Selecting holiday gifts is a challenging task, even when shopping for those who share our passion for horses. Our gift lists include trainers and coaches, barn buddies and trail riding pals. Every year many of us end up frazzled and frustrated, and resort to paying more than we planned on impersonal or unimaginative gifts. What a way to bring the holiday cheer to a sliding stop. Since I am a dedicated (some say obsessed) crafter and artist, I have an alternative: Why not give each person on your gift list something that you’ve made?
If you’re ready to give handmade horsey crafts a try, please remember to wear safety goggles or eye protection whenever you snip apart wire or jewelry. Also, read every label for product application directions and safety precautions. Now, set aside your fears and let the crafting fun begin!
The inexpensive, small wooden boxes sold at craft stores can be easily transformed into a gift that’s both pretty and useful. Anything from earrings to loose change can be stored inside. Although they can be decorated in multiple manners, I like to incorporate the costume horse jewelry I’ve been given by well-meaning but misguided friends and relatives. Somehow a ruby-eyed steed looks far better prancing around on the lid of a box than it ever would have pinned to my blouse.
There’s a buffet of recipes on the Internet for homemade horse treats, but beware: A whole lot of them will leave you elbow deep in grainy goop and you could be scraping a shellac-like substance off your kitchen counter for months.
Fortunately, these horse treats are goop-free. I started with a basic horse treat recipe and then tinkered with the ingredients.
Each time one of your riding pals reaches for her tackroom keys from this decorative hook, she’ll think of you. I promise this decoupage project won’t end up looking like something you once made in kindergarten. By including dimensional elements and a witty sentiment, you’ll create a practical present with visual appeal.
Directions: Machine wash and dry the fabric bag according to label directions. This removes any starch or sizing placed on the fabric by the manufacturer. Set the clean, dry bag on a sturdy work surface. Slide the cardboard inside the bag. Smooth away any folds or wrinkles, as you’ll be painting in this area. The cardboard provides a flat surface and prevents paint seepage from staining the other side of the bag.
The aesthetic appeal of jewel-toned glass bottles is undeniable. Set them near a window and they produce a prism of color. Fill them with tiny baubles, flakes of glitter and faux pearls and they become containers of mysterious powders and potions. As holiday gifts for your horse-crazy friends, add whimsical labels and small charms so they receive some laughs along with a rainbow of color.
When not in the saddle, CINDY HALE spends her time making pretty things in her home studio. She specializes in creating mosaics and mixed-media artwork.
This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!