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Welcome to the BIC Mark-It Ask-A-Crafter blog where you can get tips and advice on crafts. Our crafting experts will be posting various ideas to inspire creative use of BIC Mark-It Permanent markers in a variety of projects. We'll also bring you the latest news on our products and encourage you to submit any questions that you may have. Please also feel free to comment on any blog posts with questions and suggestions. Happy Crafting!

12 Days of Handmade Holiday Crafts: Day 7

Christmas Tree Wine Bottle Topper

Another great idea to give as a hostess gift is a personalized wine bottle topper. These also make great holiday cocktail party favors and they are so simple to make! All you need is colored clay from the craft store that hardens as it air dries, cookie cutters, glitter glue and BIC Mark-It™ Permanent Markers! These simple materials can turn a boring plain wine topper into something personalized and fabulous! Wrap in clear cellophane with a ribbon or attach to a bottle of wine for a wonderful handmade gift!

Christmas Tree Wine Bottle Topper

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12 Days of Handmade Holiday Crafts: Day 6

Personalized Family Snowball Fight Team Decoration

I love decorating my home for the holidays especially with personalized items that either have the year or our family name on it. But personalized items are so expensive and sometimes take several weeks to get. Instead of ordering something personalized this year to reflect our growing family, I decided to create something fun! Instead of the typical ornament with all of our names on it, I thought of creating something to remember the fun snowball fight we had after the snowstorm in October! The snowball fight team decoration was created using a metal bucket, plastic stryofoam balls, paper, glitter and BIC Mark-It™ Permanent Markers. I added our family name, and each member’s name on a snowball. Now when I take out this decoration every November, we will remember the pre-Halloween snowstorm and snowball fight of 2011!

Personalized Family Snowball Fight Team Decoration

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12 Days of Handmade Holiday Crafts: Day 5

Winter Wonderland Candle Tart Burner

Everyone loves candles, especially the ones that smell like the holidays! These make great inexpensive gifts and can be personalized with simple craft materials and BIC Mark-It™ Permanent Markers! You can decorate glass votive holders, candle sticks and even floating candle bowls! For my neighbor this year I decorated a glass candle tart burner using white paint, glitter and my BIC Mark™ Permanent Markers. I included several different scented tarts along with tea lights and a BIC candle lighter. I know she will love the gift and use it year after year!

Winter Wonderland Candle Tart Burner

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12 Days of Handmade Holiday Crafts: Day 4

Penguin Light Bulb Ornament

Another great hostess gift or even teacher gift for the holidays are handmade ornaments! They can be personalized with the person’s name or the year they were made. This gift is extra special because every year they decorate their tree, they will think of you! One fun ornament that I like to make for my kids is the one made out of ordinary white light bulbs! They can be made into all sorts of things; snowmen, elves, Santa and even animals! This year I made sparkly penguins dressed in winter hats and scarves. They turned out so cute and made great teachers gifts!

Penguin Light Bulb Ornament

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Gift of Time

December seems to be the month most measured in time. Perhaps it is because in December time seems to move faster as the tail end of the year whips itself into a full circle and insists on tying off all the loose ends before a new 365 day trek around the sun. We subconsciously count things left to do and measure it against the time we have on hand while thinking about how the time prior managed to slip through our fingers.

Time is measured everywhere in December… the shortest day of the year, the days off from work or school for the holidays, the number of shopping days left, the hours one needs to make a last minute gift, the days a friend or relative will stay, the time-zones flown over to be home for the holidays, the minutes at 350 degrees a pie must bake, the time to trim a tree, and of course, counting down the minutes left of the night before opening presents in the morning.

And then, after all the festivities, its the time it takes to clean up the ribbons, the hours to complete the returns and exchanges, the contemplating how long it’ll take on a treadmill to burn off all the calories that didn’t count during the month, and how many hours are left before the mirrored ball drops in Times Square and illuminates a whole new list of goals that’ll take time to achieve in the new year.

Thinking back in time, growing up in the late 1970’s, our Decembers were not only more snow than we could ever remember having thus since, they were also very lean and frugal. People did not have the money to buy too many distractions, there were no computers, and the television in our world was limited to Saturday morning Cartoons. We clipped coupons, spent time together as a family and bartered with our neighbors in order to fill the freezer & pantries. The holidays were not about money, they were about time.

Although money was in short supply back then, my parents had a way of always making us feel rich by creating fantastic things. We had tree forts and handmade clothes, rubber band guns and lavish story times around a wood-burning stove. As a kid going out to buy a gift was a completely foreign concept. I suppose it was always just assumed that every gift would be made somehow because that is what kids did.  My brothers and I resorted to converting our bedrooms into makeshift workshops that could easily rival any that Santa’s elves had access to. Winter Break was split between playing outdoors in the snow & building inside over a cup of cocoa.

As with most kids, toilet paper tubes, packaging materials, tape, glue, tin foil and writing utensils were the possessions of royalty and we built kingdoms from those meager items. In December we used our cherished possessions to create for the people we loved the most in the form of a well thought out “gift of time coupon book”. We spent hours thinking upon the needs of those we loved and how we could use our time to meet their needs … raking leaves, washing dishes, vacuuming the house, taking the dogs for a walk, babysitting for a neighbor, pulling weeds for Grandma or scrubbing a bathtub. I don’t remember how many of those coupons were ever cashed in, but I do know, once upon a time in December, the gift of time was always time well spent.

Prompt: Using your Bic Mark-It™ Markers, spend an hour creating “Gift of Time” coupons for friends and family this year.

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12 Days of Handmade Holiday Crafts: Day 3

Candy Cane Gift Tags/Favors

Once you have made your handmade gift, you can continue to personalize your present by decorating solid colored wrapping paper with your BIC Mark-It™ Permanent Markers, and then make your own gift tags out of paper and candy canes! I love making these gift tags for my kids. This year I made ice skates and reindeer to top our handmade gifts! These gift tags not only make adorably sweet gift toppers, they can also be used as holiday party favors or even invitations!

Candy Cane Gift Tags/Favors

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12 Days of Handmade Holiday Crafts: Day 2

Nutcracker Wine Bottle Gift Box

When deciding on what hostess gift to bring to your next holiday party, wine is usually the gift of choice for most people. Instead of presenting it in a store bought bag or that silver wrapping paper provided by your local liquor store, get creative and make something yourself! I found these unfinished paper mache wine boxes at the craft store that you can decorate and give as a gift along with that bottle of wine. I decorated my box to look like a nutcracker, complete with a fur beard and hair! This box not only makes a beautiful presentation for your gift, but the hostess can use it as part of their holiday decoration year after year.

Nutcracker Wine Bottle Gift Box

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12 Days of Handmade Holiday Crafts

The best holiday gifts and decorations that I have ever received over the years were those that were handmade with love from a special person in my life. Not only are handmade gifts more personalized and affordable, they are really appreciated and cherished year after year! Below are 12 days of handmade holiday gift and decoration ideas made with BIC Mark-It™ Permanent Markers that hopefully will inspire you and your loved ones to have a happy and handmade holiday this year!

Day One: Partridge In A Pear Tree Light-Up Centerpiece
On the first day of handmade holiday crafts my true-love gave to me….a partridge in a pear tree! The 12 days of Christmas song inspired me for this first handmade holiday decoration. A gold charger plate, paper mache cone and battery operated lights are all you need to make this creation. Add some decorations made with BIC Mark™ Permanent Markers, paper and sparkle, and you will have a holiday centerpiece worthy of any holiday table!

Partridge In A Pear Tree Light-Up Centerpiece

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Recipes

Around this time of the year I am convinced that what we know was less learned in the libraries of academia and more around tables in the kitchen during food preparation. Family gatherings, wearing the festive woven cloth of tradition, ushering in the mingling of stories past with the new ones just waiting to be shared and adding to the family cookbook. My Great-Grandmother Mabel once said, “The family-tree tells about the birth and death of a soul, but the cookbook tells about the life lived between the dashes on the tombstone.”

Our family cookbook has witnessed a number of friendly coups over the years as its ownership has changed hands to different limbs of the family tree across generations. A few years ago, a ransom note was sent out to all the cousins a few weeks before Thanksgiving requesting that a certain birdhouse be returned if anyone was to taste cranberry sauce again. I didn’t have the heart to mention to my brother that the sauce came from a can, not a sphere shaped mold handed down from mother to daughter as he had been led to believe. He was more about watching football rather than cooking, and perhaps had missed that magic moment when we pulled the sacred can opener from the drawer. Indeed, there are many choreographed moments in our family Thanksgiving preparations: however, cranberry sauce extraction isn’t one of them.

In our house, preparing meals for family get-togethers is steeped in ritual. The truth of the matter is, none of us were around at the inception of any of these “rituals”, yet no one dares to tempt fate and be the one who messes up Great-Aunt Mildred’s famous pineapple upside-down cake either. There is a sense of pride in presenting a stuffing that rivals the best Uncle Mark can ever remember eating because, as everyone knows, Uncle Mark is old enough to remember a stuffing that ‘could’ have been prepared by the very person who originally scrawled that ancient text on the recipe card in the first place. Yes, it is a test of sorts, not only in your recipe card transcription abilities, but how well you remembered all the things that never made it onto the card in the first place.

History is passed down from generation to generation hidden behind the words on a stained recipe card. While reading the ingredients listed for pineapple upside down cake, I contemplated the size of a ‘palm size dallop of sweet cream butter’ and how ‘seasoned the iron skillet’ needed to be. There, listed in the ingredients, was the story of me, the voice of someone from my past speaking to me, feeding my soul and giving me a sense of belonging, and a permanent place in the family cookbook. Thanksgiving is the sage wisdom that rubs its way into our skin. It’s the conversations while peeling apples that goes straight to our own core, and it’s the recipes of life we write down as to never forget.

Prompt: I am always thankful for BIC Mark-It™ Permanent Markers when writing out recipe cards that could be doused by an errant splash of vanilla or such in the kitchen. Using your BIC Mark-It™ Permanent Markers, write out a favorite recipe and a special memory about the prepared dish for a future someone to find.

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Card Table

I LOVED being a kid at Thanksgiving because, unknown to the rest of the guests, we truly had the best seats in the house. Children, defined as the tribe of beings under the age of 10 and considered the “fruit” part of a blossoming family tree, were never trusted with the “good” glasses or plates. We not only had different dinnerware but, managed to have a remote geographical location somewhere between the kitchen and the rest of the gathered masses. Being a kid at Thanksgiving had many other advantages as well. One, children were not condemned to use the linen napkins that never soaked up the evidence of the crimes against mashed potatoes. Two, and perhaps the best of all the perks of “kiddom”, we were spared the endless confusing protocol required at formal family gatherings… yes, we had only ONE fork and spoon to worry about rather than the contents of an entire silverware drawer to contend with. We drank from paper cups, ate from tastefully decorated reinforced paper plates that need not be washed, and our banquet was served on a card table.

In a 7 year old head, the term “card table” toggled and bantered about and had a completely different meaning than it might to some sensible adult. The indigenous dialect of the native speaking youth heard the word “card table” and it was a pleasant term rather than a forced isolation away from the folks clad in “dry clean only” fare. We did not exchange suits or 52 civilities, we were not subjects to be ordered under a banner of black or red. No, we may have been dealt a hand to be played, but the cards on this table had our names printed on them… in ink.

The place card seems like a minor detail to most, but as every first grader will tell you, to have your name printed on a card and affixed to the table marked your spot, it made sure that every one else who happened upon it knew that it was intended for you and nobody else was allowed to occupy it. There is something very special about a designated place. Sure, later on in life, there are other card tables. Our lifetimes hold a number of events that have our names listed next to a number on a card and artfully arranged on a table. Place cards are grouped, they are stuck with magnets to boards and balanced next to any number of cages all predestined to house gift cards and well wishes for a happy graduation, a happily ever after, a happy new addition, or a happy acceptance into the world of working, but no longer for an employer.

It would seem that as the world insists on a more paper-less existence, the paper trail of humanity has become more of a stone tiled path. We must leap between milestone moments that still require some sort of personal attachment beyond the simple act of affixing a stamp to an envelope. The beauty of a place card, a name in a timeless and permanent cursive, speaks beyond the moment. It is a mark on the timeline of history that says, “I not only attended, but I was purposefully invited and had a spot set aside for me at the table.” We sometimes underestimate the power in a series of letters that spell a name that cannot be erased or removed, and sometimes it takes a child seated in a fold-away chair at a fold-away temporary table to point out the fact that a card announced their place not at the table, but in the perfect way in that very moment.

Prompt: Using your favorite BIC Mark-It™ Permanent Markers, write out place cards for all of your guests at your next gathering. Place cards do not mark a special event inasmuch as the importance of the people who attend it. Let the people in your life know that they have a place at the table.

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