A lot of homemade holiday gifts suck. Big time. I know, it’s the thought that counts and all, but if you’re going to take the time to make a homemade gift, why not make something that people will actually enjoy instead of weird homemade wine that tastes like vinegar or oddly knitted socks.
Below are 10 useful tips that can help you create better homemade holiday gifts…
1 – START EARLY!: I can’t emphasize this enough. Why do you think I’m posting this in October!? Because you should get going NOW not later on homemade gifts. Start way sooner than you think you need to, or you’ll be working on holiday gifts into the wee hours of Christmas eve. Trust me, I’ve been there. It sucks. Start early on gifts that won’t spoil – i.e. don’t make cookies now, but you can make stuff like Homemade Memory Games well before Thanksgiving. Food gifts should be made about a week in advance if possible.
2 – Stick with your skills: If you can’t cook, don’t give cookies. If you suck at sewing, don’t go there. It’s super cool to learn new skills, but practicing new skills as you make holiday gifts, is not really the best time. Case in point, Cedar and I have been working on making homemade felt food for play kitchens. We’re not that good at it. In time, we could maybe produce really cute felt food gifts, but not right now because our sewing skills are lacking.
3 – Consider non-perishables first: In relationship to tip #1, consider homemade gifts that keep a long time over homemade gifts you’ll have to make the week before Christmas. You’ll be far less stressed come Christmas if you get gift making out of the way sooner.
4 – Think – “Would I want this?”: Only give homemade gifts you’d actually like yourself or know that your kids would like. Thinking like this saves on resources, because your gift will be used, loved and hopefully not go to waste.
5 – Think VERY carefully when it comes to food gifts: Food gifts can be amazing, but people are really picky. I’ve gotten tons of weird homemade food gifts that have just sat there until I recycle them, because they’re too far out there. A simple food gift like candy or jam is better than overly unique food gifts. Neutral flavors are better than overly spicy or exotic flavors too. Also stay away from food that goes bad quickly (homemade wheat breads) or that’s hard to transport (pie). Choose food gifts that are easy, tasty, easy to wrap and travel well.
6 – Don’t choose gifts that require tools you lack: Cedar and I always want to make homemade wood gifts, but we just don’t have a wood shop or really many tools for woodworking. Although many wood gifts sound neat, it’s just not possible without tools. Make sure you read over supply lists before you invest too heavily in a particular homemade gift idea.
7 – Go easier than you think you need to: One year I made everyone huge gift boxes of homemade treats, including chocolate covered cherries, cookies and homemade peanut butter cups. It was a ton of work, and while people liked their goodies, I could have chosen one gift idea instead of many. Stick to easy homemade gifts you can pull off in a reasonable time frame. Example – don’t attempt to make 10 people homemade quilts or handmade dollhouses (yikes).
8 – Consider your kids: One of the best reasons to give homemade green gifts is because it makes a positive impact on your child. It shows that you care enough to take the time to make something vs. buying a boring ol’ gift certificate and allows you to personalize gifts, which is way more meaningful. These are great lessons for kids. However, kids have very short attention spans. Still, if you’re making homemade gifts, kids should help, so choose gifts they can help with and not screw up in the process. For example, most kids like cooking, so food can be a good gift as kids can help stir, slice cookies and more. Kids can also use glue and paint for wooden projects. Older kids can help with gift projects like mixing up sugar scrubs or sewing, but little ones may find these projects overwhelming.
*IMPORTANT: Also, keep in mind, kids are kids. They may not be as crafty as you yet, but don’t dictate gift projects. Allow your kids the chance to make decisions and make mistakes. Most of all make it fun, not a chore, so kids will be on board with homemade gifts for the long term.
9 – Label, label, label: It seems like everyone is on a special diet nowadays or will or won’t use specific body care items. Be sure to label holiday goods with ingredients so that your nutty fudge or tea tree sugar scrub doesn’t harm someone with an allergy. You can easily pick up labels dirt cheap, and print them out on your computer, so why not use them? I like these really cute 100% recycled brown kraft labels (shown above on homemade gift jars).
10 – Don’t stress too much: Contrary to what I said above, it really is the thought that counts. Some years homemade holiday gifts rock, other years they don’t. Try again. By making green gifts you’re giving something nice and personal, saving money and cutting back on material goods.
Now that you’ve brushed up on some homemade holiday tips, how about we look at some homemade gift ideas?