Homemade Holiday Gift #1 and 1.5


Godzilla wearing a butterflySo there are a lot of cool math things out on the web, that’s clear with a quick google.  But suppose you want to try something homemade?  One option is to make cookie ornaments.  But not with real cookies, because there’s pretty much a 100% chance that the cookies would start sporting bite marks, and then they’d disapper entirely leaving only little crumb covered ornament hooks, and that would just be sad.

No, it’s better to make ornaments out of something a little less tasty.  My favorite is Penzey’s Cinnamon Applesauce Holiday Ornaments:  instructions formally written out in a .pdf file here.  Essentially, you take a jar of applesauce, drain it overnight by putting it on a dishtowel or cheesecloth over a bowl (supposedly this is unnecessary, but enough water drains out that it seems to be quite a useful step).  Then you add a bunch of cinnamon, which is pretty cheap if you buy it at a dollar store.  Stir in enough for it to become a stiff dough (it’s edible, but about as tasty as pure cinnamon),  roll it out thin, cut out shapes, and poke out a hole for yarn or ribbon  Then you cook them for 175° [assuming your oven goes that low] for 6-8 hours.  That’s right, 6-8 hours:  you pretty much need to play on being home all day.  On the bright side, your house will smell GOOD!], decorate them, and add something to hang them from like yarn.

You can use your favorite cookie cutter (perhaps in the shape of pi).   In this case I used a butterfly to represent the butterfly effect from chaos theory [an idea gathered from the Halloween Costume suggestion here].


That symbol is gamma because I thought that γ deserved to step out of π’s shadow for the holidays.

Godzilla wearing a butterfly

So that’s Homemade Holiday Gift #1.  For 1.5, I was going to show you how to make Gem Magnets, but it turns out that with their glass tops, photographing them requires a lot more skill than I have.  Or maybe a better camera.  They look something like this:


See what I mean about the photography?  But they’re still pretty cool to make:  you get magnets, then cut out circles either from pictures or from plain paper that you can draw on (perhaps your favorite math symbol, which is the faint tie in to mathematics with this post).  Then you glue one of those clear stones on top, and lo and behold you have a homemade present!  Woo hoo!  (And if you like directions that are a little more precise, you could try here.  If words like “silicone” scare you, just use an all purpose adhesive that sticks to metal and glass).

Happy Holidays!

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