Today I can show you the St. Nicholas gift I made for my Swap partner Ineke, as she has finally discovered I was her secret Santa. I started by making her a large chest to hold laundry, but soon realised my mistake: I had forgotten about one of the rules of the Sint Swap...the gift has to be sent in an envelope. Postal rules dictate that an envelope can have a maximum thickness of 3,2 cm (= 1.2 inches). Oops! The chest would not fit through the letterbox so I had to think of something else, something flatter.

This is what I came up with: a folding drying rack copied from an antique one and a little box with some fine linen. Of course I had to use Ineke's favourite colour blue.

I'd also like to show you the miniature street scene my 10 year old son made (with a little bit of help from his mom) as a 'surprise' for the St. Nicholas party at his school. At his school, the bigger kids (who don't believe in the Saint any more) draw a name and have to buy a little gift for one of their classmates. They then have to make a 'surprise' and write a poem to accompany the gift. A 'surprise' is another part of the St. Nicholas tradition in Holland where the gift is disguised or hidden inside something you make yourself. To make the 'surprises' half the population in Holland is busily crafting the week before St. Nicholas. Of course this is all done in secret.

The gift hiding in this 'surprise' was a Lego street cleaner from the Lego City range.


  1. Josje, the drying rack is beautifully done and with the box of linens it is a perfect gift!

    I love the street scene that your son did too. Great work!

  2. I love your work, Josje and this rack and chest you made is no exception. But I think the project you did with your son is a masterpiece! :) Wish I could see the details :)

  3. The drying rack, as said before, is such a lovely thing and the detail on the box is marvellous. I'm sure your friend will be thrilled to receive it.

  4. Your son did a wonderfull job! I bet the boy who received it was very happy with it!?!
    And I also adore the things you made, such a pretty shade of blue and there is such incredible detail to your work!

  5. It is so beautiful!
    And I just read your previous post too, the nails are incredible and what a clever way to show us your presents!
    Your blog is such a joy to read!

  6. I think my comment was just lost, so I'll repeat it!

    The two gifts are both beautiful in their own, different way. I love how the 'dirty' streets give a clue to the gift!

    Was the little chest really dovetailed? the lining inside is perfect too.

  7. The fine linen box and the drying rack is beautiful, I love the colour and the box has such fabulous detailing! But my favourite is also your son's little town! I want to shrink, so I can wander in the streets and look at all the beautiful houses there. Just wonderful!
    And it was also so interesting to learn more about the St. Nicholas' traditions! Thank you for sharing!

  8. I guess Blogger has some problems, my comment got lost too.

    Your swap looks beautiful! So much detail and the linen is very delicate (did you use handkerchiefs?)

    And the surprise you made with your son is stunning. Love the houses and I bet the recipient was very happy!

    groetjes evelien

  9. Oh....I adore the 'drying rack' is wonderful. The tiny box with it is also a delight...I love your work!


  10. This was an impressive work, drying rack is a beautiful color. The small box was charming with the fine linen.



  11. That drying rack was lovely. I think miniatures are fascinating but I don't have too much time to spend these days. I'm gradually reworking my old childhood dollhouse. I'm going to follow for more great ideas!

  12. It is absolutely beautiful!
    Our envelopes for the mail can only be 1cm thick! It makes life very difficult...and expensive!
    Your son's scene is fantastic, a wonderful idea!

  13. Of course all the projects are wonderful but I'm particularly smitten by the drying rack, love the colour and the detailing. Who would have thought anything connected with the chore of laundry could look so beautiful?

    Had to chuckly about the posting situation, I discovered to my 'cost' that I should have packed your little gift in a better way to keep it within the thickness limit - still living and learning even at my age! LOL

  14. Hi Josje, again my compliments, it's been a great idea to skip the laundry basket and come up with this, which fits her so well! And the excecution is never the isue with you ;-))great as ever! But may I ask what you've used as hing on the box?

  15. OH Nooo, I just lost my entire comment....I'll have to start again.

    Thank you all for your lovely comments! I'll try to answer all of your questions now.

    @Sans: The pictures do pop up a little bigger by clicking on them. That way you can see a little more detail ;)

    @Lize: Often the surprises and/or poems give clues to the gift within. In this case the clues were very obvious, haha!
    Yes, the box has little finger joints. I love how that looks, in miniature and full size too!

    @Evelien: Yes I used old lace trimmed handkerchiefs. In the old days those ladies really had some delicate hankies!

    @Lynnae: Time is always a problem. I hope you can find a few hours a week to enjoy your dollshouse!

    @Mercedes: Goodness, only one cm! So you have to ship mostly parcels, that is making it more difficult!
    The size of the envelope here is related to the size of the letterbox opening. If the mailman can drop the envelope through the letterbox, then it is the same price as a letter (depending on weight). If not, then it is delivered by the parcel service = more expensive.

    @Norma: Yes, anything to brighten up those boring chores, haha!
    Oh no, you had to send it as a parcel? You really didn't have to do that!

    @Debby: Dank je wel. Yes, the hinges, they were a bit of a problem. I had started out making something else, so when I made the small box, the hinges I had were waaaaay too big. I began making my own hinges, but didn't have the right materials. I then searched the internet but couldn't find anything small enough. By then I was beginning to run out of time, so I resorted to making fabric hinges, just like you did on your Jack-in-the-box (yes, I do pay attention!). I will be sending out some e-mails to locate a good source for small hinges. I'll let you know when I've found them.


  16. I'm blown away by the cuteness of the things you make!
    Oh my gosh that drying rack and box is so amazing!!!!!!!!!

  17. Your gifts are just beautiful! I enjoyed taking a closer look at the street scene you make with your son too. Will there be prizes for that? I'm sure he will WIN first place! :)

  18. Hello Josje! Your blog is always very interesting!
    Thank you for your comment.
    Nikolaus has as a child lost his parents and he found solace, as he gave all his wealth to the poor. He was then Bishop of Myra, where he went every year on his birthday through the streets and give the poor apples, nuts, tangerines and honey cake. He especially loved the children, so every year since then on December the 5th or 6th (in his memory) the children get a small gift bag with candy. In Austria and parts of Europe were added over time, other figures. Also the sinister fellows (Krampusse) to help Nikolaus. These punish those very naughty children with strokes on the buttocks. Yes, they are very scary.
    The children are afraid, and looking forward to this day, it's very exciting. Hugs, Anjah

  19. Thanks MelMel!

    Thank you Kathi. No, no prizes. The pleasure you get from making it and giving something to someone else is the prize ;) I told my son what you had written and his response was a beaming smile! His teacher said next time she should grade the work because she thought he had done such a good job.

    Anjah, that is so interesting! Your Nikolaus and our Sinterklaas are the same man, it's just his helpers that are different. In Holland his helpers are black men called Black Peters, who probably have a Moorish background. In the old days the bad kids used to get 'a whipping' with a bunch of twigs, but that is no longer done or even threatened with. Now the helpers are kind and friendly and the naughty children just don't get any gifts (well, that is the threat anyway). The excitement for the kids is the same everywhere I suppose. They are a little bit scared, but still love and look forward to the celebrations (no doubt because they get gifts, haha).
    It's very interesting to read your story of this, as in Holland we always think there's not many places apart from Belgium and a small part of Germany where St. Nicholas is celebrated.


  20. The drying rack and box are so beautiful!


  21. I'm back again to look at the drying rack, I didn't get time to look properly at the decoration on the top last time.

    Re the mailing of your little gift - it was my own stupidty - I could have opened it and repacked it but really it's not such a big thing, and I'll think more carefully next time!

    Now I have a question - what did you use for the decoration on the top of that rack. I've been looking everywhere for that type of thing to use on some projects and can't find anything. I've looked at lace (including lace edged handkerchiefs) and in the scrapbooking 'embellishments' but I can't seem to see anything like that. It's frustrating!

  22. When you celebrate this day, also on 6. December? Your Customs, is our still very similar, that I find very interesting. Thanks for your answer!

  23. Hoi Josje, de hand van de meester was zeker te herkennen,al hoewel ik even twijfelde (door het doosje) of het gemaakt was door Debby,maar hoe dan ook degene die één van jullie als hulpsint krijgt toegewezen is een enorme bofkont!

  24. Thank you Marilyn!

    Hi Norma, in answer to your question about the decoration on the drying rack, you could use lace or anything with a nice pattern which is slightly raised. For this I used a paper embellishment which is called Dresden trim (or German Scrap Trims, Metallic Paper Lace). Used in Victorian times mostly for card making or embellishing a Poetry Album (in Holland every little girl still keeps one!). If you Google Dresden paper or any of those other names you'll come across many online shops. I often buy a large sheet and cut it up to use the different elements. I've used it to make mirror frames, ceiling decoration and on furniture too! I've been building up a collection of the stuff for a couple of years now and I use it often. I hope you find the ones you like too!

    Hi Anjah, We celebrate the eve of St. Nicholas, so it's on December 5th. I very much enjoyed reading about your traditions too, like I said, I really had no idea!

    Dank je Sabiha. Moeilijk is dat toch he, om de makers te identificeren. Dat doosje zaaide wel enige twijfel bij meerdere mensen geloof ik, haha.


  25. What a wonderful swap gift you have made Josje, I love it!!!



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