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Monday, November 4, 2013

Intentional Gifts ~ Rose Anderson

Well it’s official. I was in a store over the weekend and Christmas consumerism exploded in the aisles beside a shopping cart full of reduced-priced Halloween candy. I’ve seen on the news  recently that some major stores have appropriated the traditional family gathering time and started their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving. I think that stinks. Way to go American consumer culture, take from families who could really use some meaningful time being thankful for what they already have. 

I admit I do go out for Black Friday. I’ve done this bargain hunting with my sister-in-law for at least 16 years. I always buy for the older kids in the Toys for Tots program. Good deals make my dollars go farther and that means a few more kids are assured of at least one gift. 
Black Friday is one crazy morning. I saw a fist fight a few years back – two women fighting over a TV. Last year I heard about a pepper spray incident over a video game system. I’ve seen a crowd turn ugly when people who've waited in line for hours encounter people just leaving their cars who are determined to cut in line. We don’t go nuts on things like electronics, we just go to save money on regular stuff like socks. Admittedly, we people watch too! 

Yes, I buy those Black Friday socks, but I mostly  make my gifts. Each handcrafted piece is done intentionally – that is – with intent. My imagination, my affection, my creativity, and my time on earth, all align in focus to create interesting or lovely things for the people I care about. 

Another thing about me. I love to repurpose things. To make nice things out of discarded things just tickles me. It also keeps junk out of the waste stream that’s clogging our landfills and polluting every corner of the planet. I’ve taken a cue from Martha Stewart and made mittens from old sweaters and shopping bags from vintage draperies. I’ve also concocted bath recipes, coffee blends, and relaxation CD’s. I invite you to look me up on Pinterest for more ideas. 
As a jump start on the holiday season, the following are a few gifts I’ve made over the years that were really well-received. Alas, I don’t have pictures, but I tried to be as detailed as possible so anyone wanting to make them should be able to follow along. 

Repurposed Stationary Set ~ I started this project by buying a sustainably grown bamboo pen for my daughter (off ebay). Then, using two sizes of opened and flattened envelopes as templates, I made crazy envelopes out of full page magazine ads and Patagonia catalog pages. A fine bead of regular old Elmers glue sealed the sides of my new envelopes. I could have used a glue stick but having had glue stick projects come unglued before, I opted for the sure thing. I added white labels for the addresses, and a recycled paper writing tablet. I made a custom cover for the tablet from a very nice picture I found online depicting the recycle symbol as a stylized tree. I also found a Save a Tree/ Reuse Paper self-inking stamp. I bundled up the envelopes in two stacks and put it all into a cigar box that I covered with cancellation marks from all over the world. It was one of my more fun projects that looked like it came from one of those fancy and pricey catalogs. 

Ransom Note Refrigerator Magnets ~ Picture one of those TV crime show ransom notes where the words are glued together from newspapers and magazines. Now picture these individual letters sticking to the front of your refrigerator. Cool huh? Being a Scrabble fan I was confident words could be made if I followed the number and ABC count of Scrabble letters. I also added questions marks and exclamation points for emphasis. After cutting large alphabet letters from cereal boxes, glossy sales papers and magazines, I stuck them on peel and stick magnet sheets. I bought those, but it’s also a great way to use up those freebie ad magnets and out of date magnetic calendars. Just carefully peel away the text or picture to get to the sticky base underneath. Tip: arrange them this way and that to save space. I then use a matte finish Modpodge coating. After they dried, I cut them out. They came out really nice and got a lot of laughs. They look fabulous on the fridge.

Snowmen vs. Santas Checker Set ~ A friend of mine drinks different types of beer and saves bottle caps of all colors and brands for me. A few years ago I thought up a twist on an old standard game – checkers. You’ll need:
• 24 bottle caps. Be sure they’re not bent.
• 1 bottle of clear Diamond Glaze (check your craft store) or two or three bottles of cheap dollar store clear nail polish
• 12 pictures of Santas and 12 pictures of Snowmen thought really it could be anything as long as there are 12 of one and 12 of the other. I cut mine from a catalog with vintage pictures but you could also check the dollar store for inexpensive holiday greeting cards. It’s possible to cut the small circles (bottle cap size) by hand by tracing a quarter. Or buy yourself a nice quarter-sized hole punch. I eventually did that. Much easier and super fast.
• Glue Once you’ve assembled your supplies, dab a dot of glue inside the bottle cap and carefully center the picture inside. Smooth out any bubbles and lumps. Allow to dry then slowly fill the bottle cap with Diamond Glaze or nail polish. I found simple checkerboards at my local dollar store and used those to go with my games. You can easily make your own. A search online will give you the exact count of squares needed.

Secret Book ~ This book innocently sits on the shelf with the rest of your library, but when you turn a few pages, you’ll discover this crumby old book is actually a secret compartment. It’s a box made out of a book and the cover is the lid. Sneaky.
• You’ll need a thick old and boring-looking book. Try a thrift store or the library for a free or inexpensive discard.
• Modpodge and applicator (foam or bristle brush)
• An Exacto knife or box cutter blade.
• A sheet of foil or waxed paper Flip open the book and go at least ten pages in. Mark the page by tucking your sheet of foil or waxed paper inside and close the book. This is what you should see – ten loose pages and a protective sheet of foil or waxed paper. The rest of the pages will be the box. Now apply a liberal coating of Modpodge to the edge below those ten pages. Put something heavy on top, smooth any blobs with the brush or foam applicator and wait about an hour for it to dry. The book will be stiff now except for those few loose pages at the front of the book. Determine the size of the compartment your book will have within its pages. Trace out a smaller rectangle and carefully use the Exacto blade or box cutter to cut out as many pages as you’re able to at one time. Keep on going until you almost reach the back cover. Once you have a nice deep center cut away, paint on the Modpodge to seal the raw edges just like you did to the outside. Using the scrap pages you’ve cut out, paste these over the raw edges inside with more Modpodge for a nice finished look. Leave your book open to dry. And there you go — a very cool looking, infinitely useful, gift.

And when my gift making is over for the year, my creativity turns inward and I write! 

News: Coming later this week -- my Exquisite Quills group blog and companion yahoo group's Exquisite Quills Holiday Anthology Vol I

Rose is multi-published award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and learning interesting things to weave into stories. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper mid-west.  

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Cara Marsi said...

Rose, I agree that it stinks stores are open on Thanksgiving. I've gone out once in my life to shop on Black Friday, and it was late in the day. Normally, I avoid the stores like the plague on that day. I admire your crafting ability. I'm not artistic enough to repurpose as you so creatively do. However, I like the idea of the secret book. I think I can do that one. Let me be the first to wish you Merry Christmas!

Tina Donahue said...

Love the Santa poster. LOL.

I was at the mall yesterday. They're already playing Xmas music. Gonna be very sick of it by Dec 25.

Rose Anderson said...

Thanks for stopping by Cara and Tina. Yes, it's too early to think about holidays! Ugh, Christmas music already? That's just wrong. lol

Sandy said...

Rose, I'm so jealous. You are so creative.

Just last week I went into a store that had Christmas stuff up, and I just walked passed it grumbling. I haven't gone shopping on Black Friday for years. Once they say limited supply, I know all the brother-in-laws and families have first choice. lol Everything is gone even if I camp out in front of the store.

Rose Anderson said...

Thanks Sandy. That's why I stick to fleece pj's, flannel shirts, and socks. But...I did get a $24 Canon printer at $100 savings once. I was in the office store shopping for blank CDs and the printer was an impulse buy. Just in time too. Our printer died shortly after.

My daughter wants to to boycott Black Friday this year because it starts on Thanksgiving. I see her point, but those bins of fleecy socks call to me...

Nicole Morgan said...

LOL Great post! And I love the Santa pick! Sadly I saw tons of Christmas stuff in Michaels at the beginning of October! It's getting out of hand! :/

Gemma Juliana said...

You'll never catch me go to a store on Thanksgiving. To me the gratitude factor is what that day is about. In this part of the world we all have things to be grateful for. I must admit I've never gone out on Black Friday either. Although I am a super duper bargain hunter! I love the secret book idea, Rose. That's on my list for this year. Thanks for the idea. Enjoyed your post...

jean hart stewart said...

I'm overcome with admiration for all the hand-made gift. Have no aptitude that way at all...But I'm a great bargain hunter, and pick up Xmas gifts all year long when I see something that's just right..

Jerri Hines said...

I love Christmas...but I don't go out on Black Friday anymore. I shop online...but Rose you are so creative!Great post!

Victoria Adams said...

Wow - you are so creative. MY creativity lies in my ability to shop not in my ability to make anything - all thumbs. I'm almost done my Christmas shopping. I might miss some "fabulous" sales, but I also miss the pressure and insanity of shopping closer to Christmas. And we don't get Black Friday up here. We stay home and watch it TV.

Paris said...

I do not go out on Black Friday! I'm usually still in a turkey coma but seriously, I do not enjoy crazy crowds.

Thanks for all of the creative gift ideas! I think we may start a new tradition of exchanging one gift that has been or could be re-purposed.

Janice Seagraves said...

Great ideas, Rose. I like making Christmas gifts too. I like the secret book. I might just have to try that one.


Melissa Keir said...

Those are some great ideas Rose. It's nice to have thoughtful ideas. :)

I don't do the Black Friday shopping nor do I appreciate shopping so early for the holidays. It's wonderful to have time to think about what I'm grateful for. :)

Suzanne Rock said...

Oh, I agree, Rose. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year and it seems like it's getting squeezed out between Halloween and Christmas. I love the Santa poster, lol. It's so true. I know a lot of people shop of the holidays all year long, but personally I can't think about it until December. Great post! :)

R. Ann Siracusa said...

A very timely post. I've never done Black Fridays but it bugs me that Christmas merchandise is out in October. I'm considering giving a goat (or maybe rabbits)to a family in Africa this year through the Heifer Program.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Very impressive, Rose - I greatly admire your creativity! Here in Scotland, we don't have a Black Friday but I guess the nearest thing is the Boxing Day sales - the day after Christmas, when people go bargain hunting. Then the January sales straight after New Year. I avoid both!

Rose Anderson said...

I refuse to do Black Thanksgiving, I don't care how many squishy, comfy, fleecy socks are out there.

I'm glad you've all enjoyed my jump-start the gifts post. Time being the precious thing it is, giving it is the greatest declaration of love. I have several boards on Pinterest where I've squirreled away a lot of cool ideas. Come see. :)

Thanks for stopping by everyone!

CelticAmazon said...

Because of my disability and the fact I use a walker with a seat and wheels, I refuse to do Black Friday. I did one year and my daughter ended up telling off a woman that practically ran over me and told her that she should be more careful, and "that my mother served in the Marines and as a result of her service she had to use the walker and to be more careful about people that had to use an assistive device to get around with and you are able to do what your doing because of people like my mom". Because of this experience and how people can get, I just don't do Black Friday anymore.

J.D. Faver said...

Thanks for the wealth of creative ideas for gifting, Rose. I'm posting a link on my FB page. Good to share the wealth.

Angela said...

I will look you up on Pinterest. I love shopping on Black Friday.. more for watching everyone else be insane. And I hate the whole Thanksgiving shopping thing. Unfortunately, I will have to join the masses this year :-( I like your ideas better LOL

BTW - your friend June sent me over. She's pretty smart. ;-)

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