Category Archives: gifts

Homemade for the Holidays


It seems that every year the list of people I have to give gifts to grows longer, yet my gift budget stays the same.  And, every year, drunk on Thanksgiving decadence and holiday cheer, I come up with my brilliant plan to stretch the gift budget by making half of my gifts. Inevitably, I spend the next several weeks frantically researching blogs for inspiration, scouring craft stores for supplies, staying up all hours of the night cutting and gluing and sewing and beading while my projects slowly creep onto and take over all available surfaces of my house, driving my husband insane. I usually finish the season asking myself why I did all that and swearing to go retail next year. Of course, Thanksgiving rolls around again, and the cycle repeats itself. It’s like a Christmas curse.

This year, I thought I had finally broken the cycle. It was well past Thanksgiving, and while I had not purchased a single gift, I still had no crafty inclinations. On December 8, though, I was checking my Facebook updates when I was reminded that Hanukkah was starting and I now have four Jewish relatives. My sister-in-law shocked my very Catholic family last year when she announced that she and three of my brother’s and her four children were converting to Judaism. Last year was the first year they celebrated Hanukkah instead of Christmas, and while we’ve all learned a lot about Judaism since then, I somehow completely forgot to factor in Hanukkah when I thought about my gift-giving timeline this year.

Scrolling through all the Hanukkah posts, I saw one from a Jewish friend about “awesome and unexpected menorahs.”  There was an adorable felt menorah that just jumped out at me, teasing me with its perceived ease of fabrication.

A felt menorah (even kids can light it because there's no actual fire):

$60 on Etsy!

I ran to my scrap pile and found I had plenty of felt to work with. The process was fairly simple. I needed a half circle for each “candle,” so I used two different sized plates as my pattern and cut circles out of freezer paper to reinforce the felt. I then ironed the circles on to the felt and cut the felt the same size as the paper.


Once I had four small circles and one large circle, I cut each circle in half.


I then sewed a zigzag stitch along the edge of each semicircle. I sewed  a button in the center of the straight edge of each semicircle and finished by folding the circle into a cone and securing with adhesive hem tape.

I found the simplest way to make the flames was to first cut out the inner flame, baste it to the felt I was using for the outer flame, and then sew in the buttonholes. Once the buttonholes were sewn in, I cut out the larger flame shape.


After a few hours, I had a menorah that, admittedly, is not as awesome as the original but not bad for what I had on hand. I love spontaneous projects. There’s just something extra magical about making something out of practically nothing.


Of course, I learned the next day that this isn’t a kosher menorah, but it didn’t matter. I had once again been hit by the Christmas crafting curse. I’ll write more about my other gift projects if I ever get out from underneath them.