Parenting Green: Eco-Craft Ideas for Holiday Gift Giving

Family Creative Free Play Pays Big Dividends in Crafting Memories for the Holidays

Carving out time to craft has proven to be an essential activity for me. It allows for creative free-form time amongst the schedules, the routine, and the prescribed. I love it when I get into a project alongside the kids. Sometimes it’s baking. Sometimes it’s seed saving and sorting. Sometimes it’s specific materials that inspire a project. I found myself enamored by this beautifully dyed wool roving at the Hartsbrook School holiday fair in Hadley, MA, last weekend and spoke with the vendor about all the ways we could work with the material as a family. I was inspired to try something new. I had never needle felted before and thought that it would be something at least my 10 year old could get into. What I didn’t realize was she was already doing this craft at her school. It’s true the material sat in our fabric closet for exactly a year before I actually put it to use, but I was reignited to the idea when a neighbor showed me some of the needle felting she was doing alongside her billowing basket of cookie cutters, and I jumped in.

I was a photo major in college and look for any opportunity to incorporate photography when I can, especially as I amass way too many digital images of our family, which often just sit in computer files rather than in photo albums or on our wall. One material I have grown to adore comes from the shelves of a nearby fabric store. It’s a fabric paper you can run through your color printer and with a quick mist of water and a hot iron will set in the image for future use in quilting, mixed media crafting, or really anything you can sew into. When I finished my first needle felting inside the frame of a cookie cutter it started to look to me like the backdrop of a personalized ornament. Making two sides of equal thickness and grabbing a pipe cleaner cutting from the kid’s craft table I saw the possibility of now using the felting needle to bind the two hearts together to keep the pipe cleaner in place as a loop for hanging. Next I cut from the printed photo fabric a similar shape to what I had made with the cookie cutter and took embroidery floss to whip stitch the photo onto the top layer of the felted ornament. Voila! An instant memento!

Not only is it capturing this unique moment in time of my family with the introduction of this material but also their picture as a marker of time. I’m excited by the idea of this element becoming a tradition in sharing not only with my children but with the grandparents and other close relatives who would enjoy this analog of time through a consistent medium. If you haven’t tried needle felting it’s a lot faster than you’d think to get to a finished project.

Another fan-tab-ulous craft that I will continue to come back to and will be embarking on again is the beloved bottle cap magnet. What I appreciate most is that it can be customized and yet completely unique. I am at a time where I want to try and keep my delicious 2 year old in this age forever more. What better way to do that than to immortalize his cuteness under epoxy forever and plaster it all over my fridge?! Say no more. Pick up a box of this epoxy resin at your nearby craft store. A little goes a long way. Follow the instructions for use, but first, cut out your image to fit inside the cap. Be it a photo you took or a clipping from a magazine, dab the back with a little glue and press it into the bottom of the bottle cap. I’m a procrastinator with good intentions but this is one project I have to get real about. The resin takes a couple days of uninterrupted curing, so be prepared before timing your gift giving. Once that step is complete it’s just a quick gluing of a magnet to the back and you’re done! I am thinking this year I might try something a bit more like a photomontage where I would create a cluster of many magnets to create an image.

I love these two projects for a few reasons. One, they only include at maximum four items on the material list. Two, these crafts use mostly natural materials and also put to use materials that might otherwise be seen as scrap or trash. Three, they are relevant to this moment in time of my life where my identity as a creative person is funneled through the lens of being a mother and my role in exposing my children to creating memories through crafts. Maybe this will be the catalyst to get you going for this year’s gift giving projects, or perhaps just gathering materials and stewing your own ideas and twists on this theme for a future craft. I know I get inspired by others so if you have accomplished a sharable craft post a comment here and link us to what got you going.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Angie Gregory settled in the Western MA 6 years ago after many years of traveling the country. She lives in Northampton, MA with her husband and three kids and is an avid gardener and studies herbal medicine. She has worked in the community fostering projects like Grow Food Northampton and started Mother Herb Diaper Service out of her home after the birth of her second child. Her business is now a cooperative venture 
and has relocated to Holyoke, MA under the name of Simple Diaper & Linen.

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