I love to give and receive homemade gifts! There is just something so precious about the time, thought and effort that goes into them. We’re keeping things very simple this year due to a new baby in the house. Below are some ideas that we have done in the past and some that we are planning for the future (so, if you’re family, pretend you’re surprised on Christmas, okay?).
Also, be sure to check out the links to the other Modern Alternative Mama bloggers at the bottom of the post for more homemade gift ideas in the
- Home-grown Herbal Teas: We did this last year with our chocolate peppermint. Yes, CHOCOLATE peppermint. It’s a variety that is actually a bit difficult to find at the nursery, but it is soooo worth the effort. Once dried, it makes a naturally sweet tea that is perfect for Christmas time. We planted some in our herb bed and let it go crazy. If we were a bit more diligent, we could probably harvest 4 or 5 times as much as we do… All you need to do is make sure to contain it, then cut off the top 6 to 12 inches, tie together in bunches and hang in a dry, dark place until it’s crunchy. Once it’s dry, strip the leaves off the stems and put them in cute little jars with a small mesh tea ball tied to each one. We’ve also discovered that dried lemon balm makes a delicious tea (fresh, not so much… tastes like grass!), but we don’t have enough this year to give away. We’re hoping to grow some other herbs for teas next summer, so if you don’t have herbs for this project, plan ahead for next year!
If you really like this idea but don’t have any home-grown herbs, there is no reason you can’t go buy some herbs and other ingredients and mix your own tea blend…
- Homemade Tea Blends: Start with a tea base (black, red, green or white tea) and add some flavor. Mix some peppermint and little pieces of dried vanilla bean in with the white tea. Add broken up cinnamon sticks and pieces of orange peel into the black tea. Add dried berries to some red tea. I can’t stand green tea, so you’re on your own for that one, but I’m sure there are some fun and simple additions to personalize it for a green tea drinker! Be creative!
- Flavored Sugar and Honey: Although nobody should use excessive amounts of sweeteners, these can be a special treat. For the sugar be sure to use rapadura or sucanat and make sure the honey you buy is labeled “raw”! Get some cute jars to fill then grind some high-quality ingredients and mix them in. Our favorite is real cinnamon, which is naturally sweet and so flavorful! You can also scrape vanilla seeds out of a bean and mix them in, or place a vanilla bean in the sugar to infuse over several weeks. Try to think about each person and create a flavor they will love. Try combinations. What about cinnamon and orange peel honey for your brother’s toast? Vanilla and lavender sugar for your aunt’s tea? Have fun with it!
- Rice and Herb Heating Pad: I know, this isn’t exactly a “food” gift, but this is a fun project that anybody will appreciate. And it does include rice… does that count? Okay, let’s get started! All you need is some material and white rice. Add whatever herbs the recipient will like the smell of (or put several drops of essential oil in the rice) and you’ve got an affordable, homemade and personalized gift. And I suppose, unless you’ve used essential oils, the recipient could eat the rice, in an emergency…
- Homemade Vanilla Extract: It is amazing how much better homemade vanilla extract tastes! It is so easy to make and it’s something that even people who hardly ever cook will use. Apart from baking with it, we use ours in smoothies, homemade yogurt and kefir, warm milk… pretty much anything we can get away with putting it in! Some people like to use the vanilla seeds for other projects (like vanilla sugar or honey!), then just put the scraped-out vanilla beans in the alcohol of their choice and let it hang out in a cabinet for several months. Although that works just fine, you can still make a really good extract for gifts this year! You’ll need plenty of vanilla beans, some alcohol (we like bourbon, but you could use any hard liquor) and a spot in one of the cabinets that you open frequently. Don’t forget to buy some cute jars to put the finished product in, too! Now, click on the link and follow my easy photo tutorial… and please take a moment to appreciate how difficult it is to take a picture with one hand while doing all of these things with the other hand!
If you are especially energetic, you could do all of these projects and make personalized baskets for people! Be sure to save some energy for making the gifts in these links, though!