I’ve often been asked how I can work a full-time job, especially since my kids attend only part-time daycare, and still have time to sew, cook and clean (in that order). It’s not that hard, actually. It does take some sacrifice — mostly television, sleep on some occasions — but to me, it’s worth it. The time I spend alone in my sewing room is what keeps me sane — it’s my therapy. I can’t say it’s cheaper than actual therapy based on the amount of stuff that I buy to turn into new stuff, but it really is good for me.
So I’ve learned to choose projects that can be completed in a relatively short amount of time — usually the span of the kids’ daily two-hour nap, or in 15-minute increments while they watch an episode of “The Justice League” or play superheros on the couch cushions.
That’s why I’m the mom who shows up at the party with not only a homemade gift for the birthday kid, but the siblings too — all nicely tucked into recycled newspaper gift bags. The host family of a recent party even got a jar of pickled okra, since I’d learned to pickle the day before.
Yeah, I’m that mom. (Note: Making pickles takes longer than a naptime. A husband who really like pickles comes in handy here to keep kiddos distracted).
The recycled newspaper bags were made in the hour before we left for one party. While packing up the gifts, I realized that I’d used the last of my appropriately sized gift bags and only had the extra-large ones left — a sure disappointment for the kid expecting an awesome, extra-large toy only to find a size 5 shirt instead. I remembered once getting a recycled newspaper gift bag, and figured it probably wasn’t that hard to make. And it wasn’t.
The process is simple and quick, but difficult to explain in print — all folding and glueing. But how-to videos are easily found by searching “recycled newspaper gift bag” on Youtube.
The first bags I made pretty much like the video instructed because I was pressed for time (it took about 10 minutes for both, plus a short drying time). For the next batch I used a glue stick instead of Elmer’s glue and added small metal eyelets to the handles and a piece of cardboard to the inside of the bottom of the bag for extra support. I also sprayed the finished bag with fixative to stop the ink from smearing so much.
A neat thing about making these bags (other than it’s super cheap and easy) is that you can feature your favorite photos from the newspaper. So maybe next week I’ll make gift bags featuring this column about making those very gift bags. Then the recipient can just look at it and automatically be inspired to dust off that craft box.
Features Editor Deirdre Long: 256-294-4152. On Twitter @star_features.