39: Christmas Caroling Party Action Plan

I asked my sister about her favorite Christmas tradition and she replied very quickly:

“My favorite tradition is caroling (Are you surprised?). I have done it every year with the kids and other friends on the Sunday before Christmas. We take the guitar, jingle bells, any other instruments on hand, and friends who can harmonize – what fun! I am getting in the Christmas spirit just thinking about it!”

Christmas caroling is really fun and with very little planning it can be transformed from a last-minute idea into a memorable occasion for family and friends. Here are a few simple steps to get you started.

  1. Get out your calendar and find a convenient early evening to have friends over. A great option is to limit yourself to 2 or 3 other families with kids, making sure to have buddies for your kids.
  2. Invitations can be as simple or elaborate as you like. For something very informal, a phone call is acceptable. I like to use Evite. You can always mail or hand deliver the printed or handmade variety of invitation.
  3. One week before the event, touch base with everyone and get a head count (RSVP).
  4. For the party, your house will hopefully be all decorated before then. For your menu, have plenty of cookies, hot chocolate, cider, etc.
  5. ALLERGY NOTE: Please find out from your guests if anyone has a peanut or nut allergy. Do your best to keep peanuts and nuts out of areas where allergic children will be. Enlist your allergy mom to provide a safe alternative for her child. She knows best.
  6. The focus of caroling is fellowship and spreading joy, not musical perfection!
  7. Make your own caroling booklets with the song lyrics printed in a booklet form. This is easy to do in Publisher or Word. Lyrics can be found for just about any song using Google.
  8. Have extra mittens/scarves/hats available. One fun thing to do, if you like giving party favors, would be to make matching fleece scarves for everyone. This is very simple to do without any sewing!

Photo courtesy of Doug Floyd.

52: Fabric Gift Bags

I love fabric gift bags! Simple ones are very easy to make, even for a beginning crafter. Check out this simple pattern and instructions here.

Anytime is a good time to start collecting fabric remnants and scraps, as well as sale fabric. You also want to stockpile sewing notions, trim, and other decorations (like beads, and silk rope.) Get your patterns made, cut out your pieces, pin, and just stack them up in a big pile for one big sewing blitz!

Making your own fabric gift bags is a recycling, reusable, and environmentally friendly project to do. The bags can be reused in your household, or your recipients can use the bags again! Wouldn’t it be great to have a Christmas without spending a fortune on giftwrap, or having a Hefty bag full of paper trash at the end of the day? Fabric gift bags make sense. They can also be very luxurious with brocades and silk rope with tassels, or they can be simple and fun for kids with whimsical prints and fun ties.

This is also another great way to express yourself of your Christmas theme. You could also customize bags for the recipients or even make special large Santa bags to take gifts to the grandparents or other families.

Get out your sewing machine and give this one a try. You’ll be hooked!

Photo courtesy of Karen at Le Petit Poulailler

58: Craft Gifts for Kids

Inexpensive projects to do with kids can also make great gifts! Here are some ideas:

  • An unfinished wood item (initial, birdhouse, stepstool, etc.) with set of acrylic paints and brushes
  • Knitting needles or crochet hook with yarn and a free scarf pattern or knitting instructions
  • Bracelet Beading supplies
  • Stamping set
  • Scrapbooking materials or creativity book
  • Crafting kits of all kinds from JoAnn’s or Borders (lots of these are very inexpensive!)
  • Sewing notions, fabric, easy pattern

Even better than all of the stuff, would be a bonus of a lesson or crafting time with the child. All kids love attention and one-on-one time with their favorite adults. If you paint, sew, knit, crochet, scrapbook, bead, or any other crafty thing, make up an invitation to spend some crafting time with you! They will love it!

A more technical version of this gift would be a radio building kit or other electronics project! Geeky fun!

Beautiful photo courtesy of James Jordan.

62: Exploding Gift Box

These little boxes are incredible for gift cards and other small-sized gifts. If you are a scrapbooker, you’ve probably already got all the supplies you need on hand. You only need 4 double-sided sheets of 12″x12″ cardstock or heavy scrapbooking paper, various adhesives, embellishments, etc.  You will need ribbon for the finishing touch and some great photos.

I love the idea of this box being a mini-scrapbook, too! On each of those flaps, there is enough room to put a cropped photo, die-cut, favorite quote, or ticket stub. You could really go crazy and make this as elaborate as you like, or keep it simple and let the paper speak for itself. Some beautiful coordinating designer paper would make a great box to put a couple of tickets or a restaurant gift card in. What else could you put it one of these boxes? A handful of candy, a beaded bracelet, a tube of lip gloss, a pair of earrings, an iPod, a new car key, theater tickets, air popped popcorn with a movie gift card inside, the list goes on…

A more masculine looking box would be great for Dad’s desk at work, filled with photos of his family. Kids love these, too, filled with Pokemon cards, small action figures, candy, gift cards, and more!

Get out your imagination and use it! The following links should inspire and instruct you on how to make one of these great boxes! At the very least, make a simple one and use it as a card! It’s fun and addictive!

Photo courtesy (Creative Commons) of the Polished to Perfection blog

65: Calligraphy for Christmas

A little calligraphy goes a long way to adding that special personal touch. During the holidays, I immediately think of using it on place cards for the holiday table, gift tags, and handmade Christmas Cards. For kids, a little calligraphy practice will improve their regular everyday handwriting!

Calligraphy doesn’t have to be perfect or follow any rules at all. It’s basically fancy writing, so get the kids involved and have them write their own gift tags!

Here are a few things to get you started:

Photo courtesy of fromdarkheaven.

91: Clearance Crafting

If you aren’t checking the clearance bins everytime you shop at JoAnn’s or Michael’s, you are missing a huge opportunity to stock up on crafting odds and ends. Having boxes of clearance-priced crafting items makes it a little easier to let the kids run wild with their imagination when making decorations, pictures, crafts, or anything else creative. I feel less guilty when they use 2 bottles of 5-cent glue to stick together a $1 box of popsicle sticks together, especially when many of these creations will have their photos taken, then be dispatched to the nearest recycling bin, as appropriate.

If you didn’t stock up on extra school supplies this fall when they had the 5-cent specials on various items, make a note not to miss that next year! Also, Sam’s Club has great prices on large packages of things like Sharpies and construction paper, not to mention regular paper, glue sticks, file folders, etc.

Happy deal hunting and crafting!