Holiday Inspiration in a World of Germs

Yes, I know the holiday season is a time for joy and counting your blessings but it is so much more enjoyable when everyone stays well.  In our family 2008 has been dubbed “the year of the tissue”.  As I walk in the door with my load of tissue boxes my husband just shakes his head and mumbles something about the stock he didn’t buy.  Hmm?  And it has gotten to the point that we now, in an effort to stay healthy, give cheek only kisses, put names on our drinking glasses and disinfect the door knobs and toys daily.  I realize this sounds a little obsessive but if you have ever had a rut in the road between our homes and the doctor’s office you understand.

Ok, I am rambling and that is enough of that.  It is really just to give you some background for a couple of projects that I want to share with you that were inspired by these efforts to get well and/or stay well.

Toddler Restaurant Mats – Babies love to feed themselves and when eating out this can be difficult since the high chairs no longer have trays.  Tables may be wiped off between customers but are certainly not sanitized so what is the mother of these little ones to do.  Andrea heard about rubber mats designed just for this purpose and set off to find them.  When she finally did they had a price tag of $20 each.  So, we decided to see what we could make.  We came up with these and they work great.  We made 9 of these nifty mats for under $10.  We like them so much we are going to make them for Anna’s whole Sunday school class.  These are not the best of the bunch but here is a couple that I kept for when I have the kids out and about.

Restaurant Mats

Here is what we did:

Cut 1 rectangle of rubber shelf liner 17” wide X12” tall. (We got ours for $1 a roll at the local discount store and 1 roll makes 3).

Cut 1 rectangle clear plastic sheeting 17” wide X 12” tall. (Designed to use to cover table tops like the old Oil Cloth and can be purchased at many hardware stores by the yard.)

Cut 1 rectangle of fabric 18.5” wide X 13.5” tall. (We used scraps from various other projects.)

1.    Embroider whatever you like on the fabric.  I love Alphabet Xpress and it has some great new fonts. (I used Splendor for Anna and Buttercup for Noah above).  Any Design you like can be used (The tractor is an ATG design and the other one I got long ago in an issue of Designs magazine.)
2.    Press your fabric ¾” under all the way around, folding in the corners miter style.
3.    Layer as follows:
a.    Rubber shelf liner rectangle
b.    Fabric rectangle, right side up.
c.    Clear rectangle.
4.    Sew all the way around about 5/8” from edge.  And then again 3/8” from edge.  A Teflon foot is nice but not necessary.  One thing I found was that it sewed smoother if I held the sandwich up a little instead of placing my hands on top like I would normally.

There you have it – a great stocking stuffer that might help minimize picking up those little germ things.

Another thing we came up with this year was inspired by a friend who has been ill most of the year.  With colds and flu on rampage in our area she was told not to go out.  So, she has shopped on line some but sent her son out to get gift cards for many.  To make the gifts more personable we decided to make custom gift card holders.  Here is a couple that we did and the In-the-Hoop designs as well.

Hanging on the TreeFinished Gift Card Holder

Due to my friend’s energy level we wanted to keep these really quick and easy. You could do much more detailed ones if the inspiration hits. At our house we decided to make a bunch with numbers to count down the last 5 days until Christmas with the grandkids.  Each day will have a small item like lip gloss, a favorite candy, coupon for ice cream or whatever for the kids to take off the tree each evening.  Maybe it will spark a new tradition.

To download the instructions and the free In-the-hoop cardholder design click here.

In spite of a year of constant germ-fighting we are counting our many, many blessings and are full of joy this season.  From our house to yours we wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Take Care

PS:  A while back I said that when I could dig them out I would show you my other Jumbo Alphabet project.  Well, I did finally find it.  And now I have done two more sets, JOY for Andrea who has a smaller mantel and PEACE for Lisa who has a long shelf in her living room.  The frames all came from the dollar store and we cut the mats from card stock.  You can use Alphabet Xpress fonts with the fill feature to do these.


Comments (16) -

You are so right about those placemats!  Maybe we should make them for adults too!  Those 'washing cloths' they use make me a little nervous - no, a lot nervous.

I don't want to be a germ freak either, but common sense dictates that we take care of ourselves.

Thanks for the ideas.


Wonderful ideas - thank you!

Some moms are carrying those Antibacterial wipes (Clorox or Lysol, I think) to wipe their own table before everyone sits down.  That alleviates some of the worry about others' germs or the restaurants level of sanitation.   Has anyone considered the iron-on plastic for the fronts?  

I also like the rubber shelf liners because they're non-slip.  I've been using them plain for my cats' bowls (smaller than regular mats), but will get them decorated now!  Thanks for the ideas!  

Those gift card holders would make a great alternative for Advent calendars! You could hang them all over the tree. get the child to find the day, and have something special in there each day. You could even get some wee jewellery(just the fashion stuff) and have it in there, little girls love that.

What a fantastic idea! I may have to do this next year, or do some for the last 5 days or so. I LOVE this!

Is there any chance that the instructions for the gift card could be put in the PES format? It looks like there is every format but that and that is the one I use.


These gift card holders look great-but no PES format. The place mats are a great idea as well-and with the kids' names on them, no fighting involved!

The lack of a PES format was an oversight on our part. We should be able to get that up on Monday. Just click on the same link and it should contain the PES format as well.


Just a short note to let everyone know that the zip file has been updated to include the PES format.

Thanks for the PES format.  Was able to download it.

I don't know how to get this PES file to download, it says there is no sewing data on that file. Please help

I am having trouble sewing the placemat.  My feeddogs will not move either the rubber shelf liner or the vinyl topping.  Does anyone have a solution?  Is there a kind of glue that go thorugh the washing machine?  Or, how do you sew it?  

Everyone,  thanks for the comments.  lou dar:  I did not have any problem with the placemat on my machine except that I held the sandwich up instead of pressing down to guide it like I would normally sew.  I used a plastic teflon foot since one came with my machine.  Try loosening your presser foot pressure just a tiny bit.  Also, if you have a plastic foot of any type it may help.  I have a couple other ideas that I will try this afternoon and let you know if they work tomorrow.  DB

For the placemats for toddlers; another fabrication that would work  would be old-fashioned oil cloth.  Oil cloth edges never fray so they would not need to be stitched and oil cloth can be rolled up easily.  Washes like a dream.


To Lou Dar:

A Teflon Foot would be the way to sew this fabrication.


sewingbychristy 12/10/2008 5:23:38 PM

You could sandwich a layer of tissue paper on the bottom and top layers to keep the plastics from sticking to the feed dogs and foot of the machine.  I did this with coasters made in a similar fashion.


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