Gift Week, Day One – Homemade

goldgiftSo many times over the years I’ve wanted to give gifts to people I associate with regularly, but who don’t fall into the usual categories of family and friends – coworkers, my kid’s teachers, friends from church – but couldn’t really afford to shell out the money necessary to buy nice gift(s). What to do? Why, make something, of course!

There are several categories of gifts that you can choose from.

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If you are able to cook or bake, then an obvious choice is a box of cookies or candy, or perhaps a decorative sack of Chex mix or candied nuts. A different gift I received one year was hot chocolate mix with candy cane stirrers dipped in white chocolate and rolled in large sugar crystals. If you have a bit more to spend, you could include a holiday mug.

Your choice is only limited by your ability and budget. When I was a child, a friend of my mother made a wide variety of traditional German Christmas cookies, and gave us a box every year, which we looked forward to eagerly.

An easy and inexpensive choice is a bag of molasses cookies. Presentation is almost as important as your gift. A work friend made these one year, and presented them in decorated brown paper lunch bags, tied with a ribbon. Include a recipe card too!:

molassescookiesSpicy Molasses Cookies (about 3 dozen)

  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3/4 cups Crisco (vegetable Shortening)
  • 1/4 cup Molasses
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix sugar, shortening, molasses, and egg together until well combined. Dump in dry ingredients, stirring dry ingredients together lightly. Mix together until dough is combined.

In your hands roll dough into walnut-sized balls, then generously coat each ball with sugar. Place balls on a baking sheet and bake for 9 to 11 minutes, allowing to bake for about a minute after cookies begin to crack.

Remove cookies from baking sheet and allow to cool before packaging.

Hints: You can substitute butter for shortening, if you like. If you don’t have all of the spices on the list, substitute with what you do have, but don’t overdo on cloves or ginger – they are really strong!

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germanstars

Another category is homemade Christmas ornaments. I have made and gifted German paper stars (and I use them on my own tree too). I first learned to make them when I was about ten years old, and our church youth group made them to sell at the church bazaar. You really need accurately cut paper strips, which fortunately you can now buy on the internet.

Best prices: http://highhopes.com/paper.html

Nice variety: http://www.origami-resource-center.com/store-moravian-star-paper.html

Alternatively, you can cut your own, but this becomes tedious if you are making a lot of stars. On the other hand, you can use any decorative paper you have, as long as it is decorated on both sides, and is long enough to cut into strips. I have even made them from the colored newspaper funny pages, although newsprint is a bit light weight.

Add a decorative string or ribbon to hang them on the tree, and add embellishments, if you like. I personally prefer the plain white ones that are dipped in wax, and sprinkled with glitter. You could also use spray adhesive and glitter, or just leave them plain. The width of your paper strips determines the finished size. A one inch wide strip will produce a four inch diameter star. Here is how they are made. It’s a bit tricky at first, but you will be able to do these quickly in no time:

Take a look at your local craft store (or on the internet) for ideas. There are hundreds of ideas for every budget and ability. For example, I have made ornaments from pine cones I picked up under the trees at work and down the block from my house, decorated them with ribbon, a small bird from the craft store, some craft store berries and a bit of glitter. Pine cones make pretty wreathes too.

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lip-balm1

Personal care or home gifts. That would include homemade candles, soaps, bath salts, body scrubs, lip balm etc. Here are some ideas/instructions:

http://www.multiculturalfamilia.com/2011/11/23/diy-holiday-gifts-homemade-personal-care-product-recipes/

http://wellnessmama.com/4770/lotion-bars/

http://www.realsimple.com/holidays-entertaining/gifts/homemade-holiday-gifts/surgar-bowl-candles

http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2013/11/18/diy-cinnamon-candle-gift-handmade-holidays/

SONY DSC

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Now it’s your turn – what is your favorite homemade gift idea?

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This entry was posted in Family, Hobbies & General Interest, Holidays, Nostalgia, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Gift Week, Day One – Homemade

  1. amwick says:

    I am giving out homemade candied nuts. I bought pretty goodie bags and the tall, really tall Christmas coffee mugs for containers. I had a neighbor who gave out small Christmas Cacti planted in festive coffee mugs. They were so cute.

    I didn’ t realize how late it is. Oopsie.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. nyetneetot says:

    I have an idea for Menagerie…..

    Liked by 11 people

  3. lovely says:

    Thanks Stella, you just inspired me to write a well overdue letter to my girls telling them how very much I love them ❤️

    Liked by 4 people

  4. holly100 says:

    Very nice post. When my Dad was alive I would fill his freezer with small bags of crockpot and casserole food. Easy for him to heat up and have a nice homemade meal.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. derk says:

    Going to be making some German Stars, never have and they look fantastic. Thanks

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Menagerie says:

    I’m going through have to try those stars!

    I make two or three batches of Chex mix to give out. I make two throw away turkey roasting pans at a time and I use an old family recipe we all love. I also bake bread and our favorite cookies to give away. A few times pies. Most of my gifts involve cooking.

    I have made ornaments and stockings, I have also given away little floral arrangements that I placed in dollar store vases. I also made a silly, wonderful, perfect wreath out of shotgun shell casings, or whatever you call the empty plastic. All of had to buy was the form and raffia that make the bow.

    This year, since I work at Bass Pro Shops and we have so many cool gifts and products, I plan to make up baskets for each of my sons’ families with various products in them, tailored to each family.

    Love this post Stella.

    Liked by 7 people

  7. Menagerie says:

    Forgot about picture frames. I am very good at faux finishes, so sometimes I buy ugly frames, cheap frames, or ugly pictures at second hand shops that have decent frames and I paint them and distress or gild them, different finishes I can’t me up with. My daughters in law seem to appreciate them, and it’s a good gift for expectant mothers or those with small children.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. stella says:

    One year I put together Christmas books for every family in my SIL’s family. It included Bible passages, songs, poems and stories for Christmas. Added a decorative cover and back, and tied together with pretty red cording.

    Another year I made and gave jars of jam – cherry and peach.

    Liked by 6 people

  9. amwick says:

    Believe it or not,, this turned out awesome… I found this funny thing in a thrift store.. a thin wooden sheet with doll furniture ready to punch out.. A couple pieces were missing so I bought the whole thing for $2.00

    I had a blast putting the stuff together.. I painted them bright red and put foam gingerbread stickers on the furniture, kinda like people… Then a gold string and I had unique( strange) Christmas tree ornaments. I have my neighbors with the super duper awesome tree the Christmas toilet and tub… I just found a bunch in the garage that I didn’t give away…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. amwick says:

    Tonight I took a stab at making a nativity stable. It is in the early creative process, using mixed media: foam board, school glue, play sand and duct tape…. I realized that I threw my back out lifting the bag of sand…Hopefully things will be better tomorrow… First injury of the season, but it’s all good.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. texan59 says:

    Mrs. T is preppin’ for the good friends and family. She bakes every year, cookies, fudge, brittle, and other assorted things. Sampler platters (boxes) go out to a select few, and now we’ve got them checking in to see if they’re still on the list. I told her to hook for another year or two then throw the hammer down and tell ’em they can get the freebie if’n they buy some brittle and cookies for their friends and family. We’ll see if she can pull it off. Her cookin’ and bakin’ is a lot better than my workin’, so I’m looking for a little help on the side. 😆

    Liked by 2 people

    • amwick says:

      My aunt made brittle,,, the kind with melted chocolate on one side… It was like heaven… She is 93 now, bless and keep her. I used to make tons of cookies, but it was easier giving them away at work. IDK, somehow it just doesn’t seem to be Christmas time without that sweet smell in the oven.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. facebkwallflower says:

    I got a bunch of mens USA/flag flip flops for free so thinking of making these cool crochet slippers.
    http://makeanddocrew.com/free-crochet-slippers-pattern-flip-flops-sole/

    Liked by 1 person

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