Let your family members know how much you love them this year with personalized sentimental gifts only you could make them!
This year I have begun making a PERSONALIZED CHRISTMAS CROSSWORD PUZZLE. All of the clues and words in the puzzle refer to things only our family would know, such as family rituals, specific Christmas memories, sentimental Christmas decorations and gifts, etc. Something as simple as sitting down and writing out different family memories into a crossword puzzle platform can really be an endearing family treasure and something a grown-up child can appreciate, as well. You can tailor the puzzle to one person or make it apply to a whole family, including cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents, etc. and then you could send it out to all your relatives with a Christmas card!
To make a personalized crossword puzzle, make a grid on a piece of paper, it doesn't have to be perfect. This is not the final draft! Then fill in words for your puzzle on the grid, black out the spaces that don't have words, then write the descriptions/clues for the words out, then in the end, make a really careful grid with a ruler on nice paper, and leave room for the clues, then write the clues below. Save the solution and mail it to the relatives at Easter, perhaps!
Another idea is to make patchwork things out of old fabrics your family would remember. This could include old curtains, old baby and toddler clothes, old blankets, pajamas, tablecloths, grandpa's favorite shirt, an old favorite superhero sheet...I have made quilts for my adult son out of things he wore as a toddler and he seems to like the fact that he has fond memories of the fabrics in the quilt. Making quilts is easy and there is a ton of material on the web about it. A simple quilt design is to cut 4-5 inch squares of black fabric and also sentimental family fabrics. Make a row of black square sewed to a colored square, then a black square sewn to the colored one, then another colored one, etc. until you have whatever desired length you want the quilt, such as 21 squares. Make these rows alternating them beginning with black squares on one row, then colored fabric at the top of the next row, etc. Then once you have a bunch of these rows, sew them together. This pattern will be one of black squares highlighted with all kinds of colors around it. Once you get it the size you would like, sew a full piece of fabric to the back, with some padding or flannel in between the layers, then sew through all layers in quilting patterns. You can also just pull a needle and thread through the top, through all layers, then back up, then tie it, and cut it. Make a bunch of these quilt stitches all over the quilt for an easy quick quilt. And as for patterns, you can always alternate patterns with solids, or colors with one stable color alternating throughout.
You don't have to make a whole quilt out of patchwork fabrics. You can make a potholder if you only want to quilt a few patches of a fabric. Or an apron, just make a rectangle of patchwork, then gather the top a bit in a few places, then pin and sew it to the waistline. Or make a small lap blanket, or a small blanket for a teddy bear! You can make a pillowcase from patchwork, or a scarf...you can substitute patchwork clocks of fabric for any fabric you would buy in a bolt at a sewing store for patterns, as well!
Another fun idea is to make a "This Is Your Life" webpage online if you have some private family-access space for picture sharing and or webpage posting. Often such space comes with internet access services such as AOL and Comcast. You can make a series of webpages with pictures and links to places that you have gone together throughout the years, favorite toys, favorite songs, favorite movies, favorite cars, and favorite restaurants and entertainment venues, as well as links to events and people you know, etc...just a fun playground of memories online that is especially fun for the older kids, including grandparents. You can make a personalized one for one person, or make it a family This Is Our Life page, highlighting family events and memories.
Making Christmas cookies with cookie cutters bring up fond memories for me of my mother and grandmother. You can make your own colored sugar with kids following
the recipe below:
Colored sugar always makes cookies and desserts more festive. You can make your own colored sugars. Put the colored sugars in pretty containers and give them to friends who enjoy baking, or use them yourself to make beautiful colored cookie creations. To make colored sugar, combine 1/4 t. food coloring, 1/4 t. water, 1/2 t. vanilla extract and 1/4 c. granulated white sugar. Mix the ingredients together, then spread out in a thin layer to dry. Rub the lumps between your fingers to make the powder uniform. Use more food coloring for darker colors, and less food coloring for lighter hues. Sprinkle on cookies before placing them in oven for the sugar to set into cookie.
Once you have made colored sugars, then make sugar cookies and decorate with the sugars...
Decorated Sugar Cookies with Colored Sugars
4 c. sifted flour * 2 1/2 t. baking powder * 1/2 t. salt * 2/3 c. softened butter * 1 1/2 c. sugar * 2 eggs * 1 t. vanilla extract * 4 t. milk
Sift together the flour, blaking powder and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, mix butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until creamy. Mix in flour mixture alternatively with the milk. Chill the dough in the refrigerator. To bake, roll dough out on floured board with rolling pin, and then cut with cookie cutters. Place the cookies on an oiled cookie sheet, 1/2 inch apart. Decorate with colored sugar, m&m's, cinnamon buttons, raisins, chocolate chips, etc. before placing in oven (If you want to ice them, cook them plain and ice once cooled.) Cook at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes.
More fun ideas to come! Stay tuned!
Kirsten Anderberg. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint/publish, please contact Kirsten at firstname.lastname@example.org.