simple items you can knit are scarves, mittens, socks, and hats.  These are great for keeping warm and don’t take too long to do.  If you’ve got more time on your hands, some organizations will take donations of knitted shawls or blankets.

Some organizations that may take donations are radio stations, food banks, churches and community organizations like The Red Cross, and Salvation Army.  (Check with an organization before you send them anything!).  Also search “donate your knitting” on Google or your favorite web search engine for some great organizations that will take your donations year round.

This is a great way to not only care for the community and give back to the community but also put your talents and skills to good use (especially if your family doesn’t want another knitted gift :)).

Share your favorite knitting charities and thoughts below.

Photographing the Holidays

One of the most important things besides the holidays themselves, is the memories associated with the holidays.  You may not always remember the holiday, who was at the party or what you got, but if you’re taking photographs, you’re assured memories forever.

Nature: Take pictures of your area in this season.  Whether you celebrate the holidays with snow on the ground, or you’re on a sunny beach, capture those moments. Holidays seem to add a special something to nature, a special sparkle if you will.  Photographing those snow covered trees, birds eating the seeds you put out for them, sandy snowmen or “Mrs. Clause” in a bikini, are not only great for holiday cards, they’re also ways to express your creativity and what your creative eyes see in the world.

People:  Taking pictures of your family and friends will ensure that the memories will last forever.  Photographs capture moments in time that cannot be replicated, repeated or redone.  You may shoot the moment the dog knocks the tree down, your twins rip open a present together, the joy in your partner’s face when you give them that specially created gift or the peace your friends have all sitting at the table enjoying a meal or drinks together.

Inside and out: Photograph those decorations!  Hopefully you’ll get lots of compliments on your decorating abilities.  Rather than not being able to replicate what you did next year, or even remember it, take photos to remember your creativity and great ideas. (Tip for taking pictures in the dark)

Share it: Share your holiday treasures with the world.  Whether you post your images on a blog, on Facebook or Twitter or another site, share your holiday cheer with others.  If you’re fortunate enough to live next to someone with tons of holiday cheer and a brightly lit house, ask them if they’re sharing their creativity online, and if not, ask if you can share their creativity with your online community.

Don’t forget to check online for ideas about camera exposure and taking photographs at night or inside if you’re not an expert.  There are tons of great and creative ideas online.

Share your blogs with holiday photos and photographic techniques below!

Homemade Bread Party

Today, November 17th, is Homemade Bread Day!  There are tons of things you can do to have a bread-tastic event today or this weekend, whenever you’re going to celebrate!  Check out these ideas and share yours!

Celebrate the chef: Decorate simple white/colored aprons for the baker.  If you’re doing this with a group, each person gets to decorate their own apron to fit their own personality and their love of bread (or any other food.)

Bread tasting: Just like a wine tasting party, you can host a bread tasting party!  Have toppings, oil and butter that people can try on their bread varieties.  Bread ideas include pumpkin, sourdough, rye, Hawaiian sweet bread, french bread, italian bread, whole wheat, whole grain, flax, banana, and boston brown bread.

Fondue party: What goes better than cheese with bread?  You can purchase (or maybe even rent) a fondue pot for as little as $35.

Sandwich party: If you’re not into fondue or would rather not pick over your food, celebrate homemade bread day by making some sandwiches.  Toppings are your choice, but make sure to use homemade bread!

It would be ridiculous to not mention the easiest way to make homemade bread, using a bread machine.  There are tons of varieties available for sale between $50 and $100.  Larger models, as well as more complex models are available for more.  King Arthur Flour, Hodgson Mill, and Bob’s Red Mill are 3 companies who sell bread mixes, and there are tons of recipes online for making your own bread.

Share your favorite bread activity, type or recipe below!

Sing a Thankful Song

Today I am thankful for music. Of course, I am thankful for music everyday, but today I’m going to share a few thoughts on music, thanksgiving and healing.

Music is one of the most amazing gifts we humans have.  It can communicate things we can’t begin to put into words, it expresses colors, details, thoughts, feelings and emotions without words.  Music can create beautiful pictures and inspire listeners.  Music can make or break a moment or movie (think about what would have changed if they played a love song during a fight scene in Fight Club).  Music is wonderful to play, inspiring to listen to and can really transform your life.  Studies have been done that illustrate the importance and benefits of playing music (and to some extent listening to music).  Music does great things for your brain and for your life.

Musical performances typically have thanksgiving built into them.  In other words, after the individual or group is done performing usually there is cheering, applause or some other means of celebrating the music and thanking the musician.  If you have a favorite band or musician, purchasing their music or gear is one way to thank them.  Another way to thank a musician is to donate time, money or resources to a program like VH1’s Save the Music, Ear Candy Charity, or Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation.

Finally, music has many healing properties.  Not only is it healing for the person who plays it, it also has an amazing effect on those who listen to it.  Although everyone has their own favorites, a couple individuals to check out are Mark Romero, David Arkenstone, Brenda MacIntyre, Kay Grace, Marcome and Medwyn Goodall.

Share your favorite musicians, songs and why you are thankful for music below!