Author Topic: Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts  (Read 8197 times)

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bebemochi

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Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts
« on: December 02, 2011, 03:34:18 PM »
Every year I struggle a little bit with my hand/homemade gifts -- I'm always hoping I don't come off cheap or chintzy, but, tbh, I really DON'T have much money to spend. This year is even worse than usual -- long story short, my husband now makes $300 less a month, and this happened after we'd bought a fixer - upper house and had a baby last year. It doesn't help that I have no time, really -- my busy 11 month old is learning to walk and I'm an events coordinator who is gearing up for a December full of parties. Admittedly, on the best of days I'm a little Grinchy about Christmas due to the stress factor, but this year I'm feeling like a downright Scrooge!

So now I'm struggling even more, trying to figure out if my ideas are good ones or sound cheap. I really, really want honest feedback. I could also combine some of these ideas, if just one seems too small.

1. A homemade seasoned salt mix in this cute little jar:
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Glass-Salt-and-Pepper-Shaker-Set/16213462 (hold 4 oz)
(Pros -- I have a lot of some spices, and the jars are only about $1 apiece. Cons -- looks so tiny! But would people really want more of a seasoned salt?)

2. A covered matchbook and a little candle:
I was thinking about how most people have matches in their house, and they covet ones from cool restaurants or where ever because they're much better than plain ones. So I was thinking of covering those heavy cardboard matchboxes with pretty paper or fabric, even, and pairing it with a little inexpensive candle.
Like one of these guys: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Mainstays-3-oz-Candle-Hazelnut/16780322
If I remember correctly they're only a buck or two.
(Pros -- fun to do! Cons -- would people recognize how cheap it was, or, maybe even worse, recognize the candles as being Wal-Mart candles?)

3. A cardholder:
I have a slew of wooden clothespins, even some very cool vintage ones. I could dye them using Rit and attach a fuzzy pipecleaner so that you could clip a card and have it either stand on its own, or hook the pipe cleaner through / around something. Am I making sense with this one?
With the vintage ones, I could even get some dark wire and create something sort of rustic.
(Pros -- fun to do! Very inexpensive. Cons -- would people get it? I would probably clip a card or tag to sort of "show" how it works, but... I just worry it's the sort of thing someone would just throw away or throw in a junk drawer to throw away later.)

4. Chocolate-dipped spoons / forks:
I was thinking about those chocolate-dipped spoons you can get to stir into hot cocoa or coffee. I was thinking of making some -- either a spoon with mini marshmallows in the bowl, or a fork stabbed into a big marshmallow and rolled in chocolate. I wanted to do it with colored plastic utensils, probably pair them up.
(Pros -- People like chocolate! They probably wouldn't just trash it. Cons -- I've never done this before, so the learning curve might be unexpected. And would plastic utensils just look trashy, despite being colorful?)

Your opinions are really welcome. And if you have other ideas, please, by all means, share!

NotTheNarcissist

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Re: Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2011, 03:41:47 PM »
Bebemochi, I think it's really hard to gauge -- at least for me -- over the web homemade gifts without seeing them in person, or pictures of them. For me, it is a no-win situation because whatever I answer I give could easily be wrong given one small detail change.

I think if I were in your shoes, I would do a trial run creating 1 of each item and then ask a few trusted people for their honest opinions. As for other ideas, there are LOADS of them on the internet; I am subscribed to several RSS feeds that deliver them to me every day. I get Martha Stewarts' "Living" magazine for free and it also is a good source for homemade but elegant ideas.

Hope this helps in some way. Hopefully others can answer you better!

WillyNilly

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Re: Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2011, 03:45:43 PM »
If you are going the home made route, I say, consumables (so no to the cardholder).  I might not love a chocolate spoon (or I might, sounds good!) but either way its used up and out of my home.  The cardholder though... yeah I would not use that.  I have no use for something like that and would just see it as clutter because it would just sit there.  Personally I'm not a huge fan of candles but many people are, and they count as consumables as do the matches, so I say those are fine too.

I do think these are all "know your audience" things though.  Like the seasoned salt for someone with hypertension or bloating or any other "avoid salt" conditions would be no good, as would the sweet spoons for a diabetic or someone trying to loose weight.  Candles aren't good for people with small kids, kittens, or bad memory (aging, etc).  But you could do a few of each idea and that way you have an assortment of things to give out to various people.

MindsEye

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Re: Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2011, 03:46:19 PM »
I would go with handmade consumables.  Disclaimer, I say this because I love handmade goodies!  :)

The seasoned salt is something I would use myself... I like cooking and a selection of seasoned salts would be really fun to play with.

The chocolate spoons sound great, and would make neat stocking stuffers.  And you can do all kinds of cool stuff with the presentation... put a bunch in different colors in a bouquet like flowers, tuck them into little holiday patterned socks... all kinds of stuff. 

Here is another chocolate related idea, since you asked for more ideas.  Get some of those big stick pretzels (they are usually really cheap in bulk at the supermarket), dip them in chocolate (white, milk, or dark) and then roll them in sprinkles.  Easy, pretty, and totally yummy!

If you are really crafty, you could also make personalized ornaments for people.  Doesn't have to be fancy.... go to a craft store and buy some simple wooden shapes, and then you can paint them or glue collages of pretty pictures to them, attach some ribbon to the top for hangers, and viola! 

I think that your project ideas sound neat.  You will have to share some pictures of your finished products!

SuperMartianRobotGirl

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Re: Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2011, 04:03:53 PM »
I'd go with consumables. I love homemade gifts, and would hate for someone to spend outside their means for me. I think it's a great idea. I can't have chocolate so I'd be all about the seasoned salt, but the spoons sound good, too.

Miss Marple

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Re: Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2011, 04:14:18 PM »
I agree with the consumables, in fact thanks to you my daughter and I are going to make some chocolate dipping spoons for my office.

One idea I had if anyone you are making gifts for reads, is personalized book marks. If you have an artistic bent you could make something gorgeous, with a witty quotations.

I would use the salts, as I like to cook.

gramma dishes

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Re: Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2011, 04:26:32 PM »
Obviously I can't speak for those on your gift list.  But I can tell you that for me, homemade gifts are by far the most precious and treasured of all.  I know they take thought and time and effort and I always feel like I must be really special to that person for them to go to all that trouble to make a gift personalized just for me. 

The cost doesn't matter in the least.  I think most of us have at times had to stretch things very thin to just survive, much less give to others.  It's an old saying that is often maligned, but the truth is in terms of receiving gifts, it truly IS the thought that counts.

All your ideas sound great.  I'm joining those who support the "consumables" idea, but the others are good too and would be put to use in my house.

heathert

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Re: Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2011, 05:02:22 PM »
I don't know if this helps but this year I am giving homemade canned soup. Last year, I gave homemade preserves and salsa.  If you are a good cook/baker, you could also make some different kinds of breads or muffins. You could also make homemade hot chocolate mix in a tin from the dollar store. You could also make up a soup mix and put that in a jar.

There's lots of things you can do.  ;)

otterwoman

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Re: Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2011, 05:12:08 PM »
I like the chocolate spoon/fork idea. If you're concerned that plastic spoons would look cheap, check out the thrift stores for used silverplate pieces. The Salvation Army here only charges 35 cents per piece.

Bookgirl

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Re: Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2011, 07:19:15 PM »
As for the clothespins, I make and sell paper covered clips.  I sell a lot of them so there are definitely people out there who use them.  I use them myself in the kitchen a lot, for keeping chip bags closed and the bread bag as well.  I also use them to clip up our Christmas cards to the curtains in the living room.

If you think some of your giftees would use them for those same purposes, I say go for it!
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Arrynne

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Re: Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2011, 07:23:18 PM »
The spoons sound nifty.  I don't think plastic would look cheap.  Plus the recipient won't have a random utensil lying around.

For the seasoned salt, you might try buying your herbs and spices in bulk if you need more.  The year we made bbq rubs we bought a lot of spices from Atlantic Spice Company. I found it amazing that I could buy a POUND of some herbs and spices for less than I would pay for a teeny bottle at the grocery store. 

One year my husband and I did homemade barbeque sauce and small bottles of bbq rubs for everyone.  I packaged everything nicely and printed specialty labels.  We also included a "newsletter" with recipe ideas using the spices, a family picture, and some holiday jokes/stories. 

Another year we did brownie mix and beer bread mix.  I packaged these with a bottle of Christmas beer.  The only "problem" with this gift is a lot of my husband's friends immediately opened the beer!

lilfox

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Re: Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2011, 07:49:09 PM »
I'd go with consumables too.  I like the idea of the chocolate covered spoons (is caramel an option too?  Or toffee, mmm, or white or dark chocolate...).  Maybe a set with one of each flavor, tied up with Christmas ribbon?  Or get Mason jars, fill 1/3 to 1/2 with mini marshmallows and rest the spoons in that?

I've done Mason jars of layered hot chocolate mix before, and decorated the lids with decoupaged wrapping paper.  The personalized labels are a really nice touch, you can list out the ingredients and serving size directions.

There are great recipes for roast chicken or turkey spice rubs, perhaps a small jar of that to go with the seasoning salt - most people have the individual ingredients at home but it's really handy to have a premade batch to use instead of breaking out the measuring spoons.

Outside of the food options, I've also done jars of homemade bath salts, but that's even more of a know-your-audience thing if you add scented oils (or even know if the recipient likes to take baths!).

Mikayla

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Re: Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2011, 07:53:48 PM »
A lot of this is personal reaction, but I love love love those Walmart jars in #1.  But you don't have to limit yourself to seasoned salt.  This link has some yummy basic dry dip recipes.  You just get the spices (most are $1 or less at the dollar store), mix together per her instructions, then put in the jar along with a little card giving instructions on how to make the dip.  I've tried a couple of these as part of Christmas baskets, especially the fiesta dip, but I never thought to put the dip in those jars.  And then you could tie the card and jar together with raffia or red checked ribbon, etc. 

If people like to entertain, you could give them several of these along with an assortment of crackers and nuts.

Here's what I did one year when I was really broke.  I made my own "secret" hot chocolate using 2 tins of generic (Kroger's basic value stuff is really good) and then I got a small think of Ghirardelli just for grins.  I mixed it all together and I put it in these really nice containers I found.  Then I got one or 2 unique coffee mugs for each basket, and stuck in some peppermint candy cones (my family loves dipping these in hot choco).

Finally, another great food item that is cheap and easy is peppermint bark.  Here's the closest to what I make, but I don't manually crush the candy cones - I dump in a food processor:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/peppermint-bark-recipe/index.html

Also, it's uber festive if you use the red and green candy.  But there's a million recipes for this stuff out there.  It's addictive and fun.


kudeebee

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Re: Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2011, 12:37:02 AM »
I like the gift ideas that you have--other than the card holder.  But. . . to me they seem small on their own and more of a stocking stuffer or something that would accompany another gift. 

For example, the chocolate covered spoons are great when they accompany hot chocolate packets--or you could make a mix and put it in a quart canning jar.

Spices would be good if they accompany another cooking related item.

I use lighters in my house, not matches as do most of my friends.  The candle seems small as a gift by itself but added perhaps with bubble bath and chocoates it would be a nice gift.

I know money is tight, but I would look some more for gifts you can make.  You can buy quart canning jars fairly cheap and make mixes up with the recipe attached.  I have done cookie mixes, brownie mixes, cocoa mixes.  Chocolate covered pretzel sticks are a great add on to any gift.

weschicky

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Re: Hand/Homemade Christmas Gifts
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2011, 09:19:34 AM »
What i wouldn't give for more relatives who gave consumable gifts!  I hate getting "stuff" because i have no use for it.  I frequently give the tangible gifts to charity or post to freecycle in early January.  I feel badly that people spent time and money on something I never once used.  Something that can be consumed without being consumed right away is great.  Maybe run with the cooking theme and put some sprigs of herbs in vinegar and make some lemon scented oil to go with the salt?  Homemade marshmallows and hot chocolate mix to go with the spoons?  Or, go bath themed and make bath salts, soap, and a candle (although I'm allergic to fragrance so I'm hesitant to recommend this unless they're fragrance-free!).  The baking mixes are also a great idea, because they can be layered in jars and look pretty--make a set of three and a stocking stuffer becomes a gift.  Pretzel rods dipped in melted chocolates and then rolled in various toppings are cheap and easy.  There are a couple thrift stores in my city that are repositories for sets of china for whatever reason, so you can get really nice tea cups for $1 or less to go with tea, the spoons, or hot chocolate mix.  You can buy tea and other spices in bulk from Frontier Co op--a pound of tea is a LOT of tea.

Happy holidays!  Good luck!