christmas gift wrapping with goodwill goods

Gift-Wrapping with Goodwill // high plains thrifter

They say presentation is everything, and when it comes to Christmas gift wrapping, that old adage rings especially true. Instead of looking at wrapping presents as a chore, I like to think of it as an extension of the gift-giving ritual…an opportunity to put even a little more love into the gift, in addition to flexing a little creative muscle.

When the holidays start creeping on the horizon, I make a point to look for wrapping supplies during each and every trip to the thrift-store. There’s always an abundance of fun stuff to play with (in both the craft section and holiday aisles), and by shopping second-hand, I know that I’m not only saving money, but that my gift-giving presentations are going to be one-of-a-kind. To bulk up your wrapping stash on a dime, keep your eyes open for…


Wrapping paper: I have a soft spot for vintage paper, but most thrift stores will also have brand new rolls in stock. (Also keep on the lookout for old maps or mags, both of which make for great wrapping paper!)

Boxes: Craft-paper, plain or blinged-out, decorative gift boxes, you’ll find it all.

Gift bags: Good to have on hand, always. I like to my eyes open for wine bags, as I’m frequently toting bottles to dinner parties and it feels more special when presented in a bag.

Jars: Perfect for edible treats, reusable jars are a staple in my gift-wrapping routine.

Ribbon: Fabric, metallic, raffia, paper, yarn, vintage…pick up a few different kinds so you can mix, match and layer.

Fabric: My go-to for wrapping odd-sized presents.


Ornaments: Fabulous present-toppers and can also be a memorable part of the present.

Jingle bells: Cute to look at, easy to attach and oh-so-very festive!

Tinsel garlands: A glittery stand-in for ribbon.

Bows: Big or small, bows add a sweet finishing touch. I look for multi-packs of the twist-tie velvet bows, as they attach to gifts quickly and easily.

Doilies: Any size and any color!


Gift tags

Rubber stamps

In need of a some visual inspiration? Here are a few ideas for presentations that’ll make your packages stand out under the tree, using materials thrifted at area Goodwill stores!

From cocoa to cookie mix, who can resist a tasty treat packaged up in an adorable jar? The addition of jingle bells, tied on with twine, takes this patterned canning jar from everyday ho-hum to stocking-ready in mere minutes.

Gift-Wrapping with Goodwill // high plains thrifter

Layered gifts, like this mix for oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, look lovely in tall jars. A Christmas-light ornament, homemade pom-pom and candy-cane colored washi-tape tagged card add a home-y touch.

Gift-Wrapping with Goodwill // high plains thrifter

Goodwill is stocked with many holiday themed jars and tins too. All this baby needed was a curlicued ribbon to make it pop.

Gift-Wrapping with Goodwill // high plains thrifter

Brown craft-paper boxes are blank slates when it comes to packaging. I used craft glue to affix red, green and white pom-poms (another craft section find) to the small box on the right, while the larger one got topped with vintage ribbon and a bottle-brush tree, clipped in place with a glittery mini clothespin. So easy!

Gift-Wrapping with Goodwill // high plains thrifter

Hate wrapping paper? Switch things up and wrap a few presents in fabric this year! I used a vintage scarf and tinsel garland to doll up the package on the left. (Recipients can choose to wear or display the scarf, depending on their style.) On the right, a bit of scrap fabric, edged with pinking shears, tied shut with vintage ribbon (and more ornaments!) secures this package.

Gift-Wrapping with Goodwill // high plains thrifter

When I found some plain, white, flat-packed gift boxes, I knew they had big potential. I embellished the box on the right with gold star stickers, and then followed this tutorial from Mineco for the wrapping, using tinsel-trimmings and yellow gold cellophane, for a suspended confetti kind of look. Fun right?

Gift-Wrapping with Goodwill // high plains thrifter

Bells and whistles aside, sometimes a roll or two of festive wrapping paper is all you need to get the job done. I was so charmed by the vintage cookie and Santa papers, I snatched them up in October! The brown packages are grocery bags turned inside out, finished off with a paper doily, velvet bow and vintage ribbon. Affordable, easy and oh-so-pretty!

Photos by Julia McMahon // LB Jeffries

Photos by: Julia McMahon // LB Jeffries Photography

Have you hit the thrift for wrapping supplies? If you haven’t before, I hope you’re feeling inspired to give it a try now! For more pretty gift-wrapping inspiration, head on over to my Pretty Packaging pin-board, where I save my favorite ideas for Christmas and beyond.



A version of this post first appeared on the Goodwill / Easter Seals Minnesota blog.

quick & easy DIYs to do over holiday break

Hey all, and happy hump day!

Here’s a fun challenge I’ve been working on this week: Figuring out what DIYs I can tackle during my upcoming week off of work. I’m super overdue for a few little home improvements (leaky bathroom faucet your days are numbered!) and some crafting. As per usual have lots of ideas earmarked, including these five.


1. happy cushion how-to c/o Tabitha Emma 2. fancy fringe keychain as seen in a hip handmade holiday 3. jane snead vintage cross stitch kit 4. chunky knit infinity scarf 5. closet spruce-up inspired by this post on oh joy!

Do you have any DIYs on your post-holiday to-do list? If so, lemme hear about ’em!



how to: thrift for records

This past July, my forever-long wish to own a stereo was granted. And ever since, I’ve been obsessed with hunting for records. Like anything else, looking for records at thrift stores, garage and estate sales can be a crap shoot. And an overwhelming one at that! Here are some super basic things I keep in mind when I’m out and about.

Before you you get your heart set on a specific record, check the condition of it first. See deep scratches, scuff marks, chips, cracks or gouges? Skip it. And be sure to inspect both sides too!

Make sure the record isn’t warped. (Warped records = distorted sound.) The easiest way to check is to hold the record up at eye level.

This is a total no-brainer, but while you have the record out, make sure that it matches the jacket. How sad would it be to go home thinking you’d found a rare Kitty Wells record, only to discover some crappy Billy Joel album inside.

Keep a running list of what you’re looking for. I have a friend who keeps her record wish list on Pinterest, I personally keep a running list in my notes on my phone. Either way, just like thrifting for clothes, I find it helpful to keep tabs of what I’m hunting for.

Take a chance! If you come across an intriguing cover, artist or song, and the record’s in good shape, where’s the harm in taking it home for a listen? I picked “Mustang Jazz,” a recording of the Southern Methodist University Marching Band out of a $1 bin at a record fair last month and it pumps me up every time I listen to it!

And last but not least, it’s OK to thrift records just because you like the cover art! Inspired by this Easy Record Cover Art DIY I spotted over the summer, I painted over a pin-up-y instrumental album cover. It sits on my vanity now and I love looking at it when I get ready each morning.

Some other good resources for learning more about thrifting records:
Thrift Store Vinyl: “Listening to used records so you don’t have to.”
The Thrift Store Record Collector: “Collecting records the cheap way.”
How to Clean Old Records

Do you have any tips for thrifting records you want to share? If so, let us hear ’em down below in comments!



clickin’ around, vol. 28


 Are vintage girls the new feminists?

I really can’t get enough of the tie-neck blouse trend.

This is cool: Donate $10 to Operation Uplink and you’ll provide 25 soldiers in Iraq & Afghanistan 10 minutes of free phone time.

  These gorgeous DIY satsuma candle project are perfect for a wintery dinner party.

 How to let go of busy.

I want to make a million of these maple-cream topped cakies. They’re healthy if squash’s in ’em right?

Speaking of healthy eating, I’m filing this crockpot cheddar beer chicken recipe away for nacho night. Holy yum.

How sweet are these hand-drawn patterns by Alyson Fox? I could look at them all day.

 As if I wasn’t ready enough for spring’s arrival, along comes Sessun’s spring/summer collection.



how to: make tea-tin candles

I have this horrible tendency to hang on to way too many things, vintage tea tins being one of them. Which is why, in the course of the past week, my kitchen has been transformed into a veritable tea tin candle-making factory. If you, too, find yourself in a last-minute gift-making frenzy, here’s the how-to.


 Miscellaneous vintage tea tins—all of mine were from thrift stores, where you can find them easily, priced anywhere from 25 cents to $2.

 Microwavable soy wax—a four-pound box of microwavable soy wax ($10 at Michaels’s with a coupon) flakes made three average-sized tea tin candles.

Wicks of the extra-large variety (tea tins are pretty big in diameter, so you need a fat wick)—also available at Michael’s

Silicone chalk (for the tins that are not water-tight)

Wick holders (optional)

Newspaper (not optional)



1. Test your tins. Fill your tins with water to see if they leak. If you find some are not water-tight, seal the inside bottom rim, corners and sides with a silicon chalk. Do not be an eager beaver and skip this step! (Unless scraping a counter-full of wax off with an old credit card sounds fun—then by all means, skip away!) Follow chalk dry time instructions before moving on to step two.

2. Cover your work space with newspaper. (Again, please learn from my mistakes!) Center your wicks in the middle of your tins, making sure the bottom of the wick is flush with the base of the tin. I prefer to use wick holders to accomplish this. (If you don’t want to buy holders, you can dip the bottom of the wick in melted wax and then stick/center in the bottom of the tin.)

3. Melt your wax—fun! I melted four-plus cups at a time in my glass liquid measuring cup. Four cups took about 4-5 minutes to melt entirely, quite a bit longer than the box o’ wax predicted. If you have a thermometer to test the temperature (per package instructions), feel free to do so. I did not and everything worked out just fine.

4. Fill your tins on up with wax, but not all the way up, just close to it. Wicks will need adjusting after you pour the wax; this is totally normal. It’s also normal to run out of wax before a tin is full. Just get going on nuking the next batch right away and add it when it’s done.

5. Leave your tins alone for 45 minutes to an hour. Go watch a Golden Girls episode, read a magazine or take pictures of your cat…I’m not one to judge.

6. After an hour or so has passed, poke a few holes near the wick, going all the way to the bottom of the tin. This allows air to escape and makes for a more evenly topped candle. Top off your candles with a little more wax.

7. Leave them alone again, this time for a while. In a few hours time…boom. Tea tin candles are ready to go. Cozy on up and enjoy your handiwork.



cozy night in & collage inspiration

I skipped grocery shopping after work the other day to stay in, cozy up and make more paper packs. Sprawled out on the floor, surrounded by such unique, old materials motivated me to look through my Flickr favs for collage inspiration. I can’t wait until January to have more time to work on projects of my own! As you probably surmised, vintage paper and ephemera will always trump newly purchased materials for me. When it comes to collage-ing, it’s also no surprise that my favorite artists incorporate old images, illustrations and scraps into their works. Enjoy the eye candy!

{both c/o mishuevospeludos}

{c/o tinylights}

{c/o goofbutton}

{c/o Bill Zindel}

{c/o woefoep}

{c/o franz falckenhaus}

Ugh, I could go on and on and on.  Peruse for your own favorites in The Vintage Paper Collage, Collage Crazy, Cut ‘N’ Paste & Notpaper groups.



mad for macrame


I finished my first macrame project last night and already cannot wait to start another. Discovering Sally England’s  simple, lovely work this morning (pictured above)  just added fuel to my nascent rope-knotting obsession. My sweet little plant holder doesn’t hold a candle to Sally’s large-scale works of genius, but it was a fun starter project to be sure.

Supplies (two packs of blind cord and a small metal ring) cost me $15, and it took two episodes of “Gossip Girl” worth of time to complete. So yeah, craft-night success! The only downside of the process was having to lock the pets away while I knotted. Twelve 16-foot strands of rope flying around everywhere = heaven for my playful kitty! Don’t let the innocent face fool you, havoc-wrecking could be this gal’s middle name.

Now that winter’s nearly here, have you gotten back into the swing of making things? If so, what are you working on? Who is inspiring you? I’d love to hear!



three quick & easy diys, present-toppers edition

Is it wrong if I want to skip actually shopping for presents this year and skip ahead to the part when I spend an entire evening listening to Christmas music and wrapping them up all cute? The trio of gift-toppers featured below can all be made mostly with materials you can find easily at, where else…your local thrift store!

 These Monopoly tags, c/o Glossary, give new life to a vintage game that was missing some pieces.

  Personalize a prezzie with a yarn-wrapped pipe-cleaner letter or go all out and do the lucky recipient’s name. Once the gift’s unwrapped, these would make great ornaments. (Idea c/o  giddy giddy.)

File this under why-didn’t-I-think-of-this: Dyed paper doilies, c/o Blue Eyed Freckle. How sweet would a single poof be atop a package? Very, I say.

Ahh, now all I want to do is sit around and wrap gifts! Fortunately, I do have some crafting action of my own going on tonight…working on this Saturday’s limited edition Mighty Swell giveaway. It’s going to be so tight…I can’t wait to share it with y’all!



mighty swell + design*sponge = photo booth magic

Just about a month ago, Rae and I had the opportunity to create the photo backdrop for Design*Sponge’s book party at the Anthropologie store in Edina. The 8 x 8 backdrop needed to be portable, yet sturdy, pretty from a distance yet photogenic up close. After a week of brainstorming, we settled on the idea of a trinket wall. We thrifted the trinkets (or doo-dads, as I like to call them) from Unique Thrift stores.  From dolls to magnets, beads to toys, coasters to tiny plates, game pieces to buttons, nothing was safe from our glue guns.

The backdrop was made from plywood and scrap wood I had stashed in my garage from my bathroom remodel. We washed it with a light mint green stain (Minwax Water Based Wood Stain in Antique Jade, to be exact) which allowed the pretty grain of the wood to come through.  After Rae traced the diamonds on the dry plywood, we hauled it piece by piece into my living room, where we proceeded to sit and glue trinkets and watch Parks & Recreation. Approximately 100 years later…we were done!

The day of the signing, at literally the crack of dawn, we hauled it over to Anthro and did a few last minute touch ups. It was such a relief when the set-up was done. And I have to say, I think it turned out pretty awesome.

You can see for yourself in this gallery of photobooth photos from the signing.

Many thanks to Grace and Amy from Design*Sponge (pictured above) for giving us the opportunity. Although I might be fine with never seeing a glue gun again as long as I live, it sure was fun to put this together.



cure for the DIY doldrums

{Image above c/o Cathy of California.}

Does anyone else get discouraged when looking for new DIY projects online? I consider myself a pretty good at the Google and even still my searches are fruitless, turning up posts by glue-gun crazed moms and little else. Even my consultations with the few vintage craft books I own has left me wanting for more. It seemed like fortuitous timing then, to discover Cathy of California via Lena Corwin’s awesome blog. Simply reading through Cathy’s posts makes the ice that is my creative brain start to thaw. Her artist profiles are fascinating and incomparable to anything else I’ve read. Obviously, I had no qualms at all about ordering her book, Vintage Craft Workshopwhich includes designer how-tos for 24 vintage projects and is supplemented by artist profiles and craft history. I hope the UPS man hurries…



P.S. What are your favorite DIY blogs? I need to know.

P.P.S. I put together a back-to-school beauty supply list over on Beauty Bets today. Every product costs less than $7!