Friday, December 20, 2013

DIY Christmas Ornaments From Old Toys

Since Christmas is only a few days away I thought it would be a great time to share some Christmas ornaments I’ve made.  As you will see, they’re very simple to make but I’m still proud of the idea and the finished product.  As a side note, I think this would be a great project for someone who is spending their first Christmas away from home and doesn’t want to spend a lot of time and money shopping for decorations.  Of course it would also be a great project for parents to do with young children.

Even as an adult I still associate Christmas with toys.  I still remember many of the toys I received from Santa Claus as a child and I’m sure many of you do too.  It is for this reason that I think old toys make wonderful Christmas tree ornaments – they are as much a part of Christmas as snowmen, reindeer, angels, and bells, and seeing them on the tree brings back memories of childhood.  In fact, just as I was describing my craft idea to my mom, she started telling me about how she loved playing with ABC blocks as a child.  She never had any when she was young, so whenever she would get to school she would go straight to the blocks and began building a castle.  She even showed me how she constructed it!

ABC Block Ornaments

For this project you will need the following:
-  a hot glue gun
-  assorted ABC blocks
-  scissors
-  butter knife (or other item to press ribbon onto the hot glue)
-  ribbon or string*

*  If you prefer, you can use metal Christmas tree hooks instead of the ribbon or string.


Step 1

Cut approximately 6 inches of ribbon and fold it so that the two ends are together.  If you like, you can even tie the two ends.
Step 2

Using the hot glue gun, add enough hot glue on the top of an ABC Block so that it will secure the ribbon to the block.
Step 3
Quickly press the two ends of the ribbon into the hot glue and use a butter knife to flatten the ribbon, ensuring that the glue will secure it to the block.

Repeat the process with the remaining blocks, or if you like you can make some adjustments.  Gluing the ribbon to the corner of the block as opposed to the top creates a slightly different affect.
You can also make some ornaments using two or even three blocks.  When I add a second or third block, I like to use different colours and I stack them so they are at slightly different angles.

You can follow the steps above using other kinds of toys.  I made more ornaments using Legos and I’m also happy with the result.  Again, I think this would look great using an assortment of colours and sizes.


If you don’t have any old toys that can be used for this project I would suggest looking at a dollar store or second hand store – after all, you are purchasing these items as raw materials, so it wouldn’t make sense to buy brand new toys.

 There are lots of other toys you can use to make Christmas tree ornaments, such as:
- puzzle pieces
- crayons
- toy cars
- toy airplanes
- small dolls
- small teddy bears
- doll house furniture
- toy tea cups (preferably plastic)
- action figures
The only other suggestion I can make to improve your ornaments is to have a special helper participate in your festive projects.  I realize some will not have the option of including a special friend, but with a helper like mine, I didn’t exactly have the option not to include her!

Well, that’s it for now.  I welcome any comments or suggestions and as always, I’d love to see pictures of your own crafts so feel free to send me a link.  You can also send me a link to anything similar you think I would like.  I hope everyone has a great Christmas and, if I don't write back for a while, a happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Christmas Gift-Wrapping Projects

It’s been so long since I’ve posted anything I’ll be surprised if I still have any readers!  This last year has been pretty stressful and chaotic, which might explain the disappearance of my urge to write.  I hope to start writing more often though, since I definitely feel I have a lot to say.

For some people it’s still too early to start thinking about Christmas, but since getting a head start in November takes some of the pressure off shoppers, I think it’s a good time to start a Christmas post.

When it comes to special occasions such as Christmas, I take gift-wrapping very seriously.  I buy gift wrap that has just the right colours, colour-combinations, shades, designs, and sheen.  Bows, ribbons, and gift tags are also quite important, so I search for the unique and attractive in the right colours as well, but I also try to make sure they compliment the gift wrap.
In addition to ribbons and bows I started to add other embellishments to the gifts and I find that this creates an elegant effect.

The first present is wrapped in a shiny paper that I chose because it is multicoloured and contains the colours associated with Christmas: red, green, and gold.
I topped this gift with two artificial poinsettias, artificial red berries, and a metallic red icicle, all of which I purchased from Dollarama.  Since green is the dominant colour in the gift wrap, red decorations stand out and pick up the red stripes in the paper.  I believe the shininess of the berries and metallic ornament also compliments the metallic paper.  Since the icicle is a Christmas tree ornament I chose the gift tag shaped like a Christmas tree bulb which is red and shiny in keeping with the rest of the embellishments.
I used the same items to decorate the next gift, but wrapped it in a very different paper.  This metallic silver actually contains poinsettias in the design but very little red, so for this embellishment I used three poinsettias and slightly less berries.  Again, I think the shiny items compliment the gift wrap nicely.
To hold everything together, I strung the small ribbon from the gift tag through the red icicle and poinsettia and tied them to the wire stems of the berries.  It may be simpler to use a hot glue gun to attach the items together, and then to attach the whole piece to the gift.  Scotch tape will hold the piece to the gift, but as it is much heavier than a regular bow, it can easily come off.

For the next gift, I used a red gift wrap with gold swirls which I really love. 
To compliment the gold swirls I used three pieces of wired gold ribbon and a tiny bouquet of artificial gold roses and pinecones.  I tied each ribbon around the stems of the bouquet and carefully taped them down onto the present. 

I then tried to shape all six strands of ribbon, and attached a gold gift tag.  I was disappointed that the gift tag contained the colour blue instead of, say, red, but that’s what it’s like to be a crazy perfectionist gift wrapper.

The last gift might be my favourite.  I love this wrapping paper: it contains all the Christmas colours and is designed with colourfully swirled tree ornaments. 

To embellish this gift I used items to match every colour in the paper – gold pinecones pick up the gold swirled ornaments while the red berries, bulb, and gift tag pick up the red of the paper.  The white swirls of the round gift tag nicely set off the white swirls of the round ornaments, and the tiny green design on the bulb matches the overall green of the paper. 

 The piece is held together by two gold ribbons that I threaded through the ornament and tried around the stems of the berries and pinecones.  Again, taping it down may not be the most secure choice due to the weight of the bulb and berries.

As you can imagine, these were the only gifts I wrapped last year – the rest were deposited into gift bags and topped with tissue paper.  I don’t like giving presents in gift bags, as I believe seeing a wrapped present, ripping off the paper, and opening the box create a suspense that a gift bag can’t produce.  But when you are a creative perfectionist who can spend a whole hour wrapping a present and you also suffer from the chronic pain of fibromyalgia, you learn to alter your standards.

I’d love to read any comments on my gift wrapping and I’ll take any suggestions you might have for this year’s presents.  I’d also love to see pictures of anything nice you’ve wrapped or links you’d like to share about gift-wrapping ideas.