The last of three schools I teach at wrapped up the semester this past week.
For the past two school years the classes I've taught for the community college have been on high school campuses. This past spring I was back at Mac's old high school and in the first three days of class back in February, we ended up in three different classrooms. The first one was a packrat-ish mess and didn't have the technology we needed and the second had a teacher that was blatantly pissed that we were in there. Therefore my students and I really appreciated that the third teacher was so friendly and welcoming.
I wanted to get her a gift to say thank you, which I wrapped up in a brown paper lunch bag stamped with pencil erasers in a few different colors. I also used a scallop punch on the top of the bag to try to make it a little more cute (even though it looked a little wonky when it was closed up).
I have curly ribbon scissors. Or is it curling ribbon? Either way, I have scissors from way back in the Hello Kitty/Sanrio era that I have used to curl ribbon on gifts for probably 30 years now. They are one of those random items that end up being a total treasure.
Curling ribbon was one of the very first crafting tricks I learned and, to this day, I still love a gift piled with it.
This was for our neighbor's son's first birthday. I got him, and his older brother, some bubble-blowing supplies. Even though it's not exactly for a one-year old, I figured it's fun to watch bubbles float through the air at any age.
The bubble bucket was a wonky shape, so I used a paper bag, changed-up the card design I recently made for Sean, and grabbed every blue curly/curling ribbon I had.
At the end of each year I have been gathering favorites around here and I think this might end up being the favorite gift I'll have wrapped all year, even though there's still a chunk of time left.
It's actually from all the way back in April that I never shared. My cousin's daughter's had her first birthday party and the toys I bought were too wonky to be wrapped with wrapping paper. So I broke out a paper gift bag and recycled this idea.
But I think my favorite part of my favorite wrapped gift is the tag that I dragged brush pens across to make some messy stripes...I'll have to recycle that idea too.
It's a little too easy to hoard even the teensy tiniest of crafting supplies like little scraps of fabric and paper because maybe you can tie them together into something cute.
In continuing with the letter of recommendation thank you gifting, one of my Women's Studies professors wrote letters for me and to thank her I got a couple of drawstring bags to hold her knitting projects (I picked this one and this one).
I think I wrapped this the first week of November or something...Mac had been invited to one of the cheerleader's sweet sixteen. I didn't have much time, but wanted to make her gift look cute, so I skimmed my saved gift wrapping ideas and combined a few details together.
Actually my Timehop app reminded me this morning that I joined Pinterest five years ago today. I've saved over three thousand ideas on there...and used it as a resource probably three times as much. Pretty much all meals, parties and house projects have come from a brainstorming there and I can't begin to imagine what I would ever do without it at this point.
This summer I spent an afternoon making cards, which is why I have had cards to share each Wednesday lately. When I went to put them away in my card storage box there were plenty in there already, so I grabbed a stack to wrap up and share with someone.
If you're interested in having this package mailed to your house, simply leave a "Pick Me" comment and I'll email a random winner for their address on Friday.
The first football game is tomorrow night and Mac's cheer coaches decided that this year the teams would have big and little sis match-ups.
Or in our case a Big Mac...since we're super cheesy like that.
Somehow Mac ended up being the only person on the team with two little sis's. It's almost like the coaches knew he and his mom would be totally into this gift giving thing. Because, now that I have been working with them for almost two years, the coaches are well aware of my endless pursuit of all things cute.
Mac and I immediately were thinking the same thing...a cheer emergency kit. We got little cosmetic bags and filled them with bobby pins, band-aids, hair ties, chapstick, a mini hairspray bottle, mints and kleenex.
And then they had to be wrapped up with a school colors pom pom, right?
The cheer banquet was tonight (thank goodness because the RSVPs just about put me over the edge this year). In addition to all the other banquet planning tasks, I spent the week working on senior gifts, coaches gift, and gifts for the booster board.
Our coaches gifts couldn't be more simple...money. But, I couldn't imagine just handing over a check to each of them in a plain envelope, so I used some mini white lunch bags, a new stamp (my mom got me an Etsy gift card for my birthday), some fabric, ribbon and other crafty supplies.
This was way more fun to work on than it was trying to figure out synonyms for the word "recognition" so it wouldn't be in the banquet program a dozen times.
Today included flower planting for my mom (I got the multi-pack leftovers) and wrapping up gifts to give her. There was a salad and cheese fries for a late lunch. And a teenager who I didn't have to ask to turn down his music a dozen times (just one), who wrapped up a cute gift...and actually said "I love you too" instead of the usual nightly grumbled response.
I mentioned we went to a first birthday party this past weekend and, of course, I had fun gift wrapping.
Here were the steps...
Mac's first name is my mom's maiden name, McIntosh. Which means it's my cousin's last name. They are expecting their first child which they have been adorably calling, "McBaby"...so it had to make it on the gift tag for the shower this past weekend.
I mentioned yesterday that life is a little fast-paced lately and that is the case too for my friends who are also on the cheer booster board and the committee for the school bond. One of them had a birthday last week and I decided to get her everything she needed to take a fifteen minute break.
Then I used this idea again to quickly wrap it up.
Last week I cleaned out the jars in my craft room that had collected about a dozen year's worth of ribbon. There was a time that pieces of ribbon would always end up tied or stapled to a scrapbook page, but not in awhile, which meant it was time to not keep it all. Except so much of it was still so cute.
From now on, it has a new life along with my wrapping supplies. The plan is to knot and staple bunches of it around gifts wrapped with my seemingly endless roll of kraft paper.
We went to a party for two high school graduates this weekend. One is Mac's cousin and the other is the oldest son from their neighbors two doors down that they are super close with. Since the neighbor is a teenage boy Sean and I do not know terribly well we went with the safe gift...cash. I have done this before, but it was a little less work this time.
Instead of rolling up little dollar diplomas, I just stuffed twenty-five dollar bills into an eight-ounce mason jar. They are so packed in there they practically pop out when you open it. I punched out a circle of cardstock, used my typewriter for the front, and hand wrote a note on the back. Some twine in the high school colors and the gift was all set.
One of the counselor's at Sean's school is getting married this summer so they had a shower for him today. We purchased a big cutting board they had on their registry...which I could have easily come home and wrapped in one of the too many papers I have collected. I decided it needed to be wrapped in dishtowels instead.
We had some loooong cheer booster board meetings this past school year, partly because we could easily get off topic a little and, thankfully, laugh together a fair amount of the time. One of those times was when they teased me for sipping water out of my mason jar mug...wondering if it was moonshine to help me get through the meeting.
When it was time to come up with an idea for little end of the year thank you gifts, I decided everyone needed a "moonshine mug" in school colors.
I ordered grommets and straws from this shop, then Sean drilled a half inch hole in each jar lid.
I added a note and we wrapped them up. A mason jar could be a little tricky to wrap...but not when you make some fabric bags.
We usually get my brother-in-law a gift card to his favorite remote control car store for Christmas and his birthday every year. Now if someone got me a gift card for one of my favorite stores like Anthropologie it would make me awfully happy. Regardless, getting him a gift card time after time kind of made me feel like I wasn't trying hard enough.
So I asked my sister for a list of his favorite beers, Sean and I read up on them, spent a little too much time in the individual beer bottles aisle, and put together a dozen different bottles of new beer for him to try based on what we knew he liked.
That's a decent gift, right? But then I decided the gift had to look cute too. The carriers the beer came in were completely covered in ads for the store, so it would have been like rebuilding an entire box to cover them up, so we ended up at the dollar store for a container. We quickly found a bucket and got in line and then it occurred to me...balloons.
I added some curly ribbon when we got home and we had ourselves a party.
I've said before wrapping gifts for my mom is my favorite. Honestly, I am a little bit of a horder when it comes to wrapping paper...some of those colors and patterns are just too good. I am always happy to use the best stuff for my mom though.
Happy birthday Mom...can't wait to celebrate with you today.
I have discussed how useful it can be to wrap gifts in fabric bags before, and it continues to be the quickest way to make an awkwardly shaped gift look cute. One of the teacher's in Sean's department is having her second son and they had a little celebration earlier this week. We bought several small infant toys to keep handy in a diaper bag...all different shapes and sizes. Half a yard of fabric sewed into a super simple bag and the toys were wrapped and ready to go.
Now that it has been three years in a row, one of my favorite blog traditions is a giveaway on my birthday. This year I have my favorite planner binder (you can see mine here), a cute roll of masking tape and pens in fun colors. They are all wrapped up and ready to share.
Just like last year, I would love to see links to one of your current favorite items or you can always leave a quick "pick me". I will email the winner on Sunday morning to find out your address...please make sure you have linked an email address that you check often.
I went to wrap my sister's birthday present this week and grabbed this black and white floral paper. I didn't have enough to cover the box. Then I tried the roll of houndstooth paper...and it was also too small.
So I combined the two. I have run into this problem many times before and it had never occurred to me to do that. Now I will be looking for combinations to try.
Yesterday's card was actually for her birthday too. I didn't have an envelope that would fit the little file folder I used to make the card, so I clipped it onto the ribbon.
Now I just wish I could apply these kind of super high level problem solving skills to the rest of life.
I went to a good friend from college's baby shower this past weekend. She is one of my craftiest friends so I wanted to try something a little different when I wrapped her gift. I used fabric to cover each of the three boxes. I safety pinned everything where I would usually use tape with wrapping paper. I topped the gifts with three big yarn pompoms.
Thankfully she thought it was funny.
Today I met 130 students, led the three classes through their syllabus for the semester, had a three different class discussions about what the heck Miley Cyrus was thinking, played with kaliedescopes, discussed Sociology through a box of crayons, and gave little office supply gifts to my two office mates and two department secretaries. When I was a student I never really liked the first day of school...now I love it.
Nothing against gift bags, but I just love wrapping up a box...although every once in awhile we give a gift that just won't work in a box. In the past I have sewed up a simple bag, but I have another option too.
Take a plain paper grocery bag (which I trimmed down a little) and a piece of 12x12 patterned paper folded in half. Punch holes to tie ribbon or twine and tie a gift tag on. We recently gave a birthday gift that included a big mason jar tumbler, some tea and a tin to store it in...when I couldn't find a box to fit it all, into a bag it went.
As I'm guessing you might know by now, I love wrapping up lots of piles of gifts during the holidays.
Then a few months later it's springtime and I get to wrap one more pile. My mom's birthday always falls right next to, or sometimes on, Mother's Day and it is one of my very favorite reasons to wrap gifts. Love you Mom.
It's administrative professional's day and I just had to do a little something for the two women in the Sociology department office. So Sean baked a batch of cookies for me and I wrapped them up in fabric bags and layered together a little tag for each.
I wanted to say thanks for helping me get everything ready to teach my first class, taking the time to kindly answer any question, ordering me a pile of textbooks to choose from, running to put a note on my classroom door the day I got stuck in awful traffic, telling me about the secret routes to get around traffic and many, many more helpful things.
My sister celebrates her eighth birthday this week, so we sent a bunch of watercolor supplies all wrapped up with rainbow yarn.
Then Sean had a baby shower to attend at school today for the teacher he shares a classroom with. Since he was the only guy attending, I made sure he walked in with an extra girly gift.
Are you mailing Christmas gifts to Iowa and Oklahoma? Did you challenge yourself to try to get useful, thoughtful, and fun gifts for numerous people that all fit into a flat rate box because $11.35 seems like more than plenty to spend on shipping?
Well, that has been what I have been trying to do...and today I finally figured out a way to help make it happen.
Wrap gifts in fabric bags. They won't get torn/scratched/wrinkled the way paper might when you are trying to squeeze everything in. It also really helps when you are trying to figure out how the heck to wrap a Bananagrams game for your seven year old sister.
Now off to the post office in the morning...
Two of my close friends had their second babies this summer...one at the beginning and one at the end. I stopped by with dinner for each of them a couple weeks after they were settled back in at home and brought along a set of burp cloths that Sean helped me sew...he is far better than I am at keeping the sewing machine stitching in a straight line...
But at least I can wrap up a package all by myself...
If you are as enamored by patterns as much as I am, you might be able to relate to when I saw this floral fabric. There it was looking almost like vintage bed sheets tucked in the shelves at the local craft store. I literally gasped it was so cute...and had to get half a yard just because.
Within days I was using some of it to wrap a little gift for my mom's best friend. Then I attempted a matchy-matchy birthday card too.
Sean's Dad is an avid reader so he has an ongoing request for gift cards for every birthday and holiday. So I wrapped yet another gift card...
We are having a relaxing Father's Day...biscuits and gravy for breakfast and sausage pizza on the barbecue for dinner. Mac picked out some sweat bands for Sean to wear when he's running. You really won't be able to miss him in Electric Pink and Neon Green. Meanwhile Mac chose this t-shirt for his Dad which he seemed to really love. It's fun to see that Mac's quirkiness in clothing choices is both nature and nurture.
The same gift card wrapping idea I used a few weeks ago just with new colors...
This is going with me to my last day at the community college tomorrow to thank the professor who, as a master teacher, has challenged me and supported me and then challenged me some more. She shared her class with me and gave me the opportunity to test out what I have been dreaming about all these years in school. And to now know it is really as amazing as I ever hoped it would be.
I mentioned earlier in the week that I am officially on the hunt for a community college teaching position. I was actually super busy yesterday putting together my resume packet and teaching portfolio for a mock interview I am participating in next week. Good thing, considering I last interviewed for a job 12 years ago.
With employment on the forefront of my mind today, I decided that if I had to have a fallback career it could be wrapping up gift cards. I have a couple to give to the Sociology department's administrative assistants tomorrow at my last day of work. I wanted to thank them for being so good to me as I have been a graduate assistant and writing tutor throughout the school year...
I slipped them into a brown paper bag with a thank you note and kept on decorating...
It's halfway through Teacher Appreciation week at Mac's school. So far we've had the kids each bring a flower to make a classroom bouquet (I made button jars for each classroom to use as a vase) and this morning we had breakfast muffins and coffee (thanks to Sean baking three different mini-muffin recipes on Monday night). Tomorrow is little notepads and colorful pencils...
Thursday we will be serving the teachers a big salad for lunch. And on the last day all of the teachers will get notes from their students. The preschool and kindergarten classes were asked what they loved about their teachers, each response was printed on a strip of paper and placed in a "Love Jar" (haven't taken photos yet). First through eighth grade students each wrote their teachers a note. Sean made thin little boxes for each teacher's stack of notes and I made some flowers with the fabric leftover from the bunting we made to decorate the teacher's lounge...
I have to admit I really love these wonky flowers.
Here's hoping the second half of the week goes well too...
The title of my graduate project is, "Creating a Strong Parent/Teacher Partnership for Students: An Introductory Support Booklet for Parents of Students Enrolled in a Resource Specialist Program". Short and sweet, right?
In order to accomplish this, I observed parent/teacher interactions at student's yearly IEP meetings. In addition to observing the meetings held by the teacher I am married to, I also observed two of Sean's colleagues.
I wanted to make sure to thank them since I could not have completed my work without their support, so I got them each a Starbucks gift card and reveled in the details of this little thank you gesture...
Wrapped up the giftcards.
And stuck them both in a vellum bag.
There has been a long standing rivalry between Mac's Dad's family and ours. USC vs. Notre Dame...actually it's USC vs. Anyone. However, now poor Sean and I need to proudly wear the cardinal and gold for the next four years because they happen to be the colors of Mac's new high school...
It took a few months to weigh numerous factors and make a decision about what high school seemed like it would be the best fit for Mac. Since he was kept in the dark for most of it he asked that when the decision was made that we have a high school reveal party...much like the gender reveal parties he had seen all over Pinterest. He wanted to cut into a cake and reveal the high school colors.
In the end, it did not turn out to be a big surprise. Mac went with us on a tour with an assistant principal where he asked about the cheerleading squad...it turned out try-outs were that day. Mac has dreamed of being a cheerleader since he was little. I worked as a high school instructional aide and we attended every home football game. He knew many of the cheers and wanted us to build him his own cheerleader box like the girls stood on during games.
I took home a packet of information about the team and called the director to explain the situation, tell her a little about Mac and see if for some reason she was looking for a little "diversity" on the team (they currently did not have any other boys). We were so lucky that she was eager to meet him and asked if he could come to try-outs later that afternoon. By the end of the day he was told they would like to have him as part of the freshman team.
His dream came true.
Sean and I went out that weekend while Mac was with his Dad and we had a cardinal and gold craft supply fest. I got to work crocheting a blanket and Sean started cutting out letters and stitching them on a shirt. A few days later we baked a cake and "surprised" Mac. He was given half a blanket and a half-finished t-shirt...
Then my mom and sister joined in on the fun as only they can (especially considering they were given less than 24 hours notice on the party). My mom brought Elmo themed items since that is the nickname of his new high school and my sister sewed up three El Mo snack bags for him. Mac's dad came over too and we had a really great time celebrating his high school reveal.
So the cardinal and gold is growing on me, but no matter what the colors are I cannot wait for the next four years.
When I saw this hand print project on Little Lovelies a few weeks ago I knew I wanted to make something similar for my sister. Thankfully we ended up babysitting a week before her birthday so I was able to snag outlines of everyone's hands...
I decided to craft up a gift to help the bride and mom-to-be with a little post-shower thank you note writing...
I included stamps, address labels and matching envelope seals...and then I had way the heck too much fun wrapping them up.
Thanks for going along with me through all this party crafting this week. The countdown is on until the next big party around here. T-minus 108 days and counting...
Thank goodness for Pinterest because I scoured it for games. I ended up using two of them at both of the showers and they seemed to go over really well.
First I found Pass the Present (scroll down to find it). It involves distributing gifts as everyone gathers in a circle. A story is read and every time "right" and "left" is mentioned in the story the present is passed accordingly. For the bridal shower I read the story found on the website, but for the baby shower my mom wrote a personalized story that included what traits the new baby may inherit from every grandparent and great-grandparent. The prizes were mugs filled with packets of hot chocolate.
For the baby shower I attempted yarn pom poms.
The other game played at both showers was "He Said, She Said" (found on the Orange Beautiful blog). The premise was to guess which trait belonged to the bride and groom or mom and dad-to-be. To make it a little trickier some traits belonged to both of them so the players had to circle both initials. It was so fun to put this together and have the guests wondering whose favorite candy was purple skittles or who was born closer to their due date. Another super cute version of this game can be found on Craftaholics Anonymous.
And because I have two friends who love a cute detail as much as I do, the pencils had matching ribbon tied to them for each shower...
For the third game at the bridal shower we played Bridal gift bingo. Not a new shower game...every guest fills in the squares with guesses of what gifts the bride might receive and you play bingo from there. Here's a PDF of what I put together... Download Bridal Shower Bingo
For the baby shower I brainstormed (with lots of help from the new-grandma-to-be) a random game after reading up on numerous possibilities...
It involved a balloon, a size two diaper and sharpie markers...so I guess I'm going to call it the balloon baby game. The game was designed with two rounds. In the first round the guests had to blow up the balloon, get the diaper on it and the first five people to have the balloon held up without the diaper falling off moved onto round two. Round two involved the five finalists secretly having a couple of minutes to draw their best baby face on the balloon. They were carried into the mom-to-be and her grandmother for a blind judging to pick the best. I was holding my breath hoping it would work and thankfully it seemed to...
And here are the game prizes...
A couple of cute dish towels wrapped up for the baby shower and a stack of chocolate bars for the bridal shower.
Hopefully if you're throwing a shower sometime soon these game ideas may help out...I know I'll be keeping them for the next time I host a bridal or new baby celebration.