Posts Tagged ‘homemade’

Last week I continued the series I’ll Be Homemade for Christmas with some fun tips about making special gifts that use plants. I’m excited today to get to talk about something completely different, food! It’s hard to go wrong with food gifts because who doesn’t love to eat and enjoy something homemade and delicious! And another great thing about a homemade food gift is that it is consumable, which ultimately means less clutter. So food gifts can actually help your recipient stay more organized in a manner of speaking! Let’s start by brainstorming a little when it comes to gifts that can be made using food.


Brainstorming food gift ideas

Whether you are an expert chef or you just know how to bake a frozen pizza, there are several great homemade food gift ideas to choose from that will suit your lifestyle and skills. Here are just a few to get you started:

  • Bake and decorate special Christmas cookies
  • Make fun Christmas candy or other holiday dessert
  • Prepare a homemade spice blend
  • Share some of your summer garden harvest canned or frozen goods
  • Make a special homemade soup and freeze small containers to give away
  • Arrange a food gift basket
  • Prepare a collection of favorite or easy recipes
  • Make homemade hot chocolate or other beverage mix
  • Prepare base recipes in containers to give away

An example of a homemade gift using food

The sky is the limit with food gift ideas, but I’d like to focus on one in particular that makes a perfect gift for people who are busy, people who don’t cook much, or people who don’t know how to cook very well. That gift idea is the last one on the above list: preparing base recipes in containers you can give away.

To get started you just need to find any good recipe (baked desserts are best) and prepare only part of it, the dry ingredients. Place the mix in a decorative jar or other container that seals well. All the recipient has to do in turn is add the wet ingredients and bake. cookiesYou will need to provide a list of the necessary wet ingredients, in addition to baking instructions. An easy and creative way to do this is to print a small label for the container. You might also choose to add a personalized message too!

Mixing all the dry ingredients together ahead of time into a nice base recipe is great for at least three reasons. First, preparing dry ingredients it is often tedious and perhaps the hardest part of any given recipe so you end up doing a significant portion of the work for your recipient. Second, certain people who don’t cook much might not even have special dry ingredients on hand, so you’ve saved them a trip to the store. Third, you will save the recipient a lot of time because adding a couple of wet ingredients to your base recipe takes hardly any time at all!

Now let’s take a look at some examples. A popular choice is to prepare a base recipe for cookies or brownies. But think outside the box a little too and consider food like homemade bread, quickbreads, or even cornbread. Consider making more than one base recipe for any given recipient so they don’t run out too quickly.

Cornbread base recipe
(from the back of the Quaker Yellow Corn Meal Box)
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup Quaker Enriched Corn Meal
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

In your directions you would have the recipient simply add 1 cup of skim milk, ¼ cup of vegetable oil, and one beaten egg. Bake mix in a greased 9-inch pan at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. It’s a piece of cake! Well, more like a piece of cornbread.

Homemade food gift ideas from around the web

There are many great ideas on the Internet when it comes to creative homemade food gifts. Here are just a few I’ve found:

Reader Reflection

Have you ever made homemade gifts using food? Feel free to share any ideas here.

Coming up next week

Next week we will learn about creative gifts you can make using your words!


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Last week I continued the series I’ll Be Homemade for Christmas with some tips about making gifts that use arts and crafts. Today I would like to switch gears and offer a few ideas for homemade gifts using plants. If you come around this blog at all on Mondays, then you’ll quickly discover that I am a huge fan of plants! While there might not be as many options with this type of homemade gift as with general arts and crafts, you’ll quickly find that there are still plenty of good ideas to work with. Let’s start by brainstorming a little when it comes to gifts that can be made using plants.

Brainstorming plant gift ideas

Whether you are a green thumb or not, there are several great homemade gifts you can create using our green friends. gift-plantHere are just a few to get you started:

  • Grow a brand new plant
  • Take cuttings from one of your plants and start a new plant
  • Divide one of your plants (indoor or outdoor)
  • Save seeds from your garden plants (flower or vegetable) and package them to give away
  • Share in your garden harvest (e.g. canned tomatoes, dried herbs, etc.)
  • Decorate a pot
  • Make a pot
  • Dry flowers and create a collage
  • Pound leaves or flowers onto cloth

An example of a homemade gift using plants

A few years ago I spent a summer in Alaska working for the Unites States Forest Service. I got to meet all sorts of people who knew a lot about native plants and the interesting ways you could use them. Besides using some of the native plants for making jam and flavored honey, I also got to make some crafty gifts. My favorite was a process known as leaf or flower pounding. I discovered how fun and easy it was as soon as I struck the hammer for the first time. Let me explain.

To get started with leaf or flower pounding, you need a hammer, some cloth, and some leaves or flowers. The cloth we used was muslin because it has the qualities needed to get good results. Find a flat protected surface and lay down some newspaper or cardboard. Then choose your leaves or flowers. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Arrange your specimens in a pleasing way and then cover your design with the muslin. At this point you are ready to begin pounding. This part is pretty fun because not only do you get to pound a lot, but you also get to see the beautiful pigments from your leaves or flowers start to show through in your cloth. It’s really remarkable actually!


After you finish your design, you can let it dry and then find a creative way to display it. Framing is nice, but you might also choose to sew it onto something or make a collage. Keep in mind that you can leave it as is, but you can also try to treat your creation to help it last longer. I found a good resource about this here.

Having trouble finding a living plant because it’s winter where you live? You can certainly try leaves or flowers from your houseplants and you can also take a trip to the flower shop or a greenhouse to find good specimens. You’ll soon discover that not only will people love your gift, but you will become addicted to this fun process!

Homemade plant gift ideas from around the web

There are many great ideas floating around the web when it comes to interesting and creative plant gifts. Here are just a few I found:

Reader Reflection

Have you ever made homemade gifts using plants? Feel free to share any ideas here.

Coming up next week

Next week we will learn about creative gifts you can make using food!

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Last week I continued the series I’ll Be Homemade for Christmas with some tips about making gifts that use photos. Today I would like to switch gears only slightly and offer a few ideas for gifts using general arts and crafts. If you’re like me and love using all sorts of arts and crafts, then you will undoubtedly know that there are endless options when it comes to creating homemade gifts. In the same way, so many options can often be a little overwhelming, especially if you don’t feel particularly creative. So let’s brainstorm together and get started making homemade gifts using arts and crafts.


Brainstorming arts and crafts gift ideas

Since there are so many gifts you can make using such materials, I thought a list would be best to get our creative minds rolling. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Make an ornament
  • Draw a picture
  • Paint a picture
  • Make paper-mâché
  • Sew something
  • Knit a sweater
  • Crochet a scarf
  • Make a fleece blanket
  • Sculpt something
  • Make pottery
  • Decorate a picture frame
  • Carve wood
  • Make a candle
  • Do a cross-stitch
  • Make jewelry

An example of a homemade gift using arts and crafts

I have used a number of the above examples of crafty gifts in past holidays, but one I have used with a considerable amount of success is homemade jewelry, or more specifically, beaded necklaces. Homemade beaded necklaces make excellent gifts, mostly for women, and have a very special quality to them. On top of that, they are actually quite easy and fun to make! I’d like to offer a simple step-by-step process below so you too can make your own beaded necklace.


  • Step 1: Purchase your supplies. You will need the following to make a beaded necklace: beads (any you choose!), necklace wire or string, 2 end clasps, 2 crimper beads, a needle-nose pliers, and a scissors. You don’t even need to go to a specialty beading store to get beads these days. In fact, even though I like to explore bead stores, I often buy inexpensive beads from stores like Walmart. Another option to make the process less complicated is to buy a necklace set that includes everything you need except the scissors and pliers. In that case, however, you have limited options for choosing the design since it is chosen for you.
  • Step 2: Choose your necklace length and cut your wire/string. It is important to cut your necklace length a few inches longer than you desire, so you have some extra room to work with for stringing your clasps or in case you make a mistake. I make necklaces using wire and my favorite length is just longer than a choker (about 13-15 inches). So in my case I would cut the wire to the length of about 17-21 inches to start with.
  • Step 3: Attach a clasp to one end of the wire/string. First take one of your two crimper beads and string it onto your wire/string. Next follow that with one of your two clasps (it doesn’t matter which one). Loop the end of the wire/string back through the crimper bead and pull tightly. You want to leave about an inch of wire/string sticking out past the crimper bead. Once you have it correctly positioned, take your pliers and squeeze the crimper bead tightly until the wire cannot move anymore through the bead. You have now clasped one end of your necklace.clasp-and-crimper-step-1 clasp-and-crimper-step-2 clasp-and-crimper-step-3
  • Step 4: Make a plan for your necklace design. It’s best to simply create a pattern you will stick with throughout the beading process. Be sure to consider the length of your necklace when choosing your pattern.
  • Step 5: Bead your necklace. Carefully string the beads according to your pattern. In the beginning, you will be placing beads through a little of your extra wire/string that is sticking out of your crimper bead. You may also choose to cut this piece off. Once you reach the end of the wire/string, leave about an inch or two of room for the final clasp.
  • Step 6: Attach the closing clasp to finish your necklace. Using the same process as in step 3, necklace-claspssimply take your second crimper bead and slide it next to the last bead on your wire/string. Then add the other clasp. String the wire/string through the crimper bead and any nearby beads, being careful to pull it tightly so as not to leave any slack. Then, as before, take your pliers and squeeze the crimper bead until it is flat. Cut off any extra wire/string sticking out and you have finished your necklace!

Homemade arts and crafts gift ideas from around the web

Several blogs are participating in a great series called Holidays By Hand and so far there have been wonderful ideas for homemade gifts using arts and crafts:

Don’t forget to ask Google too!  Here are just a couple of ideas I found in a search today:

Reader Reflection

Have you ever made homemade gifts using arts and crafts? Feel free to share any ideas here.

Coming up next week

Next week we will switch gears a bit and talk about homemade gift ideas using plants!

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Last week I introduced the new series, I’ll Be Homemade for Christmas and today for its first official installment, I’d like to feature homemade gifts using photos. I am a professional photographer, but you do not need to even be a photographer at all to use photos in your homemade gifts. The possibilities are endless when it comes to pictures: photo albums, collages, scrapbooks, posters, prints, cards, magnets, frames, the list goes on. How do you creatively choose a homemade photo gift that suits your style? Read on.


Brainstorming photo gift ideas

As I said above, there are literally countless ways you can use photos in homemade gifts, but where do you start? Here are some tips to help you brainstorm:

  • Recall events. Remember weddings, graduations, parties, vacations, special trips, weekend getaways, holidays, celebrations, and any other fun events. Nothing helps a person reminisce about a special event like photos.
  • Spotlight a person. Highlight a person’s character or review a season or aspect of their life. Find pictures that tell a story about who that person is.
  • Get sentimental. Show someone how much you care by using photos to describe your feelings. Demonstrate how much you love them, or how proud you are of them.

Getting started making homemade photo gifts

Once you’ve got an idea, you need to create it! Here are some general guidelines you can follow when it comes time to actually make your photo gift:

  • Sort through your own collection of digital images or get photos from family and friends
  • Scan prints of old photos onto your computer
  • Use a photo editing program to manipulate your photos or add text
  • If you have a photo printer, print at home
  • If you don’t have a way to print from home, then use an inexpensive online photo service
  • Buy any necessary supporting materials, like an album, scrapbook, or frame
  • Use special arts and crafts supplies to enhance your work
  • Put it all together and be creative!

An example of a homemade photo gift

I make photo gifts for friends and family for all occasions, not just Christmas. There’s just so much potential and photos really do speak a thousand words. Plus, I have a collection of close to 50,000 photos that continues to grow—I will never run out of ideas! To help you think of your own photo ideas I’d like to spotlight a photo collage I made for my parents a few years ago that is a simple concept anyone can adapt.

The concept relies on family resemblance, something pretty much every family can count on. In my family, I tend to look more like my dad, while my brother tends to look more like my mom. Furthermore, as far as personality goes, I seemed to have turned out more like my dad, while my brother seems to have turned out more like my mom.   I decided to take advantage of this and search for pictures that would creatively illustrate this phenomenon. After perusing old family photos and scanning what I needed, I used my photo editing program, Paint Shop Pro, and created a collage digitally with text (but you can just as easily print the individual photos and make a scrapbook-type collage with paper & glue). Finally, I printed the collage and framed it. My parents loved it!


Homemade photo gift ideas from around the web

As I said in my introduction to this series, each week I’d like to provide some useful links to other resources on the internet for homemade gift ideas. Here are a few I found that creatively use photos:

Reader Reflection

Have you ever made homemade gifts using photos? Feel free to share any ideas here.

Coming up next week

This week we talked about homemade photo gifts, and next week we’ll look at some creative homemade gift ideas using other arts and crafts.

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It’s now November and there’s no denying that Christmas is just around the corner! Perhaps you decided to get going on your Christmas list-making & shopping early this year to get a head start and avoid the rush. Or maybe you’re putting off thinking about what you could possibly buy your dear grandmother or your Uncle Bob because you know how stressful and expensive it can be to go Christmas shopping! No matter where you are in your Christmas planning, I’d like to offer a simple solution for you to consider this year: homemade gifts!


But aren’t homemade gifts just a lot of work?

Not feeling very creative? Or are you recalling a messy glue incident with your child’s last school craft project? Don’t worry, even though homemade gifts take some effort, there are several reasons why going homemade for certain gifts this year will only benefit you:

  • Homemade gifts are usually cheaper. Let’s get the obvious out the way here: homemade gifts have the potential to be so much cheaper than gifts you have to buy. While there is of course some cost involved in making gifts (materials, time, etc.), it is significantly lower and will result in your holiday budget retaining a little extra cash.
  • Homemade gifts are often more meaningful. Do you think your mom really wants yet another knick knack to put in her cabinet? Maybe, but consider how much more she would love a meaningful gift from the heart…something that shows her how you feel about her and how grateful you are for her years of service to you as your mother. That’s not to say that a store-bought gift cannot achieve the same goal, but it’s true more often than not that homemade gifts offer you a better chance to show the recipient how much you care.
  • Homemade gifts are less stressful. Avoid the crowded department stores and create your gifts from the quiet (or sometimes quiet) of your own home. Stop aimlessly wandering through shop after shop to find the ‘perfect’ gift that doesn’t exist and instead make them something you know they’ll love. Christmas is stressful enough already so you should do what you can to reduce any unnecessary stress.
  • Homemade gifts are fun! Even if you don’t consider yourself to be particularly creative, most people usually find some enjoyment in making something. And if you are the creative type, then homemade gifts will be perfect for you—not only will you enjoy the three benefits outlined directly above, but you’ll have a lot of fun in the process!

I’ll Be Homemade for Christmas

Every Thursday until Christmas, this fun series will provide useful homemade gift ideas within the following six categories: photos (11/13), arts & crafts (11/20), plants (11/27), food (12/4), words (12/11), and services (12/18). Each week I’ll spotlight a gift idea I’ve successfully used in the past. Then I’ll list a couple other alternative ideas within the category to give you more concepts to work with. Finally I’ll wrap it up with further related homemade gift ideas from around the web. Hopefully each week you’ll be able to find something that suits your style!

Reader Reflection

If you have any creative gift ideas that fit into the above six categories and you’d like me to mention them my future posts, drop a link here in a comment or send me a message from my contact page.

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