Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's Not Too Late for a {Super-Frugal} Handmade Christmas!

It might be the first of December, but if you haven't started any handmade gifts, don't despair!  There's still time.  Even if you're only able to craft one or two gifts, they will be cherished by the one who receives them, and that just feels good.  Taking some time to sit and work with my hands, thinking of the person I'm making a present for, not only brings joy and peace to my spirit, it's a refreshing approach to the "hustle and bustle" of the holidays.  Let's get right to it then, shall we?  Here are some things I've done in Christmases past (I can't show you what I'm working on this year; I ain't no spoiler):

We made a few of these snowflake trees to decorate our house and to give as hostess gifts at Christmas parties.  Each one took all of 15 minutes to make.   Find the instructions here.  Cost: about 50 cents

Still have some pumpkins hanging around?  We grew several one year, and I brined the seeds (soaked them in water with 1 Tablespoon Celtic sea salt overnight) and dehydrated them at 104ยบ to make them crispy but preserved their enzymes, then tossed them in olive oil and a mixture of seasonings (I think I used a salad dressing mix).  You can include a cute little note with ideas of what to put them in (eat them by the handful, toss some in salads...)  Cost: about $1 for spices and packaging

Every year, we gather walnuts.  Lots and lots of walnuts.  After shelling, we soaked them in salt water (see above) for 12-24 hours, dehydrated them, and caramelized them.  Oh my.  They were soverygood.  To caramelize the nuts, simply melt 1/4 cup butter with 1/2 cup sugar (muscovado, turbinado, coconut sugar {GAPS-friendly!}, honey, or maple syrup work best), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a large skillet, add 1 1/2 cups walnuts, and stir on medium/high for 5-7 minutes or until they look really coated and smell delicious.  Store in an airtight container up to two weeks on the countertop before giving them, or in the freezer for a couple months).  These are super delicious by themselves or tossed in salads, on top of a squash or sweet potato dish, with ice cream, brownies, cakes...  The possibilities are endless, I tell you.  Cost of gift: about $1 per gift for caramelizing supplies and packaging

Did you save some seeds from your garden?  Make some seed packets out of  paper bags (find instructions here).  Doodle little sketches of the plants with simple instructions on the back, or you could always tape pictures of the plants on the packets.  I found these little Christmas pails at Target for $1 to "wrap" them in. Cost of gift: $1 for the pail

Ever had homemade vanilla extract?  It is thee best.  Treat that special cook in your life to some.  It's getting a little late for this, but what you can do is fill little glass jars this recipe and include a tag when to start using it (it gets better with time, but it should at least sit in a cupboard for two months).  Once the vanilla extract it ready, your gift recipients can scrape the beans from the vanilla pod to flavor ice cream, tea, coffee, whipped cream, or just about any baked good. Cost: about $2 per jar

Know how to crochet?  I just learned last year and now I'm completely addicted.  Google a "how to crochet" video if you don't know how (they even have them for fellow lefties).  I used a double stitch to make this cowl for my daughter (a very silly picture of her).  Cowls are faster to make than scarves because they don't need to be as long and you don't have to fringe them.  My daughter likes them better than scarves because they don't unwind and are super snuggly and warm.  You can probably find a pattern somewhere, but they're so easy, I just made one up. Cost: I spent $5 for a skien of organic yarn made in the USA

Doodle stitching is one of my favorite gifts to give.  What's doodle stitching, you ask?  Find out here, but here are a couple things I made:

I was so intimidated at the thought of making handmade gifts.  What if they come out ridiculous or have no taste?  I am so very glad I pushed through.  What a confidence booster and a sense of accomplishment when the projects come out good (which is about 90% of the time, so don't freak, the odds are good).  And what a difference sitting down and being creative makes opposed to surrounding myself with disgruntled crowds and standing in huge lines.  I choose peace!  If I can do handmade, you can too.  It's not too late!  Gather supplies, put the kids to bed, watch a Christmas movie with a cuppa, and get started!

I'm sharing this at the GratituesdayHandmade Christmas Gift Carnival, Farm Girl Friday, Fight Back Friday.

 Great Holiday Barn Hop


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. :-)
    I take it the pumpkin seeds are eaten like sunflower seeds?
    Thanks for all the links, too. Much appreciated.

  2. This is super encouraging! I've been thinking, "I wish I was crafty". I guess I better stop wishing and just start doing. Anyone can do it, right?! Ok, thanks for the pep talk :)

  3. You can eat them whole or spit out the shell, it's up to the eater. :)

  4. I love the embroidered bird, a simple but beautiful design.

  5. Katie,

    That's great ideas!
    I choose peace too! Amen!
    Have a Blessed Day!

  6. Thanks so much, these are great ideas!

  7. i love to crochet and knit gifts. last year i made homemade vanilla extract and it was a huge hit! great ideas.

    my recent post: how to deal with money with faith instead of fear

  8. Fun projects! We like to make handmade things for Christmas as well. In fact today I have helped my oldest son in his project of making stuffed mice for younger siblings, My oldest daughter in making a Kindle cover for her dad, my Younger son in making a rag doll for his little sister and my youngest daughter in making bookmarks for her siblings. It has been a fun and busy afternoon.

  9. I have four kids and home school, too! found you from simple lives thursday.

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