by: Garrett Johns

Homemade Gifts

Price tags, gift cards, boxes, bags. That’s what Christmas is all about these days isn’t it? You have to get the newest hot topic there is. Why don’t we think of what means the most to our friends and family and make it more meaningful than the iPhone 7. Yes, maybe they would really love to have the 2017 Mustang Convertible, but you want it to come from the heart, not necessarily the wallet. This year consider something that will leave a mark on their heart. So what will make that impression while remaining affordable? “The greatest gifts are not wrapped in paper, but in love.”

Here are a few ideas for homemade gifts to give to those close to you. Feel free to change the ideas anyway you want. Make it special. And be sure to include anything personal that will make your loved one’s heart melt.

For Him:

  • DIY Mug: Get a solid colored mug (preferably white). Draw or write what your heart desires on the mug with a sharpie. Then bake in oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Make sure to allow it to completely cool before surprising him.
  • 52 Reasons Why: You will need a deck of cards, printing paper, hole puncher,  three rings (to hold deck together), and a sharpie. Directions: Cut the printer paper to fit size of the deck of cards. Cover the face of the cards with the cut paper and write a reason why you love them on each card. Punch three holes on the side you choose. Then you can hook the rings through each hole and ta da! Now they have a mini booklet of the reasons you love them.
  • Survival Kit: You can choose any sort of package to provide the kit with. Some things you might want to include would be a video game or action movie, some pringles, soda pop, candy, socks, gum, your favorite cologne, or earbuds. This one is all up to your imagination on how you do it and what to give your lover. Go wild.


For Her:

  • Mint Sugar Scrub: 20 minced mint leaves(optional), 1/2 cup organic extra virgin coconut oil, 1/4 cup granulated white sugar, 3 drops mint extract, and 3 drops green food coloring. Directions: Mix ingredients together until it is smooth. Spoon scrub into a airtight container (such as a mason jar) and decorate it with twine or ribbon. Make it as cute as you’d like.
  • Bath Bombs: 8 oz. of baking soda, 4 oz. of citric acid, 4 oz. of corn starch, 4 oz. of Epsom salts (make sure these are fine grained), ¾ tsp. of water, 2 tsp. essential oil, 1 tsp oil (almond/coconut oil), a few drops of food coloring, and some round plastic snap together sphere molds. Directions: Dump all of your dry ingredients (citric acid, corn starch, Epsom salts and baking soda) into a big bowl and stir them together with a whisk. Place all of your wet ingredients (water, essential oil, almond oil and food coloring) into a cup and stir until they well mixed. Pour both of them into a bowl and stir. (The mixture should begin to clump together.) Grab your plastic mold and pack the mixture into the first half of the mold. Pack it as tightly as you can! Then, do the same with the second half adding some extra mixture on top of it and squeeze the molds together to create your sphere. Press firmly! Tip: If the mixture isn’t packing well, place the ingredients back in the bowl and add a tiny amount of water. Be careful though, too much water will ruin your bath bomb! Wait a few minutes, and then carefully remove the bath bomb from the mold. Place them on wax paper on top of a fluffy towel and allow the bath bombs to dry for at least one day before you use them. Wrap them in tissue paper when you package them and decorate it in any way you wish.
  • Pedicure In Jar: Girls love to get their nails done, so a homemade pedicure is perfect. In a mason jar include nail polish, nail files, bath bombs, soft mini towel, toe separator, scrubber, lotion, cotton balls or q-tips, and anything else she might like. This one is also up to you on how you would like it to be. Be sure to make it look pretty with ribbon and some washi tape.

For Your Best Friend:

  • Ice Cream Sundae In a Box: Hungry? Sundaes are a perfect idea for a little get together with your bestie. Stuff mini marshmallows, M&Ms, sprinkles, banana, caramel, hershey’s chocolate syrup, waffle bowls, gummy bears, and of course your favorite ice cream into a pretty box. Use mini mason jars or ziplock bags for the toppings and your own creativity to decorate.
  • Crayon Canvas: Choose the size of canvas you would like and hot glue unwrapped crayons in shape of heart on one corner of the canvas. Use a blow dryer to melt the tip of the crayons away from the corner. (Make sure not to touch the crayons with the blow dryer because the crayon wax will get inside the dryer). Slant the canvas so that the wax will drip. When it has melted, let your work dry. When it has completely dried, write a best friend quote on the inside of the heart and
  • Open When Cards: Get a box of mini envelopes and an assortment of sharpies. On the front of the envelopes write “Open when…” and fill in the blanks. Some ideas may include, “Open when you are sad, happy, lonely, depressed, missing me, etc”. The sky’s the limit. On the inside you can put some printed off quotes and pictures of you and your best friend and anything else you might want to include. Decorate and make it your own.


For Your Pet:

  • Candy Canes: 3 cups whole wheat flour, ½ cup powdered milk, 1 cup chicken or beef or vegetable broth, 2 large eggs (set one aside for an egg wash), 1 tsp. peppermint oil, and red food coloring (optional). Preheat the oven to 350°. Mix all your wet ingredients together then add in the dry ingredients. Knead the dough on a floured board for a couple of minutes. Keep adding flour until the dough is not sticky anymore. Then divide the dough in half. Once completely kneaded, cover them with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge for two hours or in the freezer for thirty minutes. In half the dough add the peppermint oil and knead into the other half add food coloring and knead in. Refrigerate dough in separate bowls for one hour. Cover a cookie sheet in foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk egg for an egg wash in a small bowl. Remove dough from refrigerator, break each dough color into an equal number of pieces- about a Tbsp in size. Roll each ball into a small snake-like shape. Work on a long sheet of wax paper creating candy canes to prevent sticking- dough will still be somewhat sticky and that is normal. Twist one of each color together and bend the end to create a hook shape. Place your Candy Cane on the foil lined baking sheet. Brush each with the egg wash. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely before storing or feeding it to your pooch!
  • Peanut Butter Cookie Cut-Outs: 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1.5 teaspoons baking powder, 1/3 cup peanut butter (smooth, crunchy, doesn’t matter), and 1 cup hot water. Optional ingredients: Dried blueberries, honey, a dash of cinnamon, flax or chia seeds. (the sky’s the limit) Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Then line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, or you can coat them in a light layer of olive oil if you don’t have parchment on hand. In a large bowl, then combine the dry ingredients: the flour and baking powder, and any other seeds or seasoning you decide to throw in. Then, drop in the peanut butter, add the hot water, and stir. This is the tricky part about this dough; you want it to be like bread dough, neither too sticky nor too dry. If it’s too wet, add a pinch more flour. Too dry? Add a splash of water. With this batch, I was a smidge short on peanut butter, and the dough was too dry. Instead of water, I added honey. You can really do just about anything you want with this recipe! Roll it out on a floured surface. Use holiday cookie cutters – or bone shapes or the opening of a cup – to cut it out. Spread the shapes across the cookie sheet. They’ll expand a bit, so make sure to leave a little space between each cookie. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool completely before serving. Store the cookies in an airtight container.
  • Cat Treats: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.Ingredients: 1 1/2 Cups wheat or white flour, 1 1/2 Teaspoons catnip, 1/3 Cup powdered milk, 1/2 Cup milk, 2 Tablespoons butter, softened, 1 Tablespoon honey, and 1 Egg. Baking Directions: Stir dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix in wet ingredients to form a soft dough. You can add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky. Turn out dough onto a nonstick baking sheet and roll out. Carefully cut the dough into bite-sized squares. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove treats from the tray, making sure to break them apart; let them cool on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container or freeze and thaw as needed.

For Family:

  • Gingerbread Playdough: 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 tbsp. ground ginger, 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon, 2 tbsp. vegetable oil, and 1 cup water. Directions: Mix together and knead until smooth. (Do not recommend eating)

Treats For Everyone:

  • Rice Krispy Treat Kisses: 16 oz marshmallows, 7 cups rice krispies, 2 T butter, melted chocolate (optional), cooking spray, parchment paper, funnel, and foil. Directions: Lay out a sheet of parchment to place kisses on to cool. Melt butter in a pot over medium low heat. Add marshmallows and melt completely stirring constantly to prevent burning. Add rice krispies. Stir to coat completely. Coat inside of funnel with cooking spray (or coconut oil or butter). Fill funnel with rice crispy mixture and press into funnel firmly. Take the rice crispy kiss out of the funnel and set on parchment to cool. Repeat to use up all the rice crispies. When the kisses have cooled dip or drizzle with chocolate. Wrap completed kisses in foil.
  • Reindeer Hot Cocoa Mix In Mason Jar: Cocoa Mix: 1 cup sugar, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 cups nonfat dry milk powder, 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate pieces, and 1 cup crushed peppermint sticks. Directions: Layer cocoa mix, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows and peppermints in jar, then cut four 3-inch pieces of brown pipe cleaners and wrap them around a longer piece. Tie on additional 1-1/2-inch pieces to form y-shaped antlers, then hot-glue finished antlers onto the lid. Cut out the eyes from white and black construction paper and glue them with a red pom-pom nose onto the jar. Stick it on your counter and let the excitement of the children warm your soul.
  • Pumpkin Bread: 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix), 1 ⅔ cups sugar, ⅔ cup vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 4 eggs, 3 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour, ½ cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional), 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon baking powder. Directions: Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2×4 1/2×2 1/2 inches, or 1 loaf pan 9x5x3 inches, with shortening. Stir together pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into pans.  Bake 8-inch loaves 50 to 60 minutes, 9-inch loaf 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

There are so many other different ways to make your friend remember that moment for the rest of their lives. Did you know that most people remember the feeling more than the action? The thought is what counts. Make this year special and you never know who might just fall in love with your thoughtfulness.