Give heartfelt homemade gifts this year and host your own holiday craft party! Keep reading for all my tips and DIYs for the ultimate crafting day to fill your home and heart with joy while deepening friendships and building community.
In this podcast (episode #327) I'm sharing how some friends and I are creating a crafting day. We focused on crafts that can be made in a group environment, as well as creating an environment where we could create as many things as possible so we all go home with our hands and hearts full!
Click through for more episodes of the Pioneering Today Podcast, and be sure to check out the General Store for my limited supply of autographed books, hand-thrown pottery mugs, handmade wooden bench knives and dough scrapers (made by my husband), and more!
This episode of the podcast was sponsored by Butcher Box, at the time of this recording, you can get FREE bacon for life plus $100 off your first 5 boxes ($20/box)! Be sure to check it out for more details here.
Why Community is Important
As I look back on this year, one of the things we've done differently, and something we want to cultivate more in the future, is the aspect of a community. I didn't realize how important it was to me to meet face to face with fellow homesteaders to learn, glean from, and fellowship with these like-minded people.
Of course, there's the online community, and this is great because it can sometimes be hard to find a community of homesteaders who don't just want to live the lifestyle but are actually doing it. For those of you who are part of the Pioneering Today Acadamy, you know exactly what I'm talking about!
We hosted our very first live workshop this last year and we were so thrilled to meet and develop friendships with fellow homesteaders who were in (or close to) our area. It was actually some of these new friends who came up with the idea to have a craft day where we could continue to build our relationships and create some awesome crafts at the same time.
I loved the idea so much that I knew I needed to share it with you, so in this podcast (and blog post) I'm sharing our planning and preparations so you can learn and apply them to create your own craft day.
Tips for a Craft Day
Keep the Guest List Small
Our guest list only consists of five ladies. It's important to keep the guest list small, mainly because a craft day can take quite a bit of space.
Keep in mind the amount of counter and tabletop space you have to work with, and the crafts you're doing, then decide how many people can comfortably fit.
Choose Simple Crafts
Each of the crafts needs to be simple enough to be able to create and finish within the timeframe of a party. If you're making multiple crafts, these projects should ideally take roughly 30 minutes to make.
Choose Portable Crafts
Because you're going to need to transport your craft back to your home, they should be portable without the risk of ruining your craft to the trip home.
Choose Crafts with Common Items
It's best to choose crafts that don't require too many specialty supplies, even better is if you already have all the supplies in your home.
For the homemade wood butter (which I also sell in my General Store), I already had all the supplies on hand because I make these things all the time! You can grab some homemade wood butter here!
Keep Costs Low
Choose crafts that use common items, this will help keep the overall cost down for all your crafts. Our goal was to keep costs between $20-30 per person, but we would be taking home a minimum of six different crafts.
Decide Who Will Buy Supplies
You can do this one of two ways, either one person is in charge of sourcing and buying all the supplies, then each person just reimburses the amount at the time of the party.
Or, the way we decided to do it was that each person would be responsible for sourcing and buying their own supplies. We chose this method because some of us already had items needed on hand and didn't need to buy them, so we avoided unnecessary expenses this way.
It was also great because some of the ladies had enough supplies for all of us, so they would let us know what they had and we could check that item off of our supply list.
Make it a Meal
Since you'll likely be crafting for many hours, you'll definitely want some sustenance to keep up your energy!
We're making our crafting party a potluck and we'll have some yummy desserts and beverages as well.
In my experience, gathering around food always deepens bonds!
We all know the cost of baking ingredients goes down during the holidays, so what better time to stock up on some grass-fed butter and make different flavors of compound butter.
These make fantastic gifts and are especially helpful to have on hand for all your holiday cooking.
Homemade Lotion Bars
If you've listened to me at all, you probably know my love of lotion bars. They're the only thing that keeps my hands from getting cracked during the gardening season, as well as during the dry winter months.
I have a homemade lotion bar recipe right here for you to follow!
I'm so excited to give homemade bath bombs a try! Who knows, maybe after our craft day I'll share a recipe here on the blog, but first, I need to perfect how to make them!
I do have a recipe for homemade bath salts that would make a great gift in a mason jar!
Gift Toppers (from dried flowers)
One of the ladies that will be at our craft day owns a flower farm, so she has enough dried flowers to provide for us to make some beautiful gift toppers. I'll do my best to snap some photos from the day and share them on Instagram!
Luminaries with Mason Jars
Now I know that Mason jars are a hot ticket item and can sometimes still be hard to find, but this project is a fantastic way to use up any jars that have nicks or chips that aren't good candidates for canning anymore.
You can also reuse store-bought spaghetti sauce or pickle jars!
A simple mason jar and a string of fairy lights with some hand-cut greenery can make a beautiful centerpiece on your table!
More DIY Craft Ideas
- DIY Christmas Wreath
- DIY Christmas Evergreen Swag
- DIY Canning Ring Wreath
- Homemade Soap
- Lip Balm
- Brownie Mix in a Jar
- No Knead Artisan Bread in a Jar
- Cake Mix in a Jar
- Easy Winter Bouquet (DIY Holiday Bouquet)
Be the Friend That You Want to Have
If the past year and a half have taught us anything, it's that spending time, face to face, with people, is important.
In order to make friends, you must first be friendly. So be that friend that you've always wanted and reach out to those in your community who may not have friends and family around!
Verse of the Week: Luke 6:31
Hey, Pioneers, welcome to this episode of the podcast. Number 327. And I thought today would be a fun time to go over with you some of the things that we're doing this holiday season that you may wish to incorporate on your homestead, but specifically with creating a community and/or deepening relationships type environment. I'm going to be sharing how we are creating a crafting day for adults, though you could definitely do this with children as well.
And I will also be going through the crafts that we settled on to make that can be made, I should say, in a group environment. And what we decided on in order to get the most amount of things created so that we could go home with multiple gifts to either keep for ourselves or give out to others for the holiday season, but also so that we have enough things going on that we're all learning but that we can still really enjoy the fellowship side without being overwhelmed with trying to do too much.
So, first, let me welcome you to the podcast. My name is Melissa K. Norris. I am your host and 5th generation homesteader. I'm also the author of several books, including the best selling, The Family Garden Plan, as well as the founder and creator of the Pioneering Today Academy, and melissaknorris.com, where I share all things living homegrown and handmade, helping you create a simple modern homestead for a healthy and self-sufficient life. I am so thrilled that you are here. And I wanted to let you know that for a very limited time I have a general online store now on the website. So at melissaknorris.com, there's a shop button, a little dropdown menu, there's my books, classes, and the general store.
And the general store, and I say a limited supply because I can only sign and ship out so many myself, but it's the first time I've ever offered autographed signed copies of all four of my books available in the general store. We also have our handmade kitchen products there, pottery, coffee mug, and our wooden bench knives that my husband makes, as well as the dough scrapers, linen bread bags, tea towels, and wood butter. So hop on over there, we do have limited inventory in stock. But there are some wonderful goodies that you can find. Speaking of good things in the kitchen, this episode is sponsored in part by ButcherBox and they have bacon for life, plus getting $100 off.
If you are a new member, you're going to get one package of bacon for free in every order for the life of your membership. And you get $20 off each box for the first five months of your membership. Now we raise almost all of our own meat here on the homestead, including our own pigs for pork. But, as you may well know, you only get so much bacon per pig. And I have a six year old son, bacon happens to be one of that boy's favorite foods. So we tend to run out of bacon before it's time to butcher again. And I'm pretty picky about if I am purchasing any meat that we are not raising here on our homestead, I am pretty picky.
However, we have been very happy with the packages of bacon that we have received from ButcherBox. It comes straight to our door, even living way out in the boonies. It is still frozen solid, and in great shape. And we have been enjoying the quality and the flavor. You get a package of uncured and delicious bacon by going to, to get this deal, I should say, butcherbox.com/pioneering today, that is heritage bread pork, and/or heritage bread bacon for free with your first order, plus $20 off your first five boxes.
Now, without further ado, we are going to get into this episode. As I look back on this year, one of the things that has made, or I should say that we have done perhaps differently and really want to continue to cultivate and to do more of in the future, is the aspect of community. And of course, there's the online community, which is great, because for a lot of us, it's very hard to find people in your everyday real life or in your close proximity that understand the homesteading lifestyle and are also doing it.
And so, while I love the online community, it's one of the biggest things that I am most proud of that we have inside the Pioneering Today Academy, which is my membership, is the incredible bonds and support within the community that have been developed. But I attended and taught at my very first homesteaders of Americas in person conferences this past year, in 2021, I'll also be there in 2022, but I didn't realize how much I needed and how inspiring it was on so many levels to also be surrounded by other homesteaders.
Now, my husband and I have been living this lifestyle for a very long time. I was raised in a home setting environment where we raised all of our own beef. My mom cooked from scratch. She preserved, she sewed my clothes when I was growing up, which I did not appreciate. I have to tell you back then I wanted store bought clothes so I could be like everyone else at school. I was fortunate enough to be raised in a home city environment. But as an adult, there are people around me who do can, and who do grow gardens, and do raise some of their own food.
But I found that the whole lifestyle of home setting, herbalism, and also trying to be a very good steward of the land. So it's not just about raising your own food, but it's doing so in a practice that builds up the land, that makes things better. And not only for the animals, but also for the longevity of the soil. And then also what we are consuming, if in the instance if we're eating the animals, the meat that we're consuming. And so I find that the homesteading way of life, there's very few people who are in the full aspect of it. Now, if you're listening to this, you're probably nodding your head, in like, "Yes, I'm finding that too. I can find people who garden, but then who do all the rest of the homesteading stuff." And that mindset is a little bit different or more challenging.
So, one, I realized how much my husband and I needed to have relationships with others outside of just ourselves, with people who understand and get the entire homesteading movement, not just the bits and pieces. And so, we hosted our first live workshop this past year on our own property. And one of the wonderful things is in doing that we met people who live in our general area, or at least our state or a sister state, as in the case of Oregon, who are into this lifestyle. And so, even though we were teaching them how to butcher chickens, and we were teaching the workshop, we developed friendships with quite a few of the people who came.
And what's been great is not only did I develop friendships with them, especially with some of the girls who live within like an hour away from me, which is actually where I live that's pretty close. But they've developed friendships with one another as well. And so, they coordinated and invited me, I'm so glad that they did. But they had an idea of, what if we get together and all of us get together around Christmas time and we can all come and share some of our favorite crafts or maybe some skill sets that we have with one another and just spend some time making some homemade, awesome gifts that we can give out to people learning new skill sets from one another? But really just that in person, community and relationship building.
So we are, at the time of this recording, we have not had our crafting day yet, but we've been going through the planning. And I thought, this is something that I wish I had done previously. And I'm so glad that we are going to be doing this, but many of you can do this too. So I wanted to just share the breakdown of what we were doing. And you can even make some of these crafts, if you don't have a group of people to get together with, or some of these homemade things, I will have links in the show notes that have tutorials so that you can also go ahead and make some of these if you're like, yeah, that'd make great gifts and I'm going to go ahead and do it.
But I'm sharing our process for getting everything together and planning this date so that you could also use the things that we've went through and apply this and create your own day. So to access any of the linked tutorials that I'm going to list out the projects that we decided on and what we were going to do, you can go to melissaknorris.com/327. That's just the number 327, melissaknorris.com/327. Is this episode number 327. So you obviously are going to want to pick, especially if people are having to drive, whomever has a home, probably that's in the middle and also has large enough areas to create different work stations. You could possibly rent a kitchen somewhere, or maybe rent a hall that has a kitchen, depending on how many people that you wanted to have, that type of a thing.
But we picked one of the ladies, her house has a large kitchen, a large dining room, large work area, and is in the general vicinity, kind of in the middle point, at least for most of us so that we can meet, and is also willing to host having that many ladies at her house. We are going to have five ladies getting together. Of course, you can invite guys if you wanted to, or have a men's party. But I know, for most of us who are doing the crafting, a lot of times it's going to be for the girls. One of the things that we wanted to focus on as we were picking the crafts so that we could do multiple things and not just only have one project get done, is things that don't take too long or too labor or time intensive.
So something that can be made in an hour or less and is going to be set up to the point or chill if it has to be, depending on what it is, but it's going to be set up enough that it's going to be able to be moved and divided up and taken home with each individual person. Because all of us, actually, one of the ladies is coming from Oregon and it's a decent drive. I mean, we're talking hours for her. The rest of us are a little bit closer and it'll just be an hour. I'll be driving an hour. Some of the other ladies it'll be about an hour and a half. But we didn't want to have something that was like, "Oh, this can't be moved for days or whatnot." We wanted everybody to be able to take their items with them that day.
We also tried to look at crafts or items that would use a majority of supplies, that if not all of us, at least maybe some of us had things already lying around or had on hand so that we weren't purchasing a ton of supplies and then creating a large expense. For example, one of the girls is a seamstress, so lots of fabric, ribbon, that type of thing. I already do a lot of salve making and wood butter in our store. Wood butter is using bees wax and organic coconut oil. And it is an amazing conditioner for all of your wood products. We have a large butcher block as our island, so that has to be treated. And I try to use as many wood products in the kitchen as possible, from wooden spoons, to the wooden bench knives, dough scrapers, cutting boards, anything like that.
And so, conditioning that is really important. In fact, we'll link, I have a post that walks you more in depth on how to create your wooden products and how to pick quality wood products so that they last a long time in your kitchen. But I have a lot of coconut oil and bees wax on hand because I buy those two items in bulk for the wood butter, but I also use them for some of my herbal salve making, homemade body butters et cetera. So that's something I already had a lot of in stock. And because I already buy it in such a large bulk amount, I can get it a better price than if you're just buying small.
So I'm like, "Hey, I can provide that." We're going to make homemade lotion bars, doing some herbal infused oils and that. So we're going to get into, not only creating the lotion bars, but also going through some of the different herbal properties of different infused oils, like lavender, calendula, peppermint, et cetera. And as I said, in the show notes, I will link to some of the different salves, and balm recipes, and the lotion bars themselves that we're going to be making. So that's going to be fun. I'm going to be, I guess, leading that station, so to speak. But we also wanted to look at projects that weren't too expensive and that we could make several of them at once.
So we looked at also, as I said, like recipes and price, trying to keep that down. We wanted everything to be total costs like 20 to 30 per person for that day, but that we would be coming away with at least like four, maybe up to six gift items that we could be gifting to other people. So if you figure out five to six gifts and it's $20 for all, like that's actually pretty inexpensive per one. And a lot of those will be having six of one item. So what we came up with for our group, we're going to be doing bath bombs. We're going to be doing some beautiful gift toppers with natural dried flowers. We have one of the ladies who's coming, I'm super excited with. I've shared on my Instagram feed if you've followed me there for a while, she has a cut flower farm, and I got to visit there. Oh, so beautiful.
But she does all organic, and has quite a few different dried flowers and different things like that. So we're going to do some beautiful gift toppers. Doing compound butters. I have a link for that. The great thing about that is if you can get your butter on sale, which grass fed organic butter is my go-to, and I don't have my own dairy animal. So I do have to buy my butter, but usually around the holidays, my friends, you can find some pretty good deals on butter. So we're going to do making compound butters, and we're going to do a garlic herb one, which we raise all of our own garlic, so I've got a ton of garlic. We've got a lot of dried herbs. So those aren't parts that we're going to have to purchase.
We're also going to be doing the lotion bars, and we probably are going to be doing some type of luminaries with some extra Mason jars. Now, I know Mason jars can be something that are hard to get a hold of with all the supply chain issues, which at this point doesn't really feel like anything new because it's been going on for the past almost two years at the time of this recording. But this is where using some of your Mason jars that may be chipped or have minor cracks in them, meaning they can't be used for canning any longer, and/or jars that you have saved from, like if you've bought glass jars from the store of, "Oh, what comes with glass jars from the store?" We can't, so much, I have to think here.
I know sometimes you can still buy tomato sauce in glass jars, pickles in glass jars, if you're not doing that yourself yet. Well, those glass jars, save them, but they aren't canning candidates. Because the jars that you're buying that have product in them like that already, those are not made to stand up to the repetitive high heats, especially with pressure of pressure canning, but the high heats of being reused that glass goes through when we are using it for canning. They're not formulated like the regular canning jars that you buy. There's a difference in the glass.
So those are great to use for dry goods, like definitely save them and reuse them. But they're also really good for projects like we're going to be doing with making some luminaries as well, because they're not something you would be canning with anyways. And they're basically like recycling, reusing a jar that you had already bought that had food in it. So that's really fun. So what we did was we went through, like we settled on, these are the projects that we're going to be doing that I just laid out for you. And then we went through and said, "Okay, who already has some of these ingredients or items that are needed to complete these already on hand?
It's something that you're not going to have to buy. You've got extra, et cetera." So we divvied it up that way. And then whatever was remaining, supply wise, that still need to be purchased, then we divvied that up again per person so that not... And you could do this, where maybe one person buys all the supplies and then everybody just reimburses them. But we just decided each person will be in charge of bringing these supplies, either stuff they have on hand, and then the things that needed to be bought we divvied up again. Now we're going to be together for quite a while. So we decided that we would also do a little bit of potluck style and bring some snacks, some food to share so that we can have that fellowship time, as well as any type of beverages and that type of a thing.
So I am looking forward to this so much. And I think having went through where a lot of our state, at least where I live, especially last year, last Christmas season of 2020, so many things were taken away or not able to do during the holiday season. So there was no holiday Christmas program at my kids' school. There was no holiday concerts. There really wasn't Christmas plays. There were not gatherings of people getting together like in years past. And so, coming into this year 2021, not only wanting to create more bonds within the community and especially with other homesteaders, but also just cherishing whenever we can get together in person and in real life.
And I also learned that, and this is funny because I don't know if this is just more of a female thing, and please, please do not message me with anything about, "Oh goodness. People are so quick to jump on any type of like PC stuff." So I'm not saying anything one way or the other. But especially with girls, or at least in my experience with girls is, sometimes we just have to create the environment and the relationships and the friendships that we're wanting or things that we want to be a part of. And what I mean by that is sometimes you're like, "Man, I wish somebody in my community would have an event like that and would invite me to it." And I've thought that about different things throughout the years and throughout my life.
But I've learned that instead be the person that creates that and invites other people. Be the person, I think, that's something with homesteading too and even with entrepreneurship. But even in relationships, be the friend that you want to have. Be the type of person that you want how people to treat you. It really goes back to a lot of the things that probably most of us learned when we were quite young. But create the things that you want to go to. If they're not available in your area, or you're not being invited or whatever, be the person that creates them and then invites other people and extends that hand and bring them to the table that you wish you had been invited to.
So I hope that you found this episode helpful. I know it's not necessarily really diving into the how to, like a lot of the other episodes on homestead topics, but I really think that friendships and relationships and community, especially just within homesteading, is something that we really need to be cognizant of fostering and being a part of. I feel that for our verse of the week, this verse is very fitting. And it is Luke 6:31, this is the amplified translation. "And as you would like and desire that men would do to you, do exactly so to them. If you merely love those who love you, what quality of credit and thanks is that to you? For even the very sinners love their lovers, those who love them." I actually added number 32 in there along with that.
But it really goes along with what I was saying, be the friend that you want to have to others, and create the things that you want to go to if they are not available for you in your area, in whatever scent or fashion that may be. I hope that you enjoyed this episode of the podcast. And I am looking forward to being back here with you next week, where I have a really fun and exciting episode where we're going to be talking about the side of honey bees that I doubt you have heard discussed very much. It is a great episode that I can't wait for you to see. But until then, blessings and Mason jars for now my friend.
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