2011 being our fifth year of a largely hand made Christmas, I'm building quite a store of easy-peasy, make-at-home (or in some cases on the go) gifts for friends and family.
Here's the first one completed this year, a winter scarf (which still needs blocking, thus the slight wonkiness, hehe) knitted from Caron Dazzleaire...
Other projects this year include some small counted cross-stitch pieces, boxes of springerle cookies (check out my favorite stag mold below), and of course home made Kahlua (which I'll get to in a minute!)
Have someone on your list who's short on time to cook? Soup mixes are a great idea - layer beans and spices in an attractive jar, tie a ribbon around it with a recipe, and instant (well, OK almost instant, it does have to cook) dinner. This works well with cookie mixes too. :)
Another idea is scented trivets. Instructions are easy to find online, but it basically involves sewing together two pieces of cotton fabric in such a way as to create strips, or pockets, filling with a mixture of rice and spices, then sewing up the last edge. These smell soooooo good when you place a hot dish or teapot on top.
Remember old fashioned pomanders? They make wonderful gifts - oranges and apples studded with cloves. My grandmother always had a couple tucked away in her linen closet.
How about coupons - for babysitting, for car washing, for house cleaning? When my daughter was little, an evening out with hubby was soooooo appreciated, as was any help I could get with the house.
One year my husband - a musician - composed a song for me and recorded it. It was a beautiful acoustic guitar piece, which I still treasure.
Sooooo many ideas....
Including, as promised, this one. My homemade kahlua recipe. Delicious, and fun to collect the bottles and make homemade labels too. I use old vinegar bottles (thoroughly washed of course), old maple syrup bottles, old screw-top wine or liquor bottles, etc. Here's the recipe (can be doubled or tripled):
3 c. sugar
3 c. water
3 Tbsp. instant coffee (not freeze dried)
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 quart vodka
Simmer water, sugar and coffee for 1 hour, being careful not to let it boil. Cool, then add the rest. Pour into bottles, dividing the vanilla bean as best you can. Keeps for several weeks.
Do you have favorite handmade gifts? Please share...
And with the time we're not spending at the mall, let's make time to enjoy the season; mix up some old fashioned cocoa, pop some popcorn, watch an old movie...make snow angels if you're blessed with snow, make cookies with your kids, cuddle your furkids (or if you have room, adopt another), sing carols, host a holiday potluck, visit friends and loved ones, and tell them how much they're loved and appreciated.
Wishing you all the blessings of this most *magical* season!