November 30, 2011

Yes, it’s that time of year again, where people join together and rush the isles of stores. There’s an added bonus to this year’s shopping insanity: customers pepper spraying other customers to get video game systems! Sounds like a whole lot of “fun” that I am thrilled to miss out on.

For the past 3 years, we have opted to make our own gifts, and limit purchased gifts to those that are in line with our values. We have given honey, beeswax candles, baked goods, and knitted items I’ve made. And yes, even the children and teenagers in our family and extended family have enjoyed the handmade and homegrown touch.

One challenge though- this was not a productive year for knitting. My toddler, as cute with all those golden ringlets as she is, is totally fascinated with my knitting needles. She swats at them while I work, and invariably finds a way to get into my knitting bag and rip rows and rows of work right off the needles.

The solution this year will be kitchen-prepped. I’m thinking:

  • brandy-soaked fruits like prunes, raisins, and dehydrated apricots.
  • Chocolate bark in festive cookie tins.
  • Herbal remedies like my Elderberry Syrup and some homemade lozenges.
  • And of course, honey and beeswax candles.

Now, there’s still time to knit a few things, and I’m planning on knitting up some toy animals and holiday decorations, both are quick projects. But, with the time constraints of watching two kids, and all the many trips up to Maine to build the cabin (awesome pictures posted yesterday), some of the nicer knitted items are getting tabled for birthday gifts throughout the year.

Some of you are thinking, “That’s all well and good for the adults, but what about the kids?” First, consider the lessons you’re teaching. Do your kids really need you to spend large amounts of money on video games and other crap they won’t care about in a month? If you really need to buy that stuff, try to buy it used. It saves money, but it also keeps money flowing here in the US. Most electronic devices and entertainment are manufactured elsewhere. When you buy a new item, the money ultimately leaves the country. When you buy a used item, it stays right here, in the USA. Do you really think the Chinese deserve more of your money? I didn’t think so.

Now, I could go on about how many older kids are equally, if not more impressed by a hand-knitted blanket. Many teens are fascinated by the stitching and can watch a knitter for hours. The end result means something to them. I still have the afghan my grandma crocheted for me when I was a kid. Could I even remember what else I got for the holidays that year? Nope. But, I still have the afghan.¬†This year, however, I didn’t have a lot of time to knit. So, I’m relying heavily on my kitchen and herbal crafts to make up the difference.

The holidays happen to fall during cold and flu season. I know exactly to whom to give a nice helping of my Elderberry Syrup and homemade throat lozenges. It’s great when medicine tastes good! This is an easy project since I can make several batches now, pop them in the freezer, and then put them in a pretty basket or bag to give them (with instructions to store the syrup in the freezer until needed.

For a few others who are accustomed to a certain amount of elegance, some brandy-soaked fruits, like prunes, raisins, and apricots. This will be lovely dessert topping, especially over ice cream!

We will still give honey and beeswax candles. Those are always a big hit, and a natural choice for a beekeeper to give.

Now, for those who have a sweet tooth, I think the perfect, impressive-to-look-at, simple treat has to be Chocolate Bark. Easy peasy to make, and broken into a festive cookie tin, this will be a sure winner. Seriously, who doesn’t love chocolate?

I’m still looking at knitting a few small, quick projects, like some toy animals and ornaments.

So that’s the run down for our DIY, handmade holiday plans for 2011. Do you have any favorite gifts to make for the holidays? I’d love to hear about them! Please post in the comments your favorite DIY Yuletide gift.

About the Author Homesteading Mom

Homesteading Mom is run by Cat Ellis, an herbalist, prepper and aspiring homesteader. Cat is the author of two books, Prepper's Natural Medicine and Prepping for a Pandemic. Cat Ellis also blogs at,, and

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