Maybe Christmas doesn't come from the store...

Maybe you make it! I was listening to the radio on my way to work before Christmas (the morning show that I sometimes intentionally got to work a few minutes late so I can hear it) and the guy was saying how he doesn't like home made gifts....well, the DIYer inside me was repulsed!Then I realized that maybe he doesn't come from a family as talented as mine...that must be it! I have seen (in my many years of thrifting) some remarkable homemade items that would probably make me feel the same as this guy - but the stuff that we pass around is pretty spectacular (with the occasional fail - usually produced by me). So here's the home-spun creations from this year:

Fortress fort kit:

Made this for my three nephews. I found the entire Shel Silverstein collection (books we grew up on) and couldn't decide if I should do the books or a fort kit, so I asked Husband who informed me that it wasn't even a decision to make - fort kit, hands down! He was right, the boys had this thing up in their rooms with sleeping bags inside by noon on Christmas (dressed up as Transformers, Power Rangers and Avengers, courtesy of my mom, of course). I just got some sheets (found some Batman ones - score!), sewed ribbon onto them and made a bag out of a pillowcase. Added in some items for attachment/hanging like clothes pins, clothes line, bungee cords and suction sup hooks. I forgot to get flashlights, but the boys have 'emergency' flash lights by their beds (in case the power ever goes out...how smart is that!) and their mom let them use them in their fort for Christmas. 

Church bags: 

My Mom and Mother in law both wanted church bags for Christmas. These ended up being a lot more work than they were worth (especially since Target had similar bags - much nicer - on sale while I was making these!). I gave my mom the pattern before Christmas so she could help me and teach me stuff I don't know (she always frets that she didn't teach me enough, so it was kind of part of the present). I learned how to do lining, sew corners together, do pleats, use interfacing, and had my first encounter with buckram...didn't really learn how to use it, but I know what it is. We finished them the day after Christmas (having the person you're giving it to help you makes the whole deadline a lot looser). We'll see how they hold up!

Leg warmers: 

I got sister my favorite black skinny's - cause they're wonderful and I knew that she would cherish them as much as I do. Well, I couldn't just buy sister something (even something so great), so I made her leg warmers to accompany the pants. I thrifted some sweaters, serged the bottoms, rolled the tops and added some buttons. I've seen a lot where people add lace and such, but sister likes things simple and frill-free. I really like the buffalo five-cent piece buttons I found. 

That's all I made this year, but mine and Husband's favorite gifts we both hand made by my sister!

framed silhouettes: 

My sister has been working on creating a Jane Austen game (it's remarkable, check it out here) and she created silhouettes to represent each heroine and hero from the Jane Austen novels - she used her family members as the models and these are the ones of Husband and me that she used! I had asked her for a copy of us a while ago so I was so pleased/excited when I got them for Christmas (it was essentially my only surprise gift). 

Bowling shoes:

Yes, my sister MADE bowling shoes for Husband! He's a great bowler (won me a shirt when we were dating and made it onto the 'over 200' board at our local bowling alley - which when my cousins took her kids to go bowling they saw and starting referring to Husband as a bowling celebrity) and we had talked about getting some shoes for him, cause they end up being the most expensive part. Well, sister is brilliant and came up with these - as Christmas Eve came she grew worried that he wouldn't like them - it is hard to know how the kind of things people will enjoy. After all the Christmas festivities, Husband and I were lying in bed talking (funny thing about vacation - we didn't spend much time together) and he said that the bowling shoes were by far his favorite gift. He's such a winner and fits so well in our family! 

I love the thought and time that goes into a homemade gift. You really have to know a person and pay attention to what they want and would love. We're doing Christmas with Husband's family tomorrow and I feel incredibly anxious. We bought most of the gifts and I tried to put thought into them - tough when I don't know them super well. Husband's says that they give each other their lists and you get items from the list - well I tried to be thoughtful and varied from the lists a bit and now I have a huge knot in my stomach! Maybe I should've listened to the talk radio guy (see...it comes full circle) and gotten what they wanted...how was your first Christmas with in-laws? What did you do? How do you decide who to create something for and who to just go retail on?  


  1. Oh my goodness, those fort kits are the best idea ever!! Seriously, I am SO going to use that idea! LOVE IT!

  2. I hope you reply to this!!! What did sis use on the bottom of those shoes?? Gotta know :)

  3. I hope you are still blogging and respond! What did sis use on the bottom of those shoes?? Gotta know!

    1. Hey Lori - she used a piece of leather. Wasn't treated with anything, just smooth leather. You can get it at some craft stores or a leather store. Don't have an exact pattern for the bag, sorry. My mom so of made it up as we went along.

  4. Also any pattern for the bag?