shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Nearly Free Holiday Treat Bags

November 23, 2015

Before we get into this week's post, I wanted to let you know that ALL FOUR of my books will be over 50% off on Cyber Monday, November 30. E-versions only: Simply Sailing, Eurisko Sails West, Tips, Tricks, and Tales, and My Boat Lists. They can be gifted to anyone with a computer; no Kindle necessary. Thanks for the support and happy holidays.

The countdowns are already running, and many of us are rushing to complete holiday projects. For those of us who choose to make instead of buy many of our gifts, these things may take a bit longer. I hope this idea gets to you early enough for you (and your kiddos) to benefit from it this year, but if not, take notes for next year. The materials will probably be cheaper after the holidays, anyway.

Completed bag

I first learned of this idea a week before last Christmas from a friend's Facebook post. I was disappointed that it was too late to complete it, but was determined to be ready for this year. The idea is to hang a string onto which you have attached small bags of some sort. Each bag is numbered to countdown to the holiday or celebration of your choice, religious or otherwise, including winter solstice or New Year's Eve. (I'm just now realizing that you could use a similar idea in anticipation of a birthday, vacation, or any special occasion.) Inside each small bag is a treat. Most of the treats I put in our grandson's bags this year were cool things we found throughout the year: seashells, a fack $50 bill, unique coins I got as change, beads Dave and I found on the road and strung together for him, any tidbit that a child would find entertaining for a day or so. I did buy two trinkets from vending machines outside the grocery store and a small box of Chinese candy from the oriental market we went to the other day. Total cost of all contents of the bags was $2.

Staple the ribbon to hold it in place.

Each morning, the child opens the bag for that day, depending on the number. I tried to make the contents fairly random, but I did save what I considered to be the "best" for last, on Christmas Eve. I used clothes pins to attach the bags to the string, but you can tie them or attach them any way that is convenient for you. I'm hoping our son mails the bags back to me after Christmas so I can fill them again with cool bobbles we find over the next year for our grandson.

Ribbons on both ends

I had nearly a year to decide on the type of bag to use for this project. I considered purchasing little gift bags or boxes, but I believe the love with which something is made stays with it, so I chose to hand make the bags. In January, I found holiday material for $1 a yard and decided to get enough material to make gift bags, too, instead of using wasteful Christmas paper this year.

Sew the ribbons in "pockets" and sew the edges closed.

The dimensions I chose for these little bags was totally at random. There was a nice repeating pattern that was 3" wide, so I chose that as my width and doubled the length of each piece of cloth to make square-ish bags. I cut 24 pieces 3" by 6". Next, I stapled bits of ribbon near each short edge to hold them in place while I folded the material over the ribbon and sewed a "pocket" for them. I folded the material in half, created an unsewn inside-out bag. Then, I stitched the two sides shut up to but NOT including the pocket the ribbon was in. I tied the ends of the ribbons together on each side of the bag, removed the staples, turned the bag right side out and poof, a wee little bag with a draw string.

Bags in various stages

I did all the sewing by hand since I had the time and my Sailrite machine doesn't sew thin material as well as it does sail cloth. I filled the bags, numbered the clothes pins, attached them all to a string and popped them in the mail for a cute little guy to enjoy every morning for 24 days.

The goodies

To make larger bags to enclose gifts, I follow the same general idea, first wrapping the fabric around the gift to be sure it will fit, including the seam allowance. You can either request that the bags be returned to you so you can reuse them, or consider them part of the gift, to be used by the recipient, passing it on to someone else. I haven't calculated if this method will be less expensive than wrapping paper, but I do know it will be less wasteful. If you are worried about time, you can pre-make several bags of different sizes so they are sitting there, waiting for the appropriate sized gift to hold. Another idea is to make bags out of generic material so that you can have several on hand for birthdays, anniversaries, or other occasions.

Ready to display

If you make your own bags, please send along some pictures. I'd love to see the variety of sizes, designs, and uses that you all will create. Happy Holidays.

Do you have the equivalent of a "junk" drawer on your boat? MONDAY we'll share the surprisingly useful tidbits in our "step."

Recent Articles



People and Places

Yarns and Opinions




Bolger AS-29


Can't find your favorite post?

Did you find something of interest? Consider donating $1.
Thank you.