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Students and teachers wrap up year with homemade holiday gifts

English teacher Wendy Muldawer made this plate full of bottle-cap trinkets. Muldawer assembles gifts out of items she finds in flea markets and other thrift stores.

Photo courtesy of Wendy Muldawer.

English teacher Wendy Muldawer made this plate full of bottle-cap trinkets. Muldawer assembles gifts out of items she finds in flea markets and other thrift stores.

By Anna Labarca

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As Junior Solene Aubert pours melted hot wax into a plastic mold, the smell of fresh juniper fills the room. When hardened, the candle is a bright pine green and Aubert tops it off with a red ribbon to add holiday cheer to her homemade gift. Aubert places the candle with dozens of others and prepares to package them for festivities right around the corner.

With the holidays comes the annual search for the perfect gift for friends and family: something that’s not too expensive but still impressive and heartfelt. Instead of buying gifts, some students and teachers are turning to a more creative approach: making holiday gifts by hand.  

Aubert finds that the internet and social media sites like Pinterest provide great ideas. For those who don’t know how to get started or what to make, step-by-step directions online provide easily accessible inspiration. Aubert found her procedure for creating homemade candles online;: she removes the wax from a plain candle and remelts it with the addition of food coloring and scents of her choice.

English teacher Wendy Muldawer loves making gifts for the holidays. She uses a range of materials in her gifts, including supplies bought from flea markets and thrift shops.

“I buy all of my supplies for 50 cents to a dollar, and try to make something different out of it,” Muldawer said. “I make decoupage clipboards, things out of old mason jars, toys, keys, and bottle caps.”

Depending on the project, gifts can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to a few weeks. For sophomore Abby Brown, bigger pieces of art, like paintings or mosaics, are her go-to gifts. Gift baskets including the person’s favorite items are a fun, quick alternative to more time-consuming creations.  

“It’s good to have a variety,” Brown said. “Sometimes there’s that one thing you really want and you have to buy it. It just depends on whether you can buy it at a store right now or if it would be better homemade.”

Many find that homemade gifts provide more meaning than store-bought ones. The clear time and effort the gifter puts in is touching, junior Caroline Hatcher said.

“You can spend time finding a good gift for someone in the store, but when someone close to you puts in that extra bit of work, it’s nice,” she said. “Even if it doesn’t turn out like they had intended or envisioned, it still came from their mind, their heart and their hands—that’s what counts.”

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