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.

5 Responses to Gift Ideas – Homemade

  1. Menagerie says:

    Thanks Stella. Home made cookies and big batches of Chex mix have always been part of my Christmas gifting, although I always make both sometime between early and mid December so that we can all enjoy it during the season.

    This is a recipe that I have made before and gifted to my sons’ families for Christmas breakfast. I don’t do it often because it means I have to make these on Christmas Eve, when I’m usually so busy with many other things, or just wanting to enjoy the day. But it is a very rare recipe IMO, in that it is super easy to make and it will look just like the picture, no special skills needed to actually be able to make it pretty. For one daughter in law I replace the filling with Nutella. I’m sure you could use high quality preserves as well, but the filling in the recipe is very good.

    I’ve even made it with my grandchildren who were around four and six when we did it, and they were able to each make their own little pastries. I reduced the size of theirs.

    Like you, I really enjoy hand made gifts. Some day I’ll make the stars with the kids, but I doubt I could get the paper here in time this year. We have cookie making scheduled for Friday night with the kids.

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

    Liked by 2 people

  2. czarina33 says:

    One year I made truffles. They are really simple to mix, but time consuming and you’ll freeze your hands making them into individual candies!!! I made dozens and dozens, flavoring them by rolling in espresso, powdered sugar, or cocoa. I put a few of each in every gift box. People remembered them for years!

    Melt 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1/3 cup heavy cream in the microwave. Add 1 tsp vanilla. Pour on a cookie sheet and refrigerate. Cut into 1” squares and mold with your hands into truffle shaped lumps (this is where your hands freeze). Roll in coating. Refrigerate again. Idea: Might use a small scoop to start the shaping.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. WeeWeed says:

    😀

    Liked by 3 people

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