Friday, January 13, 2017

What Do You Have in Your Hand? {A Homemade Gift}

The plan for these posts is to encourage us all to look at what we have already to use rather than thinking we need to go out and buy something more. One way that I enjoy doing that is in making homemade gifts for others. I could go out and buy something for them for their birthday or Christmas or whatever but often times I have no really good idea of what they would like or could use. So just going out and buying something just so I can have a gift to give seems to me to be wasteful. So I have been working to do a better job of observing what people enjoy and then trying to figure out something that I can make (usually with things that I already have) for them instead.

Here is one of our recent (It was for Christmas) projects that we worked together to make for Ken using things that we already had on hand. It was a very successful (meaning he liked it!) gift and it was doubly fun because the kids and I had a great time working on it together.

  We made: "Ticket to Ride - Minnesota"

 Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, table and indoor
We have really enjoyed the game "Ticket to Ride" and we owned the United States version, and had played the Europe version but we thought it would be fun to have a Minnesota version too. Ken had found a map from 1930 that you could see of the railroads of MN and we thought it would be pretty fun to turn that into a game board.

   We had talked about months ago and hadn't done anything about it so as Christmas approached I thought that would be a fun gift to make for Ken. For my birthday in early December Ken bought me another version of "Ticket to Ride" which is Rails and Sails and has a map of the world on one side and the great lakes region on the other. That was pretty fun but we still thought it would be fun to do a MN version and it gave me the idea of putting the new game board on the back side of our original game board.

The items that we used to make the game were:

  • Paper. I had bought a 500 sheet package of this heavy, large paper last year which we used for our printing press but I had a lot leftover that I could use. I did have to make it in 6 different sections as one piece did not cover the game board.
  • Pencils and permanent markers.
  • Modge podge
  • Cardstock and a printer
  • Stamp and Versamark inkpad.
  • MN map
  • The computer for lots of research.
  • Wood (Jonathan made extra playing pieces)
I drew the outline of MN (the north eastern tip had to by cut off - poor thing - but it didn't have any railroads there anyway) on the papers. Then Jonathan and I figured out which towns we would use. We used the 1930 map as reference but couldn't put in every town and track they had as that would have made a game board that was way to crowded.

 Megan helped with a lot of the art work on the game board though Jonathan and I did some too. Mara and Aaron mainly just offered suggestions though they lent a hand a couple of times. You can see the wooden game pieces that Jonathan made in these pictures.

We were careful to get the towns in the RIGHT places on this map. That is something that bugs us about the USA version - Duluth is placed where St. Paul really is. After everything was drawn then I modge podged the paper to the back of the game board that we already had.
 We had to make new tickets for this game. I had fun researching each town and figuring out what they may have had going or coming from their town in 1930. So our tickets include what the train is hauling on them. We also put a picture of a real train from MN on the back side of our cards and then we stamped a stamp of MN with versamark (it shows up very lightly) on the other side.

On Christmas day evening we had fun giving it a try.

Another gift for Ken this Christmas was extra pieces (so that 6 people - not just 5 can play) for the Rails and Sails Ticket to ride version. Aaron and I made them out of clay and then painted them purple. Game playing is something our family really enjoys - Ken loving it the most so stuff to do with games makes a good gift for him. These ideas worked especially well as our game cupboard is rather crowded but this didn't take any extra space - these things fit in boxes that were already in the cupboard.

  Have you ever made a game? I have seen some other cool ideas out there before but it seemed like a lot of work and I hadn't attempted it. This was a lot of work but a lot of fun too and I was impressed by the educational factors of working on it. We learned our MN geography better, we learned some history (from my researching - and naturally I told the kids all about the interesting things I learned while sitting around the lunch table) and it was a great way to get better at art. 

 Reporting on my "No spend challenge" and "Using what is in my hand" - This past week went pretty well. I didn't buy anything except I did pay for the services of a Chiropractor visit for our dog, Kitchi. He has been limping for some time and the Vet recommended the chiropractor. He came in December once and was able to do some good but thought we better has a check up visit this month. Thank-fully he thought that should now take care of it. Kitchi had lost muscle mass (quite a bit) in one leg and it is now coming back again so that is very nice.

   Another item that did get bought (though not by me) was boxes of facial tissue. Jonathan reported to Ken that we were nearly out and the two of them didn't think that would work very well (even though the majority of us mostly use handkerchiefs) and so Ken went and stocked up on them. He also bought milk but I said that we would do that.

   Not buying is always an interesting challenge in the food department. We stock up tons of food for winter so it would take us a long time to get to the point of going hungry but still when I take a month or so off from shopping we do tend to run out of some things. Popcorn and white sugar have been missed a little bit. We are also running low on fresh produce but I am growing sprouts and wheatgrass to make up for that lack. Spaghetti noodles are also very low and Aaron feels that might be a bad deal but the rest of us think we will be able to survive. :-) Our chickens have decided with this cold weather (I think that is the reason) that they shouldn't need to lay very often so we have had to have quite a lot of eggless breakfasts. That is fine - I just have to think a little more as Eggs is often a normal breakfast for us. We have also been using up quite a bit of the milk that I canned this summer so that we don't have to buy as much. I am very thank-ful for all the good food that we are able to put up each summer and fall.

   Are you working to spend less at your home? I would love to hear your stories!


Mrs. Chrissy T said...

What a neat idea for a gift. That games sounds very interesting. I have never heard of it until you mentioned it in a post a while back.

I have just been working on cooking all our meals at home for each meal and trying to keep it healthy and cheap.

I also have said no to myself a few times when I had to go to the store. I love to decorate for holidays. I saw a bunch of cute things for Valentines and I have had to say no a lot. It isn't a need.

Abbi said...

Cooking meals at home does save a ton of money. The boys are heading off to a Robotics tournament tomorrow and though it would have been easier for them to just buy something from the vending stands I packed them a lunch.

One thing about not shopping is that you then don't get tempted. That is pretty nice. :-)

Mrs Shoestring said...

That is a very cool version of 'Ticket to Ride' ! We like that game too and making a version from the past is something we could try too, thanks so much for the idea ! Sounds like the 'low spend' January is going well and glad to hear that the dog is improving ! We have 2 birthdays in the next 2 weeks so shall try and use your good example of 'reusing' to make some fun gifts !

Cheryl said...

Wonderful ideas, Abbi! Thank you so much for sharing. :) One of the things we do at our house is that we buy things on sale throughout the year and keep them all in one place to give out as gifts for birthdays and Christmas. We try to always stay stocked up as things are on sale and/or we have coupons to buy them discounted. I love making things for people, too...mostly crocheted items and homemade lye soap and little things like that. It is so much more blessed to give than to receive! God is so good.

Amy and Mark said...

What a neat idea! Homemade gifts are always the best ones!

Abbi said...

Thank you all! It was fun to hear your methods for gifting inexpensively as well. Giving is fun!

SpicingUpIdaho said...

That is a lot of work that you went to make that game, as well as the research too! I think you should contact the maker of that game and share with them your creation. Who knows? Sounds like your no spend January is going well, it is always tough to have those no-spend times to see just how much the "Hugs to you today my friend :)

Abbi said...

One of the kids thought we should send them the idea too. Maybe we will try. I think the no-spend challenge is always kind of fun - it forces us to be a little creative.


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