When I was growing up, my dad used to tell me that homemade gifts were the best kind of gifts to receive, and I never really believed him. Maybe I had trouble seeing the value in my glued Popsicle stick ornament, or the horribly ugly paper-mache figure that he kept on his nightstand for years and years. However, the older I get, the more I appreciate homemade gifts. Store-bought gifts and gift cards are nice, but when it comes down to it, you’re basically exchanging money for money. When you give someone something you’ve made yourself, it’s an item that they can’t find in the store or return for cash, and it (hopefully!) means a lot to them that you took the time to sit down and make it rather than just picking something up at the store at the last minute.
One labor-intensive homemade gift that I put together this year is a gift for my husband (and in a way, it’s a gift to me!). I made him a T-shirt quilt using some instructions that I found on Pinterest. It’s a gift to me because Justin has several shirts dating all the way back to his high school band days that I would rather him “retire” from his weekly wardrobe. It’s a gift to Justin because instead of throwing those shirts away or keeping them in a box in storage, they will be recycled into an item that he can snuggle all winter. 🙂
I planned on making the entire quilt during Thanksgiving weekend when I went to visit my parents, because my mom has a sewing machine (and a lot of sewing expertise), and I was hoping that she could give me a hand. (There are some instructions on Pinterest for making a quilt that don’t require any sewing, but I felt like Justin needed something a little more durable.) However, the quilt-making process was a little more intense than I thought it would be, and it quickly became apparent that there was no way I could finish it in just a few days. I felt bad leaving the quilt behind with my mom, but she insisted that she could finish it for me and it would be our joint Christmas present to Justin. She also assured me that cutting the squares, ironing the fusible interfacing to the shirts, and cutting the border strips to go around them were the hardest parts of the process (all the things I did before I left).
My other homemade gift this year was a little bit easier–a project that could be finished in just one afternoon–COOKIES! Who doesn’t love receiving the gift of food? Here’s the recipe (also taken from Pinterest):
Oreo Peppermint Cookies
(I doubled this batch, which produced 3 dozen cookies, or 18 cookie sandwiches)
1 box of devil’s food cake mix
1 stick of butter, softened
bag of peppermints or a box of candy canes
How easy is that list? Combine the egg and butter in a big bowl. Pour in the devil’s food cake mix and stir until you have a doughy mixture (this part was hard! My arm got really tired!). Roll dough into little balls and mush them flat (into a cookie shape) onto a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes–a little less than you would do ordinary cookies. Remember to let them cool all the way before you frost them, or else the frosting will melt.
**By the way, if you’re interested, you can do your own homemade frosting. All you do is mix together one softened stick of butter, two cups of powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract until it gets fluffy. I am just super lazy and cheap so instead of buying the extract and the sugar (which I didn’t already have), I just bought a can of Pillsbury peppermint frosting.**
Once the cookies have cooled, frost one cookie and then sandwich another cookie on top of it. Mush it together gently so that you have some icing squishing out of the sides. Then dip the cookie all the way around into a bowl of crushed peppermints to make it look pretty and festive. (Side note: I thought crushing the peppermints would be fun, but it got a little messy and sticky. I basically unwrapped about half of the bag of peppermints, put them into a ziploc bag, and hammered away at them on the counter-top. But my hammering created some holes in the bag, which got peppermint dust everywhere. If you know a better, less messy way, let me know! ;-))
I was searching for some little glass jars like the one in the Pin where I got the cookie recipe, and the glass jars that I found were $6+ each! But then I stumbled upon some really cute holiday tins at JoAnn Fabric for like $2.50 each, so I went with those instead. Tie a ribbon on them, and they’re done!
What kind of homemade gifts do you plan on making this year? 😀