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Homemade and Local for the Holidays - A Family Tradition

Updated on April 14, 2014

Handmade is Heartmade!

We spend a lot of time on holiday gifts, but not a lot of money. Most of our gifts are handmade for the people we love - family, friends, co-workers. Some others are special local items that celebrate the region of the state and country where we live. Why? Because it means something to my husband and I like to let others know we cared enough to take the time to make them something special. And like Oprah, we like to share our "favorite things."

We had three groups of people in our gift-giving circles, and they were all getting hard to buy for. One group had pretty specific tastes, and we were starting to give impersonal gift cards to people we really cared about so they could choose their own gifts. Then there was a second group who we wanted to show our affection for through a gift, but purchased gifts didn't quite seem appropriate. And finally, for a third group, we realized they didn't need anything and didn't care for frivolous extras. Through a lot of thought, we came to the conclusion that homemade gifts and small favorite items say loud and clear - we care about you, we put thought and effort into this gift, and we truly think you'll like it.

We've been giving handmade and local care packages to family and friends for several years now and have had a blast doing it. On this page, I'll share some winning ideas from the past and some projects we're considering for the future. Hopefully, they'll spark your imagination and creativity toward some homemade gift-giving of your own.

All images on this page are my own.

Gourmet Gifts

Gourmet Gifts For Christmas
Gourmet Gifts For Christmas

One of my favorite things is when people feel like they're getting something that looks like you spend a lot of time and even more money to make it happen. They don't need to know that it was easy or inexpensive. The point is that you took the time and they feel special having received that gift. Gourmet Gifts for Christmas is a book of ideas that does just that for you. Do handmade with flair!!

Blue Collar Jams
Blue Collar Jams

Fun Is the Main Ingredient!

My husband and I start planning our holiday gift giving nearly the day after Christmas for the following year. It's fun for us! We spend all year long looking for special local treats, the perfect recipe(s) and unique ideas to make our gift-giving special. We pitch ideas to each other, test them out, get feedback from friends and co-workers, and roll the ideas around in our minds. Then, we just pick our favorites from the bunch and figure out the best way to package them together for the holiday.

Did you catch the all-important phrase? In case you missed it, it's fun! These are the ideas that are fun to us, and I hope you like many of them, but if you don't, I encourage you to let these be the seeds that start you on your own search for fun and exciting gift ideas from the heart.

Food and Drink

Home Baked Bread

One year, we made mini loaves of cheese bread, a recipe we found in this brilliant book. We fell in love with it and were making it all the time for ourselves, potlucks, and gatherings. That made it the perfect gift to give because we were already clearly passionate about it. We just had to experiment a bit with the recipe to package it for gift-giving. It was a hit!

The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking

I make tons of the different kinds of bread in this book from the cheese bread I mentioned to flat breads, pizza crusts, sweet treats, and more. And when they say "Five Minutes a Day" they mean it! I love this book and recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who loves home baked bread but doesn't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. It's perfect for making gifts or as a gift itself!

Wilton Recipe Right 3 Piece Mini Loaf Pan Set
Wilton Recipe Right 3 Piece Mini Loaf Pan Set

For gift-giving, we knew it wouldn't work well to give full-size loaves of bread to people, so we wanted to give them about a meal of delicious cheese bread. These mini loaf pans are the perfect size for giving bread as gifts.

Darice 20-Piece Treat Bags, 5 by 11-Inch, Clear
Darice 20-Piece Treat Bags, 5 by 11-Inch, Clear

These are a great size for gifting mini loaves of bread. Just make sure the bread is completely cool before you put them in.


Recipes We're Considering for This Year

My husband and I have lots of fun making, taste-testing, adapting recipes, and finally selecting our favorites for gift-giving. And our co-workers really enjoy being our guinea pigs for our gift ideas.

Smoked Treats

My husband really enjoys experimenting with his Bradley Digital Smoker. Naturally, we purchased the smoker to prepare foods for ourselves. The gifts we are able to give because of it are a great bonus! He has smoked many foods over the years and we have gifted our own smoked cheese, nuts, and fresh-caught Lake Michigan salmon. Delicious and very well-appreciated!

Bradley BCOLD Smoker Cold Smoke Adapter
Bradley BCOLD Smoker Cold Smoke Adapter

He wanted to smoke cheese during the summer months, so he did tons of research to make sure he had what he needed. This cold smoke adapter was just the thing. He tells me it's easy to use and gives him the freedom to use his smoker any time of year.


Local Specialties

Here Are a Few Other Favorites of Ours - Closer to Home

I invite you to purchase gifts from our local favorites or from your own.

Things We Make

Handmade photo album
Handmade photo album

Crafted by Hand

This was one of our favorite gifts we made and gave - a wood covered, leather bound photo album. We designed it ourselves, assembled all the pieces, stained the wood, burned the image, and most of the time filled it with pictures and memories for the person we were giving it to. It was always well-liked whenever we gave this gift.

This year, I was hoping to find just the right wooden items at secondhand, thrift, and antique stores to turn into hand crafted cribbage boards for my family. The idea is great, but I couldn't find the right items to convert, so that idea will have to wait another year. I keep these kinds of ideas in mind and in time, I/we can usually make them work.

It's all about finding those ideas that are personal to you and to those who will be receiving your gifts. That's what makes them special!

Will you be giving any homemade or local gifts this year?

Will you be giving any homemade or local gifts this year?

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Did you find an idea you like? - I love getting suggestions and tips back too, so feel free to share.

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    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      That 5 minute breads book is a fantastic find.