Like many of you I am busy getting ready for Christmas.  As usual, I am trying to avoid the mall as much as possible. I am trying to buy local, buy used, upcycle or DIY. I will admit to making a few visits to the LEGO store and Marshalls. But most of our Christmas is more of the "Nothing New" variety. Pinterest has become my best friend for ideas on things to make this year.  I have started boards with gift and DIY ideas.

T-Shirt Upcycle Projects

A girlfriend gave me a bunch of hand me down t-shirts last summer. Some of which I quickly put into my summer rotation. Others were put aside for me to "think about". A couple of years ago I turned a too small knit top into arm warmers and an infinity scarf. I took to Pinterest for similar ideas on things to make out of old t-shirts. Preferably without the need for a sewing machine. I was happily overwhelmed by the vast amount of great and EASY ideas.

The first idea I tried was turning a t-shirt into a multi-strand scarf. There are a ton of instructions on this online. I like this particular one, because of the easy to understand picture instructions.  Essentially you cut a t-shirt into strips - stretch - tie - make pretty.

I have done a couple of these now, some from my own shirts and others from men's shirts I picked up at Value Village.

Here are a few things I learnt:

  • Use heavier t-shirts. The thin American Apparel shirts do not stretch into nice rolls.
  • Try to find t-shirts that don't have seams. A lot of men's t-shirts are made without seams (the plus is they are also likely to be a heavier cotton). It makes your strands cleaner as you won't have to cover up the seams. If you decide to work with a shirt that has seams, you can have them show (either all in one block or scattered throughout the scarf) or you can cover them both up.
  • Contoured women's t-shirts will result in different lengths of strands. Not a bad thing, but a slightly different look.
  • There are lots of ways to wear the scarf and add some bling. Experiment and see what works for you.

Having gained some confidence with the mutli-strand scarfs I tried a  fringe t-shirt necklace. This is where I used a thin shaped American Apparel tank top. It just didn't roll the way the others did. I think it still turned out, but next time I will use a thicker shirt. This type of fringe necklace can also be done with a real chain, and attaching the fringe to the chain.

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I will admit this one was fussier. The braiding was easy. But I had to play around with attaching the fringe so that it looked good. This was in part because of the thin t-shirt fabric. But I also tried to braid it first and then thread the fringe through. In the end I undid the braid and then braided the fringe into the braid. It just looked nicer.

In the Kitchen

I normally do some baking at Christmas for teacher and hostess gifts. I will be making some fun pumpkin and eggnog breads. But the most fun I had this year was making Coffee Syrups. I have two types so far: Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup and Salted Caramel. The Pumpkin Spice was easy. Roasting the pumpkin (as I used fresh pumpkin) was the hardest part. You can skip this step by using canned pumpkin. The Salted Caramel was WORK. It took me 4 tries to get the caramel one right. The first try I used cane sugar, so while it carameled beautifully, it tasted like molasses. The second and third times it crystalized on me. Some recipes suggest adding corn syrup to avoid that. But I don't like corn syrup. The fourth try I got it to a nice rolling boil and it worked. I will be doing another batch this weekend. Fingers crossed that I get this one right. It isn't hard, but you need to stay close to it on the stove.

I picked up the little jars and labels at Michael's. I am using some used syrup and oil jars for the salted caramel. If I run out of those I will move into mason jars.

Kid Crafts

My son wanted to get into the act. So we made some thumb print Christmas ornaments to give his Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles this year.  Here is the blog where I found the instructions. I will admit I realized too late that I took all my pictures before we painted on the little red noses. They aren't nearly as cute as the ones on Pinterest. But my little guy is super excited about them. And I think their imperfections make them more fun.

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Gift Exchange

I can't disclose what I am making for the Nothing New Christmas Gift Exchange with my husband's family.  I drew the 13year old teen age boy in the Exchange. So I had to wrack my brain on what to make. But I figured it out and will be excited to share it after it has been revealed.

We are also participating in a White Elephant type gift exchange. We bring one of our favourite things, wrapped, and then a friendly war exchange happens. I can't disclose my item, as members of that family read this blog. But I will admit that bacon is one of my favourite things, so that might be part of it. Last time we did that type of exchange I brought Foothills Ice Cream for the exchange.

Are you making any of your gifts this Christmas? Please share your ideas.

Check out my other ideas that I have curated on Pinterest.Follow Fashion Forward 40's board Thrift, Re-use, DIY on Pinterest.

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