12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: Doggie Scarf

dog scarf instructions how to make your own DIY christmas craft pet

I’m one of those knitters that never really progressed beyond scarf-making.  I love to buy yarn, however, and have an entire bin of the fuzzy stuff in storage that quietly waits to be used. Recently, I decided that my friends and family had been subjected to my scarves long enough, so it was time to move onto the dog.   I’m not sure he thinks he looks quite as fashionable as I think he does, but it is a great, festive accessory for winter. Just wait ’til you hear all the “Look, Mom, that dog is wearing a scarf!” comments.  It is pretty darn cute.

dog scarf how to DIY knitting patterns free, holiday christmas pet outfit

I fashioned this scarf from plain old, dirt cheap Red Heart acrylic yarn, in basic knit stitch. I casted on 18  for the proper width for my dog’s neck, but you can adjust your width accordingly.  The only fancy thing this scarf has is a keyhole built in so it won’t fall off.  All you do is after you’ve knitted enough to wrap around your dog’s neck (about 90 rows in my case), you begin your next row and at the halfway point, in my case after nine, you tie on a second skein.

dog scarf how to DIY knitting patterns free, holiday christmas pet outfit

Knit both sides at the same time, rejoining the sides with one skein only when you have about a 2.5 inch opening (or whatever is big enough for the width of your scarf.)  Continue for another 2.5 inches to finish and bind off.  Cut and add tassles to end opposite of keyhole for some extra pizazz. Try the scarf on your dog and sew on a button to secure keyhole end of scarf.  Personally, I think the button is what makes this scarf so darn cute!

Finished dimensions for my 20+ lb Jack Russell: 3.5 inches wide, 22 inches long (not including tassles), 2.5 inch keyhole, 2.5-3 inch tassles, 6 inch neck opening when buttoned.

If you need a good handbook for basic knitting, I like Stitch ‘n Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook.  The Windy City scarf on page 159 has a keyhole, if you need additional help.

Doesn’t he make the best doggie model?

dog scarf how to DIY knitting patterns free, holiday christmas pet outfit


12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: Impromptu Holiday Wrapping

inexpensive gift wrap ideas DIY freezer paper bakers twine dollar spot store cheap

I found myself in a pinch this week, gifting wine without a wine bag to present it in.  Since presents are most fun when they need to be unwrapped, I scoured my house for something I could use and remembered I had some freezer paper laying around from a previous crafting project (heaven forbid I actually use freezer paper for wrapping things that go into the freezer!).

inexpensive gift wrap ideas DIY freezer paper bakers twine dollar spot storeThe nice thing about freezer paper is the width of it – 15 inches – as opposed to using my beloved parchment, which I use religiously for baking purposes, at a mere 12.  It was perfect to fully cover a bottle of champagne, which stands at almost 13 inches.

What you do: Unroll a length of freezer paper and place your bottle, upright, on top.  Take a corner and bring it to the top of the wine bottle to figure out where your ‘center’ is, then use the end still in the box and bring that to the top.  Cut.  Bring two opposite corners of your cut paper to meet at top of bottle, then fold over and tuck in the rest.  Tie off with your choice of string.  I added some red and white baker’s twine and a glittery gift tag that I found in the $1 spot at Target for some festive pizazz.  Once the bottle was wrapped and tied, I snipped the cut edges with scissors.  Inexpensive, cute, and classy.  Just the way I like my crafts.  :)


High Time Halloween Ideas

We decided to throw together a last-minute party for Halloween this year so I hit up the Dollar Store to see what I could find.  Never a big fan of anything cheesy (though my husband is all about giant blow up lawn ornaments and the like – we’ll battle that one out at Christmas, I’m sure!), I tend to look for inexpensive basics that I can dress up.  What I found on my recent trip were black serving plates, a black plastic tablecloth, some cheesecloth, the fake spiderwebs you find at most places, and some lovely rubber rats. I went to the dollar store specifically looking for black construction paper, which I unfortunately did not find, so went through my scrapbooking stash and luckily found about 4 sheets of black cardstock (which you can buy at Joann’s or Michael’s).

So, for a whopping $6, I turned my food table into a spooky serving place by layering the cheesecloth over the normally-tacky black plastic tablecloth, adding the rats for some extra creepiness.  I used the fake spiderwebs to add some festivity to the front door and the coffee table and used last year’s decor to top it off.

halloween decorating ideas cheap craft diy dollar store bats spooky creepy

With the black scrapbook paper, I decided to make some bats to hang from the ceiling, after a summer road trip through Austin, TX where we watched the Congress Ave bats take flight at dusk.

halloween decorating ideas cheap craft diy dollar store bats spooky creepy

To do this, I found a silhouette image of a bat on the internet, traced it onto a piece of paper (don’t yet have a printer in my new house), cut it out and copied it onto scrapbook paper. A trick for less tracing/cutting: fold your paper edge over and line the bat up so he is bisected lengthwise. This way, you don’t spend as much time cutting AND the crease makes the bat look like he’s in flight!

halloween decorating ideas cheap craft diy dollar store bats spooky creepy

Use a needle and fishing line, or in my case, invisible thread which I had on hand, to hang from the ceiling with clear tape.  I love the way it turned out!

halloween decorating ideas cheap craft diy dollar store bats spooky creepy

To continue with the bat theme, my husband has loved the idea of a conceptual costume ever since we donned chick magnet and deviled egg costumes a few years back. This year, we decided he would be a “dingbat”.  Easiest costume ever! Your base: black shirt, pants and shoes. Then, you need some scrap black fabric, about half a yard, for your wings, and a desk courtesy bell that you can find for cheap from your local office supply store.

All I did was cut wings from the scrap fabric by laying the shirt flat with arms stretched out at 90 degrees, lining up the corner of the fabric and scalloped the edge from wrist to hem to look like a bat wing.  When done, simply glue the wings onto the shirt seams, then hot glue the desk bell to the front of the shirt.  Hit the bell, and up go his arms! A hit with the kids, who couldn’t stop dinging him! We fashioned a quick set of bat ears with a headband and some leftover black felt, though my dear husband took the liberty of cutting them without consulting me first and he ended up looking more like a flying dingcat.  But you get the picture. :) And doesn’t my doggy make the cutest shark?

halloween decorating ideas cheap craft diy dollar store bats spooky creepy


Yarn-Wrapped Vases

yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun

What to do with the leftover yarn from your Party Animals wire animal project? Pick up some cheap tin cans of varying sizes from your favorite discount store and turn them into coordinating centerpieces, that’s what! Flowers are a must for me at any type of event and when you can get them gorgeous and on the cheap from your local Trader Joe’s, this craft really is a no-brainer! We ended up using the smallest can as a utensil holder…another great way to add some texture and color to your table!

Here’s what you need:

yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun

  • leftover yarn
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • washed and dried tin cans (I went to Big Lots and bought the cheapest cans I could with the best size variation)
yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun

Here’s what you do:

  1. Remove outer paper label from tin can and thoroughly wash both inside and outside of can.
    yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun
  2. Once dry, use hot glue gun to tack end of yarn to edge of can.
  3. Wrap tin can 10-20 times or so, keeping some tension.
    yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun
  4. Scrunch yarn down to cover up any openings and to create the textured look.
    yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun
  5. Continue wrapping in sets of 10-20 until you reach the upper edge of can.
    yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun
  6. Cut yarn and glue down on edge.  Voila!  Gorgeous vase in less than 10 minutes!
    yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun

Cost: Under $4 for five vases.

yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun
yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun
yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun

 


Party Animals

DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations

I had the privilege of helping out in the decorating department recently for a very special one year old’s birthday.  The parents had sent out an Evite with animal silhouettes, so when I saw the brightly colored print below on sale at Joann’s, I knew it had to be apart of the celebration.  In typical thriftycrafter fashion, I made a few table runners and a new bunting to incorporate the print, but still wanted some type of wall/hanging decoration to carry the animal shape theme.

DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations

I remembered seeing a super cute craft that a very talented friend of mine did for her sister’s baby shower that involved wrapping colored string around the wire frame of an old lampshade; I loved the textural look of it and knew I had to incorporate this technique somehow.  I decided to mimic the animal shapes from the print by bending re-purposed wire hangers from the dry cleaner, then wrapping them in interesting textural yarns that matched the colors in the fabric.  The best part?  Most of the yarn came from Big Lots and was $1/skein…now that is a thrifty craft!

We hung them along the backyard fence with invisible thread for some extra outdoor festivity.  I think they turned out so perfect and cute…the giraffe is my favorite.  What’s yours?

DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations
DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations
DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations
DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations

This last one is supposed to be a hippo, but I think the consensus was that he ended up looking like either a pig or an aardvark. :)

DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations

Here’s what you need:

  • wire hangers
  • wire cutters
  • pliers
  • yarn
  • hot glue gun
  • scissors

Here’s what you do:

  1. Use your wire cutters to remove the top portion of the wire hanger.
    DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations
  2. With the print in front of you, use pliers to bend the hanger to mimic the shape of the animal. Each of my animals needed wire from two hangers to complete.
    DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations
  3. Use hot glue gun to tack separate pieces together.  Allow to cool slightly, then mold glue while it is warm (not hot!) to minimize any bulk.
    DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations
  4. Once your wire animals are complete, spot glue end of yarn to hanger.  Wrap yarn around hanger 10-20 times, then cinch down and pull taut to create the textured, rugged look.  Repeat until you’ve covered the entire wire frame.  This part of the project can be tedious, but it is perfect if you need some mindless activity or need to catch up on your tv programs! Once completely wrapped, snip your yarn and use hot glue to affix end.
    DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations

Cost: While 4 of my skeins were only $1 at Big Lots, I spent $9 total on yarn for the 6 animals in order to get the right bright coral and bright green for the rhino and turtle.  Still, not bad and certainly a lot of bang for your buck! Look for sales, shop your discount stores and use your Michael’s and Joann’s 40% off coupons!

DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations

Spring Cleaning Crafts

seashell wreath lotus pods reindeer moss natural craft project spring summer

The weekends have been nice around the beach lately so we’ve been taking our dog down there to play. There always seem to be an abundance of nice, big, unbroken shells at Dog Beach (probably because you don’t see many little kiddos running around with their pails full) so I’ve been picking up the pretty ones and saving them for a craft.  As most seashell decorations tend to not be my favorite, I wanted to create something that brought in my love of nature-inspired, textural elements.

seashell wreath lotus pods reindeer moss natural craft project spring summer

I’m a collector of all notions crafty  – when I head to a thrift store, discount store or garage sale (or even when someone does their spring cleaning and discards perfectly good items that could be repurposed!), I’ll take home things that I might not have an immediate need for and save them until inspiration strikes.  Such is the case with this twig wreath, which I found discarded on top of someone’s trash.  It originally had ugly, fake flowers not-so-delicately hot-glued on it which were easily removed to reveal a clean and natural base.  The lotus seed pods were found at a thrift store mixed in a bag with preserved leaves for $2 (but you can find them at any Michael’s) and my reindeer moss is leftover from some Christmas projects.  I wanted another textural component, so used my trusty 40% Michael’s coupon to purchase these interesting dyed and dried mushrooms.

seashell wreath lotus pods reindeer moss natural craft project spring summer

While I think the addition of succulents would be gorgeous, I wanted something dried so that I could hang it, then store it away with the seasons.  So grab a hot glue gun,  get inspired by your findings and leftovers, and get creative!

seashell wreath lotus pods reindeer moss natural craft project spring summer

12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: jeweled napkin rings

My final Christmas post…whew!  I don’t know how the craft bloggers of the world do one post a day, unless that is their primary job. As a practicing dentist, wife, and mom of a not-so-independent dog, 12 days in a row is certainly a commitment for me! But, I digress.  :) For our last Christmas-inspired project, I’ve created some napkin rings for your festive holiday spread using oversized buttons and silver jewelry cord.  Paired with bright red linen napkins and set against crisp white porcelain, these little sparklers certainly pop!

DIY jeweled napkin rings holiday craft dritz beading cord sparkle inexpensive

Here’s what you need:

  • stretchy metallic beading cord, like Dritz
  • oversized buttons (mine were found at Joann’s)
  • hot glue gun and scissors

Here’s what you do:

DIY jeweled napkin rings holiday craft dritz beading cord sparkle inexpensive

  1. Cut your jewelry cord into 12-inch pieces.
  2. Feed one end of cord through button opening and tie ends together in a double knot.  Snip excess.  From end of loop to base of the knot, length should be around 5.25 inches.
  3. Use hot glue gun to secure knot to backside of button, making sure to seal off the ends of the cord.
  4. Use loop end to wrap around napkin and over button.
DIY jeweled napkin rings holiday craft dritz beading cord sparkle inexpensive

12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: maple knots

holiday recipes caramel pretzels homemade baked goods gifts treats

I was incredibly lucky to marry into a family who really celebrates tradition at Christmas.  Of our traditions, these delectable little bites of heaven are lovingly placed in our stockings by a Mrs. Claus who is so busy baking and wrapping gifts throughout the day, she often does not sleep on Christmas Eve. While the flavor and the crunch of these pretzels is divine, its the love that goes into making them that you can taste the most.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Ingredients:

holiday recipes caramel pretzels homemade baked goods gifts treats

  • 1 c butter
  • 2 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp maple flavoring
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 24 oz mini pretzels

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Divide pretzels between two foil-lined rectangular pans.
  2. Heat butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and maple flavoring in saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until bubbly around the edges.  Cook for ~5 minutes, then remove from heat.  Stir in baking soda.
    holiday recipes caramel pretzels homemade baked goods gifts treats
  3. Pour maple mixture over pretzels.  Mix until well coated.
  4. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool, then package as you wish and spread the love!

12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: paper doily table runner

paper doily table runner 99 cent store craft dollar tree inexpensive christmas holiday project ideas decor

Here’s an easy and inexpensive way to dress up your coffee table for the holidays.  Varying sizes and sheens of paper doilies are layered together in a seemingly haphazard fashion to create a simple, festive table runner.  The Dollar Tree carries paper doilies in white, silver and a bronze-y gold in 8, 10 and 12-inch diameters that work well for this project.

What you need:

paper doily table runner 99 cent store craft dollar tree inexpensive christmas holiday project ideas decor

  • paper doilies in varying diameters and colors
  • photo mounting squares

What you do:

  1. Lay out your doilies in a pattern that is pleasing to your eye.  I wanted mine looking asymmetric and almost thrown together.
  2. Use photo mounting squares to delicately adhere your doilies together in their final position.
    paper doily table runner 99 cent store craft dollar tree inexpensive christmas holiday project ideas decor

12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: Trader Joe’s wrapping paper

trader joes wrapping paper christmas gift reusable brown paper bag

Shopped at Trader Joe’s lately and noticed their holiday paper bags? Gorgeous white winter illustrations on brown paper bags inspired me to reuse them as a decorative band on my smaller Christmas gifts this year.  Add some simple red embroidery thread and you’ve got yourself a pretty, environmentally friendly wrapped present without lots of fuss!

Here’s what you need:

trader joes brown reusable paper bag christmas gift wrapping

  • Trader Joe’s holiday brown paper bag
  • scissors
  • iron and ironing board
  • red embroidery thread (or some other decorative ribbon)
  • tape
  • gift box

Here’s what you do:

  1. Cut out graphics from bag in wide columns.  Fold edge over and iron flat.
    trader joes brown reusable paper bag christmas gift wrapping
  2. Wrap band around gift box, securing with tape.  If you box is too large, use pieces from the bag to piece together the back (no one will see it).
  3. Use embroidery thread to add a bow.  Embellish with a written gift tag.
trader joes brown reusable paper bag christmas gift wrapping

Thrifty Tip: I was able to decorate three lingerie-sized gift boxes using only one bag!


12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: filled ornaments

Almost as exciting as receiving greeting cards in the the mail are the arrival of holiday catalogs from my beloved home stores.  I love to flip through them slowly, dog-earing my favorite pages, and take in all of their holiday goodness.  In particular, Pottery Barn catalogs are filled with lovely ideas and I especially love their use of reindeer moss for decorating. For today’s craft, I’ve created a truly simple and elegant, nature-inspired ornament.

homemade glass ornament pinecone filler christmas craft easy inexpensive

Start with a glass or plastic ornament, insert some reindeer moss as a soft base, add a clipping from your tree trimming, and gently scatter mini pine cones.  Do you hear the pine needles crunching under your feet as you walk through the forest?

Here’s what you need:

clear plastic glass ornament homemade DIY gift christmas craft

  • glass or plastic clear ornament
  • mini pine cones
  • reindeer moss
  • tree trimmings
  • long tweezers (or something else to help insert your filler -  I used dental cotton pliers)

No instructions needed!  Finish off with a long piece of twine and tie into a bow to hang.

clear plastic glass ornament homemade DIY gift christmas craft

Tips: Everything Christmas is on sale at Michael’s.  The ornament and mini pine cones were $2 total after discounts and I had leftover reindeer moss from this project.

Almost as exciting as receiving greeting cards in the the mail are the arrival of holiday catalogs from my beloved home stores.  I love to flip through them slowly, dog-earing my favorite pages, and take in all of their holiday goodness.   In particular, Pottery Barn catalogs are filled with lovely ideas and inspiration.

12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: felt rosette tree ornament

felt rosette christmas tree ornament craft DIY gift

Previously, I crafted a felt rosette wreath that I absolutely adore and use as a decoration at both Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day.  I love the texture of the felt clusters and thought it would make a pretty ornament for our tree this year.  I picked through my scrap fabric bin (I always keep my leftovers!) and had both white and red felt pieces that I used for this craft.  The instructions are the same as for the wreath, except you are pinning the folded circles onto a craft foam ball instead of a wreath form.   Finish it off with a twine hanger and you have a lovely peppermint ball!

Here’s what you need:

felt rosette christmas tree ornament craft DIY gift

  • 2-inch diameter craft foam ball
  • box of straight pins
  • scrap fabric
  • stamp pad (i had a green one from a previous project)
  • a roughly 3-inch diameter glass/lid (really, whatever size fits your stamp pad)
  • scissors
  • twine for hanging

Here’s what you do:

  1. Use glass to stamp circles onto felt.
    felt rosette christmas tree ornament craft DIY gift
  2. Cut out circles.
  3. Fold each circle in half, then in half again and insert straight pin at the corner.
  4. Pin each folded circle onto foam ball, clustering tightly to create ruffle effect.
  5. Fluff felt after adding a few and continue adding until all visible surfaces of ball are covered.
  6. Knot a piece of twine and use straight pin to affix to foam ball.
    felt rosette christmas tree ornament craft DIY gift

Tips: Using a smaller diameter circle would give you a smaller ball, you’d just have to cut out more circles! The finished diameter here was ~ 4″ – definitely a larger ornament!

felt rosette christmas tree ornament craft DIY gift

12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: semi-homemade greeting cards

semi homemade christmas photo greeting card craft costco michael's target

I adore photo greeting cards during the holidays.  Being the crafter that I am, I tend to shy away from the printed, postcard variety you can order and like to get photos printed myself and dress them up.  This year, I had 4×6 pictures printed at Costco after using Photoshop to add a festive greeting, purchased green cardstock from Michaels on a super 4 for $1 deal and bought value packs of cards from Target to use as a base – 18 cards for only $5! The cards themselves were a little silly, but had a gorgeous, bright red background that I knew would work well with the photo I chose.  Trying to make your own cards from scratch with colored envelopes and cards from craft stores can get a bit more costly, so starting with the value packs is a great way to make your holiday cards your own without spending a lot of dough.

Here’s what you need:

semi homemade christmas photo greeting card craft costco michael's target
  • boxed cards with good background color or print
  • coordinating cardstock
  • printed photos
  • photo mounting squares (Big Lots has ‘em cheap, cheap!)
  • paper trimmer or ruler and scissors

Here’s what you do:

  1. Use your paper trimmer to cut out three 4.5 x 6.5 inch rectangles from each  sheet of 12×12 cardstock.
    semi homemade christmas photo greeting card craft costco michael's target
  2. Use photo mounting squares to affix photo to cardstock, then cardstock to face of card.
    semi homemade christmas photo greeting card craft costco michael's target
  3. Add your own personal greeting, sign, seal and deliver!

Cost: $18 for 36 cards! Only $0.50 per card…not bad! Photos were $5 at Costco, cards were $10 total at Target and cardstock for 36 cards was $3 at Michaels.


12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: twine greeting card display

Running out of room on your fireplace mantel, or just looking for a new way to display the holiday well-wishes from your nearest and dearest? Try this frame made of only twine and push pins to create a focal point for all of your lovely greeting cards.  Shaped like a tree itself, this spirited display lends even more festivity to your holiday decor.

christmas card holder display DIY twine tree easy craft

All you need:

  • jute twine
  • push pins
  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • twine or yarn or twisty ties to fasten your cards

Here’s what you do:

christmas card holder display DIY twine tree easy craft

  1. Start with the trunk of the tree and create a loop at the free end of your twine.  Use push pin to secure in place.
  2. Place another push pin to mark the apex of your tree, loop and knot twine twine, cut and secure.
  3. Place third and fourth pushpins to mark the base of your tree.  Starting with a new loop at the apex, wrap around one corner, pull taut and wrap second corner, finishing at the apex.
  4. Loop and knot free end of twine and secure.
  5. Use a hole punch at the top of your cards and use twine, yarn or twisty ties to secure to twine tree.
    christmas card holder easy twine push pins craft holiday decorations

12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: holiday slip-on dog bandana

slip-on dog bandana christmas crafts holiday accessories for your pet inexpensive easy

A while back, I made a reversible dog bandana that fastened with velcro.  While it is a great accessory that can significantly cut down on your doggie accessory stash, this Slip-On Bandana is so fast and easy to make, I couldn’t resist posting another one.  No pins required, just some fabric and a sewing machine.  So get crafting and fashion some pet holiday flair!

What you need:

slip-on dog bandana christmas crafts holiday accessories for your pet inexpensive easy

  • scrap fabric (I used a holiday print)
  • sewing machine with matching or contrasting thread
  • scissors

Here’s what you do:

  1. Approximate how large of a bandana you would like on your dog’s neck. My little pup is a Jack Russell mix and is about 20 pounds.  I made his bandana to a finished 5.5″ at the base and 5″ tall from the folded base to the point.
  2. Fold your fabric in half and cut a out a pentagonal shape with right angles at the base, making sure to put the base along the folded edge (one less edge to sew!). My original dimensions were 6 inches at the base, 4.5 inches along the parallel sides, then 5 inches on each side that makes the point.
    slip-on dog bandana christmas crafts holiday accessories for your pet inexpensive easy
  3. Turn fabric inside out and sew along all edges, leaving an opening to turn it right-side out.
  4. Turn out and press, then fold remaining edge in and top-stitch shut.
  5. Fold base edge over (this is the slip-on part so make sure your collar will fit) and stitch.
    slip-on dog bandana christmas crafts holiday accessories for your pet inexpensive easy

Cost: I purchased my fabric quarter from Joann’s in the clearance bin for $0.50.  Can’t get a thriftier craft than that!

slip-on dog bandana christmas crafts holiday accessories for your pet inexpensive easy

Thanksmas Entertaining

Ever wanted to throw a fall dinner party that isn’t a full-on Thanksgiving or host something the weekend after Thanksgiving, when, in your mind, it is still a bit too early to decorate for Christmas?  If you’re like me, who celebrates the bountiful holiday at someone else’s home, you have all of these beautiful gourds and pumpkins that haven’t yet their moment in the spotlight.  So, what’s a girl to do for decor between major holidays?  Try mixing some silvers and purples into your existing fall color scheme and see what you get.  You might be pleasantly surprised!

This table setting was inspired by some clearance napkins I found at Cost Plus World Market in the summer (again, the key to entertaining thriftily is thinking ahead and always being on the lookout for deals!).  They have a gorgeous mix of plum, deep purple, natural white, burnt orange and woodsy browns:

fall thanksgiving centerpiece ideas crafts entertaining placemats tablescape place setting

When I saw the napkins, I immediately thought of the plum table runners I’d made for my wedding a few years earlier that were still sitting in storage at my in-law’s house.  Since I prefer to use placemats as opposed to runners, I thought, how easy would it be to convert a few of these gorgeous runners (that I’ll almost never use again) into placemats?  Even if you don’t have table runners that you no longer have a need for, it is quite easy to make your own placemats, since they are basically two rectangles sewn together!

What you’ll need:

fall thanksgiving centerpiece ideas crafts tablescapes place settings entertaining

  • 1.25 yards of interesting, textural fabric (I used a weave from Ikea)
  • 1.25 yards of plain backing fabric (I used a simple broadcloth from Joann’s)
  • matching thread
  • sewing machine
  • scissors
  • long ruler or measuring tape

Here’s what you do:

  1. Iron material prior to cutting.
  2. Pin fabric together.
  3. Cut out six 13×19 rectangular pieces out of pinned fabric (if your fabric is the standard 45″ you should be able to measure 19″ from the end, then cut out three 13″ pieces with ~6″ of  leftover scrap, repeat a second time for a total of six placemats).
  4. Thread machine with matching thread and sew 3 sides of rectangle with 1/4 – 1/2 inch margin.
  5. On fourth side, start from one end and stitch until left with a 3 inch unstitched area.
  6. Turn fabric out and iron edges.
  7. Turn unstitched area in and sew closed (you could also do this by hand with an invisible stitch, if you wanted, though it takes longer).

fall thanksgiving centerpieces craft ideas entertaining tablescapes place settings

Now for the centerpieces!  I was inspired to make something fun when I saw some Styrofoam balls that I found at Tuesday Morning for much less than craft store retail prices.  What I ended up doing was using a combination of things I had (excess muslin from previous craft projects, twine, and Indian corn husks) and new materials (preserved leaves and dried pinto beans) to create natural-looking, fall-into-winter centerpieces.  All of my materials incorporated colors that are in the napkins.

Here’s what you need:

  • two sizes of Styrofoam balls (Tuesday Morning or retail craft stores)
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • scissors
  • craft spray glue
  • preserved leaves (Michael’s)
  • jute twine (Big Lots or 99 Cent Store)
  • muslin (retail craft store or Walmart)
  • purple Indian corn husks (local grocery store in produce section)
  • 2 bags dried pinto beans (Big Lots $1 per bag)
  • galvanized or silver rectangular trays (I used my trusty tart pans again!)

Here’s what you do:

for leaves:

fall thanksgiving centerpieces craft ideas entertaining tablescapes place settings

  1. Remove leaves from their stems.
  2. Use hot glue gun to secure leaves to styrofoam ball in an overlapping fashion until ball is covered.  In my example, on one large and one small ball, I displayed the waxy side of the leaf and on another two, I displayed the underside.

for muslin:

fall thanksgiving centerpieces craft ideas entertaining tablescapes place settings

  1. Rip fabric into 1-inch strips
  2. Cut strips into 1×1 inch squares
  3. Use hot glue gun to secure fabric squares to ball in overlapping fashion until ball is covered.

for corn husks:

  1. Remove purple corn husks from Indian corn, being careful not to tear or rip the husks.
  2. To soften and use the inner, shiny side of the husk, heat some water to boiling in a tea kettle and lay husks over opening to relax leaves with steam.
  3. Use hot glue gun to apply corn husks to styrofoam ball in an overlapping fashion until ball is covered.

for twine:

fall thanksgiving centerpieces craft ideas entertaining tablescapes place settings

  1. Secure twine to one pole of styrofoam ball with hot glue.
  2. Apply craft spray glue in sections and wrap twine around styrofoam ball.
  3. Once ball is completely wrapped, secure end of twine to opposite pole with a spot of hot glue.

Note: As you move from a smaller diameter to a bigger one, this wrapping is easy.  However, as you hit the equator and start to move from a larger diameter to a smaller one, this craft can become frustrating as the twine will want to roll toward the smaller diameter pole.  Have patience, or if you don’t, you can always snip, glue end and start wrapping from the opposite pole and have your twine meet in the middle.  I prefer the uninterrupted look, myself.

Finally, pour pinto beans into trays and arrange your covered ball decorations to your liking!

all thanksgiving centerpeice ideas decorating entertaining tablescapes place settings

Clever Halloween Costumes

Halloween is quickly approaching and I wanted to share some costume ideas that we used last year. After a discussion with a friend who introduced me to the idea of a “conceptual” costume, my husband and I decided we wanted to be clever in our costume undertaking.  These creative costumes are derived from popular phrases and take a relatively abstract idea and conceptualize it.  Best of all, they are easy to make from items you may already have at home and are super inexpensive and thus, very thriftycrafter friendly.

clever creative homemade halloween costumes inexpensive

My husband was a chick magnet.

Here’s what you need:

  • Black shirt and pants
  • Plastic Barbie dolls from the Dollar Tree or 99 cent store
  • Magazine cut outs of hot chicks (from Maxim/Stuff)
  • Safety pins

creative clever conceptual homemade halloween costumes inexpensive

Here’s what you do:

Use safety pins to attach barbies and magazine cut-outs to your man, who is dressed in black.  Voila!  Easiest costume ever! In addition, you could spray paint a shoe box black and attach it to his back so the magnet concept is more obvious, but most everyone understood and loved his costume without it!

Cost: $8 for 7 barbies and a box of safety pins at the 99 cent store

I was a deviled egg.

Here’s what you need:

  • white strapless dress (I used a white terry cloth beach cover-up I already had)
  • large piece of yellow fabric (I used leftover felt)
  • devil’s horns and tail (and a pitchfork, if you have one)
  • safety pins

Here’s what you do:

  1. Cut out a large oval shape from your piece of yellow felt to represent an egg yolk and use safety pins to attach to the front of your dress.
  2. Wear devil’s horns, pin a tail on, wear some red patent heels and go wild with your hair.  Voila! Still kinda sexy and clever…a powerful combo!

Cost: Free! (because I used leftover scrap fabric from making my dog’s costume)

Note:  If you don’t already have devil’s horns or tail, but have red scrap fabric, pillow stuffing and a headband like I did, you can very easily fashion these items on your own.  Here’s how:

creative clever inexpensive homemade halloween costumes
  1. Draw out a horn shape on a piece of paper first, then copy to your fabric (I used leftover red felt – something less stiff would be easier to turn out but might not stand up as well) .  Cut out two. Then, flip your original shape horizontally to mirror your design, trace and cut out two more.
  2. Stitch each horn along outside edge, leaving bottom portion open.  Turn out and stuff with pillow stuffing.
  3. Hand sew the base of each horn closed, then spot tack one horn to your elastic headband.  Look in a mirror to check spacing and angulation, then sew the second one on.
  4. For the tail, fold your fabric in half and draw a tail shape onto your fabric.  Pin and cut out two tail shapes.  Stitch tail along outside edge, leaving base open.  Turn out and stuff with pillow stuffing.
  5. Hand sew the base of the tail closed and use a couple of safety pins to attach to the back of your dress.

These costumes are only two ideas, but the opportunities are endless!  Time to get creative!


Hosting a Book Club

daughter of fortune by isabel allende host your own book club entertaining ideas

My recent book club read, Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende, inspired me to host a themed book club last month.  Set in the mid 19th century, it is the story of a young Chilean girl, Eliza Sommers, who is raised by a well-to-do British family in Valparaiso, Chile.  At 16, Eliza finds her first love in Joaquin Andieta, a young man who, like many Chileans at the time, takes off to California to seek his fortune in the gold rush.  Months later, Eliza follows him, and in an elusive search for her lover, embarks upon a journey of self-discovery.

This novel is full of inspiration when it comes to hosting a themed book club evening.  There are many images and elements from the story to draw upon: Chile itself, the Victorian clothing of the period which incorporated lace, gold to symbolize the Gold Rush, luxuries to Chileans at the time, including chocolate, and the fact that our heroine is an incredible chef and baker and resourcefully makes empanadas while in California as a means to a living.

hosting a themed book club entertaining ideas cupcake recipes appetizers wine charms

For our meeting, I served Chilean wine, empanadas, and an olive and spanish cheese plate with marcona almonds and black grapes.  We finished the evening with Martha’s devil’s food chocolate cupcakes with a velvety smooth dark chocolate ganache frosting. While the idea of topping my cupcakes with a sprinkle of edible gold leaf was divine, the $28 price tag from Sur la Table didn’t make it thriftycrafter friendly, so I had to omit it!

hosting a themed book club craft decorating ideas recipes entertaining

Gold chargers, crisp white plates and black lace adornments decorated the table and super easy to make hand-fashioned wine charms (this is, after all, a wine, er, book club!), marked our glasses. Finally, I made a simple garland out of leftover gold Christmas ribbon and white paper doilies from the Dollar Tree.  Thanks to apartmenttherapy.com for the inspiration!

host your own themed book club entertaining ideas recipes llace table runner

First, the crafts!

Wine Charms

hosting a themed book club craft decorating ideas recipes entertaining paper wine charms


Here’s what you need:

host a themed book club crafts recipes cupcake appetizers wine charms doily garland

  • cardstock
  • eyelet stickers (alternatively, you could use a stamp or these great rub-ons from Paper Source)
  • compass with pencil
  • scissors
  • hammer, nail and wooden block
  • jewelry ear wires
  • gel pen or other marker for writing

Here’s what you do:

  1. Use your compass to create circles on cardstock.  I made mine with a radius of 5/8 of an inch.

    host a themed book club crafts recipes cupcake appetizers wine charms doily garland

  2. Cut out circles and adhere lace stickers to cover just more than half of the circle.

    host a themed book club crafts recipes cupcake appetizers wine charms doily garland

  3. Cut excess edge of sticker and write your characters’ names below the arc.

    host a themed book club crafts recipes cupcake appetizers wine charms doily garland

  4. Use hammer, nail and wooden block to pierce tag where you want your ring to go.

    host a themed book club crafts recipes cupcake appetizers wine charms doily garland

  5. Use wire bending tool to bend end portion of your hoop up to create lock and feed through hole in tag.

    host a themed book club crafts recipes cupcake appetizers wine charms doily garland

Cost: less than $5!

Doily Garland

hosting a themed book club craft decorating ideas recipes entertaining paper doily garland

Here’s what you need:

hosting a themed book club craft decorating ideas recipes entertaining paper doily garland

  • paper doily pack
  • stitch witchery
  • iron and ironing board
  • 1/2 inch width ribbon or thicker
  • scissors or Fiskars paper trimmer

Here’s what you do:

  1. Use scissors or paper trimmer to cut doilies in half.

    hosting a themed book club craft decorating ideas recipes entertaining paper doily garland

  2. Rip stitch witchery in pieces that measure the diameter of your doily, place between the ribbon and doily, and use iron on low setting to adhere.

    hosting a themed book club craft decorating ideas recipes entertaining paper doily garland

  3. Repeat until desired length of garland is achieved!

Cost: less than $3!

Adorned Cake Plate

host your own themed book club entertaining ideas recipes lace adorned cake plate

Here’s what you need:

hosting a themed book club craft decorating ideas recipes entertaining lace adorned cake plate

  • cake plate
  • strip of lace, in the measured circumference of your cake platter
  • Zots

Here’s what you do:

  1. Adhere Zots to cake plate rim every 1.5-2 inches.

    host your own themed book club entertaining ideas recipes lace adorned cake plate

  2. Starting with one end of your strip of lace, press lace against zots, keeping correct amount of slack, until lace band encircles your platter.

Cost: less than $5!

Now, onto the food!

I used an empanada dough recipe found on Epicurious.com for my mini empanaditas, a beef filling recipe from Susan Feniger (of Border Grill and Ciudad fame) and a pork filling recipe from Food & Wine Magazine.

Empanada Dough:

Doubling the recipe made just under 4 dozen 3.5 inch empanaditas

  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup ice water
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  1. Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
  2. Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.)
  3. Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.
  4. On lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/8 inch thickness and use 3.5″ cookie cutter to make discos.

Beef Filling:

host your own themed book club empanada filling recipe entertaining ideas

Makes enough for 4 dozen mini empanadas (I halved the recipe to make two dozen)

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup toasted almonds coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup dark raisins
  • 8 Italian Roma tomatoes
  • 3 serrano chilies
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. In a large heavy skillet, over a medium high heat, saute the ground beef until the meat is browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain off the excess fat.
  2. Add the onion and saute 2 minutes. Then add the garlic, almonds, and raisins, and saute 1 minute.
  3. Place the tomatoes, chilies, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a blender and puree until smooth.
  4. Add the puree, cumin, cloves, cinnamon and salt and pepper to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes to get rid of any excess liquid. Cool.
  5. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of each circle of pastry. Fold over the pastry and seal the edges. Let the empanadas rest in the refrigerator 1/2 hour or freeze immediately. (Bake the frozen empanadas without defrosting.)
  6. Empanadas may be glazed (1 egg and 2 tablespoons milk, well beaten) and baked until golden in a 400 degree oven, for about 15 minutes.

Pork Filling:

host your own themed book club empanada filling recipe entertaining ideas

Makes enough for 4 dozen mini empanadas (I halved the recipe to make two dozen)

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup amber beer
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese chile-garlic paste or sambal oelek
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and very finely chopped
  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
  • 6 pitted kalamata olives, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon golden raisins
  1. In a medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is browned, about 8 minutes longer.
  2. Meanwhile in a large skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped pork, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until the pork is golden brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Stir and cook until no pink remains, about 3 minutes longer. Stir in the browned onions, beer, soy sauce, paprika, chile paste, cumin and jalapeño and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the filling to a large bowl. Stir in the hard-cooked eggs, olives and raisins and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  4. Brush the empanadas with the egg wash. Bake them for about 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the empanadas are golden brown, then serve.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes:

host your own themed book club devils food cupcake recipe entertaining ideas

Makes 32 cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.
  3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three- quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting:
Makes 4 cups
  • 1 pound good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  1. Place chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup just to a simmer over medium-high heat; pour mixture over chocolate. Let stand, without stirring, until chocolate begins to melt.
  2. Beginning near the center and working outward, stir melted chocolate into cream until mixture is combined and smooth (do not overstir).
  3. Refrigerate, stirring every 5 minutes, until frosting just barely begins to hold its shape and is slightly lighter in color. Use immediately (ganache will continue to thicken after you stop stirring).
  4. To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature and garnish just before serving.

Bohemian Wrap-so-DIY

boho bohemian anthropologie catalog wrapping paper gift ideas

Anyone else go totally gaga for the monthly Anthropologie catalogs? Not only do I drool over the delicious clothing and accessories, but the images themselves are so artistic and beautiful that I often find the catalogs hard to throw away.  Instead, in true thrifty crafter fashion, I recently used the front cover of  the March 2010 catalog to wrap a small birthday gift.  Tied off with some waxed rope twine I had salvaged from other decorative packaging (always keep what you think you can use again!), my plain brown jewelry box was suddenly boho-chic.

boho bohemian anthropologie catalog wrapping paper gift ideas

Cost: Free!

boho bohemian anthropologie catalog wrapping paper gift ideas



Great Balls of Fire

dyed coffee filter craft tissue paper pom poms pomanders 4th of July wedding shower party decoration

I didn’t have a chance to get this post up prior to the 4th of July holiday due to lots of house and kitchen prep, but wanted to share this craft since it can be used in different colors as decoration for other holiday parties, bridal or baby showers, and even weddings.  For those who appreciate a more natural or vintage spin, using unbleached, kraft-colored coffee filters or dying the white ones with tea bags would make for a gorgeous display.

Sometimes I’ll head to the Dollar Tree or 99 cent store, just to get inspired by what I find in the aisles.  This last time around, I picked up a package of plain, white coffee filters which I ended up stapling together, then pinning to small styrofoam balls to make big frilly pomanders.  I dyed about 30 ‘bunches’ with red and blue gel paste food coloring, and while this worked to a certain extent, the end product was more remnicient of a romantic Monet painting than the spectacular display of American patriotism I was going for.  So to liven it up, I made three plain white ones, then added some smaller red and blue tissue paper pomanders that Martha made so popular a few years back.  Hung above the food spread, these are sure to bring some festivity to any get together!

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 packages of plain white coffee filters
  • stapler
  • gel paste food coloring
  • medium mixing bowls with water
  • rubber gloves
  • aluminum foil
  • jelly roll pan (baking sheet with a rim)
  • box of straight pins
  • 2-inch dense styrofoam balls
  • colored tissue paper
  • scissors
  • floral wire

Here’s what you do:

For the white coffee filter pomanders:

  1. Take 3 coffee filters at their base and bunch together.  Staple.  Make about 15 of these for one ball.
    dyed coffee filter craft tissue paper pom poms pomanders 4th of July wedding shower party decoration
  2. Use stright pin to affix bunch to styrofoam ball.
    dyed coffee filter craft tissue paper pom poms pomanders 4th of July wedding shower party decoration
  3. Repeat Step 2, clustering the bunches together.  Fluff to desired shape.
    dyed coffee filter craft tissue paper pom poms pomanders 4th of July wedding shower party decoration

For the dyed coffee filter pomanders:

  1. Take 3 coffee filters at their base and bunch together.  Staple.  Make about 15 of these for one ball.
  2. Mix 1/4 tsp gel paste food coloring into mixing bowl with water.  Adjust amount of food coloring/water depending on how vibrant you want your color to be.
  3. Place coffee filter bunches in the mixing bowl and leave for a few minutes.  Do not overcrowd.
    dyed coffee filter craft tissue paper pom poms pomanders 4th of July wedding shower party decoration
  4. Line jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and place dyed bunches upright to dry.  Turn oven on to lowest setting and allow to dry (this takes a few hours).
    dyed coffee filter craft tissue paper pom poms pomanders 4th of July wedding shower party decoration
  5. (optional) If color isn’t where you want it after first drying cycle, dip and dry again.
    dyed coffee filter craft tissue paper pom poms pomanders 4th of July wedding shower party decoration
  6. Once dry, use straight pin to affix dyed bunch to styrofoam ball.
  7. Repeat Step 2, clustering the bunches together.  Fluff to desired shape.

For the tissue paper pom poms:

  1. Remove tissue paper from packaging, open and cut stack in half.
    dyed coffee filter craft tissue paper pom poms pomanders 4th of July wedding shower party decoration
  2. Accordion-fold each half in 1-1.5 inch width and use floral wire to wrap the center.
    dyed coffee filter craft tissue paper pom poms pomanders 4th of July wedding shower party decoration
  3. Use sharp scissors to cut the edges of your tissue paper – to simulate ‘fire’ I cut my ends to a sharp point.
    dyed coffee filter craft tissue paper pom poms pomanders 4th of July wedding shower party decoration
  4. Delicately begin to separate the layers, pulling from the base.  Fluff to desired shape.
    dyed coffee filter craft tissue paper pom poms pomanders 4th of July wedding shower party decoration

Cost: $5.  While some stuff I already had, you can find everything needed for this project at Walmart for cheap, cheap!

dyed coffee filter craft tissue paper pom poms pomanders 4th of July wedding shower party decoration