10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Four

Welcome to Day Four of the 2017 edition of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog!

Today I’m here to share instructions for making simple, gorgeous (and even kid-friendly!) glitter ornaments! The project only requires a few supplies — all of which are readily available this time of year!

Supplies Needed

  • Clear ornaments (I buy plastic #becausekids & they are found at any craft store during the holiday season)
  • Your choice of glitter
  • Mopping solution (I use whatever I happen to have on hand — today it was Murphy’s oil soap)
  • A dropcloth (not required — but as you can imagine, glitter is messy! I simply laid down some old wrapping paper over our table so I could throw the whole thing in the trash when done)

 

Instructions

  • Take hanger tops off of the ornaments & set them aside.
  • Pour a bit of mopping solution into the ornament & swirl around to coat the inside (this is what makes the glitter stick).
  • Set the ornament upside down to drain (I use an old egg carton) and/or simply pour extra solution into another ornament.
  • Once the excess solution has drained… simply dump in your glitter! (I’ve learned that if you use different types of glitter like we did — use the larger-sized glitter first, and then add the finer glitter last to ensure that the larger pieces have enough surface to stick to on the ornaments).

 

 

  • Shake, tap, swirl your glitter around to coat the inside!
  • Dump extra either back into the glitter container, or onto a piece of paper.
  • Repeat as desired! (I also have my kids ‘sign’ and date their ornament, as it’s fun to look at their previous year’s signatures!) 😉

 

 

  • Voila! Beautiful glittery ornaments in less than an hour (clean-up time included!).
  • TIP: I let mine ‘dry’ overnight before replacing the hanger tops, to ensure that all of the glitter stays in place.

 

 

  • After they’re dry… simply hang on your tree!

 

How gorgeous is that with the lights shining on it?! 🙂

If you’re thinking of giving this a try and making your own… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum and get the details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “10 Holiday Tips & Tricks” throughout the month as they appear here in this blog series!


AmieAbout the Author  Amie is a craft-loving dental hygienist who lives in Washington state. She loves her husband, her two kids (ages 9 & 6), and her English Bulldog… as well as coffee, baking cupcakes, daffodils, glitter & sprinkles, reading a good book, and lip gloss — not necessarily in that order.

10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Three

Welcome to Day Three of the 2017 edition of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog!

I’m here today to show you how you can make the cutest (and easiest!) bottle toppers to use for hostess gifts, festive home decor, and more!

In December, my family and I often find ourselves going to all sorts of holiday gatherings for which we bring along a hostess gift. We usually bring a bottle of wine or a lidded jar filled with shiny wrapped candy, but I like to go a step further and dress up the container a bit.  If it’s a seriously last-minute event, this means I end up crocheting a little scarf and maybe a hat for the container while my husband drives us to the event, but if I have a little more time to prepare, I like to make one of these cute festive bottle toppers…

Step 1

Gather your materials, as shown here…

About the felt — for this project, one of those sheets of felt from the craft store works fine, but so do leftover scraps (thus whittling down any accumulated fabric, which is always a bonus in my book!). The most important component here is ensuring that the piece of felt you choose is sufficiently wide to go around the container, and tall enough to get sufficient height on the finished topper (I like mind tall; the end product shown up above is is about 8 1/2″).

Step 2

With the flexible measuring tape, measure the circumference of the container for which you’re making the topper. Add 1/2″.  For a standard 750-ml wine bottle, this measurement should be 4 1/2″; for a regular Mason jar with a canning lid, it’s 9 1/2″.

Step 3

Because I like these toppers to be rather tall, I usually just use the full height (the shorter of the sides of a craft store felt sheet) of whatever piece of felt I’m using. On one of those craft-store felt sheets, that’s about 9 1/4″. Lay out the felt, and along the bottom edge, measure and mark that circumference.  I usually just make a tiny snip with the scissors to make the mark.

Step 4

If you’re satisfied with your straight-line cutting skills, cut a straight line from that tiny snip to the upper corner for a “full height” topper. If you’re not confident that your scissors will obey, then line up a straight edge between those two points and cut with a rotary cutting wheel, or draw a line with a fabric pen and cut with the scissors. If you don’t have a fabric pen, make sure you draw on the back side of the material, and then flip it over before starting the next step so the marker line stays hidden in the final product. Your end result after cutting should look like a tall right triangle.  If you want a shorter hat, just aim for a point further down the long straight edge (remember, though, that you’ll be trimming about an inch off that long edge in Step 5, below).

Step 5

Thread your needle with a piece of thread 2.5 to 3 times as long as the hypotenuse (diagonal line) of that triangle. Fold the hypotenuse over to the long edge, and pin it closed if desired. The bottom edge will not line up correctly. This is okay. Don’t cut anything, as we’ll clean that up in the next step. Starting at the top (this is key!), but about 1/4 to 1/2″ down, whip stitch the two edges together, keeping the stitch depth about 1/8″ and the spacing about 1/8″. Stitch all the way to the short end of the felt, and knot off your stitch so it doesn’t unravel.

Step 6

I usually do a quick fit-check at this point, just to be safe. The topper should be loose enough to fit over the top of the bottle, but not so snug that you really have to shove and tug to get it on (these aren’t skinny jeans!). Once that’s done, I even off that bottom edge by eyeballing a straight line and cutting it off with scissors. Be sure not to inadvertently snip off that nice knot you just made, though.  You can also snip off that top edge too (be sure not to cut off the knot on this end, either, though). Fit-check again; if the topper seems a bit loose, simply fold up the bottom edge (this also reduces the gnome-y look slightly).

Step 7

To embellish or not to embellish… that is the question. 😉

Sometimes I like the rustic elf look, and I just stop here. More often than not, however, I add a bell or a button to the end of the topper, and/or a strip of ribbon or felt as a hat band.

If adding a band, add an extra 1/2″ so you can fold over the outer edge for a cleaner finish. If adding a hat band, make sure that the final result isn’t narrower than the base of the hat.  A too-tight band will warp the hat and it won’t sit nicely on the bottle or jar. Hot glue is probably the easiest way to get ribbon or a hat band on, but it’s more susceptible to breaking with rough handling than a handful of small, independent stitches.  If using fabric glue, don’t forget about the necessary drying time so that you don’t end up getting sticky fingers in the car on the way to the party.

You probably noticed in the first image of this post that there’s a special red “Santa” hat topper. To get the Santa hat effect, I use Baby Bee Lambie Pie yard in “angel”. I cut a length about 12 to 16″ long (fingertips to elbow) and wad it up, making sure the ends are tucked in. Then I wrap white thread around the bundle a few times, and stitch that into the pointy end of the topper.

*TIP* If your felt isn’t really stiff or thick, I recommend folding the pointy tip down about 1/2″ and tucking it into the cone, then sewing on the yarn ball. To get the fluffy hat band, I loosely wrap the Lambie Pie yarn four or five (or more if you want it to look fuller) times around the base, 1/4″ to 1/8″ up from the bottom edge.  I secure the ends and all the loops with white thread in four separate places, each about 90 degrees apart on the circle.

 

And that’s all there is to it — easy-peasy festive bottle toppers! Can you image how cute it would be to show up with a six pack of fancy soda bottles all wearing cute hats like these? Actually, I love that idea so much I think I might just make a few more and put them out on my mantel…

If you’re thinking of trying this project… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum to get details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “Holiday Tips & Tricks.”


caliten

About the Author  Carrie is a creative team member here at The Digital Press. She and her family enjoy spending time outdoors, year-round, near their home in Colorado. In addition to scrapbooking and the occasional hybrid home decor project, Carrie also reads voraciously, accumulates fabric, makes soap, brews beer, grows hops, and tries to keep indoor plants alive.

10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Two

Welcome to Day Two of the 2017 edition of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog!

Today, we’re reviving a post that originally appeared on The Digital Press blog back in December 2015, written by our favorite photography guru, Farrah Jobling. Farrah was one of the original founding members of The Digital Press’s creative team, but she bid a fond farewell to us here at TDP earlier this year in order to pursue an exciting new career change. Because we still get a bunch of questions about the elusive skill of creating and capturing bokeh when taking photographs this time of year, however, we decided to revive her post as one of this year’s 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks.

As such, here’s a look at her original post in its entirety… 😉


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Most people have their trees up, sparkling with lights… and now they’re wondering about the best way to get some great photos. Getting great photos of holiday lights is easier than you might think! Here is a simple tutorial to get those great shots.

First, I need to tell you a little about bokeh.

Bokeh is defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.” So what does this mean, exactly? In general, it means that while the in-focus parts of a photo are beautiful, the parts that are out-of-focus are just as beautiful. How do we apply this to our holiday lights? Easy peasy… we do what we never plan to do: we take a purposely out-of-focus shot.

The secret to shooting bokeh lies in its definition: out-of-focus points of light. You need four things to shoot great holiday bokeh: (1) pin-point highlights (twinkly lights on the tree), (2) low ambient light (your only light source should be the tree lights themselves), (3) a lens able to open to a large aperture (f/2.8 or wider), and (4) a short focal distance (or rather — enough distance between the lights and where your lens is actually focused).

TIPS:

  1. If you have a tripod, use it; if not, rest your camera on a steady surface.
  2. Turn off all other lights and use a higher ISO. I recommend ISO 800.
  3. Use your widest aperture. I recommend f/2.8 or wider.
  4. Keep your shutter speed high enough to avoid camera shake if you aren’t using a tripod. This will vary based on the amount ambient light available. I used SS 1/400.
  5. MANUAL focus! The key here is to manually take your lens out of focus to force your lens to a shorter focal distance.

 

Here is my example:

 

Don’t have a DSLR? No worries! You can still get great bokeh photos with a point and shoot camera (or even a cell phone camera). The key here is to trick your P&S (or phone) into taking a photo at a shorter focal distance. The answer? Put your camera on macro mode. Macro mode has a little tulip icon. I have an iPhone 6S and use the Camera+ app, which also has a macro mode.

Here is an example using my iPhone:

 

 

BONUS TIP:

Want to get even more creative? Try making shaped bokeh!

To do so, I dug out my paper punches and punched a few shapes into black paper. I also used my DSLR and lens, as I haven’t figured out a way to do this with my phone’s camera.

 

 

First, cut out a circle of paper the same size as your lens…

 

 

Punch a shape in the middle of the circle (fold the paper circle in half if your punch is short and you can’t reach the middle).

Next, tape the circle to your lens as shown below… and then follow the same instructions listed up above for “normal” bokeh photos.

 

Here’s a look at the result… isn’t it fun?

 

 

You can try some other fun shapes too…

 

 

Hopefully, this will help you capture some great bokeh photos this holiday season. Give it a try!

If you’re thinking of trying this… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum and get the details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “Holiday Tips & Tricks” throughout the month as they appear here in this blog series!


Farrah
About the Author Farrah Jobling is a former member of The Digital Press creative team who left in 2017 to pursue a fantastic new career opportunity. She remains one of our favorite photography gurus, however, and therefore on occasion we find ourselves reviving her posts. She lives in Denver with her husband Mike; her son Nicholas; her daughter Claire; and her dog, Hope.

10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day One

Hello there! Amie here (of Little Lamm Paper Co.)… wishing you a very Happy December and welcoming you to Day One of the 2017 edition of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog!

Today I’m here to share a fun “book-a-day” style Advent Calendar that I am doing this December with my son, Ian. I’m hoping this post is early enough to be helpful for anyone who has kids (or book-loving adults?) in their household and still needs Advent Calendar ideas for the upcoming holiday season!

I’m not going to lie… originally, in the beginning, my plan was to wrap up 24 books individually and tag each one with the numbers 1-24… but then I found a really easy (and actually quite fun!) “lazy” way to get this project up and running — an awesome time-saver, and yet still exciting for the recipient!

I was saved from the work (and waste) of endless wrapping by none other than the Dollar Spot at Target (you red card holders know where that is!). There, I found some cute burlap-ish gift bags and bought one to use as a daily “Santa Bag,” of sorts, to deliver each day’s book. I decided to alter one of my own home decor designs — the Arctic Reindeer print — to make an iron-on transfer for the bag…

After making birthday shirts for 6 years now, I definitely have a few tips to share for successful iron-on transfers…

  1. Don’t forget to reverse your image! If the image is not backwards on the paper, it will be on the shirt/bag. 😉
  2. Don’t use the “iron transfer” setting on your printer. This has always come out with fuzzy images on any printer I’ve ever owned. Instead, I reverse the image myself in Photoshop… and I print it out as a photo on matte paper at the best printing level. This gives me a perfect crisp image every time.
  3. LINT ROLLER YOUR CLOTH BEFORE DOING THE TRANSFER! We have 2 cats and a bulldog in our house, and no surface stays clear for more than 2 seconds. Most of my son’s birthday shirts have a cat hair embedded into the image if I forget this step.
  4. Don’t forget to let the image cool completely before taking off the paper.
  5. Save money by planning ahead. I’ve learned not to buy iron-on transfers from local big-box stores like Office Depot, etc. (where I have, in the past, spent $18 on the same item I could have gotten from Amazon for $8).

With regard to the book-a-day part of this Advent Calendar project… I have heard of some people who wrap library books or buy used books (BetterWorldBooks is a great used book source). Some people also just use any stories — they don’t necessarily have to be Christmas-themed!

For our family, we unwrap our last book on December 23rd due to the fact that we spend Christmas Eve with family. On that final night, my son gets a new book and a set of pajamas as his final gift. This year, we got him the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them book because it has a Griffin on the cover (a family name!)… and also some Star Wars PJs so he can wear them to the late showing of the upcoming The Last Jedi movie on his birthday, which is December 26. 🙂

To make sure I remember to re-fill the book bag each night… I have set a reminder on my phone for 9:00pm each night starting on November 30th — and that’s when I put a new book into the sack. Then, the sack will go into the basket with any books that we have already opened…

Every morning when Ian wakes up, there will be a new package under the tree.

In case you need some ideas for books… here are some of my of favorite Christmas/winter-themed books from over the years…

  • Christmas for Greta and Gracie by Yasmeen Ismail
  • The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold by Maureen Fergus
  • Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree by Lori Nichols
  • Bear’s Winter Party by Deborah Hodge
  • Bear Stays Up For Christmas by Karma Wilson
  • The Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas by Laura Murray
  • Beyond the Pond by Joseph Kuefler
  • The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi
  • Du Iz Tak by Carson Ellis
  • Harold at the North Pole by Crockett Johnson
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh
  • A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe
  • The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert
  • Olivia Helps With Christmas
  • Walking in a Winter Wonderland by Richard B Smith
  • Wendell The Narwhal by Emily Dove
  • The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy
  • The Lost Gift: A Christmas Story by Kallie George
  • The Great Spruce by John Duvall
  • The Wish Tree by Kyo Maclear
  • First Snow by Bomi Park
  • Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant
  • The Little Reindeer by Nicola Killen
  • Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht
  • Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares
  • Walk This World at Christmastime by Debbie Powell

If you’re thinking of trying this… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum and get the details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “Holiday Tips & Tricks” throughout the month as they appear here in this blog series! Additionally, I’d love to see any photos of your December/holiday projects using TDP goodies in the gallery this month, so link me up after you’re finished creating and uploading! 🙂


Amie Lamm

About the Author  Amie Lamm is the designer behind Little Lamm Paper Co. at The Digital Press. She is a work at home mom/graphic artist living in Fargo, North Dakota with her hubby, her almost 6 year old son, 2 lazy cats, and a hyper bulldog. She survives her days with copious amounts of coffee and recorded episodes of Fixer Upper.

10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Ten

Hello, and welcome to the very last day of our 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog!

Today I am here to share with you an amazing last-minute tip for those of us who need to whip up a quick dessert for the upcoming holiday weekend.

Whether you suddenly find that you need to take a dessert to share at a friend or family member’s house… or you find that you will be having unexpected guests over to your house at the last minute… or you simply love holiday desserts and want to give this a try… this recipe is a total win!

And by “total win” I mean that it takes only about 15 minutes to make it, it’s delicious, and it’s even customizable! 😉

 

LAURA’S EASY-PEASY PEPPERMINT OREO ICE CREAM PIE

It cannot be stressed enough how quick and easy it is to make this pie. Seriously. It literally involves only 4 ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 container of peppermint ice cream (about 1 quart?)
  • 25-30 Oreo cookies (if you buy one package, you can eat 5-10 of the cookies inside and use the rest to make the pie #winning )
  • 1/2 cup butter (or similar; I use “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Lite” because it tastes just as good and has less fat/calories)
  • 1-2 candy canes (or equivalent amount of peppermint candies)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Let the ice cream sit out on the counter while you work on the next few steps, to ensure that it will be softened enough to spread around by the time you need get to that step.
  • Put your cookies into a large (gallon-sized) zippered plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin (or a bottle of wine, if you don’t own a rolling pin. We are crafters, people! We do what we have to do to get by with the supplies we have on hand!).
  • Melt the butter (microwave in 20-second intervals until it’s fully melted), and then add it and the crushed cookies in a large bowl. Combine until the cookies are just coated in the butter; stop stirring before everything gets too sticky/wet (or else it will be too hard to press into the pan without it sticking to your spoon).
  • Press the cookie mixture into the bottom of a pie plate. I find that it helps to use a light coating of cooking spray inside the pie plate, first, to keep the crust from sticking to the pan later.
  • Add the ice cream on top of the cookie crust layer. Place large spoonfuls near the center, and press down so that it pushes outward toward the edges of the pie crust as you work. Use the back of the spoon to even out this layer once it’s added, and also to swirl the melty ice cream on the top until it looks like you “did it all on purpose” (technical term).
  • Put your peppermint candy into a small (quart-sized) zippered plastic bag and crush it with your rolling pin / wine bottle. Then sprinkle the crushed candy on top of your pie.
  • Put the pie into the freezer for an hour or two until it hardens enough to be easy to cut/serve.

Once it’s been in the freezer for a while… all you have to do is cut, serve, and eat! It’s seriously that easy.

FUN VARIATIONS / CUSTOMIZATIONS

Let it be known that I have also made this pie using coffee ice cream (get the good stuff, people — Haagen Dazs — don’t mess around with imposters!), and I used chocolate shavings on top of the pie in place of the peppermint candy. To. Die. For.

I also have a friend who made this pie with a couple of pints of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream (cherry & chocolate chunks). She swears by it.

Myself, I have always wanted to try it with some Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey (banana ice cream with chocolate chunks & walnuts)… but I’ve never gotten around to it. “Someday…”  *daydreams about dessert*

In truth, it really doesn’t matter what ice cream you use — it’s the Oreo crust that makes this ice cream pie so perfect. You can pair it with whatever floats your boat!

For now, though… I hope you have a very happy holidays and a fantastic weekend with your family and friends! 😉

 


Laura Passage

About the Author  Laura Passage is the owner of The Digital Press, and also the designer behind Wishing Well Creations by Laura Passage (WWC). She works now as a graphic designer in both the digital and paper scrapbooking industries, but previously spent over a decade working as a college soccer coach. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two young sons (affectionately referred to as The Tiny Terrorists), and will rationalize eating coffee ice cream for breakfast to anyone who questions it.

10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Nine

Hey there everyone! Kate here today, and it’s Day Nine of our 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog.

Today I have a super simple hybrid project to share with you (along w/ a couple of free templates to download, below). It’s a great way to use digital supplies to dress up your gift card-sized packages!

Gift Card Envelopes

Aren’t these so fun?! 🙂

To create these gift card envelopes… simply open the envelope template (see the end of this blog post for the free download)… clip a digital paper (or papers) to the template… print… and cut.

There are options in the template file for adding a digital paper pattern to the inside of the envelope… as well as for adding coordinating paper(s) to the front flap, bottom flap, and also to the back — if you want to do so. I added some digital art to the front flap, a woodgrain paper to the other outer surfaces, and the cute coffee mug/cup pattern to the inside.

Tip: before printing the envelope, I printed a full 8.5 x 11 page of the coordinating cardstock (the coffee cups) that I wanted to use on the inside. Then, I printed the finished envelopes on the other side of the full sheet of patterned paper. This made it easier to line everything up for perfect cutting.

It’s possible to fit two per sheet. I cut mine by hand, and then cut the slit with a craft knife.

To finish it off, you just fold in the flaps, add your gift card, and slip the front flap into the slit. You can adhere the bottom flap to the side flaps if you want, but it isn’t necessary (OMG is anyone else tired of reading the word flap?! haha).

 

Cash (or Whatever) Envelopes

If you’ve just tried the first envelope project, above, then the process for this one will be pretty self-explanatory. It’s almost the same! Simply clip a paper or two… print… cut… decorate… ta-da! You have an envelope. Fold in the flaps (*cringe* LOL) and adhere, leaving the top flap open.

That’s really all there is to it!

Tip: I know they make special glue for DIY envelopes; when you’re ready to send it, you just have to wet it and fold it down to make it stick. For myself, however, I just used washi tape. It’s cute, and easy!

You can use these for cash or checks… or even tickets (as you can see I did, above).

I am not going to lie — something about this second envelope template was a giant pain to fix up nice (and I’m still not 100% totally happy with it, but shhh! don’t tell anyone)… so someone had better download it and use it and post pretty pictures of it! (*crying*) …it would make me so happy!

If you’d like to give either of these projects a try… you can download the templates I created to make these envelopes HERE.

Happy holidays! 😉

 


Kate About the Author  Kate is on the hybrid team here at The Digital Press. She lives on the Utah/Colorado border with her husband, 5 kids, 10 chickens, and a dog named Gracie. She’s a city-born girl who found she’s really a country girl at heart. She can be found outside, barefoot, and probably in her garden.