Yesterday I went to a store (not naming any names) and was wholly drawn in by their sale on Christmas items.
I began to muse about friends and what they’ve done for gifts, etc. For example, my sister Fiona (yes, just like the Princess on Shrek) gives away homemade jewelry.
Really beautiful bracelets, earrings, etc. So whenever she has a little extra money, she goes into a craft store and buys some of the materials. Then, when she needs a gift, feels like someone needs a little “pick-me-up”, or wants to brighten a day, she has a truly lovely present. She’s taught herself to do it, and I’m amazed at the creativity that goes into her gifts. Sometimes, I’ll walk up to a friend who is wearing her jewelry and say, “Are you wearing a Fiona original?”
Some people do this with blankets – crocheting, knitting, tying a fleece blanket (here’s a great site that gives instructions for fleece blankets – babies LOVE to play with the tassels).
My cousin Jana made me a hat and scarf one year that I still wear to this day because I LOVE it sooo much!
My sisters-in-law are fabulous at giving homemade, heartfelt gifts. Here are a couple of them –
The girls each got a piggy-bank from Aunt Heather when they were born. 🙂
Aunt Heidi made a nativity that the girls, and especially younger children love to play with. My two year old organized them this way and was really upset that one of the sheep is missing (I think it’s under the tree in our mess of presents and Christmas books :)).
Another gift that I really treasure is a hand painted Christmas card that I got from a friend in Bulgaria that has since passed away. We bonded because he was from Germany and I lived there when I was little.
It means so much that he put the time and effort into it, for me.
Alas, my homemade contributions seem to be at a minimal these days, due to a crazy schedule. But, whenever I need to bring anything to a get-together, my pantry is always stocked with the ingredients for Snickerdoodles and Lemon Squares. Somehow, “from scratch” always tastes better.
Here’s one of them (I wrote about it in an earlier post) –
(From The Better Homes and Garden’s Cookbook, aka “The Plaid Bible” :))
1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (or ¾ tsp lemon juice)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 375 ° F.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium for 30 seconds. Add the 1 c sugar, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Beat until combined scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill dough until easy to handle if too soft.
3. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll them in the cinnamon –sugar mixture to coat. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10 to 11 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
I usually double this recipe when I need to take it to a party. Cream of tartar works best (found in the spices of most grocery stores) but you can use lemon juice in a pinch. Very kid friendly – they love to help put ingredients in the bowl, roll the dough, and then coat the dough balls in cinnamon and sugar.
Do you have a talent/skill for homemade gifts? If so, what do you do?
What can you teach your children about giving, and how?
What are some gifts that they can do/have on hand that will help them feel good about developing talents and giving?
What have you received that has been meaningful?
What are some other ideas that you have?