As you’ve probably guessed, I’m big on handmade gifts around here- and not the kind that take a lot of skill and artistic talent (however, I would never object to those…). The emphasis, though, is squarely on gifts that are simple, useful, or beautiful (and when they’re all three- score!) and above all, thoughtful. I probably don’t need to mention frugal, too, do I?
I should probably define “handmade” as it pertains to these gift ideas. For our purposes, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all the items need to be handmade, but that in the end the gift was put together, with love, by you.
For instance, it’s OK to put a wooden spoon that you didn’t carve yourself into a basket of soup mixes that you put together.
However, if you are into wood carving, go for it.
I have given homemade gifts for Christmas since I married and my extended family joined the bandwagon soon after. We give one “family gift” to each family- only the children get individual gifts. Needless to say, this cuts down on a lot of expense and stress. My favorite gifts to give, by far, are themed baskets or containers and I try to keep them to $10 or under.
Here are 12 gift basket ideas to inspire you:
Here are some I’ve given and some I’ve received:
1. Italian Food Basket. This has been one of our most lasting gift baskets – one we did back in 1994. My family and friends all tell me they still use the recipe booklet that was included. You can see how well-used mine is…and yes, I kept one for me- is that weird? It’s just so convenient having my favorite recipes in one place.
- a spiral-bound booklet with 22 of our favorite, tried-and-true family recipes
- a head of home-grown garlic
- a baggie of home-grown and dried tomatoes
- a spice jar of home-grown and dried basil and oregano
- a jar of home-canned pasta sauce
- purchased noodles and wooden spoon.
Since all I purchased were the noodles, spoon and basket (thrift store, of course!), plus incidentals like baggies and jars, these baskets cost only around $5 each, well under my $10 goal.
2. Cleaning Bucket. This was another basket that left an impression (though I’m still not sure what kind…) – a metal bucket filled with homemade cleaners. I mean, how many times does someone give you cleaning supplies? You’re not gonna forget that.
In fact, I felt kinda funny about it when the thought came to me and discarded the idea until one of my brother-in-laws asked what I did with my huge box of baking soda when they were helping us move. When I told him I made cleaning supplies, he said they’d like to have the recipes. Ok, then.
Items to include:
- inexpensive containers (dollar store and some I found online) filled with: 1) an all-purpose cleaner 2) a disinfectant 3) a scouring powder (baking soda based) and 4) a liquid soap for dishes and hands (castile-soap based) – I found these recipes from library books, now it’s easy to find them online.
- metal buckets I found in Home Depot
- include the recipes so your recipients can make their own later
- wrap the filled bucket in part of an old white cotton sheet ( to be used as rags)
The containers added to the cost, so this bucket came in just over the $10 goal.
3. Basket of Home-Canned Foods And Recipes. This basket takes a bit of advanced planning since time is needed in the spring and summer to plant a garden and/or buy produce to can during the season. The side benefit, though, is your gifts are done early!
Here are some items I’ve used in the past:
- Spicy Rhubarb Chutney
- Addictive Tomato Chutney
- pickled green beans
- pickled asparagus, and peppers
- Roasted Red Peppers in Wine,
- pickled jalapenos and cucumber pickles (both made like these refrigerator dills)
- canned Bruschetta Tomato Topping
- berry jams, jellys, and/or syrups
Divide the jars between the baskets, add recipes printed out on pretty card stock, and wrap the baskets in gift wrap or fabric pieces.
The cost of the jars, thrift store baskets, basket filler and a few bought items were only around $5.00. I didn’t add up the cost of vinegar, etc., as that came from the food budget as I was making them throughout the season and most of my produce was from our garden. I’m sure the true cost is a bit higher, but since it was absorbed into the food budget, it’s a good way to extend the gift budget (plus, a lot of my family gave me back the empty jars).
4. Breakfast Basket:
- home-canned syrups from the Ball Blue Book (Maple-Walnut, Blackberry, etc.)
- pancake mix
- spoon or ladle
5. Scone Basket:
- 1 or 2 bags of scone mix
- home-made lemon curd (refrigerated)
6. Large Glass Storage Container with a fun chalkboard label. Fill it with homemade:
7. Tea/Coffee Basket:
- vintage cups or mugs
- tea or coffee
- different sugar cubes or honey
8. Bread & Topping Basket:
- A jar of home-canned Bruschetta Topping
- a loaf of Easy Artisan Bread
- recipe card of instructions (i.e., rub bread with garlic and olive oil, grill or broil, and top with tomatoes)
9. Homemade cordial with a sweet tea bread flavored with the cordial and recipe.
10. Family Fun Basket:
- popcorn with packets of homemade flavorings
- card games or small family games
- candy (homemade or not)
- old movie purchased for a couple of dollars
11. Ice cream Basket:
- homemade chocolate syrup
- nuts and toppings
- ice cream scoop
12. BBQ Basket:
- home-canned or special store-bought BBQ sauce
- Basic Spice Rub
- long oven mitt
- grilling tools
What are some baskets you like to give or have gotten?