20 Minute Holidays


Every Friday I write the 20 Minute Club Minutes–because using a timer for what I call the 20 Minute Technique can keep your creative momentum going in your busy, time-crunched life–20 minutes at a pop.

Please join in and share your 20 Minute Experiences in the Comments–good/bad, it’s all fair game, because sharing your experiences about the process is a great way to figure things out and increase your creativity.


Brain Wave!

It’s almost November. The holidays are right around the corner.

Wouldn’t a great use of the 20 Minute Technique be to use it to work on making some holiday cards or gifts?

Heck Yes!

You know you wish you made (at least some) of your gifts–and finding the time is always the big challenge. But this way, we can make it actually happen together–20 Minutes at a time.

So what do you say we all try to carve out 20 minutes 3x a week to create handmade bits for the holidays?

Are you in?

The trick is to keep it manageable and fun for yourself. Remember, small, handmade gestures go a long way–don’t let your brain turn this idea into such a gigantic project that you end up doing nothing.

With that in mind, I thought I’d create an do-able idea list to inspire your imagination–so after you read this, if you don’t have a timer yet, head over to local electronics store and get one already.

You’ll be amazed at what you can get done–20 minutes at a time!

Handmade Holidays Idea List

  • Handmade Gift Tags or Holiday Cards
    • For another easy, handmade touch, buy your gifts but make your own fabulous gift tags or greeting cards.
    • These could also be stamped and embossed–You could make classic “From/To” tags, or use ribbon and tie your tags around a wine bottle for a cute hostess gift, or send your 10 favorite people a handmade card.
  • Decorate Holiday Gift Bags:
    • Rather than create wrapping paper, it’s simpler to decorate plain bags.
    • Just cut strips of decorative paper and/or use paper punches to create repeat patterns that you can glue onto plain gift bags. to make it feel festive, use lots and lots of curly ribbon around the handle.
    • I made this one on the right for a crafting store one season. (You can get often get pre-cut strips and shapes that make this super easy.)
    • Also, here’s a cute, simple Hanukkah gift pail example I also made just using stickers.
  • Fabulous, Fast & Easy Decoupage Vase:
    • Get a cheap vase on sale at a big box discounter–look for an elegant, simple shape and don’t worry about the color or design on the surface–it’s even better if you hate it–and transform it with decoupage.
    • My Fast & Easy Decoupage Vase video shows you how. People really love this technique–it’s very do-able.
    • Or, use all the same techniques I show on the vase, but on a simple frame or box instead. Make a set if you’re feeling ambitious.
  • Earrings:
    • Earrings are great gifts and perfect for the 20 Minute Club–they’re great gifts and you can make them while watching TV. It’s also a fun way to enjoy using a variety of exciting, special beads without breaking the bank because you don’t need that many.
    • If you want to get started beading or learn about some great online bead resources, click here, here, and here.
  • Frame Your Artwork:
    • Use your coupon for a FREE trial of the Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-Class and give a work of art or three. I LOVE this idea and may do this myself with some of the collages I created that I’ve really liked.
    • Make it really special with a gallery mat and get an inexpensive metal or wood frame from a big box craft supplies store–they’re always having sales.
    • You’ll be surprised how much matting and framing will take your collage to the next level.
    • A Tele-class session could also be a great way to create the design for your holiday card this season–all you need is a color theme to give your image holiday feeling–blue and white, red and green, metallics, you name it!
  • Make Pretty Ornaments!
    • My Glitter Decoupage Ornaments are pretty, inexpensive, and super fast and easy to make. Great teacher and co-worker gifts.
    • My Byzantine Baubles Ornament kit is my personal favorite and also great for the 20 minute technique because you’ll probably work on it in stages and it looks GORGEOUS when you’re done.
    • (Buy any 2 kits and the shipping is FREE.)
  • Sew, knit or crochet a gift:
    • It probably helps if  you already know how to sew, knit or crochet, but making a gift can also be an incredible incentive to learn, so if you’ve always wanted to ___________(fill in the blank) maybe now is the time?
    • If threading your sewing machine often stops your sewing efforts, watch my clear how-to video.
    • If you’re looking for inspiring sewing projects for the holidays, I noticed Threads Magazine just released gift project issue.

I’ll keep adding to this list as I think of more ideas.

And if you’ve got some good, do-able ideas as well, please share them in the comments!

Just remember, your handmade gift ideas don’t have to be big. It’s important to keep things doable.

I’ll share my 20 Minute Club gift making efforts with you here each week this holiday season, and I’d really love it if you joined me so you can find yourself adding a wonderful handmade element to your holiday season.


Appreciating yourself is an important part of the 20 Minute Club because it helps you keep your creative momentum going.

Carving out the time to create is important of course, but it’s not enough. Getting (and eventually staying) on your own side is a critical factor for helping you take bigger risks with your work, get yourself out of a creative rut, or just enjoy the process more.

Taking the time to remember to appreciate yourself and all your efforts (big or small, creative or not) is a powerful way to make this happen.


Here are my five self-appreciations for this week:

1. I appreciate that I took a photo of my latest incarnation in the evolution of my digital collages because I was so struck by how seeing a photo of it hanging up in a room made me feel–so resolved finally–after 6 months of problem solving!

2. I appreciate how much my life in product design has taught me the patience to hang in there through difficult design problems. It took me ages to figure out how to offer my collages big and still have them look the way I wanted them to look, but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, (often 20 minutes here and 20 minutes there, no lie.) until it worked itself out.

3. I appreciate a shift in my thinking this week where I’m no longer questioning whether things I’m trying are going to work, and instead, just working on making them work.

4. I appreciate that I nervously bought professional lights for my videos and photos a couple of  months ago. Owning them is really benefiting me and my projects now, even though I’m still a novice. The right tools help!

5. I appreciate that I’m getting better and better and not letting the quest for perfect get in the way of the good. It’s very helpful. I hope I keep it up. :-)

Your Turn

What do you think? Are you up for creating gifts using your timer and the 20 Minute Technique? Or have you already started on some holiday projects? Please share your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

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  1. bonnierose says:

    Field books/art journals.. small and personal.. perfect for the person just getting started in art journaling… perfect for sketching, doodling, journaling, painting, anything goes!!!! Explore your wild side and have one of these with you everywhere you go… these are small and not as intimidating as a normal sized art journal.. get your feet wet and get creative!!
    see my blog post here,

  2. Sarah says:

    Great idea, thanks Bonnie!

  3. Ginger Davila says:

    Super simple, in-expensive, QUICK and cute holiday placemats. Purchase a roll of the rubbery foam shelf liner- the kind that has a waffle look to it. I purchase it in either the burgundy, tan, or black. I then cut the liner to the size of individual placemats. Using a very narrow satin ribbon in a complimentary color (i.e. hunter green with the burgundy, and gold for the black) I then weave it along the edges and tie a tiny bow.

    You can also take narrow strips of the same liner and create napkin rings.

    Even without the ribbon they look quite ‘smart’ and add a festive flair to your holiday table! And, keeps little guests from sliding their glassware ! Also, a quick toss into the washer perks them right up.

  4. Sarah says:

    Thank you Ginger, that is such an interesting idea–and practical! I might have to try that myself!

  5. [...] Last week, in the 20 Minute Club minutes, I suggested we all work on holiday gift projects each week–20 minutes at a time. [...]

  6. mary muniz says:

    Aprons are so easy to make as well as pot holders. Bookmarks and fabric book covers.

  7. [...] this week, my holiday gift making 20 Minute Club minutes had to rely on the tried and true– something I knew I could do without any [...]

  8. One year I made magic wands for everyone in my art group. I got some dowels, each about 12″ long, painted them with soft metallic acrylics. I sprayed adhesive on the sticks and rolled them in some gold glitter and then shook off the extra. Then I wrapped a colored copper wire on one end that I threaded with one – several beads, depending on their size. I also took some pretty cut pieces of yarns and ribbons and tied them onto the wand below or through the copper wire. Little cards were tied to the wands that I printed out, letting folks know these magic wands could be used when they felt tired or needed to refresh their spirits. I made them by doing all of one thing at a time, like all the painting, etc. so they really didn’t take much time at all. Peace and many blessings to all, Annie

  9. Sarah says:

    I LOVE this idea Annie!

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