Homesteader Christmas Ideas? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Yes, it's that time of year again, for those who celebrate. How about it who has idea's for frugal Christmas gifts? Homemade, used, new bargains,? I myself have some plum and grape juice in the freezer and will make jam for some gifts, did this 2 years ago and it was a big hit. I'd be interested in anything homemade, unique, folky, country, for young and old alike! Carol in Tx

-- Carol (, September 14, 2000


Carol, I checked out ( deliberate living post ) and went to homeschooling and ended up at ( I think that was it) anyway they have a craft section for holidays and there was one called Snowman Soup. Came with instructions to make and fix and a lable to put on package. Really cute. Lots of neat ideas.THought I may do something like that along with some of those cakes in a jar. A little fudge; maybe some jam and homemade bread.

I really love to cook in the winter. Especially bakeing bread and stuff. Put this in a basket maybe some fancy coffee ( also homemade ) Most of my friends and relatives don't cook and are really impressed. Works for me! Good luck and I look forward to other post. Thanks for starting this one.I personally love homemade and unusual stuff.

-- Bonnie (, September 15, 2000.

OOOHHH! Carol! I just went to the " search the web" thing on my computer, Typed in Christmas Crafts to make and there are all sorts of neat thing there. Looks very promiseing. Check it out.

-- Bonnie (, September 15, 2000.

Carol, I always love to give something I grew and several times I have made up jars with Italian seasonings in it. Homegrown, organic, cute lid and label, folks love it. You can also go to and scroll down through their Homeplace menu. There's a craft section that might help, plus the entire forum menu is wonderful.

-- melina bush (, September 15, 2000.

Carol one year I made birdhouses as Christmas gifts from some left over scraps of lumber. Decorated them, (some looked like outhouses with a half moon, others like old barns with Mail Pouch on the side, etc.)and everyone loved them. I have also made bird feeders, and given them with gifts along with some sunflower seeds.

-- Marci (, September 15, 2000.

Mittens take almost no time , how about homemade tree ornaments .I love the stars out of white cotton or painted wood or ceramic ones at walmart .Jams , jelly's , pickles , breads ,cakes , cookies a little of this or that put into a nice basket {lawn sale of course ] My relatives love theses things .

-- Patty Gamble (, September 15, 2000.

Marci - how do I get on your Christmas list?!?

I also bake and do the jelly/cookie/candy thing. Hubby and Ex get old tools and old machinest books and the like. Pop gets used books by his favorite authors (Pat McManus and Louis L'Amour). Sis gets neat house stuff (dishes, etc...) for her hope chest. Still not brave enough to get Ma-in-law and Sis-in-law and niece used stuff, but do sew some things for them. I do, however, have the in laws trained to shop for me at the used book store and local new-used-and abused shops - they sit and shake their heads as I open my gifts with whoops of delight. Then again, they shook their heads in bemusement when I married their son/brother too!

-- Polly (, September 15, 2000.

One year my children made ornaments out of thin silver metal- embossed, pierced and painted with transparent jewel-toned paint. Pretty! Last year they made shaped glycerine soaps, beautifully tinted & scented - Grandma loved them! This year they are making more soap in a different way. My daughter made beaded bobby pins for her friends, this year will be beaded bracelets. Once they even made beautifully decorated cookies wrapped individually and everyone loved those too. Nasco in WI is a great source for craft supplies, ask for their craft catalog. Keep the ideas coming, I can always use more!

-- Jean (, September 15, 2000.

One gift that I enjoy giving is homemade noodles, dried or for the freezer. If the person knows you real well and trusts your "home canning," canned chicken to go with the noodles is good. The noodles use up any excess egg production if you keep chickens. Stewing hens are pretty reasonable.

I've also made holders similar to cup holders, but altered to hold jars of bubble solution for kids. I use a small router to cut a childs name into the base. These holders help prevent spilling which seems to nearly always occur when the container is almost full. The holder can be accompanied with homemade solution or purchased if you wish. A few drops of glycerin in the solution slows the popping of the bubbles.

Homemade snack crackers always seem welcome because of the Superbowl coming up in January. A handful of flavored oyster crackers is mighty tasty. Homemade cheeze crackers are good also. (See recipe at I get the cheeze powder for making them from my local bulk food store. It tastes like the cheeze in Kraft Macaronni and Cheeze.

Something that I plan to do in the future, is to make a base to go in a yard, that has brackets on it that will allow a "quick change" for a yard decoration/family name sign. The first year of giving will be the base and signs for the four seasons of the year, and a holder for the garage for the signs not in use. The following year will be signs for each individual month. This will be an expensive gift not for the faint of heart. Each monthly sign will be made out of a half sheet of plywood.

Homemade "M & M cookies" made in the 6 inch size, then wrapped in red or green holiday cellophane go over well. The packaging makes the gift "upscale" in many instances. A roll of red can also be used for Valentine's Day giving. I sometimes give a simple gift in one of the antique canning jars. The zinc lids can often be found in antique stores if you don't them. Also new non-zinc lids, but zinc looking, can be purchased and used. Sometimes when I give bouquets I use antique jars for vases and just use a modern ring to cover the threads.

Though I've not done it, a ginger bread mold for ginger bread houses might be a good purchase. It would probably depend up your decorating ability.

Bound carpet samples can be personalized with stencils and paint. I was told "Deco Art Paio Paint" is a good paint to use. I have the rescued carpet, just need to get the paint. Anyone know of a good web site that would provide lettering for making my own stencils rather than buying them?

Yes, it is more blessed to give than to receive.

-- Notforprint (, September 15, 2000.

Pretty labels add a nice touch to home made jams, jellies, etc. I got a sheet of labels from a office supply store with labels about 2"x 3" in size. I downloaded pictures of fruit from clip art and then printed the picture on the labels with the name. (For example-picture of a strawberry and the words Strawberry Jam.)You can also cut fabric with pinking shears into a circle about an inch bigger around than a canning ring. Center it on the lid then put the ring on. Tie a thin ribbonor piece of raffia around the ring. This also "dresses up" jars of jam for gift giving.

Polly-you are on my list!

-- Marci (, September 15, 2000.


I used the different fonts on my computer and the print shop graphics to make stencils to do t-shirts for the cheerleaders and 4-H kids. For single use, or where several kids were doing the shirts at once, I cut them out of brown paper grocery bags, using an exacto knife or one of those snap-of-blade disposable utility knives. For more durable stencils, I used "shirt" cardboard or poster board; and foam meat trays. Works great!

-- Polly (, September 15, 2000.

Everyone has probably already read about my "newspaper" wrapping ideas. I made garden aprons for all my buddies who love the garden as much as I do! Last year I went to a craft store and purchased clear glass (.50each)ornament balls with the "caps" that can be removed! Printed out everyones name in the family on the computer in red ink. Cut it into strips to look like ribbon. removed the cap and glued the paper with names on to the cap ~~Put it back together and tied a 12" pcs. of ribbon to the top! A gift for each person for less than $1.00! I have lots of people who I make gifts for. They loved this one. I also had extras for "drop-in company" that read "Merry Christmas, Joy , Peace, Blessings, Think Snow, Waiting on Santa" etc! I have also used them for favors at Christmas parties and Open Houses!

I have given canned apple pie filling,canned pears! I made pillows out of velvet (the cheap kind) and used my rubber stamps to emboss them with names, animals, garden stuff! Such as: a brown velvet pillow with a white tail deer on it for a hunter in the family. A blue one with an angel on it for my mother-in-law, a green one with a fir tree on it for sister in law etc!

Keep all the ideas coming and if you think of more please come back and repost!!!

-- Debbie T in N.C. (, September 15, 2000.

In the past I have made log cabin bird houses from small hardwood limbs assembled like lincoln logs and secured with panel nails. This year I am going to try making magazine holders in this style with the roof removable for access and include a Countryside gift subscription for 1 year.

-- Jay Blair (, September 15, 2000.

This isn't original, I can't remember what magazine I read it in....

Check thrift stores for wool sweaters. Wash and dry them so they really shrink. Cut out mitten shapes and sew together with bright yarn. We haven't tried it yet, but plan to.

-- Mona (, September 15, 2000.

I think I'll try that mitten idea! I'm not going to have much time to make Christmas gifts this year. I do, as I check out the thrift shops from time to time, pick up anything really nice I see that might work for a gift for someone -- already have a pair of little Dutch wooden shoes for my oldest grandaughter -- they need the toes carved off (less pointed) and perhaps a coat of paint, and will do for when she goes to historical reenactments with her parents. Also found a couple of brand-new L.L.Bean flannel shirts for her and her baby sister (for $3/each!) and a lovely wool afghan in un-used condition for my middle daughter (who is always cold in the winter). I was hoping to find a couple of L.L.Bean shirts for my hubby, as they have a long rack full of brand-new stuff, but it was all men's size small! Usually I manage to find used books, too; will keep looking, but haven't come up with anything really good yet this year. Fortunately, the whole family appreciates used books, "antiques", second-hand, etc.!! One year I made a bunch of polar fleece hats and mittens from mill ends. Cookies are always popular with the children, but there are so many sweets around at that time of year, that the adults don't really appreciate them! I was thinking of the old-fashioned popcorn balls -- will have to see if I have a recipe for them, as I remember really enjoying getting those when I was a child, and it's been quite a while since I've seen any.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, September 15, 2000.

An idea we did last year for grandparents, step parents, etc. of the grandkids was to take bound carpet remnants ($1.00 each) and take each child and put their footprints on the carpet scraps. Used acrylic craft paint, mixed 1/2 & 1/2 with fabric stablizer, which you purchase next to the craft paint. Place in a shallow pan, like a pie dish, large enough to accomodate the largest child's foot. We did this in the bathroom, but if warm enough, you can do outside. Carefully dip one kids' feet in paint, one at a time, then have them place both feet together on one corner and stand up. They have to stand still, then sit back down, or lift up the little ones. I wrote each one's name and age under their footprints and the year on the bottom corner. Let sit and dry well for a few days before giving. Everyone who got these, loved them. If the directions aren't clear, you can email me with questions. We also made handprints in home- made "dough", baked and painted them with child's name and age and the year. Good paperweights for parents/grandparents. Homemade picture frames with a candid snapshot of the child, dog, pet, etc. are nice. You can make and decorate stepping stones for someone's garden using one bag of cement mix, and a cut off 5 gallon bucket for the mold. Decorate the "stones" while cement is still wet with colored rocks, marbles, toys, etc. Dump out and let dry. Keep those ideas coming, the holidays will be here before we know it! Jan

-- Jan in Colorado (, September 15, 2000.

At last years family get together I took some unique homemade foods, like pickled eggs, pickled onions, pickled oranges and preserved mushrooms and cheese balls in oil. I also took some typical preserved things (fruits, jams) and some brownie mix in quart jars (the kids made these). I just brought one or two of the really neat stuff and made the adults draw numbers. The first adult could pick two items, then adult number two could pick from the table or take number one's gifts. Each person that went after could take two items from whomever (or the table) until a gift had been "stolen" no more than twice.It was a hit and I'll be doing it again this year but with homemade cheeses, vinegars, and mustard.

-- Julie (, September 15, 2000.

Quilts! At least one per year to everyone, until everyone in the family gets one. Pot holders, tableclothes, napkins, other stitching decorating things. Recipie boxes with favorite recipies. Cookies and other foods in baskets. Annette

-- annette (, September 15, 2000.

I saw one of those stepping stones made from concrete. They used one of those cheap plates from Dollar store ( Or maybe yard sale ) Broke it and put it in concrete like it had fallen and broken on top. VERY NICE! I am going to try that . Everything is flush with surface.

-- Bonnie (, September 15, 2000.

This may not be the kind of answer you're looking for, but, it sure cuts ways down on the stress. This has now become our annual Christmas tradition. We don't celebrate like a lot of people, and less every year. This will include everyone's birthday, too.

There will be a present for each set of grandkids. Last year it was a Veggie Tale video and cassette. This year a children's Bible story book. They get so much stuff from others, they just don't need any more stuff. They'll get a birthday card with a couple $ tucked in.

I'll take my daughters out to lunch, then to the apple orchard for cider and apples and other little favorites. We'll do this in October. Doing this is very special to me. Then, since they don't live around me, I'll bake lots of goodies etc. and send each family a box.

-- Cindy (, September 15, 2000.

All year long I collect just the right gifts for our special ones at Garage sales/ antique auctions /estate sales etc. & I store them away in a trunk/ then I have gifts when I need them & have spread the cost out during the whole year. I also do a large batch of spice tea/ hot cho. mix / that sort of things & put in mugs I have bought at garage sales -etc. & have for gifts for/those that we feel are forgotten at Christmas time. I always do party mix out of cereal as that is what my daughter always requests for herself & family! I always do lots of bakeing & use that frozen zucchini!!!!(in breads/cakes etc.) I also buy baskets from yard sales & keep & buy dollar kitchen towels that I cut in to two pieces & I crochet around the top to make kitchen towels. I use rubber stamps to make our christmas cards/ gift tags/ gift wrap etc. I buy end paper from the news paper printer/ & use rubber stamps to personalize all gift wrap & gift tags. My hubby & I collect records & we put on the Christmas music in Nov.& enjoy the hot cho mix etc. ourselves. We also give Christmas records & hot cho. mix & goodie basket along with a special Christmas decoration to our fanily at Thanksgiving to enjoy through the holiday season. We have done this for several years--& now they look forward to that special time & try to make the goodies last as long as they can/through the season! The Christmas decoration is usually an antique one I have found during sale season/usually an angel (as my daughter collects angels)--but I try to find an antique one as she decorates in antiques--& it will only increase in value--as she passes it on to my grandchildren. Sonda in Ks.

-- Sonda (, September 15, 2000.

I give baskets of homemade bath goodies to all the women and girls. Bath salts, face masks, soap, moisturizer, milk bath, hand knit face cloth, and a candle. I try to you a fragrance as a unifying theme. Very popular. This year I'm going to add a basket or bucket of kindling, hand dipped waxed and scented pine cones and dried orange peels for those on my list with a stove or fireplace. Last year my married daughters each recieved a large basket with a video, a tied throw, cheese ball, crackers and apple cider. They really loved it.

-- Cheryl Cox (, September 15, 2000.

Saw some stepping stones at the fall craft show at the mall today - they used colored pieces of glass to make a stained glass looking picture on them - saw lots of flowers and some birds. That chicken one was almost tempting!!

Did I mention the $20 price tag? They weren't THAT tempting!

-- Polly (, September 15, 2000.

Cheryl, Would you mind sharing your recipes for the milk bath, moisurizer, and bath salts?? I make milk and honey soap, which I really enjoy, and is good for the skin.

-- (, September 15, 2000.

Cheryl: I would love to have the recipies, too! I have a couple, but not for all of those. Got to get started on this stuff, so there isn't a hectic, miserable rush during the holidays. This should be a happy time for families, not a hectic one where you spend too much. Jan

-- Jan in Colorado (, September 15, 2000.

Cheryl, I would love to know how you do your waxed/scented pinecones! I Live in the "pine" area of NC! From very large to very small in size! I love everyone's ideas but I have a big problem getting everyone to understand that I would love to get old items/hand made items/ and handmade items!! They look at me like I have lost my mind! At my in-laws we do a want/need list. Each person draws one name and purchases a gift for that person! I put things like old kitchen stuff! Old quilt squares-old Christmas ornaments! Haven't gotten one yet! They buy BIG, new stuff that I don't really need or want! I don't want to sound terrible but how can I get them to understand????

-- Debbie T in N.C. (, September 15, 2000.

Something else I do that older folks really appreciate. I give them a meal to cook when they want. All home processed. Maybe a whole chicken breast, canned green beans, fresh potatoes, a jar or two of fruit, jelly and homemade bread or goodies, etc. Whatever makes up a good meal. A elderly person living alone can get a few meals off a whole chicken breast. Sometimes a loaf of bread and balloon.

-- Cindy (, September 15, 2000.

I read an article in our local newspaper a few days ago, from home extension leader. She said canned cakes and breads are not safe, and gave several reasons. Unfortunately, I don't remember (senior moment!) I've never made any of them. I cook because we have to eat, not because I enjoy it. About Christmas presents--one year I made small rag muslin dolls, tore tea dyed old sheets into strips, used small styrofoam ball for the head, made a mob cap, tucked moss in for hair, trimmed with strings of small pearls, ribbons and flowers. I sewed narrow lace around the edge of the cap. Another year, the girl in-laws got earrings, pierced or clips, as needed. I used small Christmas tree ball ornaments, tied with narrow ribbon to fish-hook ear wires. Also made some with itty-bitty gift ribbon things that are used to decorate wrapped tiny jewelry boxes. Have also used the colored roses found in craft section at wallyworld-- these are good all year. A year or 2 ago, I bought Christmas vest panels after Christmas, on clearance. Since I'm feeling more like working this year, I hope to get several of those vests made. Once i made spiced tea, put it in baby food jars, with pinking shears cut a circle of Christmas fabric, covered the lid with that and secured it with narrow red or green tied around the jar just below the lid. Over the years, my husband and 2 sons and daughter have been the recipients of garments--Western shirts, etc. Most of these suggestions probably won't help you if you don't like to sew.

-- ruth (, September 15, 2000.

My husband and I, realizing that we spent a lot of $$ shopping for each other, and also realizing that we had nearly everything we wanted already, simply decide on a gift that we both want (usually something that would make our lives easier, like rocking chairs, or a vacuum sealer) and we just get that as "our" gift, birthdays too. For X-mas we usually add one or two little doodads that are appreciated by the other, but it saves a lot of money. Last year, we also decided to spend less on gifts and more on memories by going out to holiday fetes. Last year, we saw the Messiah not only sung, but performed in ballet at the same time Too cool.

As for gifts, remember if you're shipping that the weight of glass jars makes these gifts run several dollars above their purchase price or actual cash worth - a $1 bottle of homemade flavored vinegar can easily run $3-4 to ship.

One year, I made a large, circular playmat for my niece by painting out the layout of her (small) hometown on, more or less to Hotwheels scale. On the back was a smaller scale map showing approx 60 miles around, with all the major roads to great granny's, the town where her mother and grandmother work, Aunt Bet's, etc. This way, if she is concerned about where Mommy is, she can retrace the route with her little cars. My sis said she loves it. It's about 3' across, on green canvas with fabric paint. My husband likes to experiment with different crafts each year, just to stay entertained. Homemade paper (use up that junk mail!) really goes over well. All sorts of items can be made from it: stationary (enclose matching stickers from the store), blank books, bookmarks, molded paper ornaments, etc. There are several good books on this in the library.

-- Soni (, September 15, 2000.

A few years ago I made catnip mice for allthe cat-owners (or is that "owned by cats"?) - Using pieces of old jeans, I cut out a rough mouse- shaped triangle, stuffed with poly fill and dried catnip from the garden, and added a braided twine tail. Drew on eyes (or if there was time and the inclination, embroidered eyes and nose), voila! Fairly simple, and used up some of the herbs from the garden (man that catnip self-sows like the devil!).

-- Judi (, September 15, 2000.

I love to sew, so usually alot of our gifts are homemade. I made potholders, slippers(crocheted), and lots of embrodered pillows last year. This year, Ive been working on some denim quilts with all the worn out bluejeans around here, very easy, just squares. Im also drying some stuff to make a big batch of home made potpourri, in a few differt scents. im making a rug with a moose for my Mom. I would also love to have the recipes for all the bath salts, ect, what a wonderful idea! Carrie in Wis Oh, my sister in law makes great wreaths with the wild grapevines and dried flowers around. Its easy to shape the wreaths now, if any one wants to know how, feel free to email me!

-- Carrie Wehler (, September 15, 2000.

Last year the boys made "Sand Art Brownies". They layered ingredients in a quart jar. Covered the top with Christmas fabric and secured with a ribbon. If anyone is interested I have my D.H. look up the recipe.

The year before they made Christmas Lights Potpourri. Take a gallon jar. Buy a small string of white Christmas lights (the ones with tiny bulbs) and coil it inside the jar trying to keep them near the glass. Add potpourri as you go to help support the lights. Leave enough wire hanging out the top to plug it in. Put a rubber band around the jar and over the cord to hold it down. Cover the top of the jar with a doily (sp?); weave a thin ribbon through the holes around the doily and pull tight and tie with a bow. When the lights are on the heat from them releases the smell of the potpourri. Really pretty too.

This year we are giving baskets of jelly, herbs and pickled okra.

-- Vaughn (, September 15, 2000.

WOW, I never expected such a response, Ya'll are all just GREAT!!!! I'm going to start making list now and seeing what I already have, and what I might need, to look for used if possible. Let's get busy! The year I gave the jelly for the most special relative's I made baskets (used of course) actually they were crates a friend had acquired and I traded something for a few of them, anyway in this crate I put the jelly, jars of spice tea, cocoa mix, a Christmas cuptowel and apron bought on clearance last year, a sachet of potpouri, the stuffing was hay (that fancy celcias stuff was to high) and then bought some shrink wrap (which was to high, won't do that again) but I only used it on two crates that I had to ship, then put a homemade cloth ribbon and bow all around it, It looked like a custom made store bought gourmet thing! Made a big hit! Yes, we bought plain brown paper one time, rolled it out on the porch, gave the kids Christmas sponge shapes, and some paint and let them decorate the paper, we tied raffia for ribbon and made the cutest name tags by cuting the brown paper with pink n shears scissors then adding a scrap of Chrismas material, well I think I'm losing ya'll in my instructions, it was real cute. I'll have to try to get that paper on the end of the roll thing. Keep em comeing, I'm loving all of them! Let us know your progress! Carol

-- Carol (, September 15, 2000.

The all-time BEST gift my husband and I ever gave to our respective parents was to frame a written tribute to each parent. I think every parent dreams of receiving appreciation and/or public accolades for a job well-done in raising their kids. Each of our parents received appreciation through this individually-written, emotional, and heart- felt gift. My husband and I received the satisfaction of knowing that we had done the right thing (and it was frugal, too!).

-- Liz Rhein (, September 15, 2000.

Here are two ideas from a book that went over really well with the grandparents. We cut styrofoam balls in half, placed a picture of our son on the flat part, then let him decorate the back with sequins etc. then pushed a pin down in with string to hang on the tree. Another time we bought inexpensive pillow cases, & dipped his hands in fabric paint,then under the hand print wrote Good Night Grandpa, & Good Night Grandma. This was done on the end of the case so their face didn't have to rest on the painted part. I have a Whirley Pop & can make all kinds of popcorn, I like to make red & green kettle corn then put the christmas red & green M&M's in it, seal bag, then use decorative stamps on paper stock that fits over the top, & staple on each end.

-- Lenore (, September 16, 2000.

Those pine cones sound so intriguing! Does anyone have any information for me on how to reuse the scented candle parts that are left after you have burned the candle? Several people I know have a candle burning all the time (I love them but never think about it and tend to like the smell of home cooking more than just the candle imitating it!). Anyway, they've offered the candle wax to me and I know that I should be able to melt them and make new ones. I haven't done this since I was a VERY young girl scout and I don't have a supplier for candle wicks. Can you guys help? It just seems to me to be such a waste! (And might be the perfect solution with those pine cones!)

-- Jennifer (KY) (, September 16, 2000.

One year my mother-in-law was really into refunding. She had a whole host of shampoos, conditioner, lotion, etc. that she ended up paying little if anyting for. She wrapped them up and gave them to her daughter and two teenage granddaughters (definitely not the homestead type). They were delighted and so was she.

My brother's family is very easy to give to. My brother wants money for his baseball card collection, so I make up games or puzzles for hime to earn the money. This makes for fun memories. His wife collects chickens, I get most of those at yard sales, even found one with her name on it. And my neice collect wolves.

-- Cindy (, September 16, 2000.

Some ideas for free or really cheap Christmas tree "ornaments" pine needles tied with a red or green ribbon, pussy willow twigs with ribbon, pine cones, walnut shells tied with a thread on either end and a really small doll or fuzzy bear (makes a swing). Homemade gingerbread cookies. Cinammon sticks tied in a budle to look like fireplace logs. Pine cone angels made from pine cones acorns, milkweed pods and pipe cleaners and small musical instruments-drums made from acorns. There's all kind of natural things you can use for ornaments. The last tree we had, we cut ourselves and only put a few lights and plain ornaments on it along with all the natural ones. It was really beautiful.

-- Cindy (, September 16, 2000.

Here are the recipes some of you asked for. Milk Bath 2 cups dried milk, 1 Tlb. dried orange peel, 2 Tlbs. dried lavender flowers, 1/2 Tlb. dried rosemary. In a food processor, finely grind the citrus peel, lavender and rosemary. Add to the powdered milk. Stir well. Pour into clean, dry containers. To use; pour 1/2 cup under running water into a warm bath. This is a gerat way to use old powdered milk.

Facial Cleanser 2Tlb. oatmeal, 1 tsp. dried lavender flowers, 1tsp. dried rose petals, 2Tlb. living earth clay (from a health food store) In a food processor, finely grind the oatmeal and flowers. Add the white clay. Stir well. Pour into clean dry container. To use; combine 1 tsp of powder with water in palm of hand, forming a smooth paste. Gently clean face with paste and rinse with cool water. Everyone really loves this one.

Bath salts 1 c. Epsom salts, 1 c. kosher salt, essential oil Combine all ingredients. The amount of oil varies according to preference. I like a lot. You may add food coloring to tint the salts if you wish. Not only do th salts soften the water, they also, according to the fragrence used, relax or stimulate you. They also help to remove germs from the skin. I use the salts whenever I've been in a crowd during flu season.

Herbal bath cheescloth or some type of plain loosely woven material, oat bran, lavender, rosemary, rose petals, rubber bands, ribbon Cut a large circle of the cloth, place in the center of the cloth 1 Tbl. of oat bran (oat meal also works), and 1 Tlb. of the herbs. Fasten with the rubber band and tie with a pretty ribbon. These looks beautiful in a glass container sitting on the counter. I just toss a few of these in the basket. I usually use the curtain material that is all the fad. It looks like cheescloth but is a slightly tighter weave. One store charges a fortune the other doesn't. 1 yard makes alot of herbal bags.

I'm contantly on the look out for fnacy jars and bottles for these gifts. I decorate the bottles and add fancy homemade tags with the name and directions. Since these are all natural, most people can use them. Good Luck.

-- Cheryl Cox (, September 17, 2000.

Cheryl: Thanks so much for the recipies! Now, to get to work! Jan

-- Jan in Colorado (, September 17, 2000.

Under the post "Let's see how much we can save in a week" I have posted two homemade soda recipes ( Cream Soda and Mulled Ginger Apple Cider), and the book title they came out in. If you have the bottling supplies, you could bottle them for gifts (see notes section for use of plastic soda bottles). If not, they still make good Holiday fare for parties.

Also check out the Free with Rebate page at the site The page is full of things that are free or cost signifigantly less when you turn in the rebate package. You order through the site (can probably print out order form and mail in order) and when you get the product you get instructions on how to get your rebate for all or part of the purchase price. The specifics are all on the site and they seem to have all kinds of stuff form kids toys to appliances (crock pot type stuff) to who knows what, most of which are free after rebate. If it's not free, it's usually about 2/3 taken care of by the rebate, so a definate holiday shopping spot if you have the resources to put out the cash now, to get it back later.

-- Soni (, September 17, 2000.

When I posted I forgot to tell you what I have done for my children's Christmas present this year! Since all three are young adults,living on their own--I have made them each a cook book! I have included all their favorite recipes that I make, from Grandmothers also and some from their favorite restaurants! (I got these from the Copycats web page) and printed each page out with some advice on how I do it! Slipped each one in the cheap vinyl sheets,used for reports, to protect them. I put them all in a white 3 ring with the name of our family farm on the front and a page that I have written for each one of them. I am also working on their own photo albums! I have taken a small photo album (with the old type black paper)! I am including some of their favorite photos of Grandparents, sisters, brother and of us! I started with their birth pictures and a copy of the b' certifates. Added plane ticket stubs, newspaper clippings of them in their sports, etc! Most of these things have been in boxes in the bottom of our closets for years! Very little cost! I love Christmas and giving!! Please keep your ideas coming!

-- Debbie T in N.C. (, September 17, 2000.

You can use old wax by melting it all together and pouring it over a pine cone that is sitting in a paper cupcake holder in the cupcake tin. When cool this makes an excellent fire starter.

Check out for cheap oils/scent/soap supplies.

Honey is another good 'homemade' gift.

Try making 'eye pillows' with scrap silk and flax seed.

I keep a notebook of neat ideas that I refer to when the holidays are coming. I include any instructions and a list of what I gave who so I can remember not to give a second copy of that great novel, for example.

Homemade bread, fancy cookies, jams, jellies, mustard, sauces are all hits with our crowd.

A friend once gave me a wooden cutting board she and her husband made....we still use it over 10 years later.

-- Anne (, September 17, 2000.

I make bananna, pumpkin, apple and cranberry bread to give to all my neighbors. For my family in Phoenix I look for things durring the year that I find at yard sales. It seems so much better than the normal things so many want.

Also to Kathleen this is the popcorn reciepe I use. It is from a calling your neighbor's cookbook from the early 50's. Hope it works for you I use it a lot.

"NEVER FAIL POP CORN BALLS 2/3 cup corn syrup 2 cups sugar 2/3 cup boiling water 2 tsp. cream of tartar 2 tbsp. vinegar 2 tbsp. melted butter 2 tsp. vanilla 1/8 tsp. baking soda

Combine syrup, sugar, water and vinegar. Heat to boiling and add cream of tartar. Boil to soft crack stage. Remove from fire. Add butter. soda and flavoring(vanilla). Pour over popcorn and form in balls."

You will need to pop up about 1/2 lb. of popcorn. gail

-- gail missouri ozarks (, September 17, 2000.

Cheryl, Thanks so much for sharing your recipes. Awesome!! I really appreciate it.

-- (, September 17, 2000.

This may not be the best idea for you Carol or others of us on the list because time may be difficult to find but it is a good gift to suggest for your children to give to others.

One Christmas I put together a packet of gift certificates to everyone in my family. Each certificate entitled the recipient to receive a specific labor of love from me.

For example, they could entitle the recipient to a lawn raking or lawn mowing, housecleaning, fixing dinner, babysitting for an evening, washing their car, or whatever chores would make their life easier and which your child isn't normally responsible for as part of their chores. The list is endless and should be tailored to the person that will receive the gift.

The only cost is to make up and decorate the certificates which the child can do and it teaches them the value of giving of themselves rather than just giving money or its equivalent in a gift.

-- Colleen (, September 19, 2000.

Sometimes you want to give a remembrance at the holidays to a family that your family is friends with (without giving individual gifts), the youth pastor or Sunday school teacher... So here is my "secret recipe" that everyone seems to enjoy. I don't give them the recipe because then they wouldn't look forward to receiving it each year! Sweet Snack Mix: 21 cups popped popcorn, 4 cups crisp rice cereal (specially colored mix for the holidays, if I can find it & it's on sale & I have a coupon! otherwise I use plain), 3 cups salted peanuts, 1 1/2 lbs. white confectionery coating (almond bark), 4 T creamy peanut butter. In a large roaster or canning kettle combine popcorn, cereal & peanuts. In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt coating and peanut butter, stirring occasionally. Pour over popcorn mixture; stir to coat. Spread evenly on waxed paper. Allow to set for at least 2 hours. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 9 quarts. I buy those 2 quart plastic holiday buckets at the grocery store when they are on sale to give this in or pretty cellophane bags but I'm sure you can come up with more thrifty & nice presentations. Trust me - make this your secret recipe, too! Enjoy! Jean

-- Jean (, September 20, 2000.

I had better print this page! Maybe wait a few more days, though... I think we will be making/giving hand-knit caps (I make them all year from yarn I spin); soap (I think lavender/rosemary); apple cider (both hard and regular); picture frames (from apple tree thinnings); and some kind of special tree ornament (not sure what design yet). Last year I made sheep ornaments by taking a cork, wrapping it with carded wool, using match sticks (strike them first to get black on the tips) for legs/feet, and then using a glittey pipe cleaner for a "wreath" to go around the neck. This year, I'm not sure what it's gonna be.

Thanks for all the great ideas!

-- sheepish (, September 20, 2000.

Someone mentioned buying large clear glass ball ornaments..A really neat thing to paint on them is a winter scene of the recipients home. This is really pretty easiy, houses are easy to paint and then write their name on it and the year. Believe me, I haven't got an artistic bone in my body but I can do this. Ilove the Gooseberry catalogue but I can't afford to buy from it so I just copy some of the ideas. Old pottery and new wooden spoons with a homemade potholder and dish towel and a package of home-decorated recipe cards and a bag of homemade cookie mix with recipe card attached is always a hit. Check out their catalogue and you will be overflowing with ideas. I really appreciate the recipes for the "bath basket" ,believe me I'm going to make those up for the girls in my family this year and the recipe for Sweet Snack sounds like it would be a hit with several families I'd like to remember at the holidays. Thanks so much!

-- ArtieAnn Karns (, September 21, 2000.

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