The Best Homemade Gift Ideas Monthly Digest: free-gift-ideas-newsletter-December2009.html

by: Brenda Mullard

Table of Contents:

1. The Holiday Spirit

2. Tips on how NOT to gain weight over the holidays.

3. Welcome New Subscribers

4. What’s new?

5.Crafter/Artist Interview of the Month

6. Project of the month

7. Reader Recipes

1)Getting Into The Holiday Spirit

Buy at
Fresh snow covers a Chris...

The holiday season has hit! Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. It's hard to believe that Christmas is so close. I have to admit that for some reason I am really having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. I have the Christmas tree up and decorated but that's about it. Usually the whole house is filed with decorations the day after Thanksgiving. Why am I not into it this year? Well, 3 small children do not help matters. One is taking down decorations as soon as I put them up, another is trying so hard to "help" me with whatever it is I am doing. The youngest I am afraid will hurt himself trying to pull down the stocking to see what's inside. So really in thinking about it, it's not the Christmas decorations that make the spirit bright... It's the family and friends that fill our hearts and homes. It's the thoughts of being together and sharing time and laughter. So this year maybe choose to have a homemade gift exchange. People can only exchange something that they have mad. Yes, please direct them to my website for help and ideas:0) Or do a cookie exchange among friends and family. Lots of yummy baked goods with minimal work. That is always a time saver. Keep things simple. Try not to over stress about little things like holiday decorations. Just go with my theory... what goes up must come down! Happy Holidays my friends!

Here is a holiday light show very close to my house. We stop in every year with the kids to see it. It is very cool! Click Here To See It!

2.How Not To Gain Weight Over The Holidays Here are a few idea I have written for How NOT To Gain Wieght over the holidays. These are a few ideas that have worked for me. Let me know what you think and if any of these ideas worked for you!

3.Welcome New Subscribers

A big welcome goes out to all of my new subscribers! This website wouldn’t be worth creating if it weren’t for all of you. Thanks for your continued support! It’s great to have you here with me. I love to find out where everyone is from. Please drop me an e-mail if you get a chance and tell me where you are from.

4.What’s New?

With our economy the way it is I know I am feeling the money crunch this year and the lack of cash to spend on Christmas gifts. Please check out my my homemade Christmas gifts page for some great gift ideas. There are directions for making an etched glass cake pan that any baker or cook who often takes baked goods to parties and whatnot must have! I also have directions for the always popular tied polar fleece blankets Looking for a gift to give your boss or a coworker? I have added ideas for corporate gift giving as well. We are all trying to stretch a buck this year and making homemade gifts is a great way to save money!

Christmas is a coming! Don’t forget about the How to Wrap Gifts Video page to help you make your homemade gifts even more beautiful.

As always I have my paper greeting cards for you. It’s so simple! All you have to do is choose the cards you like, order them right on the website and they are printed and sent right to your door. All you have to do is sign your card, add a stamp and toss the card in the mailbox.

I have been blogging away with crafty gift ideas, recipes and tips for gift giving on my Best Homemade Gift Ideas Blog I try to update my blog often with new project ideas, tips, and tricks. Feel free to stop by everyday! Become a follower and get notified when a new post is added!

I have also had readers ask me about starting a discussion forum Ask and you shall receive! Come and join an existing discussion, ask a question or start a new thread!

5.Crafter/Artist Interview of the Month

This month I came acrossed a candle maker. Her candles look yummy enough to eat! So please let me introduce Suzie Kimball!

1) Hi Suzie, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

Since I was in the second grade, I knew I loved arts and crafting. One Christmas I received a Creepy Crawlers Thingmaker. It made (by baking) all sorts of bugs, worms, spiders and flying insects. I painted them, decorated the wings, made rings out of some, then I took them to school and sold everyone that I made, to the boys. I even got orders for more. From that point on, I just started crafting so many things. When I became a mom, I made my girls clothes, painted items for their rooms, made rugs, wall hangings, made their Barbie clothes and so much more.

2)How did you get started making candles?

I started making candles about five years ago. I bought some tarts from someone on a website, and once I received them I thought, "I can make these". So I started buying molds, wax, and fragrance oils. That's all it took. I especially loved the look of the bakery type candles and tarts, because I love to bake. It is possible to take virtutally any baked item and turn it into a candle or tart. That's what's so great about wax.

3)How long did you make candles before you decided to turn your hobby into a business?

It was only about a year before I turned my hobby into a candle business. The hardest part of candle making is the wicking, so I wanted to get that down pat before I sold to anyone. I actually sold wholesale for a couple of years, but it got to be too much for one person to handle, so I went back to strictly retail. It's lots more fun and not too much pressure.

4)What are candle making supplies that you just can't live without?

Good fragrance oils are a MUST. It's a matter of trial and error to find the right ones. Some are good in certain waxes, while others are not. I actually have quite a few bottles of oils sitting on my shelves that I will never use, the scent throw is just not good enough. Another item I could not be without is my handy, dandy electric burner. I have several, and without those I would have to purchase very expensive melting pots. I also use a big turkey roaster for melting my jar/container wax.

5)Can you tell us a little bit about your candle making process and about how long it takes to make a candle?

To pour jars, it is actually easy. Once you get your jars wicked, you melt the wax to a certain temperature, then add your fragrance oil. Once it cools just a bit, I add the color. I use liquid drops, because they are much easier to blend and create many other colors with. Next, you let the wax cool to a certain temperature and then pour slowly into your jars. I use soy for my jars, so they need to cure for a couple of days, then they're good to go.

To make the bakery candles and tarts, I pour the embeds first and have them ready. Say I am pouring a Grubby Cake. I pour the cake in one of the silicone cake molds that I have ( I have four cake molds and could actually make 8 cakes in one day). Just before I pull it out of the mold (about 4-6 hours later) I have the icing ready to go, which is just white melted, scented wax. I have my embeds close at hand, start icing the cake, and quickly add the embeds before the wax hardens. Then I sprinkle with spices or glitter and package it up.

6)Do you have any advice or tips for people that might be interested in trying their hand at candle making?

I think the most important thing for someone new to the business is to get your wicking and scent throw right. It takes practice and testing, there is just NO getting around that part of it. Another important aspect of the business is to be patient. It will take a while for people to get to know you and to try your candles. If they are good, they will be back and tell other people about them. Remember, just because you open a website, doesn't mean people will find you. You have to get your name out there. Free linking and advertising can help to get your name out, and you may also want to pay for some advertising. Etsy and eBay are a HUGE help to get your name out there.

7) If someone was interested in purchasing one of your candles how might they go about that? Do you have another website other than Etsy?

At the moment, I just sell my candles on Etsy and eBay. I may open up another website down the road a bit. I had one before that was very successful with my wholesale candle business, but I closed it when I decided to go retail only. Even now on Etsy, at least once a week I get a request to sell wholesale.

8) Do you do any other kind of craft projects?

Yes, I do. I make soap along with my candles and sell them at one of our Local Farmers Markets. I am a doll and stitchery pattern designer and have a very successful business of selling my patterns along with wool felt and acrylic felt on eBay and Etsy. I also sew, which is my FIRST love. I sell my handmade items in a crafters mall in Michigan, and at times I sew for family, or when I am making something for my home. I also do decorative painting, and used to sell a lot of painted items on eBay, like vintage coffee pots, cake carriers, wood ornaments, etc. I don't have much time for painting anymore, so I only paint when I need something for a gift or for my home. There's just not enough time in a day to do all the crafting I would love to do.

9)Have you ever given your candles as gifts and if so what is your favorite response to your homemade gift?

Yes, I have given many candles as gifts and my friends and family LOVE to receive them. The BEST response to any of my crafts and my candles is just the look on their faces when they find out they are hand made by me. It is so, very rewarding to get the compliments and to know that the gifts are well received. I absolutely LOVE crafting and pray that I will be able to continue until I am well on in years.

Thanks so much Suzie for sharing your craft with us!

5)Project of the Month

This month I am featuring a Christmas ornament idea by an artist on craftster who goes by the name ammasmama . She plans on tying one to everyone's presents this year, and sending some Fleur De Lis to people we volunteered with in New Orleans/Buras after Katrina. [shh, no-one knows!] I love their simplicity, and the way they're not totally Christmas-ey and can be used all year! They're ceramic, fired in her kilns, rolled with a rolling pin, hand stamped, and the curved edges turned up by hand. You could probably get the same affect using polymer clay if you do not have access to a kiln.

. The star is a mini cookie cutter from a set I got so we could make smaller cookies last year. She purchased the cookie cutters at Michael's last year. They were sold in a clear plastic 4-5" cube, and the trees, reindeer, mittens etc would be such a cute set, all about 1 and 1/2".

Do you have a great craft idea? Are you an artist who wants to share your expertise?

Do you want to be published? Do you have a great gift idea you would like to share? Go to my share your gift ideas page and follow the directions on this page. Your idea won't only be used in my monthly e zine but you will also have a page published on my website. So what are you waiting for?

This new page makes it easy to submit a project idea along with pictures and instructions!

Do You like this newsletter/e zine?? VOTE NOW We are featured on the website Best E Zines!

As Featured On Best Ezines

7. Looking for reader recipes!

Do you have a great recipe that you would like to share? I know I am always looking for a super yummy recipe to take to the family gatherings throughout the whole holiday season. What about a family friendly recipe for Christmas cookies? Please send them my way! Here’s another yummy recipe from one of our valued readers! I made these cookies for a cookie exchange I was in with my coworkers. They were a huge hit and very easy to make!

Santa Claus Cookies by Mary from Minnesota

Ingredients: 2 packages (6 ounces each) white baking chocolate, chopped

1 package (1 pound) Nutter Butter sandwich cookies Red colored sugar

32 vanilla or white chips

64 miniature semisweet chocolate chips

32 mini red M&M candies or red hot candies

Directions: 1) In a microwave, melt white chocolate on medium for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Watch carefully so you don’t burn it.

2) Dip one end of each cookie into melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Place on wire racks. For Santa's hat, sprinkle red sugar on top part of chocolate before it cools. 3) Press one vanilla chip off-center on hat for pom-pom; let stand until set.

4) Dip other end of each cookie into melted chocolate for beard, leaving center of cookie uncovered. Place on wire racks.

5) With a dab of melted chocolate, attach semisweet chips for eyes and a red M&M or red-hot for nose. Place on waxed paper until set.

From our home to yours, Happy Holiday Everyone!

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