Festive holiday craft projects
Upgrade store-bought throw pillows in a jiffy with simple appliqués. To make them, type JOY into a word-processing document, using a font you like. Enlarge each character to full letter-page size. Print, then cut out the letters and trace them onto white felt; cut out. Next, pin strips of fusible bonding web, such as Stitch Witchery ($2.99; joann.com), to the back of each felt letter. Center each one (with webbing underneath) on a pillowcase and carefully remove the pins. Iron on according to the package instructions. Once the letters have adhered, add decorative stitching with embroidery thread, if desired.
Christmas Tree Skirt
For a cooler-than-cool stocking stuffer, create a mini winter wonderland with a snow-globe kit ($13.95 for two; snowdomes.com). Here's how to get the ball rolling:
Decide what you'd like to put in your globe (we chose cupcake toppers from fancyflours.com), keeping in mind that plastic and ceramic work best underwater.
If desired, cover your globe's base. Since ours feature outdoor scenes, we used sheets of model-train "grass" ($2.49; modeltrainstuff.com), adhered with waterproof epoxy. Spray with Watco's clear lacquer ($7.99; woodcraft.com); let dry.
Position your figure on the base; affix with the epoxy.
Once the epoxy has dried, attach the dome to the base and fill with distilled water and the included snow, following the kit's instructions. To hide the seam where the base and dome meet, use glue dots to affix a decorative ribbon around the globe's circumference. Looks like it's a small world, after all.
Enjoy some good clean fun with these easy-to-make soaps, shaped using animal-themed cookie cutters ($3.99 for six; ikea.com for stores). For your own menagerie, heat a medium-size chunk of melt-and-pour glycerin ($6 for two pounds; sweetcakes.com) over a double boiler or in the microwave. While it melts, place the cutters in a deep metal baking pan. Once the glycerin liquefies, tint it with food coloring, then pour it in the middle of each cutter so the glycerin fills it to the top (use only one soap color per pan, in case any spills over). Spray with rubbing alcohol and let sit until the glycerin hardens. Using a knife, cut around the inside of the cookie cutter, then gently press the soap through to release it. Wild!
A sweet alternative to store-bought cards, these greetings put your tree-decorating skills to work — on a small scale. Download our illustration at countryliving.com/dec-templates, and print in color onto 8 1/2- by 11-inch card stock. Fold the stock in half lengthwise, creasing with a bone folder. For the card at top left, attach small bugle beads and paillettes to the tree (use craft glue for all designs). To replicate the middle version, cut out ornaments (made by tracing a button), a tree base, and a star from patterned fabrics and adhere. Make the last card by zigzagging a length of ribbon across the tree. Fold the ends under and glue, then try other widths of ribbon to craft a base, star, and gift. Or use your imagination, and whatever supplies you have on hand, to make your own one-of-a-kind cards.