Christmas from the Heart Part 1

Growing up, money was tight. The funny thing is, I didn’t know that money was tight for my family until I was old enough to truly grasp the concept of money and the cost of caring for a family. One reason it took me so long to realize this, Christmas was always an amazing holiday for us and never once did I feel that it lacked the magic.

When I look back, I wonder how my parents did it. Kids toys are outrageously expensive! It’s tough enough doing it for one, but how did they make 4 kids have a magical Christmas?

The answer is… Christmas gifts from the heart. These gifts were ones that my mom worked all hours of the night crafting. Things like: baby beds and clothes, Barbie furniture, hair bows, and countless other things. All things that my sisters and I were overjoyed to receive and didn’t even know that they hadn’t been bought.

One of my favorite gifts I ever received was homemade Barbie furniture. (I loved Barbie!) There was a bed, baby cradle, couch, stove, and so much more. They were made from plastic craft canvas and yarn. They beat the crap out of anything you could buy back then and even today! The furniture was so much more fun because we would turn our whole room into Barbie town. (If we lacked enough beds for all of the sisters, cousins, or friends that Barbie was entertaining, a couple Nancy Drew books and wash-cloths did the trick perfectly!)We used them for years and they may even be floating around in Allison’s attic with the stuff we had passed on to my niece oh-so-many-years ago. I love those gifts even more now today because I know how much time and love was put into making them.

This year, I wanted to do something special for Jasmine. She has been all about Barbie lately and she has been hinting about wanting Barbie’s dream house. I couldn’t be happier about her new-found hobby (because secretly, I still love to dress up Barbie and play with her hair) and even thought about that being her big present for this year. I cringed at the $150 price tag for just the house. Then, I thought back of Christmas’s long ago. When I was 5, Allison got Barbie’s Malibu dream house. (Back then, it was mostly cardboard but it came with an elevator and at the time, it was awesome.) We loved it! I then fast forwarded a few more Christmases to the furniture one. Bingo! I decided that I would try my hand at making Barbie furniture and a doll house.

Off to Walmart I went to gather supplies. I bought 4 large cardboard/foam presentation board pieces (about $1.50 each), a pack of hot glue sticks ($1) and 2 cans of black spray paint ($0.99 each). I then hit up the sewing department and bought a couple squares of fabric. (The fabric was $0.97 each and I picked up 6.) From home, I gathered my sewing essentials as well as an old toddler blanket that i was going to donate that I could use for filling.

I began with the Master Bed, since it was mostly just sewing blankets and a mattress. I spray painted a thick cardboard box

(that I had on hand from my recent HouseParty pack) and then hot glued the mattress on, I used the board to make a headboard that I attached using hot glue and flathead sewing pins (sort of like nails) and I sewed blankets and pillows using material and the old blanket. I loved how it came out. That gave me the motivation and courage to do more!

I was on a roll.

I knocked out all of the furniture for an awesome house that included a master bedroom, kids room, bathroom, living room, kitchen, and dining room. (stay tuned to the next few posts where I will show off, err, I mean show you how i did it)

Plain Bookshelf Before

Plain Bookshelf Before

I was then faced with the difficult task. What would I make the house out of? I wanted something sturdy that would last but easy enough for me to do myself. After much thought, and consulting with the hubby, we decided on bookshelves. We went to Target where we picked up 2 sets of 3-shelved bookshelves. They were $19.99 each.

Then, hubby really indulged me and we went next door to Lowe’s where we picked up some adhesive vinyl flooring for the house. These ranged from $0.38 a sheet to $0.88 a sheet. It totaled about $8 for 12 sheets.

Floors installed on one side

Floors installed on one side

We went home and I got right to work. I installed the floors after having to cut them down slightly. (I can now add box-cutter pro to my resume!) I was in love at how it was looking.

I raided my scrapbooking box and picked out papers of all colors for wallpaper, paint and trim. I matched the colors to the furniture and the floors, as if it was my real house. I used modge podge to glue them on the interior sides of the house. In some rooms, I did a top border, others a middle border and I used thin wood craft sticks to make chair rail in the living room.

Floors and walls done!

Floors and walls done!

When I was finished putting together all of the rooms, I added the furniture. It was amazing! It was also missing something. Decorations! I quick crafted pictures for the walls, flowers for the table, a fireplace for the living room, clocks and wall hangings. Now, it was perfect and ready for Barbie and her family to move in!

I can NOT wait to give this gift to my daughter. I am beyond excited to see her eyes as she opens up the 1 thing she has been consistently asking for and it being custom built for her!

I will post more over the next few days with the different rooms and furniture as well as tell you how I crafted some of my favorite pieces. I am just as excited to share it with you because this is definitely one of my finest craft projects!


2 thoughts on “Christmas from the Heart Part 1

  1. Cathleen your mom would be so proud of you. I sill have a couple of oranaments your mom made for melissa and stephanie they are little sleds with their pictures on it. and i agree the best presents are the ones that come from the heart.

  2. Pingback: Christmas from the Heart Part 3 | Saving Green

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