Well, Thanksgiving is over. It's time to start thinking about putting up the Christmas tree. Do you have your tree up yet? And do you need any new ornaments for it this year? Or any gifts for people who love Christmas items?
|Here are some ornaments I made this year. They are currently for sale in my etsy shop, Prized Possessions. Please take a look and see if one of them just might be the one to fill that last spot on your tree!|
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I used an online random number generator to pick the winners for me. And here they are.
$25 gift certificate goes to AmandaSue
$10 gift certificates to go fkhan247 and Stacey Moore
Winners have been sent emails notifying them that they won. I would really appreciate it if the winners will either reply to the email or add a comment here, just to confirm they know they won.
A sincere thank you to all who entered. I really appreciate hearing your thoughts. I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and that you will enjoy the upcoming holiday season, no matter what holiday you celebrate.
And come back for more info in January - I've decided to do another giveaway before Valentine's Day!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Every year my mom's side of the family gets together at Thanksgiving at my aunt's house in Oklahoma. My mom is the oldest of 10 kids and I am one of 36 cousins. Now that some of my cousins are grandparents, our family is up to 165 people. (We just counted, with the help of the project I am about to tell you about.) Thanksgiving is when the aunts exchange Christmas gifts and when the cousins, wives of male cousins, cousins' daughters, etc. do our gift exchange. (It's a girl thing. The boys don't come anywhere near.) Thanksgiving is also the best time to distribute calendars.
In addition to my vintage ornament Christmas wreath, the other project that I had to complete before Thanksgiving was my 2009 family calendar. I created my first calendar in 2003 for the 2004 calendar year. Since I had already been accumulating names and birthdates for a family tree, I had most of what I needed to make a calendar that had birthdays of all the family members. Each month has some sort of family photo on the page, as does the calendar cover.
I use Calendar Creator software. I entered the birthdays the first year and now each year I only need to add new babies, new spouses, etc. The one problem with the software is that it doesn't handle having more than two events on the same date. Since I also show holidays on the calendar, June usually creates some problems for me. There are a couple birthdays on the same date in June that often fall on Father's Day or the beginning of summer. When there are three events on a single date, I need to manually add some text boxes to show the birthdays and holidays. I can control the spacing of text boxes, but I can't control the spacing of the events that the software shows automatically. But that's really the worst part of the process. Everything else is pretty easy to use.
Here is my calendar for 2009. This is a wedding picture of my Grandma and Grandpa, who are no longer living, on the cover.
Here is a sample page of my calendar. Every year, we take a cousin picture. This is the cousin picture we took on Thanksgiving in 2007. The other pages of the calendar show other shots I took at Thanksgiving 2007. One year, I accumulated photos from all families and tried to get every person in the family on the calendar. One year, I used only old photos of great-grandparents, photos of the farm where my grandparents used to live, old cars...all old pictures. One year I collected as many pictures I could of family members when they were either babies or very young and made the calendar into a guessing game of name that baby. That was a fun year's calendar, too.
I used to do my calendars in black and white. I started having them printed by Kinko's, then found a printing shop that was very reasonably priced. I have 35 calendars made every year and in black and white, they used to cost just under $5 apiece. I couldn't find anywhere I could have a color calendar done for less than about $20. But last year, I discovered that the UPS Store near me had a sale on color copies every October for 35 cents each. With the binding, printing and assembly, I could have the calendars done for just under $10 each. I put out my box of calendars at my aunt's house along with an envelope for money and the calendars just kind of sell themselves now. Last year, no one minded the price going up from $5 to $10 because the color calendars look much nicer than the b&w ones did.
And I just started a family blog, open to family members only. I'm hoping to accumulate photos from people via the blog for next year's calendar and try to do another one that has as many family members pictured as possible. Since only 93 of the 165 were present at Thanksgiving this year, hopefully we can round up photos that will include more than 93 people! Check back next year for an update on the 2010 calendar!
I'm considering giving away one or two $5 or $10 gift certificates, too. I haven't quite decided yet, but the more entries I receive, the more I will decide to give away!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Several years ago, I saw this picture in a Mary Englebreit book that I have, Christmas with Mary Englebreit Let the Merrymaking Begin Volume 1. It was also in the December 2000 issue of Mary Englebreit’s Home Companion magazine. I knew some year I would have to make one of these wreaths because I liked this so much. Last year, around the holiday season, I went to some flea markets and antique shops looking for vintage Christmas ornaments. They ranged in price from 25 cents to $3 or more. Since I knew I needed quite a few, I stuck to the less expensive ones. I splurged and bought a handful of fancier ornaments for a couple dollars each.
I started with a 12 inch Styrofoam wreath form. I used green florist wire to make a hanger on the back. I didn’t attach the hanger firmly yet; it could still move around on the form. I wanted to wait until the wreath was completed to decide on the exact placement of the hanger.
I got all my ornaments out, laid them on the table and sorted them by color so I would know which colors to use more of and which to use less of. Here is a closeup photo of some of my prettier ornaments. I had about 108 ornaments when I had gotten them all out and counted.
I started by arranging some of the larger plain ornaments around the inside and outside edges of the wreath. Then I put various combinations of ornaments with those and on top of the wreath form to see how they might best fit together.
Once I had several ornaments that seemed to fit together well, I started the scariest part of the project – actually hot gluing my vintage ornaments to the wreath! This was the scary part when I made my practice wreath, too. Once you get past those first few ornaments being glued down, it’s not too bad!
I did this wreath differently from my practice wreath. On my practice wreath I glued ornaments rather randomly around the wreath. Because of that, I had holes on the sides where you could see the wreath, more toward the back of the wreath. On this wreath, I glued ornaments all around the edges first. Since everything was flat on the table, the sides were more thoroughly covered all the way back to where the wreath would lean against the wall.
Once I had ornaments along the inside and outside edges, I worked on covering the top of the wreath. I started using my less plain ornaments on top. One thing I would do differently if I could do this again would be to use some of the different ornaments around the outside edges. They are seen pretty well from the sides, so it would have been nice not to have all plain ornaments on the outside edge.
It would have been good if I could have had more small ornaments to fill in some of the gaps, but I wasn't able to find many very small ones. However, it worked out just fine with the ornaments that I did have.
Once I had the wreath completely covered with ornaments, there were still some pretty big gaps where I could see the wreath form. Having had to figure out how to fill in these gaps on my practice wreath, this was easy to fix. I still had five large jingle bells left from my gold collection, so I tied colored ribbons onto them and glued the bells on next. I also had more of my star garland, so I tucked it into the largest gaps and just worked my way around until all the gaps were filled. Lastly, I draped the plastic beaded rope over the wreath, gluing it wherever it was needed.
Once I was able to hold up the completed wreath, I determined exactly where I wanted the hanger. I used a rounded piece of wire which I also glued in to tack down the hanger so it wouldn't more around. I only used about 60 of my ornaments for this wreath. If I can find another 20 or so, I think I'll make another one!
Here's a picture of my wreath hanging. The last two photos are closeups showing the bells, garland and beads.
This was a fun project to make. Looking for the ornaments was a big part of the fun, too. It was while looking for ornaments that I found two of the storage items in my craft room. The biggest thing to remember while making one of these wreaths is that it's going to look pretty ugly with only a small number of ornaments attached. The looks definitely improve as time goes on. Even when halfway complete or more, it really doesn't look too nice. But just keep gluing and then find creative ways to plug gaps at the end and it will turn out just fine!
Friday, November 21, 2008
At my open house Sunday, I had one more bracelet left. A friend of mine bought it for her friend who was just finishing up her chemo. I sent my check to Susan G. Komen this week in honor of her friend.
I am all out of breast cancer awareness bracelets now, but I have lots of pink beads. I will make more soon. I am very happy that I have been able to donate $60 to Susan G. Komen! And there was an unexpected benefit from this, too. My first customer mentioned to me how much she liked her bracelet and that it gave her comfort in remembering her cousin. I had never anticipated the aspect of offering comfort to someone who lost a loved one. My main goal had been to raise money for Susan G. Komen. But this second benefit is just as great as the donations.
Writing about this has made me realize that I need to make more bracelets SOON! Won't you please help spread the word that my etsy shop is making donations to help fight breast cancer with the sale of these bracelets?
When I set up my jewelry display, I had three areas. My earrings were on a 4-foot long wooden workbench that I covered with a 2-yard piece of pretty floral velour fabric that I found on sale at JoAnn’s for $2/yard.
A few years ago, I discovered an easy way to display bracelets. You can fit a lot of bracelets in a very small space and have them all easily seen by hanging them on the pegs of a wooden spool rack.
When I discovered the spool rack, I also built an earring display for earrings by attaching a piece of window screen on the back of a picture frame and hanging the earrings in the holes of the screen. While this provides an easy way to display a lot of earrings and it looks pretty nice, it’s not all that easy or quick to take the earrings off the display to look at them.
I wanted my earrings to have more of a professional look to them, so I made earring cards for all my earrings. Since I include rubber stoppers with all the earrings I sell that use ear wires that don’t close in any way, the stoppers help keep the earrings on the cards. I really like how they look on the cards. I created a template that fits 16 cards on an 8.5 X 11 size sheet of paper. I put my business name on the top, added a couple little periods to use as a guide for where I wanted to punch holes with a very small punch and printed these on card stock. I cut them apart with my paper cutter. (It really helps to do scrapbooking! I’ve got all the stuff to do this!)
I wanted to provide the template in a Word document that you can download and customize with your name, but I couldn’t find an easy way to do this with a Word document. I’m still pretty new to blogging and spent way too long trying to do this with no success. If you’d like my template, leave me a comment and I’ll email it to you.
I found a couple different necklace display ideas on various web sites. I really like this one . However I think there is a typo in the size. I think it is more like 38 cm wide, not 28. Their dimensions would make it almost square, which it obviously is not. I did wrap my fabric around to the back. Perhaps some thicker fabric could be cut exactly the size as the cardboard and just glued to the front.
I cut out my cardboard and scored it before I glued on the fabric. I think it would have been much more difficult to score and crease after the fabric was glued on. For the first ones I made, I used Elmer’s glue and glued the fabric to the cardboard. I used velour-like and suede-like fabrics. The fabrics with more nap and texture looked much better than the thinner, smoother fabrics. That longer nap can hide a lot of glue problems! Later, I started using a glue stick and liked that better. That did not create the glue ridges that Elmer’s did and was better for thinner, plainer fabrics. Also, Elmer’s made the cardboard wetter, which made it curl. So I glued on the fabric, clipped the curves and trimmed the fabric at the points and turned the allowance around the edges to the back side of the cardboard. The Elmer’s did not hold the fabric down well, so I also taped it. After it was dry, I recreased along the score lines, but also glued another layer of cardboard along the bottom edges to reinforce. It stood up much better after the reinforcing. I punched holes in the sides and tied the sides together with ribbon in the back, as shown on the web site link.
I also made some flat displays using this pattern. I didn’t use foam core. I just used a couple layers of cardboard. Here’s another site you might look at for ideas. I used these displays for my lighter weight necklaces. Here's a finished example.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Here are some of the things I did that you might want to think about.
Invitations I sent out invitations using evite.com a couple weeks before the open house. Evite.com was very easy to use. It keeps track of all the responses received and will email the responses to you, also. I sent the evite to my other three sellers and they forwarded to the people they wanted to invite. The invitee list on evite.com distinguishes between the people the hostess invites and the people invited by her invitees. It even provides a way for an invitee to indicate they will bring a guest. Nancy created some hardcopy invitations and mailed to some of the people on her mailing list in addition to the evites.
- When mailing to a work email address, some people cannot open the evite because their companies block it.
- Some people were not able to open the attached Google map for the directions.
All of the people, except one, who came were people I had invited. Some of those people also knew another seller. That one exception was someone I knew from church anyway. I’m not sure if invitees are less likely to go to the house of someone they don’t know, even if one of their friends is a seller there. I was just a little surprised that only one person invited by the three other sellers attended. I need to think about that a little more…
Door Prizes Each seller donated a door prize – something from their shop. I made little door prize entry blanks to fill out and put in a basket. If an invited person brought a guest, they got to put another entry into the basket. When the open house was over, we pulled names out of the basket. By doing it at the end, we thought everyone had more chances to win than if we held drawings throughout the afternoon. Since the entry blank included phone number and email address, it was easy to notify the winners that they had won. One winner was still present when the drawing was held and she works with another winner so she took that prize to deliver at work. One winner lives very close to me and the fourth won a pair of earrings that were easy to put in the mail.
Payment I opened a PayPal account when I started my etsy shop. PayPal will easily allow payments made using credit cards or a PayPal account. Since PayPal is so easy, I’ve never had to look into accepting credit cards any other way. I did talk to my bank about a one time use of a credit card machine, but that’s around $100 or so. I didn’t want to spend that when I had no idea what the turnout would be like. And then I decided that, since the only people attending would be my friends or friends of friends, I could invoice them using PayPal if I got their email address. It’s very easy to send someone a PayPal invoice, even if they don’t have a PayPal account. All they need is an email address. I offered this to people but no one wanted to do it. Everyone wanted to pay by cash or check so that made payment very easy.
This has turned into rather a long post. Come back soon for some ideas for displaying jewelry.
And let me know if you have any questions or comments about any of the things we did for our open house! Give an open house a try sometime…and let me know any new ideas you have!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I started thinking about trying a home party as an additional way of selling my jewelry. I went back and forth trying to decide if I wanted to do this or not. I didn’t want to invite friends over and have them feel obligated to buy something from me, so I decided to invite other friends who sell things to participate with me, too. In October the Junior League holds a huge Holiday Mart at a nearby convention center. I went this year, bought some Christmas gifts, a new all-weather coat, which I never expected to buy there but it was something I needed and the price was great, and had a fun time. So I decided to have my own (very) mini version of a holiday mart. It was an open house from 2-5 PM today with drinks, food and three other sellers. We all invited people we knew. I had no idea what to expect, but it was fun from a social aspect to see some friends I hadn’t seen in a while and to let people see my jewelry, too. And it gave some of my friends a chance to sell a few more items, also.
I asked some friends to participate but learned they no longer sell what they used to sell. But I have three friends who wanted to participate with me. Nancy sells Mary Kay cosmetics. See her Mary Kay site here. And Mary sells knitted scarves made from all kinds of pretty yarn. Jana also sells jewelry. She does a lot of soldered pendants (very pretty), along with other bracelets, earrings and necklaces. Oh, yes. My son Joe put out his baseball fundraiser grocery store coupon books. We sold one of those to our next door neighbor.
I’ll give more details and some suggestions for doing this yourself tomorrow. But I wanted to get my pictures posted today and get my blog a little more up to date right away. And then I want to get to bed before midnight for the first time in a long time! I had a lot of earrings and bracelets, but only a couple necklaces. I went to a couple local bead shows here recently with the intent of buying beads for necklaces. So I focused on making necklaces, usually well into the night, and had several more to add to my display. Once I get started making jewelry, it’s hard for me to stop. So I have been staying up much later than I should for the last couple weeks or so.
Now my party is over and I definitely want to do it again next year. Come back soon to read more details about my open house!
And don’t forget to enter my gift certificate giveaway for a $25 jewelry gift certificate! Go here for details.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Last night my husband and I went to see the Eagles in concert in Kansas City, their "Long Road out of Eden" Tour. What a great show! They played for just under 3 hours. It was a nice mix of songs from the Eden CD and, of course, plenty of great oldies. Three Joe Walsh songs, too. That guy's crazy.
If you like the Eagles and if they're coming to your city, you MUST go see them! I've been singing their songs in my head ever since the show. They are a bunch of great entertainers, making for a very enjoyable event!
Check out their web site in case you haven't done so lately.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Those nice folks at Esculon Jewelry began hosting a holiday gift fest last Monday, November 3. Every Monday, until the free gifts run out, Esculon will be showing several new prizes, along with a link to each sponsoring site which will give details on how to enter their giveaway.
It’s my turn starting tomorrow, November 10. I will be offering a $25 gift certificate to my etsy shop, Prized Possessions, which features handmade beaded jewelry and Christmas ornaments. The winner can use this $25 on anything in my shop and receive free shipping on their order. The amount could be used toward the purchase of any of my custom items, also.
Here are the things you need to know about my gift certificate giveaway.
1. Contest starts Sunday November 9 and ends at midnight central time on Saturday November 29. The winner will be notified on Sunday November 30.
2. I am still a fairly new etsy seller. It’s helpful to me to keep learning about what people are interested in buying. To enter my contest, enter a comment for this blog post that lists your three favorite items from my etsy shop, Prized Possessions, that you would actually consider buying. Don’t list some item you like to look at but would never really buy. Please help me learn what a buyer is really interested in.
3. Everyone submitting a comment will be entered in a random drawing to be held the morning of November 30.
4. Make sure when you leave your comment you record accurate contact information so that I will know how to contact you if you are the winner.
Thanks a lot for entering my contest! Good luck! And go check out the other Gift Fest giveaways going on. For more information, see the Esculon Says blog.
Friday, November 7, 2008
My mom does a lot of crafts and people are always giving her materials and items that she might be able to use. Someone gave her some of these big containers of gold ornaments and she gave two of them to me. They were cheap plastic ornaments but I decided they would be perfect to practice making a wreath with before I used my good vintage ornaments. My mom makes craft items throughout the year to donate to a craft show that benefits the Sisters Servants of Mary, so I decided I would give my wreath to her for this benefit craft show.
I placed different size ornaments in various combinations until I liked how they looked, then started hot gluing the ornaments to the wreath. It didn’t look very nice at first, just a Styrofoam wreath with some ornaments here and there, but the more ornaments I glued on, the better it began to look. I made sure to fill the inside edges and the outside edges of the wreath form, along with placing ornaments on the top. (Inside, outside and top as I saw the wreath laying on my craft table.)
So now, sometime before Thanksgiving, I will make my cousin gift. I will take pictures of this wreath as I go along. I will feel much better about putting hot glue on my vintage ornaments now that I have made my practice project!