what are your best ideas for homemade Christmas gifts?

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I finally have the time to make some gifts this year. After reading the hype post I would like more ideas for gifts. My project so far is sewing names and beads on those little stockings you buy for 69 cents. I know there are far more creative minds out there than mine, so lets brainstorm!

-- Tina (clia88@newmexico.com), November 11, 2000


When I was in elementary, we made a scrap book that I kept up through my teen years. I am now 50 and I still have it and love to look at it and remember why I put different things in the scrap book, like a napkin,postcard, picture, ticket stub, etc.

My youngest daughter graduated from high school last year and has been barrel racing for the past 2 years. Her boyfriend wanted to do something special, so we are making her a scrapbook of her past two years of barrel racing/rodeoing. We found a local artisan that makes a box of wood with whatever design you want on the front (ours will have a barrel racer) and rings inside like a notebook.

It certainly doesn't have to be that fancy, but I have seen quilted scrapbook covers or you could bead one. I also saw one covered in the ribbons a girl had won at horse shows! I liked that one and may still do that with my daughter's ribbons for a second book some day.

One thing we tried to do for the kids was to give them memories and I think this is a great way to keep some of those memories.

This would also be a great thing for grandparents to keep pictures of kids and grandkids in!

-- beckie (sunshine_horses@yahoo.com), November 11, 2000.

We've given out a number of well-received homemade gifts over the years... I keep a list of 'Fruitcake/Not Fruitcake' individuals for the ones that love it and the ones who hate it. Same goes for mincemeat in jars. I make all cookies with real butter, no margarine or Crisco and have had NO refusals, just empty tins returned with requests for refills and/or recipes. One year we gave out bundles of cut birch logs tied with bows and pinecones to our city relatives who had fireplaces -- they were delighted. Family pets get catnip toys sewed by hand (calico mice are easy to make) and wholesome dog biscuits made with whole wheat flour, eggs, and saved chicken fat -- a lot of people are very pleased you remembered that their pets are their family too. My aunt used to knit slippers for everyone each year and we always looked forward to a new pair. She had it down to science and could finish a pair a day while she was at work between customers.

-- Julie Froelich (firefly1@nnex.net), November 11, 2000.

Oh. here's one I almost forgot!! It's more for the men, since not many women are doing woodworking. My brother made quilt racks for the foot of the bed for my sister and me one christmas. They were a lot of work, but they were appreciated. I don't know if my brother was miffed or not that I used mine as a saddlerack instead, but hey, I really needed a saddlerack, it was the perfect shape, and my saddle sits in the living room anyway, and the horsehead he cut into it matches the decor. I liked it a bunch. My sister's has a cat cut into it, and she uses it for her quilts.

-- Julie Froelich (firefly1@nnex.net), November 11, 2000.

A list of just some of the homespun gifts I've given: personalized xmas ornaments, houseplants/ bulbs ready to force, pickles, pickled green tomatoes, cookies, pillows, funky door stops (fashioned from tag sale finds), 'gift certificates' for : my much sought after lasagna, my organizing/housekeeping skills, babysitting. Personal photo's framed (tag sale frames of course!) I know there are more, but my brain is frozen today!

-- Kathy (catfish@bestweb.net), November 11, 2000.

Well Dear, I've been going through my bobbles I've collected over the years, and I've got this really great glue gun and lots of old photos and I'm putting frames and keepsakes together to make this christmas extra old and extra special...an old fashioned Christmas...Jessie

-- J>L>M> (JessicaLMurrish@AOL.com), November 11, 2000.

One year I made calendars for everyone, and got a surprising number of Thank You's. I used free calendars that the nice man at the feed store gave me and then I made a list of all the birthdays, anniversaries, and other important family occasions. Then I went through and marked all the calendars for everyone, and at the bottom of the page included the addresses of the people mentioned that month. I also decorated the dates with little hearts and flowers for my nieces birthdays, for example, and little tractors for the nephews. (Sexist, I know, but that's what they like.) It took a good while to do, but I had relatives thanking me all year long for them. And other than my time and the "marker juice" and glitter/glue that I already had around the house, they cost nothing to make.

You can really have fun with them. For every birthday, I went ahead 6 months and noted a Half-birthday for that person and encouraged everyone to pray for that person on that day. For the folks that would not be offended, I put the year of their birth. For those who were a little touchy about age, I noted their favorite color. I noted little Samantha's first day of kindergarten and the date of Cousin Kristen's college finals. It was a great way of getting everyone in touch with the family.

-- Lori in SE ohio (klnprice@yahoo.com), November 11, 2000.

Tina, check the archives, probably in misc., there was a similar thread not long ago with lots of GREAT ideas. Definitely worth your time to find it!

-- Cathy Horn (hrnofplnty@webtv.net), November 11, 2000.

Most years I make a natural Xmas ornament bc their small and easy to mail and everyone is long distance,and because I really like to make them.This year it will be a Pod santa. My sis in law embrioders,so she does one of these with a different theme for everyone, each year.

But I have to say the very best idea I had was a family cookbook,including copies of old pictures from when everyone was considerably younger.It was loved! Mother is elderly & forgetful,so it was my way of saving the old recipes for posterity AND giving everyone a trip down memory lane.A pretty good ammnt of work, but with a computer & printer you can do it at home.

-- sharon wt (wildflower@ekyol.com), November 11, 2000.

my favorite home made christmas present is beef jerky. i buy round steak and slice it 1/4 inch thick and do it on the smoker. then vacum seal it. get raves my newest grand daughter 3 yrs old wants grandpas hot meat. happy giving. Bob in s.e.ks.

-- bobco (bobco@hit.net), November 11, 2000.

Julie, would you share your recipe for dog biscuits? Or any animal treats?



-- Cher Rovang (fullcircle@nidlink.com), November 11, 2000.

I'm with Bobco. I love to give and receive gifts of food or just about any practical consumable items. I typically give baskets/tins of homemade cookies or candies. Gifts of homemade scented soap, beer, sausage or berry preserves have also had great responses. If I want to spend a little money, I make candleholders out of candy canes and decorate them. These are gifts that adults and most teens like. Teen aged girls often like homemade whimsical jewelry. I've never met a teenaged boy that didn't enjoy his own box of cookies or candy. What I've noticed with the younger set is that you can spend a hundred dollars on toys and they'll go out in the yard and play with a stick. Rag dolls and simple stuffed animals are pretty easy to make. Puppets and puppet stages don't cost much to make. If you are handy, you could make small wooden pull toys, or a rocking horse, or a cart, or wooden jigsaw puzzles. One year recently, we did Christmas for three teens for less then $75. My teenaged boy announced that he made out like a bandit. Thank goodness for the Wal-Mart salsa and taco chips! Good luck with your projects.

-- Anne Tower (bbill@wtvl.net), November 11, 2000.

One gift idea whose time has come again is handmade ornaments - specifically, hearts made with wire and cranberries. Make a rough heart shape from heavy wire, string cranberries on it real tight - they'll dry and shrink - twist the ends together, place in dehydrator or hang near the woodstove. When berries are dry, hotglue to the twisted wire area a small ribbon bow (decorated w/dry flowers) and tie on a silver or gold cord to hang it. I usually add some drops of cinnamon oil or other Christmas-y scent.

This year I'll be giving jars of our honey (with homemade labels and bows) and jarred dry goods (cookie mixes, spice mixtures, hot drink mixes, etc.). Due to the kitchen project (the ONGOING kitchen project), and a failed garden, the pickles and jams never materialized,so the goodies basket idea has been adjusted. Hey, a jar of homegrown honey and a loaf of hot bread? - who's gonna turn that down???

Keep the peace, and remember the reason for the season!

-- Judi (ddecaro@snet.net), November 11, 2000.

I wish I could get the family to give made things, as it is, I'm the only one who does. We stopped giving to almost all the family except neices and nephews.

Last year, I filled clear ornament balls with different colored paint. They looked great. One year I made gingerbread carousels and had everyone fighting over one. Made plaster pins out of chocolate molds.

This year I took clear bud bowls put started spider plants in them. Near Christmas they will be bigger, then I'll change the water and put on a ribbon and give to my son's teachers.

I took pictures of my parents and in-laws and plan on making dolls of them (new hobby) I hope I finish in time...

-- Dee (gdgtur@goes.com), November 11, 2000.

Tina, don't give up on the beading so easily. Youve accomplished something I can't seem to get a handle on. Wish you were here to give me some lessons on beading. Like someone else said that beading can be put to use on more than sox since you've mastered the art, run with it.

-- Clare Baldwin (clare_baldwin@hotmail.com), November 11, 2000.

Here's the dog biscuit recipe I started with; 2C.Whole Wheat flour, 1/2 cup soy flour, 1/4 C.cornmeal, 1 teasp. bone meal, 1/2 c. sunflower or pumpkin seeds, 1/2 tsp.garlic powder, 1 T. nutritional yeast (optional) 2 T. melted butter - oil - or chicken fat, 1/4 C. unsulphured molasses, 1 tsp. salt, 2 eggs mixed w/ 1/4 C. milk. Basically mix dry ingredients, mix fat,molasses,salt, and egg mixture and add the liquid gradually to the dry ingredients, adding only what is needed to make a firm dough.(about less 1 T. - save for an egg- wash). Knead for a few minutes, let rest 1/2 hour, roll out 1/2 inch thick and cut into shapes (I just make 'fingers' for everyday, fancy cutter shapes for giving). Brush tops with remainder of egg mix, bake at 350 F for 30 min. or until lightly toasted. To make harder biscuits, leave in oven an hour or more. Biscuits made with oil keep fresh longer than ones made with fat or butter. As made, they are 18% protein, 19% fat and 63% carbohydrates.

I have also been known to substitute oatmeal for the soy and corn for sensitive dogs, and one popular variation I made with peanut butter (required a bit more flour) and carob chips -- the dogs thought that they were real cookies. I roll them thinner for old or small dogs. There are other recipes for Kitty & Dog Crunchies & Kitty Catnip Cookies -- these came out of Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.

-- Julie Froelich (firefly1@nnex.net), November 12, 2000.

Tina, I make homemade soap, all different scents, anise is the hunter/fishermen's favorite, homemade lip balm in tubes, and an all purpose goldenseal salve that heals most any skin affliction or injury, most of our family and friends really appreciate them, and it is cheap to make them. Annie in SE OH.

-- Annie Miller (annie@1st.net), November 12, 2000.

Tina, I make homemade soap, lip balm in tubes, and an all purpose goldenseal salve that heals just about any skin affliction or injury. The anise soap is most appreciated by the hunters and fishermen in the family. Annie in SE OH.

-- Annie Miller (annie@1st.net), November 12, 2000.

This is another recipe from the same source, for the Kitty Catnip Cookies -- my disclaimer is that I haven't tried it. I just serve the catnip 'straight'. 1 C. whole wheat flour, 2T. wheat germ, 1/4 C. soy flour, 1/3C. powdered milk, 1T.Kelp, 1/2 Teasp/ bonemeal, 1 teasp.crushed dried catnip leaves, 1 T. unsulphured molasses, 1 egg, 2 T.butter,oil or fat, 1/3C. milk or water. Mix dry ingredients together. Add the molasses, egg, oil,and milk or water. Roll out flat on an oiled cookie sheet and cut into narrow strips or ribbons. Bake at 350F for 20 min. or until lightly toasted. Break into pea-sized pieces, suitable for cats. Good for treats, exercising gums, and cleaning teeth -- too low in protein for regular food.

-- Julie Froelich (firefly1@nnex.net), November 12, 2000.

Tina, My favorite "cheapie" this year is going to be to make a little log cabin out of limb scraps aprox 1 inch in dia (kinda like lincoln logs are but dried with the bark on and hot glued together). the "cabin is 10 in by 14 in and 8 in tall. The top is removable so that it can be used as a magazine rack. Put a couple of copies of Countryside (with the subscription card), a couple of gardening or crafts books (purchased at the library or yardsale for a quarter) and maybe a small jar of jelly, soup or a bag of buckeye candy as a treat. Costs under $2 cash, 2 hours time, a little skill and a lot of love. A perfect modern homestead gift, I think. The only problem I have is trying to decide which of my back copies of Countryside I can live without (may have to raise the cost factor and purchase some).

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (jayblair678@yahoo.com), November 12, 2000.

We make coffee & tea gift baskets.I fill them with different varieties of tea(single packs) and small bags of flavoured coffees.We put these in small plastic bags and wrap with gold and silver mesh fabric.I make different varieties of scones,tea breads and small half- pint homemade jams and jellies.I'll usually make 1 or 2 types of cookies and cheese pennies(these are everybody's favorite!)To wrap these,I line toilet paper tubes with wax paper and glue wrapping paper to the outside,drop cookies in,and twist the ends of the paper at each end of tube and tie off with curly ribbon-they look like large Christmas Crackers!We've been doing these baskets for quite a number of years and decided to do something different one year and got quite a number of protests from family and friends!

-- nobrabbit (conlane@prodigy.net), November 12, 2000.

I was showing Lynn this thread and she gave this one. Make little quilted figurines and stick the ends of a clothspin up the legs to make a country craft bread bag clip.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (jayblair678@yahoo.com), November 12, 2000.

Annie, will you post your recipe for your goldenseal salve, please? I love this forum!

-- Cathy Horn (hrnofplnty@webtv.net), November 12, 2000.

While this is not a free or make-it-yourself gift, I just wanted to let everyone know about a BIG booksale coming up. Scholastic Book Fairs book division has 2 annual sales every year where the items (much more than books) are 50% off. In my area (WA), our sale is DEC 4-9. They carry many hardbacks, many, many more softbacks, sometimes sell "bruised" books and books by the pound. Have fancy pencils, bookmarks, computer software, posters, calenders, cookbooks, crafts, and tons of other stuff. Technically, they sell only to educators or school employees, but I am not aware of them checking or asking for any type of ID or proof of employment, etc. May want to play it safe by going with a friend who's employed by a school. Won't cost you anything to go look, and you may find the perfect gift, whether you buy it or are able to get ideas of the perfect gift to make.

Lots of warehouses around the US, though not in every state. Might be worth looking into for some of you.


-- Amber in WA (mikeandamberq@hotmail.com), November 12, 2000.

Don't know where all the warehouses are in the US, bu the ones in WA are in Spokane, Olympia and Kent. There's also one in Portland, OR.


-- Amber in WA (mikeandamberq@hotmail.com), November 12, 2000.

Jay-can you tell me about Buckeye candy? What is it? I was always told Buckeyes were noy edible. How do you make it?

-- Clare Baldwin (clare_baldwin@hotmail.com), November 12, 2000.

I love to make xmas gifts. I am working on stained glass lamp and candleholders, sun catchers, and picture frames this year. It is easy to learn, there is an investment in tools-but they pay for themselves if you use them. I have sold a couple windows that more than paid for the cost of tools. I took a class offered throught the local vo tec school.

Something else that I give is food, I have grandparents that dont have room in their small apartments for more bobbles, but love real homemade jelly, jerky(which I make with ground venison so it is easy to chew), cookies and candy.

My husband and I also do woodworking and for the past 11 years have made an ornament of the year. they are easy, about 3 or 4" tall. I cut them out on the scroll saw and carve them out of bass wood. Some of the things we have made are little snowman with twig arms and fabric scarf, xmas tree with boughten tiny light bulbs, santa with tiny jingle bell on end of his hat, cardinal-I like to find a little embelishment that can dress them up. We sign the back and date them. Our relatives have quite a collection of handmade ornaments now and look forward to them.

I love snow men and got the cutest gift last year. Someone took a quart mayo jar, painted the flat and ring black. They sewed a small snow man and stuffed him with stuffing,put a little scarf on and bead eyes then glued his bottom to the lid. Put some fake snow, I dont know what its called but it looks like sparkly snow flakes, probably made of plastic, inside the jar. Put the lid with snowman on the jar and it looks like a snow globe. you can shake the snow around inside.

Well, those are my ideas. I would love the mincemeat recipe, I have a sister who was just saying that she loves mincemeat but cant afford the store bought stuff and that got me thinking.... Tami in wi

-- tami in wi (windridg@chorus.net), November 13, 2000.

My big thing is soap, but I have made snow globes and they are a big hit. I have used old canning jars with glass lids and wire bales as well as any type of clear glass jar. The canning jars I leave up-right, epoxy an appropriate plastic figure in the bottom,add glitter,distilled water and a small amount of glycerin(to make the 'snow'fall more slowly),close. With jars with screw onlids (try to find unusual shapes) glue your figure to the underside of the lid and invert the whole thing after filling with water and sealing the lid with the epoxy. You can choose appropriate figures,making them more personalized than store bought

-- Dianne (yankeeterrier@hotmail.com), November 14, 2000.

Buckeyes are a candy.Did you ever make the chocolate covered peanut butter eggs for easter? Same ingredients just a different shape.They look like a buckeye,hence the name.Real buckeyes ARe poisonous.

I have a recipe for them if you need it.Didn't know abt buckeyes either til I moved to KY.

-- sharon wt (wildflower@ekyol.com), November 15, 2000.

This year I am making the canning jar bread (my husband calls them homemade snackpacks) which is real easy and little bags of six dice for a game called Greedy. I am also making the sand art cookies where the ingredients are layered in a quart jar and the recipient simply adds 2 or 3 ingredients and bakes. These are pretty too.

-- Kathy (DavidWH6@juno.com), November 15, 2000.

For our older generation, who have no particular needs or wants, we go with homemade goodies. Maple syrup is always welcome, but it's a little late for that even if you have the trees. I have a wonderful sweet pickle recipe that is universally welcomed. And my latest tasty surprise is Pumpkin Butter, which recipe I devised after conferring with a number of the Countryside folks and an on-line recipe site. I believe it to be superb (biased!). You can even cheat and use canned pumpkin - just don't tell! If you'd like the recipe, please e-mail direct, since I am only getting to this site about once a week lately. If I get more than a couple of requests I'll post here as well as answering the directs. Be aware that next week is devoted exclusively to deer hunting, so it may be a while before I respond, but I shall respond! GL!

-- Brad (homefixer@SacoRiver.net), November 15, 2000.

I have made "A Night Off" (dried pasta, topping, desert)and packaged it in christmasy ziplock bags. We also give honey, homemade handcream, homemade wine, cookies, breads, jams, pickles etc. One year I made slippers for everyone. Last year we gave sheepskins that had been tanned to our family members. My mother-in-law is elderly and she carts it around with her to sit on. My father is hording his hoping he will get another one this year and will be able to have my mom make him a vest! I have made candles, candle holders, wooden trays (my husband made) that I tole painted. This year my husband is making garden benches and I will paint them. My dad has already been hinting for raspberry jam! Almost anything that you can think of will make a great gift! Happy Holidays!


-- Mary R. (cntryfolk@ime.net), November 15, 2000.

Julie, What`s this about "not many women do woodworking"! My partner and I have a little cottage industry doing woodworking and the extra income has carried us through some tough times. About Christmas gifts, one easy idea I like is to make a note pad holder using the long notepads. Just cut a rectangular pine board (out of 3/4" thick wood) to fit the pad, leaving several extra inches (like maybe 6 inches) at the top. Cut a narrow small "shelf" to go across this top space, glue it on the board (or nail from the back) and decorate however you want. Sand before glueing. Some ideas are natural materials like tiny pine cones and dry flowers, seashells, little scenes with animal figures, painted wood cut-outs, anything small enough to fit on the shelf and customized to the recipient. Glue whatever you choose to the shelf. Below the shelf, position the notepad and punch 2 holes all the way through it, cut a small wood bar the width of the notepad and drill two corresponding holes in it to match the holes in the notepad. Actually you should drill these hole before assembling and decorating the shelf... Run leather string or cord through the bar,through the notepad, across the back of the wood holder and up through the other hole in the notepad and finally through the bar to secure the pad to the holder. Put a pony bead on the two loose ends of the leather or cord to hold it all together and make it easy to change the notepad. Supply extra notepads with holes punched for re-fills. The wood parts can either be left plain, stained, or painted with acrylic paint before assembling. Finish with a saw tooth (or other) hanger on top back. I hope this isn`t too confusing? Sue

-- Sue Hudler (catzrus@webtv.net), November 16, 2000.

I decorate sweatshirts. There are so many ways to do it. This year, I'm going to print some pictures of the kids with color printer and transfer the picture onto the sweatshirts. My dad especially likes his, and wears his sweatshirts all winter. Anything that shows off his grandkids.

I am also doing some journaling gifts. I've got a sister who is a writer (and I'm hoping right now she doesn't read this forum). I will put together a notebook for her, and then in a mason jar, I will put strips of paper with an idea to write on. By the end of the slips of paper, she will have her history written out and will have made a keepsake for her family.

I also have bird house gourds to decorate this year and can't wait to get started on those.

I also decorate juice cans and coffee cans and fill them with goodies. The cans can be kept, and who doesn't like homemade goodies? One year I put in homemade hot chocolate mix, a homemade Christmas ornament, etc.

My kids get homeschooling tools. (legos, K-Nex, books, science kits, etc.) and also this year will be getting blankets. I found a good buy on polar fleece.

"Country Project Collection" is a great magazine filled with neat ideas and patterns. They have one for each season.


-- Terri (tchr4hm@juno.com), November 16, 2000.

I draw portraits for christmas gifts. I know not everyone is fond of drawing, so you can try baking cookies and wrapping them up really nice. Something homemade is something from the heart.

-- Sharla Handley (rlhsrh@ipa.net), November 17, 2000.

I have lots of berries, so make gallons of jams and jellies every year. Also, have lots of pears in Nov. so make many batches of Pear Bread and freeze. Also make lots of different Chutney, so any of these make welcome gifts, as do Dilly Beans. Older people especially appreciate home made food type gifts any time of the year.

-- Duffy (hazelm@tenforward.com), November 17, 2000.

This year I hope to make a few small step stools for my nieces from scrap wood, also a tool box for my sister.

Edible treats vary and are always on our gift list. As is soap, salve, and fizzy bath bombs. If we see a delicacy for sale at a discount store, we buy many, such as Lindt (Swiss) chocolate for under $5 for a box of truffles. Same box sells for over $15 at a specialty store. These are great business gifts. For friends, we found imported balsamic vinegar. We then make gift boxes/baskets that include homemade and bought treasures.

If you live near a beach (or in the snow) then write a message and photograph it for your loved one. Try 'I love you' or "Thinking of you', etc. A great gift. The sand message looks great written near the water mark as the water foams in. Give a copy of the message, in a frame even.

-- Anne (HT@HM.com), November 17, 2000.

These are some great ideas. Nobrabbit, what are cheese pennies? This year I am making quillos - light blankets that can be folded into themselves to become a pillow. Got lots of fabric at garage sales and batting at 50% off. They are great for car trips and just for napping on the couch. I also think I will try chocolate covered potato chips for my food baskets. The recipe says they're unbelievable. Darcy in NW WA

-- Darcy (gatecity@tenforward.com), November 17, 2000.

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