tiny gifts for grown-up people.

    December 1, 2022

    Five of my favorite tiny gifts made by other folks, wrapped up in a simple project made by you! Yes? Yes!

    In case you have the itch to offer a little something handmade this holiday season, here are five gifts small enough to fit inside a stocking, but perfect for pairing with projects developed by Rose in the Reading My Tea Leaves archive. Each gift arrives in packaging that’s thoughtful and low-waste on its own. Tucked into a handmade vessel of your own making, they become tiny treasures.

    Kate McLeod Mini Body Stones in a Clay Vessel:

    The full-size Kate McLeod Body Stones are luxurious and wonderful, and in gift giving season, the minis are a dream. They’re every bit as decadent as the full-size stone and just right when you have a long list of folks to shop for. We especially love them tucked into the air-dry clay vessels that Rose and I shared a few years ago. One block of DAS air-dry clay will give you five or six vessels and excluding the drying time, you can make half a dozen in half an hour, easy. (Vessels also excellent for tiny tea lights!)

    Conscia Solid Shampoo and Conditioner in a Floral Twine Basket

    The Conscia Solid Shampoo and Conditioners arrive wrapped up in cloth that looks ready for gift giving, but they’re even more special tucked into a sculptural floral twine basket. The petite-size stones are lovely for gift giving and sampling and come in sets of two. One roll of paper-coated floral wire can likely make a dozen of these small baskets and once you get the hang of it, the baskets can be cranked out in no time. (Still more basket giving ideas!)

    + Use the code TEA15 to receive 15% off your Conscia order!

    Even Keel Bath Fizzies in a Cloth Masu Box

    Even Keel Bath Fizzies come in a beautiful paper box of their own, but if you wanted to split up a set and spread the love a bit, tucking them into a starched fabric masu box is a beautiful route to take. After the fizzies are used up, the tiny box becomes a spot to store hair elastics, bobby pins, matches, paper clips, or whatever other tiny thing your heart desires.

    + Use the code GIVING2022 through the end of the week for 20% off at Even Keel.

    Artifact Uprising Print Sets in an Origami Folder

    I already shared one way to give the gift of photograph prints this year, but for folks looking for a quicker project, making an origami folder might be a thing to try. For this one, instead of using the elastic shown in the original tutorial, I punched two holes through the outside pockets of the folder and attached metal brads and a piece of string to make a classic portfolio folder tie. Folders also excellent for giving gifts of experience, time, money, and yes, watercolors.

    + Use the code READTEA15 to get 15% off sitewide at Artifact Uprising, including Print Sets like the ones shown here. (No expiry!)

    + PS. I used pages from an old Appointed Wall Calendar to make these folders! If you want to have a very beautiful calendar that you can put to work after the year’s out, use the code READTEALEAVES to receive 15% off sitewide at Appointed (No expiry!).

    PF Candle Company Incense in a Clay Vessel

    The piñon incense sticks from PF Candle Company are my favorite to burn this time of year. They smell like woodsmoke and cedar with a hint of vanilla. Cozy, in other words. To turn the clay vessel into an incense burner, I added a clay bead (a lump of air-dry clay with a hole poked through!) to the bottom of the burner. If you try it, shoot for a bead made from a ball about the size of a small ping-pong ball to make sure it’s heavy enough to keep your stick upright! My first attempt was too small and I had to secure it with a dab of glue).

    + Use the code TEALEAVES for 20% off your PF Candle purchase (one use per customer, valid until 1/31/23).

    If you’re looking for other simple craft ideas for gift giving, we’ve got you covered. And don’t forget: tiny gifts for tiny people.

    Where possible, this post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links. 

    holiday magic, simply?

    November 30, 2022

    I love making so-called holiday magic. I love stringing up popcorn and cutting out cinnamon stars and lighting candles. Give me all the fir clippings! If it’s cold enough I’ll make ice lanterns and ornaments! Roll me some beeswax and pour me hot chocolate! I want Christmas trees and twinkly lights and sharing and getting ideas from creative people about how to go about making a long, dark month a little more tolerable.

    I would make my little paper chains and salt stars whether or not I had a blog, but there’s no mistaking that creating the magic and sharing it here is also part of a job I’m paid to do: to make something worthy of inspiring others and tying it up in a great big bow, or an understated bit of cotton string, as the case might be. This is the task before media makers the world over in the month of December and I’m no exception. But it’s personal, too, and I think it can get confusing.

    Last week I shared a list of ideas for tiny gifts for kids. I wanted to showcase easy, manageable, ideas for mostly waste-free bits of delight that might be offered in lieu of a lot of little plastic things that tend to get tossed around this time of year and end up directly in landfill. I wanted the gifts to be free or very close and I didn’t want making them to require huge input of energy or resources. Because all of the gifts were tiny and adorable and fit perfectly into the pockets in the calendar Rose made last year, that’s how we decided to photograph and film them. Rose doesn’t even celebrate Christmas, so for her, the exercise was entirely editorial, and for me, I filmed the video knowing that the envelopes were blank and boxes empty and when it came time to put together the actual calendar my kids will use, the contents might be decidedly simpler and would probably also involve chocolate.

    Reasonably, this distinction between what happens in real life and what’s created as editorial inspiration is blurry. In response to that tiny gifts post I received questions back from folks asking for more specifics about the calendar and the gifts. How do my kids decide who gets what tiny present on what day? Don’t they fight over the puppets? Do I make all of those tiny gifts times three?! How much time does this all take? I had folks telling me I was the mom they wished they could be and wondering how I had the time for this kind of thing in the first place with so many kids underfoot.

    Last night I picked my kids up from their afterschool program after dark. We stopped at a bodega for a chocolate bar and we walked and ran and also stomped our way the mile back home. Once here, backpacks and lunchboxes and used tissues landed on the floor and then began a twenty-minute long entreaty to get my kids to pick them back up again and put them away. Homework was cried over. A game of pickup sticks started well and ended badly. The nightly glass of water was spilled in the middle of the dinner table and mopped up off the floor. The dishwasher stopped working in the middle of its cycle and hasn’t started up again. James stayed up way too late making lesson plans for a new job that we’re all still getting used to. We’re very lucky and also life with little kids, and no doubt bigger ones, is not always merry and bright. Tomorrow evening will likely go more or less the same, with the addition of my kids each getting to move a cardboard shadow puppet stuck to the end of a broken-off skewer. A Christmas tree, a snowman, and a star vaguely resembling the fabled star of Bethlehem will advance a pocket and the kids will find foil-wrapped chocolate of the kind called kisses and procured while picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy. We’ll read a story. When there’s an inevitable hiccup, we’ll do our best to remember that the holidays are like the other days.

    I hope my work shines a bit of light in dark places and I hope it offers some inspiration and some joy, and I hope it’s always grounded in a bit of reality. Here’s to making a bit of magic where and when we’re able. Here’s to opting out of the traditions that don’t suit us. There are no supermoms here (or anywhere).

    **And because a few people have requested where they might buy a many-pocketed cloth advent calendar instead of making one, here are a few favorites I’ve spotted from Magic Linen, Pi’lo, and Confetti Mill.

    PS. Now your turn: If you celebrate, what’s your favorite holiday magic making and what’s something you wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole?

    an advent book calendar.

    November 28, 2022

    An advent book calendar—or perhaps, a book advent calendar—is a festive idea for passing the time on long December nights when the kids get home past dark and we could all use a bit of an extra snuggle (especially me). The concept is simple enough: to read a book a night with a loosely Christmassy or wintry theme beginning on December 1 and finishing on Christmas. As always, the specifics can be whatever you please.

    There’s no need to rush out and buy new books, but collecting a few new-to-you titles from the library might be a thing to try. The books need not be wrapped up or all procured by the time the clock strikes midnight on December 1. Maybe your countdown to Christmas is five days long, or twelve, or two. Whatever any of us might have the time or stamina for in course of a very busy month would be the route to take (and there have certainly been years when I’ve scrapped the idea altogether).

    This year, Phaidon sent me their newest Christmas tree-shaped board book which will no doubt delight my kids. The rest of the wrapped up books in our basket are from our own collection or the local library. The books on loan, I make sure to include toward the top of the stack so we don’t keep them past their due date, and I like to finish the stack with The Night Before Christmas, but besides that there’s no particular rhyme or reason for what we read or when.

    If this sounds merry, here are a few new titles we included in our pile this year, and two older posts filled with fifty more wintry books between them. As always, please share favorites of your own in the comments below.

    THE SHORTEST DAY by Susan Cooper, Illustrations by Carson Ellis

    THE NIGHT BEFORE THE NUTCRACKER by John Robert Allman, Illustrations by Julianna Swaney

    THE BIGGEST LITTLE BOY: A CHRISTMAS STORY by Poppy Harlow, Illustrations by Roman Kaulitzki

    IT’S CHRISTMAS EVERYWHERE: CELEBRATIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD by Hannah Barnaby, illustrations by Joao Fazenda

    SANTA IN THE CITY by Tiffany F. Jackson, Illustrations by Reggie Brown

    A THING CALLED SNOW by Yuval Zommer

    THE LITTLE FIR TREE by Christopher Coor from the original story by Hans Christian Andersen




    This post includes affiliate links to online shops. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links

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