This time of year is just so overwhelming. It seems that every year, the advertisements get louder, the Black Friday lines get longer, and the things I love about Christmas are seemigly lost in the throes of American consumerism. It all just seems so Charlie Brown, if you know what I mean. And I get so discouraged by insanity of it all! I feel like I need my own personal Linus to come remind me what Christmas is all about.
Because, at the end of the day I believe that Christmas is about a Savior who came to earth. Its as simple as that. And whether or not you share my beliefs on Christmas, I do hope that we can all agree that there is something disconcerting about the modern American Christmas. The holiday has become a hallmark of greed, materialism, stress, waste, and so much more. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
For the past few years, my family and I have participated in the phenomenon that is known as The Advent Conspiracy. The Advent Conspiracy is trying to change how we do Christmas. Their motto is simple: Love All. Spend Less. Give More. I was struck by the simplicity of the statement: so much truth in so few words. To expand upon the motto, essentially The Advent Conspiracy challenges people to change their Christmas spending habits. Instead of spending bunches of money on traditional gifts, they challenge people to instead use that money to do good. They do not suggest that you forgo all gifts entirely, rather they encourage people to give thoughtful and handmade gifts, the gift of time (i.e. babysitting for someone, cooking a meal for someone), and other such gifts. (For more info, watch their promo video here)
So my family and I have done just that. We’ve gotten really creative with our gifts – it’s usually a combination of handmade items (food and non-food), second hand items, or things purchased from local businesses. There are no hard and fast rules, we just do the best we can. And maybe I’m crazy, but I take so much joy in the process. For me, this is what Christmas is all about (Ahem…Charlie Brown). It is about taking the time to invest in those that you love, to gift meaningful and thoughtful gifts, and to use your resources in a way that will benefit others.
So, if you’re like me – and you’d like Christmas to be a little bit more meaningful (or just a little more homemade!) — I put together a list of homemade gift ideas. I haven’t made all of the recipes/crafts listed, but I do want to make all of them at some point! I tried to give a wide range of ideas, and most of them are really simple (and cheap) to make! Merry Christmas, and I do hope you find these links helpful! (p.s. if you have any DIY gift ideas you’d like to share, please send me a comment with a link and I will post them here! Thank you!)
A HANDMADE HOLIDAY ROUNDUP: GIFT IDEAS FOR YOU AND YOURS!
*Grapefruit Cranberry Marmelade (Someone make this for my Christmas present, please?! :) )
*Cute Little Marble Magnets
*Homemade Vanilla Extract
*Moss Terrarium | Tiny Terrarium | Hanging Succulent Terrarium
*Chai Tea Mix
*Ina Garten’s Chipotle and Rosemary Spiced Nuts
*Vodka Infusions (Rosemary Lavender & Rhubarb)
*Lemon or Lime Curd (*Made this for gifts last year – so good!)
*Basil & Wine Jelly
*Balsamic Fig Thyme Jam
*Maple Cinnamon Granola
*DIY (darling) Teacup Candles (*made a bunch of these in vintage cups for gifts last year.)
*Spice Blend: Herbds De Provence
*Homemade Curry Powder (!)
And lastly, here is one of my personal favorite homemade holiday gifts: Spicy Brown Mustard. I made a bunch for Christmas gifts last year, and I’ve been requested to make it again this year (I think it was well-received!). It is SO easy to make – essentially you throw all the ingredients in a bowl and let it sit for a few days and then food process it. Done and done. The mustard is spicy, intense, and oh-so-delicious.
Spicy Brown (Jubelale) Mustard
(Adapted from The Taste of Oregon)
12 oz. Jubelale (or other dark winter ale – original recipe called for the Ninkasi Oatmeal Stout)
1 1/2 cup brown mustard seeds (*important! needs to be brown mustard seeds, not yellow. For any of you Portlanders, they sell them at Limbo)
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Mix all ingredients together in a glass container and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to steep at room temperature for 1-2 days until the mustard seeds soften and all the flavors come together.
After the mixture has sat for a day or two (I think two is best), blend all ingredients in a food processor. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue processing until the seeds are coarsely ground and the mixture begins to thicken. This should take about 3 minutes.
Transfer the mustard to clean jars with lids. Seal and refrigerate for up to six months. The mustard will mellow with age.
*Oh, and here is a link to the darling labels I used on my jars of mustard (pictured at the top of this post). Canning Printables from Paper Crave