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10 Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, the time of the year that your heart is warmed with thanks as you focus on the blessings you’ve been given as the year has passed by. One of the blessings I am counting is that our military journey has afforded us an extended family that spans the globe.

We have all been given the gift of friendship, and I want to celebrate by saying thank you for all the wonderful memories. But, I can’t help but think of how my savings account will quickly deplete if I add all of those “family members” to my gift list.

I’ll be honest—I’m good at thinking outside the box. I knew that in order to save money and add meaning to the holidays, I just needed to make the gifts myself. I’m semi-crafty. I can bake. But when it comes time for Christmas, it’s like someone sucked the life out of my creative brain. So, I turned to the experts—military spouses like me.

Thankfully, the ideas were bountiful! Those of you who are super creative are bound to have a list that stretches longer than Santa’s, but for those of us that need a little “elf magic,” I’m passing on my top 10.

Now, off to the workshop:

1. Printable Coupons

Coupons make a thoughtful gift, especially if you know someone who shows their love by giving acts of service to others. They will truly appreciate this gift. Give the gift of services (lawn mowing, baby sitting, or dog sitting) or give the gift of time (watching movies together, baking cookies, or expert advice on a subject/project).

2. Holiday Music Mix CD

Who doesn’t love Christmas music? Gather your holiday CDs together, pick your favorite songs, or go visit iTunes for some new additions. Pull them together and make your favorite mixed holiday CD.

3. Family Recipe Collection

This one is one of the most loved gifts I have given my friends. Gather all of your favorite recipes or recipes that all of your friends and family normally make at get-togethers, and put them in a book. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Add some graphics, and print them tied with a ribbon. A great gift!

4. Ornaments

Visit your local hobby store for a multitude of ideas. My favorite is a simple clear glass ornament. Fill it with different colors of craft paint. Swirl the paint all around the inside. Turn the ornament upside down into a Styrofoam cup to drain and dry. They’re beautiful.

5. Flavor Infused Butters and Oils

Many recipes can be found online with a simple search, but here is my favorite. It’s the simplest one I came across:

Cinnamon Butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix ingredients in bowl until light and fluffy.

6. Soup in a Jar

Layered soup in a jar makes a super stand-alone gift any time. Try this one in a mason jar, and add a decorated bag of oyster crackers for flair.

Chicken Noodle Soup in a Jar

In a two-cup jar, layer from bottom to top in the order listed below, then seal the jar.

¼ cup of red lentils
2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
1 ½ tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
½ teaspoon dried dill weed or dill seed
1/8 teaspoon each celery seed and garlic powder
approximately 1 cup medium egg noodles
1 bay leaf

Write these instructions on your gift tag:

Bring 8 cups of water to boil in large saucepan. Stir in jar of soup mix. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf and stir in 1½ cups of frozen corn or mixed vegetables and 2 cups of cooked, diced chicken or turkey. Simmer for five minutes, until vegetables are tender and chicken is heated through.

7. Bath Salts

For most bath salt recipes, you can use your choice of Epsom salts or sea salt, with baking soda, if desired, or a combination of all three. One good mix is one cup of Epsom salts, with 1/4 cup of sea salt, and two or three tablespoons of baking soda. You can also add a tablespoon or two of finely ground regular oatmeal (not quick cooking) for silky, skin-softening water.

Empty the salts into a mixing jar and add a drop or two of glycerin. Add your choice of essential oil. If desired, add a few drops of liquid food coloring. Stir the salts vigorously until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Place in a beautifully decorated jar.

8. Cookies and Candies

You can always do the tried and true standbys like chocolate chip cookies, snicker doodles, or peanut butter cookies. You can get fancy and try homemade truffles (my favorite are Oreo truffles–yum!). Better yet, you can try a new suggestion and go with rock candy. (Note: The spouse that submitted this paired it with the 3rd Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne” patch—too cute!)

Rock Candy

1 cup confectioners sugar
3 3/4 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1 cup water
2 teaspoons cinnamon oil
1 teaspoon red food coloring

Roll the edges of two 16 inch square pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil. Sprinkle the foil very generously with confectioners’ sugar.

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the white sugar, corn syrup, and water. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Stop stirring, and boil until a candy thermometer reads 300 to 310 degrees F (149 to 154 degrees C). Remove from heat.

Stir in the cinnamon oil and food coloring. Pour onto the prepared foil, and allow cooling and hardening. Crack into pieces, and store in an airtight container.

9. Fido’s Treats

Friends aren’t the only ones who deserve special gifts during the holidays! Dogs are part of the family in many households, so here’s how you can include them.

Soft Doggie Cookies

2 1/2 oz. each jars of baby food; either beef or chicken
1/4 cup dry milk powder
1/4 cup wheat germ or cream of wheat

Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix well. Roll into small balls and place on well-greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork. Bake in preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes until brown. Cool on wire rack. Refrigerate to keep fresh or freeze. Great for older dogs with teeth problems.

10. Pinecone Fire Starters

If you are lucky enough to live in an area coated in pinecones (trust me, the installation maintenance people love it if we help them by picking them up), grab a bundle and make this easy craft. This is an easy, inexpensive, environmentally friendly craft project that works great as a gift for anyone with a fireplace. The best part? The pinecones ended up looking like miniature Christmas trees.


I hope that this list can spark ideas for giving throughout the season. And don’t forget how easily some of these can be tucked into care packages!




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