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Getting an Early Start

October 20th, 2012

It was a matter of course that the lucky one whose holiday (birthday) came around could expect a present from everyone in the house; and of course, one didn’t just go to the store and buy with cold money something turned out by a factory with no relationship at all to the young sister or brother. A loving heart and gifted fingers can produce a wonderful of little miracles.

Maria Augusta Trapp from The Story of the Trapp Family Singers

While reading through this book (which is fantastic by the way, if you’re looking for great winter reading material add this to the list), I came across so many wonderful little quotes like this one. So true that the best gifts we will likely receive this year are those made with a loving heart and gifted fingers! Like these lovely stepping stones my nieces & nephew made for me.

We like to celebrate a homemade Christmas with my family, which means it’s time to start thinking about getting to work. I have a few great ideas, which I can’t share here since my family does read the blog, I’d hate to spoil the fun. We have a lot of options including home roasted coffee, what coffee drinker wouldn’t want that?

I’d like to encourage you to think about making a few gifts this year. You’ll save some cash and no doubt they will be greatly appreciated.

Do you make any gifts? What’s the best handmade gift you’ve ever received?

22 Comments to “Getting an Early Start”
  1. dkswife on October 20, 2012 at 5:37 am

    Got a question for you, do you roast your coffee in an actual coffee roaster? I use a popcorn popper, and it works great.

    Reply to dkswife's comment

    • Susy on October 20, 2012 at 6:34 am

      Yes, we have an actual roaster. We decided to buy an actual roaster after reading that a drum roaster worked best for roasting the coffee to a dark roast (we are espresso drinkers). We also purchased one in which we could roast a pound at a time so we weren’t roasting coffee as much (we drink a decent amount of coffee and give a lot away). The machine we finally purchased is one made buy a guy in his garage, all the parts are replaceable with parts from a big box hardware store. If you click through the link above you can see our roaster.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • dkswife on October 21, 2012 at 5:54 am

        Thanks, and sorry. I should have clicked on the link. I use Sweet Maria’s coffee beans too. I like their business ethics. I am going to bookmark the coffee roaster page. Thanks again.


        to dkswife's comment

      • Susy on October 21, 2012 at 8:00 am

        We LOVE this roaster and would highly recommend saving up for one if you’re looking into getting a larger roaster someday.

        to Susy's comment

  2. Songbirdtiff on October 20, 2012 at 8:01 am

    I make most of our gifts. We only buy for the nephews…they don’t have an understanding of the value in homemade, sadly.

    Reply to Songbirdtiff's comment

  3. angie h on October 20, 2012 at 8:06 am

    I’ve always wanted to do a handmade Christmas with my family and being a big fan of pinterest, I have a ton of ideas. Thanks for the reminder to get started!

    My hubby has given me a few handmade gifts and I treasure them even more because of that!

    Reply to angie h's comment

  4. Joan on October 20, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Last year we decided to make it a ‘local Christmas’. We either bought locally made products or services, or made our own gifts, for almost everyone (where we failed was in finding something local for our 15 year old son!). Luckily we live in an area where there are lots of great artists and craftspeople, and it helps that I’m a potter. A mediocre one, but my family seems to love what I make anyway! I also knit a hat for my mom, gave concert tickets to a local Celtic band to my dad, pottery to my sister… My nephews just got gift certificates to a local bookstore – the books may be printed somewhere else but I figured I was at least supporting a local business. It was hard to find things at first but really it was a lot more fun than just buying stuff from China.

    My best gifts are all things people made for me – a carved horse from my son and husband, turned wooden bowls from my dad, handwoven baskets from my mom, and an afghan, socks and sweaters knit by my now 90-year-old grandmother. I’m not sure which is the best one – I love them all.

    Reply to Joan's comment

    • Joan on October 20, 2012 at 8:25 am

      And, I’m thinking of trying to make some spice mixes for Christmas this year…

      Reply to Joan's comment

    • Susy on October 21, 2012 at 8:07 am

      All your gifts sound really wondering! You’re right – there are so many great new artisans in the Maine area. It’s starting to get better here in Ohio. Local Roots in Wooster is starting to get more and more great items.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Melanie G on October 20, 2012 at 9:23 am

    We almost always give our family members homemade goodies to eat – everything from cookies to hot cocoa mix to jalapeno jelly! I’m excited this year, though, because I learned to crochet this summer and I have a few lovely gifts I’m working up on these cool fall evenings :-)

    Reply to Melanie G's comment

  6. KimH on October 20, 2012 at 9:24 am

    I love homemade gifts and I’ve been known to make quite a few to give to friends, family, & coworkers.

    I wish someone would gift me with a hand-made quilt. A good, heavy, old fashioned one, not like the ones they make these days. ;) Owell Im saving my old blankets to make my own one of these days when I’ve made space & time to do it. ;)

    These days, I tend to make a lot of food gifts, just because they’re fast & easy, but I used to do much much more.
    I do want to make my granddaughter a “same size as she is” doll for Christmas. I really should get busy Just 8 more weeks till Christmas, I hate to say..

    I think my favorite hand made gift I received is a wall hanging my then sister in law made for me. She took one of my very favorite songs out of a hymnal (Joy Unspeakable) and glued it to the center a piece of decorative wall border paper that she had made into a scroll, then she framed it with more of the border paper on the sides, added some cloth ribbon that she curled & glued in an attractive way to frame it & added a couple cloth roses. She added a piece of the same ribbon thru the upper scroll and tied it for a way to hang it.
    Its probably 20 years old & its probably my very favorite & it hangs near my front door so I and everyone else can see it when they come in my home.
    She also made me a ceramic Native Indian village Crèche and I love it as well. People always think Im Indian for some reason, to my knowledge I am not, but I do have a love affair with many things native Indian so it works for me. ;)

    Reply to KimH's comment

  7. Rhonda on October 20, 2012 at 9:26 am

    I’m doing mostly homemade gifts this year consisting of canned food, spice blends, candies, lip balm & salves and crocheted & knit items. I had a great year of learning this year so I’m sharing what I’ve learned. Next year I’m adding homemade soaps! :-)

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

  8. Kelly H. on October 20, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I’ve received a few handmade things from family, but never for christmas. I’ve given many handmade things, for christmas and otherwise, because I value that more than giftcards.

    Reply to Kelly H.'s comment

  9. Bettina on October 20, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Well, I am not the one who tends to get the handmade gifts, I am the one who makes them.

    As an avid knitter, it tends to be everything from socks to intricately patterned gloves, lace shawls and sweaters.

    On the other hand, my family knows my other love is books and so I tend to get lots of gift certificates for amazon.

    Reply to Bettina's comment

  10. Denimflyz on October 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    I am making homemade wine this year for my house neighbors and some food gifts this year. It takes several months for it to ferment.
    I love homemade gifts. They are from the heart and no one else in the world has it. It is special, just for me.
    I am also making homemade fruit cake with a splash of brandy, just for good measure.

    Reply to Denimflyz's comment

  11. daisy on October 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Homemade gifts are the best. We are becoming more and more interested in passing on handmade or homemade every year. This year we plan to give things made in our kitchen, including a serving tray made from peppermint candies!

    I’m sure whatever you gift, your family will appreciate the thought that you’ve put into each one.

    Reply to daisy's comment

  12. whit on October 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Handmade is really the best gift giving, isn’t it? It’s like a gift for the gifter and giftee! I especially like making rather than trudging through (insert awfully crowded box stores with attitude-challenged customers) to find “something perfect” for a reciptient.

    We tend to collect books, puzzles, other interesting items throughout the summer. In fall, i take stock, and find who still needs a little something. Then we make jams, napkins, dishclothes, decorations, etc. for gifting through the fall. Occasionally i’ll fill in gaps with items from local craft fairs. Once we hit the 6 weeks before Christmas mark, if someone doesn’t have a gift, we purchase gift cards to locale places, bookstores, or restaurants.

    This year, my daughter has caught the fever and is making a coloring book for her cousins for Christmas. :) Since it is Christmas themed, she’ll complete it by Thanksgiving as an early gift. :)

    Reply to whit's comment

  13. Eliza J on October 20, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I haven’t received homemade gifts, but have been gifting canned goods for the past 4-5 years. This is the first year of having strawberry and raspberry preserves from our garden…to us, that is a really BIG thing. I will add to that soaked crispy walnuts this year as they are absolutely delicious. Thanks so much for the recipe. Also plan to add homemade pancake mix with cultured buttermilk. I have a whole new appreciation for gifting “real food”. Christmas is so commercial…we really have to get back to basics and what it is all about.

    Reply to Eliza J's comment

  14. Brenda on October 20, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Would you share some home made gift ideas from previous years?

    Reply to Brenda's comment

    • Susy on October 21, 2012 at 8:16 am

      I do a calendar every year for my family, they started requesting it after the first one. For my sister & brother-in-law I often take photos of their kids and print them off and frame them.

      For my mom I’ve made garden signs. And I’ve made felted wool potholders from old thrift store sweaters.

      I also often make food mix gifts, like pancake mix to gift with some of our maple syrup. Soup mixes with beans and herbs all wrapped nicely in a canning jar.

      I’ll have to think of some more of them and do a post about it someday.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  15. Norma on October 20, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    I’ve had some lovely homemade gifts given to me. A garden arch made from metal from my father(deceased), that I have moved with me. A pair of Calico cushions with leaves embroidered on, a wall hanging my daughter made me of Moon Fairies, from moon flowers and craft items, a picture frame made from paddle pop sticks with lots of decoration, sewn and crocheted doilies, a beautiful christmas tablerunner, knitted scalves, ooodles of lovely homemade cards……….lots more, I have been very lucky!
    On previous years I have made lots of homemade Christmas Cake, but it does depend on if the recipient appreciates homemade.
    I am going to make little gingham hearts with string hangers and herbs to put with Christmas pudding for the ladies of my craft group. Always cards, some candied cumquats, pretty calendars, and of course a christmas decoration for the house. I make a new one every year to add to the stash, so the house is homemade too and not from china:)

    Reply to Norma's comment

  16. Texan on October 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    I love homemade gifts! One of my favorites I was given was knit for me by a friend! All home made gifts are fantastic for sure! I actually have just started a few gifts myself. Time gets away fast and before you know it they need to be finished!

    Reply to Texan's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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