Homemade Holidays!

Okay friends, we’ve turned that corner and we’re officially in the holiday season now and I have to confess that as much as I love Thanksgiving and Christmas,  I get so dreadfully anxious over them.  Or at least I used to.  There’s so much pressure for everything to be “just so”….I blame the Hallmark Channel and Martha Stewart.   A few years ago, it occurred to me how silly it is to trade gift cards with people we don’t talk to or see.  How silly it is to stress over buying the “it” toy of the season that’s going to be set aside 3 days after Christmas and never picked up again.  And my personal non-favorite, running myself ragged trying to accommodate every extended family member in the tri-state area.  Silly.

Now listen to my heart, friends; I’m not against gift buying or decorating or baking or visiting if that brings you joy;  I love all those things!  I’m against the pointless consumerism, stress, debt, anxiety and waste that accompanies the holidays.  That’s not what Thanksgiving and Christmas were meant to be.  We’ve taken 2 beautiful holidays, meant to be times of praise, joy, thankfulness and celebration and turned them into burdens.  Isn’t that just like America?!  My sweet friends, how about we unburden ourselves this year?  Over the next few weeks, let’s deconstruct these frantic times we live in and re-learn to celebrate the holidays like our grandparents did.  Simply.  Thankfully.  Frugally.  How about we share some favorite recipes, homemade gift ideas, start creating realistic traditions and learn to reconnect with our people?

Sound like fun?

Let’s get started by talking about some thoughtful, homemade gifts that we can share with the adults on our lists.  Understand that I’m not under the delusion that our husbands would be thrilled over a pair of hand-knit socks…(Pa Ingalls would but my Mr Lynch, probably not, though he would rave over them for my feeling’s sake!)  But what if we use our talents as a means to stretch our gift budget?  Instead of grabbing a gift card or marked-down appliance or gadget for our parents, neighbors, friends and teachers, what if we made something meaningful?  Something that required our effort instead of our credit cards?  I’m going to throw out some suggestions, just little things I’ve given over the past few years that were well received.

 

  • Tea baskets.  All you need is a simple inexpensive basket, lined with a tea towel and tins of your favorite loose leaf teas.  Bonus:  make your own blends with herbs from the grocery or your own garden.
  • Breakfast Baskets.  Again, a simple, inexpensive basket, lined with a tea towel and filled with goodies for a traditional breakfast.  Tea or quality coffee, a homemade muffin or pancake mix in a Mason jar, an assortment of homemade jams, jellies or butters and a bottle of local maple syrup or honey.
  • Felted Wool items.  Years ago, I made a pair of felted wool mittens and a beanie for a niece and she wore them for years.  Decorated with buttons, bells and ribbons, they can be made into really stylish accessories.
  • Family History book.  Some 10 years ago, I put together a book with family photos, documents, birth certificates and stories for my in-laws and they loved it.  The grandchildren also loved seeing pictures of their grandparents as children.  When the grandparents passed, it quickly became a family heirloom.
  • Cook’s Basket For the person who enjoys time in the kitchen, put together a basket of homegrown herbs, handmade extracts and perhaps copies of treasured recipes.  Salt-preserved herbs and baking extracts are incredibly easy and inexpensive and you are only limited by your imagination!
  • Spa Baskets In years past, I’ve given spa baskets to teachers and bus drivers at my children’s school.  I used cute Wooden Berry Baskets filled with raffia and added a homemade soap, homegrown luffa sponge and a hand knit spa cloth.  Now I’ll be sure to include a lotion bar too!
  • Sweets sampler.  These are always well-loved, especially when they’re stuffed with samples of baklava, potato candy, peanut butter fudge and Guinness Stout cake.
  • Cheese Plates.  On a cute, reusable Cheese Board, I packed summer sausage, homemade pickles, homegrown pickled peppers,  quality hard cheese and homemade candy.  This was my father-in-law’s favorite gift each year, hands down!
  • Flavored Vinegars and Homemade Hot Sauces.  Before I learned to make my own vinegar, I learned to flavor store-bought with the simplest of ingredients such as herbs and berries.  And if you’re looking for something unique for a foodie friend, I’ll be sharing my Carolina-style bbq sauce next week!

When giving a homemade gift, pay extra attention to presentation; that seems to make all the difference, in my humble opinion.  Invest in quality, reusable bins, baskets or containers instead of buying gift boxes that will be thrown away.   And take the time to dress up your package.  Recycle brown paper bags or Sunday comics as wrapping and tie them up with simple cotton string.  These are a few of my favorite things…..

But seriously, look to your talents and your resources to both bless people and stretch your budget.  The object isn’t to spend the most or buy the biggest or impress but to bless others by using the gifts we’ve been gifted with.  I can honestly say I’d rather receive a homemade-ugly gift that someone put their heart into than an As Seen On TV gizmo that will be donated to the Goodwill in January.   Are you willing to say the same?

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting numerous homemade-simple DIYs that you can give for gifts.  I’ll be posting recipes for homemade spa products, my favorite Carolina-style bbq sauce, hot-process lye soap, flavored sugar, a few very simple canning recipes, an old family-recipe toffee, and anything else I can dream up.  My goal is to present you with an idea for everyone on your list…don’t know if that will happen, but we’ll give it a try!  Til next time!

 

Posted to Homestead Blog Hop!