A green Christmas

While planting this years Christmas tree, I was able to reflect on the season.

I have never liked the idea cutting down a tree and using it for decoration and have used live trees for many years. This year, we found a tree from a local grower. At 6 feet tall, with pot, it was just the right size to bring into the house. We decorated it with home made ornaments and beeswax candles.

Live trees take a little more care, but I can’t imagine anything else.

Each Christmas, we make as many of our gifts as we can. We do our best to avoid the consumerist attitude driven by large retail corporations. It takes a bit more effort, but it’s important enough to us that I save a week of vacation, just to make gifts.

Here are some of this years projects:

Tea cup candles are a great way to reuse mismatched teacups and they are extremely easy to make.

We purchased these teacups from Goodwill and the wicks from the craft store. The wicks are made for this type of candle and are lead-free. We already had the beeswax on hand.

Mint tin sewing kits. What is it about mint tins? We saved tins throughout the year. We wrapped thread around cardstock and hot glued on felt. The felt holds needles and safety pins. Buttons and folding scissors were added.

We cut out pictures from magazines and catalogs to decoupage the covers.

I don’t use plastic dishes when I bring my lunch to work and I like to have my own spices. My wife sewed together this fantastic kit for my stuff. She sewed pockets into a cloth by folding it up and stitching it. There are enough pockets for a fork, spoon, knife, salt and pepper. She added a ribbon, to hold it closed.

The spice containers are left over from brewing. White Labs ships yeast in these cool little bottles.

There were also quite a few wood working projects. We made simple block stilts by cutting off two 4 1/2 inch blocks from a 4 x 4. I woodburned a flower pattern onto the blocks and drilled a hole for rope. My wife painted the flower. The rope was added after this photo.

This year, I tried an experiment. I wanted to make my own oil and beeswax finish that was free of V.O.C.s. I started with V.O.C. free boiled linseed oil (BEWARE: some oils are chemically treated, don’t use those). I heated the oil and melted in beeswax, just like I make salve. Everything I used it on came out looking great. It was easier to apply than plain oil and dried faster.

I made two necklace wall hangers. One was cherry and was was walnut. They are simply boards that have been cut and sanded. I drilled holes for mini-shaker pegs we purchased and woodburned a design onto each.

My daughter is very much into horses, so my son and I made this horse shelf.

My wife put together these paper PDAs. They are cardstock covers for the PocketMod paper PDAs. She used home made paper to make the pictures. We always use recycled paper and the these can be recycled again, when used.

My wife found a local bead shop, where she was able to put together many necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Many of these were one afternoon projects that we accomplished with the help of the children.

Lastly, my children received WalMart cards from well meaning gift givers. WalMart is not the kind of company we want to do business with. We prefer locally owned companies and companies which sell goods that are fairly made. WalMart isn’t even close.

WalMart does not allow cards to be cashed-out. We didn’t want to take the children to WalMart to shop and if we just re-gifted the cards, we would be telling other people to shop at WalMart. Since we wouldn’t shop there, we didn’t feel that was fair. Since WalMart already had the money, we decided that the best use was to use the cards to buy gifts for others. That way we were giving something of value and using the cards, so WalMart didn’t get a gift from us.

Christmas, being a season of giving, we feel the best gift we can give is our time.

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