Decorating or Making Gifts using Blank Wooden Shapes and Plaques

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When it comes to decorating the house for Christmas it is always nice to bring out all the mementos of previous years and decorations with special sentimental value, but every year brings something new to our lives, whether it is the addition of a new family member, the loss of a loved one or a special milestone in our lives or the lives of extended family. Whilst it often feels important to mark those occasions, especially during the festive season, keepsakes can be expensive. Some wonderful gifts can be found in local gift shops but often at a price we might struggle to afford. It’s so much nicer, and more special, to create our own mementos and keepsakes, whether they are as an addition to the Christmas decor in our own homes or to be used as gifts for friends and family.
All you need to create a selection of personal and unique creations which look far more expensive than they have cost to make is a selection of wooden blank shapes (e.g. hearts, stars, plaques ...)  which can be bought from eBay at very little cost. To decorate them you can select from: some left over paint or sample pots in neutral colours; an assortment of Sharpie pens; Stencils if required (it is easy to make your own from free designs on the internet); any odd buttons, bows, sequins or crafty items you might have around; a hot glue gun; scraps of wrapping paper/napkins/ paper suitable for decoupage; PVA glue.
The simplest designs are often the most effective. Children love name plates for their bedroom door or personalised coat hooks.
Take a blank wooden plaque – for example blank wooden star plaques start at little over £1 - and give it a light wash with a little thinned down emulsion paint in a pale or neutral colour. Once it is dry any details such as the star itself can be painted in a little gold or silver paint (again using tester pots); coloured in with a Sharpie pen; or even decorated with tiny sequins or crystals fixed with a hot glue gun. Using either a plastic stencil, or one taken from a free image from the internet, trace in the name of the recipient in fine pencil. Be sure to set the stencil in a perfectly straight line keeping the letters evenly spaced before filling in using a Sharpie pen. Draw a series of small dotted lines around the perimeter of the plaque, again being careful to keep the lines straight and an equal distance apart, before once again going over the lines in a fine black Sharpie pen. To make the plaque into a coat hook buy a single or twin metal coat hook for just over £1 from eBay and fix to the plaque. It’s as easy as that.
Merry Christmas Banner using wooden stars or hearts
I made my banner using 14 wooden stars and a length of fine red cord. Paint each of the shapes in a thin wash of colour of your choice (I used red) before leaving to dry. Once dry stencil one letter on each until you have spelled ‘Merry Christmas’ using a fine pencil before painting in the letter with a fine brush laden with black or white paint, or fill in the letters with a Sharpie pen. Lay out the letters in order and work out where you will need to tie in each letter to keep the banner spaced evenly. Tie a knot before the first letter then begin threading fine cord through the letters tying a tight knot at the top of each to keep it secure and making sure to tie a tight knot at the half way point between each letter. Tie the last knot after the final letter ‘s’  and your garland is ready to hang. Alternatively, if you tie an equal length of very fine silver or gold cord through the top of each star you can buy tiny wooden pegs to use to peg the top of each letter to your main, thicker length of cord.
Tree Decorations using wooden shapes
Individual shapes can be decorated to commemorate special occasions such as ‘Baby’s 1st Christmas’. One friend started a tradition of making one of these for each of her children every year with the intention of giving each child their own specially decorated box of keepsakes when the time comes for them to leave home. These can either be painted and decorated as before or decoupaged using napkins, pieces of scrap paper and beads, or even photographs printed from the computer. Tie a length of pretty ribbon or cord at the top of each to make your own personal decorations for the Christmas tree. These individual decorations also make terrific gift tags to be treasured.
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