A Creative Christmas

One of the best ways to exchange the packaging and waste of holiday happenings for thoughtful and meaningful options is to swing your creativity into gear. Creativity doesn’t come in blister packs or styrofoam packed boxes but makes use of materials at hand, with the addition of elbow grease and a touch of love. During the cold, dark days of December, our farm family has more time to pour into creating than in the busy summer months. Here are some of our favorite Christmas ideas.

Homemade Cards. We collect a box of junk papers (old math papers, used envelopes, junk mail, grocery bags, etc.) that gets transformed into our Christmas cards. The paper is torn, soaked in water and whirled in an old blender to make paper pulp. A mold and deckle frame helps make the “new” sheets of paper with some sporting coffee grounds, straw or onion skins for texture. Our collection of dried leaves and flowers from the summer along with an old German songbook and canceled Christmas stamps are used to decorate these 100% recycled cards.

Recycled Wrappings. Another great way to reuse paper is in creative gift wrapping. The newspaper gift wrap trick is one my mom has used since we were little. We like using the Sunday comics or stock market page. I have a pile of old maps that make great quirky gift wrap, wallpaper samples provide all kinds of funky patterns, rumpled up grocery bags have a leathery feel and even used tin foil can make a small gift sparkle. Just because you are using recycled gift wrap doesn’t mean is has to look plain, you can dress things up a bit by adding a newspaper bow or dried flower mini-spray.

Deck the Halls. The Christmas decorating at our home is sparse compared to Better Homes and Gardens. We like to put up a manger scene on the piano as our Christmas focus and most other decorations are natural and last only one season. Evergreen branches from your yard or a friends are a simple yet elegant decorating option for centerpieces and small arrangements. We use our sorghum cane seed heads as little ornaments and combine them with greenery for larger swags that the birds will eat when the season is over. This year our overabundance of Tennessee Dancing Gourds (from Lehman’s Seed Saver Exchange rack) was transformed into tiny birdhouse ornaments when they dried. There are enough to give to every cousin and kid that shows up at our house plus more to give away when we attend various events.

Recycled Gifts. Even recycled gift giving can be elegant and thoughtful. One year we melted our used candle bits and poured them into thrift store china cups for cute candle gifts. Lehman’s candle department was our source for the wicking and mulberry scented oil to add an extra touch. This year we bought a plain scarf and sweatshirt at the thrift store with plans to add buttons and fabric to transform them into “snowman” attire for our niece. Many of the gifts coming from our family also incorporate food we grow on the farm or other local foods which are thoughtful items involving minimal waste.

Something interesting I have learned about creativity in our family, at Christmas time and around the calendar, is that when cash is slim our creativity level goes up. When we don’t have the dollars to purchase everything convenient we need, it really sparks us to be innovative using stray materials at hand which amazingly can produce some truly lovely items. So whatever financial situation you find yourself in this Christmas season, enjoy spending some time with your family creating gifts, decorations and memories with the simple things of life.