Sunday, December 9, 2012

From "Ho-hum" to "Ho" "Ho" "Ho!"

At the risk of sounding like Martha Stewart, there are many things you can do on the, um, "cost effective" side rather going out for great expense. (I like "cost effective" SOOOO much better than cheap. An English friend introduced me to that concept years ago and it has done me well!)

My wife called me the other day from Michael's and asked if I wanted these wooden boxes to use as gift containers for my class of 1st and 2nd graders. For a buck a piece I said sure. I was planning on giving them candy anyway and this was perfect.

However, when you look at them you think, $1 for the box and about $30 of work time and additional materials making something of it. True, its a challenge so I dove right in. It was actually fun and easy.

Since there already was a snowman on one style and a gingerbread man on the other, one side was easy. Wondering about what to do on the back I looked at some snowflakes that I had left over from another project. So, snowflakes were matched up with the snowmen and a star was used on the gingerbread man. These additional items were painted separately, allowed to dry and then glued on. Gorilla glue works well but takes awhile to dry. Be careful and make sure it stays in place.

I wrote each students name on a box and painted away, first with the background color mostly a stain of red or green on all sides and the bottom. Then the figures were painted on. The stars had to be painted and the snowflakes only required some jazzing up. Then they were glued in place. Several layers of an antiquing glaze was applied. I tend to like DecoArt's Traditional Burnt Umber that is floated on all the sides and sometimes on the figures to tone down colors. They start off usually too bright so a little glazing overall tones down all colors and makes them work better with each other.

All that was left to do was fill them with peppermint flavored salt water taffy and candy canes. Be sure that each and everyone is the same. If not, the kids will be sure to let you know that so and so got more than they did. Its nothing new. We did it as kids too!

The beauty of boxes such as this is that they can be used year after year. Sure the ribbon handles may fail but they can easily be replaced. Beside being used for gifts, they make wonderful candy containers that can be used every year as you decorate for the holidays.

Always be alert! You may never know where your next "cost effective" treasure might be.

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