Warm and welcoming, cottage style is effortless and translates perfectly into the holiday season. Mix old and new for a flexible Christmas decorating style that you can make your own -- here¿s how Kelly, the blogger at Talk of the House, shows off her cottage style.View Video
In need of a creative addition to your cookie exchange party or a tasty gift for friends and family? Look no further than our collection of irresistible cookie-in-a-jar recipes. Each holiday-ready gift takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and features layer upon layer of favorite cookie, brownie, or blondie mix-ins.View Slideshow
Get ready for the Christmas season with our clever tricks to simplify the holidays. Including crafty Christmas wrapping ideas, must-try ideas for hosting guests, and why-didn't-I-think-of-that Christmas shortcuts, our tips for the holiday season are guaranteed to make your life easier.View Slideshow
With holiday parties filling your calendar, don't forget to show your hostess some love. Give thanks with a beautiful handmade gift. These easy crafts ideas are as fun to make as they are to give.
Guarantee your hostess a few good soaks with bath salts you mix up and gift in test tubes. In a bowl, blend coarse Dead Sea salt and an organic skin oil, such as macadamia nut oil, with a spoon. Stir until the salts are saturated. (You want the mix to be neither runny nor dry.) Add a few drops of lavender oil and mix well. Divide into test tubes. Top with a pinch of lavender flowers, and seal the containers.
A perfect holiday gift, this metallic plate will sparkle on your hostess's table. Start by spray-painting a serving tray with a metallic color. Create a stencil by pressing an evergreen sprig under a stack of books for a few hours, then spray the sprig with spray adhesive, and arrange it on the tray, pressing in place. Spray the entire tray with a satin-finish spray paint in a contrasting color. Remove the stencil and apply several coats of finishing spray.
A tray is a helpful addition in any room. Personalize the gift with a map of your hostess's favorite vacation spot. Trim the map to the tray's dimensions and attach it with spray adhesive. Cover the map with glass for a long-lasting finish.
Lavender-filled pillows are easy to sew, and can be used to soothe tired eyes or freshen clothing.
To make one eye pillow, you'll need to make two cases--one from muslin to hold the rice, lentils, and lavender mix and a second decorative case to enclose the muslin pillow. To start, cut decorative fabric into a 5x18-inch strip; fold in half with right sides together and iron. Cut muslin fabric into a strip 4-1/2x17-1/2 strip; fold in half with right sides together and iron. Stitch around open sides of each folded rectangle, using a 1/4-inch seam allowance and leaving a 1-1/2-inch opening. Snip corners; turn right side out and press. Mix 1-1/2 cups of a rice-and-lentils mixture with 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lavender in a bowl, adding a few drops of lavender essential oil. Adjust the amount of lavender and lavender oil according to the fragrance desired. Using a funnel, pour the filling into the opening of the muslin pillow until the pillow is just over half full. Sew the opening closed. Insert the muslin bag in the decorative fabric case; sew opening closed.
Kraft paper and a piece of linen fabric come together for an easy and elegant wine-bottle wrap. It’s a great gift for almost any occasion. Secure the wrap with a cord (we used suede), and add a stamped label.
Make a custom tea blend and seal it in individual bags for an easy holiday gift. Fill heat-seal tea bags with a loose tea blend you make or buy. Cut a length of decorative twine and insert it into the bag, keeping it in the center of the bag opening. To seal, press down on the edge with an iron. Glue on an embellished tag. Pair tea bags with honey sticks and a teacup to complete the kit.
Repurpose old or secondhand sweaters to make this cozy throw. Use 9-inch squares of felted wool fabric, and arrange them in a pattern. Sew the horizontal rows together first, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Then sew the vertical rows together, matching the seams. Sew perle cotton ties at the intersections. Use a flannel sheet to back the quilt, and topstitch 1-inch from the edge around the perimeter to finish.
If your hostess is a tea or coffee drinker, she’ll love relaxing with a personalized cup and saucer. Decorate a ceramic cup and saucer with a ceramic paint pen. Design the set with your hostess’s initials, a favorite quote, or a decorative motif to complement her home.
To-do lists get brighter when you stitch colorful circles onto a plain notebook. Sketch your design on a blank sheet of paper. Attach the sketch to the cover of the notebook using masking tape, making sure to wrap tape around to the inside of the front cover to prevent the design from shifting. Place the cover on a cutting mat and pierce holes using a large needle or paper piercer, taking care to evenly space holes. (Tip: When approaching a curve, bring the holes a little closer together to achieve smooth lines.) Remove the pattern from the cover and stitch using four strands of embroidery floss for each color. Knot on the inside of the cover.
This rustic felt nut bowl is perfect for giving at a cozy holiday party. Cut two 10-inch squares -- one from felt and the other from woven cotton. Fold the edges of the cotton square and pin it to the felt. Stitch the squares together. Form the bowl by folding up the sides, sewing around the bottom, and leaving about 1-1/2 inches not sewn at each corner. Using embroidery floss, gather each corner with an X stitch.
Decorate a gift canister or bottle of wine with these easy-to-make clay tags. Knead polymer clay in your hands until soft; roll to 1/4-inch thick on a textured mat. Peel clay off the mat and turn over so the smooth side is on a cutting surface. Cut tag shapes using mini cookie cutters. Create a hole for hanging using a thin-point modeling tool and bake in the oven between two pieces of parchment sandwiched between two ceramic tiles at 200˚F for 30 minutes.
Bring a bouquet of flowers to the party in this elegant hand-decorated vase. Use a white oil-base marker to create a design on a plain ceramic vase.
Commemorate a trip you shared with the hostess with a framed map set she can hang in her home. Trim a current or vintage map to fit your frame(s). For a smooth look, mount the map to a thicker backing, such as cardstock, with spray adhesive.
Dress up your hostess's kitchen with linen that's almost too pretty to use. The design might look elaborate, but the stitch is simple.
Find a letter style you like (look in books or magazines or try free font sites) and enlarge on a copier to the desired size. Transfer the design to the fabric with a washable fabric marker, and place it in an embroidery hoop. Using a needle and three strands of embroidery floss, make running stitches (or your desired stitch), following the design. Knot the thread on the back after the last stitch.
Put sewing essentials in a jar topped with a pincushion for a mending kit that's beautiful and a joy to use.
Start with a canning jar, and gather essentials to fit inside: spools of thread, mini scissors, a tape measure, a piece of felt for storing needles, a sealed container to store pins, and a thimble. Make the pincushion top by stitching two circles of fabric together with wrong sides out; leave a 1-inch-wide opening. Turn right side out and stuff with filling. Stitch the opening closed and sandwich pincushion between the metal lid and screw band.