Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I've Got My Hanukkah Gifts, Now What Do I Wrap Them In?

A friend and fellow blogger challenged me to write a blog article this season for #hanukkahhoopla - an opportunity for those of us of the Jewish faith to blog about Hanukkah this holiday season.  She thought it would be fun for me to write something about paper and how it ties into Hanukkah.  Well, in my world there are two ways - wrapping/gift paper and scrapbook paper.

I think it would be more fun to talk about wrapping/gift paper since it is the season of gift giving and figuring out what to wrap all those presents can be a challenge, especially when 98% of the wrapping paper out there is red, green and decorated for Christmas.  (No offense to my non-Jewish friends, family and colleagues - I get it and respect it.) 

So I purchased all my presents and checked my supply of wrapping paper - OUT!  I guess I forgot to pick some up at the end of the holiday season last year when it was all on sale.  So I went to my local bulk club retail store.  Guess what, they didn't have any.  Next stop was my local craft supply stores and all I could find was one or two different pattern bolts to choose from along with clear, blue and silver celophane wrap and plain paper.  They also had bags that were blue and white, blue and gold and other Hanukkah themed colors, but nothing that really stood out.

I wanted something more unique and not necessarily from the Hallmark store or Toys R Us,  so I checked out following places - The Container Store (and if you don't have a store near you try and Paper Source.  They had nice options, but I wanted something a little more personal.  I thought why not try making my own. 

So here is a quick and simple way to make your own wrapping paper.  If you have brown paper bags from the grocery store (which most of us do), Hanukkah stamps and stickers you have the perfect beginnings of your own green, unique and personal wrapping paper.  To begin, cut the bags down the side and open them up .

Then take any Hanukkah stickers (or stamps) you may have from either your scrapping/craft collection or if you don't have them you can generally find them at a local craft store or online if you search Hannukah stickers and stamps, and randomly place them all over the paper.

When you're done you should have a colorful, homemade piece of wrapping paper that is both unique to you (and or your child) and on the enviornmentally friendly side.  If the box or gift is bigger than a large grocery bag, don't be affraid to tape two or more bags together to make it fit your gift.

If you don't have brown paper bags, you may want to try tissue paper.  My daughter came home with a Hanukkah present she made for us at school and they used tissue paper instead of brown paper bags.  It was really cute.

They even made the card from a piece of construction paper die-cut into a dreidel. 

When you're finished wrapping the package, you can finish it off with blue, silver or gold bows and ribbon.

This is just one way you can create personal and unique wrappings for the perfect presents you spent hours trying to find.  I'm sure many of you have other creative ideas that incorprate paper.  I'd love to hear about them. 

Also, I hope this has inspired some of you to go out and try something a little different this year when wrapping your gifts.  You can even get your children involved - have them decorate the paper and then use that to wrap any presents they maybe giving as gifts to their friends, parents, grandparents and/or teachers.  I'm sure the gift receiver will probably love it.  I know I did.

By the way, #HanukkahHoopla would not be possible with out the generosity of our sponsors.  I would like to thank Streit's and Doni Zasloff Thomas a.k.a. Mama Doni, the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band for providing each of the 16 bloggers involved in #HanukkahHoopla with a little cyber-swag. Their cross-promotional alliance is designed to celebrate Jewish culture with the young generation, a mission of both Mama Doni and Streit’s.

How can you win?  Leave me an awesome comment on.  On January 5, 2012, I will select one winner at random.  Be sure to subscribe to my blog or subscribe to the comments on this page so that you can find out if you are the winner!  If I don't hear from you with 48 hours after announcing, I will select another winner.  Please don't make me work hard to find you.

Prefer to be contacted via Twitter?  Leaver your Twitter handle in your comment and I will tweet you if you win.

Not interested in winning?  You can still leave a comment!  I love to read your words.  Just write: "No prize necessary" in your comment.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments.

Happy Hanukkah!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Learning my A, B, C's and 1, 2, 3's

The other day I was shopping for some new educational toys for my daughter as a Chanukah present.  In particular, I was looking for flash cards with just numbers and letters (no words or associative pictures).  Ever since she was able to sit up, focus on things and play with toys, she's had a particular facination with flash cards.  When she was just an infant, she would grab her animal flash cards out of my hands and sort through them all by herself.  I would try to read them to her, but she insisted on looking at them by herself.  Today, she knows every animal and toy on every card and I swear she taught them to herself.
Anyway, I figured, if she could learn all the animals by flash cards, then perhaps it might be the best way for her to learn letters and numbers.  She can sing the "A, B, C" song beautifully, and she has the magnetic letters that we play with in the tub as well as books with letters and words to associate, but she isn't quite grasping them.  We also have electronic toys to reinforce, but she's really not into playing with them either.  So I figure, why not try the old fashion paper way - the flash card approach?  It worked with the animals.

Well, imagine my surprise when I went in search of what one would think to be a common item, I had a hard time finding just plain cards with just letters and numbers.  I went to the usual suspects, and none of the stores had what I was looking for.  Sure they had alphabet and number flash cards


- fun and colorful - attractive to a child's eye.  But they all had too much going on.  The closest thing I found was this pack of number flash cards - 1-100.  Just straight up numbers on a card - no words, no images to associate - exactly what I wanted, until I took one out of the box and realized that my daughter would destroy it in about 2.8 seconds.  The cards were fairly lightweight and really designed for an older child.

So, after much thought and debate, I dove into my paper reserves and decided to make my own.  Through the use of my Cricut and Plantin Schoolbook cartridge, I was able to make bright, colorful, yet simple flash cards for the numbers 0-10 and the alphabet.  I cut 3" numbers and letters out of cardstock and mounted them to double matted plain card stock in coordinating colors.  Once the adhesive was dry, I ran them through my laminator.  The heavy weight of the paper plus the lamination, should make them sturdy enough to withstand the abuse my daughter will put them through as she learns her a, b, c's and 1, 2, 3's.