On Homemade Christmas Gifts

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were chatting about some of the best Christmas gifts we’ve ever received.

Many great Christmas memories from childhood came up, as did some other great memories from various holidays since our marriage.

Yet, when we both began to list some of our favorite gifts received over the last several years, we found that many of the memorable gifts we received weren’t ones that were picked up at the local department store. They weren’t expensive ones, either.

In fact, a lot of the gifts that really stood out as thoughtful and memorable were homemade gifts.

Rachel is particularly good at these types of gifts, and so it’s unsurprising that several of the gifts we both mentioned were ones that came from her. As I’ve mentioned before, Rachel is a close friend who chose a career in social work and took on the incredible challenge of working with mentally handicapped individuals, doing what she can to enable them to enjoy the simple pleasures of everyday life and camaraderie with their peers. It’s incredibly challenging work, yet somehow she does it every day.

When it comes time for holidays, Rachel often makes handmade gifts for people, and it’s those handmade gifts that are memorable. She’s done all sorts of things over the years – I particularly remember some handmade journals made from homemade paper. Beautiful and one-of-a-kind.

Reflecting on that, Sarah and I asked ourselves, “Why don’t we make mostly handmade gifts for people this year?”

The reasons are many.

They’re often less expensive in terms of dollars and cents. Homemade gifts aren’t free – they always have a cost. However, when you compare the cost of a homemade item to the most similar item to it that can be purchased in a store or online, you can make many such items at home at a lower cost.

Instead, they pass along value in the form of time and care. More importantly, though, you get to choose everything about how you assemble the gift. Every ingredient, every visual element, every choice – it’s all up to you. A homemade gift allows you to pour some of your care for others directly into the item that you’re giving instead of just pulling it off the shelf at Target.

They’ll make for memorable gifts. Since homemade gifts are most assuredly not just something shipped to you from Amazon, they’re also going to be memorable. It’s easy to forget an item yanked off the shelf at Wal-Mart. It’s harder to forget a carefully-made homemade item with a custom, thoughtful label.

We might make some useful things for ourselves along the way. Many homemade gift ideas can also serve a purpose around your own home – after all, you’re making items that you consider worthy of giving to people you love, so shouldn’t you find them at least somewhat useful yourself?

We might learn some useful ideas and skills along the way. As we make homemade gifts, we’ll be picking up knowledge and skills along the way. Not only will this serve us in terms of knowing how to make the item, many individual pieces of knowledge and specific skills can find applications elsewhere.

So, this year, we’re going to try our hand at making a lot of homemade gifts… and we’re going to share these experiences and gift ideas with you.

Over the next several weeks (somewhere between eight and twelve, depending on what gift list we finally decide on), Friday afternoons will feature a post outlining a homemade gift we’ve made for the people we care about.

Some will be simple. Others will be complicated. At least one will seem a bit dangerous. Some will be very cheap. Others will have some additional cost to them. A few will seem awesome to you, and others will seem boring (I’m betting, though, that the boring/awesome divide will be different for different people). You might even decide to try some of them, both for yourself and for gifts.

I’m going to try to order the series so that the posts focusing on gifts that require the most lead time come first. If you decide to make a particular gift right after reading the post (even if it’s for yourself), you should always have enough time to get the materials and get the gift ready before Christmas.

At the end of the series, we’ll give you a peek at all of the items we’ve made for gifts for others. We have a lot of people to give small gifts to, from neighbors and teachers to friends and business associates. Plus, we’re going to bundle some of the items as gift baskets for people close to us (with a few little surprises for them that won’t be spoiled on the site).

Tune in this afternoon for the first in the series, a very simple homemade item that we’re practically as anxious to use ourselves as we are to give it to friends.

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  1. Milly says:

    Allow me to make a pitch for consumable homemade gifts. Homemade trinkets mostly become clutter, in my experience. The only exception in my life has been the quality quilts my sister makes; when we get one of those, it counts as multiple presents, and they definitely get kept.

  2. teri says:

    Just wanted to say, I read your blog every day and love it. Regarding Christmas presents, (as well as birthday, Mother’s day, etc.) my family very often – but not always tries to give something either home-made or recycled. during the year, when we run across something we don’t want or need, we save it for a gift. Sometimes they are gifts someone else gave us (I think this is called “re-gifting”). I just discovered a 2nd hand store for kids clothes. Amazing! You can give a great gift and only spend a few dollars.
    thank you again for your blog!

  3. valleycat1 says:

    We usually make gifts, buy from local artists/crafters, & try to give things unique to where we live (as at least half of the people on our list live elsewhere). Some people get our recurring specialty food items, others something different each year. It will be interesting to see what you plan to make!

  4. Leah says:

    yes, sounds great! I also second the idea of consumable homemade stuff. I particularly love it when people make up dry brownie mixes and things like that. Not from a box, so you know exactly what’s in it, and often quite yummy.

    Not exactly homemade, but my older brother every year gets a box of ethnic foods for me. For awhile, he was living in a part of the country without some of his favorite foods represented. I sent him a box full of supplies for making those foods. I still send something but look for more esoteric weird food stuff. He says he always eats it. Best present ever :-)

  5. Johanna says:

    On the flip side: If you’re going to make homemade gifts, you’d better be extra sure that they’re something the recipient wants and can use – if you’re giving an item of clothing, make sure it’s going to fit, for example – since taking it back to the store for an exchange is not an option.

    There’s no need to denigrate store-bought gifts (“yanked off the shelf at Wal-Mart”?) in order to sing the praises of homemade gifts. And if the item from Wal-Mart is something that I will use every day, you can be sure that I’ll remember it, whether it was yanked from the shelf or removed gently.

  6. Gretchen says:

    Some of the homemade gifts I haven’t forgotten because they were so horrible.

    The sweatshirt with the neckline ripped out and replaced with a crocheted one, for instance.

    The gift needs to fit the person. Handmade by you, handmade by someone local, or purchased at a box store.

  7. Johanna says:

    That said, this is a great idea for a series. I hope that the presents themselves are similarly great ideas.

  8. Interested Reader says:

    If someone is just grabbing something off a shelf thoughtless to give a gift the problem isn’t that it’s store bought, the problem is with the giver.

  9. Interested Reader says:

    My post should have read “thoughtlessly to give a gift”

  10. Rhonda says:

    One of the most memorable Christmas gifts I ever was involved with was when I was about 7. It was for my paternal grandfather, and it wasn’t so much the gift as the wrapping. He was extremely fond of a lemon-lime soda called ’76’. My dad got him a case (or 2?) and we wrapped it to look like a house, right down to a Christmas tree in the window. We also gave him a bottle opener to mount on the wall and wrapped it like an outhouse. Still have a photo of the two packages sitting under the tree.

  11. Michelle says:

    I think the book on knitting just came into context. Knitting is easy to do. Knitting well takes much more practice. Homemade gifts made with care and skill are wonderful, but please don’t give your loved ones your practice items. Ameteur gifts are cute from children, tacky from adults. Looking forward to seeing what you create!

  12. Hillary says:

    For the last two years, I’ve been giving homemade food gifts and they’ve been a huge hit! The first year, I made caramels and caramel turtles (with one bag of “Evolutionary Mistakes”). Last year I sent canned apple butter and cake bites. I’ve been a victim of my own success though, and am still thinking about what I should make this year – tried and true or new and different!

  13. Melissa says:

    @Michelle – I’ve been knitting for a year now and am only now considering gifts to anyone outside of my immediate family.

    @Trent – A gift should not be devalued based solely on its source. If thought has been put into the gift and its usefulness to the recipient considered it should not matter if it comes from Walmart or your own 2 hands. Also, handmade gifts may seem like a great idea, but unless you have skill in the craft you are undertaking, your gift most likely will not be what you imagined it to be. It may come out looking amateurish, like Michelle said, at which point the recipient may not value it as much as something purchased (whether for display or functionality).

    However, that said, I am looking forward to this particular series and am very curious to see what you will be crafting for your gift recipients.

  14. Ro says:

    I enjoy receiving homemade consumable items, and have received some great fudge, pickles, chocolate covered pretzels, and cookies in the past. My best friend is a crafter and I’ve gottem some things from her such as altered notebooks that were very cute. Looking foward to seeing your ideas!

  15. HebsFarm says:

    I happened to love the sweatshirt I received with the neckline cut off and replaced with a knitted one – but Mom was an excellent knitter – and I am geeky like that – so it was all good.

  16. Emily says:

    I love this idea. I’m really curious about what you have planned as I would like to make gifts also. Knitting is a great idea. I have to say that I disagree with the previous commenter. I’m an experienced knitter, but I’ve received a simple garter knit scarf as a gift and I think it is beautiful and very useful. As long as you can follow directions and buy some decent yarn, things will turn out great.

    I’ve also received a mix of dried herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme) from someone’s garden that I use all the time.

    Another thing my husband received and appreciated was a winter rice mix with recipe. It had the rice, herbs, dried fruit, etc. It was easy for him to make (usually I’m the one who cooks) and it was delicious.

  17. Mary says:

    Looking forward to seeing the ideas. I remember one Xmas my parents bought me a pink Ipod. What I remember the most about it though is the many (and I mean many) boxes my dad put it in. Box after box opening I’d become frustrated: What the heck could be in this tiny box?! Then I opened the last box and there it was, the one thing I’ve been wanting for a while. I was thrilled.

  18. Amy P says:

    I really like the handmade patchwork pillow, baby blankets, baby sweater, and crocheted stuffed animals (an elephant and an adorable lion) that I’ve gotten from friends and family. My kids like some hand-knitted socks we’ve gotten from a friend. However, I’ve also gotten hand-knitted mittens in garish colors that nobody ever wore. We have had something like a 90% success rate with the hand-made items we’ve gotten, but I hate to see somebody really putting their heart and soul and time and money into making something really, really ugly. And unfortunately, nobody’s going to tell you that your homemade gifts stink.

  19. Kate says:

    I’m really itnerested in seeing how this series turns out. I’m a huge fan of homemade gifts, although I would add the caveat that you need to plan ahead. WAY ahead. I still remember the “December of Doom” where I desperately tried to finish (actually start AND finish) a quilt in time for Christmas/Hanukkah. It was a disaster.

    That said, we have completely simplified our gift giving by making homemade gifts. The “trick” (if you can call it that) is that everybody gets the same thing.

    Every year I make a couple huge batches of cookies, bars, and truffles, and then pack them up into tins. One per family, and one per office. It covers the gamut of holidays, and they’re consumable- no one has to bring junk home!

    At first I wondered if people would be annoyed or taken aback or something by getting the same gift, but it has been a hit! I’ve done it for about 4 years now, and people love it. It seems to be one gift people enjoy getting every year.

  20. Sheri says:

    Trent, I hope you are not planning to learn to knit and also complete a bunch of hand-knitted gifts in time for this holiday season!

  21. Amy P says:

    My SIL makes fantastic biscotti for Christmas. I’m counting down the days right now until her box arrives. She also gave us a beautiful dog-shaped blue quilt one Christmas that I love, but which I haven’t been able to persuade my son to use.

    I’m not a crafter, but for the past couple of years, my husband and I have decided that we will not be getting personal gifts for adults in our family (aside from each other). (We do buy individual gifts for children in the family, after consulting with their parents.) Instead, over Thanksgiving my husband and I go through all our photos for the year and put together a digitally-edited photo album for each branch of the family (plus a copy or two for our kids and maybe a friend or two). We’ve used Walgreens and Walmart to print the photo books before, although there are many other companies that do this. You can’t tell exactly what it’s going to look like on the printed page when you’re doing this on a computer, but it is very efficient. It isn’t cheap to do 10 of these (we do hardback bindings) and then ship them across the country, but they’re very pretty, and the grandmas are always asking for more photos.

  22. Rita says:

    I will be interested to see what you two are doing. I did that in my family when all of us were kids. My husband and I toyed with the idea and have decided not to do it this year since we just had a baby and are still adjusting to being parents. But we want to give it a try next year. All that said, I am looking forward to your series on home made gifts.

  23. Trent Trent says:

    Most of the gifts in this series are consumable, although in different ways.

  24. Misty says:

    Thank you, I can’t wait to see what you post.

  25. Dane says:

    I too am looking forward to this series! I was forced into a frugal life four years ago, and over those years have become really good at making gifts for people (baking, mix cds, photo prints etc.) and while I really enjoy it, I’m looking to expand my repertoire.

  26. Jessica says:

    I think a homemade gift is great regardless. Someone actually took the time to make something for you means a lot. Good or Bad.

  27. Serenity says:

    I’m also very curious to see what happens here, too. I crocheted a rather lopsided hat and scarf set for my niece one year, but she loved it because it was in all her favorite colors. But she was also 3 and easily impressed.

    I’m having a hard time thinking of any gifts for people in my family this year. Many of my family members have everything they need and don’t make Christmas lists, and I don’t have the cash to get my nephews the gaming systems and other expensive gifts they might ask for.

    Hey Amy P – my sister put together a couple of DVDs for my family last year with pictures, and a scrapbook for my dad. The only downside? She broke up with her fiance and I’ve broken up with the boyfriend featured in those DVDs since. Awkward

  28. Corrie says:

    My husband and I did this with his family a few years ago — we picked names for a gift exchange and limited ourselves to homemade presents, and there were actually lots of tears Christmas morning (of the happy sort) because people were so touched by the homemade gifts. I was also really impressed by some of the hidden talents – for example, my father-in-law sewed me potholders and aprons!! Some of the other homemade presents included a wooden treasure chest that my husband and I made for his nephew, a shadow box with special photos that I put together for my husband’s aunt, a fleece blanket and covered ottoman, a poem that my brother in law wrote for his wife.

    Everyone agreed that this was the most meaningful but also the most difficult Christmas gift exchange, and begged off of homemade gifts for a few years. :-)

    My husband and I usually try to do a homemade gift for our larger circle of friends. We’ve done Christmas ornaments, homemade frozen potstickers, and homemade ice cream. We also have friends who make 40 different kinds of cookies and deliver them to 30+ people, which to me is crazy but impressive!

  29. Anne says:

    Fifteen years ago I interviewed for a position in a legal department. The interviewers talked a lot about the gift one attorney made every, single year for everyone in the office (then about 40 people); a box of homemade truffles. It was a source of GREAT pride. I ended up taking the job and saw first-hand the impact of those boxes of truffles made. They were anticipated all year long and made the department the subject of much envy. People often shared them with friends, family and co-workers from other departments.

    I no longer work there but hear through the grapevine that she continues her tradition. These gifts are a huge morale booster and help make their workplace just a little more caring, a little more like family.

  30. Monica says:

    Interesting timing, as I was just thinking about memorable gifts the other day. I think both homemade and store bought gifts are memorable … what counts is the thought that went into the gift.

    My American Girl doll was a bought gift, but something that was truly wanted and played with for years. Also love the fleece blanket my parents gave each of us last year with our college logo and monogrammed initials.

    On the homemade side, my dad made us a wooden playhouse when we were little. Hands down, favorite gift of all time. The amount of love and time that went into making it is something I didn’d understand until I was older, but it makes such a treasured gift even more special.

  31. Jackie says:

    I’m looking forward to this series! I’ve had mostly bad experiences trying to make homemade gifts. I hope in your posts you’re honest about the real costs and quality of the things you make. My experience makes me think most crafts are not worth doing, but I hope you prove me wrong!

  32. Jason W says:

    Im switching to homemade gifts this year. I am making my own wine and a christmas spiced ale. I have custom labels for the wine and custom 6-pack containers for the beer. I decided to do it to combat the growing commercialism of christmas. I cant count how many gifts Ive received that have ended up directly at goodwill. Its not that I dont appreciate the gifts, its just the gift doesnt fit well with my attempted minimalism or values.

  33. AndreaS says:

    My father-in-law had a small business during his retirement years making wooden items for a woman who taught tole painting. One time about fifteen years ago when he visited, I came downstairs in time to find him moving items on my kitchen shelf to make room for a clock he made but was tole-painted by this teacher. It wasn’t ugly, but not something I would have chosen. I knew he meant well, and I was gracious about it. And I knew it would sit on my kitchen shelf until the clock mechanism failed, or until he passed away. Well, he died a couple winters ago, and of course that clock will always be in my kitchen, because it was made by my childrens grandfather. I still don’t love it.

    Since then one of my rules has been that I don’t decorate other people’s houses for them. The exception would be if someone specifically asked me to make them a certain thing. I do a lot of quilts from scraps, and I do what pleases me, working what I have. I give them to people only after an individual tells me they really like one I did and that they would like to have it.

    Other than this, I think the gifts have to be something people might use up (including wear out), or something they don’t HAVE to use, and doesn’t that take up much space. So making Christmas ornaments is good because these are small items, and stored for 11 months a year.

  34. Dawn says:

    The best gift I ever gave was a photobook, while not quite homemade since I didn’t physically make it, took a lot of time and effort to pick out pictures and design the pages. Last Christmas I put together a photobook online for my grandpa who had been battling lung cancer. It’s was pictures of his family (mostly grandkids and great-grandkids). He loved it, and we sat together at Christmas and looked through it several times. He died less than 2 weeks later, and I’m so happy I decided to take the time to put that photobook together for him. It meant more to him than anything I could have bought.

  35. J.O. says:

    I just want to emphasize what other posters have said – homemade items can be wonderful or truly awful.

    That said, I am seriously looking forward to this series as well!

    (And my guess on the dangerous craft you mentioned is beer making – it does have the potential to explode, no?)

  36. Rhiannon says:

    The best presents I’ve ever recieved were homemade items. My 93 year-old great-grandmother made me a quilt out of her old dresses she wore when she worked. Last Christmas my dad made me a bookshelf and it was honestly the biggest present- suprise I have ever recieved. I love to make scarves, hats, candels, treats, and other eco-friendly homemade presents. I’m looking forward to this series!!!

  37. Jackie says:

    I make beer regularly. It isn’t any more dangerous than other kinds of cooking.

  38. Beth says:

    I am really looking forward to this series, as my husband and I were having a similar conversation in preparation for this year’s Christmas season. I think the most important key to being able to give thoughtful, homemade gifts is plenty of planning and time; otherwise, we’re forced to order something from Amazon. Sounds fun!

  39. Lauren says:

    I’m super excited for this series!! Being a recent college grad with a fairly low paying job (but thankful for it!) I had recently begun stressing about the expenses of the holidays this year…can’t wait to see what’s in store!

  40. Bob S. says:

    A few years ago we started making a lot of gifts, not necessarily for economic reasons but just to do something special. Cookies, chocolate dipped pretzels etc…in reusable jars. So, not just the gift itself is important…it can also be what its given in! Another side effect of making our own gifts is the great time we have together doing it! Also, the exercise our brains get by noodling ideas for next year is a bonus. Win-win-win!

  41. Hope D says:

    Every christmas I make chocolate covered cordial cherries. They are awesome. I hand dip them and then drizzle white chocolate on them. They are beautiful but easy. My husband has a home business, and he gives these to clients. When they see him coming, they dance up to him so excited.

    The most dangerous homemade gift I ever received was crocheted slippers. My mom made them. They were bright colored with pom poms on the top. I loved them until I tried to walk down our painted steps. My parents (I was a kid then) had all hard floors. Those slippers were death traps.

  42. Sandy L says:

    One of the best home made gifts I ever received was a framed picture of my uncle, my mom and her twin sister together. My mom hates her photo taken and it was such a wonderful present to get a nice photo of my family.

    I also love home made food and quilts.

    The worst gifts I got were those thoughtless presents you see in the aisle of the department stores during the holidays…it’s not always a snuggie, but always bad.

  43. Gretchen says:

    See, examples of how you have to know your market. I sewed my husband a snuggie last year and he loved it. :)

    Also note that the aunt who made the sweatshirt usually made us really awesome gifts. That particular one was just a fail.

  44. SwingCheese says:

    I love to bake, and am reasonably good at it. About 10 years ago as a broke, just-out-of-college liberal arts major, I made gift bags for my friends, filled with a variety of cookies, brownies, biscotti, breads and chocolate covered pretzels. I still hear about that gift to this day. So now, as a less broke SAHM with a decently sized kitchen, I’m looking forward to recreating it. The only real problem I had was making sure that I met up with everyone in time, before the gifts grew stale.

    And if your bottled beer is exploding, you’re bottling at the wrong time. It isn’t supposed to explode :)

  45. Matthew says:

    Recyled gifts: I have been on a decluttering binge for awhile now and have filled a closet with stuff I no longer want. So whenever I have to bring a gift to an occasion I check my Aladdin’s gift cave: I found today 5 cute ceramic espresso cups and saucers, and a nice gift basket, and a handmade tea towel. I wrapped the cups in tissue paper, used the tea towel to fill in the basket, bought some espresso beans from Starbucks $8 and some chocolate covered coffee beans,$3 and filled in the basket. So for $11, I had a gift that really wowed the Newlywed couple who invited me for dinner. They will never know most of the gift was “recycled”.

  46. Courtney says:

    A friend of a friend is a mailman who gets many homemade treats as gifts from the people on his route. He said that while he appreciates their kindness and generosity, he never eats the food. The reason – he’s seen what the kitchens of these people look like and many of them are gross and unsanitary.

    This story pops into my head every time someone gives me a homemade food item!

  47. Hope D says:

    My mother has been a collector for years. She skirted mild hoarding. She had collections galore. She collected Royal Copley, especially chickens. She had close to 200. For the past 5 years she has given her children some of her collectables. We all love it. It is like having your favorite childhood memory at your house. Her and dad are on fixed incomes, and this allows them to save a lot.

  48. Valerie says:

    Homemade gifts don’t have to be new. I’m an only child, but I’ve always celebrated Christmas with my two cousins. A few years ago, I found some old photos of us as kids and had them re-printed (70’s hair, clothes, goofy faces, cousin with olives on all her finger). As the photos were passed around everyone had tears in their eyes from laughing so hard and we were able to share the memories with the grandkids.

    I also remember for my 16th birthday, my mom finished the cedar chest that my dad had started making when he was in high school. I still have the chest, with wood from a tree my dad chopped down over 50 years ago.

  49. Kate E. says:

    I am really looking forward to this series! I also want to hazard a guess as to next week’s featured gift–making homemade soap? The homemade beer guess mentioned above was a good guess too.

  50. Cj says:

    I love homemade gifts. I think a big part of homemade consumables is putting a little effort into presentation. I’ve received homemade cookies in tins from the dollar bin at Target that seemed very luxurious and thoughtful. On the other hand, I have a notoriously stingy co-worker who gave her assistant a homemade pancake mix in a ziplock bag. That got the reaction of “really?”. It is the thought that counts, so make your gift look like you put some thought into it.

    My favorite homemade gifts are baby quilt. Nothing beats those. I still have the quilts that were givenPlay
    to me when I was born and both of my children used them as well.

  51. Becky says:

    Trent, this is one of your best post ideas yet! One more reason to look forward to Friday afternoons!!

  52. Another Katie says:

    I have generally found that homemade gifts end up costing much more than I think they will and more than a bought present. My family was really big into homemade gifts when I was a child and they were great. But, the gifts I remember most are a pair of roller skates when I was 12 and a small hand mixer when I was 13 or 14. They both went through a great deal of use until they simply wore out. I am generally hesitant to give any kind of sweets at Christmas. We get so many plates of cookies and candies. I’m still interested to read this series.

  53. winter boots says:

    I came downstairs in time to find him moving items on my kitchen shelf to make room for a clock he made but was tole-painted by this teacher. It wasn’t ugly, but not something I would have chosen. I knew he meant well, and I was gracious about it.

  54. deRuiter says:

    Give home made food. People eat, they don’t have to store it, and if it’s not to their taste they can feed it to the chickens or compost it. Agree with poster who said not to give decorator items.

  55. Camille says:

    Oooh, looking forward to these posts! A couple of years ago I got into canning and made some jars of jam & preserves for friends and family. I haven’t done it since then, but everyone seemed happy with their presents. Last year my brother gave me homemade vanilla extract plus two kinds of hot sauce that he made from peppers grown in his garden.

  56. bella says:

    this is wat my grand maman made for herself , in french un bain de pudeur. put 2 cup of oatmeal in the blender and make it very fine, mix with 2 cups of full fat milk powder and 2 teaspoon of essential oil of lavender, if you have put some dry lavender flower. it is plenty for 5 baths. the water become very milky and leave your skin really soft. you can use it for baby bath too.the oatmeal is very good for skin irritation. lady`s in fance use this in the past in order not to see their own naked body. bain de pudeur is prudish bath in english

  57. rosa rugosa says:

    Here’s another vote for consumables! And as far as home decor objects go, even if one loves dragonflies for instance, there are only so many cute dragonfly objects that the small house can comfortably contain!

  58. Kelli says:

    Super looking forward to this. Great idea!

    I thought one of the best ideas I’d seen lately was to give frozen, homemade, partially baked loaves of bread. I second what people are saying about consumables, but sometimes the AMOUNT of food at the holiday times is overwhelming and we just can’t eat it all. We are both teachers so our students kindly give us all manner of goodies – we get swamped! I thought the bread was a good idea because it’s still homemade and different, but the person can hang on to it for a little while until all the foodiness of the holidays subsides and then pop it in the oven for some wonderful baked bread goodness.

  59. Fiona says:

    A friend and I did this a few years ago. We also put the leftover vanilla pods into sugar to make little bags of vanilla sugar. It’s also worth soaking the vanilla pods in different flavors of vodka and even bourbon for alternative extracts.

  60. Interested Reader says:

    I’m not big on making homemade gifts because I don’t find making a lot of things enjoyable — I’m not crafty or artistic. I like to cook but I’m terrible at baking, etc.

    Also I have a very small list of people I exchange or buy gifts for – I think this year it’s going to be 6 or 7.

    What I love to do is coming up with ideas for gifts and go shopping for Christmas gifts. Not just at regular stores but also going to arts and crafts exhibits (there is a big one here close to Xmas), stores like Etsy and things like that.

    The most memorable gifts I’ve given — the ones that get mentioned years later — have all been bought except for one (and I gave it to my grandma)

    The problem is the homemade gifts I’ve given have been…okay, but not great and pretty simple.

    It’s also easier for me to buy for the people on my list because it’s mostly family and in my immediate family it’s always been a tradition to exchange Xmas lists — we always did this when I was a child and when we grew up my brother and I and my parents exchanged lists.

    So I have a list to work off of and I know my family so I end up getting some on the list and a few things off the list as I’m inspired.

    To me the most important thing about giving is making the gift about the recipient. Something the person would really want and enjoy and not just something the giver thinks they might like or want.

  61. Deborah says:

    Being a person who LOVES homemade holiday gifts, I can’t wait to see what you share!!
    Go, go go!!!

  62. Marie says:

    Consumables are great but watch out for food allergies. I am gluten intolerant, so cookies, breads, some candies are not for me. I just say thank you and give them to my husband or take them to work.

  63. Amy says:

    This year we’re only doing homemade gifts. Our youngest (9) is knitting scarves, our middle (13)is sewing lounge pants for the guys and book caddies for the girls, our oldest (17) is doing oil pastels, I’m making afgans. I think my husband is making fishing poles. We’re also making homemade stockings this year (we lost a lot of our christmas decorations/winter items in a flood this June).
    For everyone outside the family, we’re doing layered brownie mixes, fire & ice candles, decorated notepads, etc… The kids are VERY excited about using what we have and what we know to share with our family and friends. We go over what we’re going to make and decide which gift is more suited to which person.

  64. almost there says:

    My spouse quit nursing and has all these hand sewn nursing scrub tops that were made for her. She can’t bear to give them away. I found a place online that makes quilts out of t shirts or any fabric. I will have a couch throw made of them. Pricy but worth it.

  65. Matt Jabs says:

    Starting a few years back my wife and I made this same decision. Homemade gifts are more fun to make, more fun to give, and more fun to receive – as far as we’re concerned.

  66. Jackie says:

    I love to design my own gift baskets. Sometimes I fill them up with goodies I have made myself and sometimes I have a mixture of homemade gifts and store bought items, it all depends on who I’m making it for. I like to theme them around something I know that person loves, like a hobby or a collection or even just a color, it’s always fun to see what I can come up with!

  67. Matthew says:

    A nearby Home lifestyle store was having a big sale and I bought eight cool glass cannisters with
    lids for $10. I am going to bake a selection of Christmas cookies and feel them, tied up with a red bow, a stylish and practical gift. Where I live, few people bake so the gift has even more appeal. I also bought 3 picture frames for $8. I will frame some pics of friends from Christmas past and give it to them. Thoughtful and cheap!

    I managed to place an order for vanilla beans from India, but as I noted above few people bake here ( v hot climate) and I am not sure the vanilla extract will be appreciated.

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