Although the fall weather has not yet arrived in some parts of the country, it’s not too early to start thinking about Christmas gifts. The trip from pumpkins to turkeys to stockings zips by, so make your gift-giving lists now. If you find yourself with extra time, make those presents extra special by making them yourself.
Gifts of Fleece
Blankets and hats make great gifts for almost anyone – even those traditionally difficult to buy for. Fleece fabric is easy to work with and comes in an amazing array of colors and patterns from brights to pastels and abstracts to cartoon characters. To make a fleece fabric tie quilt, choose a solid for the back and a fun design for the front. Even young children can learn to make the simple knots around the outside edges, so they can have a hand in making a sofa blanket for grandma or a snuggly for a cousin. This no-sew project is a great work-ahead gift to do in front of the TV.
Cute fleece hats are also fun to make with minimal sewing. Because fleece is stretchy, sizes can be general. Knots where the fabric joins at the top can be tied by children. These hats are easy enough to make that you can create a set for a friend or relative that includes a Christmas or Hanukkah print and a favorite sport team print.
Gifts of Food
Gifts of food are always appreciated especially during the busy holiday season. Although cookies and breads need to be made closer to the time when the gift will be given, there are several food kits that you can make in advance. One popular gift is the cookie or brownie jar. Start with a pretty canning jar and carefully layer dry ingredients one on top of the other. Seal the jar. Next write out the instructions for adding wet ingredients like eggs, milk and butter and the bake times. Attach with a festive ribbon. When your friend is ready to make the cookies, all they need to do is dump the pre-measured ingredients in the bowl and add in the wet ones. Easy! Young children can help with the measuring and pouring of the sugar, flour and chocolate chips.
A more sophisticated version of the cookie jar is the cocktail mixer jar. Start with a Mason jar, but instead of adding flour, add craft cocktail ingredients. You can personalize the flavors to each recipient. If your friend is a tequila drinker, give her a jar with jalapeños and tie a lime on top with a green ribbon. You can also pair it with a bottle of her favorite brand of spirits. If your uncle likes bourbon, give him a jar containing vanilla beans and dried cherries. There are many recipes available for infusing vodka, gin brandy and every type of alcohol. Depending on whether you choose fresh or dried infusers will determine how far in advance you can make each jar.
Gifts of Memories
In the digital age, many pictures are taken but few are actually printed. Create a memory book for a friend or family member who doesn’t live nearby. It’s fun to focus on a specific event or series of events for a mini photo album so you don’t feel overwhelmed about printing everything. One great idea is to print pictures from all the birthday parties that your relative might have missed over the year. Another idea is to focus on a single outing, maybe the great day at the park or the trip to the zoo. If you regularly save pictures from a media messaging app like Snapchat, create an album of your or your children with all the funny filters.
It’s never too early to start thinking about gift giving. If you shop and create year-round, you will have almost everything completed by December which will enable you to focus on spending more time with family and friends.