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Clothespins, twine, flour and salt are just a few of the simple household items that can be used to create beautiful decorations that will be admired and cherished this season and for holidays to come.

Easy-to-make gift boxes and Christmas ornaments are among the creations that blogger Marie Boyd says people can enjoy crafting by themselves or with family.

“I really like the sense of accomplishment that comes from transforming something that seems very ordinary into something very beautiful and special,” said Boyd, wife of Orangeburg native and South Carolina Democratic Party Vice Chairman Jaime Harrison. “Whether it’s crafts or cooking, I think that making things is a really good way to spend time with loved ones. It’s also a way to show them how much you care, whether you’re giving them a gift bag filled with delicious baked goods or a craft that you’ve spend time making specifically for them.”

Boyd, a visiting law professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law and former food and drug lawyer in Washington, shares her creative interests through her food and craft blog, Scissors and Spoons.

Clothespin reindeer and star ornaments are a couple of do-it-yourself projects that can adorn Christmas trees. Boyd said it’s largely a matter of disassembling clothespins, hot gluing them together again in the shape of reindeer (using paper-covered foam for the body) and stars, and embellishing them with everything from paint to flocked paper, ribbon, bells, glitter, rhinestones, vase gems, etc.

“It’s so simple. People seem to really like it and put their own variations on it,” Boyd said.

Twine ornaments are another easy project that can be made to spruce up a Christmas tree.

“I went to the dollar store and bought foam balls. I just wrapped them with twine that I dipped in glue. You can use twine, rope or string,” Boyd said, noting that she has also cut aluminum sheets into stars.

“You can press them with pins or emboss them to make little star ornaments to hang on a tree,” she said.

Boyd said for those who like being in the kitchen, salt dough snowflakes are an inexpensive way to decorate a tree.

“Flour, salt and water are the main ingredients,” she said. “My husband and I don’t have a big ornament collection, so we’ve been making them as a way to boost our collection to fill out our tree. It’s also been a fun way to spend time with family while making them.

“This is a good thing people can do with kids. I remember making the same ornaments in a little different form when I was a child.”

A daisy cookie cutter and star cookie cutter can be used to cut out the ornaments, which can then be painted with acrylic paint and drawn on with a pen.

“Sometimes I do projects that do require more materials, but a lot of times I just get inspiration from just looking around and asking myself, ‘What do I have on hand that I can make something out of?’” Boyd said.

Scrapbook paper, for example, can be used to create simple origami boxes for holiday gifts.

“I made some out of scrapbook paper, but you can make them out of any paper that will fold — anything from magazines to old calendars,” Boyd said. “It’s a really easy way to wrap small gifts for the holidays and make them a little bit more special.

“I’ve given people more gifts in those gift boxes, and they’re just as impressed by the box as the gifts. People then keep them and reuse them in may different ways.”

She said paper magnolias are simple to make and can be used to adorn presents.

“It’s sort of a different thing you can use instead of a bow on a package just to make it seem a little more special, or you could attach a bunch of them to a wreath and make a magnolia wreath,” Boyd said.

A paper magnolia template, silhouette machine (scissors also work), white card stock and a glue stick, paint brush and embossing tool to curl the petals are all that’s needed to make the magnolias.

Boyd said look no further than a collage plate for a simple, personalized Christmas gift.

“You use a clear glass plate, and you cut out colored or scrap paper into little bits,” she said. “I made a collage of a tree and basically glued the collage to the back of the clear plate. The plate was just for decorative use. I did a tree for my mother, but I have also made one for my mother-in-law that was done with silhouette elephants on it because she likes elephants.

“Depending on whoever you’re giving it to, you can make them with any kind of design you want.”

Or, she said, gift some homemade holiday goodies.

“One of the most popular cooking recipes is my husband’s red velvet cupcake recipe,” Boyd said. “They are fun. People like cupcakes, and they remind you of kids’ birthday parties and parties held during school. They’re great for receptions and holiday open houses. People can grab them — you don’t need a fork and knife for them. They have little sprinkles on them that are Christmas tree-shaped. It basically screams holiday in a really cute way.”

Boyd also makes bakery-style sugar cookies that are easy to make in any kitchen.

“They’re really good for making shaped cookies,” she said. “You can decorate them with different shapes to give variety to the cookies you’ve made. I plan on making the cupcakes and sugar cookies.

“There are some cookies that I just associate with Christmas. My family always makes these famous jam cookies, and there are the farmhouse cookies that my daddy’s mother made.”

Making simple gifts and ornaments for the holidays allows a person to put a little of themselves into their work, Boyd said.

“Sometimes we say, ‘It can be overwhelming,’ or, ‘I don’t have time to add all this other stuff on top of what I’ve already got going on,’ but find a project or two projects that appeal to you,” she said. “Once you start looking for inspiration, you can find it anywhere in the world or online.”

Boyd said she enjoys taking time to engage in crafts and cooking to express her creativity beyond work. She encourages others to do the same.

“Do the project with the people you want to spend time with and create traditions with,” she said. “It should be something that is just fun and you want to do. I’ve already started thinking ahead to Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.”

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534.

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