Every year I promise myself I am going to make nice gifts and get started early, but that never seems to happen and we spend way too much money at the last minute and get stressed out. Not an option this year. So, I'd love ideas and resources for natural home made gifts. Last year I made apple pear butter and banana bread which was a hit, but this year we need to make the gifts in advance. I've been thinking of scented candles or sachets. I don't knit, crochet, or sew unfortunately. Does anyone having a crafting skill that they would like to share? Since we all have a sweet holiday baby on the way, it might be nice to do this together
Natural holiday craft ideas
YES!! This year I am making vanilla extract. It needs to sit for about three months before it is ready so I am thinking I will start it in August.
I need to track down some pretty glass bottles and make some cute labels but that part of the project can wait until closer to the 3 month mark.
There is nothing better than baking with really good vanilla. I am going to see if I can find some good vanilla beans from Mexico. They seem to make great extract.
I am really excited to see what other ideas everyone else has!
We (mostly) don't do gifts for adults in our extended families, but we do send gifts to the cousins (14 so far). I'm planning a very simple but (should be) fun gift this year. I'm going to get plain t-shirts, probably from the thrift store and each kid will get one with "20__ Model" on it with the blanks filled in with his/her birth year. There's a running joke in our families about how we have a model for each year since 2003, so it'll be fun. And really inexpensive. I might use a bleach pen if I get colored shirts - I might have my kids do some decorations, too.
DD's 3rd birthday was last week and as I am feeling really broke and she is really undemanding, her gifts were all home-made. Playdough in 5 colors, which took me about an hour. A ribbon stick made out of ribbons I had around, glue, and a stick her big brother found. And three colors of 'bubble bath' which is just equal amounts of unscented 7th Generation dish soap, water, and then a few drops of food coloring (you could use essential oils to scent it but I'm pretty sensitive to smells in general, never mind when I'm pg, so we didn't.) She loves all of it!
I had fabulous, grand plans for making little collections of my dried herbs. Well, if the heat would break soon, I may be able to salvage some of my herbs since they're so hardy, but I don't have much hope anymore. I was going to give them to my mom, SIL, gma, and aunts. I have no idea what I'll do this year now. :(
Tropicana, if you can place an order through Frontier, they have wonderful whole, Mexican vanilla beans available for not *too* much money (way less than other places if you can find a buying group/co-op). They also have the amber bottles w/ lids if you wanted a fancy bottle for your extract.
...hmmm, I may just steal your idea if my herbs don't come back to life in time to get them dried and packaged...
Let me know if you decide to do it! I have found some great online sources for beans, bottles and really (really) cute labels!! I am so excited to get started. I think I will order my beans today.
OK, here are the favorites that I have found but you may find others that you like better! If you do then fill me in!
"How To" site (there are TONS of these but this was the blog that first gave me the idea):
Beans (this has been the best resource I found however they don't have organic beans and I was thinking organic vanilla extract would make an even more unique gift):
This is the link to the organic ones that were mentioned above:
Alcohol (I know you can go with any vodka or everclear but this one would be fun for organic. It is 35% alcohol which I noticed my store bought vanilla is):
Labels (I LOVE these):
Wow, thank you! I'm going to order beans today too, how fun. I really appreciate you sharing your info. I'm considering making a basket of goodies for our closest family with the vanilla and a couple of other items, maybe vanilla sugar and scented candles? I've been cruising the Martha Stewart website a bit and found these:
Should I add something more masculine so we can give the baskets to couples? One year a friend of ours gave out Hawaiian themed basket with all kinds of yummy goodness. That was a good one!
I would say no. My DH would totally appreciate vanilla extract and vanilla sugar (he is really funny about vanilla...he always thinks everything is better with vanilla)! He could probably skip the candles but then again so could I...just not a candle girl.
I liked this idea. She did these as party favors but you could do them as gifts too.
She did the vanilla extract and made caramels topped with sea salt! YUM!
i am really hoping to make gifts this year. my family are all crafty and we all do homemade gifts each year, but this year i am moving 3000 miles in october, 7months pregnant, without dh, and then due right around christmas. so may be giving the gift of a happy and healthy mama and baby to my friends and family :).
if i can get some stuff made before the move, i plan on sewing potholders for my sisters, neck pillows for my brothers, and mittens (out of old sweaters) for my nieces and nephew. i may sew some reusable snack bags for each couple - made some for one sister last year and everyone wanted some. my husband is working on turning wine bottles into glasses and we will give a set of 4 to each couple. he has a good start on those, so if all else fails we at least have one decent gift. i love the idea of vanilla extract, but with an october move i can't see any way of doing it this year.
i find a ton of great ideas on pinterest in the diy and craft, or holiday sections.
Last year we made all the grandparents and great grandparents the christmas tree canvas with Jocelyn's feet from this website: http://craftrookie.blogspot.com/2011/08/christmas-in-august.html
It was super cheap--we made 10 of them--canvas were $1 a piece and we had paint already. They loved them. My mom has hers hung year round ;)
I also have a group of mamas who started a DIY homemade x-mas pin board 2 years ago and it has really grow to include great ideas: http://pinterest.com/missyolivepants/handmade-christmas/Don't know if the link will work for everyone, but you are welcome to follow it ;)
I will probably be doing the jammies for all of the kids again this year (12 bottoms, 2 tops for the girls lol). I saw a thing about making flavored vodka with skittles - I'm tempted to try that for some of our adult friends & family :) IDK how motivated I am going to be - maybe bake & freeze (I usually do zuchinni bread or something similar) if I get the energy in the fall... I have a quilt I really want to make for the baby & it will probably take precedent over any gifts. We shall see though, so thank you all for the ideas!
I pretty much love all of Soulemama's gifts from her blog and books. In recent years I've started making pj pants for my girls, (though this year, I've already started since they each requested a pair of longies similar to the ones I knit up for baby.) Family gifts that we have done before are salt dough hand print ornaments, cake in jar, peppermint bark, & lip balm. This year might be birth announcements paired with homemade stationary for extended family. I'm loving everyone else's suggestions! Keep them coming!!
Great thread! I have no idea what I'm making this year so I plan to to scour this thread for ideas.
Last year I made a set of vanillas for my brother. I used those little mini booze bottles so there was a vodka one, a brandy one, a rum one, etc. The different alcohols give them different flavors suited to different things, and they also looked "manly". I packaged them in a felt envelope (just ironed the seams with fuseable web) and closed it with a metal teaspoon from the thrift store.
Other projects last year included an appliqueed (sp?) tote bag with a simple design that had a lot of meaning for the recipient. That was just a canvas tote bag from the craft store, some fuseable web, and scraps of fabric. I free-handed the design. I had a lot of fusable web leftover so I made someone else a set of monogrammed notecards with fabric appliqueed letters, again just ironing them on...super cheap/easy. I made my sister a cute felted wool cloche-style hat with a little ribbon flower/button detail. Can't find the pattern but it was a one-evening project. Also made some scented herbal salt scrub, layered bean soup in a jar, and lots of baked goodies.
Yes, baked goodies is the route I usually go too! Who doesn't love some fresh cookies, truffles and chocolate/goody covered pretzels? This year I was thinking that at 9 months pregnant standing in my kitchen for 2 days is not going to sound like fun!
I just got an email saying that my beans have shipped...yeah!! This is going to be sooo much less labor intensive than baked goodies (though I am going to miss seeing all those pretty filled tins lined up after I am all done).
I realized yesterday that I am going to be able to give the vanilla out to my kids teachers and bus driver too! YAY! I get so tired of thinking up something clever and creative for their sweet teachers. I hope to have them all made and wrapped up by Thanksgiving so I can clear my schedule for baby!
Lots of great ideas here - I've never heard of making vanilla extract before but it sounds fun and would be a unique gift. I like the idea of food gifts. In the past I've always baked cookies for co-workers and in-town friends.
Our holiday plan is pretty different this year. Not be a debbie downer or rain on the parade of all of these awesome projects, but we will not be doing gifts at all this year. We did it last year and it was wonderful. My husband's family's gift-giving habits are nutty. Some people go over the top with elaborate handmade gifts. Other people do nothing or next to nothing, which causes resentment. My husband especially has a huge heart and always gets carried away wanting to make complicated projects (like handcarved benches, and full sized quilts!) for his siblings and mom. Then its this huge stressful push at the end. Sometimes the gifts aren't done by Christmas and they have to be worked on AFTER the holidays, ugh. It doesn't help that he has four siblings, and two of them have partners.
Anyway, last year we just decided that the gift giving detracted so much from our enjoyment of the holidays that we would be the kibosh on it entirely (with my family too, although that was way less stressful). We were up front with his family that we weren't giving gifts and that we didn't want any gifts. Our contribution was hosting Christmas dinner (for like 20 people). I cooked an ethopian feast which was a TON of work. But, that is a gift I feel way better about because it was more about togetherness and sharing time with each other. Plus, I mean, you HAVE to eat, right? You never have to worry about people not using the gift or appreciating it. :)
This year I think it will be easier because at least one of his siblings is onboard with the idea (or at least gets where we are coming from). I think it caused some angst for his family last year. We hope to slowly convert them to this idea. Especially when we have kids I don't want them to grow up with this idea that the holidays = presents. We hope to start a tradition where each person/sub-family group plans an evening in the holiday season for a family activity. Like, making candles or ginger-bread housing, or organizing an ice-staking party or a game night.
Anyway, that was kind of a long post (and a little off topic!) I'm curious if any of you have struggled with this and/or have non-gift traditions.
Well, part of my gift-making problem is that my mom does have a lot of food allergies and is always eating an extremely strange diet. So if we, for example, make cookies for my kids to give to the adults who are giving them gifts, we have to figure out something else for my mom. So I prefer non-food ideas when possible!
In DHs family, the adults stopped giving gifts to each other, but most of the adults give a present to the kids. In my family, the adults do a sort of Pollyanna gift exchange (each adult gives one present and gets one present), and most of the adults give the kids a present. I do like gifts to be a part of the holidays for my kids, although simpler is better in my opinion, and mostly we haven't had big issues with anything inappropriate being gifted. It is important to me that my kids learn about GIVING gifts, too. So we usually make something for them to give to their aunts/uncles/grandparents/great-grands. Not sure what we're going to do about that this year - but it will have to be AHEAD OF TIME!
This is a great thread! I'm excited about the vanilla. I know some of you already purchased beans, but www.mountainroseherbs.com has organic beans from India. They seem a bit cheaper than Frontier. Although Frontier has all the variations, not sure on comparison of flavor.
In the past, I've made beeswax candles, hand-dipped and formed...
Also, I've made lotion bars too - I love them. I posted my recipe a few months back in another thread. Here it is again:
Here's my recipe, sorry the amounts are sort of odd - these are all weights
0.6 oz Apricot Oil
0.5 oz Olive oil (I infused it with Calendula flowers)
0.8 oz Mango butter
0.8 oz Cocoa butter
1.0 oz Bees wax
Few drops Vitamin E oil
This recipe makes about 3-4 disks using a regular size muffin tin (~1/2" thick).... I think, can't remember for sure.
Melt in a container - I usually use a container that is in a water bath on the stove.
When melted pour in molds. I've used muffin tins (large and small) as well as chocolate molds, soap molds and ice molds. Both flexible and hard plastic and metal. It really doesn't make a difference. Think about the shape and how it feels in your hands, and don't make it too thick. I shoot for 1/2 - 1 inch.
Put in freezer to solidify. They will shrink so when solid you should just be able to pop out of mold.
You can mix and match the solid oils with other solid oils and liquid oils with other liquid oils. But then you might need to fuss around with the amounts since different oils have different melting points. I found I liked these ratios, the bar wasn't too soft or too hard. You can also add essential oils for scent, but I'm not into that.
I made this particular recipe so that it was nut free as I was making it with a friend who is allergic to all tree nuts. You'd be amazed how many of the butters out there are from nuts! I purchased most of my supplies from MountainRoseHerbs.com. Love them! It does add up. I found that I purchased way too much. I can't remember how much the above recipe makes. I think about 3-5 muffin tin sized disks that are about 1/2 inch thick. These last me a really long time, but I only apply lotion when I feel dry. I don't do it daily or anything.
Another idea is sugar scrub. There are a variety of recipes online. It is so simple to make. Start with sugar (actually the white, non-organic version works best...) and add a mixture of oil that you choose. It ends up being about a 1:1 ratio, but I just add the oil until the consistency seems right. You want it to clump a little, but not be super wet. Then add essential oils of your choice to the scent level that you like. You use it in the shower as a scrub for your face and body, it is luscious! I usually use a mixture of olive oil with some other more expensive oil, like almond, apricot, avocado. I've never tried coconut oil, since it is solid at room temp, I'm not sure how that would work... I put in nice mason jars with a nice label. Some people will add dried flowers or herbs. I find that messy since when you rub it on your skin in the shower, all those flowers and herbs have to wash down the drain... There are recipes online to do with with coffee and sugar so you get a coffee scented scrub. The coffee has some good properties for the skin, can't remember though!
A couple other things that I've considered but then nixed, wasn't sure people would use them. Do a home made cake or cookie mix in a jar with instructions. Bean soup mix with the herbs and all... or a herb/spice mix...
I also made actual lotion too - I don't have the recipe but you could google it. It is fairly easy. Oh and I made herbal salve and lip balm too. You can do all sorts of salves. They are just a mixture of herb infused olive oil with beeswax, I can't remember the ratio, but I just found one site that suggested 1 part oil to 4 parts beeswax. I think that would be by weight. I melt it and then put a bit on a spoon, put in fridge and see if the consistency is what I want, then add beeswax or oil to adjust. To infuse the oil, take herbs, chop in coffee grinder or cuisinart, add to a jar (fill it up, but not packed) and add olive oil. Then let sit for 3-6 weeks. Shake periodically and then strain with cheescloth. The herbs I put in my healing salve are: calendula flowers, comfrey leaves and St. John's wort (flowers preferrably). Add a little Vit E which helps keep it from going rancid. Google lip balm recipes.
You can purchase little metal tins at specialtybottle.com for balm and salve. Other places have lip balm tubes.
Ok, that's probably enough! I need to decide what I'm going to make now :)