As the stores are getting crowded, time is running short for shipping, and your calendar is looking like a football playbook at half-time, gift-giving can seem like a another looming chore. It’s sad to me how stressful this time of year can be… what happened to the days of singing Christmas carols, decorating cookies, and drinking eggnog by the fire?
Knowing full-well what the holiday season has in store, I decided a long time ago that I would make my own gifts this year… I actually decided last December since I knew I had to get started early in order to make it happen! (After months of attending jewelry-making workshops, reading books on soap-making, and scanning articles by Martha Stewart, I feel as though I am pretty qualified to give advice on the topic.)
Fortunately, for those of you who haven’t been scheming for 364 days, I’ve weeded out the time-consuming projects and put together a list of gifts you could actually make in the next two weeks….gifts that people would actually want!
1. Homemade Liqueur –
Amazingly enough, this gift takes little effort to pull off, and doesn’t require too much time!
Here’s one easy recipe for Creme de Menthe:
1. Combine 7c sugar and 6c water in a saucepan.
2. Heat and stir until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes.
3. Allow to cool.
4. Add 1 pint of 190 proof alcohol, 3T mint extract, and 1T green food coloring (optional)
5. Just put it in a nice jar and add a ribbon with a label and you’re done!
For more liqueurs check out AllRecipes.com
2. Wooden Bead Necklace
I originally found the idea of making a wooden bead necklace on MarthaStewart.com. I liked them so much that I ended up doing a few different styles, and even made one for myself! Dying beads, following this tutorial, was actually pretty simple and turned out beautifully.
The necklace in this picture was made using some beading supplies I had leftover from another jewelry project, but you can easily thread the beads onto a soft ribbon if you don’t have wire and clasps. Just make sure to tie it long enough so that it can slip over your recipient’s head 😉
Ok, so maybe cookies are a little obvious, but if you decorate them well (or add rum to them) they will surely be a hit! I have been sworn to secrecy on this family Rum Ball recipe, but here’s a similar recipe from the Bon Apetit archives.
Craft stores usually sell tins or boxes that you can use to really make your gift stand out.
4. Seed-Starting Kit
If you have someone on your list who likes gardening, even just herbs in pots, a seed-starting kit would make a great gift!
Find some seed packets for herbs, or something more fancy like some non-hybrid/heirloom/organic seeds from Sow True Seeds, and pick up some potting soil at your local nursery. Then check out HGTV’s steps for customizing your kit.
A gift that truly keeps on giving!
5. Gift Basket
A gift baskets sounds like a generic gift that has a lot of fluff in it, but what if it was full of something your recipient loved? Here are a few ideas that might work for someone on your list…
Retro Candy – When we were kids my brother and I would always head straight to the penny candy story when we got our allowance money. Red hots, candy buttons, and bubble gum cigarettes definitely bring back memories of those days! Try Hometown Favorite’s Nostalgic Candy if you can’t find anything locally.
Art Supplies – For kids or crafty adults consider a basket (or box) full of handy supplies like decorative scissors, colored pencils, ribbons, and glue sticks. Trust me, these are treasured items for us crafty types!
Yarn – If you know someone who knits or crochets a basket of colorful or exotic yarn is a great treat …plus, maybe they’ll make you something 😉
6. S’Mores Kit
Perfect for a winter bonfire, this S’Mores kit from HGTV, is a great last-minute idea for a kid, or anyone with a sweet-tooth! Though the homemade marshmallows, cookies, and chocolate bars (!) in this article look delicious, if you’re in a pinch for time I think you could still pull off a hit with the classic ingredients… you know, from a box.
Inspired? Read the full article from HGTV…
7. Raspberry-Peach Jam (no canning required!)
I found this great recipe on America’s Test Kitchen. Looks delicious (haven’t tried it yet), and I’m amazed at how simple it is. Just coat frozen berries in sugar, boil, and pour into a jar!
Of course a crafty label or a pretty bow will help make it look even fancier.
Detailed step-by-step instructions available at America’s Test Kitchen Blog: Feed.
I hope this list helped you find some inspiration! Comment below to let me know if you tried any of these, or if you have other ideas for simple homemade gifts.
Kate Fosson is our resident web designer, artist and maker of all things creative! Last year Kate illustrated and published her first children’s book, Nautical Alphabet. <-- Another Christmas gift idea??
When she’s not doing creative projects she is hanging out at the beach with her dog or traveling the countryside. Kate’s husband is active-duty Navy currently serving with the Seabees.