As promised, here are a few ideas you can do quickly at home without a lot of effort or skill needed. And if, like me, you are feeling like you're cheating on your Handmade Pledge, these ideas oughta get you back on track...
1. Peppermint Bark
(Oh, lovely, delicious, tempting peppermint bark)
All you need is:
- 1 package of white or dark chocolate morsels
- About 6 - 8 candy canes or a handful of those cute round peppermint candies (I know you are all in deep admiration of my technical lingo here, but try to contain the applause until the end)
- Peppermint Extract
Here's how you make it:
- Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
- Put all your candy canes or peppermint rounds inside a heavy duty zip-lock bag (the freezer bags are great for this). Then take it to the garage and pound on it lightly with a hammer until all candy pieces are smashed down to dime size or smaller.
- Melt your chocolate morsels according to the directions on the package. Since I don't own a double boiler, I opted for the microwave method and it worked just fine. Just remember that the white chocolate is a bit more stubborn than the dark. It starts to harden a lot quicker than the dark chocolate, so you have to work twice as fast!
NOTE: It just occurred to me today that not all packages of morsels have melting instructions on the back (I usually buy Ghirardelli, which does, but the Hershey brand doesn't) so if you need to know how to melt them in the microwave, a good rule of thumb would be to start slowly... like 30 seconds on medium power, then take it out and stir it . If the chocolate is not melted completely then microwave again in 15 second increments until it's completely melted. :)
- After your chocolate morsels are melted, add 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract and stir quickly. Immediately, pour mixture down on your cookie sheet making sure it is spread evenly.
- Drop peppermint candy pieces down on your chocolate mixture until it is covered evenly. You can even push some down with a spatula or a fork.
- Cool in fridge for at least 10 minutes (I always cool mine for about 1/2 hr.) Break into odd sized pieces and enjoy!
P.S. You can do the double layer kind too, with dark and white chocolate. I opted against it because my family members are pretty divided on what kind of chocolate they like. Jon won't touch white chocolate with a 10-foot pole, and I prefer it to the dark!
This is an excellent gift idea! Just prepare colored tins with a layer of parchment paper and fill with your homemade bark. Tie the whole thing with a bow and add a handmade gift tag... just like the ones below.
2. Handmade Gift Tags
If you're like me and have kept all your old Christmas cards from years past, this is an excellent craft to do quickly one afternoon and even get the kids involved.
- Just buy a round paper punch at any craft supply store, 1.5" - 2" diameter works great!
- Punch out your old cards. No need to center the design... the wackier the better. I used some of my ModGreetings overages for this project.
- Then using a hole punch, punch out a hole near one end of your circle (about 1/8" from edge),tie a piece of ribbon or jute through it and VOILA!
3. Framed photos
I must say that a framed photo is about the easiest, cheapest gift you could ever make that will be received well by all. Well, that is, if you follow these simple rules:
- Grandparents LOVE pictures of the grandkids, so knock yourself out.
- If the framed photo happens to be a gift for a more distant relative or a friend, you'd better make it a picture of themselves or their kids (chances are they won't be putting a picture of you on their wall... just saying!)
The frames can be thrift store or garage sale finds. Nothing too fancy needed! Spray paint is your friend. And you can even embellish your painted frames using buttons, shells or found objects and a little hot glue. Let your creativity roll...
Hope everyone is having a fantastic Holiday season! I've been sewing up a storm, how 'bout you? I promise to share my handmade gifts with you all after Christmas (since my family and friends all read my blog it would kinda spoil the surprise!) ;)