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A couple years ago, I was helping my Mom and Dad over at their house when my daughter reminded me that we had to stop working on putting in a new toilet because it was time to do Christmas. Of course, we didn’t have any money as usual and she wanted there to be presents for each of her brothers and sisters that she had worked to get in one place for the Christmas holiday.

So, here we were sitting at Mom and Dad’s house and I said, let’s just make some stuff for them. Although we kept working on fixing the floor and new toilet for their big bathroom, Ms. A and I started making some Christmas presents. Just for the record, don’t ever do it this way – we had less than two weeks to make some things and that isn’t the way to do it. But, we did it and completely ignored all the Christmas gifts I was already preparing for everybody because those things were at my apartment where we weren’t.

I don’t know if Ms. A had been around when gifts were being made at other times and it seemed that we had lots of options, but she didn’t know where to start. We took some quart sized Mason jars from the laundry room with their lids that had never been used for canning anything and some Epsom salts from under the bathroom sink that had been there about forever.

Then, we ran around outside to gather some tiny baby pinecones, pretty leaves and small pine sprays, delicate seed pods and other nature stuff and brought them to the kitchen table. The flavorings and scents that we found around the house were vanilla extract, peppermint extract (which is ridiculously strong and a tiny, tiny bit goes way too far), ground cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and some really stinky perfumes, colognes and smell-um-goods that had been sitting long enough to knock anybody over when the top was opened.

Ms. A put about half to two-thirds of each jar’s worth of Epsom salts in the jars we had found, some of them quart sized, a few larger, a few smaller quart sized and set aside some we had found for something else. We ended up having to go to the grocery to get some more Epsom salts along with some cucumbers and mint-smelling alcohol to use as a companion gift to go with them.

Each individual jar of Epsom salts was given a flavoring or scent by Ms. A and then, a small spray of pine needles with a pine cone or a seashell or two that we had found out by the back door from trips to the ocean or one of the pretty seed pods we had found outside. The lids were put on with a piece of cloth tied around it to kind of match each personality of the scents and decorations inside.

Then, Ms. A made a nice little label from some pretty Christmas posty notes I had bought at Michael’s craft store. We called them, “Salts for the Soul” and she wrote the directions on each one. They were very nifty, useful and looked like they had been bought at some fancy bath store or specialty store at the mall.

To go with them and for some of the people we wanted to have gifts for who would be helped by this, we made some other glass jars with a mixture of mint-smelling rubbing alcohol filled with cucumber pieces to use for sore feet and aching muscles. These had to be handled a little differently because of the need for them to be kept out of the reach of children, but each label explained how to use and store them, as well as us saying something about that when the gifts were opened. We peeled a bunch of cucumbers. And, best of all, it really works to make sore knees and feet feel better.

These were two of the gifts we made times about twenty and we also put together an “Alternate GPS” for several gifts which was a piece of matboard covered with plaid wallpaper creating a pocket where we put a roadmap. Then, we made a label on the computer and placed it across the front. We had already noticed that sometimes the use of GPS goodies did a lot to get people in our family and others nothing but lost and figured it would help.

We created some “to do” and shopping lists booklets with the same covered matboard sides and a little more decoration about the size that could be slip into a purse or dayrunner and taken into the store easily. They made good gifts that had a useful purpose, but I wouldn’t do them again because the dollar store makes a few that are just as good and not nearly as time and effort consuming to make.

In this case, because Mom and Dad donated the jars and the little bits of scents that we used, along with some bits of fabric, and I bought the few supplies we needed, already had some ribbons and gold cord to tie on the fabric lid covers, we spent less than thirty dollars total to make over fifty individual gifts to give. We had several gifts for each person and covered three different families including “in-laws”. And, it was fun although as I said, don’t do it this way with no more than a couple weeks to get it done. By the time all the steps of making the things were done and each gift was wrapped in paper and bows – it seemed like it would never get done in time for Christmas, but it did.

We didn’t have money for Christmas paper either and ended up using solid color bright green, bright blue, and bright purple art paper that I had found on clearance which were like the rolls of paper used for bulletin boards. Each one had pretty ribbon across them that is usually used for floral design and swags that were wired inside but had gold cording along the edges and a pleated sheer frosty white fabric in the middle.

They were very pretty Christmas packages under the tree and looked like they had come from Neiman Marcus or Saks’ Fifth Avenue or somewhere. And after the gifts were opened, my grown children sat in my living room floor wadding up those brightly colored stiff papers and threw them at each other forcing the duck and cover game into a whole different reality. They were like a bunch of seven year old children, only bigger.

“Salts for the Soul”

cricketdiane, 07-27-09

CricketDiane09 - Christmas Crafts - How to - Salt for the Soul 2009

CricketDiane09 - Christmas Crafts - How to - Salt for the Soul 2009

Here are some of the things described in the article above that we used to make the Christmas crafts and gifts a couple years ago – cricketdiane 2009


CricketDiane - Christmas Crafts - Salts for the Soul - 2009 - how to

CricketDiane - Christmas Crafts - Salts for the Soul - 2009 - how to

In the upper left hand corner, the paper and ribbon that were used for packaging the Christmas gifts that year. They turned out really pretty. And, the shopping list books / to do list books that we made from wallpaper, matboard and cut legal paper, graph paper and lined paper inside them.


CricketDiane - Christmas Crafts - Salts for the Soul - and cucumber alcohol rub - how to make Christmas gifts without money

CricketDiane - Christmas Crafts - Salts for the Soul - and cucumber alcohol rub - how to make Christmas gifts without money

Here are some of the things we used for the Christmas gifts including the unfinished menthol alcohol / cucumber for sore feet and aching muscles, the Salts for the Soul in Mason jars and some of the things we used to decorate inside – small driftwood pieces, dried rosebuds, tiny oak leaves with acorns and tops, pine sprays and pine cones, seed pods and small traditional Christmas bulb ornaments (in plastic like those used for floral arrangements rather than glass.)


CricketDiane - Christmas Crafts without a lot of money - Salts for the Soul - Shopping List books, Alternate GPS Maps and To Do List wallets for the purse or glovebox or coat pocket - how to Christmas without money

CricketDiane - Christmas Crafts without a lot of money - Salts for the Soul - Shopping List books, Alternate GPS Maps and To Do List wallets for the purse or glovebox or coat pocket - how to Christmas without money

In the middle graph paper / to do list / shopping list / ideas wallet the outside was made from wallpaper that was glued using stick glue to the matboard as seen to the right. The matboard or thin stiff cardboard was cut to size then taped down the middle leaving a small gap between the boards for the paper to have room to fit inside.

Then, the cover was decorated with either coordinating borders cut from other wallpaper patterns or in the case of the tan / grey cover in the center – a symmetrical intricate design was cut out from plain white computer / typing paper then a piece of holographic foil was mounted underneath before placing on the cover. A cutout border of correlating wallpaper was made around the design to create a smooth, visually finished appearance.

Insides were also covered with a thin coordinating paper for a nice finished look and little tack corners or inside pockets were made to hole the paper because we decided against a smather of flexible glue on the paper ends which could’ve held them together and mounted them, although that works too.

– cricketdiane – How to Christmas without money – Salts for the Soul – 2009


I was trying to think of some great ways to make some money right now – because, of course we need to buy groceries and move to a bigger place and things like that – so here are some of the things I generated since it could be that other people have the same problem (duh . . . )

1. yard sale?

2. party?

3. EBay or other auction?

4. T-shirt designs for cafe press?

5. Donations?

6. Call old friends?

7. Call on businesses?

8. Sell autographed collectibles?

9. Sell what? Borrow? Steal? Beg?

10. Stand at an event and sell ocean cards?

11. Give up and go to the beach, cause if I’m going to be poor, broke and crazy anyway, I might as well be a beach bum and enjoy it . . . .

– cricketdiane, 07-23-09