Saturday, October 18, 2008

Homemade Christmas


I have always questioned the way many Americans celebrate Christmas but for the most part I've went along with the way it has always been. Spending a good share of money, exchanging gift cards, and getting sucked in to the stress of it all. No more...this year we have decided to take a different approach with some of our friends and family. Instead of doing the gift card swap and going backward financially we have agreed to swap pictures and homemade goodies only.
It makes more sense and the presents are much more meaningful. The kids and I have also agreed to pick names and on Christmas eve we will all swap homemade presents. John and I will still buy for the kids but for the most part we buy practical presents.

For the last 4 years the kids and I go on an annual field trip to a local college for a fall photo session. John is usually off duck, bird, or bow hunting. We are husbandless and fatherless from October 1st until the end of November. Sure glad he doesn't have a muzzle loader! Our meals times often include roasted duck and woodcock....I'll stick to the Cornish rocks!

As a rule we usually bring a couple of friends and try to get a few good shots of them. This year we broke tradition, there was 11 of us total and Leah was an angel. Every year she has acted up for one reason or another up until this year. Last year she was hungry, the year before she was too hot, and before that I contributed her naughtiness to her age. This year I was armed with a back pack full of clothes, snacks, and drinks. Luke also made a bet with her for $10 that she couldn't be good. Low and behold she was sweet as pie! Above are a few of the pictures I took. We will make some fun Christmas presents, calendars, etc. with the pictures. When I look back at the previous years I see how much they've grown...sad! :(

Even though she was grouchy I always got a few snapshots because she is still cute.
This is in 2006, isn't her hair cute, I love it long but she hates to wear it up and chooses to keep short hair. What's a mom to do?

So here is a list of some of the things we are making this holiday season to give away.

Goat Milk Fudge - I have made one batch and did not quite get it to temperature but it still was so yummy! The recipe comes from I Love Mini Nubians

Peanut Butter Fudge

4 c. sugar
2 c. goat milk
1 stick butter or margarine
1 c. peanut butter, smooth or chunky
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix the sugar and goat milk into a large, heavy kettle. Cook over medium high heat until fudge reaches the soft ball stage. Stir often as this fudge has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pot. When at the soft ball stage, remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter, butter and vanilla extract. Beat by hand until thick and dull looking. Pour into buttered 9" square pan. Cool and cut.

Bread - I have made a good egg and oatmeal bread but I want to experiment more with multi grain breads.

Goat Milk Soap - I have yet to make, I still need to get a scale. I have watched a few videos on you tube and will be experimenting soon.

Pictures - we frame pictures, make Christmas cards, sideshows, and calendars.

Christmas Ornaments - we will be making angels out of pinecones, acorns, bay leaves, and dried flowers.

Earrings- I make beaded sterling earrings (credits to my friend Mary). They make great presents for earring lovers. I would be willing to do a post on if anyone is interested.
It is easy!

Body/Linen Spray - I made lavender body spray recently. I used a 2 oz spray bottle, distilled water, 1 T. of witch hazel, and several drops of essential oil (whatever scent you prefer)

Bath Salts - 1 C epsom salt(scented or plain), 1 C sea salt, a small amount of dried flowers (I used lavender) and a few drops of essential oil (if the salt is not scented). It looks nice in a canning jar with some raffia tied around the top.


I would love to hear what others are doing for homemade presents!

20 comments:

Cathi Weasley said...

That is what I do. Last year I made jelly for the first time and gave it as gifts.

Patrice Farmer said...

This year we're gonna have alot of empty boxes wrapped up under the tree, because we got early Xmas gifts. My mother bought me a vaccum, carpet cleaner and then helped me with a down payment on a car, so I'm done in October...for my daughter she is getting older so her gifts cost more, so she is only getting two gifts, they are expensive gifts so 2 main gifts and a few smaller ones...which is a shock for her since she is used to having lots of gifts but prices are high, what she wants cost $200 for one item, so it will look empty if we just put her few gifts and a gift or two for my mom under the tree, so we're gonna mark the 'fake gifts', so we know which is which...love that ideal of giving from the heart so that the kids learn to appreciate gifts from the heart. I wish I had've done that when my daughter was younger.

Pine Pod Farm said...

How fun, good pictures! I am thinking of making gifts this year as well, I'm going to be knitting/crocheting too.

Mandie said...

Every year we say we are doing homemade gifts and we seem to go half and half. We have done jams, drink mixes, calendars, candies, and dry mixes. This year I want to make homemade vanilla, aprons, we made salsa, I want to make coasters, and anything else I can find. I am always looking for new ideas. I like that you are doing pictures. That is a great idea! Bread is a great idea too. I think I will do that. There are all kinds of great recipes out there. Hmmm...

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Yes Kim, do a tutorial on your earrings! Please.

GreyWolf said...

Very good looking kids, and photos.
I think you have the right Idea about Xmas.

Country Girl said...

CATHI, I HAVE YET TO MAKE JELLY EVER, ISN'T THAT SAD.

PATRICE, AS THE KIDS GET OLDER THERE REQUESTS ARE MORE EXPENSIVE, THAT IS FOR SURE!

PINE POD, THANKS FOR THAT FUDGE RECIPE. IT IS YUMMY!

MANDIE, YOU HAVE SOME GOOD IDEAS DRINK & DRY MIXES AND WHO DOESN'T LIKE SALSA.

NITA, I WILL DO A POST ON EARRING MAKING IN THE NEXT WEEK OR TWO. I USE TO SELL THEM AT WORK AROUND THE HOLIDAYS, THEY WERE VERY POPULAR!

GREYWOLF, THANKS I THINK THERE CUTE TOO!

frugalmom said...

We have done handmade gifts in the past as well. Wreathes, ornaments, frames, etc...this year we have talked to some of our friends that have children that we normally exchange gifts with and have decided to do some kind of family activity with them rather than purchase them a gift that doesnt really have much thought behind it.

Th pics of the kids are great.

Janine said...

Cute pictures!! I think we have a lot in common! I too have a John and he too goes hunting a LOT this time of year! I am trying to also make this christmas a homemade one!! The girls are going to be making silverware sets for their cousins -we are also doing gift baskets to exchange with the family and inlaws... take care and best wishes for a stress free holiday season!

Robbyn said...

What great gifts! We used to celebrate christmas, and then I began easing away from it and lo and behold I'm a practicing Jew now...so it pretty much eliminates that christmas pressure ;-) But it used to be a really really important holiday and family time. We were always strapped for money and I always felt pressured way ahead of time to try to keep up with the gift-giving. I'd keep other folks' kids so they'd have time to shop, and their kids and I would make simple printed gift paper out of rolls of newsprint or other blank paper and potato or sponge cut-outs...fun to send home with them. Having folks over for a potluck and a white elephant gift exchange (draw a name, they open, next person can open new gift or take the first person's and so on) was fun...or being goofy and acting out goofball skits to music, etc...going for a cold late night "reindeer watch" walk with the kids (while other stuff the stockings)...there canbe so much fun without spending money. The pictures are SO much more meaninful tahn gadgets that will end up in the next yardsale :)

warren said...

We have always given homemade stuff...mainly because we were so poor in graduate school...it just stuck after that. Anyhow, the kids always make ornaments of various types. Everyone gets a calendar we piece together from photos. There are plenty of great programs that make great calendars. Family look forward to the calendars more than anything else at Christmas. Sometimes we decorate mugs or stepping stones or pillows, etc. Emily and I give honey from our bees and/or jelly that we make. The other thing we do, while not homemade, is to donate $ in someone's name to Heiffer International.

We do buy for the kids but we limit it to 3 things each. We changed a little last year to do the three things this way: something they want, something they need, something to read.

I struggle in my mind some because we are blessed with decent jobs. We could give more stuff to the kids and I don't want holidays to be about being as cheap as we can make it. But I do want them to appreciate things a little more than some kids seem to. We were at a birthday party this weekend where the 4 year old got hundreds (!) of gifts. There were over 90 people at this party. It was crazy. It reminded us of Dudley's gift pile in Harry Potter...so many you couldn't count. The kid didn't care a bit; she just wanted to open the next thing.

I guess we are lucky but my kids seem to understand about gifts better than I ever did at their ages. They really enjoy making stuff.

farm mom said...

What a wonderful post, and wonderful ideas! I've gotten off the crazy-christmas bandwagon myself. I cannot tell you how much it helps with the holiday stress.

sugarcreekstuff said...

Those are cute kid pics. Did she get her $10?
Between hunting and Hockey, I rarely see my guy this time of year. I get rewarded with free meat and buns of steel. ;-)
I always give some home made gifts, thanks for the extra ideas.

Erica said...

We have started doing more homemade things for gifts. It's fun and seems like it means so much more. I plan on expanding on it this year and am looking forward to it! I have to get my butt in gear though lol :)

I need to make Oliver and Clay both a blanket this year. I have some little games and toys stared for the two younger ones too.

My bigger boys are getting more difficult, but we really limit on how much they get.

I fully admit to going WAY overboard in prior years....so it was kind of a relief to cut back.

They don't miss it, they get something they really want, then a few things they need. Best of all, they are MUCH more grateful with the less they get.

Anyways, this is long, haha. But I hear where you are coming from. We don't buy much for extended family, just little somethings. We surely don't spend into the thousands like so many people I know!

Erica said...

And BTW, the pictures are gorgeous!!

PIE said...

We have talked about doing this for a long time. I tend to always have something homemade, a sweater, some canned goods etc...but it is such a great thing, and I think more meaningful too.

Super picture of you Hot Mamma...lol.

You are doing well to get started on the list...I always tended to wait too long and then have to rush. Maybe this year I won't since you have inspired me.

The Rabid Outdoorsman said...

Two things:

1. Gift cards are the bane of my existence. I read someplace that 70 billion in gift cards are left unspent every year! What a waste.

2. Your husband needs a muzzle loader.

RO

Linda said...

home made gifts are way better & means so much more! & lots of fun to make!!!!I LOVE home made!!!

citygirl said...

First off, gorgeous pics of the kids!

Second, your pantry shelves look sumptuous with all your hard work gleaning in glass jars!

Kudos to you...your investment is paying you dividends that would make Wall Street jealous!

Country Girl said...

FRUGAL MOM, I FORGOT ABOUT WREATHS. I MAE THOSE TOO BUT ALWAYS GIVE BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS SO IT DOESN'T SEEM TO COUNT :(

JANINE, INDEED WE DO HAVE A FEW THINGS IN COMMON!

ROBBYN, LOTS OF GOOD IDEAS, THAT NEWS PRINT IDEA WE MAY TRY!

WARREN, YOU TWO ARE GOOD! I TEND TO SPLURGE ON THE KIDS BUT A LOT OF IT IS MUCH NEEDED..CLOTHES ETC
I WANT BEES SO I CAN HAVE MY OWN HONEY SUPPLY AND TO SHARE! THAT B-DAY PARTY SOUNDS NUTS!

FARM MOM- THANKS! YOUR A SMART COOKIE, WAY AHEAD OF ME..I'M WORKING ON IT!

SUGARCREEK, THANKS! FREE MEAT AND BUNS OF STEAL, WHAT MORE WOULD YOU WANT?

ERICA, I NEED TO GET A MOVE ON TOO OR I'LL BE STRESSING JUST AS MUCH. I MADE THE KIDDOS THOSE TIE FLEECE BLANKETS IN PREVIOUS YEARS AND THEY WERE A HIT. NOT CHEAP TO MAKE BUT USEFUL AND FUN TO DO.
THANKS FOR THE COMPLIMENTS JUST FINALLY FIGURED OUT WHAT BTW MEANT, HELLO ..I'M A BIT SLOW AT TIMES. I'VE SEEN IT WRITTEN BEFORE BUT NEVER PIECED IT TOGETHER JUST LIKE MIL (MOTHER IN LAW).
PIE, A SWEATER, AREN'T YOU CRAFTY. I COULDN'T KNIT TO SAVE MY LIFE.ALL I WANT TO DO IS MAKE A DARN DISH CLOTH.....SOMEDAY I'LL LEARN.

RO, THAT IS A SCARY STATISTIC...I'M GONNA POST THAT ONE, THAT IS NUTS!
DON'T GIVE HIM ANY IDEAS ABOUT THE MUZZLE LOADER. ACTUALLY, I WOULD BE OK WITH IT I GUESS. THANK GOD FOR SUNDAYS AND DARK ;)

LINDA, I AGREE. HOMEMADE PRESENTS ARE MY FAVORITE TOO. THEY HAVE A LOT MORE MEANING.

CITY GIRL, THANKS! I HAVE SOME GOOD ONES OF YOU AND YOUR BABE. I WILL BURN THEM TO A CD AND HOPEFULLY GET TO YOU BY NEXT WEEK.