A Crafty Christmas Crime @Anasleuth

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

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Most people don’t associate Christmas with crime, but when you write a mystery series, murder is never far from your mind, even at Christmas. As the author of a cozy mystery series, I’m always thinking up both new ways to kill people and new ways for my amateur sleuth to solve the murder.

However, since I write a crafting cozy series, I also have to come up with new craft projects for each book. Unlike most crafting cozies where the amateur sleuth works in one craft or owns a shop that features a specific craft, I made Anastasia the crafts editor of a women’s magazine. That way I could feature a different craft with each book.

In Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide, the eighth book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, I chose to feature crafts made from Christmas greeting cards. Many people save some or all of the cards they receive each year, either for sentimental reasons or because they’re too pretty to toss into the recycling bin come January, but they usually wind up in a shoebox on a shelf, rarely to be seen again.

All of the crafts I feature in the series are easy enough for even the most novice crafter to finish with a sense of accomplishment. The last thing I want to do is frustrate any of my readers. One of the craft ideas in Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide is to fashion greeting cards into Christmas ornaments. This is also a perfect craft to do with children or grandchildren of just about any age, and you get to enjoy those beautiful cards each year when you decorate your tree.


There’s no one right way to make these ornaments. You can use craft materials you have on hand for decorating or purchase small amounts at any craft store. Be creative, and have fun!

Christmas Card Ornaments

Christmas cards
patterned scrapbook paper
index stock
glue stick, tacky glue, and gem glue
approximately 9” of thin ribbon for hanging loop
rick-rack and other assorted trims
a variety of embellishments such as small pompoms, buttons, charms, and flat-backed acrylic gemstones

Trim the front from the back of the card, then trim the card to the desired size.

Cut a piece of printed scrapbook paper slightly larger than the card. Glue the card to the scrapbook paper. Glue the scrapbook paper to the index stock. Trim the index stock to the scrapbook paper. (If desired, you can glue the half of the greeting card with the message and signature to the back of the index stock to remember the sender.)

If desired, glue rick-rack or braid around the perimeter of the card.

Glue the ribbon to the back top corners of the card for a hanging loop.

Decorate the cards with various crafts materials. In the ornaments shown the Merry Christmas Reindeer card ornament is embellished with a white snowflake charm and gold braid. Red pompoms were glued to the Songbird card ornament for the berries. The Happy Holidays Berries card ornament was trimmed with green rick-rack. Small red gemstones were glued over the berries.

For more easy-to-make craft projects, check out the Monday posts on Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, the online version of the women’s magazine where Anastasia works.

Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 8

Two and a half weeks ago magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack arrived home to find Ira Pollack, her half-brother-in-law, had blinged out her home with enough Christmas lights to rival Rockefeller Center. Now he’s crammed her small yard with enormous cavorting inflatable characters. She and photojournalist boyfriend and possible spy Zack Barnes pack up the unwanted lawn decorations to return to Ira. They arrive to find his yard the scene of an over-the-top Christmas extravaganza. His neighbors are not happy with the animatronics, laser light show, and blaring music creating traffic jams on their normally quiet street. One of them expresses his displeasure with his fists before running off.

In the excitement, the deflated lawn ornaments are never returned to Ira. The next morning Anastasia once again heads to his house before work to drop them off. When she arrives, she discovers Ira’s attacker dead in Santa’s sleigh. Ira becomes the prime suspect in the man’s murder and begs Anastasia to help clear his name. But Anastasia has promised her sons she’ll keep her nose out of police business. What’s a reluctant amateur sleuth to do?

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