Wednesday, December 18, 2013
I always enjoy having DIY Christmas decorations in my holiday decor. It adds a personal touch and I love displaying things I have created. This year I saw the cutest 3D polka dot presents at Tai Pan Trading and instantly fell in love until I saw the price tag at $40. Granted they are a good 3 feet high, but $40 for foam core?! I knew then and there what my DIY Christmas decorations would be.
Our Version $10 <------------------------> Tai Pan Trading's Version $40------------------------>
- 2 sheets foam core (Do not buy at the dollar store! It has a paper finish and will bubble.)
- X-ACTO Z series blade (This baby was awesome! It cut like a charm.)
- X-ACTO Self Healing Cutting Mat
- Painter's tape
- Red Satin Craft Paint
- Foam Brush
- Foam Pouncer (for polka dots)
- Clear Glitter Finish (Martha Stewart's is indoor/outdoor if you want to put them on the porch)
DIY Christmas Decorations
1. Lay the foam core on the cutting mat and using your pencil hand sketch the shapes from the template below. Cut along the pencil lines with the Xacto Z-series.
2. Using your pencil, draw the ribbon tails as illustrated below on both sides of the present.
3. Tape around the ribbon tails and paint the ribbon area red.
4. While that is drying, paint red dots with the foam pouncer. Once the paint is dry turn the present over and paint the ribbon area and dots on the opposite side. Let that dry and repeat painting the ribbon area and dots with a second coat on each side.
5. Once all the paint is dry paint the whole thing with the glitter finish. I did two coats. If you squint with all your might you may see the shimmer on the ribbon loop. It is sparkly in person I promise.
6. Once dry, slide the two pieces together and stand up. The best part is when you are one with it take it apart and it stores flat! Gotta love big impact but space smart DIY Christmas Decorations!
I also love that this can double as birthday decor, especially since my son's birthday is in December. With a 3 foot present on the porch, people are bound to know it is the birthday party house.
Besides all the popular winter holidays, there are lots of other reasons to celebrate throughout the month of December. Check them out.
December 1: Special Kids Day - If you have any special kids in your life, make this a day for them to remember.
December 2: International Day for the Abolition of Slavery - You may have thought that slavery was abolished long ago, but it still goes on.
December 3: International Day of Disabled Persons - Spend the day like a disabled person would. I bet you will appreciate everything you are able to do that other people might not be able to.
December 4: National Cookie Day - What else would you do on National Cookie Day?
December 5: Bathtub Party Day - A party in the bathtub? That just sounds wrong.
December 6: St. Nicholas Day - It's like having a Christmas before Christmas.
December 7: National Cotton Candy Day - Try to not get sick from eating too much sugar.
December 8: Wild Card - Believe it or not, there are no holidays (that I know of) on the 8th. Make up your own holiday.
December 9: Weary Willie Day - Take a nap. It will make you feel better.
December 10: Human Rights Day - Exercise all your rights today.
December 11: UNICEF Birthday - Don't forget to throw a party with balloons and everything.
December 12: Poinsettia Day - Decorate the house in poinsettias (but if you have pets keep them all up high!).
December 13: Wild Card - Make up another holiday.
December 14: Wild Card - And another...
December 15: Cat Herders Day - I've heard of cattle herding and sheep herding...but never cat herding. Why not give it a try, and see how it goes?
December 16: National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day - Of all the chocolate holidays throughout the year, this one's my favorite. I mean, you can cover anything in chocolate.
December 17: Wright Brothers Day - Hold a party for them. Who cares if they don't attend? A party's a party.
December 18: International Migrants Day - Write a thousand word essay about the effect of the increasing number of migrants in the world.
December 19: Day for South-South Cooperation - No, I didn't stutter.
December 20: Mudd Day - Have a mud--er--mudd fight.
December 21: Humbug Day - This is the one day each year you have a reason to go around telling everyone, "Bah, humbug!"
December 22: National Haiku Poetry Day - Speak in haiku all day. Five syllables, then seven, then five more.
December 23: Festivus - It's like a festival that anyone can attend.
December 24: Christmas Eve - Of course, you know what Christmas Eve is. No? It's the day before Christmas, silly.
December 25: A'phabet Day (No 'L' Day) - Not only is December 25 Christmas Day, but it's A'phabet Day. No 'L's allowed. Remove them from your vocabu'ary, p'ease.
December 26: National Whiners Day - It's okay to whine. In fact, it's encouraged on National Whiners Day.
December 27: Wild Card - Finally...you need to get one more wild card in before the year is over. Make this one special.
December 28: National Chocolate Day - Eat some chocolate...but it doesn't end here. National Chocolate Day goes on into the 29th, as well.
December 29: National Chocolate Day - Eat some more chocolate.
Christmas Eve in a candlelit cemetery
At Christmastime many Finns visit cemeteries to place candles by the graves of relatives, or by monuments such as this one in memory of war veterans.
Visiting the local cemetery is very much a part of many Finnish families’ Christmas rituals. Hey, it’s not as morbid as it might sound.Although going to a graveyard might seem an unlikely activity for the festive season, the sight of hundreds of graveside candles glowing in the snow in a serene wooded cemetery can be surprisingly uplifting.
Placing candles on the graves of deceased relatives at Christmastime is a deep-rooted tradition followed by non-churchgoers and members of the Orthodox faith, as well as believers from the majority Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. “As many as three-quarters of Finnish families visit a cemetery at Christmas, mostly on Christmas Eve, and we even have to make special traffic arrangements to accommodate the crowds,” says Risto Lehto, who manages six cemeteries run by the Parish Union of Helsinki.
Lehto explains that many people stroll in their local graveyards at Christmas even if none of their relatives are buried there, just to enjoy the tranquil candlelit scene. “Our cemeteries also have memorial features where people can light candles for those buried elsewhere.”
Light in the Darkness
|Coming to the cemetary to pay their respects|
Though the cemetery may be crowded, the atmosphere is silent and solemn as people quietly reflect on the candlelit scene, and their lost loved ones. “In truth cemeteries are for the living and not for the dead,” says Lehto. “In Finland we really take care of our cemeteries as scenic parks with grand old trees. They’re places where people can enjoy a peaceful stroll, as well as remembering the deceased. Grieving can be a long process, and we like to provide settings where people can gain comfort. Our cemeteries are nothing like the scary derelict graveyards you see in horror films!”
The myriad graveside candles certainly bring light and joy to the scene on a midwinter afternoon, making a secluded cemetery look like a mystic fairy dell. Some people make picturesque natural lanterns around their candles using piles of snowballs or icy covers made of water that has been frozen in a bucket.
Lehto explains that the tradition of putting candles by graves only became widespread in Finland in the 1920s, when candles became affordable. However, the custom of paying seasonal respect to the dead probably dates back much further, and may even have its roots in pre-Christian times – like the pagan tradition of lighting midsummer bonfires, which is nowadays associated with the Christian feast of St John’s Day (Juhannus in Finnish).
A Hectic Time of Peace
|Hundreds of gravside candles glowing in the snow|
“In the post-war 1950s, when people wanted to remember those who died fighting to preserve Finland’s independence, putting candles on graves became more common on Independence Day (December 6) as well,” says Lehto. All Saints’ Day (November 1) is another day when Finnish cemeteries radiate with soft candlelight.
“The tradition of visiting the cemetery certainly fits in well with our idea that Christmas is a family festivity, and a time of peace,” says Lehto. “Though actually for most Finnish families Christmas Eve ends up being a very hectic day, with a trip to the cemetery on top of other compulsory rituals like the huge Christmas meal, the Christmas sauna and the eagerly awaited arrival of Santa Claus!”