Katie's Craft Corner: Quick gifts


Christmas is less than a week away, so by now the idea of making a gift seems completely insane.
Fortunately, not all handmade gifts need to take weeks to make, or even days – one day and a few easy steps is all you need to make one-of-a-kind presents for family and friends.

One idea that’s both trendy and cute for all ages is hand-painted letters to hang on a wall. Spell out their entire name or just an initial with unfinished wooden letters available at Michaels for only a few dollars each. Use acrylic paints. Brush on or, if you have the skill, spray paint to cover each letter completely. Let this base coat dry overnight. In the morning, use a small brush to paint on polka dots, flowers, anything you can think of.

If you like sewing, try making a simple envelope-fold pouch to hold anything from colored pencils to lip gloss. Using a cotton fat quarter, unfolded, right side down on the table and bring three corners in together to make an “envelope” shape. Pin and sew each seam together. Use ribbon or half-fold bias tape to encase raw edges of the fourth flap, and stitch on a snap or piece of Velcro to close flap.

The time window for knitting or crocheting gifts is mostly already past, but there are still a few things you can make – like a soft little sleeve for coffee cups to use instead of the wasteful paper sleeves at cafes. Note: you will need a little experience knitting/crocheting and “getting gauge” to make this project.

Measure a coffee cup for reference, then cast on (or chain) the number of stitches that will fit that circumference. Knit or crochet until the piece measures about four inches long. Sew up ends together to make a loop. Thrown in with a Panera Bread gift card or pretty travel mug, this is a great gift for coffee drinkers. If you don’t knit or crochet, try cutting the cuffs off a resale-shop sweater, hem the top and bottom and add in embellishments like sequins and embroidery for a personal touch.

Don’t underestimate the simple beauty of beaded bracelets and bangles – a stack of jingling, sparkly bracelets tied together with a big satin bow is girly, festive and completely customizable.
Buy beads and clear stretchy cord from the jewelry aisle at Jo-Ann Fabrics, measure your wrist but there shouldn’t be a huge difference between different girls’ wrist size. Begin stringing on beads and add in charms and Pandora-style glass beads for extra pizzazz.

Beads come in such a huge range of colors and sizes, it’s a good idea to have a “theme” in mind: rough-cut turquoise and wood for a western look, crystal and glass in dark colors is glamorous and pearls are polished. Stack up bracelets with beads in different sizes for a balanced variety of pieces.

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