Handmade Gifts: Ideas

Here are some ideas for gifts to make and give this holiday season :) [Click the photo to go to the tutorial!]

Holiday baked goods: Cookies, brownies, bread…it’s all golden! Just make sure to package it beautifully :) [I’ll be uploading a delicious holiday bread recipe later today!]
Easy Gingerbread Friends Recipe
Mixes in a jar. Layer dry ingredients for cookies, soups, bread, etc. in a Mason jar. Attach the recipe with a ribbon and a handmade card. Add a wooden spoon or measuring spoon for an extra touch. It’s a great, old-fashioned gift!
Cowgirl Cookies
Terrariums in vintage containers (or ornaments!). A little plant brightens up any room :)
terrarium party favorsterrarium ornaments
Reusable fabric shopping bags. Everyone goes grocery shopping – why not spread the environmentally-friendly love? Choose interesting fabrics, or upcycle old cloth into useful bags!
Quick fix grocery bag :: a tutorial
Accessories. A girl can always use an extra headband, bracelet, scarf, or ring. (At least I think so ;)) Whip up a little cutie for each of your friends!tutorial: fabric flower ring

Peppermint Marshmallows

Ever seen those fancy square marshmallows in a little boutique? They look fabulously delicious, but it’s hard to swallow the $20 price tag for one mug’s worth. So we decided to make our own :)

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

…It was a bizarre experience. My friend Mary (chef extraordinaire) and I modified the Toasted Coconut Marshmallow recipe found on the Food Network to make these awesome peppermint marshmallows!

Ingredients:

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon peppermint extract
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 cup ground peppermint candies
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Tools:

  • Electric mixer with whisk attachment
  • Candy thermometer
  • 8×12″ non-metal pan
  • Food processor (you can do this by hand, but it’s harder that way)
  • Measuring cups, mixing bowl, saucepan, mixing utensils

Grind peppermint candiesPour syrup into gelatinMix on high until thick and fluffy!"Pour" into pan

Instructions:

  1. Finely grind peppermint candies in a food processor. Then line an 8×12″ pan with parchment paper and grease. (Or you can do this during step 3.)
  2. Combine gelatin and ½ cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Allow to sit while you make the syrup.
  3. Combine sugar, corn syrup, salt, and ½ cup water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240˚F on a candy thermometer (will take several minutes). Remove from heat.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 8-10 minutes (really neat to watch!). Add the peppermint extract and mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour* the marshmallow batter into the pan and smooth. Sprinkle the peppermint candy on top. Allow to dry uncovered at room temperature overnight.
  6. Remove the marshmallows on the parchment paper from the pan. Use kitchen shears to cut into squares (I suggest cutting through the parchment paper, then peeling off). Roll the sides of each piece carefully in confectioners’ sugar.
  7. Add to a mug of hot cocoa and enjoy with friends! :)

Marhsmallows is sticky stuffsSprinkle peppermintMarshmallow CuttingCoat in powdered sugar

*I don’t know how other people do it, but for us the “pour the marshmallow batter” step did not go smoothly. That stuff is sticky! However, it was really fun, and I recommend it if you don’t mind getting a little messy!

Keep checking all day for more tutorials on my Handmade Holiday Blogathon!

Make a Wreath

There are so many unique, beautiful, awesome wreaths out there! The best part about making your own wreath is that you can make it however you want. Choose your colors and theme, and you can change it throughout the seasons, too.

You could make a cork wreath with this tutorial by saveoncraftsCork Wreath

There is the ever-beautiful yarn-wrapped wreath (make, buy, argyle =  awesome)Antarctica Yarn WreathChalet - Handmade Yarn WreathArgyle Yarn Wreath

Learn how to make a tie wreath on Good Housekeeping.Tie Wreath

Make a button wreath with this tutorial Button Wreath Tut 13Button Wreath Complete

How about a gumdrop button wreath? (“Not my gumdrop buttons!”) Instructions here Gumdrop Button Wreath

Or you could make a cardboard wreath like ours 😀Cardboard Christmas Wreath

Have you made one? Leave a link with your image/post – I’d love to see :)

Handmade Holiday Blogathon

And so begins my Handmade Holiday Blogathon! I’ve already written a couple posts (1, 2, 3) about why I think we should strive for handmade holidays, despite the reasons against it. Today it’s all about making a handmade holiday 😀 Stay tuned all day for tutorials, recipes, pretty photos, and more!

And now for some eye candy to get you in the handmade holiday spirit!

(as always, click on the photo to go to the source)

Felt Gingerbread StarssnowboyChristmas Tree Table CenterpieceMy true love gave to me...Petit Four Yarn Wreathdog w/antler ornamentcrocheted valentine garlandUnveiled: 180 pop-up cards

Coming later today: ribbon stockings, homemade peppermint marshmallows, printable gift tags, ready-to-mail holiday bread, gift wrapping ideas and more!

Handmade Gifts: Or Buy Them

Though I’ve surely convinced you by now to make gifts this holiday (;)) there is another option to having a handmade holiday. Another great way to give one-of-a-kind gifts is to buy handmade! Especially this time of year, there are tons of craft shows, which are a lot of fun to peruse and have great goodies for everyone in the family. Etsy Austin’s Craft Riot last weekend was a huge hit, and there are several more fairs coming up in December!

If you can’t make it out to a craft show, there is, of course, always Etsy and other online craft marketplaces. Obviously, as an Etsy seller, I’m going to recommend it first. But I also think the Shop Local feature is really amazing! It’s a quick and easy way to find vendors from your own area. And of course there are always stores that sell local goods. Luckily for me, Austin is a great place to find local goods :)

And buying local is great for the community! It spurs the local economy, helps out entrepreneurs, and you get to know your neighbors! So if you can’t make all your gifts this year, at least try to buy some, and have a happy handmade holiday 😀

Handmade Gifts: Why you may not want to, and why I think you should anyway

There are a million reasons why you may not want to make gifts for everyone this holiday. Most importantly, it takes time and effort you may not be able to afford this time of year. There’s also the cost of supplies and materials, the homemade stigma, or simply because you can’t think of what to make. And these are all valid reasons. But I’d like to give you a few reasons why I think you should attempt a handmade holiday anyway.

1. There’s still time! You may not be able to knit everyone on your list a king size afghan, but you can still make thoughtful gifts for them. Even a small, handmade touch brightens up any present. Plus, think of all the time you’ll spend searching online and in store (which always aggravates me) for the perfect gift – you could spend that time crafting something instead!

2: If you’re worried about cost, there are several ways you can limit your spending. Think of ways to budget your shopping money for supplies and materials instead of gift purchases. Use the same materials to make several gifts. Or try making upcycled gifts using materials from around your house.

3: People love getting personal gifts. There’s nothing quite like watching someone open a gift that you made yourself. If you make something that is thoughtful and personal, you have nothing to worry about!

4: Can’t think of what to make? No worries! With a little inspiration, I’m sure you can think of something great for the people you love. Plus, stick around and…

For the next few days I’ll be continuing my Handmade Holiday Blogathon. Make sure to stop by on Cyber Monday for posts with ideas, inspiration, and tutorials for making a handmade holiday 😉

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey cupcakes

Happy Turkey Day! I hope you all have a wonderful day with your family and friends :-) I’m thankful for all my online buddies who give me support, inspiration, and amusement every day 😉

And remember, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to pick up hints on what you could make your family and friends! Enjoy 😀

The Homemade Stigma

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of homemade gifts? Maybe your first thought is kitschy. I remember the silly tie I made my dad at age 6, the terrible vest my grandmother made me that I couldn’t bear to get rid of, and there’s always the cliched fruitcake. But what about the ones near and dear to our hearts? There’s the portrait my friend drew for me, the beautiful scarf my mother-in-law knit, and so many more I cherish. So why does “homemade” have such a stigma?

There are different types of handmade gifts. There are the ones Great Aunt Myrtle makes for everyone, whether or not she knows anything about them. There are the ones people slap together just to save time and money, with no real concern to the craft. And then there are the ones we can make with care, thought, and skill. What is most important is to make something that is beautiful to the person receiving it. What’s the best handmade gift you’ve received? Why do you love it?

We don’t have to be experts to make a present worth giving; we just have to be personal. Let’s erase the “homemade” stigma by hand-making gifts with care and thoughtfulness. Let’s create something better than any mass-produced product could be. Let’s have a handmade holiday :)