With the state of our landfills and the senseless garbage produced over the holidays (sorry to be a downer right off the bat but stick with us), it’s not a bad idea to avoid frivolous gift-giving altogether. However, the reality is that sometimes tradition is tradition, and we are accustomed to making small gestures of affection to those we love.
Suffice it to say, having a means of making gifts without producing a lot of waste (or spending a lot of money) allows us to celebrate while caring for the planet and friends all at the same time. Furthermore, let’s be honest: Homemade gifts carry an extra sprinkling of love that rings holiday spirit and suggests a tinge more thoughtfulness.
Even better, the following presents only take but a few minutes to produce and most of them can be done with items that are either already in the house or can be acquired with a quick trip to the supermarket.
1. Christmas Cookies
Cookies just induce smiles. It’s almost as if they were made for that very reason. Homemade Christmas cookies can come in many shapes (get out those cookie cutters) and flavors: gingerbread, shortbread, sugar, peppermint, etc. Put a few in a jar, a tin or even a bag, add a nice bow, and that’s a great gift.
2. Cookie Mix Gift Bag
To further simplify this cookie idea, compiling a cookie mix keeps the oven off but still suggests the effort. Get a nice gift bag or even a decorated jar, and fill it with the dry ingredients of a cookie mix. Include instructions for what additional, wet ingredients are necessary and the cooking time and temperature.
3. Mulled Wine Kit
Most of us spend the holidays ready for a drink, so why not promote festive consumption? For those with a cheap bottle of wine around the house (non-alcoholic apple cider works for other cases), and we can easily fill an empty jar with mulling spices: cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice and dried orange peel. Other items can be included.
4. Jar of Soup
Take a favorite soup recipe and layer all the ingredients, including the spices in a jar. Again, print out a nice version of the recipe to include with it. Dehydrated veggies are a perfect thing to have for this. Some soups that work will for this kind of gift are curried lentils, minestrone and three-bean chili.
5. Potpourri Tin
Source: Goynang/Creative Commons
Often times Christmas gifts, such as cookies and chocolates, come in holiday-themed tins. These can be repurposed to hold some homemade potpourri then re-gifted as an easy-does-it Christmas gift for somebody. Many of the items—cinnamon sticks, clove, orange peels, dehydrated apples, bay leaf, pine—to make homemade potpourri might already be around the house.
6. Money Tree
For those quick gifts where a niece or nephew might be involved, a money tree is an easy way to make the Christmas present of cash seem a bit more thoughtful. It’s easy to create a Christmas tree triangle by folding and tying dollar bills to a skewer or dowel, or taking the time to fold an origami money tree via this YouTube video still says extra effort.
7. Sugar Scrub
Yet another reason to hang on to old jars, a homemade sugar/body scrub for the bath can be whipped up in a matter of minutes out of items that’ll likely be in the house already. Who’s going to be disappointed with pumpkin spice body scrub, zesty lemon sugar body scrub or cup o’ joe body scrub (for the morning!)?
8. Flavored Salt
Flavored salts are extremely easy to make, but they can deliver absolutely killer flavor in the kitchen. The basic recipe is this: ¼ cup of salt gets 1 teaspoon of dried spices and/or herbs. With this idea, salts can be geared to fit particular taste buds. Mediterranean mixes might include Italian herbs and garlic powder, or a Mexican mix might get chipotle, cilantro and lime zest.
9. Infused Oil/Liquor
Source: FlackJacket2010/Creative Commons
We often have unopened (or even opened for that matter) bottles of booze, cooking oil and/or vinegar around the house. It’s very easy to make a homemade “infused” olive oil, vodka or vinegar in a matter of minutes. This is a great way to reuse a pretty glass bottle that’s been hanging around for some unknown reason.
10. Mug Mixer
Mug mixers are really cool homemade gifts that repurpose old metal spoons (very easy to find at thrift stores) and turn them into amazing gifts. Melt some dark chocolate with crushed peppermint or coconut or crushed walnut, and fill the spoon with the mixture. Refrigerate it for about thirty minutes and wrap it in some clear plastic. Give the spoon and all as a cool gift.
Many of us hate shopping, spending money on meaningless gifts and making extra waste. That’s not say we don’t like being festive. Quick homemade gifts are much cheaper, often mean way more to the recipients and are pretty fun to make. In fact, the items on this list probably take less time than driving to the mall and back to get some generic gesture.
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