Gift Ideas – Homemade

A repeat post, updated – hope you don’t mind. If you’re like me, you may not even remember it from previous years.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, neighbors, 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, but the texture will be different. 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!dividerholly

Another gift I made one year was a dark chocolate/white chocolate bark with peanuts. I packaged it in decorative boxes with a ribbon. Here are some good fast and easy ideas in that vein:

https://www.marthastewart.com/1043580/chocolate-bark-recipes

This is the one that I made:

https://www.marthastewart.com/314692/winter-bark

More fast and easy ideas:

https://www.crazyforcrust.com/5-minute-chocolate-bark-6-ways/

dividerhollyAnother 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.

germanstars

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.

This little gnome is cute!

dividerholly

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://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?

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

16 Responses to Gift Ideas – Homemade

  1. Menagerie says:

    I used to make hundreds of cookies to give away. Also make a little different version of Chex mix that we all love. Everyone loved getting homemade treats. I have also given loaves of bread as gifts, and you can get some nice stuff to wrap it with as well.

    A few years ago the grandkids helped make a beautiful pastry that made wonderful gifts for each of my sons’ families. If I remember correctly, I gave it to them in time for a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day treat or breakfast. You can only bake two at a time, so it isn’t something you can make lots of to give away unless you spend days making them, but it is a wonderful present for a few special people. Turned out beautifully and the kids were super proud of their work, plus they had so much fun. I’ll find the recipe and post the link here.

    Anyhow, I agree with you about hand made, homemade gifts Stella. Most people treasure something that can’t be bought.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Menagerie says:

    This is the link. These are surprisingly easy to do, and quite delicious. I’ve also substituted Nutella for the filling for a daughter in law who loves it. I prefer the nut filling myself.

    https://www.tastesoflizzyt.com/maple-nut-cinnamon-twists/

    Liked by 1 person

    • stella says:

      I have the ingredients set out to make a loaf of Panettone (they have to be at room temp.)

      A not-so-easy bread to make, but really appreciated! I use my bread maker for the mixing and first rise, then remove the dough for a subsequent two rises in paper molds.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Here is a fun little item to add to if you give a cookie recipe and all the ingredients as a gift. I would give the ingredients (in a cute package) because then people could make them whenever they wanted, and have them all hot and yummy!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. jtrstill says:

    Last year, my neighbour made us a beautiful poundcake! It was so good, and she sent it in a cake toter from the dollar store. The best gift we got last year!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Here is a cute gift that goes with the hot chocolate comment today’s main post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m always looking for natural flavorings because I have food allergies, but I can’t find many and they are often expensive. I searched on home made flavorings and found the Everclear website and some links which show how to make your own natural flavorings, bitters, and liqueurs! I used freeze-dried blueberries and made a blueberry flavoring! Now I’m on to making whatever flavoring I need for recipes.

    Limoncello has a preservative in it that triggers my asthma so I was happy to find this: https://www.popsugar.com/food/Orange-Liqueur-Recipe-33040498 You can stop after straining out the orange peel, and you have orange flavoring. They also have ‘How to Make Homemade Cocktail “Bitters”‘ which are often basically herb flavorings.

    And here on the Everclear website is how to make Chocolate Liqueur! https://makeityourown.com/recipes/chocolate-liqueur/

    They have multiple recipes on their website: https://makeityourown.com/recipes/

    Enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. tblakney says:

    Well, my family is getting together on 12/19 ,a Saturday, for a cookie bake off amount the family!! I am thinking seriously about giving the spicy molasses cookie a try for my entry!! Maybe I could come up with a new category of most risk taker !! LOL Maybe a new category will give me a win!!

    Liked by 2 people

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