Homemade Christmas Gifts

By Gayle from Gainesville

Like just about everyone else, I have family members who have been let go from their jobs. Companies are cutting back. The work is just not there. Some have lost their jobs. Other folks have had their hours cut. My first impulse is to do more for family members who are not doing well financially. I have resisted this impulse on consideration of the awkwardness my family members would feel because of his inability to reciprocate.

So this year I have decided to give mostly homemade gifts for extended family members. I do a lot of canning. So folks are getting pints of salsa, chutney, bread & butter pickles, corn relish and whatever else I have lots of.

Best of all, I have looked at the skill set of my extended family and have suggested gifts that they can make for me. For instance, my little brother was let go last month from his job as a fine carpenter, a job he had had for more than 10 years. I suggested he make me a cutting board. I really need a cutting board. I have been using a plastic cutting board and had no idea why my knives wouldn’t keep an edge.

My older brother hunts deer. He built a smokehouse and makes all kinds of stuff. I am going to ask him for some deer jerky. (He likes really hot salsa so I made a special batch of salsa for him. I had to wear gloves, a face mask and eye protection when chopping up the Scotch Bonnet Peppers.) He puts the stuff on his eggs.

So here’s the topic I want to introduce: what ideas do you have for homemade gifts?

Here are some more ideas:

  1. Spice mixtures in pint-sized jars (Cajun spice or taco seasoning.
  2. Dessert in a Jar (everyone loves chocolate chip cookies.
  3. Breads (Everyone loves banana bread.
  4. Homemade sled for kids up north.
  5. Scented soap and candles.
  6.  Bat house.

These are just some ideas I thought up off the top of my head. What other gift ideas can you come up with? What homemade gifts have you given in the past? Do you plan on giving homemade gifts this year? What homemade gifts would you most like to receive?

Please post your comments below.

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M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.

Comments

  1. I do a series on my blog about making homemade Christmas gifts using what you already have, every year. I am making Devil Sticks for my teen son, using motorcycle parts to make a lamp, and my youngest boys are getting “mechanical” wooden toys.

  2. Well, I had planned on giving everyone eggs this year, but my chickens have really slowed production now that the days are shorter. So I’ll be giving eggs, but just to a few families.

    I sometimes knit blankets for people for gifts. It’s very time consuming, though, and I am a slow knitter, so those are a rarity for me.

    I *may* put together a batch of my “famous” chocolate balls for a few people, too. They get gobbled up at parties. I generally don’t give homebaked gifts as people tend to have plenty of sweets around the holidays, but these are a favorite.

    I also considered giving some people drunken gummy bears (i.e. vodka infused gummy bears). Obviously, those are only going to a select few. 😉

    In the past, I have given homemade soap and hand-knit dishcloths. I have also given scrapbooks of family recipes: basically I print out the recipes and then put them in a decorated scrapbook. These have never been well received, though. Maybe my recipes are lousy…

    Next year I may give homemade lip balm, if I can get my rear in gear before the holidays.

    The best homemade gift I received was a wooden rocking horse made for my first kid by her Godfather. It was so lovely. A real heirloom.

    As my kids get older, I suspect I’ll be getting a lot more homemade gifts: macaroni necklaces, pinecone bird feeders, etc. lol

    • Bitsy,
      You stated, “I print out the recipes and then put them in a decorated scrapbook. These have never been well received, though. Maybe my recipes are lousy”. I suspect the real reason might be that use of this gift implies work, as in cooking from scratch. I also suspect that a lot of folks would enjoy this if you could get them over the hump so to speak, and try it a few times. We do a lot of scratch cooking and find it generally to be more flavorful and in most cases, much less expensive.

      • The recipe scrap book is something I would love. What a neat idea. I may have to do something like that for my mom and for one of my good friends, a “beauty recipe” book.

        • As a Chef, I would LOVE one of those and cooking from scratch is the way to go! Not only is it better tasting but more nutrishes as well.

  3. Sheri Akers says:

    I am making new potholders to give with cookies or breads to neighbors and friends. Thanks Mom for making me learn to sew!

  4. LurkerBob says:

    Good Idea!
    home-made gifts show a lot of thought went into the person as well as the gift. Allowing / asking for reciprical of skills supports a persons pride and self-esteem.

    Home-made Beer is a good gift to give those who are financially challenged (from those who are same).
    Also some home grown …..ah…herbs can make a nice accompaniment.

    ps –
    gail you rock

    • LurkerBob says:

      After more thought
      I would like to say as someone who also lives a minimalist lifestyle, the best and most appreciated gift is food. Know someone who is hard to buy for? who has little wants and few needs?

      Feed him/her they will be happy.

      cookies
      cakes
      meats
      pies
      preserves
      fruit
      candies
      etc………………..
      Anything

      or something for their dog/cat/other

  5. I have done gift baskets with homemade cookies, sweet breads (Wolf Pack Cook Book- pumpkin cranberry bread), cocoa mixes and other stuff like that. The year my dad was diagnosed with high blood pressure, I gave him a basket with herbal teas, decaf coffee, and different sea salts.
    For crocheted items, I have made scarfs, hats, slippers, baby/barbie doll clothes, purses, hair stuff, stuffed balls, wash clothes with matching hand towels and pot holders, doilies, lap blankets, the list is endless.
    Every year with my dad I do a gag gift. One year I crocheted a couple pieces of toilet paper and attached it to an empty roll. The note said “so you will always have that last bit of toilet paper,” so far it is one of his favorites.
    I dont pull out the sewing machine too often but I have made corn sacks ( make a small pillow and fill it with feed corn and then make a pillow case for it. Attach a small note saying to put it in the microwave without the pillow case for about 5 minutes, put back in the pillow case and use as a heat pad), and I have also made a couple of small appliances covers.
    I also do some beaded jewelry and have once done a belt (that was such a pain it would take a lot to convince me to do one again.) but I dont mess with the beads too often with the little ones running around.
    When I was little my grandma made me a beautiful barbie bedroom set out of plastic canvas. I loved that, and although I am not into plastic canvas there are lots of neat patterns out there.
    My kids make gifts such as clay handprints and small clay “pots” and “figurines”, picture frames, painted candle holders and ornaments. I think their favorite was when we sat down and they each made a book. They had to cut out pictures from magazines and newspaper adds to tell their story.

  6. last year for christmas my d.h. gave me a “honey do booklet” that he made himself. example one, written on one coupon “i will make the bed every morning for a week”. on another was written “we will have a date night once a week for the next month” and another stated “i will eat your meatloaf without complaining”. that booklet meant more to me than all the other gifts he gave me.

  7. There are a lot of things that can be homemade and given for Christmas. I do remember though when I was a kid and a lot of people sneered at such treasures. I don’t think they knew the extent of what went into the time and energy in doing for others even though these gifts cost not up front money. The LABEL became the standard fare.
    I remember the smell of new homemade dresses. When the muu muu was a fade we got them newly made but not for public wear it was our night clothes. We loved them.
    I think with the mindset of preppers and with things changing the way they are that homemade may just make a comeback big time. Also even if things settle down where the dust is not to thick, I still think lifestyles of many more will be doing more homemade items for people.
    Wouldn’t it be great if sewing went back to actual clothes making instead of so many CRAFT things. And the craft was from the scraps. And that wonderful button box or jar became a thing of saving for other items instead of an oddity it is now.
    It wasn’t for Christmas but I remember my dad making a kite. It flew, not so grand as a commercially sold one, but it flew and it was such a tickle to watch him make it. He made it out of newspaper no less. And I think he was an expert on making tails for one that kept a kite stable in flight.

  8. great ideas for Christmas or anytime ,
    we give homemade cakes and cookies to the families in our area
    ok, what is a devil stick?

    thanks,
    suga

    • My real name? says:

      Devil Sticks are for juggling. One longer stick with belled or flared ends & two to twerl it.

  9. Every year I give several people the same gift basket… it contains all of the home made goodies I have become known for amongst my family members. Home made bbq rub, hot cocoa mix, Irish cream, and apple pie ( the beverage made with everclear) … I hit some really good liquor sales on black Friday every year ( the only such shopping I do). The cost is low and the results are huge.

  10. Jackofwhispers says:

    YOW! Scotch Bonnet peppers! That isn’t salsa, it’s napalm! 😉

    I also love the hot stuff.

    Keep up the suggestions. For the last few years I’ve been making gifts instead of buying them and asking for others to do the same. The most popular request I get is a “Zombie Defense Station” sign I make that holds a machete.

  11. We had tons of different sizes of pvc pipe from a plumbing repair… cut in manageable lengths and sanded down with a few connectors and our 4 year old built all sorts of stuff with these life size tinker toys!

    • That is a great idea. My kids love building “houses” with anything they can find, whether just blankets or cardboard boxes.

  12. firecracker says:

    My dad has everything he could want, so it’s always tough coming up with gifts for him. Not a big gift, by any means (really, just a small “something extra”), but I plan on pulling out my old indian beadwork loom and making him a small keychain (I’ll sew the beads to a leather backing). He knows (and will appreciate) the work involved, and it’ll be fun to practice that skill again – win/win!

    • Firecracker,

      These gifts are really meaningful to parents. My dad has every little gift my siblings and I ever made neatly tucked into the bottom drawer of his dresser.

  13. Great ideas! I have some family members that would really appreciate these items too! May have to make some for myself too 🙂

  14. blindshooter says:

    My family will not exchange any gifts. We give to each other all year long. We will get together to celebrate the birth of our Lord and savior.
    I will send my Stepdaughter and grand baby some money before Christmas. She lost a job and won’t start a new one until Jan and I know money is short for them now with only one income.
    Still a great article, I’d much rather give and receive gifts that someone made themselves than some china mart dump filler stuff.

    • Digital_Angel_316 says:

      I agree with and support the idea of “Skipping Christmas”! Why not give all year as the spirit moves? Who isn’t surprised and pleasantly so, when they receive a thoughtful expression just because you cared to share? “In Situ” *1 sharing shows a deeper thoughtfulness than the demands of ‘seasonal’ or ‘holiday’ giving. A knitted hat in time for the early cold weather, a book on an appropriate subject from a teachable moment, a basket of flowers from the spring garden, cookies and iced tea in time for summer sun, a needed tool or article of clothing, a favor done (wash someone’s car, help clean and organize the basement/garage, set up a community yard sale …) and etc. The best gifts of all are from the heart overflowing in the spirit of caring and concern, no matter what the item or cost.

      Holiday giving is programmed behavior, operant conditioning. It leads to all manners of depression and confusion, with America’s favorite drug now being the anti-depressant to the tune of BILLIONS of DOLLARS to the Pharma ceutical Industry portion of the Medical Industrial Complex (MIC). We can do better, make people feel cared for, feel better ourselves and make the world a better place when we see a need and fill it, not just for family, friends and neighbors, but when we reach out to the community at large (see community yard sale above, add the giving of ten percent of the proceeds to the soup kitchen, food bank, rescue mission, and some of the left over items to the local thrift stores as just one example).

      Love has come for the world to know
      as the wise men knew such a long time ago …

      *1 Definition of IN SITU:
      : in the natural or original position or place

      Origin of IN SITU
      Latin, “in position”
      First Known Use: 1740
      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/in%20situ

      Kind Regards and Best Wishes for a new and stress free mindset towards holidays and programmed demands.

      Digital_Angel_316 (stepping off soap box with apologies for the rant) 🙂

  15. I do tole painting (very tiny, finely detailed decorative painting) so anyone I can get away with giving those kind of gifts to always receives some of my artwork. I try to find recycled materials to paint on whenever possible but I do occasionally find something appropriate at Dollar Tree like a plain candle holder. Once I am done you would never guess it was a 50 cent buy. Most of my pieces sell for between $20 to $50 when I actually put forth the effort to make enough to set up a booth but it is pretty rare for me to do that. I also make cinnamon dough ornaments to use as gift tags so everything has a wonderful smell when I give it out.

    • Tigerlily,
      I gift I received many years ago was a Tole painted scene that was painted on a circular saw blade. Other than the time spent to create it, it was inexpensive and gorgeous and is a gift that is still around after more than 20 years. Painting of any sort, let alone that small, fine detail, is way out of my skill set, but still appreciated.

      • Tigerlily says:

        In all honesty, I find it as much a gift to myself as it is to the recipient. It has to be one of the most relaxing things I know of that I can do. I have to concentrate so intently with the little tiny brushes that it completely clears my mind of worries while I am that focused. I just can’t justify the time it takes me to do each item unless it is going as a gift to somebody that I know will appreciate it.

  16. Exile1981 says:

    I have built furniture in the past for people. I also do cheese gift baskets of homemade cheese.

  17. Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

    One year we all agreed to give only homemade gifts to each other. It was a challenge to make something for those family members who don’t like homemade things. But it turned out that those making the gifts had much more fun and comraderie in the making of the items than those who received them. It truly was better to give than to receive that year.

    Roof raingutter cleaners out of PVC pipe & potato scrubbers.
    Boot scrapers out of 2″x4″ scraps and old hoe heads and new push broom heads
    Bulletin boards out of used wine corks and thrift shop picture frames.
    Storage Containers out of #10 cans wrapped in pre-pasted wallpaper border.

  18. Texas Nana says:

    I love to make gifts, and I thrift store shop during the year looking that something special, this year:
    son a homemade quilt,
    daughter in law a homemade Christmas jacket, and a antique oil lamp
    grandsons, homemade monkey pillows, and snowmen
    I so thankful my mom taught me to sew, it’s a really great prepping tool!!
    My in laws are getting home canned preserves, and fruit butters, plus I made my mother in law a fall and Christmas jacket.
    Merry Christmas to the Wolf pack!!

  19. I love the inventiveness and adaptability of everyone here. These are great ideas. If I can figure out how to use one of those graphic programs, I want to make my dad a diploma–a Ph.D. in “putzing” from the School of Hard Knocks.

    • Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

      Gayle, I use a software program called Printmaster for making things like a diploma. Also make my business cards with it, the occasional birthday card and even iron-on transfers. I bought the software at Staples and it has paid for itself many times over.

  20. I remember as a kid , my grandfather bringing us Elk jerky one year .

  21. I remember my grandmother making us flannel pajamas.
    About every 5 years I make a ‘family calendar’ with everyone’s birthdays, anniversaries, and all the new arrivals. The back page has everyones address, phone #, email, and birthdays listed. And 2011 is the year for a new one, as weve had 4 weddings, 7 new babies, 2 divorces…..
    I also give my homemade strawberry jam.

  22. Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

    BTW, Gayle, just what is a “midseason finale?” Isn’t that an oxymoron used by the television people so say: we didn’t expect our series to be this popular so we need to take some time to produce new episodes. I hate soap operas, and this midseason finale is another nail in their coffin as far as I’m concerned. I’m going to start rooting for the zombies.

    • Lint,

      I know–this just sucks. Walking Dead is the only TV show I watch and is they don’t loose the soap opera dialogue, I might stop watching TV altogether–except for college football (next season).

      I think they are going to end up staying at the farm. And nothing really interesting is going to happen.

  23. jessica in MI says:

    Last year I learned to crochet and knit (with a knifty knitter) so everyone got hats and scarves. This year I learned to quilt so everyone is getting lap quilts and table runners.

  24. Chonte' in MD says:

    i give away baked goods. i buy those cute treat boxes from my local Michaels. Wilton makes the cutest treat bags and boxes for every season. it’s best to buy them after the holiday when they go to super clearance and then keep them until you need them. i usually give away an assortment of cookies but recently my family has been all about my lemon cake so this christmas i think i am gonna give away mini lemon cakes

  25. SrvivlSally says:

    Gift ideas:
    Baking supplies (everyone that cooks from home can always use an extra bag of flour, sugar, cocoa powder, corn starch, salt, etc.), hand-dipped fresh pretzels, fresh homemade jerky, homemade root beer, homemade low-fat or regular ice cream, a couple pounds of fresh hand-churned butter (with a festive ribbon wrapped around the jar), cleaned old cast iron pans (unused or rarely used spares), straw broom, nicely cut, shaped and preserved deer hides from last or this year’s hunts (only for those who are not bothered by animals being killed), wreaths, perfumed oils, toothpastes, lotions, jar of bullets, knives with good and strong wooden or horn handles, herbal tincture medicine kit made from recipes that grandma used, snake bite herbs in a medicine pouch, leather waterproofed water carrying bag with a nice trim and handle, very old family photos with handmade and decorated frames, great grandpa’s old straight razor and strap, water witching stick with instructional pamphlet, stilts, leather horse reigns and equipment, yarn dolls, sock monkeys, snow shoes, 2×4 bunk beds secured with bolts and an extra bar attached to prevent children from rolling or falling out, rocking horse, rocking chair, willow cane, wooden chest, kite, life-sized scarescrow for those with farms or gardens, animal repellent kit, suspenders, soft flexible leather belts, leather wallet with unique design, leather whip, pig bristle hair brush, old fashioned comb, shaving lotion, healing salves, emergency fire starting kit, survival kit on a neck chain or key ring, a baker’s dozen farm fresh eggs (include a half-slab of cured bacon for those who eat it), a jug of thick and tasty corn bread/biscuit/pancake syrup, a tin filled with a batch of freshly baked and cooled corn bread and homemade butter and honey and syrup, dry country gravy mix (the kind without meat) in a jar with instructions for making it.
    I stopped celebrating Christmas years ago but do not miss it because gift-giving is a normal part of my life and I do it every month. In regards to Jesus, Christ (Salvation) being born, I am always thankful that he was and that the wise men gave him what would be needed in the years to come.

  26. My real name? says:

    I love all the ideas here and have done many of them myself in the past. Another option for gifts that has worked well for us is gently used gifts or gag gifts from a dollar store. This year is the first year ever we may not all be together and as a mother I admit I am hurting a little. Everyone is getting a small BOB, I am re-quilting my daughters baby blanket as a gift for her and my grandson, my eldest is getting his baby blanket recreated (in a larger version) as the original was lost by a babysitter when he was young and he has mentioned it on numerous occasions. My youngest is getting custom crocheted hackysacks. Gifts have become more of a small token as we indulge in a large feast & simpling being together. We invite friends that my not have family or can’t get home to their loved ones.

  27. Gayle – we think alike. I had been wondering what the Wolf Pack might create during the Christmas holiday.

    This year we’re giving baskets containing epsom salt luminaries, jars of four-berry jam, apple butter, and the fixin’s for the Wolf Pack Easy Beer bread (including the bottle of beer). What’s been great, is the ability to prepare everything far ahead of the holiday.

    Here’s the link for the luminaries – looks like a fun project: http://craftsbyamanda.com/2010/12/epsom-salt-luminaries-some-winter.html

    Merry Christmas, gang!

    • Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

      Mark, thanks for the link to the luminaires. They bring back good memories. My dad and I made some paper bag luminaires (in those days we called them luminarios – from their Spanish origins) in 1963 and lined the driveway with them for my sister’s wedding day. We used candles, jars, some sand in the bottom of brown paper lunch bags and lit them at dusk. They were a real hit with my sis and the sand kept the candles upright so the bags didn’t catch fire. Setting them about 2 feet apart on each side of the driveway made a big impression on the wedding guests. Good times, thanks for the reminder.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours, Mark, and to all the Wolf Pack.

  28. Our family made homemade soap (yes the old fashioned way with lye and lard) for our extended family as gifts. We added some nice scents and the ones that we’ve already exchanged gifts with have really treasured the gift.

    http://preppingtosurvive.com/2011/12/05/soap-making-part-1/

    Thanks!

    Joe

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