Christmas Gift Ideas of Christmas Past

Are you feeling the pressure of Christmas gift shopping yet? I can't believe there's only 2 weeks left before Christmas already!

This year, I decided to hand make all my Christmas gifts. Anybody else in the same boat?! I really enjoyed making the few I did make last year, and I love how personal they are that way, not to mention cheaper! So I decided to up my game and go all out this year.

I did almost all of my Christmas supplies shopping this past weekend, and just received some fabric I ordered online, so the countdown is on! I have 10 people to make presents for; some are more complicated, some are smaller, some are in double and quadruple, and a few I have to mail out (so they are first on the list to make!). I think I must have 20 individual presents to make, and I'm starting to feel the pressure, a little, but I'm determined to make it!

I'm not sure I'll have the time to blog about it before the holidays, but I will be sharing my progress on Facebook if you are interested in following me. (But if you're family please stay away ;) )

I also want to apologize for my lack of posting the last month without warning, and not finishing the green series (though I will eventually finish it!). I had a really hard time adapting to my boyfriend's new schedule (at a hospital 1 hr bus ride away), and I was more concentrating on keeping house and lab work. To me, that comes first, and I do blog stuff as a side project when and if I have the time and energy, so thanks for being understanding!

So with that, if you're still wondering what to get or make for some loved ones this year, I thought I'd share the gifts I made last year for your inspiration purposes ;)

I made this Magnetic Pin Dish for my grand-ma that sews. I'm happy to say it's held up perfectly so far. I think not spray painting the inside of the top plate (where the pins "stick"), but rather the underside only, meant that no paint could be scratched and hence it looks just as before.

A practical gift I made last year both for my other grand-ma and my mom was this Remote Caddy. It was supper easy to make, is completely functional and looks pretty! That way people will actually want to use it and your remotes will not get lost in the couch cracks (though results are not guaranteed).

Lastly, I made these decorative magnets for my friends and my aunt. Simple, cute, practical, and handmade! Who doesn't need more fridge magnets?!

Are you hand making some, or all, Christmas gifts this year? What are you making?!

Finally, if you actually made it to the end, I'm also working on revamping the blog a little and making it more user friendly. I started making a footer section, and I will reorganize the Project Gallery into more subsections to correspond. I want to declutter the sidebars and possibly just have 1 instead of 2, but I'm not entirely sure yet. I'm not changing the blog design yet, just the layout and organization of it. If you've got any ideas or preferences, I'd love to hear them!!

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Day 26: Gift Wrapping

Christmas is coming, I'm sure you are all at least starting to think about what to get your loved ones. But have you ever stopped to think about how much excess waste is generated around Christmas time? Especially for wrapping! Just to keep everyone from seeing their present before it's time. Every year I get a little more discouraged about that. It seems like Marilyn, from 4 You With Love, was on the same wavelength as me! She's here today to share with you some green ideas for your holiday wrapping.

Howdy everyone. I'm Marilyn, from 4 You With Love, and Gen has given me the opportunity to be a part of her wonderful Greener Sustainable series. Her series has been chock full of so many wonderful posts and ideas. I am just blown away by all the information that's been shared with everyone.

The holidays are right around the corner. Are you ready? If you've been planning, it's probably about the actual gifts you'll be creating for those special people in your life. Do you give much thought about how you will be wrapping your gifts? I give it some thought but not a lot. However, every year, after all our Christmas gifts have been opened, I am always shocked at how much gift wrap waste we have generated. Gen's series got me to thinking about how I could be "greener" with my gift wrapping this year.

I think a beautiful bow can really make your present something special. Here are some ways to create a bow from newspapers and magazines.




Look at these package adornments. Can you tell what they are made from? Look closely. Yup, these are strips of produce mesh bags that add a splash of color to these packages.


Have you ever made your own gift bags? How about this tutorial that shows how to make bags from newspapers!


I know I have rushed out the day after Christmas to get that great deal on wrapping paper for the next year. Well, how about this great idea of decorating grocery sacks with date stamps to create your own gift wrap? I know what I will be doing with some of the grocery sacks in my closet!


Here is a fun way to use those cans that have a flip top to "wrap" gifts. What a clever idea!


For those people who sew, how about making gift totes that can be used year after year. Talk about reducing trash!


Finally, how about decorating an ice cream tub and turning it into a great gift basket?


Okay, I'm ready to reduce my holiday trash this year. How about you? Gen, thanks for your great series. It has really inspired me to take a closer look at how I can reduce my environmental impact!

Thanks so much Marilyn for sharing your finds with us! Now I have an idea of what I will do with that brown paper that is leftover from packing boxes I've received!

This reminded me of the toilet paper roll favors I did last year.

I want to add just a few other options for you to make and reuse year after year.

How about some reusable drawstring bags? You could make some of different sizes to fit all types of gifts. I know I'll be snooping the fabric store after Christmas for some cheap Christmassy fabric to make some for next year. Though I might also get some super cheap fabric (like dropcloths maybe?) and stencil them with Christmas patterns. Would be better (read: cheaper) for big boxes.

from Brown Thumb Mama

If you don't want to hassle of making it yourself, there are some Etsy stores and online websites that sells them.

EllaWrap has some really gorgeous bags, I'm really in love with this one! If I'd get anything in this bag, I might just like the bag better! What can I say, I like cute bags and boxes!

(35$ at

But that's still a bit too pricey for my taste. So here are a few I found on Etsy that are more reasonably priced. (Or go here for even more)

(SUZUYA on Etsy)

(debupcycles on Etsy)

(VZWraps on Etsy)

So how about it? Are you going to give the gift of green this year?! You could even give reusable bags or a gift made from repurposed items! This way you can introduce more people to green alternatives!

To find more ideas on ways to go green, check out the other posts in the series:

I party at these parties.
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Day 25: Cleaning Products

I'm sure I'm not the only one who likes a clean house (or apartment in my case), right?! But sometimes it's so hard to choose which product, and if you want to be green about it, it's even harder because you can't always trust the companies to tell you the truth. So it's best to just bypass them, and make your own.

The truth IS that they don't have to list what is in the cleaning product, there is absolutely no regulation regarding that. They can SAY it's natural but it might not actually BE true.

Case and point: Vim PowerPro Naturals Bathroom spray

It says on the bottle that it's 98% natural ingredients, but tests show once you remove water content, 24% is petroleum based, and petroleum is really bad for your skin and can lead to cancer. This is just one example of many where the label says one thing, but the truth is something completely different!

If you want to know more, check out this video of The Marketplace which debunks some "natural" house products, like the one mentioned above. (It's a Canadian show, but I've checked that even people in the US can view it! Seriously worth your time!!)

I'm not saying all green cleaning products are bogus, just be careful. They can also be pricey, so making your own will most probably save you some cash.

Alright, so off my soap-box I get, but I hope I showed you that the best way to be green when it comes to this stuff, is to just make it yourself! That way you really know what goes into the product. I want to open your eyes to a few simple, really natural and non-toxic cleaning solutions that you can make with common household items. We're talking baking soda, vinegar, lemons and oranges, essential oils, alcohol (isopropanol or ethyl alcool), hydrogen peroxide, nail polish remover (aka acetone). All these have very natural or non-toxic cleaning properties.

We'll start in the laundry room. There are so many DIY recipes for homemade laundry detergent, both powder and liquid, as well as stain removers, it's kinda hard to decide which ones to share with you! So at any time, if you want to see even more of these type of recipes, head on over to my Cleaning board on Pinterest, I pin some a lot!

Here's a great, simple, and cheap powder laundry detergent recipe at DIY Natural.

All you need is Washing Soda, Borax and a bar of laundry soap (Fels-Naptha or other, like Ivory here). As soon as I can find these ingredients, I'm trying this one out. And it's good for HE washers! No more buying that super expensive special soap ;)

Liquid laundry detergent recipes usually make a really big batch, so you need more space to store it. It uses the same ingredients, but because you dissolve it, it makes more in mass. Your choice! I would probably do this one if I could store it, would have to make some less often, too.

from Why Not Sew

I also saw this post from Whole New Mom not too long ago about Soap Nuts and thought it was interesting. It's natural and you don't have to make your own laundry detergent. It's an other option!

How about stain removers? I've been meaning to try this armpit stain remover (that also works for other stains) for a while now. I don't wear a lot of white because of this problem...

One Good Thing by Jillee
Jillee is really awesome when it comes to DIY recipes, you should really check out her site if you've never ran accross it!!

You can also make your own Oxi Clean to help fight those other tough stains.

from Creatively Domestic

Using vinegar for laundry can help with softness, keep bright colored clothes, really soiled clothes and linens, static and lint, and much much more!!

image source

Moving onto other household cleaners, we'll start with this Shower and Tub Magic cleaner. I've been using this for 6 months. It works just as well as what I had before (Vim cream for bathrooms), but the vinegar does smell strong. I need to try adding some lemon juice or essential oil to kill the vinegar smell. I chose this one because I had everything on hand to make it, and I was looking for a spray. It's got really awesome reviews, but I think I'm not the best person to ask how good it is because I'm not entirely sure how to evaluate it...

recipe for Shower and Tub Magic

Also, remember when we talked about the not-paper towels? Well, this is as good a time to use them! I have some old clothes rags and some cheap microfiber rags that I use for cleaning.

How about using your reusable rags for cleaning windows with this homemade window cleaner?! Microfibers seem like the best option, though, for getting a streak free shine. You'll need vinegar and essential oil, and of course water.

recipe at Money Saving Mom

You'll also want an all-purpose cleaner, which is again super simple to make yourself! Though there are a few different recipes, ranging in complexity, I like the simple and effective type, which I think this one from Natural Nesters is.

I also really like the idea of this degreaser! So simple to make, though it does take 2 weeks of incubation time to get the full effect. My kitchen is covered in a film of oil from stir-frying, so I really need to try this!!

fromTried and True

Here's a simple recipe for homemade furniture polish. All you need is oil and lemon juice!

from Our Homemade Happiness

Finally, once you've made all those recipes, you probably want to label your containers, so here are a few cute labels around the webs.

at Design Finch (bottom of post)

Some of my favorite blogs for DIY Homemade recipes like the ones shared here are:

Now this gets me excited to clean! What? I'm the only one?! :P Do you make your own cleaners? If there's a recipe you'd like to share, link it in the comments please!!

Check out all the posts in the series (must be on blog to see):

I party at these parties.
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Day 24: Reusing Textiles

What do you normally when your clothes or linens get too worn out and are no longer givable, either? Throw them out, right? Well, here are a few ideas on how you can reuse all sorts of textiles, like clothes and household linens, once they are past their prime.

Did you know clothing is recyclable (as opposed to reusable)? Yup, I wasn't sure until I googled it, but it is! Finding somewhere to bring your clothing for recycling, though, is the main challenge. I've found companies that recycle textiles, but I'm having lots of trouble figuring out where, and even if, I can bring my used textiles to them.

For U.S. Residents, I found Recycle Now that you can enter your postcode and see if there's somewhere near you where you can recycle clothing and household textiles. But I've had no such luck for Canadians :( Which encourages me even more to find a way to reuse my old worn out clothing.

Of course you can make useful rags, to help get your house clean. Seems like most of my rags are made of clothes!! But I wanted to find more creative ways to reuse old textiles. Here's some of what I've found.

I've recently been amazed at stuff people crochet out of t-shirt yarn. Of course, the first thing you need to do is make the actual t-shirt yarn.

Craft Passion

You can also turn an old bedsheet into yarn! It's a little different than with tshirts, Kara of Petals To Picots shows you how in this tutorial:

And these, THESE are why I need to learn to crochet!!! You can crochet just about anything with t-shirt yarn.

You can follow just about any crocheted basket tutorial to make a t-shirt yarn basket. For example:


How about making some pom-poms, to decorate gifts, or to use in crafts!

Craftaholics Anonymous

Or how about making your space a new spiffy rug? Like this crocheted t-shirt yarn rug.

One Dog Woof

Of course you can just make a braided rug too, out of strips of linens.

Craft Passion

While I'm on rugs, how about a shaggy rug made from old cut-up towels and using a gridded matting?

Fine Craft Guild

There are plenty of other things you can do with used clothing and other household textiles to give them a second life.

There's the ever so popular sweater pillows as of late. I think I might convert a few sweaters once their time is up, but I still want to use them a bit longer.

Brassy Apple

Remember when we talked about not-paper towels? How about using some shirts to make napkins, like these plaid ones!

Whole Living

Here's one I really love! Make a stuffed animal out of old denim, like this denim whale!

Valaan Villapaita

Once again, this time with printed t-shirts, make some pillows!

Uncommon Designs

I hope I got your wheels turning with these ideas to reuse textiles! You are only limited by your imagination, and creativeness :)

Check out all the posts in the series (must be on blog to see):

I party at these parties.
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