Morgan's DiY Journal: Thrifty, Last-Minute Holiday Crafts!

The holidays are a great time to get together with family and friends and eat delicious seasonal food. It also happens to be a time of the year when many of us spend a lot of money. So I wanted to offer a couple of cost-effective ways to create fun, festive—and easy!—décor as you head into the holidays. Here are two crafts that we were able to finish for very little expense.

Little Wooden Snowman

I found this idea on Pinterest! The one I saw used oak for the snowman bases, but I decided to use birch because the bark is already white (no paint required!) and, besides, Rex had to cut down a birch tree in the yard anyway.

What you will need:

  • Black and orange felt (for noses and eyes)
  • Ribbon, or your choice of material, for the scarf and snowman “accessories” (belt, vest, etc.)
  • 1/4”- or 1/3”-diameter stick for wooden dowels
  • 3 distinct-sized (small, medium, and large), 1”- or 2”-thick round sections cut from a tree of your choice
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Drill with drill bit(s) that are equivalent size/diameter to dowels

Step 1:
If you have a nice, big, rounded piece of firewood handy, make three cuts that are all the same width: one large, one medium, and one small—just like you are building a snowman, but with wood!

Step 2:
Once you have the three wood pieces, drill a hole in the "top" side of the largest wood round. Make sure that your drill bit is the same size as the wooden dowel, whether it's 1/4 or 1/3 of an inch. (If the drill bit is too small or too large, the dowel will either not slide into place or the fit will be loose, so carefully select the correct-sized bit!) 

Drill a hole into the “top” side of the base (largest round), then drill holes in both the top and bottom of the middle round (directly across from one another), and one hole into one side of the smallest round (the head) of the snowman.

Step 3:
Now cut your wooden dowels to about 4 inches long, which allows for a good, snug 2 inches to fit into each wooden round when you finally join them together.

Step 4:
With holes drilled and dowels cut to length, you're ready to start assembling the snowman! Using a rubber mallet (or even a scrap of wood), align a dowel over the hole you drilled into the base wood round, then gently tap the dowel to set it into the hole. Once in place, you should still have about 2 inches of dowel protruding. 

Do the same thing with a dowel and one of the holes you drilled into the middle wood round. Again, gently.

Step 5:
By now you're getting the picture, right? Place the middle wood round—dowel side up, hole side down—on top of the base round. Then take your top (head) round—hole side down—and place it on top of the middle round. If those dowels fit snugly into their holes, you'll know you've done it well!

Step 6:
Small branches can be used for arms. Drill additional holes (about 1 inch deep) on either side of the middle section of the snowman that are—same as the dowels—equal in diameter to the sticks that you intend to use as arms.  Slide the sticks into each hole to make arms.

Step 7:
And finally, it’s time to bring this faceless, featureless snowman to life! Use the orange and black felt to cut out a nose and eyes. Then dress the snowman up by adding buttons, a scarf, hat, belt, pipe, or even feet. We went so far as to cut a few extra wood rounds to fashion some hats.

Check out how ours came out!

Little Old Lanterns

I'll admit, there was a good deal of luck involved with this one. I found these lanterns at the dump! Can you believe someone was throwing these away?! I knew immediately they needed to be rescued.

The first thing to do was to remove the little panes of glass and polish those up. A wash with regular dish soap and a sponge worked well. Then to work on the lanterns themselves, which were rusting and caked in grime. To remove it all, I used sand paper and made sure to get into as many nooks and crannies as I could. Any grit of sand paper will work— just be sure you get rid of all the rust and grime!

After sanding them down I grabbed a can of textured spray paint we had left over from spray painting bedside tables. You can use any color spray paint, of course, but the textured kind worked nicely to give these lanterns a "surfaced" look. It took about ¾ of a bottle for the four of these. And make sure you spray into all the crevices! You want these to look as good as new.

W gave the lanterns time (a few hours) to dry completely, and we're so thrilled with how they came out!

Good as new, right?!

I hope these crafts inspire you to make the most of what's lying in the yard or, well, lying in the dump! And I hope your holidays are warm and bright!