By Megan Horst-Hatch

With the holidays just around the corner, you might want to add a bit of kitsch to your decorations. Whether it’s a sparkly photo frame or interesting embellishments, you can add a bit of flair to otherwise staid decorations. Handmade decorations can also be a fun way to give family and friends unique gifts. To get started, three arts and crafts stores in Chicago share their suggestions on ways to add a bit of fun this holiday season.



Sacred Art
4619 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 728-2803

With its selection of handmade designs from local artists, Sacred Art is a one-stop shop for posters, jewelry, stationery and prints featuring Chicago. Established in 2006, Sacred Art features works from emerging artists and also offers art classes. Located in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood, the store’s inventory is ever-changing. Owner Sarah Chazin has the following tips for making memorable holiday crafts with a dash of kitsch.

Make holiday banners. To welcome everyone to your next celebration, Chazin suggests creating a holiday banner with traditional holiday greetings or even “Happy Festivus.” To create your own banner, which Chazin calls “the best crafty holiday gift,” use card-stock to write the letters, then attach them using a simple stitch or tying a pretty bow through a hole on top.

Say it with ornaments. To create a personalized gift, Chazin also recommends making ornaments. “You can use so many materials, like glass, felt or wood, to create fun ornaments,” she said. For a quick gift, pick up a plain ornament from a craft store and some markers, then personalize it with the recipient’s name, a favorite sports team, a fun holiday design or even an inside joke.



Caravan Beads Chicago
3339 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 248-9555

Whether you are looking for the perfect selection of beads or searching for a finished beaded item, Caravan Beads Chicago offers both. Located in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, the store’s selection of beads includes seed beads and pendants to add that perfect touch to a piece of jewelry. Caravan Beads also hosts parties and holds classes on beading techniques. Store manager Ana Pizarro offers tips on how to incorporate beads into your next holiday craft.

Create sparkly snowflakes. Want to create a winter wonderland indoors? Pizarro says to use white beads in a variety of finishes, such as metallic and transparent, to create shimmery snowflakes. Simply glue your beads of choice to a sturdy material, such as popsicle sticks. After the glue is dried, hang your snowflakes on suction cups affixed to your windows.

Greet guests with a wreath. This holiday season, show off your festive side straight away with a holiday wreath made of beads on your front door. According to Pizarro, you can wrap strings of beads in your holiday colors of choice around a wreath frame. Top off your wreath with a bow or a holiday design, and you’re set. To display your creation, use an over-the-door wreath hanger.

Go for shimmer with picture frames. Use beads to deck out a picture frame in festive holiday colors. Get strings of beads prepackaged from a bead store, or string your own beads for a unique combination. To glue your beads to the frame, Pizarro recommends using E-6000. “This glue can adhere many different components to any surface, like metallic beads to wood. It’s a clear glue that doesn’t dry immediately, so it’s great for craft projects,” she explains.



Sifu Design Studio
5044 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 271-7438

For knitters or crocheters looking for a yarn salon, consider checking out Sifu Design Studio. The store, located in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood, features a range of yarn for those who like to knit, make granny squares or embroider. For a crafty brunch, stop by Sifu on Sunday mornings for Stitch ‘n’ Brunch, a potluck-style gathering for crafters to meet and show off their latest creations. Owner Lisa Whiting shares her ideas on how to incorporate thread into holiday crafts.

Embellish photographs. Have you ever looked at your old family photos from previous holidays and thought they needed a little extra touch? Whiting says embroidering embellishments like poinsettias, stars or holiday greetings can personalize a photograph. “Embellishing photographs can also be a quick and fun handmade gift,” she says. To start, Whiting advises to make a copy of a favorite photograph on photo-quality paper. “You want to make a copy so you don’t accidentally ruin the original, and you’ll want the copy on sturdy paper so you can pierce the paper without tearing it,” says Whiting, who has embellished some of her ancestors’ pictures as gifts. Next, think of what design or holiday greeting you’d like to add to the picture, then pre-punch the holes and use a sharp embroidery needle and embroidery floss to add your holiday embellishments. When you are finished, simply slide the photograph in a picture frame.

Sew a tree topper. If you sew, consider creating a tree topper with matryoshka dolls — or Russian nesting dolls — as inspiration. “Instead of an angel tree topper, some people might want something on top of their tree that’s not so religious,” explains Whiting, whose store recently held a class on how to make tree toppers based on the matryoshka design. Use felt or other materials in a variety of colors to sew the tree topper together, and include embellishments like lace or sequins for a pop of color.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at