Monday, June 23, 2014

fun gift wrapping ideas that will make them say WTF {"who's this from?"}

A friend of mine bullied me asked if I'd teach a gift wrapping class for the lady folk at church. Of course I responded with hemming and hawing, and when that didn't work, the gnashing of teeth. It's not that I don't LOVE talking about packaging (hello), but because I have serious issues with talking in FRONT of people. Inevitably I get way too enthusiastic (cue TV performance), go blank, or make an suggestive comment before my unreliable filter can catch it. Not to mention sweat straight through my shirt before it's over.

It's just as lovely as it sounds.

But, as per usual, the guilt of saying no was too much to bear and the madness began.

The lowest quality phone photo possible as we tried to make everything fit on the table. I PACK HEAVY.

The awesome thing about this group of women was that most of them are self proclaimed non-crafters. Good. I love a challenge. Before each class started the excuses would trickle in:

"I'm just not talented in that way."

"It's easier to just go to the store and buy a bag."

"I don't have anything in my house that I can use, and I don't wanna drag my kids to the craft store."

Here's the thing: I don't buy it. You don't have to have any extra money, mad skillz, or a toddler meltdown on aisle 12 to have a WTF {who's this from?} gift. You just need the seed planted that it's okay to look outside your comfort zone, and embrace the rock star that you already are. A few ideas to get you on your way can't hurt either.

After it was over, a follow-up handout was promised as a reminder for when they "went blank", and here we are TWO MONTHS LATER and I'm making good on my word.

Easy Packaging Ideas for the Wrapping Impaired

#1. The recycling bin is your friend.

Don't have any wrapping paper? Paper bags and magazine pages taped together work just as well.

Paper Source bag; a catalog cover with a few rhinestones glued onto the bow because I had to

another paper bag with (Costco holiday) ribbon; a colored paper bag sporting a recycled topper

There wasn't anyone "non-crafty" enough that they couldn't successfully bust out a lusciously scrunched and perfectly wrinkled FREE topper. All that's needed is pile of square-ish scraps cut from magazines (I used 8), a stapler, and about a minute of your time. Ready?

You know what also works splendidly? Old calendar pages.

(side note: while looking for other examples using calendars, I stumbled upon this, which is the hands down winner for Most Seductive Gift Wrap Ever)

via colonel unicorn on tumblr

#2: Scraps of fabric can take the place of ribbon

And if you rip the material, it's not only straight, but also creates these rustic fraying edges which adds to the charm. The tag is a random letter sticker on a piece of black construction paper, hot glued on a frozen apple juice concentrate lid.

A dollar store headband stretches snugly over a box, and becomes part of the gift too. Have an old phone book laying around? You've got everything you need for a "paper pom" topper (same technique as this newspaper one, just smaller).

#3: The Dollar Spot ALWAYS has character stuff to plop on top

Oh Target. My dearest frenemy. They always have some sort of markers/pencils/notebooks that are the ideal size to dress up a package. The same idea can be used both for girls,

OR for boys.

#4: Stacking boxes and mixing patterns adds flavor

"But I don't have two kinds of paper."

Yes, you do.

That red and white chevron? Christmas paper bought at the Dollar Spot on clearance for 30 cents. Who says it can only come out to play in December?

I also use red and pink together - NO RULES.

Do you have a solid paper that is kinda dull by himself? Let him hitch a ride on top and suddenly he's not such a drag.

{skunk image from here, words added using Picasa}

More holiday paper on the bottom, gamer magazine pages on top, all wrapped up in leftover yarn.

#5 Pinwheels make everyone happy

Plus they're EASY, and can be made from anything, whether it's paper,

{there's that solid black again...}

 or a 6 inch square of felt. Simple directions here.

#6 Snatch up those holiday ornaments when they go on clearance

This World Market owl was 75 cents. Perhaps nobody wanted pink on their tree? Sure looks darling with some clearance Valentine paper for your favorite tween.

After using this guy way back here, you KNOW I was first in line come mark down time. Why should Christmas Tree branches have all the fun?

#7 Loopy paper bows make everything look fancy

The sky is the limit, and you can change the mood by changing up your pattern. Damask and an old button sit happily on top of scrap of burlap my go-to dollar store disposable tin.

Meanwhile construction paper and (another) juice can lid scream HAPPY on top of simple stripes. You can find the step-by-step directions here.

#8 Old birthday cards are great for embellishments (and another reminder that holiday paper doesn't have to be holiday paper) 

Remember this jing-a-ling?

By adding some color and card that got it's back ripped off (yikes), the same paper transforms from Fancy Formal to Funky Fresh.

#9 Pick up cute little bowls when you see them

First of all, they're cheap.

Secondly, they are the perfect size for a birthday treat.

*Spoon not included

#10 Gifts are supposed to make people happy. HAVE FUN.

We've talked ad nauseum about lighthearted gifting (here, here, here...), but there are few things I am so passionate about. If you love them, make them smile.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

a striped hallway nook

I've been smitten with this pattern forever. I mean, not in PINK, but still. Scrumptious.

via A Beautiful Mess

And then I spotted it on a wall and my heart skipped a beat.

photo via Smarty Pants Paper Co.

I've discovered that there is a weird side effect of having a "non-creative" job during the day. Sometimes late at night, when you have an idea, you have to find a paintbrush that very instant and obey the voices.

Surely there's a word for that?

In any case, here's the plan: triangles, paint brushes, and the plain little nook around the corner of the long downstairs hallway.

Using a level, the lines got penciled on, and then a makeshift triangle template cut from a pizza box created the rest. Leftover paint from other projects filled in the shapes.

Often times you have make it about half way through a project before you can visualize how it's going to look completed.

This was not one of those times. 

I    H A T E D   it.

I cannot emphasize enough how much DIY projects are 75% trial and error. 
Try it, mess it up, do something else. 
Another reason to use what you've got - you're only out time, not money.

The stripes in the entry way were covered up long ago, so perhaps the universe was telling me that they needed to be resurrected here to cover up this disaster? 
The horizontal lines were already on the wall...

A piece of decorative paper makes for some less-than-$4-art (the clock had dropped a few too many times to keep time consistently), and the Ikea hooks were already there.

 "We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents."
 ~Bob Ross

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

an easy end of the year teacher gift

I love teachers.

My mom started teaching when I graduated from high school (20 years ago- can that really be true?), which means that we have seen first hand all that goes into a job that is "done at 3:30pm" and "gets summers off". The stacks of papers to be graded and recorded. The late night lesson plans. The open houses, parent conferences, faculty meetings, workshops, certifications...suffice it to say, if I ever DID have any inclination to teach {which I don't}, I certainly would have changed my mind after seeing behind the scenes.

It takes a special kind of person, is what I'm saying.

{stolen low quality instagram photo of my mommy giving her speech as a finalist for California's "Educator of the Year" in 2013. You rock, Mom!}

Now take that special kind of person and multiply it by infinity plus a gazillion and you'll get a Special Ed teacher. It's a blessing to have a great educator work with your child for two semesters, but most of these kids stay in the same classroom for YEARS, exalting those teachers to miracle workers in my book.

Every time Brendan has transitioned to a new school my heart has broken knowing that he'll be leaving behind a devoted instructor and true advocate. Sure, we've given them a fair share of things to talk about at the dinner table (grooming adventures and custom made social stories), but we just can't ever say goodbye without some kind of tangible thank you.

Because Brendan is obsessed with drawing, it only seemed right that he create something of a lasting tribute. When he gave this to his middle school teacher as he graduated into high school she bawled. Okay, maybe I did too...but she started it.

Now he'll be moving onto Senior High and we're getting all emotional again. And what does one do when feelings become overwhelming? Make something, of course. Time for another portrait.

Step 1:

use a 40% off coupon and pick up a canvas (or two) from the craft store

Step 2:

put your {not so} little artist to work

Step 3

If your kiddo can be trusted to stay in the lines, give them a brush.
If not, this is when mama takes over.

Step 4

The one we did years ago didn't get any kind of top coat and it was just fine. 
This guy got two coats of sealer, which gave it a satiny sheen and also ever so slighty smeared a few spots of leftover pencil outlines. Nothing noticeable, but be warned to proceed with caution.

(his peepers also got modified after Brendan began stimming about "circle eyes", obviously disappointed with the dot pupils he originally sketched)

Some old dictionary pages make an easy loopy topper instead of cheesing it up with a "we're wheel-y gonna miss you" tag. That, my dear friends, is called showing restraint. 

My mother would be proud.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Getting Creative with Wrapping Paper

I spotted this sassy wrapping paper in the dollar bins at Michael's awhile back, and despite my vow to never buy paper again until what I already have runs know how this ends.

As I was in line waiting to check out, a lovely older woman decided to strike up a conversation. Those of you who know me in real life know that I will talk to anyone. It is a great blessing/horrible curse, depending on where we are and which child you ask. The only exception to this tendency is when I am in a craft store line that could not possibly move any slower, ladies are asking to run to the cars to get their coupons while the cashier "holds on real quick" (!!), and for the love of Benedict Cumberbatch, ARE THERE NO OTHER EMPLOYEES THAT CAN WORK A REGISTER?

Suffice it to say, waiting to check out makes me cranky and mumble back one syllable sounds and grunts instead answers to anyone brave enough to start asking me questions, even if that person has the sweetest of intentions, like the darling great grandmother who stood behind me on this particular day. But something this woman said, clearly oblivious to my non-verbal cues that I was clearly sending off in warning, got me thinking.

"That sure is cute wrapping, but I just can't buy things like that. It would be so hard to use."


Granted, it has flowers, so your 13 year old nephew may not appreciate it's charm (even though cute boy presents are awesome), but other than that, just because it has a busy pattern doesn't mean you can't switch up the way you use it.

And thus a blog post is born. Thank you, darling great grandmother at Michael's. Say hello to your son the pilot for me.

 Eight ways to get creative (with the same paper):

#1. Go the no-brainer route with plain ribbon and a tag

This burlap-y goodness was picked up at Costco during the holidays because I knew full well it could be used all year long. Just because the colors are loud in the paper doesn't mean that you have to keep up the theme. Neutral ribbon (scraps of torn fabric would work too) does wonders to defunkify the whole feel.

 #2. Layer it up with some recycled bags

You know how deep my love is for trashy wrapping. This Braums paper bag is the perfect compliment, without matching too exactly. A tissue paper "flower" is made just like the big ones you hang from the ceiling, but instead of using 8 pieces of tissue paper, cut one sheet into eight equal pieces, stack, fold, wire, and twist onto ribbon.

#3. Put your mail to work

This topper is brought to you by a magazine found shoved below a bed in the boys room. Yes, it's from 2007. Judge me.

{Look at those captions: "Dare to Explore", "Flip Me Over". BEGGING to be used on a bridal shower box.}

#4. Stack on a upcycled box

Cereal boxes are notorious for having brightly colored packaging, which is magically delicious paired with a floral foundation (recycled pillow box tutorial here).

#5. Add on MORE pattern

Because sometimes the more friends you invite the better. A strip of leftover scrapbook paper joins the party and makes a cute little belt,

as does a remnant of Target dollar spot paper. Also pom poms make everything festive. But you already knew that.

#6. Make a medallion

Hey look - there's the rest of that book inspired wrapping paper. In this case, the original wrapping paper is transformed into a rosette (tutorial here), and finished off with a faux bottle cap from the old 2001 scrapbooking embellishment box.

Or you could just pull out the Hello Kitty version that was lost in the back of the craft cabinet, which means it took longer to find the scissors than to wrap this thing from start to finish.

#7. Pop on a pinwheel

This one certainly isn't fancy, but a perfect example that you don't need "scrapbook" paper or cardstock to make a topper. This is a square of construction paper from the kids school stuff. Yet another bottle cap covers up the hot glue, and makes you feel less guilty about hoarding them in the first place. Easy pinwheel tutorial here.

#8. The infamous monogram

Print it out using these directions, or be lazy and trace it on a plain piece of paper right off your computer screen to use as a pattern.

Happy gifting.