A list of gifts you can make for Christmas or any occasion

There are many types of gifts you can make to give friends and family at Christmas. Some require planning and work well in advance, others can be made more quickly. Either way you go, giving a gift that you’ve made is priceless and has so much more meaning than picking out something at a store. It shows a loved one that you care enough about them to give something of yourself to them, like your time, effort, and thought.

Baked items are always wonderful to give people, and I’ve made a tradition of this for the past 20 years. You can bake a variety of cookies, cakes, and fudge or just one of those items and put them in a number of festive containers to give as gifts. Some of the containers I’ve used are traditional Christmas tins, baskets, bowls, and plates. You can even use foam or plastic plates that have Christmas themes on them.

My favorite is a glass Christmas platter that you can usually buy very cheap at a dollar store. A platter allows you to arrange many different samples of baked goods in a scrumptious and beautiful way, and the platter itself is a gift that a person can use the following year. One year I found some very pretty glass platters for a dollar, and I placed an array of different cookies, fudge, sliced cake, and sugared pecans on each one. They were gorgeous, unique, and incredibly yummy.

Baskets filled with goodies are also nice. In the past I’ve taken baskets that I already had around the house, washed and dried them, and then spray painted them red, green or gold to make them look more festive. You have to air the baskets out till they don't smell like paint, then line them with wax paper, and wrap the food in plastic wrap before putting them in the basket. All that’s left is to add a bow and give it to someone you love.

The great thing is you can personalize these types of gifts for different people. For example, one of my friends loves snowball cookies, so I usually give him a basket full of snowball cookies. Other friends favor fudge, so I give them tins of fudge. For those who like a variety, I buy Christmas platters, plates or bowls and put in a little bit of everything I’ve baked. You can actually get by with only baking one or two cakes if you slice them and divide the slices among a number of platters along with a few other baked things, like cookies or fudge. It’s the same with cookies. If you bake 4 or 5 different types of cookies, you can create plates or platters that have a little bit of each, and it looks great and goes a very long way. There have been years where I only baked a variety of cookies and that works nicely too.

If baking isn’t your thing, but you have friends who do like to bake, then making vanilla extract and putting it in a decorative bottle is very nice. Making flavored olive oil is beautiful and tasty, and if you have friends who enjoy hot, spicy foods, then a bottle of hot vinegar would be yet another good choice, and it’s very easy to make.

To make hot vinegar, you simply clean and sterilize a bottle that comes with a cap, cork or lid, and then put in some whole, fresh hot peppers. Slender, short ones work best, and it’s up to you how many to use along with color selection. It’s nice to use red ones although a combination of green and red is nice too. The final step is to boil some white vinegar, then pour it in the bottles with the hot peppers. After the bottles are cool, cap them, tie a ribbon around the neck, and your gift is ready. If you want to get fancier, you can make your own label to put on the bottle. Clear bottles make the prettiest hot vinegar gifts because you can see the colored peppers.

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Gifts in a jar or mug are always a big hit. They are very attractive and also handy to have in the pantry for a quick treat. You simply need to buy a mason jars with lids and rings or large mugs and assemble the ingredients in the jars or mugs for the recipe of your choice. A recipe card is generally included, and all a person needs to do is follow the instructions. I found a great site called craftbits.com that has recipes for making gifts in jars ranging from brownie mix and banana pudding to hot chocolate and hearty bean soup.

For those of you who know how to knit or crochet, a homemade afghan throw or a winter scarf is always a nice gift. There have been years when I made an afghan for everyone in my family, and I’ve always personalized each one according to their favorite colors or the colors they have in their home. An expert can probably work these up very fast, but since knitting and crocheting aren’t activities that I do regularly, it can take me a week or two to make a throw.

If you enjoy sewing, then a handmade quilt is a lovely gift, and you don't need to make a large one. Quilts can be made from any fabric you already have at home, like old clothes, and you can make one the size of a throw. I made a throw sized one for a teenager years ago with a Pokemon theme because that is what she loved at the time. She loved it. You can be very creative and personalize a quilt in so many different ways.

Basically, anything that you know how to make yourself will make a wonderful gift for someone at Christmas. If you’re good at propagating plants, plan to do some of this well in advance of Christmas with your own plants and give potted plants to your loved ones. If you enjoy writing poetry, write a poem to a loved one and frame it for a gift. Taking the time to make gifts will be much more appreciated by the loved ones receiving them because the gifts you make are a part of you.

Robert Sloan recently published a hub worth reading, 2008 -- Year Without Holiday Cheer?, which is a beautiful reflection about how important it is to spend time during the holidays with family engaging in simple pleasures, like stringing popcorn or making homemade wreaths out of magazines. I identified with this because of my own experience with simple traditions that mean so much, like baking cookies with my daughter at Christmas.

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Comments 20 comments

Don Reed 7 years ago

Very good (and timely) hub with lots of good ideas for some nice gifts you can make to take some of the bite out of your Christmas shopping. Thanks for the great ideas.


Pam Roberson profile image

Pam Roberson 7 years ago from Virginia Author

Thank you Don. I appreciate your comment. I'm already thinking of more to add, but I wanted to answer the request as quickly as possible. ;) I hope others will share their own ideas too.


Bruce Elkin profile image

Bruce Elkin 7 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

Hi Pam, I'm with you all the way on the simple pleasures of Christmas. That's what I've always liked, and always will. The friendship, family closeness, traditions, all kept simple and handmade -- that's what it's about for me. Thanks!


Marlene F. profile image

Marlene F. 7 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

Wonderful sentimental ideas. Another that I have started doing is sending an e mail to all of my family and friends asking that for my X-mas present they just do something nice for someone else and then e mail me the story so I can print it and put it in my stocking. Then I read them on X-mas. It makes me feel as though my present helped others too.


Peggy 7 years ago

We have done similar things for years and everyone seems to enjoy receiving these gifts from the hands and heart. Baking some Christmas cookies today, as a matter of fact!


Pam Roberson profile image

Pam Roberson 7 years ago from Virginia Author

Bruce, thank you and I'm glad to know you feel the same. Gosh, all my Christmas childhood memories are ones that involve very simple things, like the smell of oysters frying on Christmas day, going to my grandma's house, playing with my cousins, singing carols, and things like that. :) Thanks for stopping in!

Marlene, what a wonderful idea! You actually are the catalyst for all those good things and what a nice gift to get on Christmas. Thank you so much for sharing that. :)

Peggy, gifts made by hand are indeed from the heart, and people really do love them. I have people dropping by on Christmas that I never see all year long, and I know it's because they know I'm baking. lol! I find it funny, and I enjoy it. ;)

Good for you for getting a headstart on those cookies! I have to start too. Thank you for stopping in Peggy. :)


ajcor profile image

ajcor 7 years ago from NSW. Australia

really enjoyed this Pam as I love a Christmas that is all about family and fun... not so commercially minded. I sure am glad that I read your olivwe oil info - could have killed my family as I had been planning to make these for everyone's basket of gifts!!!cheers

oops what have I done - I see that I have posted more than once....so sorry....


Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

very nice ideas


Pam Roberson profile image

Pam Roberson 7 years ago from Virginia Author

ajcor, thanks for coming in to read! You can still make those flavored oils, just don't use things that contain water, like garlic. I think a bottle of olive oil with herbs floating in it is so beautiful - and yummy! Your friends and family will be very pleased with it! Oops..did we just spoil their surprise?

Thank you Lgali. :)


ajcor profile image

ajcor 7 years ago from NSW. Australia

Thanks for that Pam - only my sister reads these so I 'm quite safe - I think - unless there are closet readers ....who knows.


eovery profile image

eovery 7 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

Great Ideas. this items are cute and personal.

Also sounds yummy in my tummy.

Thanks.


Listessa profile image

Listessa 7 years ago from Your Sub-conscious

Thank you so much for answering my request so thoughtfully. A wonderful hub!


Pam Roberson profile image

Pam Roberson 7 years ago from Virginia Author

Thank you eovery! :) It's amazing how some of the most simple ideas can be both beautiful and yummy. ;) I'd love for someone to give me a bottle of flavored olive oil...hint, hint to any family out there reading this. lol! The oil and vinegar are so pretty to have sitting out on the kitchen counter.

You're welcome Listessa, and thank you for the kind comment and for making the request. I enjoyed writing it. :)

ajcor...now that's a funny thought...closet hub readers. lol! ;)


backchat profile image

backchat 7 years ago from Camberley, Surrey

Great ideas, just in time. Thanks


C.S.Alexis profile image

C.S.Alexis 7 years ago from NW Indiana

You are so right about the gifts that are made with love and care. My sister has made a special cookie as gifts for many years and she never has enough. Thanks for sharing. C.S. Alexis


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 7 years ago from West Virginia

Yes, I have made fudge (a few differnt kinds) each year for my family for Christmas gifts. They love it! This year along with the fudge I will be bmaking gingerbread cookies and maybe sugar cookies too. I have to start tomorrow!!!


Pam Roberson profile image

Pam Roberson 7 years ago from Virginia Author

Backchat, thank you. :) Hope you have a great Christmas.

C.S., Thanks! I'm sure your everyone really appreciates what your sister does, and it's no surprise that she runs out. ;) I do too. Thanks for dropping in, and I hope you have a very nice Christmas.

Lady, yes, fudge is always good! Gingerbread is my favorite to make, decorate, and eat! Good luck with yours today. It's amazing to me how many people don't do this at Christmas. Maybe that's why the ones who do run out of theirs so quickly. ;) lol! Merry Christmas Lady. :)


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

Great ideas, Pam! I particularly like the idea of hot vinegar! I think I'll make some of this for myself since I use hot sauce compulsively! I've been thinking about making my own (to cut down on the salt), so the timing is perfect! Merry Christmas!


Pam Roberson profile image

Pam Roberson 7 years ago from Virginia Author

Thank you Christoph. :) I always knew you were a hottie. ;)

Cutting down on salt is so hard. Nearly everything you buy in a grocery store contains salt, and I fail miserably at trying to cut back on it. You have a great idea about the vinegar. I wish that I could tolerate hot things a little better, but I can't, so I end up enjoying hot vinegar by looking at it - like a decoration. ;) lol!

Merry Christmas Christoph. Hope yours is wonderful!


JPSO138 profile image

JPSO138 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

Very interesting concepts. Great hub.

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