By Marybeth Barrett with Art & Soul Living

It’s beginning to look a lot like Giftmas. Can you believe that Black Friday is this week? Are you one of the crazy, brave souls that ventures out? If you tend to shy away from the shopping madness, here are a few DIY gifts that you can try at home. Outside of family and my friends, most of my world revolves around decorating and DIY. So, I thought I would share a few projects with you that I think would be fun gift ideas for the holiday…or for yourself.

Are You Game?
I loved playing Scrabble when I was a kid. And, I am seeing more and more crafts made using scrabble tiles. I love them all. You can find scrabble tiles on Amazon, Ebay at Goodwill, and craft stores even carry some knock-offs. I made two projects using tiles. The first is a small coaster. I used 16 individual letter tiles. You could actually use 20 to make it bigger. The 4×4 is a little smaller than your standard size coaster. I cut a square piece of cork to size for the back and just glued the pre-selected letters to the cork. Done!!

I love motivational words so I thought about 4 letter words that would be appropriate for the kids.  Maybe, I will make some not so appropriate 4-letter word coasters for some of my friends.  😉 You can seal the top using Outdoor Mod Podge if you want.  I feel like it would protect it best from wet drinks.  Although, I find that these coasters work best on drinks that don’t get condensation at the bottom.   If the cups get wet at the bottom, the coaster will often stick to the bottom of the glass. Word up!  It is just that easy!

Joy to the Wood.
The second scrabble project is the ornament. I love power tools so I used my miter saw to cut the wood scrabble tile holder to size. If you don’t have a power saw you could use a handsaw. I sanded it and then glued J-O-Y onto the front. Happy, happy, joy, joy! I used a jewelry bail to glue to the back so I could hang it. Pretty simple!! These would make great hostess gifts, stocking stuffers or even teacher gifts. Choose your words wisely! (The owl is one of my pieces I made for the Whimsical Women Art Show).

Fill Your Cup!
I am sure many will agree that wine makes a great hostess gift. This is another super easy DIY project that you can give a try. You just need a cork and some cabinet door hardware. You need the kind that the screw is attached to back of the hardware. I love the ones from Anthropology but they are very pricey. I have found some great ones at Hobby Lobby that are very similar to Anthropology. They have a huge selection and are often 50% off. I like the sporty ones. You could make his and her bottle toppers!

I am almost embarrassed to call this a “project” because it is so stinking simple. I just took the cabinet hardware and screwed it into a recycled wine cork. I didn’t even have to drill a hole or anything. I just used the hole made by the corkscrew from when I opened the bottle. I put a little dab of glue on the top of the cork to secure it.

Voila, a new funky bottle topper!

Top It Off
I created a special gift tag printable just for you to add to the wine bottle! You just write their name in the “My wish for” banner and sign yours at the bottom. My website watermark will not be printed on the tags.
I am all about a play on words so I had fun with this one. I recently started Art & Soul Living. It is a blog about filling your bucket. I share things about art, life, decorating and DIY in hopes to keep our buckets full! So this is play off of that and is about “filling your cup!” Have you filled your cup today? I don’t care if it is wine, coffee or whatever you need…just please make sure you fill your cup daily. You deserve it! Anyway, here is a free printable for you to use as a gift tag. Simply print, cut and add to your gift of wine!

He knows if You’ve Been Bad or Good!
This is a spoiler alert…not for the little ones! I don’t want to be the one to let the cat out of the bag.

OK, I know there is a LOVE-HATE relationship with The Elf on the Shelf. If you don’t know what it is, you can learn more about it on the official website. Some people love it and some people hate it. I personally LOVE it and have so much fun with it. Yes, it is extra work but it makes my kids happy so it fills my bucket to partake in this yearly tradition. Our elf arrives on the day after Thanksgiving. His name is Buxbaum and he has become a huge part of our Christmas Tradition and our family over the past several years. Yup, call me crazy…I said family!

My kids LOVE him and can’t wait for his arrival. Well, this will be the first year that only one of my kids will be anxiously awaiting his “arrival”. My oldest will now be assisting with the Elf on the Shelf nightly mischief. They are growing up way too fast. Anyway, they have loved having Buxbaum visit us for a month and report back to Santa each year. But as much as they enjoy him, they dread Christmas Day when Buxbaum heads back to the North Pole and it will be a full year before they see him again. They get SO sad to see him go. One year I decided to get creative. Buxbaum left a note and a magical snow globe. His picture is inside and if you shake it, Buxbaum can hear you and see what you are doing from the North Pole!

I got the idea after watching the Prep & Landing Christmas TV Special a few years ago. It is my all time favorite Christmas Special. To quote one of the elves “It’s so tinsel!” I loved how they could watch Little Timmy through the snow globe. The boys remembered that so they could relate to the magical snow globe. We keep the snow globe out all year long on their dresser. I used to hear them shaking it and talking to it when they were younger. Cute right? I thought so! Let’s just say when my oldest figured out the whole Santa thing he was not too happy with me for lying about Buxbaum and the magic snow globe…at first. Oopsie! But, he has come around now and appreciates my effort and creativity.

Anyway, this project couldn’t be easier. Just buy a photo snow globe where you insert the photo from the bottom. I think I got mine at Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond. I found an image online of an elf that looked like Buxbaum and printed it out and put it in the snow globe. I typed up a letter using a fun, handwriting font in red and wrote a personal note to the boys. I created letterhead with Buxbaum’s face on it. Buxbaum told them some things they could be working on that year to remain on the Nice List and that he would be watching. Wink, Wink! And, that they might get a special visit in the spring with good behavior! You can figure out how far you want to take it, but I know this is a fun memory my boys will look back on later in life and smile! If your kids get sad to see their elf go, you may just want to give this DIY project a try! Wrap it up and put it under the tree Christmas morning! I can almost guarantee that you will see your kids grinning from ear to ear!

I hope these ideas inspire you and help you and your families fill your bucket in one way or another this holiday season!

Happy holidays,
Marybeth Barrett
Chief Bucket Filler
Art & Soul Living