Homemade Gift Exchange, take one

Usually my group of friends and I try to arrange an evening during the holiday season where we all gather together and swap our holiday gifts at once. It’s an evening generally filled with a lot of laughing (leaving me hoarse by the time I get home) and snacking on this and that and playing games of all sorts.

This year we made the decision to break up some of the gift giving. Mel and Pat were back for a brief visit and Courtney was scheduled to head for all points Maine this afternoon. Since they wouldn’t be around to swap gifts later in the week we figured we’d give Mel, Pat and Courtney their gifts early on and save everyone else’s for closer to Christmas.

Turns out I wasn’t the only one to take the “Homemade Christmas/Hannukah” route this year. Courtney has gotten into stamping lately and so made some wonderful gifts for all of us. I know Maggie got

The quote reads "live each day with enthusiasm," with the word LAUGHTER written in the middle of the quote.

some neat coasters with images and quotes and LeeAnn got a really pretty frame. I started laughing when I opened mine, which shows how perfect it was.

Mel and Patrick arrived a few minutes after we started the gift exchange. Their car had broken down briefly, causing a bit of a delay. The roads around Vienna were still rather poorly plowed, so it was understandably slow going. Mel handed out some holiday cards she had made for each of us. Each card had a different picture on the front, unique to each of us. They were all done in Mel’s unique style, which I quite enjoy. This past summer she gave a couple of us original art pieces based on our zodiac signs. She managed to work my love of turtles into the piece depicting little crabs representing Cancer.

Anyhoo, I got a card with a little caroler on the front. I went ahead and took a picture of the card she gave me, though it doesn’t really capture the color and shading. You don’t get to see the message she wrote though. Just the original drawing. I wish I had gotten a picture of the card she made for LeeAnn. It was unbelievably cute, with little cartoon versions of LeeAnn’s dogs, Ellie and Leo. You’ll just have to take my word that it was adorable.

Andy is insistent that Mel start up her own shop on Etsy so she can sell her original artwork. It is an idea that I whole-heartedly support. I can see a market for her work.

I made some little slippers for Courtney (and didn’t get a picture of them…DRAT!). The fabric came from my stash – a soft brown fleece with cute cartoon animals on it. You know, lions, elephants, monkeys. I lined the bottom with yellow felt from a banner I made a number of years ago and the inside with some white terrycloth left over from when I made my Po costume last year. The pattern came from the Burdastyle site – a free pattern that was an alteration of Burda’s Alice slippers. They work up incredibly fast and looked adorable. I’ve already put a pair for myself on my “to be made” list.

The biggest homemade item that I gave out today went to Mel. I had seen an idea in a quilt magazine last holiday season and had bookmarked it in the back of my head. It was a little wall hanging quilt with snowmen holding up candles. Basically a snowman menorah. It was a really cute idea and I knew immediately that I wanted to make it.

Unfortunately, like most things this year, it got buried in my mind and I didn’t remember my original intention until the day before our scheduled gift exchange. I had actually started to cut out patterns to make Mel some homemade slippers, too, when I remembered the menorah wall quilt. It took a little digging but eventually I found all of the fabric that I needed to make the project work. As usual, I changed some of the color arrangements from the example given in the magazine. Part of it was necessity – I simply didn’t have a white/gray print – and part of it was just liking to play with my own sense of color and visual texture.

I wish I’d had more time to work on the whole project. There were a couple of things I’d like to fix, but that’s usually the way of things that I make. And I’m sure I’m not unique to that behaviour. Seems to me a number of us have a tendency to pick apart our work even when it’s left our hands. In the end, though, it came out just as cute as I’d hoped. The little scarves flap a bit, and the little felt candle flames can easily be attached each night of Hannukah. Mel said she couldn’t wait until she could show it to her folks. I’m really glad she enjoyed it. It might very well be my favorite thing that I’ve made this year.

I loved the little detail of the tiny Stars of David instead of "coal lump buttons." The eyes are supposed to be snaps but I think the embroidered eyes work well. All of the little candle flames are pinned together in this picture.

 Day Two of the Homemade Gift Exchange will take place on Christmas Eve, with the final homemade gifts making their way to their intended recipients on Christmas Day.

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