7 Homemade Christmas Gifts that Don’t Suck

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There are good ideas for homemade Christmas gifts, and then there are bad ideas. Good ideas can be inexpensive, but they shouldn’t look cheap (unless they’re being given by kids.) Bad ideas can be expensive, and yet somehow look cheap or miss the mark by a wide margin. If you’re planning to make gifts, you have to start now to avoid running out of time to make them right. Here are 7 good ideas for homemade holiday gifts.

Homemade Cookies, Candy, or Bread
If you’re known for a specific type of bread, cookie, or candy, make several batches and give them to everyone in pretty tins or bags. You could also mix the dry ingredients and put them in a jar attached to the card. Many people decide to give the cookie ingredients jar, but this isn’t a great idea if you’re just tossing the ingredients for the Nestle Tollhouse recipe into a jar. Make sure that jar is full of a recipe you created.

The Dinner Pot
If you’re known for something like a sauce, then prepare jars of it and pair them with the necessary dry ingredients and recipe cards. If you only have to give one or two of these, you can also buy cheap pasta pots at a local discount store. Arrange everything in the pots, then wrap them up with a nice bow.

Reusable Produce Bags
If you’ve got an eco-lover in your life, get some tulle and string and make them reusable produce bags. Buy a few apples, oranges, and tangerines to drop in the bag to demonstrate their use, then place them all in a nice reusable tote to show that you respect their love for the environment. They’ll especially appreciate the kudos they get while shopping with the bags. I get at least one comment about mine at the farmer’s market every week. Farmers love them!

Share Your Experience
If you have a particular skill, you can share that. However, make sure that the recipient actually wants to learn it and has the time to do it. If you love knitting and your niece hates crafts, then this gift will seem more like a gift for you than for her.

Knitted or Crocheted Scarves
One year, my mom’s friend made me a scarf. She’d taken up knitting in the last year and really enjoyed it. Because this friend actually has good taste, the scarf was lovely and I still use mine. It was a color she’d seen me wear, so she knew it would match my outfits and style. If you’re not sure what colors someone likes, either go with black or don’t make them something they can wear.

Homemade Candles and Soaps
Candles and soaps are ever-popular gifts, especially if you know how to make them well. If you already have the tools, then glycerin and wax are cheap. Again, choose colors and styles that suit the recipient’s tastes rather than yours. If you like to make small molded soaps, put several in a small basket with a nice washcloth so the gift is ready to be set in the guest bathroom.

However, you can go wrong with homemade soaps. I once saw someone print holiday images on plain paper, stick them to bars of Ivory soap, and then dip the soap in clear wax. Not only was the gift useless, but it looked cheap. It said, “I didn’t want to spend much time or money on you this year.” Bad gift!

Homemade Gift Basket/Tote
Gift baskets are easy to throw together cheaply. Everything in it may not be homemade, but they do show thought, especially if you customize them to each recipient. Hit the craft store the day a big sale starts to buy cheap candles, baskets, ornaments, or craft goods related to each person’s hobby. For example a scrapbooker would love scissors, stickers, and paper in a homemade fabric tote.

True, some of these gifts appear on many homemade gift lists, but that’s because they’re tried and true. There is always a chance that these will be gifts-gone-wrong, but you can avoid that fate if you think carefully and choose gifts you can pull off with panache, not gifts you can pull off in fifteen minutes.

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