It’s that time of year again … the days are getting shorter while the nights are getting longer, and our circadian rhythms say that we should be getting quieter and hibernating.
But shopping! And parties! The lights! The music! Instead of resting, we may feel ourselves ramping up more to prepare for the festivities and gift-giving we celebrate at this time of year.
Many of us feel compelled to buy big, expensive gifts that will “wow” the recipient. While they may be impressive, they lack the uniqueness a homemade gift can offer.
Also, just knowing how much personal energy and love someone put into making a gift with their hands and their heart can be very, very special.
I am a big fan of homemade gifts, both giving and receiving, and every year I make at least one item by hand.
Arts and Crafts
Homemade vanilla cinnamon holiday candle
Above is an example of a candle I made a few years ago. I bought a bulk bag of cinnamon sticks, candles and sprigs of plastic berry clusters from the dollar store, and a roll of ribbon. Tools included a hairdryer and hot-glue gun.
Elements needed for homemade candle project
Since I made it a few years ago and didn’t take pictures step by step, I’ll just describe here what I did.
I slightly melted the candle with the hairdryer all around, then stuck the cinnamon sticks to it vertically.
I then encircled it with a piece of ribbon and secured the ribbon with a dab of hot glue.
I snipped the sprigs of plastic berries into smaller pieces, and used the hot glue gun to adhere the berry cluster right over the seam of the ribbon so it wouldn’t be as visible.
Voila! Homemade vanilla cinnamon candle coming right up! These candles were very well received, and I still enjoy mine years later.
Lavender and chamomile aromatherapy roll-on to relieve stress
Don’t feel like making it? Available for purchase in my online store
I have been making all-natural aromatherapy and bodycare products for nearly a decade, both for sale and as gifts. This year, all the teachers at my children’s school will be receiving a calm aromatherapy roll-on to help them regulate their nervous systems, for those moments when my kids are driving them up the wall!
I purchase 10 ml roll-on bottles, fractionated (ie, liquid) coconut oil, and use a blend of different essential oils, ten drops per roll-on. I make several different variations (calm, focus, and happy), but I felt the teachers could really use calm more than anything else.
My daughter is a wonderful painter, and this year she will be making 6″x6″ painted canvases for each person in the family. She is giving deep thought to what each person loves and painting something very personal made just for them.
Handmade 6″x6″ painting on canvas made by my daughter
My niece also has a very creative art project this year she is giving as gifts to several family members, which involves drawing as well as melting crayons.
Melted crayon art in progress
(she covered the hand-drawn part in the bottom corner with painter’s tape)
Final product: beautiful, colorful melted crayons with
customized silhouette drawing based on each individual person
Other craft ideas might include handmade jewelry like earrings, necklace, or bracelet, sewing a DIY heating pad to heat in microwave for pain relief, or sculpting homemade salt dough tree ornaments (pro tip: add cinnamon to your salt dough recipe for fragrant ornaments!).
Tassel necklaces (photo credit goodhousekeeping.com)
DIY hand sewn heating pad (photo credit lifeasmom.com)
Salt dough ornaments (photo credit wholefully.com)
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Food items are generally well-loved by everyone, and this year I will be making cinnamon candied almonds, as seen below.
Cinnamon candied almonds in a decorative, reusable jar
(photo credit cookingclassy.com)
Back when I lived in Vermont, I’d pick large quantities of fresh fruit in every season, I made preserves and gave those jars of sweet, summer goodness away as gifts in the winter.
Strawberry preserves in decorative, reusable jars
(photo credit cleverlysimple.com)
And then, of course, there’s the classic holiday gift: cookies! For years, I would host a cookie exchange, where everyone would bring a batch or two of one particular cookie, and we’d all swap and end up going home with a beautiful assortment to enjoy or to give away.
Assorted holiday cookies (photo credit dolledupdesign.net)
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There are lots of ways to make gifts on a budget, so don’t let that hold you back. In fact, I am really impressed when people make gifts that are beautiful and unique and don’t cost an arm and a leg. You are really only limited by your own creativity!
In the end, what we really want more than anything is quality time spent with our loved ones … the gifts are just icing on the cake. Or icing on the cookie, as the case may be!
I’d love to hear about YOUR favorite homemade gift ideas as well, so please feel free to post below. Thanks for reading!