Thursday, November 26, 2015

Crafty Gifting: Gift Wrapping Alternatives Found in the Kitchen

It's gift giving time again! When you've put a lot of time and effort into choosing just the right item, and it's time to truss it up and present it to the intended recipient, you don't want to just stick it in a generic gift bag or some ordinary box with a generic bow from a bag. However, there are those times when we just don't have the time to make up pretty packages, or worse, we get home and realize the gift item doesn't fit in a standard box or, there's not enough left of that pretty large-roll paper, or we forgot the tape, or the ribbon or...

So, what's a savvy gift giver to do? Improvise with items on hand from the kitchen, of course! With so many "things" in our lives, there is often an excess of "stuff" around waiting to be used as it is, including reusable items from coffee mugs and egg baskets to tea towels and dinner napkins.

Originally published on Helium in April of 2011.

Gift Wrapping Alternatives from Kitchen Supplies

Whether you are in a pinch for something with which to wrap a gift, looking to be more eco-friendly, or just want to present your gift packages in a unique and creative way, there a number of items in the kitchen that make great gift wrapping alternatives. From cloth options to interesting containers, the kitchen offers a multitude of options beyond the usual printed paper gift wrap.
Paper options
Waxed paper, freezer paper, lunch sacks and paper grocery bags are all good kitchen alternatives for wrapping gifts. With the exception of the waxed paper, each can be custom decorated to make a unique one of a kind gift wrap. Use markers with a ruler to create straight lines or even plaid designs; trace stencils to create pictures or repeating wallpaper style patterns on the papers or bags. Alternatively, you can also use rubber stamps to create a pattern, or get super creative and make your own stamps from carrots or potatoes.
In addition to being used to create custom gift wrap, paper options from the kitchen are also great options for making cards and envelopes, gift tags, flowers, origami and other decorations to use for embellishing presents. Strips of paper can also be cut and used as ribbon in place of cloth ribbon.
Cloth options
Dish towels, tea towels, and cloth napkins are gift wrapping alternatives from the kitchen that are also reusable. Kitchen linens can be wrapped around a gift and bound with kitchen twine for an attractive, eco-friendly presentation that serves a dual purpose since the gift recipient will be able to use the wrapping as well as the gift.
Plastic options
Colored plastic wrap, food storage bags with or without printed decorations, and white kitchen trash bags can also be used as gift wrap. These are especially attractive alternatives when combined with the paper or cloth options for gift wrap from the kitchen.
Containers, baskets and tins
Almost everyone has an abundance of spare storage containers, empty tins, or even baskets on hand that can be used as a gift wrapping alternatives. These are especially useful for wrapping food gift items. The best part about using one of these items to gift wrap something is that they are reusable. They can be used on their own or in combination of one of the other alternative kitchen options listed above to dress things up a bit.
Gift wrapping alternatives from the kitchen are both practical and economic. Reusable items are not only eco-friendly, they make attractive presentations the gift recipients will appreciate as much as the received gift itself.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Simple and Creative Home Decor

Decorative ideas comes easily to some and are more than a bit elusive for others. Home decor articles were part and parcel during my Helium tenure, especially after I became a Channel Steward. The site is now barely a memory and I still have a number of articles originally published there waiting to find a new home.

As usual, life got in the way before I could pull everything from the site, but when faced with so many titles that had less to do with topics I was passionate about and more to do with trending topics and calls for articles, it ultimately came down to which pieces I felt were important to save and which ones I actually cared about.

As a creative person who is also a writer, as well as a teacher of arts and crafts, many of the craft based titles were things I could jump on easily and run with. The decor article here was one of those - can't remember the original publication date.

Those of us who are crafty occasionally feel the need to decorate the spaces through which we move. Sometimes we choose purchased items and sometimes we create (or at least embellish) something of our own. No matter what category you fall into, I hope you'll be inspired to create something unique and lovely.

Decorative Ideas For Hurricane Vases

Sometimes it seems the loveliest d├ęcor ideas are also those that are the simplest. Clear glass hurricane vases are quite versatile and can be used to create attractive centerpieces on tables and mantels that are suitable for just about any occasion.

While most vases are typically used to hold fresh flowers, hurricanes often serve double duty because of their similarity in shape to hurricane lamps. A simple trio of hurricanes, in either the same or mixed sizes, combined with white pillar candles can instantly transform a mantel. The hurricane vases can be left plain or dressed up further depending the casualness or formality of the occasion they are being used for.

The addition of greenery, such as ivy, ferns, or evergreen branches will add a little color to the hurricane vase decoration as well as a touch of nature. Arrange the greens in a circle at the base of a single hurricane or in a row in front of multiple ones grouped together.

Pillar candles can be set atop iridescent glass drops inside the hurricane vase or sand, pebbles, seashells, or even marbles. Choose candles and accents that are best suited for the width and height of the vase being used and never place flammable materials inside if planning on lighting the candles.

If the hurricane vase is large enough, consider using one or more flower shaped floating candles. Place the hurricane on a flat mirror large enough to reflect the light from the candles. Arrange leaves along the edge of the mirror, slightly overlapping each other to create a framing border. For additional color, scatter a few flowers (stems removed) among the leaves.

For tall or narrow hurricane vases, especially those with a stem, wrap a length of wide ribbon at the base and tie it into a bow.  In the absence of ribbon substitute a silk scarf or dinner napkin.
Candles aren’t the only thing besides flowers that can be used to create decorations with hurricane vases. Fruit, candies, marbles, colorful glass bulbs, Christmas ornaments, pasta shapes, and nuts are just a few items that can be used to fill the vases when decorating.

Hurricane vases are a must have for any home. They can quickly be used to make centerpieces from simple to sophisticated, and they are ideal for decorating on a budget since they can be used alone or combined with other items already on hand.