Five Unique Holiday Gift Ideas for Christmas 2013

Looking for memorable holiday gifts? Here are five unique ideas at a range of price points. Bonus – you’ll be supporting ethical sourcing, recycling/upcycling, and local artisans. Each one is Canadian or has a Canadian connection.

Light and Movement

Need some sparkle this holiday? Brilliant Earth’s gorgeous nature-inspired Wisteria collection is truly covetable. The Wisteria earrings (on left) and ring (far right) are on my wish list! Although Brilliant Earth is based in California, these fine pieces are made with ethically-sourced, conflict-free Canadian diamonds. You can also order custom-made engagement rings and wedding rings.

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Toys with Character

Something Sweet Creative Studio makes adorable owls from upcycled fabric. You’ll find them at craft fairs around the Kootenays and online on Facebook.

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Luxury hand-made knits and bath products

Ju Tri Luxury Soap and Hand Knitted Items makes soaps, lotions, lip balms, toques, and mittens. This Etsy shop, based in Alberta, Canada, has a Kootenay connection – the owner was born in the West Kootenays.

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Clever Paper Crafts

Wintergreen Designs,  on Etsy, sells fabulous Scandinavian-style quilled paper ornaments. Who knew quilling could be so cute? Not to be missed!

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Original, Locally-Made Artwork

The Kootenay Gallery of Art in Castlegar, BC is hosting an exhibition and sale for Christmas, featuring artwork by over 100 local artists and craftspeople. One way to make the holidays memorable is to make memories! Visit the gallery for a magical experience this holiday. You’ll find many gift ideas once you’re there. Highly recommended!

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Holiday Gifts for Geeks

“Black Friday” is nearly upon us, again, followed by the so-called “Cyber Monday”. It’s the height of the holiday shopping season.  Why bother with run-of-the-mill gifts this year when there are so many fabulous gifts for geeks out there?  Get something memorable! Here are a few ideas to get you started. Plus, you can avoid the malls by shopping online.
The Geekery Category on Etsy.com is chock-full of, well, geeky gifts, such as:
Chemistry-Themed Crayon Labels
Art meets science in these labels. For your children, or for yourself.
Chemistry Crayon CLEAR Labels - set of 96
Caffeine-Molecule Upcycled Coffee Mugs
Face it, most of us rely on the ubiquitous caffeine molecule every day.  Let people know just how much their lives are impacted by chemistry by showcasing this mug at the office.
Nerdy Baby ABC’s and 123’s Flash Cards
Give your baby (or a friend’s baby) a head start in life with these flash cards, designed by a chemical engineer for her kids. I bought some for my children and for some friends.
Nerdy Baby ABCs and 123s... wooooo GET BOTH
Snorg Tees Geek-Nerd Section
There’s a tee for every nerd at the Snorg Tees shop. Some feature inside jokes that only the initiated will understand. You dig?
My personal favourite, pi versus the imaginary numbers: http://www.snorgtees.com/t-shirts/pi-be-rational
Pi Be Rational
The Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine
Specially-formatted paper is designed so you can photograph the pages and convert them directly to pages in your Evernote notebooks. Fabulous!
Happy shopping!

DIY Christmas: Make your own Advent Calendar

December is almost here – it’s time to get ready. It doesn’t have to be expensive, either! Christmas is a great time of year to make crafts with your kids, or on your own. Have a Do-It-Yourself Christmas this year – start by making an Advent Calendar. Here are some of my favourite ideas:

Advent Gift Tags (pictured) – here’s a set I made using the Candlelight Christmas designer paper and 25 and Counting stamp set from Stampin’ Up! Pretty ribbon is used to tie the tags to any gifts you choose. I also made a set using paper favour boxes, by adhering punched out snowflakes with the 25-and-counting images (also shown at right). The boxes are thumb-tacked to a cork board that was covered with Christmas paper and ribbon.

Other ideas to inspire you:

Canadian Living Home & Crafts has a ton of great ideas, including an Advent Calendar:

DIY Christmas: Make a chic Advent calendar – Canadian Living.

Martha Stewart, always a go-to:

http://www.marthastewart.com/857740/handmade-advent-calendars/@center/307034/christmas-workshop#858114

The Crafty Crow – A Children’s Craft Collective

This site is a treasure trove of ideas, including these ones. Many use recycled and scrap materials and will appeal to kids: http://www.thecraftycrow.net/2010/11/24-advent-calendars-to-make.html

Fiskars Crafts

You probably know that Fiskars makes a lot of fabulous scissors and other cutting/punching tools for papercrafting. I just discovered their Crafts website – here is a link to their Advent Calendar ideas:

http://www.fiskarscrafts.com/articles/t_adventcalendars.aspx

How to organize paper artwork from school


I love my daughters, and I love the artwork they so proudly bring home. They’ve clearly worked very hard on most of it, which makes it so difficult to do a little home organizing…(read: get rid of the piles and piles of paper that accumulated all last year). Yes, I feel guilty saying “get rid of”. I keep 12×12 scrapbook albums for the most precious items. My mother kept a box of the most treasured artwork, certificates, awards, and report cards for each of her four children.

This year my goal is to keep the memories, not the paper. How? By taking a photograph of each project, and compiling those into a photobook using digital design software (My Digital Studio2 from Stampin’ Up!). I had thought about this in previous years, but what nudged me into action was seeing the example by Amy Swartz, here: http://mydigitalstudio.net/profiles/blogs/mds-2-amy-keeps-memories-and-cleans-house. Armed with coffee and my iPhone (4s, not 5), I’m ready for action. I’ll start with a photo book template and customize it as needed. It would be easy to make the pages seasonally themed.

It will take some work, and some of the more complex or multi-page items don’t translate well into 2D format. (Last year my oldest daughter made her own version of The Paper Bag Princess, and won kudos for her excellent work – that project will be kept in the scrapbook!) But I think it will be worth it, and our family will not have to drown in all that paper. Plus, it would make a nice gift for their grandparents at Christmas time.