Saturday, February 09, 2008

Managing a stash of Christmas magazines

If you're like me, you probably have quite a stash of Christmas magazines. I've got Family Circle and Woman's Day Christmas issues going back to the late 1960s -- and, if I count magazines passed on to me by my mother, I have some going back to the early 1950s. And let's not forget all those wonderful Good Housekeepings with the elaborate gingerbread house ideas! I have managed to declutter many, many magazines from my life, but not those Christmas issues. They have too many great recipes and craft and gift ideas. The only problem is that I can seldom remember which issue I saw a particular idea or recipe in.

This year, I discovered the recipes-to-try form at Organized Christmas, as I mentioned in an earlier post. It has helped greatly when I come across a recipe I want to try. But what about all of the craft and gift ideas?

A couple of years ago, I started a sort of system which has worked well for me. In the month or two after Christmas, I go through some of the magazines in my stash. As I find ideas I want to try, I place a sticky note on the front of the magazine. I jot down the title of the craft and note its page number. I keep all of the magazines that I've marked like this on the same set of shelves. This has helped tremendously with finding those great ideas again.

As a bonus, I find that there are so many wonderful ideas in my magazine stash, I'm more easily able to resist the Christmas issues of these magazines when they appear in the grocery store!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A different wreath idea

Remember those cute little boxes made of old Christmas cards? I featured them here on my blog some time ago. They are so easy to make that you can do a whole bunch of them in a jiffy. Well, recently I was looking through an old magazine and saw a wreath that someone had covered with these little boxes. I scanned the photo to show you how it looked.

My guess is that the person who made the wreath (there were no directions, just the photo) started with either a straw or styrofoam wreath form. I think my next step would be to wrap the wreath form with ribbon, then I'd hot-glue the little boxes to the wreath form in layers. I definitely want to try making one of these next year. I'm including the directions for the little boxes right here, since most people probably have easy access to old Christmas cards right now.

Christmas Card Boxes

Most people have probably seen those little boxes made from Christmas cards. These are the easiest directions I have ever found. Most of the instructions I've seen involve a lot of folding and drawing of complicated lines, etc. These are actually easy!

The boxes can obviously be made from any greeting card, not just Christmas ones. These make great little gift boxes or can be used to hold office or craft supplies like paper clips, tacks, push pins, beads, etc. Christmas ones can be hung on the tree or piled beneath a miniature tree.

Here's what you do:

1. Cut apart a greeting card along the fold, separating the front from the back.

2. Start with the back part of the card. Using a ruler, draw lines from corner to corner on the unprinted side of the card to form an X. The center is where the two lines of the X meet.

3. Fold up each of the four sides of the card to meet the center of the X. Crease the folds well.

4. Open the card back up to reveal the creases you've made. Now, holding the card vertically, carefully cut on the two vertical crease lines at the top and bottom of the card, just to the point where they intersect with the nearest horizontal crease.

5. Fold in the tabs you just created by following step 4. You can now see how this is going to form a box. Tape the tabs inside the box. (You may find that each end of the box -- the part between the tabs -- stands up a bit higher than the rest of the box. If this happens, it is not a problem. You can simply fold the excess down inside, over the tabs, and tape it in place. Or, if you prefer, you can simply trim off the excess card before taping.) You have just made the bottom of the box!

6. Now, repeat steps 2 through 5 with the front part of the card, which will make the top of your box.

7. Obviously, this produces a box top and bottom which are exactly the same size, which sometimes means that the cover doesn't go on too easily. Usually, if you just squeeze the sides of the box gently, the cover will go on just fine.

These directions look far more complicated than the process actually is. I've made loads of these boxes with kids over the years, and it really is easy enough for even a 5-year-old to do. So have fun with these cute little boxes!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Living in a Christmas card...

One snowy night a few years ago, Mr. T and I decided to go for a walk in the falling snow. It was snowing in big, soft, fluffy flakes, and we felt as if we were walking inside a snow globe!

Ever since I was very small, the idea of being able to be little and live inside something -- like a snow globe, or a dollhouse, has fascinated me. One of my earliest memories is of listening to the radio (TVs were rare and expensive back then) and being convinced -- by my own imagination -- that there were little people inside there acting, broadcasting, and singing. Couldn’t I see the lights from their little studio? How hard I tried to peek through the cracks where the light was coming from, to get a glimpse of those little people at work!

In a similar way, I could lose myself in looking at a Christmas card or even a wrapped gift. My grandmother wrapped the most gorgeous Christmas gifts! I would get so entranced with looking at all of the gifts under her tree and imagining what it might be like to live in the scenes depicted on the wrapping paper. I seem to remember being summoned out of the front room where the tree was, as if people were afraid I would be shaking the gifts to see what was in them, or maybe unwrapping them. They couldn’t know I was only looking and imagining!

This year I did something that was so much fun and sort of fulfilled my childhood wish of living in a Christmas card or on gift wrap. I own many, many vintage Christmas cards, as well as newer ones with scenes I would love to live in. I scanned them all into my printer’s imaging gallery, then turned them into a screen saver just for my own use. Now I have these lovely images the size of my computer screen. During the Christmas season, if I was feeling stressed, I would activate the screen saver and just watch it for a few minutes. As one lovely scene faded into the next, I would find myself relaxing. After a few minutes I would feel refreshed and ready to return to my tasks.

Do you have a collection of favorite cards? You might like to try making them into your own personal screen saver for next Christmas.

Friday, February 01, 2008

A simple flannel throw

One year I found some lovely Christmas print flannel on sale. I loved the different little motifs -- snowmen, churches, ornaments, poinsettias and more -- placed within squares. It was some of the nicest print flannel I had ever seen. 

 I hung onto it for a few years, trying to decide what to do with it. A couple of years ago, after Christmas, I made up my mind I was not waiting any longer for the “perfect project” for that flannel. There were 2 yards of it. I held it up and looked at it and decided it would be just enough to make a flannel throw. I bought 2 yards of dark green flannel for the backing. Then I simply sewed the two pieces together with right sides together, leaving an opening to turn the throw. I turned it and slipstitched the opening shut and pressed the throw. 

And that was it. No batting, no tying. I thought tying might be a good idea, but decided to live with the throw for awhile and see if it was really necessary. It turned out not to be, probably because there was no batting to shift around. I’ve washed the throw a few times, and it always comes out of the dryer just fine. 

I’m pleased with my decision to put a solid dark green on the back. That way I can use the throw all year round, and just fold it Christmas side out during the holidays. Do you have a few yards of Christmas material just waiting for a project? You might like to try this. I’m going to make another one this year, I hope!