Day By Day© by Chris Muir.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Make a Christmas (or other) recording for free or cheap

     More from my artist uncles:  My uncles made a Christmas tape of a story called “The Girl in the Yellow Dress”. We still years later play this tape at holiday time. If you have a tape recorder, you can make a recording of a story you make up, or just read one from a book. Get a couple of jingle bells for the sleigh sound effects. This is a fun project for some older kids to make for their younger siblings.

     If you want to make your recording on a computer, Audacity is a free multi-tracking software. With a cheap computer type condenser mic plugged into your computer, you can add your vocals or whatever parts, and just keep adding parts until you get the effect you want. You can also get a CD of 1,000 sound effects for about $5.00 in most any office supply store, or I’m sure there are free sound effects you can get online.

     If you want to get fancy about your recording, you can get a small box for about $40 that converts RCA ins to a USB out, and then you can hook up anything with RCA outs (i.e. a stereo, a VCR or DVD player, a mixing board, etc). The only thing I’ve found about this setup is when you are laying one track after another sometimes there is a small (like 1/10 of a second) delay between the tracks you already have and are listening to and the track you are recording, and then you have to delete a small amount of silence from the beginning of your new track to make it line up with the others on playback. I think this is called “latency”. If you are recording your own music it really helps to put a click track down first, or the drums if you are using loops.

Cheap Christmas ideas

Since retail stores are already focusing on Christmas, I thought I’d get an early start too.

It’s really the together time that counts, and small kids like homemade gifts just as much as the store-bought ones. Also you can have them help make cookies to give, they learn how to bake and they get to sample the cookies, and it’s inexpensive.

I have artist uncles. I remember my uncles would make me and my brother cool handmade gifts. One time I got a puzzle made out of a board with a picture of Mary and baby Jesus glued to the top, cut into weird shapes with a jigsaw (a true jigsaw puzzle!). Another Christmas one of them made paper-mache ornaments. One looked like King Tut's sarcophagus. We thought these were the coolest ornaments ever and would fight over who would get to put King Tut on the tree.

At one time, I was living in a communal hippie household. My housemate’s kids were small and I made a fort out of a big cardboard box for them. They played with it a lot more than with their regular presents, which unfortunately sort of irked my housemate, but oh well, she was always complaining. You can’t go wrong with a big cardboard fort for small kids. This mother of 5 decided to hit all the free holiday events in town, and made homemade gifts, which her eldest helped with. They visited relatives and instead of exchanging gifts, spent time doing fun things. For her husband, she wrote a love letter, which is an annual thing with them.  That is so romantic.

So, with a little creativity you can have a holiday season that captures the spirit of Christmas instead of the expense of stupid commercialism.