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ISSUE 117 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/21/2003

Making Christmas

By Brenna Greenfield
Staff Writer

Friday, November 21, 2003

The first snowfall last week served as a reminder that winter will inevitably return this year in all its fury and glory. Blinding blizzards and frigid fingers are on their way, the only remedy being to snuggle up under a fleece blanket beside a warm fire while the cold wind whips past the window. Winter means reunions of friends and relatives scattered across the country, and coming in from sledding with rosy cheeks to enjoy hot cocoa and tin after tin of Christmas cookies. Then comes the realization that it is also time to think about presents for parents, grandparents and roommates. Who has the time, money or energy for shopping? One solution is to make a gift. All of the following gift ideas require minimal investment and are fun to create:

Frame it Go to a craft store and find a blank wooden frame of any size – better yet, find a frame lying around and pilfer it. Locate some Modpodge or other sort of clear adhesive, such as a glue stick, then find nice pictures from a magazine or words from a newspaper and cut them out. Glue them onto the frame. Finally, put a photograph in your new custom frame. The design of the frame could have a theme, like “I love you grandfather” or “best friend moments.” Be as creative as you want to be, but make sure to let the glue dry before wrapping it up.

Book it The gift possibilities of a blank journal or notebook are endless. One idea is to have a friend take pictures of you throughout a typical day at school – eating in the cafeteria, studying in the library or throwing nuts to the squirrels. Paste the pictures in the notebook and write witty captions beneath them. Title the notebook “a day in the life of (fill in your name here)” and send it to your nosiest relative, the one who always asks what you’ve been up to at school.

Another idea is to think of a person you are close to (we’ll call her Sally). Take a journal and write a heading at the top of each blank page – things like “I first met Sally here” or “The worst trouble Sally and I ever got into was when,” and so on. Pass the book around to all of Sally’s friends, have them write a response on each page, and then give the book to Sally. She’ll be flattered and guaranteed to love it. If you’re artistic, draw a portrait of her on the front, and use colorful pens or markers for comments inside the journal.

Mix it You know those great-aunts who send Lenox ornaments to your family every year? Why not get started on that tradition now by baking some ornaments of your own and sending them to everyone you know. Use the following recipe. Then, sit back and wait for the thanks and praise to roll in.

Mix equal parts applesauce and ground cinnamon (both ingredients that can be found in the cafeteria), and knead until mixture takes on a dough-like consistency. This is optional, but a bit of Elmer’s glue can be added to the mix for better bonding. Roll the dough out to a 1/8” thickness. Use cookie cutters or a knife to cut out shapes, making sure to poke a hole in the top to string a ribbon through. Let the ornaments dry for 2 days, turning them over every 12 hours. Then decorate them to your heart’s delight with puffy paints or glitter. For a personal touch, you can add the recipients’ names to their new hand-made keepsakes.

Sew it Make a pillow out of an old t-shirt, your junior prom dress or anything else that happens to be lying around. You will also need some sort of stuffing; if cotton batting is not available, use anything soft and cushy you can find. Have a thread and a needle handy. Follow these instructions:

Step 1 - Cut out a rectangle of the fabric, double the size of what you want the pillow to be. Then lay it flat on a table and fold the two edges in towards the middle. The folded edges should overlap a bit. Step 2 - Sew along the overlapping part (only through this one layer, not through both layers of fabric), leaving a hole in the middle that will be wide enough to stuff the stuffing in later. Step 3 - Sew all the way along edges 3 and 4, through both layers of fabric. Step 4 - Now the pillow is complete, but inside out. Reach inside the hole and flip it the right way around, and then fill with stuffing. It is finished!

Shake it Make a snow globe to grace the desk or counter of a friend. You will need a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, a waterproof glue (superglue is ideal) and liquid dish soap. Procure glitter for the snow, making sure you have enough to completely cover the bottom of the jar’s lid. Then choose small items that will fit inside the jar to create your holiday scene. Glue your item of choice into place on the bottom of the lid and leave it to dry. Fill the jar with water, glitter, and a little squeeze of dish soap to make the snow fall more gently. Screw on the lid to finish it off.

Bake it Everyone loves to eat. Why not indulge your friends by giving them the gift of food? Follow this recipe for sugar cookies:

What you’ll need: 1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened 1/3 cup shortening 3/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 pinch salt 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 small container red food coloring

Directions: 1. Beat butter and shortening thoroughly with an electric mixer or pastry cutter. 2. Add sugar, baking powder and a pinch of salt and mix until well combined. 3. Beat in egg and vanilla then as much flour as you can with the electric mixer. 4. Stir in the remaining flour. 5. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

Once the dough is made, divide the batch in half and separate it into two bowls. Add red food coloring to one of the bowls. Roll the two batches of dough into tube-like shapes, and twist the red and white dough tubes around each other to form candy cane-shaped/colored cookies. Then place the cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 325 degrees for 7 to 8 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are firm and their bottoms lightly browned. This recipe makes around 36 cookies.

Lastly, put the cookies in a decorative container and slap on a sweet holiday greeting. Voila!

Okay, just buy it

15 ideas under five dollars (head to Division Street for these deals):

– Chocolate from dear old Scandinavia (Firklover, $2.25, Scandinavian Marketplace) – Quality Reading (“Mice as a Hobby”, “All About the Dixie Chicks”, $1.00, sale rack at River City Books) – Jewelry (Beads, $0.30 each, Glass Garden) – A treat for Fido (Pig’s Ear Pieces, 4/$1.00, Aquatic Pets) – Men’s Tee ($5.00, Ragstock) – Skein of yarn ($4.75, Cottage Industries) – Sweatband (Adidas or Nike, $4.50, Champion Sports) – “Supergirl’s Search for the Substitute Superman” (antique comics, $4.00, Northfield Emporium) – Ceramic Glazed Bowls ($4.00, The Art Store) – Rubber Duck ($2.00, The Art Store) – Biscotti for the coffee lover ($0.75, Quality Bakery and Coffee Shop) – Fish (Scissortail Rasbora, $1.99, fish food, $1.39, Aquatic Pets) – Bulk Candy (Penny Tootsie Rolls, Cocoa Bean) – Thick knit hats ($2.00, Ragstock) – An informational booklet (“The Art of Kissing”, $2.00, The Art Store)

– For more holiday gift ideas, visit

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