With Not Dabbling bursting at the seams with new writers, we’re also bursting at the seams with lots of great ways to “get real” during the upcoming holiday season. Every tradition–Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Wicca; theist and secular, worshipping God or the goddess or the gods–celebrates the year gone by as the days get short.
We’ll be sharing our homemade treats, meals, rituals and celebrations and hope that you’ll celebrate the central point of all these traditions–honoring family and the earth.
I, Xan, am spending the next several weeks making, and making up pies. I’ll be talking about it here, and putting the recipes on Mahlzeit and Sconeday. As you may or may not know, I’m not much of a baker, but I love my sweets. Since I’m really trying hard not to consume processed foods or things that come in boxes, I decided I had to learn. So on to the pie baking!
Over the last few years, I (Jennifer) have moved more toward handmade gifts for the holidays. I suppose it comes from all those years growing up with homemade candies and cookies for our treats. I remember not going out to buy ornaments for our tree decorations, but making them with my mother and grandmother.
For me, homemade and handmade gift-giving also stems from wanting to give people something that they may treasure for years, rather than a gift that they could’ve or would’ve bought for themselves. I love seeing the birdhouse that I decoupaged for my grandmother still on her bedside table – 15 years later.
Since my daughter’s first Christmas, I’ve enjoyed making crafts and ornaments with her. This will be our third year with a “Craft-a-Day” during Christmas! We’ve already started our handmade holidays with a craft or two, and I’m looking forward to more!
Here at Chiot’s Run we’ve been celebrating handmade holidays for quite a while. I think often people are a bit scared to jump in to handmade, especially if they’re not crafty. Homemade/handmade holidays aren’t about making something elaborate, they’re about taking the time to make something that you’re good at to share with those that you love. They’re also about taking time with your family and friends to make gift. Homemade/handmade gifts sometimes can be the simplest of things, for example: last year I made one gingerbread cookie per day for one of my friends show LOVES my gingerbread cookies. This was also a perfect gift for her because she doesn’t like have unwanted clutter in her home, there wasn’t a crumb of this gift still around after February, I can guarantee it.
You can even just gift extra jams/jellies from your panty. I have found these to be quite popular among friends & family. If you’re good at baking bread, a delicious loaf of homemade bread to accompany the jam would be well received by just about anyone!
Handmade/homemade is also a great way to get your kids involved and to encourage them to move away from consumerism. Last year I spent some time with my nieces and nephew making suet cakes for friends and family. They had a blast making them and were incredibly proud to hand out their handmade gift to everyone at Christmas. They enjoyed the pleasure of making/giving so much they were asking me a few weeks ago if we were going to do it again this year. (here’s my recipe for homemade suet cakes)
There really is no limit to what you can make at home. Last year I even made some homemade cat toys from scraps of felted wool sweaters for those people I know who love cats. They were stuffed with some catmint from the garden. The cats loved them so much I almost didn’t have any left to give away because they stole them all.
Out here in the damp Northwest, I’ve been busy spinning on my wheel in the kitchen or cozying up on the couch under a pile of handspun yarn, working on scarves and hats for the special people in my life. I’m a beginning knitter, and these homemade gifts are sure to be a little rough around the edges, but i think that will make them even more well loved. For the knitters in my life, i’m spinning them skeins of yarn with the colors and fibers chosen specifically for them.
Handspun, single ply yarn wrapped on a Niddy Noddy
Although i don’t have a garden to harvest from this year, my husband and i took advantage of wild harvests during the late Summer. Oregon is full of blackberries for the taking, and take we did! I put up a few half pints of blackberry/cayenne jam that we’ll be sending back to Texas with our Christmas package so that the family we left behind can enjoy some of the seasonal bounty found in our new home. It’s apple season here now, and i’ve been slicing, coring, peeling and boiling until my hands cramp into achey claws. Apple crisps, pies, breads and rings are sure to play some role in my holiday plans and gift giving. We’ll even get to toast the new year with some homemade hard cider!
Home pressed, unpasteurized apple cider, fermenting to become hard cider and apple cider vinegar
This year marks the first holiday season spent in the same state as my family in about 5 years, and i’m absolutely thrilled to enjoy our silly traditions with them once again. (I’m also pretty happy about only having to ship one Christmas parcel this year!) We have some pretty great traditions that always make the season seem to last forever. One of my favorite traditions that was started by my mother’s parents and has been passed on to every new family member i have acquired, from step-sisters to in-laws. Instead of the basic “To/From” tags on our Christmas gifts, we also include clues that make the package mysterious and even more exciting. These clues are often riddles or rhymes, not meant to be a hint or description of the gift, but rather something more involved and silly. Something as basic as: To mom, From Miranda…….. “Greasy Bug” Greasy Bug really meant a decorative silk “butterfly”and after 15 minutes of trying to guess and failing, my mother opened her gift and laughed. That’s what the clues are really all about: extending the morning, bringing out laughter and creating family memories for years to come. Because memories and joy are what the holidays are all about, and handmade gifts bring back memories every time they’re tasted, worn, looked at and enjoyed. -Miranda, An Austin Homestead
Will you be making any of your gifts this year for the holidays? What will you plan on making?
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