Thinking outside the box: Homemade gift-wrapping

Since stores have showcased Christmas decorations since the end of their "Back-to-School" promotions (ugh!), I'm giving myself permission to post a blog about Christmas/Hanukkah crafting pre-Halloween.  And this time, I'm asking you to think outside the box.  Literally. Years ago, I had a friend who gave me the most amazing homemade gifts. What impressed me the most, however -- and has stayed with me all this time -- is how she packaged everything:  With hand-crafted wrapping paper and embellishments. She was my Secret Santa at work and, each day, I found a uniquely wrapped box on my desk.  One day, it was a box wrapped in plain brown paper, with white snowflake stenciling and a sprig of evergreen tucked neatly under a ribbon. Another day, it was a package in white, with cut-outs of words and pictures from newspapers and magazines.  My favorite was one in which she took three heart doilies and stacked them, with the largest on the bottom, to resemble a Christmas tree; she used different-colored buttons for the ornaments! This "special treatment" is an inexpensive and creative way to show your thoughtfulness and stand out during this giving season.  Below are some great ideas to consider. Snowflake or folded-paper cut-outs and doilies make for easy designs.  Use a piece of twine or string in place of a ribbon for an old-fashioned look. DIY Paper flowers How cool would it be for your family members to identify their gifts by the photos you used to tag them?  (And the photos are gifts, too!) Photocopy photos and use in place of gift tags What about a collage of color photos?  Take your design to a copy center to print it on larger sheets of paper. Homeade wrapping paper. Just made this for my boyfriend's birthday! Why not be silly?  Clip images from magazines or use stamps to make a repeating design.  Perfect for kids and teens.    StampedPaper Give yourself license to do something different this holiday season and wrap your gifts in style.  There's nothing like a "grand opening." 🙂 --------------------------------------- Photo credits:  DIY Pinterest; Daily Suze; Our Suburban Farm; Originals; Top Inspired; Sweet Paul Mag    

How’s it hangin’?

While I know we are all neck-deep into digital (thanks blog-readers!), I also know many of us still enjoy reading actual, hard-copy magazines and newspapers from time to time. If you're throwing yours into a catch-all basket or bin, you're missing a great opportunity to do something far more clever -- and even beautiful -- with your stash.

As is my mantra, if it's not "pretty" and "easy," it won't end up on my blog.  Here are a few ways you can organize/display your mags and newspapers which meet both criteria in a very inexpensive way.

towel rack -magazine, wall artTowel bar(s):  This photo may showcase a more elaborate "collection" than you have, but what a great way to house your magazines by hanging them on a series of towel bars.

Obviously, this concept can be done in a much simpler way, with only a couple of bars -- taking up a small corner wall or an area over a desk. Maybe you just want a single, long bar to drape your newspapers.  Regardless, choose your style of hardware and, voila, you have highly practical wall art.

magazine wine rackWine rack:  This idea is beyond easy -- no drilling or hanging involved. Just take a free-standing wine rack of any style and place your rolled magazines in the compartments, tabletop- or floor-style.

If you do want to put a bit more effort into this same idea, buy a wall-mount wine rack and follow suit.  There are plenty of contemporary takes on this last idea, and lateral towel racks can serve the same purpose -- with rolled magazines instead of rolled towels.

  shutter-magazineShutter:  If you like the "cottage" look, this technique is right up your alley. An old shutter -- as distressed as you want it -- can be transformed into an interesting display, with publications folded right into the louvers.  Hang it... or stand it against the wall (small ones can sit atop a table).  This style is particularly simpatico with a screened-in porch or outdoor covered area... with a nice margarita next to it. (Well?! :-)) What about doing the same with your kids' skinny picture books?  You could even paint each slat a different color. ladder magazine rack Ladder:  Keeping with the vertical theme, this next idea is one which, while simple, might appear a little more sophisticated.  By propping a ladder against a wall, you add a new dimension to your room -- large enough for visual impact but compact enough that it can actually be a space-saver. Wood may transmit a more rustic vibe, while metal may lend itself to a modern feel.  Whichever you select, for heaven's sake, do not spend big $$ getting one from Pottery Barn!  Ladders abound at salvage and "junk" shops and usually come with built-in character. Magazine file folder rackFile organizer:  Still too much trouble?  Check out this next idea. One of the easiest methods for organizing magazines is to hang them over a stacked or "incline" wire file organizer. A few months ago, I purchased one for a buck at Goodwill, and it took mere minutes to set this up on the lower shelf of my nightstand for convenient bedtime reading.  I get compliments all the time for this super-simple, cheap-o  display.  Ha!   Sure, you can buy some very nice (and very expensive) containers, organizers, or display units to perform the same function, but then you will be out dollars that are better-spent elsewhere... and you won't be able to say "Ha!" like me. Just be a copycat and try some of the easier, less costly ideas above... and make sure to send me your photos and feedback! ------------------------------------------- Photo credits:  Towel bar design from Sweethomestyle.tumblr.com.  Wine rack compliments of JunkChicCottage.blogspot.com.  Shutter design from MyRepurposedLife.net. Ladder style from CoryConnorDesigns.com.  File folder organizer photo from Christy Charlton (aka me!).