By Dr. Leonard Perry And Lisa Halvorsen

University of Vermont Extension

You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to
turn every day objects into beautiful garden-themed
gifts for holiday giving. In fact, these projects are
so easy to do that the hardest part may be giving them
away, as you will want to keep them for yourself!

GARDENING GLOVES–To make this gift you
will need acrylic craft paint (available at any craft
store or art supply shop); stencils of flowers, vegetables,
or other garden-related items; small paint brushes or
sponges; and a pair of white or cream-colored canvas
gardening gloves.

Lay the gloves flat on a piece of newspaper.
Tape a stencil to the back of the glove, and gently
sponge on paint. Or draw floral designs freehand. If
applying more than one color, allow the paint to dry
between applications of each color. To further personalize
the gift, write the recipient’s name on the cuff of
each glove.

TOTE BAG–Or add your own personal touches
to a fabric tote bag. Again, cream or white is the best
color as the design will stand out better. In addition
to the bag, you will need stencils, paint for fabric
stenciling, and a stencil brush or paint sponge.

Before you begin, hand wash the bag in
cool water using a mild detergent. If needed, iron to
remove wrinkles. When stenciling, it’s a good idea to
work slowly, carefully blotting the brush on a paper
towel to avoid drips and smearing while applying paint.
Add one color at a time, allowing the paint to dry between
applications. When finished, let the bag dry for a week
to 10 days.

Tote bags also can be embroidered or appliquéd.
Choose a festive floral design, and don’t forget to
work the recipient’s name into the design. For either
stenciling, embroidery, or appliqué, it’s best
to plan your design on paper first, before you start
to work.

Although the tote bag itself makes a wonderful
gift, you could fill it with a variety of small garden
items, including packets of favorite flower seeds, a
pair of hand-decorated garden gloves, a trowel or other
hand tool, row markers, and a garden book or blank journal
for jotting down garden notes. Or how about a jar of
homemade applesauce or blueberry jam? Be sure to add
a card with washing instructions: Hand wash in cool
water using mild soap.

FLOWER POTS–Decorated clay flower pots
make the perfect gift for gardener and non-gardener
alike. They can be used for a potted plant or a silk
flower centerpiece, or even to hold pens and pencils
on an office desk.

You can stencil, decoupage, or cover in
mosaic tiles, being as flashy or as subdued in your
choice of color scheme as you’d like. But regardless
of the decorating method you choose, start with a clean
terra-cotta pot.

Lightly sand the outside of the pot with
sandpaper, wiping off the dust as you go. If the pot
will be used for a plant, brush the inner surface with
a water sealant (the kind used for wood) to prevent
moisture from seeping through and ruining your designs.

For a stenciled pot, give the outside
of the pot two coats of acrylic paint. You may want
to paint the rim a different color. Next, tape the stencil
to the pot. With a stencil brush, sponge, or foam brush
carefully dab on paint.

For decoupage, you can use scraps of colorful
fabric; pictures of flowers and vegetables cut from
a seed catalog or magazine; or even the front of seed
packets to decorate your pot. Arrange pieces on the
pot, lightly marking where each will go with a pencil.
Remove and coat the back with decoupage medium (available
at craft shops). Place on the pot, smoothing gently
to eliminate air bubbles.

Use a damp paper towel to remove excess
medium. When you have finished, apply several more layers
of the medium to seal the design, allowing it to dry
between coats. Or you can spray with an acrylic spray

To make a mosaic pot you will need tile
glue or adhesive caulk, grout, and tiny tiles or chips
of colored crockery (place broken dishes and glasses
in a bag and break into small pieces with a hammer).
Brush glue or caulking on the pot in an even layer,
doing only a small area at a time. Press pieces onto
the pot, spacing them about an eighth of an inch apart.
Let dry, then apply grout according to manufacturer’s

Another option is to paint the pot in
a solid, vibrant color–bright gold or a velvety blue
would look nice–adding leaf prints to jazz it up. You
can use either real or fake foliage, but choose leaves
with interesting shapes or edges. Carefully brush fabric
paint onto the underside of the leaf, spreading the
paint evenly over the surface. Press this side onto
the pot, gently rubbing the leaf with your fingers to
make the print. Lift off and allow to dry.

You also can use this last technique to
decorate placemats. Buy or make the mats out of a solid,
neutral color like ivory or wheat. Silver or gold leaves
will give the placemats a formal look. Use of autumn
colors like maroon, brown, and orange or spring pastels
tie the gift into a particular season.

you will need pressed flowers, leaves, and herbs; a
heavyweight paper folded into notecard-size pieces;
glue; and clear, self-adhesive contact paper. If you
did not press and save blossoms and foliage from summer
annuals and perennials, you can use herbs from your
windowsill herb garden or foliage from houseplants.
Or perhaps you brought your potted flowering plants
in for the winter. For flowers, ones with few petals
work best, such as pansies.

To dry, spread the blossoms and greenery
in a single layer on a paper towel or sheet of white
absorbent paper. Place a second sheet on top. Press
by putting a stack of books or other heavy objects on
top. The drying process will take about two weeks.

Arrange your dried flowers and leaves
on the notecard paper, using a pencil to mark the position
of each. Glue background pieces on first, then the focal
flowers and accents. Add a message or quote in a nice
ink, if you wish. Allow to dry, then carefully cover
with clear contact paper to protect your artwork. Press
firmly, and smooth out any air bubbles.

These are but a few ideas for holiday
gifts to make using flowers and garden themes. Find
other ideas by browsing through crafts books or checking
out Internet Websites devoted to crafts projects. In
addition, check with your local crafts shop to see if
any demonstrations or classes are scheduled.

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