Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Make your own Christmas presents

Are you having trouble finding something for friends and family for Christmas? Or perhaps you just want some new ideas of things to make. It may sound like a bit of a palaver making your own presents if you haven't done it before, but so is trudging round the shops not knowing quite what you are going to get or finding it all sold out already.
There is still a week to go and all of these ideas are easily managed in that time, and you don't have to be an artistic genius either!

Tin of biscuits.

OK, sounds a bit boring but if you paint the tin yourself or even better get the children to do it and make the biscuits it really is a wonderful, personal present.
You will need a plain tin, some paints suitable for painting on metal, paintbrushes, newspaper or plastic sheet to protect the table and then ingredients for your biscuits - I'll leave that bit up to you!

If you are an artistic genius then you could paint a wonderful scene on the tin. If not then you could make a spotty tin, paint on stripes, have an attempt at snowflakes or stars or even paint the name of the recipient on the lid. If the children are doing it then they will no doubt come up with something great. At the moment the tins we do are quite abstract but my 6 year old has been doing great reindeer on our Christmas cards.

Make a soft toy!

Now if you are making something for a young child they won't care that it is all wonky and has lopsided eyes. In fact just tell them it is a monster and they will be thrilled. There are more detailed instructions with photos on our website but here is what you need to do.
You need two pieces of fabric and some scraps for a face. Needle and thread or a sewing maching. Place your fabric pieces one on top of the other right sides together and cut out your toy shape. If you want a doll then just do a very basic person shape but you can't go wrong with a monster as it really doesn't matter how they turn out. Sew all the way round the outside but leave a gap at the end so you can turn it the right way out. Stuff it and sew up the hole. Then cut out some shapes for the eyes and mouth and any other motifs you want to add and sew them on. Use bold fabrics or bright colours for a really funky look.
Children can make these too. My 6 year old is just learning to sew and made one of her friends a tiny pillow for a doll. It didn't take her long and it was the first thing she had ever sewed. Of course she was really proud of it and made a great gift.

Paint a T-shirt.

You will need a T-shirt or you could use an apron, cushion cover, cotton bag etc. and some fabric paints. You can either get the children to paint a design on or make hand or footprints on the front or the back. Read the instructions for the paint carefully as some need to be ironed afterwards to fix. One year we bought a whole lot of T-shirts, bags and aprons. We dyed them different colours with dye suitable for the washing machine and then painted, foot-printed and wrote names on them afterwards.

Make your own calendar.

If you can get a blank calendar then half your work is done. If not simply collect 12 or 13 (depending on whether you want a cover or not) thick pieces of paper together, punch holes in the top and tie together. Then you can write the month and dates at the bottom leaving a big area at the top to stick family photographs on or draw or paint, or cut out drawings your child has done during the year to stick on.


All you need is a special drawing your child has done and a frame. If you like you can stick the drawing onto a bigger piece of coloured paper. Choose a colour to compliment the drawing. This makes a lovely present for close relatives who probably don't have as many of your children's drawings on their walls as you do!


Now we are getting a bit technical here, but if you have a computer and a digital camera you could make either a little film or a slideshow of still images. I am making slideshow of photographs of the children throughout this year for my Granny who has Alzheimers, adding lots of captions of course so she knows who everyone is. This is great if you have family who live in another country or just too far to be able to travel often.
You might find you already have a programme on your computer to do this, otherwise there are quite a few good programmes out there that don't cost the world and are easily downloadable. A good investment if you think you might make more slideshows in the future.

Give your time.

This might sound a bit boring but will be very much appreciated by people who have little time to themselves or don't get out much. Make up a beautiful gift certificate offering your services as a babysitter, chef for the evening, gardening help or any other skill that might be appreciated by the recipient.
Some friends of ours did this recently for my husband's birthday. They presented us with an amazing certificate offering to babysit one evening and even included some money for us to buy tickets to the cinema or theatre. It was fantastic for us as it was the first time we had been out together on our own since our now 2 year old was born!

Hope this has given you some ideas. If you have any ideas of your own then please leave a comment.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and, as they say here in Switzerland, a good slide into the New Year!

Happy poggling!


Saturday, 22 November 2008

Eco Friendly Christmas Wrapping Paper

The last few birthdays and Christmases in our house have seen a huge mound of wrapping paper, and I have been becoming more aware of the waste. We are able to recycle our wrapping paper here in the paper and cardboard collection but I know some places will not allow you to recycle it. But even if it if can be recycled we still have to account for the energy that goes into the production process, the bleaching, coloured dyes and all the extra money we spend just on wrapping paper. So for my eldest daughter's last birthday I decided not to use wrapping paper at all. I didn't want to just put the presents on the table without wrapping them in some shape or form so I used our silk play-cloths to wrap each one. One to wrap the parcel and one to tie around in a bow. It worked really well. She still got to unwrap her presents but there was absolutely no wrapping waste afterwards. The silks went back into the dressing up box and the next time they were used they had turned into a fairy skirt.

But what do you do if you don't have any play-cloths, or you want to wrap a present for someone who might not use the cloth afterwards, or you can't afford to add to the value of the gift by buying or giving away one of your own cloths? Here are some ideas:

Gift bags or boxes. These still use a lot of energy to produce but are usually very robust and can be used again and again which makes them worthwhile.

Brown parcel paper. So you are still buying paper, but as it is plain and unbleached it is more eco friendly than normal wrapping paper and you can spruce it up with a nice ribbon. Or perhaps you could get the children to paint on it or print simple shapes like stars on with a potato cut out.

Tissue paper. Again you are still buying new paper, but as it is much thinner than normal wrapping paper the raw materials stretch further. This is a good option for someone who still wants quite a traditional, colourful, wrapped look. You could use two colours and overlap them slightly, putting the overlap on the front of the parcel so that the underneath colour shows as a stripe.

Newspaper. Sounds a bit boring but if you jazz it up with a gold or colourful ribbon it can look quite special. Using a cloth ribbon that can be re-used makes it even more eco friendly. You could also pick out an appropriate picture from the newspaper to put on the front of the package.

Playcloths. Whether you have silk, muslin or cotton cloths, these make great wrapping. This could become quite costly though if you are giving it away to people outside your family.

Cheap fabric or remnants. Wrapping in fabric might sound very expensive but you can get some very cheap fabric. If you compare spending £2.50 per meter on fabric which is perhaps 115-150cm wide with what it costs for nice wrapping paper you might be pleasantly surprised. Check out the remnants bin too for reduced pieces, and remember it doesn't have to be dressmaking fabric, upholstery and curtain fabric will do just as well. If you use fabric the recipient of your gift will have an extra present in the fabric wrapping for making something fun or just playing with. Even a very small piece can be used as a doll's blanket or made into a mini monster (see instructions on Pogglers). You can make your own ribbon with very thin strips of fabric and you could even sew a simple motif on the front or stitch on the recipients name.

Not wrap at all. You could lay the presents out on the table for the birthday child to discover in the morning. You could even blindfold the child so that he/she is standing in front of them before you take the blindfold off which will add to the excitement.

But if you still want to use wrapping paper then buying recycled paper is still doing your bit. And whichever paper you use try and recycle it, save intact pieces for other presents or cut out squares and stick them on cards for a really easy do-it-yourself card.

Happy poggling!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Mumpreneur Competition!!

There is a fantastic competition on MumsClub to find the best business idea for a mum. There are all sorts of prizes being given away including a Cherish Doll from Pogglers, so get your thinking caps on and enter. You have nothing to lose! Closing date is the 1st November.

Congratulations on Finding the UK’s search for the most creative New Business idea for a mum!The competition is aimed at anyone who fancies winning the prizes – women, mums or business mums – it is simply a competition to win great prizes.

Have you always wondered about starting your own business working from home? Do you think you have an original, creative, or unique idea for a business? Enter the MumsClub competition to see if you will be voted most creative/unique business idea by mums already in business working from home.

To find out more visit the competition page on MumsClub.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The Green Parent Magazine

I have been really busy recently and have completely neglected my blog, but I hope to do better in the coming months!

Some great news is that we have appeared two editions running in The Green Parent magazine. In the August/September issue they highlighted one of our little Elephant in a pouch toys and in the current October/November issue we have a write up in their Ethical Spotlight! Thank you Green Parent!

So get down the shops and grab your copy now!

Monday, 21 July 2008

Coming soon!

The other day I made a really cute monster based on a child's drawing. This will also be added to Pogglers soon to compliment our Recycled Dolls and Monsters which are proving very popular.

This is how it works: you e-mail or send me a colour copy of your child's drawing of a monster and I use that as my design to turn as faithfully as possible into a real toy monster to cuddle and adore. You could even dig out your own childhood monster drawing to use. I use a mixture of off-cut and new organic cotton, conventional cotton and recycled fabric. The monsters are usually stuffed with polyester stuffing for easy washing but I can also use organic sheeps wool.

To find out more or to order your own monster please contact me.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Sign up! Sign up! For great craft ideas!

I have sent out our most recent edition of the Pogglers Crafty Kids Newsletter so if you would like to receive one too then please fill in the contact form on Pogglers, and I will send you a copy.

In this edition you will find out how to make a whizzy whooshy streamer toy (shown in flight above), some pine cone gnomes and some fantastically easy to make juggling balls.

All using things easily found in the home or outside.

And if you have your own idea you would like us to include then please send it to Pogglers and we may include it in the next issue. If you make any of the things in the newsletter then please do send us a picture as we would love to display a gallery of the images on the website with your permission.

Happy poggling!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Recycled Dolls and Monsters

We have been getting quite a few enquiries about our Recycled Dolls and Monsters from the article in Junior Magazine. We are mentioned in the article on page 51 entitled Bye bye baby written by Alice Beer and are at the top of the list of recommendations for what to do with your old baby clothes.

So if you have old baby clothes that you don't know what to do with then send them over to Pogglers for a brand new toy! Even if they are stained or full of holes we will be able to find a way to make them into a beautiful keepsake. And we are always happy to go over design ideas before hand.

Happy poggling!