Handmade Holidays

I’m not exactly an artsy person (I can’t even draw stick figures!) but I guess I am a creative one.  I like to think outside the box.  While I will purchase a few gifts this year (the kids are hard to craft for) I will mainly be making all of my gifts.  I’ve always been one to prefer the little things – things that are personal, show thought and effort – and so I tend to gravitate to giving those types of things as well.


All but three of the handmade gifts (unless I do some last minute things) are kitchen gifts.  These go over really well with friends, family, teachers and co-workers because it saves them making something.  Many of them are like store bought mixes but taste a million times better.  The presentation is usually the most expensive part – trying to make them look all cute and gifty-like when you are using up your store of mason jars.  There are tons of cute jars out there you could use but none really ship well so I gave up and figured it was the stuff inside the glass that mattered most anyway.


Most of them are quick to throw together so they make good last minute gifts as well.  The only exception being the homemade vanilla sugar and extract.  These take a good 2-3 weeks to mature and are even better if they have months to sit.  Of course, if you are desperate, just add a tag saying waiting is half the pleasure and specify a time for it to be used.


Things I’ll be making in the upcoming weeks (with recipe entries and directions to follow as they are made) include:


-Vanilla Sugar.  Since I have a lot of foodie friends I’ll be making both regular and turbinado blends.  There’s a long way and a shortcut way to make it and I’ll post both.

-Vanilla Extract. Again this one takes the longest of all gifts to make but the simplicity of it makes it worth it.  There’s a normal route and a shortcut route for this recipe as well.

-Potato Soup.  This is an instant mix and is wonderful.  I always used to keep a batch on hand to take with me backpacking.  You can make individual servings to drop into a mug (great winter warmup for co-workers who may snag lunch at their desks) or a whole batch to make a family sized gift.

-Tortilla Soup.  Although I don’t like tortilla soup, it is popular and this has both individual and group servings recipes as well.

-Fiesta Dip. Perfect in a gift basket with tortilla soup and a bag of tortilla chips, this is a mildly spicy dip mix that looks terrible but tastes wonderful.

-Friendship Tea. The classic southern staple of gift giving.  A dozen recipes are out there for this and mine is the one I’ve been using for decades.  It makes a ton so its easy to parcel out for gift giving such as to a whole mess of teachers when you don’t want to offend anyone by getting different things.


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