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Handmade from the Heart

December 08, 2015 2 min read

Every year my family makes gifts for neighbors and friends. It’s tradition in our home, and everyone looks forward to it. Maybe we enjoy the art of giving or simply spending time together—I like to think it’s both.


One year we gave paperwhite bulbs in a jar (not exactly homemade but the presentation was adorable). This year we are whipping up homemade vanilla extract and will include a couple of our favorite recipes.


Before you head to the store or purchase online, consider these creative gift ideas that are easy and affordable. 





Fun with Flavor
It seems olive oil bars are popping up all over, and for good reason. Oil infused with rosemary and garlic, for example, makes great-tasting salad dressing. Or drizzle the oil over pasta or use as a bread dipping sauce. To make, simply heat the oil until slightly bubbling and pour in a bottle stuffed with rosemary and a clove of garlic. Let it steep overnight and keep refrigerated. Also consider using citrus, fresh herbs, spices, nuts or a combination of these.  
Choose a tall glass bottle and don’t forget a homemade label—there’s scores of templates available online.


Got Wood?
There’s many fun ways to transform a block of wood into a creative art piece. This past Father’s Day I made my husband three squares with sepia-tone photos of him and our kids on each side. I stained the blocks and used decorative cardstock on top. Then I added one black letter sticker to each block, spelling out DAD.

An inspirational quote printed on cardstock can also be adhered to a piece of wood, or stencil on a festive message. Stain, paint or distress the wood and let it dry before you get started.

Vino Inspired
Create a wreath made adorned with corks for the wine lover in your circle. You’ll need about three or four dozen corks, so start saving now. If you’re short on supply, stop by a wine bar—they’ll surely have a stash.

Start with a flat circular or square base. Hot glue the corks around the base; no need to be precise on placement. Let dry and finish with a big red bow.

Breakfast Break
Take the pressure off Christmas morning with a gift basket filled with goodies. Include pancake or waffle mix, pastries, English muffins, syrup, jam, fruit, juice or any combination of these. Begin with a tee towel or two in a basket, tray or decorative box, fill with goodies, wrap in cellophane and tie with a bow.


We'd love to hear about all the handmade gifts you and your family have made.  Please list them in the comments below.


1 Response


December 11, 2015

I just made a thank you card for a co-worker, who gave me a mini mortar and pestle (yay! I cook a lot—I’ll use it for spice mixes), along with a bag of foil wrapped chocolate ‘ornament balls,’ as her Secret Santa gift. I unwrapped a bunch of the chocolates, and used the foil to make an abstract design on a sheet of folded legal size copy paper. As the balls were covered in all kinds of cool prints and colors, it’s very festive.

I’d love to make my own vanilla extract: I’ll have to look up how to do that!

Recipes are always fun gifts too: I made my (grown) son a cookbook one year, of all his favorites, because he said when he tried to make them they didn’t taste the same. They will now, I grinned…

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