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Ready cash is getting harder and harder to come by. You may be wondering how you’re going to pay your bills, and having the holidays to budget in as well can seem overwhelming. Don’t lose hope – it can be done! If I say the word ‘crafts’ your first reaction might be “I’m not crafty.” Not to worry – there are so many helps to making virtually anything these days that even those of us who are all thumbs can find something we can make that will make not just a passable, but a truly cherished gift for our friends and loved ones. You can access a tutorial for nearly any project online these days. Try blogs or YouTube and be inspired by the ideas someone will patiently teach to you. If you need material to supplement these how-to videos, try your public library; you may be surprised at the assortment of crafts you can learn from a book.

Personal, Frugal and Perfect: Homemade Christmas Gifts

So many items can be made up or made over to become the perfect gift. Use Mod Podge to create breakfast trays, vases, decorative plates , lamps or a hundred other projects. Take a quick look around at your scrap drawer, your kid’s creativity corner or even the garage. Rocks, paint, dried or silk flowers, canvas, burlap, embroidery floss, tin, mirrors, cardboard and baskets are just the start of an extensive list of craft supplies. Crafting is a world where anything goes. You are only limited by your creativity (or by the number of great tutorials you have time to watch and duplicate.) Here is one timely idea: Gather some glue, assorted pine cones, small Styrofoam balls, scraps of felt and those wiggly eyes and assemble a group of carolers. Use a pine cone as the body, the Styrofoam for the head and give each one various personal touches with the felt or fabric scraps you have on hand. These cute pinecone people can make a clever addition to a Christmas village – and they are bound to be one of a kind. If you like to affix a small gift to the top of the gift as part of the presentation of the package, but simply don’t have the cash this season, attach a pine cone person modeled to resemble some talent or interest of the person receiving the gift.

Crafts can truly be assembled from anything. There are books and websites galore that teach you how to make cute stuff from things as simple as cardboard tubing, Spanish moss, string, construction paper, soap dispensers and so forth. Perhaps you have crafty or culinary geniuses in your family. They might like to make their own projects, and would welcome a gift of pre-assembled kit (collected and labeled by you to save expenses). It could include directions and a depiction of the craft or food item in its finished state. For an extra special gift, make a kit for yourself and get together to make your distinctive creation as a team. You’ll both cherish the memories of these gifts and the fun you had making them.

If you knit or crochet, or want to learn, yarn can be found for about as cheap or expensive as you desire. Everyone has room for another blanket, scarf, hat or sweater, don’t they? Use those aforementioned library books or step by step visual online tutorials to teach yourself this skill and see just how much you can make when you can knit and crochet. Presenting a dear friend or loved one with a gift you made just for them creates a special bond. Keep in mind, especially if you are learning a new craft, you don’t want to go overboard buying supplies and equipment. You certainly don’t want to spend all that money you are trying to save by making gifts. Start with the bare essentials – in the case of crochet just a hook or two in average sizes and inexpensive yarn. Don’t spend a lot on books or costly yarn or having every size of crochet hook available. See if you like the craft first. If you love it and will go on to learn to make doilies, bookmarks, ornaments and other gifts, this may be the time to make more of an investment.

A big plus of crafting individual gifts for everyone on your list is that you can customize the present to truly fit the person. Let’s say you want to dress up some picture frames. (No one can ever have too many of these.) For the flower lover on your list, make them pretty with silk flowers or flowers you craft yourself from clay or bread dough. For the golf enthusiast, spell out his or her name in golf tees on the frame. A child friendly frame can be made with bright colors and any object the child finds interesting, and by using a bit of plastic rather than glass to cover the picture. Include a carefully chosen picture of the person or family you are giving this too and the personalization will be complete. This is bound to become a treasure to the receiver of this gift.

In closing, find items to use or repurpose from thrift stores, dollar stores, clearance sections and bargain basements and you will save yourself money if you are careful. If your real object is to save money, start with any materials you have on hand, don’t go out and purchase a fancy tool or craft supplies where the price tag will really add up and destroy your goal to be personal but thrifty in your seasonal gift giving. Learn from all the vast media at your fingertips and make a gift for each person that will be prized long after it has been unwrapped.

About the Author

Margo Smith is a graduate of BYU. She dotes on writing about a vast selection of subjects from etymology to pell grants for college to masonry. She draws from her own education, her years in college and an author’s perspective on life when writing articles.

*Image provided by Clementine Art.*

For an aspiring Le’Artiste on your gift list this holiday season, Clementine Art offers a gift set brimming with everything a little one needs to imagine and create works of art! The gift set contains non-toxic Crayon Rocks, Markers, Paint, Modeling Dough, Glue, Crayons, which will definitely provide hours of creativity and fun, especially when the weather is chilly outside this winter! From finger painting & drawing to coloring & using the modeling dough for projects, the Clementine Art Gift Set is sure to inspire. Check out their art blog for craft ideas and projects to make with your little ones.

Clementine Art offers wholesome, clean, environmentally-friendly and safe art supplies for children (and adults!). All of the products are free of chemicals and petrochemicals, and parents will love that everything washes off of clothes easily! The art supplies are recommended for children ages 3+. This is definitely one of the top gifts to give this season!

Clementine Art can be found at national retail locations such as Whole Foods Market or online at www.clementineart.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this review.*

Making a vision board with your child as they head back to school? You will want to pick up some non-toxic natural markers from Clementine Art to help color and create the project! Clementine Art Natural Markers contain absolutely no harsh chemicals, additives or dyes and come in 6 bright, bold colors – perfect for drawing or writing. With all ingredients listed right on the box – there is no mystery as to what is inside the products! Moms will love that the paints, crayons, & other art supplies that typically end up in their child’s hair, on tiny hands and clothes are wholesome, clean, environmentally-friendly and safe.

Clementine Art Natural Markers, Natural Paint, Natural Modeling Dough, Natural Crayons, Natural Glue and Natural Crayon Rocks can be found at retail locations nationwide, such as Whole Foods or Starbucks and online at www.clementineart.com. Gift sets are also available for the budding eco-artist!

*Company generously provided samples and images for this review.*

Mom” at Tiny Green Mom is loving these link picks!

Catch the Sun with Crayons on Clementine Art’s blog.

Raise Your Kids Right: What to Say Instead of Praising on Blogher.

Bean Appetit Cookbook for Kids on Petite Planet.

10 Ways to Reduce Cancer Risks on Environmental Booty.

*Image provided by Clementine Art.*

The start of a new school year can set the tone for how that year will turn out. The concept of a vision board (also known as a goal board, goal map, or treasure map) has been around for generations, but it’s gained a renewed interest and popularity as of late.

Back to School Vision Board Project from Clementine Art

Instructions:

1. The first step is to create a list of intentions with your child. What are their hopes and dreams for the upcoming school year?

2. Next, collect visual images to go with the list of intentions.

3. To accompany the images, add decorative handmade paper scraps, pretty stickers, and attach with Clementine Natural glue.

4. Decorate the vision board using Clementine Art Natural Paint, Markers and Soy Crayons and Crayon Rocks to add shading, doodling and drawing and your child’s personal touches and creative expressions.

5. Let the board dry overnight, then hang in a place where your child can view everyday, reinforcing their intentions for the year!

For more ideas and art projects to create with your children, check out Clementine Art’s blog!

About Clementine Art:

Clementine Art was founded in 2008 by Diana Mercer, a former teacher with over 20 years of experience in the field of education, arts education, and child development. Diana created Clementine Art to encourage open-ended art explorations for children. The process of creating art is a powerful developmental tool for children, and Clementine Art products encourage children to dream, imagine, experiment, create, problem-solve, and above all, express themselves. Explains Diana: “Real art is about creating. Early childhood educators know that the process of creating art is just as important to a child’s development as the outcome. I wanted to create products that not only engaged children in an open-ended creative process, but that could also become an everyday part of a healthy and creative lifestyle.”

*Images and project courtesy of Clementine Art.*

For parents concerned about harsh chemicals, additives or dyes found in their children’s art supplies, Clementine Art offers gorgeous certified non-toxic soy crayons, natural markers, natural modeling dough, natural paint, soy crayon rocks, and natural glue. With all ingredients listed right on the box – there is no mystery as to what is inside the products! Moms will love that the paints, crayons, & other art supplies that typically end up in their child’s hair, on tiny hands and clothes are wholesome, clean, environmentally-friendly and safe. Clementine Art can be found at National retail locations such as Whole Foods, or online at www.clementineart.com.