Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Gifts, Pinterest Style

Each year, I pledge to remember the birthdays, anniversaries and Otherwise Important Dates of those I love. Each year I keep new calendars lying on the desk until I have time to transfer those Important Dates from the old know, the one from 2007 where I actually wrote down Important Dates. Instead, I have a stack of unused calendars and lots of Important Dates that went wooshing past when I wasn't paying attention.

So you can imagine my delight when I found this on Pinterest:

I gleefully followed the link to the Etsy page, only to discover this sad illustration that always reminds me of my own knitting fiasco(s):

By now, though, I was determined. I showed the Pinterest photo to creative people which was helpful but created the Creative Chaos that occurs when you have too many good possibilities. The board itself was an easy solution - I visited Home Depot's cull wood bin and found two pieces for 51 cents each. I could make two gifts out of each board so for those of you who keep track of these things, I'm pretty sure a 25.5 cent foundation for a gift may set new world records.

I'd estimated I needed the boards to be about 15 inches long but wasn't certain so I avoided having the nice Home Depot Saw Man cut them for me...good thing I did, because when I started laying out the stencils I needed the boards to be about 21 inches long. Then came the part that made me pledge to learn to use a "real" saw in 2012...

It was a rough cut but isn't that what sand paper is for? A ridiculously long time later, the boards were cut and sanded and ready to join their cardboard friends in my Christmas painting center in the back yard. (Isn't that an impressive collection of odds and ends? It was a windy day so I grabbed everything I could find to keep the papers from escaping.)

I used three different stencil fonts...partly because I needed three sizes, and partly because I liked the diversity of fonts. The hardest part was getting them properly spaced and took a lot of eraser on the first one, but I had it down by the time I did the third! (And yes, my fingernails are blue. This project came after the Great Christmas Dye Failure.)

Once the stencils were penciled in place, I used leftover wall paint samples to paint them. Bonus: the colors match or blend with the home colors of my mom and sister, who would receive the gifts!

The hardest part of this project was finding something to use for the dates that hang off the bottom. I considered jewelry supplies but all I could find at Michael's were beautiful little shells that would have cost something like $50 per gift...not acceptable, even if Michael's ever gave you 40% off coupons that were valid when you needed them to be.

So I turned to Pinterest again, and found a bold soul who had already tackled this project. Her brilliant success: key tags for the dates!

In hindsight, I should have purchased them at Costco...I now know they're about half price compared to Staples. But since I had neither patience nor a Costco card, Staples was a lifesaver. I considered the white key tags but liked the little bit of variety the colors added. I used the tiniest drill bit I could find to make holes for the tiniest eyelets I could find, and they became the perfect hangers for the key tags!

There's still work to be done because I haven't yet added all sides of the family or close friends...and of course there are still more January birthdays to be added because my family is very lopsided on birthday coverage. But I'm pretty thrilled with the result - and fortunately, mom and Anna were too!

The gift version has a picture frame hanger on the back so they're ready to go on any wall...I ran out of time so for now, mine sits happily on the kitchen counter!

P.S. I had another great Pinterest victory for Christmas gifts: peppermint foot scrub! Incredibly easy and inexpensive, since the not-quite-cheap peppermint oil lasts forever. I added a loofah and candle to make the pedicure experience even more fun.

P.S. Wow, I just realized that this is my 100th post! If I were a TV series I would now be legen...wait for it...DARY!


  1. As the grateful recipient of both of these gifts, I want to say they are wonderful! It's fun to hear the story behind their creation now. It was humorous to see the January tags dragging way below any other month's! And there was no candy cane with my peppermint scrub~ but I tried the scrub recently and it was as good, if not better, than the Bath & Body product!

  2. Confession: I ate the candy cane. :)

  3. What cute gifts!! I love the birthday reminder. Looks like January is a busy birthday month!

  4. I would really like to recommend half of us change our birthdays so January becomes a bit more balanced. I for instance would like something around the 4th of July. Think anyone else would go for it? :)

    The peppermint scrub is completely amazing. I have to be honest, I'm hoping you do year round scents because I like the texture of yours much more than Bath & Body Works scrubs....