Secret Santa and the Art of Procrastination

Image is a photo of snow covered pine trees against a pink sky

“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.”

~ Rita Mae Brown

On December 21 — the longest night of the year — I was sitting in the coziest spot on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket and wearing my favourite reading socks. I was sipping from a mug of hot tea and thinking about a million things. Okay, okay, I confess, I was procrastinating! I was trying not to think there were only FOUR DAYS until Christmas! You see, we have a new gift-giving tradition in our family. Instead of buying everyone a present, we draw names for a Secret Santa but, there is a twist. The gift must be homemade! 

I was doing my best to reign in my panic because I was running out of time. Sigh! Why was I sitting there drinking tea? I should have been sewing up a storm!! Colourful felt, needles, paper patterns, thread and bits and bobs should have been swirling around me like snowflakes dancing in a winter storm. 

Another sip of tea calmed me. I felt a surge of gratitude. For my comfortable living room, for the fireplace filling the space with a warm glow, for my dog lying beside me, and my husband reading in his favourite chair. It was nice to relax a little before I took up my gargantuan task once more. Life is good, I thought.

As I drank my tea (a delicious brew — Buddha Blend), I started to muse about teabags. Yes, tea bags! A funny distraction, wouldn’t you say? I wondered what kinds of things one could do with used teabags — anything? 

True to form, this question stuck in my head, and I knew there was only one remedy for that! I dragged out my laptop and started googling with fervour. I found you can do a lot with those small bags once you have brewed your tea — aside from throwing them on the compost heap!

I gathered up some of the suggestions (meaning I saved them on my Pinterest boards.) I want to share a few with you in this post. I hope you find these ideas interesting! Please note that I have not tried all these (yet), but I plan to — someday! 

Photo by Leah Kelly by Pexels

Do you know that tea leaves make a great face scrub? In a few steps, you can make an exfoliant right in your kitchen. First, brew a nice cup of tea. You can use the leaves from your favourite tea. But, you may want to try green tea for its antioxidant properties or black tea that may accelerate regeneration and soothe irritated skin. Let the used tea bags dry. When dried, mix the leaves with a few drops of honey, rice flour and a little water to make a paste. Pat the mixture on your clean face and leave it for 5-10 minutes. Gently rub your face with your fingertips as you rinse off the leaves. Pat your face dry with a clean, soft towel. Your skin will feel luxurious!

Black and green teas may also help reduce puffiness, inflammation and dark circles around your eyes. These teas contain flavonoids, caffeine and tannins which can tighten your skin by narrowing blood vessels. After drinking your tea, dry the tea bags. When you are ready for a quick DIY spa treatment, moisten the dried bags and place them in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. Place the cool bags on your eyelids for 20 or 30 minutes. A refreshing pick-me-up!  

You likely have everything you need in your pantry to make a green tea facial mask right now. All you need is green tea, baking soda, honey, and a little water. First — brew a pot of green tea, pour yourself a cup, relax while sipping it. Leave the tea bags in the teapot for about an hour. Once the bags have cooled, open them and add the tea leaves to the other ingredients. Mix it together and slather it on. Massage your face gently and leave the mask on for 15 minutes. Rinse it off with lukewarm water. The recipe and complete instructions can be found here. Try it you’ll love it. 

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

 Used tea bags are also perfect for hydrating skin, restoring shine to hair, eliminating odours from hands, and soothing razor burn. You can also throw them in your bath or try them in a foot soak.  

Here’s a quick kitchen tip — toss a couple of used tea bags into your rice pot to pump up the flavour of your rice or couscous? Simply drop them into the boiling water for a few minutes before adding the grain. Your rice will be infused with the subtle flavour of the tea as it cooks. You can also do the same thing with oatmeal. Delicious! 

Why not save those used tea bags to use as a DIY glass cleaner? Re-brew them in boiling water. Let the tea cool, then pour into a spray bottle. Spray on your windows and mirrors. Wipe with a clean, lint-free cloth. Your windows will be sparkling clean and streak-free! Used tea bags are great to use as air fresheners and odour neutralizers, too. They also can be used to polish wood surfaces or clean cast iron pans. They can be applied to mild skin irritations and insect bites for soothing relief.  

The idea I loved best was art made from used teabags! I found incredible examples of tiny paintings and drawings on teabag canvases. In this video tutorial, visual artist Anne Eichhorn shares her technique when painting tea bags with watercolours. Ruby Silvious, a multi-media artist, creates stunning teabag artwork. Visit her website, where you can view her work. You might be inspired to draw on a teabag yourself! 

For more inspiration, explore this collection of ideas on the Pinterest Board, TEA BAG ART. Follow this link to the Crafters Workshop blog. In the post, Patty Eskridge, a retired teacher, describes her process of using old tea bags in a multi-media project.

I drank the last drop of tea and closed my laptop. I glanced at the time and sighed. I snatched up my sewing materials and hurried back to my project. I had more to do, but I was determined to finish.

Four days later…

Well, I managed it — a Christmas Miracle! It’s fabulous, and, my daughter loved it!  

Next year, I am going to start my project early — I swear. Hope your holiday was fabulous!

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