Our HOMEMADE Christmas

I hope that you all had a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!  Ours was wonderful!  This year we took things down a few {okay, a few major} notches.  As I posted earlier, we needed to simplify Christmas this year and decided to make all of the gifts. {with the exception of clothes they needed & thanks to wonderful Grandparents, Aunts & Uncles, Santa Claus brought them a gift that they wanted, too!}

But –  this post is to tell you all about the HOMEMADE part of Christmas.

I don’t mean to sound like a salesperson – but I couldn’t have done these projects without 3 things.

1. My sewing machine.

2. My Silhouette Cameo

{If you got one for Christmas but need to learn how to use it – you can sign up for my Online Silhouette Course HERE.  Class begins Monday January 6th!}

3. My Photoshop Skills.












Here is what we all made for each other:




My cute hubby made my 9 year old daughter this “pink fluffy” pillowcase.

She see’s them in the store and loves them and says funny things like:

“It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die” – so he knew that it was the perfect gift for her.

{He was VERY proud of himself}


That’s a dedicated dad :0)







My husbands favorite game is Monopoly.  Our family has a not so good history with it.  I’m ashamed to say that the biggest fights in our marriage have been over Monopoly.  We were actually banished from playing it at his moms house.  I thought that maybe if I made a homemade version that had funny things to lighten the mood that we could play a friendly game.  So – I put my photoshop skills to good use and made him a JAREDOPOLY board.  I had so much fun thinking up clever Chance & Community Chest cards, talking to his mom to find out the places he’s lived for the properties (which she impressively remembered them all!) It was ALOT of fun!


 And even more fun when we played and I CRUSHED him Christmas Morning!  {although – he was so mad that he didn’t enjoy my funny cards :0(  There is a price that comes with Monopoly Domination.  Ho Ho Ho!}

I will post all of the details on making this board another day.  That would be an entire post on it’s own and I need some time to change the files to be generic for you to use!

But just be throwing around ideas for a board of your own.  I think that a LOVEOPOLY board would be SUPER FUN for Valentines!!




My 13 year old daughter has been wanting new ipod covers.  One day she will say “I want a minnie mouse ipod case” another day it was “I want a BYU iPod case” – so my 9 year old, who loves to draw, decided to make her these interchangeable skins to go inside this Clear iPod Case.  You can download the silhouette studio cut file HERE.



PVC Pipe Bow & Foam Tipped Arrows


My 11 year old son is boy through and through – so we helped our 7 year old son make him this PVC pipe bow and arrow. (the “arrows” are wooden dowels tipped with cut up pool noodle)  We’ve seen them made with hula hoops – but we had extra PVC and 45 degree elbows laying around – so used those with a rubber band for the the string.  We now have 3 other kids that want one, too…so our work here is not done.



Constellation Flashlight


My 7 year old son has a hard time staying in bed – so we thought that something interesting to keep him there would be PERFECT!  I’ve seen these around – but decided to make more work for myself and make a set.  My 9 year old son got to learn how to use my Silhouette to make these.  He thinks he’s pretty cool now.

You can download the Silhouette Print & Cut File HERE.

Or print a regular printable HERE.  {Just cut out the big circles and use push pins to punch out the small constellation circles.}

Don’t want to mess with it, and would just like to purchase??  I’ve added them to the shop, and the low cost keeps them in the frugal category!

I put a tiny piece of double sided tape on the flashlight to hold the cards in place – but they still pull off easily.





I’m ashamed that I had to ask what this thing was.  My husband helped my 13 year old daughter make it for me.  Once I found out – I was REALLY excited!  I’ve been doing a lot of screen printing using my Silhouette to make the masks.  This will make my work go MUCH quicker!!  Very thoughtful!  LOVED IT!


The rest of the homemade stuff was all me.  And I had so much fun doing it.





I used the Silhouette to cut out vinyl to act as a mask – and then sprayed them with this frosted glass spray. (and I couldn’t help myself – I added a blast of glitter spray, too)

You could also use Etching Cream – but I had this spray on hand – so I used it, instead.

**If you use the frost spray – they MUST be hand washed!  If you want dishwasher safe – go for the Etching Cream!!**

{If you don’t have a Silhouette – you can use contact paper and an exacto knife.}



Christmas Jammies


Every year on Christmas Eve we have our fancy Christmas Dinner.  They each have a wrapped gift at the table, and it always has their Christmas Jammies inside.

We open the gifts and change into our Jammies and eat our super fancy dinner in them.  I love it.  I’ve never attempted making PJ’s before and was a little nervous.

I followed this SUPER EASY TUTORIAL and they turned out great!

The only changes to the tutorial I made were:

*adding the ribbon to the girls and a shoelace to the boys to look like ties. (in hindsight I would’ve used thinner ribbon)

*I didn’t make the pattern like she suggested.  I just eyeballed cutting around the sample and then used the first cut as a pattern for the second cut.

Luckily – I’m a fabric junkie – and have  A LOT of fabric hanging around.  Leftover from old projects – or projects that never came to fruition – however it worked out – I had ticking stripe fabric lying around – and thought that PJ’s would be the perfect use of it.



Rosemary Place Card Wreaths


For the dinner table – my sister in law shared some of the rosemary from her garden and I made these wreaths and place cards:





We also break a piñata on Christmas Eve – and they started last week making it.  I didn’t get a picture of the finished product – because, to be honest, it creeped me out.  It was supposed to be rudolph the red nosed reindeer – but it looked more like a brown rat with a red nose.  Not pretty.

If you want a tutorial on making a piñata – check out this post.



Homemade Tamales


I used THIS RECIPE for the masa & some of my leftover TOMATILLO CHICKEN for the filling.  I even used the juices from the chicken to make a sauce to top them with.

I wish I could tell you how delicious these Homemade Christmas Tamales were…

BUT…I burned them.

Yep – they were all destined to be perfect.  I didn’t add more water to the bottom of the pan and before we knew it – the house filled with smoke and my favorite pan was scorched and our Christmas Tamales had a inedible smokey flavor and went into the trash.  Here is a picture of them all perfect going into the pot to their un-forseen demise.


I was sad – until I had the idea to have cereal instead.  And then I was happy – because I love cereal!

I had a lot more plans – as you can see on my Homemade Christmas Pinterest Board – but not enough time.  But, regardless of having or not having a job next year – I’m definitely doing this again!!!

For a lot of reasons:

*got to teach the kiddos a few skills while we helped them make the gifts

*having them think of the idea {thank you pinterest!} & make it was WAY more exciting for them than picking out a gift in the store

*christmas morning seemed much more exciting – because they had their handiwork to show off & they were much more engaged while they opened gifts.

*the joy of giving really took center stage this year.  I think because they were more invested…


I hope you’ve been inspired a little bit to do this with your family. And I hope that you’ll share any links to great homemade Christmas Ideas in the comments section!



A MEANINGFUL Twelve Days of Christmas Advent {Free Printable}

  1. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m so excited to have a less commercialized, more Christ-Centered Christmas with my family this year.

One way that we will be doing that is this Twelve Days of Meaningful Christmas Advent Calendar:Twelve Days of MEANINGFUL Christmas Advent


In keeping with our Homemade Christmas…my gift to you is this printable advent.  

You will need to start on DECEMBER 14th to begin on time – or just jump in whenever :0)

Twelve Days of MEANINGFUL Christmas


This Advent Calendar has 12 days of scriptures & activities to encourage a more Christ Centered Christmas.

Putting it together couldn’t be easier!

Step 1: Download & Print both sheets of the PDF.  I printed mine onto cream colored – textured card stock.  I love the faded look that it produced!

Glittered Download Button

**If you’re a photoshop user and would like to change the activities/scriptures – you can download the psd file HERE 

**If you want to change the activities & have no photoshop skills – you can just slip a piece of paper behind and hand write the scriptures & activities. :0)

**If you want to LEARN how to HAVE Photoshop skills – CLICK HERE

Step 2: Use an exacto knife to cut 3 of the sides to make a little door on each day of the calendar. Like This:

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Step 3: Glue or tape the sheets together – with the activity page on the back. {so that they peek through the doors when opened}

Display it in a frame without the glass, or just washi tape it to the wall.  Give it to friends & neighbors, or as a Visiting Teaching handout! No matter how you choose to use it, I hope that this Twelve Days of Meaningful Christmas will bring the True Spirit of the Season into your home this Christmas!!


A Meager Christmas

My husband has been unemployed for 3 months now with no severance package {BOO!!!} which means that Christmas will be meager this this year, and I’m so {STRANGELY} excited about it!

I’m excited to be able to focus more on the Savior & not feel the bustle of the season quite so much – since I won’t need to be out shopping like a crazy person.  I have grand plans & I’ll post about how they go.

Plan #1: our advent calendar

Normally – our advent consists of things to do as a family – usually shopping, or seeing a holiday movie, or going sledding in Flagstaff – most things that cost money.

This year: I found a great advent idea in The Friend {a children’s magazine that our church publishes} where instead of costly things to do or gifts to open – every day has a scripture and an act of service or family experience that correlates.  {I’m tweaking it a little and will share it on the 12th.}


{Click on the image to download}

The Friend Advent

Plan #2: our family gift exchange

Last night we had Family Home Evening and drew our family exchange names for Christmas.  My awesome hubby told the kids about his favorite Christmas memory with HIS family growing up, where all of the presents were homemade.  I’m sure it was necessity – but it stuck with him more than any other.

He talked about his dad helping him use the power tools to make his siblings gifts, and how he was MORE EXCITED about them opening up what he’d spent so much time making – that he wasn’t worried about what gifts he’d be receiving that Christmas morning.

That’s what we are hoping to have happen in our little family.  Pray for us ;0)

I’ve been pinning lots of Homemade Christmas ideas to THIS PINTREST BOARD if you’d like some inspiration.

 Homemade Christmas Board

If you have ANY suggestions for great homemade gifts for ages 7-13 {boys & girls} I’d LOVE to hear them or send them to me on pintrest! {I’m loving that new feature!!}

I’m so grateful for this opportunity to teach my kids about the true meaning of Christmas as well as this life lesson that sometimes we don’t get everything we want – but we can still be grateful for everything that we have!!


P.S.  If you’re a slacker and have some last minute shopping to do – check out these adorable 2014 desktop calendars my big sis designed  – they are available in my Etsy shop now :0)  Perfect for that out of town friend that you need to ship to…it ships in an envelope for the cost of a stamp {maybe 2 stamps…}!!  Can’t beat it!

Merry Christmas – I’m offering $5.00 off of these calendars to my friends until January 1, 2014

Use the code FRIENDSAREFUN at checkout to get these calendars for $15.00 plus FREE SHIPPING!

{click on the image to go to the shop and see all of the cute months!}

2014 chalkboard style desktop calendar


Christmas Eve Dinner

A few years ago – my husband and I were into watching Hell’s Kitchen.  Gordon Ramsay’s Beef Wellington always sounded DELICIOUS!! My husband was always drooling a little bit when they would show it.  So – for Christmas 2 years ago – I surprised him and made it for our Christmas Eve Dinner as one of his presents.

Since it was Christmas – I wrapped it like a gift ;0)Beef-Wellington

He absolutely LOVED it!  And it’s become a tradition to have this Christmas Eve.

You can get the recipe HERE and watch the instructional video HERE

To make the bow on top:

Cut the extra puff pastry into 3 long strips

Fold both ends of one strip into the center (so that there are 2 loops)

Wrap a small piece around the center to hide the seam

Place the bow in the center.

Lay long strips down both sides of the bow

Cut 2 small pieces to hang and notch the edges

The tradition at our house is that we get to open 1 gift on Christmas Eve – our PJ’s.

So I set a really fancy schmancy table – and each person has their gift to open on their plate.

We open them, and change, and eat our super fancy dinner in our new Christmas PJ’s.  I love it.

It helps that the PJ’s have an elastic band with this deliciousness…I’m just sayin’…

That’s what we’ll be doing tonight!  Have a Very Merry Christmas!!  And don’t forget to enter our GIVEAWAY!!


Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String

I’m loving the brown bag look this year.  I’ve made my advent calendar out of them…


It’s really easy to make them…

Step 1:

Trace a star onto a brown paper bag


Step 2:

Stitch around the star.  Just pivot your needle to get a sharp turn.

**Pivot means to leave the needle down – raise the foot – turn it the direction you need to go next – lower the foot.**

**Also – just a note – if you give yourself a excess thread to start – you can use that to hang your star!


Step 3: Cut around the star outside of the stitching – make sure to leave a little space so that you don’t cut the stitches.

Step 4: Stamp or handwrite the numbers.  I only do 12 days of Christmas – because an activity every night for 25 days makes me super tired!


Step 5: Punch out as many tags as you have stars, then write 1 activity on each one – then slide them inside of the star at the opening we left in step 2.


Here is a list of possible activities:

Visit Santa

Hang your lights

Decorate the tree

Watch your favorite Christmas Movie

Make neighbors goodies and go caroling to deliver them

Drive around looking at the lights while listening to Christmas tunes

Make cookies for Santa (this is Christmas Eve for us)

Draw family gift exchange names and go shopping!

Make an ornament (we do this every year and the kids decorate their tree with them)

Do an act of service for someone in need

Write our “Gifts to Jesus”

(every year – we write something we will try to improve about ourselves and wrap it up – we open them the following year to see how we did)

Go see the lights at the temple and listen to the Nativity while drinking Hot Cocoa

(the LDS Temples do a fantastic job putting up beautiful lights and have a Nativity Scene telling the story of the birth of Christ.)

Those are ours…what will yours be?
Step 6: Hang the stars wherever you like.

I hung mine from the ceiling by tying a knot in the thread and stapling them in place.

Hanging from the tree would be cute too!!  Or just tuck them into some garland and don’t hang them at all…



On another note…but along the same lines…

I LOVE paper mache boxes.  I’ve been collecting them for a few years – and I’m hoping to someday replace wrapping paper all together.

I love the idea of being able to slap their gifts into “Brown Paper Packages” and “Tie them up with String”.  And be done.  That would be a favorite thing…ha ha.  (By the way – here is a link to Some GREAT TWINE!)

Here are some ideas of how to make them fabulous:

1. Keep it pure. Just the box, some string and some Jingle Bells


2: Cover them in fabric or paper

**Spray the box with spray adhesive (or use mod podge) and smooth fabric into place.

Wait for it to dry and then trim the excess fabric ( I use an exacto knife to trim)


3. Line them with Vintage Tinsel

**Just run a line of glue around the edge of the box, and press the tinsel into place.  Super easy!


4. Polka Dot It

**I used the end of a glue stick and a craft paint stamp pad.  The bottom of an eraser will work,

or anything you can find around the house…


The great thing about these boxes is that they come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and they nest together for easy storage.

And they can be used for Birthdays, Christmas, Impromptu presents, other holidays!!  Just keep reusing them!!

If you don’t want the expense of the boxes – but love the look of Brown Paper Packages – Target has a GREAT wrapping paper in their stores.

It’s just Brown Kraft – but has gray pinstripes – so it makes it look a little more sophisticated.  I am loving it.


And – you can get the chalkboard gift tags in my shop – ;0)



How to Take a Picture of Your Christmas Tree

Step One: Go to the woods and pick out the tree. For some of us, the woods are in a lot next to Costco that was a pumpkin patch a few weeks ago.

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Step two: Decide on a tree. When you have found the perfect tree, take a moment to stand in awe and reverence and sing the hallelujah chorus, which goes something like this, “Hurry and get it on the car; there are no bathrooms here and we’ve got to go.”

xmas tree prdu08

Step three: Get it home. Assign one of the kids to stick their hand out the window and hold the tree onto the car, just because it freaks them out and is funny. Then feel guilty and tell them they can let go of the tree and admit that it will not fall off the car.

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Step four: Decorate tree. Curse chandelier that is in the way of your pictures.

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Step five: Find tripod. Dust it off. Attach camera. Set your shutter speed low, about 3 seconds or longer. Set your iso fairly low, under 500. Set your aperture to expose your shot correctly. (by the way, if you set your aperture to a high number, like 16, then your lights will have a starburst look to them. If you set it more open, at 4 or lower, then your lights will be more of a glow.) If you don’t know how to shoot in manual, try shutterspeed priority and just set your shutter speed to a slow speed and your camera will do the rest. (all lights are turned off except the Christmas tree lights)

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Step six: Add some people to your photo. Tell them to hold really still. Openly mock anyone who cannot. Laugh a lot.

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Step seven: bask in the Christmas glow.

And ask yourself, why can’t we be like Christmas trees, and the fatter we are the better we look?