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Santa on a Shoestring

(FeatureSource) According to a recent survey, American families intend to spend an average of $483 on gifts this Christmas. To help keep the costs down this Christmas season, Sue Hannah, author of “Crafty Concoctions” (Meadowbrook Press), offers some very merry Christmas gifts that you can make at home for someone special on your Christmas list.

"Nothing makes the holidays more special than homemade decorations and gifts," says Hannah. "And the best part about these gifts is that they don't cost much to make, and can be made using ingredients that you can find at home in your own kitchen cupboard or at a craft supply store."

Give the flavor of Christmas with Candy Cane Lip Balm or brighten up someone's home Apple-Cinnamon Dough gingerbread men. These gifts will certainly bring joy to the world!

Apple-Cinnamon Dough

This fragrant dough is great for making Christmas crafts and tree ornaments. Hang your sweet-smelling creations with ribbon on a Christmas tree, or hang them throughout the house and enjoy the apple-cinnamon scent all year long.

Here's What You Need
Medium mixing bowl
½ cup applesauce
2 tablespoons white glue (such as Elmer's School Glue)
Mixing spoon
1 cup ground cinnamon
Rolling pin and cookie cutter (optional)
Drinking straw and string or ribbon (optional)

Here's How You Make It
1. In the bowl, mix the applesauce and glue with the spoon.
2. Mix in the cinnamon a little at a time.
3. Knead the dough with your hands until it's smooth. If the dough is too sticky, add more cinnamon. If the dough is too dry, add more applesauce.

Here's How You Use It
1. Mold the dough into any shape you wish. Or if you want, roll the dough with a rolling pin and use a cookie cutter to cut shapes from it.
2. If you want to hang your creation, use a drinking straw to poke a hole at the top of the creation before it hardens. Then loop a string or ribbon through the hole and tie the ends together.
3. To make your creation permanent, let it air-dry for one to two days, turning it occasionally.

Here's How You Store It
This dough must be used up the same day you make it. It does not store well. Put any leftover dough in a plastic bag, then toss the bag into the garbage.

Though this dough may smell delicious, remember that you can't eat it.

Crafty Idea
Here's how to make an apple-cinnamon gingerbread ornament:
1. Roll the dough with a rolling pin and cut it with a gingerbread cookie cutter.
2. Paint, or decorate the ornament by pressing raisins and candies into the dough. If you want to hang your creation, poke a hole at the top of the ornament with a toothpick or drinking straw before the ornament hardens.
3. Let the ornament air-dry for about two days, turning it occasionally. Loop raffia or ribbon through the hole and tie the ends together. Hang the ornament in a sunny window, on a Christmas tree or in your car as an air freshener.

Candy Cane Lip Balm

The holidays are filled with sweet treats and goodies, but none as sweet as this lip smackin' lip balm. This minty lip balm makes the perfect stocking stuffer!

Here's What You Need
One 1-by-1-inch cube beeswax
Cheese grater
Tin can
Small saucepan
¼ piece red or pink crayon (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Mixing spoon
Oven mitt
1 ½ teaspoons honey
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
Small plastic container with lid

Here's How You Make It
1. Grate the beeswax using the smallest hole on your cheese grater until you have 1 tablespoon of packed shavings.
2. Put the beeswax shavings in a tin can, then place the can in a saucepan filled with 1-2 inches of water. If you want colored lip balm, add the crayon piece to the tin can.
3. Ask a grownup to help you place the saucepan on a stove burner and simmer the water on low until the beeswax completely melts.
4. Stir the olive oil into the melted beeswax with the spoon.
5. Ask the grownup to help you use an oven mitt to remove the saucepan from the heat, then remove the can from the saucepan.
6. Stir the honey and peppermint extract into the beeswax.
7. Ask the grownup to help you pour the mixture into a small plastic container.
8. To mix the honey evenly throughout the container, stir the mixture after it cools but before it completely hardens.
9. Refrigerate the lip balm for about 30 minutes.

Here's How You Use It
Apply the lip balm to your lips with your fingers.

Here's How You Store It
Store the lip balm in the plastic container at room temperature for up to one year.

These crafts excerpted from “Crafty Concoctions” (Meadowbrook Press) by Sue Hannah.

See Also:

Making the Holidays More Meaningful
Have the holidays become too commercial for you? Are you feeling empty and unfulfilled during this time of the year? This year by making some simple changes you and your children can truly make the holidays more meaningful.

10 Creative Ways to Give from the Heart, Not the Pocketbook
Meaningful gift giving doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, some of the most precious gifts are the ones that cost very little, but mean a great deal because of the time and effort the giver took in giving the gift.

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