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Christmas in July Pt. II

In the spirit of consistency, I am doing my second “christmas in july” post – this one featuring all the gifts and decor I made last christmas! I have to admit, I may have gotten a little too excited dreaming up the perfect gift for all of the people close to me (with a budget in mind). But hey, I think a handmade gift goes so much farther than any other ‘valuable’ item could. Time is money, after all…
To start off this pile of tutorials and ideas, we have the lighted canvas art! What you’ll need:
– a blank canvas
– $3 starry lights from the Target dollar section (plus batteries, duh)
– a sharpie
– an exacto knife
– a hot glue gun
I’ve always said that I “fake” calligraphy, because when I’m using anything other than a brush pen, I pretty much just write in cursive and then fill in the parts that should look thicker, like so:
Now for the tricky part… I poked small holes in the canvas in order to let the lights shine through. What I found was that you have to make a generously sized hole in order to see the whole bulb shining. After poking holes (as many as there are little bulbs), from the back I glued the bulbs in place. Be careful not to make a hole under the wood frame of the canvas (rookie mistake by yours truly). Also, as I was making another version of this gift, I pushed the globs of hot glue with my finger while they were still wet – thinking it would make the process faster and make the bulbs stick in place better. However, from the front, you could see the little bulges where I pushed the hot glue. Don’t make my mistake!! Just let the glue dry on it’s own. 
Here’s the finished product, shining in all it’s glory! 

Next up, wooden recipe stands! What you’ll need:
– cutting boards like these from Amazon
– a cool stepdad with a wood-shop and the tools available to make the little ledge pieces of wood
– if you don’t have that, these will do just fine
– wood stain of your choice
– triangle pieces of wood for the stand
– a fat sharpie
– the years of your relatives’ anniversaries!!
To start, I simply used wood glue to secure the ledges onto the board. Wait about an hour for those babies to dry.
Then, I glued on the triangle pieces which act as the stand itself. Be careful: if you glue it the wrong way, the board will sit back at a far and awkward angle. Test your triangle before you glue it. Give ’em another hour or so to dry!
Next comes the stain! Here’s what I used. I wanted a lighter stain so that the monogram stood out really well in the end. Brush that on with a shop rag and give it a while to dry completely.
Lastly, I used a regular Sharpie to draw initials of last names on each board, and write “est. ____” with the year the couple got married.
These gifts were loved by all the people who received them! The size is perfect for a tablet, phone, or recipe book/card – and looks stinking cute in the kitchen! Try it out!!

For the next gift, I thought making little Christmas throw pillows would be fun. BUT!! I’ve never made a pillow in my life so please don’t laugh at all the mistakes. I still have a ton of materials (you’ll see why) so I will do better next time! That’s one of my favorite things about crafting: you learn something every time, and every project can be better!
Anyway, I did two different designs for the pillows. The materials for both are:
– $10 tote bags from Hob Lob (plus the coupon, hah)
– sewing scissors (or super teeny scissors)
– fabric paint in your choice of color (I used black)
– a potato
– black fabric
– polyester fiberfil (stuffing)
– a hot glue gun
As mentioned, these bags were from Hobby Lobby and cost under $10 for SIX! You could make six pillows for so cheap – ahh! That was my thought, anyway. I went ahead and bought two packs.. I didn’t know how many I would make, okay?!?
This was admittedly the most time consuming piece of the project. I used baby sewing scissors to snip off the straps of the tote bag. Sounds easy, but not so much. We dealt with it, it’s fine. Worth it in the end! I found that snipping the threads between the strap and the bag worked better. Snip, pull, snip, pull. UPDATE: After making more pillows for a Fourth of July craft, this smarty realized she could just cut the strap off with a pair of real scissors because you fold the rim in anyways!! Ugh silly me… So ignore that mistake. 
This is the fabric paint I used for the next part. I used the majority of this bottle (for four pillows), because it’s teeny.
Now for the fun part!! I used a semi-old potato that was soft and east to cut. This is how I stamped the pillow! I cut a thick slice out of the potato (maybe a 1/2 inch or so). UPDATE: Cookie cutters work well as a template too!!
Cut the top of the tree…. You see where this is going. 🙂
Annnnnd the rest of the tree.. (the more imperfect, the better). Grab a small paper plate, pour a bunch of paint on it, and stamp away! This was arguably the messiest and most fun project I’ve ever done. I had to use my fingernails to keep a grip on the potato as I stamped (ew, I know), but it was surprisingly fun to get my hands so dirty. I felt little again. I made one pillow with more space in between the trees, and the other a little more packed – I can’t decide which I love more!! So that was the first design. For the second, I printed out this pdf silhouette of a reindeer head.
I traced and cut it out of brown paper (in retrospect, I would have used cardstock or something more sturdy.) I pinned the design on black fabric to use as my ‘appliqué.’
 Cut it out…
WARNING! This is the most cringe-y thing I did all season, and it’s super embarrassing. You may just want to stop reading now. Well, maybe not because I learned from it so I can teach you, too!
So I THOUGHT spray adhesive would be a good way to get the appliqués to stick onto the fabric. It wasn’t. After all, I have about ZERO experience with sewing, and I didn’t know stuff existed to do this very thing I was trying to accomplish! So, DON’T use spray adhesive. DO use some kind of fusible webbing under the design, like Wonder Under, and DO read the instructions that come with it. It is not difficult, I just was ignorant and had no idea.
Well, they look attached. They aren’t, lol… And I gave them away!!! (Nooo!!) Thankfully the people I gave them to accepted them graciously and didn’t even make me feel ashamed. Next time! Next time they will be better.

The reason I have zero pictures of the rest of the reindeer pillows is because I knew deep down it wasn’t what I wanted. However, I have to tell you that I ended up sewing little closed eyes on the reindeer with red and white baking twine and they did look quite precious. I wish I would have gotten a picture of at least that.. But even that was pretty difficult. Maybe I should leave the sewing projects to someone else….
Anyway, here is what I used to stuff the pillows. It was $20 at Hobby Lobby I believe, and with the coupon it’s even more affordable. This box is HUGE, and I could make probably 15 more pillows out of it! Good thing I have those extra bags….

Stuff them, making sure to get the fill in the corners. Once it was almost full, I folded the top rim down inward, then used simple hot glue to start sealing the pillow. No, this wasn’t a disaster. Yes, it held well. No, it didn’t look cheesy in the end. I’m actually proud of the outcome here! These pillows are only meant to be used during the holidays, so I didn’t think they needed to be super heavy duty. If you wanted, though, sewing would work just fine. I just am not a pro-sewer (as we know now). Ta-dah!! Aren’t they adorable?! I love them dearly.. The imperfections in the stamping is what makes them perfect. All-in, these pillows probably cost under $3 a piece to make! And they are adorable. Win-win.

For the guy who has everything else, candy wins. Here’s a cute Santa sleigh I made out of king sized Kit-Kats, movie candy, peanut butter cups and bubble gum. I’m pretty sure I used a bag that once had jewelry in it… call me a hoarder, but I find uses for these things. I hot-glued the candy canes to the bottom, then taped the boxes together for the rest! Red and white baker’s twine was the finishing touch!

It is not beyond me that Hobby Lobby is already getting their Christmas stuff out and giving everyone stomach ulcers. Well, not to stress you out more, but let me show you how I decorated my apartment for cheap last Christmas! (P.S. the Target dollar section holds the solution to all problems this time of year).

My apartment bedroom had these six clipboards (super cheap at Walmart) up for a long time as decoration, and I just printed out fun sayings and pictures to decorate with. (Hint, this is one of the cheapest ways to make cute decorations – try it!)

For Christmas, I hand-lettered and drew some holiday-themed pictures and hung them. Free and adorable.

Next, I repurposed a Big/Little sign to give it new life as a Christmas Countdown Sign. I spray-painted the inside of this frame (from Hobby Lobby) with black chalk paint (should have primed it – oops I’m impatient), then used a white paint pen to hand-letter “days until Christmas.”
I hot-glued a bow on the frame and wrote the number with chalk. That’s all! Easy!
Here it is sitting pretty in my apartment. Now for that adorable tree and Pom Pom Garland
Step 1: buy a mini tree from Hob Lob. They are extremely cheap and always on sale it seems. Here are the other materials you will need (including a big needle):
Thread the needle with baker’s twine (do you see a pattern with red-and-white baker’s twine? That’s the only color I have, hah.) Thread the Pom Poms one by one, in whatever pattern you want. String the garland on the tree, add a matching bow, and call it good! Et voilà! We even threw some mini lights on it and stuck him on the wall!
Next, the Christmas Sock Banner! I bought a couple pairs of precious $1 holiday socks from the Target Dollar Section (duh). I then used – you guessed it – red-and-white baker’s twine to string them up! (I should have made a post solely about all the things you can do with red-and-white baker’s twine, I guess. Trust me, there’s so much more to come. Get ready.) Also, I bought a set of sparkly clothespins for $1. You can probably guess what I did next.. You’re right! I hung them. Done.
Ahh, this is joy. Coffee and Christmas. I hope some or all of this inspired you to get creative when the holiday season is here. Until then, happy summer!

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