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Monday, November 10, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide: Homemade & Handmade

For our first weekly Holiday Gift Guide, we thought it would be awfully nice and quaint to start out with a handcrafted, homemade from the heart theme. Homemade for the holidays, for each and every loved one! We've dug up a bunch of great, easy projects for even the least crafty of ecumenical gifters. I remember being absolutely thunderstruck when my sister-in-law, adorable as she is, brought Christmas presents in homemade, reusable drawstring bags--made of sale Christmas-themed flannel, so they only get softer as you reuse them! So simple, and ingenious. Here are a few more to whet your appetite for the coming week, since OF COURSE all that free time you have must be going to waste!

-This five-minute gift bag will make the humblest of presents shine, and if you have little girls to give to, you can rest assured that that little bag/basket shape will get a lot of use.
-Juicy Bits' felt "birthday" crown reminds me of tissue crowns for Christmas in the UK or King's Cake from New Orleans, all about celebration and making the day special for your friends and family! It would make a great stocking stuffer, or addition to anyone's favorite costume box.
-For the fashionista in your life (aka yourself, hello), try simply recreating a piece they've been admiring. Par exemplar, a skirt with appliqued polka dots, or one of those so-simple-you-would-smack-yourself-for-buying it embroidered full skirts from Anthropologie. Take a favorite t-shirt and stencil or silkscreen a special message or image--during my last few months in college radio, a friend and I made t-shirts for the entire executive board commemorating our year(s) of service together, and we all still wear them today!
-Everyone seems to have a jar of box of old buttons somewhere, right? Our grandmothers used to cut the nice buttons right off of those clothes they wore to shreds back in the day and kept them, just in case. As a proud vintage button junkie, I can tell you right now that there just aren't enough things you can do with a button collection other than pick through them fondly, but Peptogirl has proven me wrong with her delightful little stacked button rings. One size fits all, heirloom vintage pieces with a modern twist, what's not to love?
-For the home chef and/or dainty kitchen-lover, Marilyn of Simmer Till Done has an idea for molded cinnamon-chocolate sugars! You can pick up the most amazing butter/sugar/pastry molds for cheap at your local antique mall or thrift store, they're often sold in sets. I took my mother out to high tea for her birthday last weekend, and the tea shop had colored molded sugars in the shape of maple leaves for fall--try a theme with yours if you find appropriate molds, the recipients will love it!
-Speaking of my mother, despite having an extreme allergy to housework and domesticity in general, she collects aprons like it's her job. For the domestic goddess, kiddie chef, grillmaster, or incongruous collector in your life, there's a plethora of homemade apron options out there. Think of it as encouragement in their favorite hobby, housework or otherwise!
-Lastly, with all those days off from work/school and guests coming for the holidays, don't you want your place to look in tip-top shape? For those who hate having to drill and attach a real headboard to beds, Good Housekeeping (of all websites!) has a headboard wall stencil tutorial that is just too cute not to try out.

As some of you may know, Kati and I originally got to know each other and started blogging together as knitters, so I will always be ready with a dozen knitting patterns. If you need help getting started, FreePatterns.com has videos on how to knit all sorts of stitches.

One of the best knitting resources online since 2002 is Knitty, the quarterly knitting magazine. I've pulled some of their scarf patterns here as a sampling of some of the cool things you can do.

- Exchequered is a double-knit (so doubly warm) checkered scarf that would be supercute for ladies or gentlemen. (I might just do the regular checkered pattern, myself.)
- Wavy is a variation on the ribbed scarf that ripples back and forth in, well, waves.
- Danica uses the entrelac technique, which I have never learned but am intrigued by.
- If you're looking for a cowl like the ones featured on Punky Style, then you might want to play with Aibhlinn. (I am considering it, but possibly with leaving the bobbles off...)
- For a lacy scarf or wrap that can be sized up or down easily, take a look at Cozy. I knit a lovely scarf using this pattern and some yarn I bought in Kyoto.
- Finally, no guide to handknit scarves/wraps can be complete without the (in)famous Clapotis. Ah, Clapotis. I shall say no more. But it is much less complicated than it looks.

From all of us at the Periodic Elements of Style:
Have a wonderful, fun, and safe holiday season! We'll be back next week with another gift guide, all about our favorite subject--food!

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