Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Best of Homemade Holidays

You know we’re big on DIY. Because often, doing it yourself saves you money. It makes use of the scraps and surplus—recycling, upcycling, reusing, repurposing. And, it’s personal. And that personal touch makes things extra special—whether it’s the perfect little storage unit for specialty teas, a piece of art your house guests can admire while you fiddle with the TV reception, or a thoughtful gift that brings a little bit of your world into someone else’s, it’s something that is uniquely yours.

Like, I’m making a toy for my baby nephew (no spoilers!). Is it something I could have bought? Yes. And would he have loved the store-bought version? Absolutely. But this homemade toy will be extra special (to his parents at least, until he’s old enough to understand), because someone custom-made it just for him. I’m also planning to make something I saw on Martha Stewart’s website. Just a cute and practical stocking stuffer for the women in my life, an inexpensive but thoughtful way to add value to the gifts I’m already giving them.

Before we go any further, let me concede that plenty of homemade items turn out to be useless, pointless, tacky and, when given as a gift, rightfully unappreciated. You know, the hand-print ashtrays, the tea cozies, the patchwork sweater vests… I’m not endorsing that kind of DIY here. If, upon finishing any of my current projects, I realize they’re actually not so great, I’m running out to the store. And it might be Christmas Eve.

But we have indeed given and received many well-thought-out and thus treasured homemade gifts. It’s all about knowing your audience and producing quality goods. Perhaps this “Best Of” list will inspire you. These are a few of my favorites among the gifts that we have made and those that someone made for us. (It should come as no surprise that a lot of them are food.)

Apple butter
Other fruit preserves
Spice blends
Cake balls
Cream caramel
Oreo cookie bark
Cranberry white chocolate biscotti
Bread of the month
Family recipes
Christmas tree ornaments
Cutting board
Recorded family memories
Customized picture frame w/ photo
And this is going way back, a Barbie house.

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