Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Simple Christmas Gifts and Wrapping (with a Wreath Tutorial)

Hello, Dear Friends - I want to give you a special Thank You for taking time out of your busy schedules to come and visit me in my little corner of the world. 
I know how busy you all are this time of year. 
Thank you for your sweet comments - I do treasure each and every one. 
No matter how far away, we stay close through this little world of blogging. 

So here is a toast to all of you! 

I hope you are taking time to be extra good to yourselves while you work hard to make the holidays brighter for everyone around you. 

Today I want to share some simple ideas for those last minute gifts. 

These little star ornaments are very easy to make. 

You simply need some corrugated cardboard and some sheet music. 
(I used scrapbook paper sheet music)

Cut out a simple star shape (cookie cutters make great patterns) out of the cardboard, then cut one slightly smaller out of the sheet music. (Make patterns of both out of card stock if you plan to make multiples)

Glue these together with low melt hot glue, then add a garden twine bow and a ribbon loop for hanging. 

These make lovely additions to gifts of bottled spirits, or special treats. 

They also make lovely gift tags, tree ornaments, or garlands. 

You can even put them inside Christmas cards. (Make sure you make them small enough to fit into the envelope if you plan to do this )

Another sweet and simple gift idea is 'Old Fashioned Christmas Soaps'. 

To make these decorated soaps, you need:

Waxed paper for work surface and wrapping

Christmas cut-outs (Old Christmas cards or wrapping paper)

Paraffin Wax

Saucepan and tin can to make double boiler for melting wax

Smooth bars of soap

White glue

Medium sized paintbrush

Prepare work surface by covering with waxed paper. 

Cut out desired image, making sure it will fit on bar of soap. 

To melt wax, fill saucepan with a couple inches of water. Place paraffin in empty can. 
Put can in saucepan on stove burner. Melt paraffin over medium heat. As the water heats, it will melt the paraffin. Never melt wax over direct heat as it is flammable. Keep warm over low heat when melted. 

Position cut-out on soap, securing with white glue along edges. Smooth wrinkles with fingers and let dry. 

Dip brush into melted paraffin. Working quickly, carefully brush a thin layer of wax over decorated side of soap. Let dry. If desired, apply another thin layer of paraffin to this side of soap and let dry. Leave other side of soap uncoated so it can be used. 

Once dry, you can smooth any roughness with a bit of dry paper toweling by buffing. 

This technique can be used for decorating candles, too! 

They make sweet, vintage style soaps. 

I used pure castile soap which has a wonderful fresh scent. 

Wrapped in waxed paper and tied up with sponges and scrubbies, they make darling gifts. 

So nice to keep on hand for that last minute gift giving. 

Here is a simple, rustic way to wrap your new gifts. 

Using plain brown postal paper, manila and Tea Dyed Tags, seasonal stamps, and twine. 

For success in working with the heavy brown paper, use small pieces of packing tape to secure (the kind for taping up boxes for shipping). 

Regular tape is not strong or sticky enough to secure the paper.

When using the stamps, pre-stamp the cut paper before wrapping if the package is soft or rounded. 

Paper bags are also good candidates for stamping and can be filled with treats. 

Use a paper punch to close the folded bag with twine or simply staple a twine bow to secure the top. 

I always dreamed of spending Christmas at a cabin in the woods with my one special love, My Blue Eyes, but since our family might miss us if we ran away :) , I have brought the cabin atmosphere home. 

Wouldn't it be wonderful to bring a basket of rusticly wrapped presents for that special someone to a 
Cozy Christmas Cabin? 

But I guess I must stay here with these lazy snuggle bugs.

Who would take care of them at Christmas if we stole away? 

The peaceable kingdom......

This year I have tried to replicate that cozy, cabin feeling. 

One of the things I made to bring this about was this winter cone wreath. 

I promised to show you how it was done.....

Gather several varieties of cones. Depending on the size of the cones, you will need a corresponding grapevine wreath. I used an 18 inch wreath because I used larger sized cones. 

You will need floral wire and wire cutters. Needle nose pliers come in handy for pushing wire ends into the cones and for grasping the wire to pull it. 

Make a sturdy wire hanging loop in back using 3 or 4 lengths of wire together, twisted to form a loop and securing the ends to the grapevine frame. The finished wreath is quite heavy so be sure to anchor this securely. 

Start by placing cones along the inside of the wreath, positioning them in various ways - some upside down, some sideways, etc. to give it a random appearance. Alternate the size of cones.

 To secure each cone:
Cut wire in 10 inch lengths, double it - forming a loop, place cone in loop and twist it tight. Slide one end into wreath, and then twist ends together to secure. Clip ends and push into wreath. 

Once you have the inside done, start placing cones along the outside in the same way, randomly placing them this way and that. 

Finish up by filling in the front. Save your prettiest cones for that! 

I used approximately 100 cones that I gathered all year. 

 This wreath took several evenings to complete, but now I will have it for many years.
It would look pretty spray painted white with tiny silver or gold balls.  

I hope my crafting ideas inspire you to do some last minute crafting of your own. 

If not - there is always next year! 

I am finishing up the last of my Christmas Cottage Kitchen decorating and will share that with you next time. 

Giving is a joy if we do it in the right spirit. It all depends on whether we think of it as "What can I spare?" or  as "What can I share?"

- Esther Burkholder


  1. love the pine cone wreath and your stamped brown paper wrapping! i love your little furballs, too. :)

  2. I love the cabin in the woods theme - so calming and peaceful. The pine cone wreath is fabulous. I had one years ago - might need to make another for next year. I like the brown paper wrapping too.

  3. Hi Karen,
    You have a winter get-a-way at the cabin down pat! Your home is beautifully cozy and your furry sleepy friends are so peaceful. I know I always remark on "that view" but wow, I just have neighbors... you can see for miles, and miles. I love all your giftwrap ideas and you have a wonderful collection of stamps... delightful!
    Now all you need is snow, maybe Friday they say...

  4. Thank you for such an informative and wonderful post. I am sending this link to my eldest daughter who is very much "into" such stuff. She will love it.

  5. I love that idea of wrapping gifts in the paper and I LOVE that pine cone wreath!

  6. Dearest Karen,
    Love those natural gift wrappings they are far more beautiful than any printed or glossy wrapping paper. That cabin smell can be achieved by using fresh fir and rosemary sprigs... They fill the air and lift up our spirits.
    You are lucky for having that variety of pine cones in your area as that wreath is a GEM!
    Enjoy it and yes, far better to stay with your lazy pets and learn from them how to spend the winter time. Indulging in the cozy home.
    Love the quote from Esther Burkholder about: 'What can I SHARE..'

  7. LOVE the cottage style you have accomplished! And thanks for the Christmas gift ideas. I had to smile: whenever I see my big white dog and chubby gray kitty lying on the floor next to each other, taking a nap, I think to myself "Peaceable kingdom" :)

  8. Gorgeous packages tied up with string Love the stamping...your wreath is fabulous also what a Wonderful tutorial....thank you for sharing....Merry Christmas & A blessed 2014 to you Karen & your lovely Family....Hugs May x x x

  9. Hands down the prettiest pinecone wreath I have ever seen! OH my goodness! You used the perfect amount of various sizes to make a spectacular piece!!! And the soaps are beautiful Karen...what an awesome idea!!!! I will be pinning this post friend! I am in love with everything and the wrapping with the stamps....that one is calling my name! You are so very creative and I will tell you have created a cozy cottage! It is just perfect! A very merry Christmas to you friend! I hope that you have a wonderful time with your family! Nicole xoxo

  10. Such great ideas! I've never seen that soap idea before. It's really neat! It would make great gifts this time of year. Your wrapping ideas are really pretty as well. I like using kraft or brown paper and adding stamps or other embellishments to it. The pinecone wreath is gorgeous!

  11. Just wanted to say hello. I'm your newest follower. I lived on Whidbey for two years, then in Seattle proper for two more before leaving. I'm hoping to make the Pacific Northwest my home again one day! Your view is fantastic. And your house definitely has that cabin feel to it. Merry Christmas!

    1. Hi Annette - so glad you stopped by! Thank you for your sweet comments - I hope you do make it back here someday - Thank you for following :) Merry Christmas to you! xo Karen

  12. Your soaps are so clever! I love that idea. The wreath is just amazing.

  13. The soap is so pretty, Karen! I love how you packaged it as well. The little star is so sweet and how amazing is your wreath! It is perfect for your mountain home! Merry Christmas!

  14. Thank you for sharing all these creative ideas. I love your wrapping and the soap idea is something I might have to try.

  15. Wonderful craft projects!
    Wishing you a very merry Christmas.

  16. Golly! Such wonderful ideas here! I can't imkagine why you would want anything more than your gorgeous cozy home. Looks like a cozy cabin to me! You have wonderful views. I love each of these ideas. I love a rustic and handmade Christmas. I hope yours is wonderful!

  17. HI Beatrice I love the cottage style you have accomplished! su y wonderful idea !, i love a rústica and handmade Cristmas
    Wishing you a very mery Christmas

  18. I love your cottage is very cozy, their soaps are incredible everything looks so beautiful!
    Have a nice day

  19. You've inspired me to re-create my Mardi Gras wreath to a country-style wreath with pine cones instead of the glitz and glam that is usually associated with Mardi Gras! I'll post pix when I finish. <3


Thank you for stopping by! Your comments are important to me and are very much appreciated. xx Karen

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