Here’s a quick and inexpensive way to add some interest to gift packages. Tie varied knots using lightweight rope instead of ribbon. In addition to being unusual, these embellishments are practical because they will not flatten during transport.
You will need: Nautical theme gift wrap (Maritime designs, maps, paper in beachy, bright colors would work as well) Gift Wrapping Tape Scissors Nylon clothesline or other rope – $2 Spring Link – optional – I call them caribiners – $2 Lighter – optional Large letter stickers and tags – optional
Unless you’re a knot-tying expert, (I’m knot! Get it? Heh.) watch the videos that I’ve linked below. You can play the video and pause when you needed, or click the right or left arrows to see one step at a time.
I struggled with this knot until I realized that the loop looked like a lowercase “g”. Do you see it?
After I tied the bowline knot on one end of the caribiner, I wrapped the rope snugly around the package a few times. Then I tied another bowline knot at the other end of the caribiner. Push the knot close to the caribiner before tightening, so that the rope stays fairly tight around the package.
Careful adults only step: I sealed the cut ends of the rope by melting them with a lighter. If you do this, please don’t set yourself (or anything else) on fire, and take care not to breathe fumes from melting plastic. Don’t attempt to seal the ends of cotton rope. We call those ‘candle wicks’.
Years ago, we took two of our nephews and a niece on a white-water rafting trip in West Virginia. We tent camped that weekend and planned to roast our dinner (and s’mores) over a campfire. My niece and I got to work starting the fire. We had nice, dry firewood, sturdy matches and kindling gathered from the surrounding area.
There were thunderstorms that day and the humidity was nearly 100%. We couldn’t get our kindling to ignite, so we started looking for paper to burn. Having none, we did what all intrepid explorers do and burned our atlas! (This was in the days before GPS, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.) Fortunately, that worked. We had a nice cookout that night and were able to find our way home at the end of the trip.
Shortly after that, my sister gave us these awesome egg carton fire starters and we’ve been using them ever since. The combination of wax and paper helps them to burn for several minutes; long enough to ignite a nice fire.
Disclaimer: I should warn you up front that this project is for careful adults only. Always use caution when working with fire, flammable materials and heat sources. I don’t want you to singe those beautiful eyebrows off. Or worse.
That said, and because I love an element of danger, let’s dive right in!
Here’s what you’ll need to make the fire starters:
Paper egg cartons with lids removed – do not use foam!
Wax from discarded candles
Flammable Filler, small pine cones, tree bark, sawdust, etc. The lid of the paper egg carton torn into small pieces will work.
Scented/Decorative Filler, dried citrus peel, cinnamon stick pieces, etc. – this is entirely optional
Double boiler for melting wax – Mine came from the flea market for $1. You can often find vintage, aluminum double boilers inexpensively at yard sales and thrift stores. I do not use this one for food.
Metal ladle – optional, but useful if you’re like me; not very accurate when pouring liquids.
Sturdy scissors – I used herb scissors.
Cardboard, plastic and newspaper or paper grocery bags for protecting your work surface.
This is a great way to recycle/upcycle both the egg cartons and discarded candles.
Cover your work surface with cardboard or plastic with layers of paper on top. The melted wax makes this a messy project! Children could help with gathering the supplies and arranging them in the egg cartons, but the wax melting and pouring is an adults only step in the process. You may just want to send them to Grandma’s (or at least out of the room) while you’re working with hot wax.
Remove the lids from the egg cartons, Set the lids aside for another use or tear them into small pieces to use as filler. Using scissors, cut in between the cups without cutting them completely apart, like the photos below. This will make it easier to break them into individual fire starters.
Fill the cups of the egg carton with your choice of flammables. If you are using scented/decorative filler, arrange that on top of any less attractive filler. I layered mine with torn egg carton lids, dried orange peel, hemlock cones and birch bark.
Over low heat, melt the wax in a double boiler. Watch the wax as it melts. Do not leave it unattended and certainly don’t let it come to a boil. Also, don’t bother cleaning your stove until after this messy project!
Once the wax has just melted, remove it from the heat and carefully pour or ladle it into the prepared egg cups. Fill just the whole cup section. You can carefully press the filler materials down into the wax if needed.
I wish that you could smell these fire starters. I made two batches, one is from a vanilla bean scented soy candle and the other is cinnamon scented. Both batches smell amazing!
Let the wax harden completely, and then pull the cups apart. You’ll appreciate that you cut the cups before filling them. I forgot one time, and spent the next few evenings hacking at them with a utility knife. #blisters
To burn, just light a corner of the fire starter.
These fire starters make great gifts (hint: Christmas) for the outdoorsy people in your life. Or anyone who enjoys a fire pit, chiminea or wood burning fireplace. Fill a pretty basket or bowl with fire starters and a nice box of matches or a butane lighter. If your friends love a fire in the fire pit, give a pretty bag of these fire starters along with a cozy throw for chilly evenings.
Fill a cellophane bag with fire starters and place into a large gift bag with s’mores fixins’: a bag of marshmallows, a box of graham crackers and some Hershey’s chocolate bars. Go crazy, and add some Reese’s peanut butter cups to the kit. (Don’t grill foods directly over the fire starters, wait until you’ve got a roaring campfire.)
Throw a few of these into your pack when you go hiking or on a camping trip. As Pa Kettle says, “you just don’t never know” when you’ll need to start a fire.
I hope you will give this project a try. If you do, I’d love to hear from you! Comment here or email me at arthurized dot home at gmail dot com.
I’m not in partnership with any brands referenced in this post. I’m simply sharing products that I use and enjoy, and I hope you will like them too!
Here’s a fun gift idea for your honey or anyone you enjoy spending time with, really. Create a Date Night Passport for them filled with gift cards to your favorite restaurants, IOUs or tickets to events. This does not have to be expensive!
For this project, you will need:
Slim pocket calendar or notebook with a plain cover – I found mine at the dollar store. If you don’t want the clear, plastic cover you can create your own booklet. You’ll need a piece of heavy cardstock to make a cover. The advantage to creating your own is that you can make it any size, design or theme you like.
Sturdy white or ivory cardstock paper – a few sheets, depending on the size of the calendar. I used six pages of 8.5” x 11” cardstock cut to 6.75” x 6.5” for a total of 6 passport pages, 12 folded.
A variety of stamps or stickers – for the book title and to mimic passport stamps on the inside pages.
Stamping ink in black, brown, navy or dark grey
If you would rather doodle your own passport stamps, you won’t need the stamps or ink. Just grab your favorite pens or markers.
Paper cutter or a ruler and scissors
Remove the paper calendar from the cover and measure the pages, unfolded. Cut 6 cardstock pages to that measurement. Neatly fold each page in half. If your measurements are not square, make sure to fold in the direction of the passport cover spine. Next, stamp the pages however you like. I made a page for each month of the year and stamped ornate keys, postage stamps, medallions and fleur-de-lis, using chocolate brown stamping ink.
On the passport cover, add your title. I used silver stickers to spell out “Date Night” and added a small silver flourish below the title. Assemble the pages in order inside the cover and staple down the spine.
Now comes the fun part; filling the passport! Here are some
Gift cards: Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Ice Cream and Frozen
Yogurt Shops, Book Store, Massage, Manicure/Pedicure
Tickets: Movie Theater, Sporting Events, Concerts, Live Theater, Comedy Club
IOUs: Back Rub, Breakfast in Bed, Foot Massage, A Day Trip,
Hiking, Movie Night at Home, A Honey-Do Chore, Seasonal Activities (Pumpkin
Patch, Fall Foliage Drive, Ice Skating, A day at the Lake or Pool, Parades,
Farmer’s Market, Holiday Lights Tours) Antiquing, Thrift Shopping, Picnic in
Kid’s Activities: Zoo Trip, Water Park, Go-carts, Mini Golf, Aquarium, Geocaching, Hot Chocolate Date, Run a 5k together, Science Museum
IOUs for Kids: Library Date, Build a Fort, Pillow Fight, Favorite Dinner, Favorite Dessert, Craft Day, Card/Board Game Night, Permission to Jump on the Bed, Bake Cookies together, Skip a Chore, No Rules Day (My SIL occasionally did this with our nephew)
Now it’s time to make this your own! What activities would you add to this list?