First up, here is our Jesse Tree. Now please don't laugh--it's only a simple, not very graceful branch that I ran out and picked up out of our yard. :) Hopefully next year I will find a nicer one! We thought about just hanging the ornaments on the Christmas tree, but I wasn't sure how well they'd hang on the thicker branches, plus it's nice to have the Jesse Tree a little more set apart.
Here are a couple more of the finished ornaments. I ended up making 17 total for this year, since we started them on Dec. 1, and will only be home around 17 days or so before our trip. Next year I will probably add in a few more--I'd like to make the full set of 24-26 eventually. These two are some of my favorites, probably because they are some of the brightest ones. :)
Rainbow--to represent NoahNext up is a stocking I made earlier this week for Josiah. Last year I ran out of time to make one, so he ended up using my old one from childhood (not that he cared, at 8 mos. old :)). On Monday, I got the itch to make one, so I went rummaging through my fabric stash. I found this cute flannel that I made myself PJs out of several years ago, and there was tons of it left over. I lined it with white flannel and made the cuff out of white fleece. The hanging loop is thin white grosgrain ribbon. I'm just starting to learn to embroider (and getting rather addicted, I might add!), so I added his name to the cuff. I'm excited that now he has his very own stocking!
These next projects are Christmas presents for our kids and a niece and nephew on Jim's side. I'm hoping to make some for my sister's kids, also. I combined two ideas (from here and here) to come up with these "I Spy" pillows (they are also known by various other names). I couldn't find the beads to go in them at either Walmart or JoAnn Fabrics, so I went with a cheapo alternative (rice) instead. It worked fine! I filled them with mostly themed buttons--cars, trains, sports items, princess stuff, a few marbles, and some pearl beads in the girls'. I also personalized these with each child's name, so they won't get them mixed up.
And on the back I sewed on a fabric square with a list of the items to find inside. These were a lot of fun to make, and I hope the kids will have fun with them! Jim bought me some pinking shears at JoAnn's for an early Christmas present (yay for a 50% off coupon!), and I have really been enjoying them, as you can tell. :) This is something I've wanted for a loooong time. I had an old pair that belonged to my grandmother, but they never worked well, and the difference between them and my new ones is like night and day.
And this is not really a homemade thing, but I wanted to show you our Christmas tree. This is our first year ever to use a fake one, and although it's a bit sad for me (I love the tradition of picking and cutting a real one, and the lovely smell), it's saved us some money and was a lot less stressful to put up and decorate with little ones. I know we will sometimes get real ones in the future, and sometimes use this one, and I'm OK with either. I have to admit that a fake one is a lot easier to care for, and it will be a joy to not have a zillion needles to vacuum up later. :) The kids and Jim did most of the decorating the Monday night after Thanksgiving, while we listened to Christmas music and I baked cookies. It was such a sweet, relaxing family time. Sam put all the icicles on himself (with maybe a little help from Julia), which is why there are barely any on the higher branches, and they're kind of in clumps on the middle of the tree. :) He had fun, though! It was neat to see him really getting into the decorating this year, taking it quite seriously and being a lot more careful than in past years!
Last but not least is our new Christmas card holder. I got this idea from the November issue of Family Fun magazine. I used white posterboard and attached it to the door with those little foam pop-up sticky things that you can find in the scrapbooking section. It worked great. Family Fun said to use fancy-schmancy spiral silver paperclips to hold the cards on, which would be lovely, but I went the cheap (read: use what I have) route and used colored paperclips. Mostly red and green, although Sam was determined to add a few other colors, and I gave in. :) So far we haven't gotten a ton of cards, but if we get a lot more I may have to make another one. Actually I probably won't have to this year, because I expect most of the cards will arrive while we're gone. :) I've been very pleased with how easy this was to make and how well it works to display the cards!
Well, I know this has been lengthy, but just wanted to share a little of what we've been up to. :) Hope you are all doing well with your Christmas preparations!! I'd love to hear what homemade things you're doing to get ready for the holidays. OH! And I almost forgot: my mom (aka Mrs. T) has a blog that is dedicated to all things Christmas. You should check it out because she posts some neat projects, links, and lots of yummy recipes there. So if you need some inspiration, head on over to Mrs. T's Christmas Kitchen. :)