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November 1998 Issue
by Jenny Wojcik
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I’m a terrible gift giver. When I find something in a store that I think someone would love, I have to buy two - one for me and one for them. This year I have promised my bank and myself that I will not do that. That means staying out of the stores, tossing the catalogs that congest my mailbox and being creative.

There are a thousand ways to say Happy Holidays, and you, like most of us have probably wanted to say it in a unique manner or to give a gift that no one else could give. I know that feeling, and sometimes as early as July or August, I sit around and doodle or dream, or otherwise create ideas in my head that might make someone’s holiday just a little sweeter.

It’s true you know, that what you give is not as important as the thought and the effort behind it all. I tend to make my Christmas cards every year because I want to do something just for the people on my list. Some know that I do that, others don’t. It really doesn’t matter whether they recognize the effort or not. I know, and that is a gift I give myself.

Say happy holidays however you choose! Decide what you want to do and then go for it with gusto. The ideas that follow aren’t necessarily new or terribly inventive, but they are what I like to call 'can do' things that don’t require a lot of time or money. They’re easy and fun, and there’s even a project that the kids can work on.

Here are my doodles and dreams - I hope they can help you make your holidays just a little brighter and your work a little lighter.

All the Season’s Best,
Jenny Wojcik


Topiaries can be purchased in craft stores ready-made, but it’s a simple project to do from scratch, and it’s significantly cheaper not to mention hand-made by you!

The sizes below should be a general guide, as they will produce a medium sized tree. You can enlarge or reduce them according to your own decorating plans.

  • Clay pot - 10 inch
  • Dowel rod - 3/8 inch in diameter - 10 inches long
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Styrofoam ball - 4, 5 or 6 inch
  • Craft Paint - your choice of color
  • Glue
  • Silk Ivy
  • Silk Ribbon to coordinate with your paint
  • Beads - if desired
Mix plaster of Paris and pour into the bottom of a 10-inch clay pot. Insert dowel rod into the center and allow the plaster to harden. Insert the top of the dowel rod into the Styrofoam ball. Using your favorite craft paint or spray paint, cover both the clay pot and the dowel rod. When dry, attach silk ivy to the Styrofoam ball with glue. Add decorative ribbon to both the pot and the ball of the topiary, as well as any beads or other small ornaments you may wish to use.

Another idea: The topiary tree may be topped with gold or silver leaf, using leaf sizing on the ball. Just allow it to rest and become tacky before adding the leaf paper. Then burnish with a brush. Add your foliage last after the metallic paper has had time to dry.

Topiaries make great table, sideboard or mantle decorations, and are also an appreciated gift.

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