Gift Week, Day One – Homemade

Repeat from last December, but there is always more to add …

goldgift

So 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.

6 Responses to Gift Week, Day One – Homemade

  1. Menagerie says:

    I do a ton of baking shortly after Thanksgiving, making hundreds of our favorite cookies and sometimes breads. I also make chex mix to give out.

    I have hand made ornaments on my tree too, and they are much more special than most of the others. A co-worker of mine gave me a crocheted Santa every year that his very elderly grandmother made for him. I have four or so of them, and I put them on the garland on the hand rail, hanging to the outside so that all will see the colorful and festive hand made Santas.

    Yes, people do very much value such gifts.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. lovely says:

    I love the idea of homemade gifts. I was thinking of making one of my daughter potato pancakes and freezing them so she could have her favorite food on hand for whenever she wants it.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. czarowniczy says:

    “Oh gee, dad/grandpa, homemade…does that mean you’re gonna write us a check?”.

    Like

  4. Menagerie says:

    I plan to make some of these this year, maybe with the grandkids. Goodness knows I have all the twigs I need!

    http://www.firsthomelovelife.com/2013/11/diy-twig-ornaments.html

    Liked by 1 person

  5. czarina33 says:

    Last year a co-worker gave ribbon tied packets of a holiday tea bag, a flavored instant coffee packet, a hot chocolate packet & a candy cane.

    Liked by 2 people

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