Crafty Christmas Present Ideas

Crafty Christmas Present Ideas

Some of the most fun we have at the holidays is when family gets together to think up and make Christmas presents.

And while we could do things like cookie gift baskets or coupons for chores and errands, here are some other awesome gift ideas to make at home. Many of these ideas are courtesy of our friends at

Terrarium Kit

Using ordinary canning jars from the grocery store, place a one-inch layer of pebbles in the bottom. These can be ones you pick up on a walk or you can invest in some at the local home store.

Print a pretty label that says “terrarium kit” and either print out or handwrite some basic instructions on a three by five card that will go into the jar.  Pick up some activated charcoal at the local pet store and add a couple of tablespoons to a small zip lock bag and place in the jar.

Here’s a sample of some instructions:

  • Line the terrarium bottom with stones
  • Sprinkle charcoal on top
  • Add a few inches of potting soil
  • Add some small plants to the soil as well as any desired decorations
  • Place the terrarium in indirect bright light and be careful to water only when the soil is dry

When you’re done assembling the terrarium, place the lid on the jar and wrap the lid with a ribbon and add a holiday card.

Picture Coasters

This is a great present for grandparents or any family member to enjoy pictures from your last vacation or holiday time together.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 inch round, flat cork pieces
  • Glue
  • Card stock paper
  • Printouts of your photos
  • Foam or felt mounting dots

Here’s how to put them together.  Using the cork pieces as a template, trace a circle onto the card stock and the picture to make sure the size of materials match. Spread a thin layer of glue onto the cork then place the card stock on top.  Place another thin layer of glue on the back of your picture and then put that on top of the card stock.  Turn the coaster upside down and stick for mounting dots on the back to project wood furniture.  Voila!

Peppermint Brownie Mix

This idea and recipe comes from our friends at  If you have some extra canning jars from the store after you finish your homemade terrarium, this is a great way to fill them.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • Another cup of sugar
  • 1 cup Andes peppermint crunch baking chips (or chopped up Andes pieces)
  • 1 ¼ cup of flour (add this carefully because some of this layer will sink into the mints that you have already placed in the jar)
  • A pinch of salt


Layer ingredients in a Mason jar, tie with a ribbon and then print the following instruction tag for the lid of the jar:

Mix contents of jar with 1 cup melted butter (two sticks), for eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.  Bake in a 9X13 pan at 350°for about 25 minutes and enjoy.

You can also print out a peppermint brownies label to put on the jar itself.

They’re you have it.  Some crafty Christmas ideas for DIY presents.

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Planning Downtime: Family Rest and Play Days

Family Downtime

As Americans, we are raised with a work ethic that can drive us to madness. We are taught that our value and worth are measured by how much we earn, how exhausted we are, and how we measure up to other families.

Lately, we have seen families start to schedule downtime in the form of family rest and play days. And we couldn’t agree more.

The G Word

It’s one thing to say you’re going to start including more family downtime but it’s quite another thing to actually do it. And do it without guilt.

The G word is the toughest part of making a commitment to downtime. Kids sometimes have busier schedules than their parents and trying to make sure they get to participate in everything is tough.

Likewise, Mom and Dad may have the guilt of taking time off from work because there is a project due or a case that needs to be handled.

How to Do It

This may sound obvious but just do it.

Yank out the calendar, find out when the kids have sports events or other commitments, and schedule a series of monthly family downtime days. And sometimes it’s fun to just be spontaneous and do a family fun day in the middle of the week.

Don’t worry about school or work. Just play.

Re-Learning the Value of Just Being

In our race to be the best, we have lost the joy of simply being. Cell phones and tablets have replaced conversations and there is a need to always be doing something.


Take the family on a picnic to a favorite spot. Have one cell phone in case of emergencies but no others. Bring the dog. Play like he does.

And if you feel sleepy in the middle of the day, curl up and snooze.

If you’re at the beach, take a stroll and see how many shells you all can collect for a piece of art you can work on later.

At a park? Take some binoculars and see how many birds you can find and name.

Consequences: What to Do If Your Kid Gets Cut for Missing Practice

This is a huge deal in today’s competitive sports. It’s a way the coach blackmails your child emotionally. They threaten to take away their sense of belonging by throwing down an ultimatum.

If this happens during your family downtime and it upsets your child, talk to them about the importance of that sport. Is it something they really love as opposed to feeling obligated to do because of peer pressure or the pressure to get a scholarship to a good college?

For family downtime to work effectively, everyone must participate. Obviously, if a member of the family is sick then any plans made to go out may be dashed but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your day. Do things inside that includes the person who is recuperating like playing a board game.

Rest and play are critical components for a healthy and happy life. Plan family downtime and make some new memories without being on vacation to do it.

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