Category Archives: Projects

DIY Reusable Christmas Gift Tags

Update 12/13/2013: Thanks to my friend Renee Handy, you can now download a version of these gift tags that can be modified without Adobe Acrobat Pro or Adobe Illustrator. This new template includes editable form tags you can fill out using Acrobat Reader. (Information on formatting these fields is provided below.)

page_previewIf, like me, you’re looking for excuses to duck holiday responsibilities – baking cookies, sending out Christmas cards, staging unnecessarily elaborate tableaus for your home’s over-priced Elf on a Shelf – making reusable gift tags can be a nice filler project for the days leading up to Christmas.

Benefits of this project include:

  • Never forget to buy gift tags again, necessitating that you write names on your carefully wrapped-and-ribboned packages with a Sharpie (no judgments)
  • Legible gift tags, even on the presents your husband wrapped
  • Reusable and eco-friendly (although you’re probably going to be attaching them to a surfeit of wrapping paper)

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Refinishing our kitchen table: Stripping the pedestal

I was so reluctant to start this part of the project that I took about a four week hiatus between finishing the table top and starting the pedestal. My reluctance was well-founded. The grooves and rounded feet of the pedestal made it 5x more difficult to strip than the relative ease of the tabletop (including the beveled edge and skirt). After letting the gel stripper sit for 25 minutes (Achievement Unlocked: Superhuman Patience), I used my flat-bladed putty knife on the flat planes and 3M Scotch-Brite abrasive pads to clean around the contours. The latter technique takes some elbow grease and, at least initially, the paint and primer smears into a scary, gray sludge that spreads everywhere and makes you think your work is ruined. As you keep scrubbing, though, the stripper/paint/primer mixture starts to bead up and fall off.

Here are pictures from 3 hours (2 rounds of stripping) and 6 hours (3.5 rounds of stripping):

IMG_0032 IMG_0031

loni_tableWhat’s wrong with the picture at right? I’m not wearing safety goggles. I have gotten stripper on just about every limb at some point or another, but it never occurred to me to worry that it might get thrown into my eyes. Unfortunately, this happened over the weekend while I was vigorously dabbing stripper into the rings of the pedestal. Once I realized what had happened (thoughts: “oh wow that’s cold … maybe it’s not going to hurt … oh NO, IT DOES! IT DOES!!”), I dashed inside the house and approximated a chemistry class-style eyewash. My eyeball felt bruised, it hurt to blink, and my eyelid peeled three days later. So yeah, if you do this at home, be sure to wear goggles!

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Refinishing our kitchen table: Stripping the table top


I had heard great things about the product Strip-eeze, but our Home Depot doesn’t carry it. Instead, I bought the same orange can of stripper I bought last time. For those of you following along at home in hopes of repeating this process (really? maybe you should go back and read the first post in this series), at this stage I had available:

  • 1 can Klean-Strip gel stripper (orange can)
  • 1 pair gloves made out of stuff I hoped wouldn’t disintegrate when exposed to stripper
  • 1 metal paint pan
  • 1 paint brush for applying stripper
  • 1 metal-bladed putty knife
  • Sand paper, coarse and fine
  • 1 electric hand sander (the kind that let’s you cut rectangles of sandpaper to fit)
  • 1 can mineral spirits (used to rub down the furniture after it’s been stripped and sanded)
  • 1 tarp (to protect my work surface)
  • 3M Scotch-Brite abrasive pads

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