Homemade or Not?

I was going to make this a Question of the Day, but I had three or four questions squished together, and couldn’t figure out how to make it short and sweet.  So it’s a post instead…

It’s about Christmas gifts.  Let’s put aside the whole controversy over gift-giving at Christmas for a minute, I know there are plenty of people out there who don’t necessarily like it, or who don’t think it’s appropriate for the season, or whatever.  Let’s just accept, for this conversation, that gifts are going to be given.  We can have that other debate another time.

For now, though, I’d like to know… what do you think of home-made Christmas gifts?  I have a lot of people that I’d like to give gifts to, but I don’t have the budget for it.  I don’t want to go out and buy a stack of $5 Walmart gift cards, because that’s just tacky.  I’d like to make something for folks, but I don’t know what!  I’d like it to be useful (like a shelf.  Who can’t use a shelf?), or consumable (chocolate-chip cookies, anyone?), but I don’t want to be ordinary (chocolate-chip cookies in a jar… again??? Really???  And the recipient still has to do the work!)

I also don’t want to just not give Christmas gifts to those folks on my list, because, well, I want to give them stuff!  But these are extended family, distant friends, that kind of thing… and I’m thinking of them, I’d like to honor them the way we’ve always done at Christmas, but I’d like to keep it in the budget.  And I like making stuff.  But really, who needs a three-foot-tall wooden snowman? (that was a gift that went through our family several years ago.  No kidding.  It was a three-foot tall tree stump, painted white and decorated like a snowman.)

So I guess I’m asking a two-fold, maybe three-fold question:  What do you think of handmade Christmas Gifts?  Would you give them?  Do you have any really good ideas?  I’m good at making quite a few things… I can sew and knit and crochet, although they’re not my favorite crafts.  I generally prefer quirky, fun things, like these magnets.  I made personalized ones a couple years ago – taking pics of Josh and his GP’s, aunts, uncles, etc., and turning them into the little magnets.  They worked well.  Other years, I’ve made loaves of bread (cinnamon, cinnamon/raisin, apple/spice, and garlic) and cookies-in-a-jar.  But this year, I’m just plain stumped.

Any ideas?

PS… I totally apologize for the picture.  I google-imaged “Homemade Christmas Gifts”, and it was one of the first pictures to pop up.  So incredibly tacky, I had to use it.

This entry was posted in activities, art projects, choices, christmas, crafts, gifts, presents and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Homemade or Not?

  1. Katie says:

    I make homemade Christmas gifts every year, and everyone loves them (or so they say). I love to use my sewing machine so I usually bust some stuff out during November, just in time for Christmas, but I also buy things too. For example, while my sister appreciates a handmade purse, my little brother does not, so he usually gets some type of toy or game.

  2. Joy says:

    I have lots of idea’s and am anxious to hear everyone else’s but I’ll be back in the morning. Too much going on tonight with the watching of voting results.

  3. Jenny says:

    hahaha funny picture!! Now that I have a kid who can color, paint, & glue stuff I’m more than happy to have him make something for the family members. He enjoys it too. I think its more special when it comes from the heart. I say if you have fun doing it and its special to you, you should share it with someone else!

  4. SKL says:

    Christmas tree ornaments, picture frames with a photo of your kid (or theirs), decorations such as angels, embroidered / permanently decorated dish towels, canned jellies etc. in a festive, reusable container, homemade chocolates in a pretty tin, hand-made sorter/stacker, bookmarks, checkbook cover, sweaters and such for kids, quilts and other handmade blankies, etc.

    I have a step-niece who is always on a very low budget, but she always comes up with something for each family for Christmas. Last year it was a wooden rectangular basket decorated with a Christmassy cloth liner / ribbon, filled with (a) homemade jellies; (b) a Christmas mug purchased at a discount store, containing a Christmas treat bag full of a mixture to make capucchino, with printed preparation instructions attached on a decorated tag; (c) few candies scattered around in the box. Mostly reusable stuff, and total cost of maybe $10 per family.

  5. Just a Mom says:

    I love getting homemade gifts myself. I am not very crafty but I love to cook so, I usually make a cream cheese danish bread for Christmas and hand that out to neighbors and the kids teachers. This year we might do chocolate dipped things as well. My youngest and I are brainstorming on that one.

  6. mssc54 says:

    I would MUCH prefer home made anything! HOME MADE says (to me) that the gift giver is thinking about ME! The gift giver is SPENDING TIME on ME! Give me HOME MADE any day…. except those slippers (my feet don’t sweet that much. 🙂

    PS: When I was a City Letter Carrier (aka mailman) we had to deliver those samples. One day I pulled the adhesive strip off the back, stuck it on my sleeve and used it to wipe the sweet off my brow. Seriously. Worked pretty good. lol

    • Laura says:

      When I was in college, I spent a lot of my time at a local stable. One evening, we had a new horse arrive in an old trailer. He (Whisper, the horse) was a bit nervous about coming out, since there was no ramp, and he had to just step blindly out the door and two feet down. Horses don’t see well directly down. To make things a little easier for him, his owner had turned him around in the trailer. Finally, Whisper took a deep breath (figuratively, of course), and jumped out of the trailer… and gashed his right foreleg open, hitting the main vein. Blood was shooting everywhere – in a massive stream that was strong enough to literally shoot out about two feet. Steve jumped in and grabbed the leg, putting pressure on the spot, and the owner of the stable ran and got her First Aid Kit. She pulled out two ‘overnight’ maxi pads. We used those to pack the wound until the Vet arrived to stitch up the leg. They worked like a charm. I now keep them in my first aid kit.

    • Joy says:

      When you think about it, that’s a really good idea and a good thing to have to clot blood in an accident. I think I’ll add a few to the boats first aid tote.

  7. Nikki says:

    I prefer homemade gifts for the same reasons most here do. It tells me they really put their heart into it just for me. I never get them though. 😦 I like having Bailey make things.

    With so many people on a budget these days, homemade gifts are the perfect thing. It’s SO much better than going out and buying some cheapy thing, just to buy something. I’ll look for other suggestions, because we may go this route also. I’m going to put my thinking cap on and be back! 🙂

  8. Joy says:

    Okay. I love homemade gifts and would totally prefer to get them. There are TONS of kits for kids to make things, cups, frames and such at Walmart very cheap if that’s a good route for you but I’ll bet you could buy bulk paint and white mugs if you had a bunch to make. I love stuff like that with the yearly school picture on it or a fun shot. This will seem silly but one of my favorite things I ever got from the kids was an upside down clothes pin with their first grade photo on a small piece of bathroom tile on the “clip” part of the clothes pin and you can clip a recipe card on it. The teacher put some kind of shellac on it so the picture stayed clear and you could wipe it off. I used that thing for YEARS and still do have the pieces for it. I just couldn’t throw it away.

    Over the years I’ve made a lot of things. We used to do this with Paul’s family because we liked to give each family something. One year we got baby food jars in the shape of a tree with lights and tinsel in each jar and they were glued together for one on top, two under it and so forth. It really looked cute on our mantle and I had a blue family room so my sister in law put blue garland in mine. I loved that but it fell apart. See Laura, I’d have liked your snowman. I Love junk like that.

    I’ve done the whole cookie’s in a jar thing and went to craft fairs with my girlfriend in Canada and sold them but we REALLY got into it and did about every kind you can think of from blueberry muffins to cream-cycle cookies. We didn’t just do plain chocolate chip.

    Another thing I did one year was looked for very unique jars from a quart size and up and I put a string of lights in it and filled the jar with potpourri. The warmth from the lights put a very mild scent in the air and you can either drill a hole in the bottom of the jar for the cord or decorate around it on the top of the jar with things you can find in craft shops or pine cones or even small rocks, birds nests and such. They went over really big. If you don’t want the smell you can fill the jar with all kinds of things from leaves or marbles or memorabilia, maybe a picture of your child or their pet. It’s a really neat idea because at the holidays people love lights and twinkly stuff and I used to scour the antique shops and thrift stores for the jars and got them for sometimes a quarter. You can get a string of lights for .99 and VIOLA…..


    • Nikki says:

      I LOVE that last idea, with the jar with potpourri and lights! And you could put pictures inside too?! Great idea!

    • Joy says:

      When Lisa had hers, she put Cinnamon oil in the potpourri because she liked a stronger scent that I did. She also made one with pine cones and candy canes inside and put peppermint oil in the pine cones.

    • SKL says:

      One year when I was about 10, I pooled allowances with my siblings and bought a ceramic Christmas tree kit (about 8″ tall). The Christmas tree was for my parents and it was a real project, what with having to fire it twice, glaze it 3 times, and find all the pieces to make it light up all pretty. My mom just loved that gift. I think it might have been the most appreciated gift we ever gave her.

      We also bought a few other small ceramic things that could be fired once and then painted in different ways. Like puppies and horses. These became gifts for family friends. They were nice because they were personal/unique, yet they were pretty foolproof too. And the price was right.

  9. Karen Joy says:

    Im going to be the odd one out here,please dont boo me:).Id prefer not to get something homemade because its usually something I have no use for.Of coarse if its made by a child its always welcome and sweet, but in general I would much rather receive a gift card.Most that know me know not to buy gifts for me(unless its something Ive stated I want)because Im picky and do not like having alot of “stuff” sitting around.Im very practical with my giving too.I dont think gift cards are a thoughtless gift,I know alot of family/friends really appreciate them.You get to shop and pick out exactly what you like.Im also not into crafts or knitting so Im limited in the talent department.Though I have made a few rag blankets for the kids in the past.Those were fun to make,comfy flannel.

    • Joy says:

      We won’t boo you Karen. To each their own and I know a LOT of people who like gift cards.

      I think with me in general, I tend to like stuff that lights up. 2 years ago Bailey gave me a set of watering can lights that are indoor/outdoor and I have them on the top of the hutch on my desk. I like twinkly stuff. I’m not a big fan of harsh lights so I like things like this that add a little light without blinding me. So I like the potpourri jars just because I like the light of it.

      But believe me, there are probably more people like you than me. A lot of people say I like JUNK!!! Just imagine the gall!!!!! LOL!!

      • Karen Joy says:

        Ya know,I like looking at all that homemade stuff like at Teahouses etc that sell it and would probably have fun looking through your “junk”(LOL),I’ll enjoy it at someone elses house but its my quirky ways that I dont want it in my house.Im so darn “clutter free” and picky with what I set out.I even have a hard time putting up the cmas tree and few decorations because it looks cluttered and messy and “changes”things.I cant have change now,lol!

        • SKL says:

          I am also anti-clutter. I like giving people stuff, but I dread receiving it. However, if it is something really useful like a food I’ll eat in a container I can re-use, then it really isn’t clutter.

          I think part of this quirk is that I don’t like to get rid of stuff. A lot of people get stuff and somehow most of it is gone before the year is out. Whether it’s re-gifted, donated, lost, used, broken, hidden, I don’t know. But I always feel like things ought to be preserved. And after 44 years (which is less than half of my lifetime, I hope), I already have way too much stuff to want any more. So I help my family out by telling them exactly what I want (e.g., one pair of jeans, the face soap I use, etc.).

      • Joy says:

        And I really don’t want a pair of those slippers!!!

  10. starlaschat says:

    I like the idea of practical for presents. We have made food gifts before I might be leaning towards that but not sure. Probably a good time to start thinking about it now especially if we are going to make things. Hmmm…I’ll be pondering this today.

    • Karen Joy says:

      Yes food presents are nice.Im practical too and thats always a good gift(if it isnt fruitcake)!

    • Joy says:

      I did that one year because everyone loves my bean/ham and chicken noodle soup. I made everyone a big batch that I froze. I didn’t put the noodles in the soup but included a bag when I wrapped the soup because once you freeze noodles, they’re never quite the same.

  11. Gary says:

    I think home made christmas gifts are awesome! I would give them in a heartbeat myself. I have received them over the years and some of them are my favorite gifts.

    Hand made blankets are my favorite. Who wouldn’t like getting a nice hand made blanket to cuddle up and watch TV in on those cold winter nights. Especially in your neck of the woods. They take a little while to make but sure are nice.

    Hand made scarves and hats are always nice as well. 🙂

  12. Laura says:

    Thanks, everyone… these gave me some really good ideas! I’ve got my brain working now, thinking about lights and jars, and stuff to fill them with, and how to get the lights to plug in without drilling glass… I’m thinking, turn the jar over and drill a hole in the lid. But that might be a cool idea with a small jar, to make it a night-light kinda thing.


  13. Sue says:

    I also like homemade gifts, giving and getting them. My sister is ridiculously crafty so I’ve gotten things from her as well as made things with her to give to others. She makes beautiful winter/Christmas wreaths and can put stuff together and make it look great. I am not so lucky!

    Now I am trying to come up with things to give as gifts this year!!! If I do make something, I like it to be useful so watch out you guys!!!!

  14. Sylvie says:

    I've been making little christmas sets for my friends, so far all is homemade! I've gone on the theme of ''pampering yourself'' and have so far made some cute soft fabric eyemasks with Lavender tucked inside them (some of my friends have insomnia and Lavender helps you sleep!) I've also stitched little eyes on the masks for the extra comedic look. I'm making home-made soaps to add in with the gift sets and tea cup scented candles, made from thrifted teacups and melting down old candles to make the new teacup candles!
    I want to incorporate some form of crochet too (as I've been learning to do so this year) and I'm thinking of adding in flower broaches or flower headbands into the set.
    Some other ideas that can be bought for cheap would be fluffy socks,incense and little chocolate bars for each friend.
    Does this sound like a good idea for a gift set? XO.

  15. Sylvie says:

    No problem, I’m so glad i’ve found your blog, its another to add to my daily reads list!:) Thankyou, look forward to it!

  16. Phyllis says:

    Homemade gifts are, quite simply, a great idea!!! Chey and I have made special presents to give since she was about 4 yrs. old. We’ve done Christmas ornaments, painted on the inside with various colors, clear ornaments filled with garland, and wreaths made from Christmas cards. For other occasins, being good with words, I’ve been know to pen a few poems from time to time and frame them. Also have made frames with sayings for special occassions (weddings, births, etc.). Another good idea is decorating a “sweatshirt” or even jeans with designs appropriate for the receiver. Just my opinion, of course, but nothing says luvin like an article made especially for someone. These specially made items are always greatly appreciated and actually get used or displayed.

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