Create Christmas Gifts That Make Giving More Fun than Receiving

Wall Hangings

Soft sheet aluminum is available at most hardware stores and can be turned into beautiful Christmas decorations to hang on the tree or become pictures for the wall. Used together in quantity the designs make striking wall covering for a small niche or hall. Several thicknesses of newspaper should be used underneath the aluminum to pad it as the design is etched. Do a freehand sketch or trace a design onto the foil. Use a narrow, blunt, pointed object such as an orange stick from a fingernail set or a ballpoint pen. Paper scissors will snip shapes of birds or reindeer. The material is easily bent to form dimensional details, such as wings, antlers, or arms.

Make a wall hanging of fabrics that are bright and textured. Cut flowers, the sun, or a family tree, and mount them on heavy burlap. Fringe the edges or bind the whole thing with braid trim.

Clay Jewelry

Flowers bloom on rings, earrings, lapels, or even adorn a jewelry box when they are fashioned from clay and glued into place on pin bases or ring backs bought at hobby shops.

1. Using fingers, work a drop of color into each 1-inch ball of clay in the colors you will be using for petals and leaves. Clay may be purchased from a hobby shop or made at home by cooking 1 cup cornstarch and 2 cups baking powder mixed smooth with 1 1/4 cups water. Bring to boil, stirring constantly until mixture looks like mashed potatoes. Turn onto board and cover with damp cloth until cool enough to use.

2. Take 1/4-inch piece of clay and press between thumb and finger to flatten. Roll into a tiny scroll to form center of rose.

3. Make petals one at a time by pressing tiny circles onto scroll base.

4. Make leaves by pressing piece of clay into oblong, creasing lightly down the center, and pressing around bottom of rose. Allow to dry overnight.

5. Glue to base, backing, or box. Brush with clear fingernail polish.

Ceramic medallions threaded on a chain, leather strip, or colored twine or ribbon are popular items. Make your own from white clay, or, for a more durable item, use potter’s clay that can be kiln fired.

1. Take a 1/2-inch ball of clay and roll it between palms until long, skinny rope is formed. Wind into a flat pinwheel or any interesting shape.

2. Trace around the design with a dinner fork, pressing lightly to seal seams and indent design.

3. Use skewer to poke hole at top for ribbon.

4. Allow to dry overnight. If you are using potter’s clay, you must take it to a kiln for firing or baking.

5. Paint with acrylics or tempera. Let set.

6. Dip into bowl of shellac, or spray with clear fixative for a ceramiclike finish.


1. Woven braid, strips of leather, and patterned ribbon can be combined or used separately to make today’s handsome belts.

2. Cut leather to desired length for finished belt, allowing 2-inch turn piece to wrap buckle in place if one is to be used.

3. Make design on leather with tracing paper, and mark with chalk.

4. Make holes with eyelet punch. Fringe edges of soft suede.

5. Glue on designs cut from leather. Use shoemaker’s leather glue or white glue.

6. Braid and ribbon belts are nicest when backed with belting or grosgrain ribbon. Cut backing 1/2 inch.

7. Use double rings, buckles, shoelaces or ribbon through eyelets or velcro for securing belts.


Cover a box with decoupage, fabric, bright paper, or newsprint, with family photos, souvenir travel literature, maps, or pages from a cookbook. Apply covering with white glue and stretch tightly while moist to straighten and smooth wrinkles. Seal with orange shellac for antiqued finish or with clear sealer. For richer, deeper seal, use several coats of varnish, sanding lightly between coats with sandpaper dipped in water and attached to a sanding block to even pressure. Apply decoupage wax from an arts and crafts shop or use paste wax and then polish dry.

Wooden Plaques

Wood may be scrap lumber from a mill or finished pieces purchased from a hobby shop. The wood can be antiqued by hammering the surface or driving nails in to form holes.

1. Trace a design or a quote onto clean wood surface. Use wood-burning unit to mark the design.

2. Cut pictures or prints to fit the wood and apply with white glue. Allow to dry under pressure (heavy books or similar weight.)

3. Wedding invitations, family crest, or graduation certificate may be carefully burned around the edges and glued to wooden plaque as a treasured memorabilia item.

4. Carve out a design—a portrait, the house you were born in—from soft wood, using wood-carving tools available at arts and crafts departments. Brush on printer’s ink to make a wood block print. Use the wood block itself for wall decor.

5. Finish with wood stain, orange shellac, or spray sealer.

Painted Rocks

1. Select smooth rocks having interesting shapes.

2. Paint design—ladybugs, flowers, paisley, faces—with acrylic paints.

3. For paperweights, glue section of dark felt on the bottom.

4. For wall hangings, glue series of diminishing sizes of rocks onto rugged, stained, wooden plaque.


A bag of beans makes a great gift to be used for games, as paperweights, or for decor. Make yours to look like the recipient of the beanbag or like arty animals.

1. For each beanbag, cut two of any basic shape from colored felt—teardrop, circle, triangle. Add arms, legs, fins, or whatever. Or an animal shape can be traced from child’s coloring book. Transfer design to fabric with tracing paper.

2. With white glue and colored felt pieces work detail on design.

3. Stitch the two pieces of fabric together around the edge, leaving an inch opening. Insert rice or beans and finish seam.

Cookie House

Make Christmas eating good for the children in your house, your Sunday School class, or your ward. Make a cookie house, a castle, or even a whole scene by tracing shapes on any good gingerbread cookie dough rolled to a 1/2-inch thickness. Bake and cool. Glue the house together and decorate it with confectioner’s frosting. To make the frosting, slowly add light cream or canned milk to two cups of powdered sugar until it is of stiff spreading consistency. Add a dash of salt and vanilla, and add whatever food coloring you desire. Let your imagination go wild in the candy store as you shop for “shingles” for the roof, “shutters,” and fence posts.

Wristlet Pin Cushions

1. Cut two 2 1/2-inch circles of colored felt and one 2-inch circle of cardboard.

2. Using embroidery floss and bits of felt, sew designs on one felt circle.

3. Cut 7 inches of 1/4-inch elastic. Whip ends together to form a bracelet. Attach firmly to bottom circle.

4. Sew the two pieces of felt together, with cardboard circle inside against bottom piece. Leave an opening and insert cotton balls. Finish seam.


Christmas is candles brightening the scene everywhere. You can easily make your own to give to the light of your life or to enhance the holiday settings at your house.

Wax: Melt wax in a double boiler, using candle wax, paraffin, or old candles with blackened wick removed.

Wicks: Use new wick purchased from hobby shop, braided twine, or a slender taper. Dip braided twine and new wick in melted wax and place on paper to stiffen straight.

Molds: Almost anything works for a container—professional molds, decorative glass or metal ware, cardboard containers firmly wrapped with twine, cold waffle-iron grids, or sand.

Sand candles are made by scooping out a shape in some sand from the beach or scooping out a shape in a bucket of sand. Pour melted wax into the shaped hole and allow to set completely. Lift out candle by scooping away sand. Brush off surplus from candle. Let your imagination determine finishing details such as eyes of rocks and tails of twigs. Insert wick by piercing candle with hot skewer, dropping wick into the hole and pouring melted wax down into wick area to secure it in place.

Lacy candles are achieved by alternating layers of ice cubes and melted wax around a taper (used for the wick in this case) in a mold. The wax solidifies around the ice cubes, which melt leaving lacy holes. Be sure to hold candle over sink to remove from the mold so that surplus water can drain.

Etched candles feature holiday designs, initials, or special greetings. Pour a plain candle using a 2 1/2-inch or larger container so there is enough surface to work a design. Polish hardened candle with nylon. Work design on tracing paper and transfer to candle with light pricks of a darning needle or metal skewer. Connect the dots with a sharp instrument such as leathering tool, sharp point of punch can opener, or skewer. Brush scrapings back into the design and press in firmly to “whiten” the etching.

[photos] Photos by Eldon Linschoten; creative crafts by: Robin Luch, Mikey Luch, Paula Wescott, Jennifer Cannon, Elaine Snyder, Ruth Ann Snyder, Su McOmber, Lani Bjornn, Ralph Brown and Tony Josephs.