Several years ago, our finances were so tight that there just wasn't any way to buy Christmas gifts for our loved ones. So I challenged myself to make as many gifts as possible. They were well-received, and I've kept up the tradition.
The very first homemade Christmas year was when I first discovered the craft trend of freezer paper stenciling. You can search the internet and find thousands of ways crafters have used this technique. Basically, you cut out a design from the freezer paper, iron it onto a shirt or a tote bag or a baby onesie, paint over the design, and then peel away and discard the freezer paper stencil.
For my first homemade Christmas, I made most of my family members shirts or bags using freezer paper stenciling. I took one basic idea/technique and personalized it for each recipient. In the years since then, I have branched out to a much larger variety of craft ideas to cover my Christmas gift list. I still make similar gifts for groups (like the grandparents, nephews, nieces, or a particular group of friends).
I get inspired by browsing blogs for homemade gift ideas. I love the tutorial round-ups at Sew Mama Sew! Click here for the 2011 Handmade Holidays List. (It also has links to previous years' lists.)
This is going to be quite frustrating for me this year as I'll be working on handmade gifts during any free time I can find, and I'll want to blog about them, but some of my readers are also recipients on my list!
Since I can't tell you what I'm making this year, I'll show you some of the homemade gifts I've made in the past. I didn't really take any pictures of the actual gifts I made, but I'm happy to provide links to the tutorials I used to make gifts for my loved ones. These are just some that I could remember over the last few years.
Cart Caddies for several female family members
Various fabric bowls/trays for my mom and sister:
An iPad Cover for my husband
My mother-in-law LOVES decorating for holidays, so I used this tutorial and seasonal fabric to make her tissue box covers for every major holiday plus all four seasons.
Portable Fabric Dollhouse (I made one of these for my niece.)
Sticky Note Notebooks for stocking stuffers or gift add-ons
Paint Sample Mini-Notebooks for stocking stuffers
Some of you may remember that 4 of my friends and I exchange shoes for each other's birthdays. We also exchange homemade or semi-homemade Christmas gifts each year. One year I made them all hand-embroidered jewelry like this and this. One year I made them all personalized felt slippers (a nod to our "shoe club"). And last year I made them all purses/bags.
Here are just a few of the tutorials I've used for their gifts:
I made this tote for my sister using navy and white striped fabric on the outside with yellow lining for a nautical feel. I modified the pattern and made a modern diaper bag for a friend using black and white chevron fabric.
I found adorable cards that say "Happy Handmade Christmas" on a blog called Lolly Chops. In fact, she has tons of amazing free printables here.
Are you ready to hear about my most successful homemade Christmas gift ever?
Are you really ready?
Ok, here we go...
I first discovered this idea of making pies in jars a couple years ago. I had to hunt and hunt for the jars (half-pint wide-mouth). I made homemade pie crust using my grandmother's recipe. I made one batch of pies using this chicken pot pie recipe and one batch of pies using this caramel apple pie recipe. I also made homemade sweet dinner rolls, and I froze all the pies and rolls.
Here are the actual pies I made last year:
I printed cute labels for the tops of the jars that had heating directions (the jars go right from freezer to oven!). We gave these treats to my dad and stepmom, Jared's dad, and Jared's grandma. Each recipient had several meals, each consisting of a pot pie and rolls for dinner and an apple pie for dessert. I was able to make these a month before Christmas, and I believe all were consumed in the first couple months after Christmas.
Jared's dad and grandma both requested this to be their repeated Christmas gift. They wash their jars and return them to me whenever they eat a pie. The jars are always handed to me with a smile and a passive comment about me needing to refill the jar with another pie.
The pies in jars are especially good for single people as they can have a full home-cooked dinner without tons of leftovers. But these are also great for busy families who would appreciate being able to throw several pies into the oven and have a hot meal.
If you're interested in making pies in jars, please learn from my endless hours of searching for the right jars. You can occasionally find them on Amazon, but you'll pay as much in shipping as you'll pay for the jars. The best deal is to purchase them from Ace Hardware online and choose free shipping to your local store.
If you've never made any homemade gifts, I highly encourage you to try. I bet you can find something that you can make, no matter what your skills are. Everyone has some talent to share, and you might as well tap into what your strongsuits are. And if you start now, you'll thank yourself in December!