Monday, December 30, 2013

Homemade Christmas Gifts

Last year Steve and I started the tradition of making all of the Christmas gifts for our families. We're not really fans of the commercialism side of the holiday. The "Buy this now! Shop shop shop!" aspect of the holiday really gets to me. I don't want a family member to buy me something just because it's Christmas and that's what you're supposed to do. I'd rather get a personal and thoughtful gift (or nothing, I'm fine with not receiving gifts) than a "black Friday deal" that's of no use to me.

I spent a few months making all our gifts. It does take more planning and more time than going into a store, seeing something on sale, and buying it because "so-and-so might like this. I need to get them something". The latter sounds too impersonal to me.

Here are some pictures of the gifts we made. I added links to recipes I used in case you are inspired to start making your own gifts.

A family birthdays and wedding anniversaries calendar for our parents:

This idea came from Pinterest. I didn't follow a tutorial for it. I made the colors match our parents' houses. My parents are currently re-modeling their kitchen, and my mom wants to decorate her new kitchen in sunflowers.

Three kinds of cold process soap:

Lotion and lip balm:

  • Cocoa Rose Lotion Bar (made vegan by using candelilla wax* instead of beeswax. I used non-infused grape seed oil and rose essential oil)
  • Chocolate Peppermint Lip Balm (made vegan by using candelilla wax* instead of beeswax, and leaving out the honey. I think this recipe turned out a bit too soft for lip balm tubes, and I would add more wax if I made it again)
*Candelilla wax is substituted for beeswax by using 1/2 the amount that is called for. For example, the lotion recipe called for 3oz of beeswax and I used 1.5oz of candelilla wax as a substitute.

Tea blends:
  • organic Earl Grey tea with Orange Mint* (blend - 4:1 earl grey:orange mint)
  • Sage* & Rosemary* black tea (blend - 1:1:2 sage:rosemary:black tea)
  • Lemon Balm* & Chocolate Mint* herbal tea (blend - 2:1 lemon balm:chocolate mint)
*grown in my garden over the summer

I sewed up little tea bags from coffee filters. I basically folded a filter in half, then sewed a small box into it with the top open. I sewed it shut after filling it, then folded and stapled it with a thick thread for the tea tag. Sewing the bags was time consuming. If I keep making teas, I might just give a jar of loose tea with a nice reusable infuser.

Various nut butters:

And 19 hockey skate "stockings" for Steve's hockey/LAN buddies:

We had 16 people at our house for a week for the LAN (with most of those people having been on the hockey team at some point). I displayed all their stockings on the mantle. I also made 3 more for people that are currently on the hockey team but not attending the LAN.

I modified a tutorial I found online for a basic stocking to make it into a hockey skate. I didn't take too many pictures of my process though. If I end up making more for other team members, I'll take pictures and post a tutorial of it.

Please consider making gifts. It is very rewarding and people like to get personal gifts. Plus it's just nice to hear "Wow, you made this?!"