Sunday, December 20, 2015

Finished Gift Basket

 Due to the recent changes by the EU requiring notification about the use of cookies and advertising, I have decided to make this my last post.  I started this blog in 2009 at the request of friends and family so they could view my art work.  Thanks to my wonderful readers, the blog took off and became very popular. I had been thinking of giving up the blog in 2016 due to the lack of time to write these posts. When I saw the message from Google about compliance with the new EU standards, I decided it was time to end the blog. 

 I want to make it perfectly clear that as an artist, I have never accepted any advertising on my blog. I want to create whatever I want, whenever I want and feel free to post the finished work of art without any commercialism.  I want to feel free to use products that I like and try new ones that look interesting. I like having the freedom to tell you why I liked or didn't like a particular product. All products used in the creation of my art work are products that I have purchased for that particular project or to stock my home studio. All reviews of books used as a reference for projects were books that I purchased and added to my library.  The products listed for each project were to give you, the reader, a way to duplicate the my exact project should you desire to do so.

I have enjoyed creating the posted projects and sharing them with you over the years. Thank you all so much for helping to make this blog successful.  -Adieu,  Suzanne

The first gift basket is finished and sitting under the tree awaiting exchange on Christmas Day.

Gift baskets are easy to make and are suitable for different occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, showers and of course Christmas.  I have found my budget to be the only limitation when putting a basket together.  Buying items to fill a basket can quickly get out of hand.  To reign in costs, I look for sales throughout the year.  Holiday ribbons, gift tags and baskets on clearance sales. Then about a month before Christmas I look for sales on coffee, cookies and chocolate. Fortunately my recipients are well trained, they always give last year's empty basket back to me to refill the following year.  This saves me the expense of purchasing a new basket and they don't have to find a place to store it.

Here's a step by step tutorial for assembling a gift basket.

Arrange the items in the basket.

 Don't worry if the items don't stand up, they will once the basket it wrapped.  I usually line the bottom of the basket with a few pieces of white crumpled tissue paper.  Next place the basket filling.  This large basket used 2 bags of shredded paper basket filler.  You can use shredded cellophane (Easter Grass) but it flies everywhere and makes a mess, exposing the white tissue in the bottom of the basket.

Wrapped Basket
Unroll cellophane gift wrap.  Center the basket on the wrap.  You want to have approximately 5 inches or more at the top of the basket after the wrap is gathered.  Re-position the basket on the wrap until you have at least 5 inches at the top.  Twist the cellophane around the top of the basket to form a "top knot" and tie it with a pieces of ribbon, a twist tie of a piece of craft wire.   I used craft wire.  I prefer twist ties or wire because the ribbon tends to slip.

Folded side
 These next two steps make the difference between a homemade basket and a professional one.

Once the top is secure, fold the sides of the wrap.  Lap one end over the other and twist them together until you have a triangular shape. Slide the basket to the edge of the table with the wrap hanging over the end of the table.  Pull the wrap over the edge of the table, lift the basket and tuck the wrap under the bottom of the basket and tape securely.

Twist the wrap.

Pull the wrap over the edge of the table and secure it under the basket.

Add a bow and a gift tag and the basket is finished.. It's the attention to little details that will make a basket look professional rather than home made.  I chose to use a hand made gift tag and bow.  For directions on how to make this bow, refer to my post on Making a Professional Bow.  I like to trim the top of the wrap so it is sort of even ( it looks better if it is not perfectly even) for a nice finished, appearance.

Supplies used:  Red cellophane wrap (Michaels), Holiday Ribbon ( from my ribbon stash), Gold colored floral craft wire, white gift tissue (4 pieces, crumpled), green paper shreds (2 bags from Michaels), Silhouette Cutting file-Doe Re Mi Scarf by ScrapNfonts (for tag) and card stock (brown, tan, white, black, light blue, red and light pink for Doe.

Finished basket.

Still Crafting

With only three days left, I am still busy crafting.  The Cameo is working over time and I must admit I have the cutting down to a science. At night when my husband is asleep, I work on my files-re-grouping and layering them  on a separate mat for each element to be cut.  The next day, I plug in the Cameo and start cutting, leaving the room to work on other things.  The Silhouette makes a lot of noise so I can usually hear when it's done cutting so I can replace the mat.  I repeat this process until everything is cut out and ready to assemble.  I have found that a small rectangular plastic container with a lid to be very helpful.  The lid holds the small cut outs while the container holds the pieces that I am gluing together.

 Reindeer and Polar Bear Card.

Labels for Chocolate Espresso Beans

Currently I am making gift baskets.  My coffee baskets are the most requested Christmas gift. It's really easy to put together a basket that rivals the commercially available ones. The best part is that it can be tailored to the recipients tastes.  One of the recipients doesn't like Hazelnut. Personally I don't understand it but I make sure that nothing with Hazelnuts goes into her basket.  This is not limited to coffee but also cookies, and chocolates. No Ferrero Roche? C'est dommage!  I always like to include chocolate covered espresso beans but couldn't find any in my area so I made some. I did a little play on words and called them Expresso Beans because the Snow Family image that I used was so joyful.

The Reindeer is going to be used for gift tags, and the polar bear holding the candy cane is a decorative element for the basket.

Gift Basket in Progress

I will post pictures and directions for the finished basket on a later post.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Gift Card Holders

There are certain people on my Christmas list that get gift cards. While it does simplify shopping, tucking a gift card inside a card just looks like an afterthought.  There are so many nice gift card holders on the market, but they can also be a little pricey.  I came across J.M. Rush's adorable gift card holders on the Silhouette Store site. They were all so cute that I couldn't decide and decided to buy all of my favorite designs. 

These were quick to make.  I was able to make several of each style in a couple of hours.  These a cute enough to present on their own but I tucked them inside a gift bag containing a box of homemade cookies.

Abominable Snowman, Yorkie, Polar Bear and Santa

The assembly instructions for each of these designs can be found on J.M. Rush's Blog.  I had fun adding my own personal touches.  I embossed Santa's fur trim on his coat and hat, the Polar Bear's hat and mittens and Abominable Snowman's fur (light blue) with the Cuttlebug Swiss Dots embossing folder.  I added diamond Stickles to the bear's pom pom and the Snowman's fur and teeth.