Kid-Made Nativity Platter

If you’re a grandma or godmother to my hooligans, stop reading right now, or risk a spoiler for your Christmas gift!

For the rest of you, take a peek at these fabulous platters my precious angels made. (And, no, they’re generally not angels in any way).

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I found these great square dinner plates at Target..on sale, no less!  I don’t like them as plates, but they’re perfect as cookie platters for Christmas gifts. These didn’t take long at all to make, and, while they aren’t perfect, I think they’re charmingly handmade…and pretty impressive for 6-,8-, and 10-year-olds.

All you’ll need is a platter, a gold paint pen for glass, and the drawing you want to put on the platter.  Oh, and the hardest thing to procure…carbon paper!  I had to look through all of our moving paperwork from like 8 moves ago to find a piece!  Anyway, that’s all you’ll need.

I found a similar line drawing on line and printed it as a goal for the hooligans.  Then I assigned parts of the drawing to each…Princess Thundercloud did the star and rays, and the ground.  My middle kid drew the stable and Jesus in the manger. The eldest drew Mary and Joseph. And all without fighting…can you believe it?

I used the carbon paper to trace the drawing onto each platter, then the eldest went over it with the gold glass paint pen. We let them dry overnight, then baked them according to the directions on the package.  I think we put them in a cold oven and heated it to 375 degrees, then baked them 30 or 45 minutes, then turned the oven off and let them cool in the oven. I washed them a little too soon, to get the carbon off that was peeking out from under the gold paint.  A few spots got a little thin…but it was still pretty!

These are not microwave or dishwasher safe, but can be handwashed with warm soapy water and a soft cloth with no problem. And, really, would you want to use a scratchy pad on the Holy Family, anyway? I thought  not.

This was a fun project for the kids…it didn’t take more than an hour, and they were proud of the results.  Almost-instant gratification is always a plus! We made these for the grandmas and the kids’ godmother (who happens to be their aunt)…and I had them make an extra for us!  I’m so excited to use it this Christmas season!

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Perfectly Simple Snowman Mugs

I’m sure, if you’re on Pinterest, you’ve seen these Snowman Mugs about a hundred times.  Here’s what’s different about these…I did not use Sharpies.  I’ve tried and tried using Sharpies on dishes…following all the tips…let cure overnight, put in a cold oven, heat to 400 degrees and leave them for 40 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave them in there until cool.  Nothing has ever made them truly washing-proof.  And I mean hand-washing.  The dishwasher?  Fuhgeddaboutit.

But I love snowmen/women/people, and really wanted a set of mugs for all of us, instead of the pairs we have. So I bought some dollar mugs and a set of paint pens. They weren’t that expensive, either…less than Sharpies, I think. But they stay on through washing!  I still can’t brave the dishwasher with them, though. Maybe someday.

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I made bowties for the boys and hairbows for the girls, and personalized the ones for the hooligans. It’s so nice that they think the Tinkertoy writing I learned as a high school cheerleader is impressively artsy!  I left the other 3 mugs blank as far as personalization.

As you can probably see, I used orange, black, red, and purple paint pens…the fine tipped ones.  I let them dry overnight, then put them in a cold oven and heated it to 350 degrees. After leaving them for 30 minutes, I turned off the oven and let them cool in it. Then I resisted temptation for another day and didn’t immediately try washing them. When I did wash them, 24 hours later, everything stayed right where I painted it.  Wahoo!

I’m going to give these to the kids on Christmas Eve, along with new PJ’s, so we can have hot cocoa, popcorn, and watch “The Polar Express” for the umpteenth time. Wouldn’t these be a fun party favor for a cookie swap, with a few cocoa or coffee packets inside?  Or if you’re having guests for the holidays, they’ll think you’re the bomb when they have a personalized mug at the breakfast table! Just don’t give them to your kids’ teachers…as a child of teachers, I know they have WAAAAY too many coffee mugs already!

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Santa’s Longjohns Candy Bag

I found this cute Santa’s Longjohns Candy Bag at a craft bazaar a long, long time ago…probably at least ten years ago, before I had kids and could freely wander through the booths without a care in the world. I’ve copied it many times, however, in the years since, and I decided it was finally time to write up a pattern and share it!  I don’t think it’s copyrighted already, and I apologize if it is…just send me a note if I’m infringing.

Anyway, here it is…Candy-Bag-Title-ChaosServed

Sorry the photos are not the best…it’s been gloomy, gloomy here and it’s hard to get great shots! And it was a little snowy and pine needles were everywhere!

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Click here for the downloadable pattern

This is so simple if you have basic sewing skills. And a sewing machine.   First, for the felt…you can make 15 from one yard of 45” wide felt, so much cheaper than buying those little squares of thinner felt.   Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Red felt
  • 5 small white buttons per bag you’re making…2 on back, 3 on front
  • 9” green ribbon for the bow at the neck
  • 1” square scraps of Christmas fabric for the patch on the front
  • Rhyme printed out and cut with decorative scissors
  • Fabric glue or hot glue for buttons, ribbon, and patches

The directions are printed on the pattern download, but here they are again.

1. Cut 2 of the bodies and one flap. Cut a 2” long slit in one body, where the flap would go.

2. Sew the flat side of the flap to the body with a slit in it, just above the slit. Candy-Bag-Back-ChaosServedD

3. Put the two bodies together, with the flap on the outside, and sew all around the edges.

4. Glue 2 buttons on the flap and 3 buttons and a ribbon bow on the front at the neck.  Glue the small fabric piece, like a patch, on the front.  Also glue the paper with the rhyme on it to the front. Candy-Bag-Front-ChaosServed

5. Stuff some treats inside!

Here’s the rhyme for the tag:

I looked for a stocking,

But couldn’t find a spare,

So I ended up stuffing

Santa’s red underwear!Candy-Bag-Sign-ChaosServedD

Trust me, the little ones in your life (and some big ones, too!) will get a kick out of these!

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Advent Activity Calendar…Again!

I know, I’ve posted this before…a couple of times! I think it’s such a great idea, instead of candy every day during Advent, since, Heaven knows, my kids get plenty of sugary treats during the Advent season.  They truly seem to love getting to do an activity each day, rather than a trinket or candy, anyway. Seriously. They’re weird.
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Anyway, on with the directions, so you can make one for yourself!  To make it, I simply resized and printed out the Days of December page template from Stampin’ Up, then resized and printed Ali Edwards Advent Boxes from DesignerDigitals.com.  I believe that Days of December is no longer available, but here’s a great alternative from Makoodle.

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Anyhoo, I printed, cut, and then wrote out our list.  If you would rather, you can even type the list right on the cards before you print them.  I thought it was a nice touch to have my own handwriting on them, though.   After I wrote the activities, I figured out what would work on which day of the countdown and glued the backs together.  To make it a bit more finished, I rounded the corners of each card.

Then all that was left was to spice up the $4 frame I found at Walmart. This craft allowed me to use both a staple gun to attach the bakers’ twine and a hot glue gun for the burlap background.  All that was left to do then was hanging each card with cute little decorated clothespins. I made these glittery ones myself, but I just came from Target, where they had red mini-clothespins in a pack of 20 for $1. What a deal!  Oh, and I looped a wide striped ribbon around the frame to hand the whole shebang.

Voila! The hooligans will have such a great time with this!

Here’s our list, compiled from extensive research (I Googled “activity Advent calendars”):

1. Read the Elf on the Shelf book in preparation for his arrival

2. Clean out and organize toys and donate

3. Buy a toy and donate it to Toys for Tots

4. Make thumbprint tree ornaments from salt dough

5. Write letters to Santa

6.Celebrate St. Nicholas Day

7. Have a family game night

8. Make pinecone birdseed ornaments for outside tree

9. Make paper snowflakes and hang them EVERYWHERE!

10. Watch a Christmas movie

11. Do something kind and helpful for a family member

12. Focus on being kind and polite to everyone you meet

13. Read some Christmas books

14. Draw a Christmas picture

15. Make snow ice cream (hopefully!), or ice cream sundaes

16.Make cinnamon ornaments to tie on granola for neighbors

17. Decorate a gingerbread house

18. Bake and decorate cookies

19. Write Christmas notes to your teachers

20. Make ice candles

21. Drive around to look at lights and drink hot chocolate

22. Decorate birthday cupcakes for Jesus

23. Make a Christmas craft

24. Make popcorn and watch “The Polar Express” movie

Of course, your family’s list will be different…we’re certainly not the poster family for Advent activities!  I’m sure you find that hard to believe…not.

Now I have to go hide this until December 1, or the hooligans will be begging to start!

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A Few of My Favorite Things

It’s that time of year again…the time when I am ready to get in my craft room and make tons of fun Christmas gifts!  I’ve been finishing up Calc 2 this week, so my school term is done and I have no academic responsibilities until 2015…YAY!  So today I’m sharing a little recap of some wonderful gifts I’ve made (and given away, even!) in the past…enjoy!

These Washer Necklaces are inexpensive and quick to make in any color you’d like.

Handmade Coffee Syrups are, hands down, my most popular post…and you won’t believe how easy they are!

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The granddads (and dad, too) in our lives loved these Shadow Words I Love You Photos.

Just wanting a cute giftcard holder?  This Purse Giftcard Holder is adorable and quick to make!

What neighbor or friend wouldn’t love a personalized, Etched Glass Baking Pan, complete with your favorite breakfast casserole inside? And you get to play with etching cream and stencils!

And don’t forget about making ornaments!  These Simple Nativity Ornaments are perfect gifts for religious ed teachers, or to tie onto any package!

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These “Cozy Toes” Cupcakes, which actually hold a pair of warm and fuzzy socks, make a great little gift for teachers.

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People will be your friend forever if you give them a jar of delicious Jezebel Sauce.  It takes seconds to whip up, and is perfect for friends or as a hostess gift.

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We also like to give a Soup and Bread Gift, with homemade lentil soup mix and beer bread mix tucked into a fun bread pan.

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And, just to make it an even ten ideas, these Personalized Coffee Cup Notecards were easy to make, and impress anyone you give them to! Coffee-Notecards

Now, go get crafting!

Delightful December (Baker’s) Dozen

Here it is, practically Christmas, and I still have lots of projects I wanted to show again this year.  They’re favorites from the past (along with a few you might have missed this year), but still perfect for this season, too.  I hope you find a little inspiration!Christmas Collage

Pieced Christmas Tree Card

Simply Christmas Nativity Ornament

Ornament Stamped Coasters

Jingly Joy Glass Block

Sugared Cranberries

Wreathed in Peace Card

Nativity Pallet Art

Christmas Collage 2

Orange-Cranberry Cheesecake Bars

Marshmallow World Free Printable

Russian Tea Mix (with Printable Labels)

Year of Memories Ornament

Merry Munch Snack Mix

String of Lights Card

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Comfort and Joy Wall Words

Each year, I try to incorporate a new holiday decoration, and last year I bought 9” tall chipboard letters spelling out “Comfort and Joy.” I’d wanted to do this for a few years, but could never make up my mind as to what words, but finally decided that, for me at least, the holidays are all about the comforts of home and family and the joy of Jesus’ birth, spending time with loved ones, and the wonder in little ones’ eyes…it’s a lot of joy!

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I waited until the letters went on sale for half price, and it really wasn’t too expensive…I think a little over a dollar per letter. I used Command poster strips to hang them, and they stayed securely but came off easily with no damage when the season was over.

This took all of ten minutes (minus the shopping trip to buy the letters) and I love that as guests left our home, the words would be the last thing they saw before walking out the door. Usually I have a sign up there that says “What if the hokey pokey really is what it’s all about?”  I’m not saying that’s not more appropriate for our house, but it’s nice to portray a calm facade once in a while.

I even found a spot in our house this year for them…over the kitchen window.  Since I spend most of my days in the kitchen this time of year, it’s a perfect location so that I see them all day long.

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This year our mischievous elf, Joe, cut out a new letter “E” and changed it to “Comfort and Joe” one night. The kids thought it was so funny…I really wish I could get credit for some of these ideas instead of them thinking I’m an old fuddy duddy. Which I probably am, since I just wrote “Fuddy duddy.” Whatever.

I’m thinking of drilling holes and adding lights to make them marquee letters next year, but I may or may not do that.  I really like the natural kraft color, especially in my non-glitzy Christmas décor. Because the hubs won’t let me use glitter in this house, since we’re staying in it forever. Again, I say, whatever.

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Kidcraft: Washi Christmas Tree Canvas

Yep, we’ve been trapped inside for another weekend while the hubs was off in an exotic locale on an exercise. So we crafted, of course! Specifically, we made Washi Christmas Tree Canvas decorations for their rooms.

I found a fun set of kid’s paper craft tape at Target recently, so I kinda sorta turned them loose with that and some canvases to create their own designs. .

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Aren’t those cool tapes?  They were in the kid’s crafts section, with crayons and posterboards.Tapes-ChaosServedDailyThis tape was easier for my kids to work with than washi is, I think because it’s thicker and easier to tear straight across.  I used some gold foil sticker paper from Silhouette and a Stampin’ Up! die to cut the “Peace and Joy” and we punched stars out of the foil using a paper punch.

They loved this tape so much, we had to find something else to do with it…so we made cards to send to soldiers in Afghanistan.  We have a friend deployed over there, so we sent a bunch marked “To Any Service Member” for him to pass out amongst his troops.

Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph their masterpieces before mailing them, but here they are, hard at work:

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I admit, my eye was a little twitchy, seeing all this messiness as we were crafting, but they enjoyed it so much, I got over it. And they were super helpful about cleaning up. Seriously, they were. I was amazed. I think we ended up sending almost 20 cards, so hopefully they will cheer up some soldiers’ holidays.

I hope Target has a new set of tape designs out soon…I think they were $10 for the set of nine tapes, and I’d much rather the hooligans craft with these than with my washi tape hoard…I might need that someday!

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Nativity Pallet Art

Look what I made: this simple, yet gorgeous Nativity Pallet Art!

Nativity-Pallet-ChaosServedI love it…and I have to give it away. I designed and crafted this Nativity Pallet Art for a gift exchange at my Bible study group, but when I saw that it actually looked as good as I thought it would (that doesn’t happen a lot of the time!), I decided I want one of my own. And I’m going to make one as soon as I have a spare hour. So, let’s say….for Christmas of 2043? No, I’m kidding…I’m making one this weekend for myself.

To make yourself one, you’ll need a few supplies:

  • Wooden stakes (sold in a bundle at the hardware store)
  • Craft Paint:  Metallic Gold, Metallic Blue, and a lighter blue…I used Plaid’s Light Periwinkle, but I’ve had it for years so they may not even make it anymore
  • Stencils  or vinyl (I downloaded a manger one from Silhouette and the words are in Keep Calm font, cut on my Silhouette as well)
  • Foam paintbrushes
  • A gold spritz pen or an old toothbrush and some of the gold paint

1. Cut the wood pieces so that you have 9 that are 12” long and 2 that are 13” long.  Mix a stain with about a teaspoon of light blue paint and 4 Tbsp water and brush it on the front and edges of the 12” long pieces. Let dry.

2. When dry, use E6000 or similar adhesive to glue the longer pieces to the back, as shown:

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3. When that is completely dry, cut your stencil and place it on transfer paper. Transfer it to your “pallet” and paint with metallic paints.  Carefully remove stencil, touching up if necessary. (if you’re using a store-bought stencil, you’ll need to spray the back with a light adhesive, lay it on your pallet, and then paint, being careful not to get paint under the edges of the stencil.)

4. Use the spritzer to add a little glitz to the light blue background, or, if using a toothbrush, get a bit of gold paint on it and run your thumb along the brush to create a spatter. Practice this on newspaper or scrap paper first!

5. When all the paint is completely dry, attach two small eye hooks and hanging wire to the back, like so.

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If you don’t have a die-cutting machine, you can probably find a similar manger scene already cut at a craft store, or, if you’re better with a craft knife than I, you can make your own stencil from clipart.

I hope whoever gets this at the swap loves it as much as I do…and I hope I find some time to make another!

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Washi Tape Votive Gifts

I’m sure you’ve seen the cute tealights wrapped with washi tape for various holidays…and if you haven’t, kudos for you for resisting the pull of Pinterest! I wanted to make some of the tealights, only partially to justify the growing collection of washi tape I’m amassing, but mainly because I thought they would be perfect little gifts for a “Merry and Bright” Christmas.

But…when I looked for tealights at the dollar store, they were really shallow pans, so I didn’t think my washi would fit well. And then I spied some little glass votives, really a bit skinnier than votives, packaged three in a clear container and tied with a bow. I snagged all they had (only six packages) and hurried home to washi.

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How cute are those?  And here’s all I needed to make them:

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These simple little Washi Votives will make perfect gifts for teachers, neighbors, and friends this holiday season and convey just the right message…May your Christmas be merry and bright!

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