Annual Gift Guide 2008: Gifts You Make

See also Gifts You Buy and Gifts You Give Back.

Now you all really must step in for this post. I knit, but I don't feel like I have enough time to knit much of anything for anyone. And I bake, but probably won't do much baking this season. And those are pretty much the extent of my handmade skills.

So: What are you guys making for other people?

What are you going to help your kids make for other people?

Do you know of any knitting patterns that I could do in under 10 hours that would make nice gifts? (Bearing in mind that I need to do 3 baby sweaters before the end of the year also.)

What do you wish someone would make for you?

52 thoughts on “Annual Gift Guide 2008: Gifts You Make”

  1. Whee! Am I the first comment?I am not crafty at all but I am a good cook. All the holiday baking used to wear on me so now I make candy instead. I make up big pans of almond toffee and peppermint bark (which I think is gross but people looove it). Then put in little treats bags. Give one bag of each. Probably a dozen or so gifts for one afternoon of candymaking.
    Sometimes if I am really industrious, I’ll mix up a batch of banana gingerbread and bake in mini loaf pans. Goes a lot quicker than cookies.
    My husband is using his photoshop skills to make a collage of all the grandkids for his dad and my mom.
    Sorry no help at all on the knitting ideas.

  2. I’m trying my hand at some beaded jewelry–necklaces and bracelets mostly. The Michael’s ( website has some pretty good tutorials and how-to videos.

  3. You should get a copy of Joelle Hoverson’s Last Minute Knitted gifts. The book is arranged by how many hours it takes to knit each item. There are some really cute things (and things for all ages)!Instead of baby sweaters, you could do bonnets or hats, equally as cute and usually much faster knits.
    I am mainly knitting hats and scarves, baking some (like bread and cookies), but I saw a couple really nice and easy culinary things to make like rosemary finishing salt or caramel sauce.

  4. I love Knitty’s Quant and Calorimetry both as last-minute thoughtful presents, particularly for women who have lots of hair, or who don’t like smushing their hair into hats. (I made one of each for a friend who has dreadlocks. I haven’t given them yet, but I’m excited to. She can’t EVER find hats to fit her.)Honestly, knitting isn’t the best craft of choice if you’re trying to do something quick. Crocheting and sewing are both faster, and if you are handy with knitting, not that difficult to learn (at least, that is what I have found).

  5. We’re having a handmade Christmas this year. Money is beyond tight; we’re just trying to keep up, so I’m making everything this year. I have 2 boys, 3 years and 16 months. the 3 year old is getting a fleece blanket, 2 play capes, a knitted teddy bear, and a denim apron (he cooks with me all the time). The 16 month old is getting a quilt, bean bags, a knitted kangaroo and color matching blocks.The grandparents will be doing the storebought thing, but much of that will be new Montessori materials for the boys.
    I think my husband and I will be exchanging a hug. Does that count as handmade?
    I’m having the boys make ornaments for the grandparents, and the adults no longer exchange gifts at the big family event so we have no one else to buy for. My kids don’t have any teachers or anything yet,and I work for myself so no coworkers to buy for either.

  6. I’m making my annual “movie out of pictures and video-clips of my twins”. iphoto is pretty incredible. And since I did it for birth-15 months, I decided what the heck and I making the movie for year two. Once I get the main effort out of the way, it’s just a matter of burning as many copies as I need.I’m also baking Stollen (yummy german holiday bread). My mom’s recipe. The season wouldn’t be complete without it.

  7. Some things we are making this year:-Books for my son/other kids we know (I have no idea how this will turn out as it is my first time trying this)
    -Dried Spices
    -Spice blends (e.g., curry powder, garam masala, chili powder)
    -Roasted Red Pepper Spread
    -Homemade cleaning supplies (homemade windex, etc.). Not for everyone but my mom will totally love this.
    -Picture collages of our son for the grandparents.
    My husband is also getting into woodworking and is making a DNA sculpture for his dad (a biologist) and wooden walnut bracelets for the women in our family.
    Last year I made my sister recipe cards will all of her favorite recipes that I make on them. It was a big hit.
    I would love to get anything handmade for the new baby that we are expecting. It really means a lot to me to know that someone would spend time on our little bub.

  8. My nephews & niece are at a “cash only please” phase and there is a Wii in the basement so the holidays … don’t need their interaction much right now.They’ve got to earn their cash from me. I’m making a family triva game where the questions have dollar ammounts to them. Where were D&R married? What kind of books does grandma like to read? That sort of thing. Get the kids upstairs for a couple of minutes, get them talking to us for a SECOND, and make the gift more interesting than a 20 in a card {not that there is anything wrong with that}.

  9. I’m making a couple things:-a pillow for my mom, made out of a beautiful old Irish wool sweater that her mom made for her dad. I’ve felted the sweater and just begun marking the seams… I’m NOT a seamstress, so this should be interesting.
    -magnets, using this tutorial:
    -body scrub, using a recipe from Martha
    -handkerchiefs for my daughter. She won’t appreciate them – she’s only 2.4! – but I will feel better about ditching the torn-up T-shirts we’ve been using as hankies ’till now.
    Probably will also do some food. Last year I made granola, spice rub and (the big winner) biscotti dipped in dark chocolate. That’s one that looks much harder than it really is – a great gift for boss-type people.
    I would LOVE it if someone made me some nice knitted or crocheted fingerless gloves… the better for typing in this chilly house.

  10. These are some really great ideas! My husband is about to bottle a chocolate raspberry port that he made to give to friends this Christmas. He is a also woodworker and would like to make some picture frames to give out this Christmas, but he may not have time. I am helping our son and daughter make hand-print place-mats for their grandparents. I’ll probably bake zucchini spice cake (yum!) for the child-care teachers — I have a freezer full of grated zucchini! I am making appliqued wall-hangings for my kids and our best friends’ kids: a rocket ship, a tractor, and two butterflies. These are pretty quick projects, and I’m almost finished. If I have time after all of that, I want to make some decorative door draft stoppers for various family members.

  11. Lately my family has become really big on making stuff for others – and oddly enough, we’re now in the years where we *do* have the cash to buy more extravagant gifts. Go figure.This year:
    quilts, queen sized, for two of my 3 guy friends.
    “orange” juggling balls for the other guy friend.
    Mom is doing scarves and shawls – chain link for the guy friends, a VERY intricate lace one for my best female friend, a quilt for my brother.
    My brother always does an art piece for everyone – usually pen and ink, his own designs.
    We always bake shortbread in about five different varieties for more extended family / friends.
    Handmaking holiday cards to go along with them.
    And for my mom’s sisters, who none of us like, we’re doing quilts to donate to the local women’s shelter, four in all – better to put good work to good use.

  12. For those of us for whom crafts are an incredibly stress-inducing experience, I just want to give a shout-out to the silhouettes I mentioned at Mother’s Day. All you have to do is that a photograph of the person’s profile, then trace it onto tracing paper and use the tracing paper as a template to cut out of cardstock. Then you can use any variety of interesting backgrounds, or go with the old-school white background. I used a knife to cut, but I think you can use scissors, too.

  13. This year, we’re trying to do Christmas in under $200 total, including the kids. For almost all women, the kids and I will be making silk scarves dyed with kool-aid. The scarf blanks were purchased through dharma trading. I got 50 for $80 including shipping. And kool-aid is cheap and relatively safe. The scarves are turning out beautifully, and we’ll be experimenting with batik. I made one with beeswax, and have another set up that was batiked with washable elmer’s glue. If it works, it’s safer than hot wax for the kids.A couple of women will be getting aprons made out of old pillowcases. They’re SO cute.
    Men will be getting bowls that my husband makes on his lathe. He’s gotten pretty good at asking the city to give him a piece of trunk wood whenever they take down a tree. They almost always say yes. Hooray!
    In the past, I’ve done candy (turtles go over well), jam, handmade soap and lip balm. The lip balm was the one that went over the best – people LOVED it. It’s insanely easy and pretty cheap to make. And of course, knitted things. Yarn is expensive, and knitting takes forever (for me anyway), so that won’t be happening this year – except for my husband. He’s getting a knitted laptop cozy. Which is a good quick idea, Moxie. Much cooler than those neoprene ones they sell at the store (albeit not waterproof, but I might add a PUL liner, since I have some from diapers).

  14. Oh yeah, this year, kids will be getting capes, and a couple of babies will be getting ring slings. In the past, I’ve made kitty cat hats out of polar fleece – super easy because it doesn’t fray.

  15. I’m “making” for my siblings and my husbands (7 total that live in the area with kids) gift certificates good for 4 date nights OR a weekend getaway of babysitting…. that’s what I would want! (A little devious–most likely they’re going to want the weekend getaways, so instead of 4 date nights it’s only one weekend getaway–and we only have one sibling each this year (the rest will have to wait their turn in years to come) so that’s only 2 weekends).

  16. i’m planning bread, some salt and spice mixes, maybe some home made b@iley’s… other years, i’ve made knitted cowls – different yarns & stitches in a fairly big wide circle,so i don’t get tired of it in process. i’ve made ‘reader’s shawls’, polarfleece wide scarves with the ends turned up to make pockets you can throw on if chilly. (polarfleece doesn’t ravel!) last year i made the baby a really great quilted appliqued stocking. moxie, how about a baby bolero? that might work up really fast & be cute. or home made baby legwarmers?

  17. I love some of the ideas: lip balm, body scrub, and the port all look great. Cobblestone’s question book for the big kids is also a great idea.I am going to do quick breads, such as King Arthur’s Peach Oatmeal bread.
    For my husband for father’s day last year, I made him Cranberry Vodka, which he loved. After all, nothing says Father’s Day like the gift of alcohol. I will probably make that for a few people for the holidays.
    PS I’d love the links for some of the previous ideas!

  18. @Cobblestone My husband has been making beer and wine for years. For the port, he bought a kit at a “brew store” that sells all the supplies you need to make wine or beer. I think this is the kit: basically mix the ingredients, (grape juice, yeast, and flavoring) in special covered bucket and let it ferment for a while. You filter it and then let it sit again for a while. Then you filter it one last time, put it in bottles, and let it age. The hardest part is finding all of the bottles and cleaning them.

  19. My quick knit presents in the past have been fingerless gloves (Fetching and Dashing on knitty are faves) and felted purses (Sophia on the former was my prototype, but there are plenty out there). Felted slippers are pretty fast, too.This year, I’m only knitting for the 3 daycare teachers. I’m going to buy mugs from a neighbor who does ceramics and knit cup cozies for them with my daughter’s symbol embroidered on it. (Each child in the class is assigned a symbol because they can recognize their symbol earlier than they can recognize their name – it goes on everything)
    Everyone else is getting pictures of our daughter. We hired a friend to do a photo shoot in October and we’re ordering prints and digital files from her. Last year everyone got pictures *and* frames, so this year it is just pictures.
    I would also like to design a calendar with 12 months of pictures of our daughter, but I’m not sure whether that will happen.

  20. Moxie- I don’t knit at all, so I have no idea how long scarves take, but they seem pretty straightforward. I have gotten a few scarves over the years from my SIL who knits and they’re my favorite ones!And I agree about the baby sweaters- a hat would be just as cute for half the effort! 🙂

  21. I have to say I’m really proud of myself this year – I ordered the photo calendars for my mom and MIL (do that for them every year) but the big deal is I did them early November when I had the 30% off code. 2 gifts done – yipee!!One idea I want to do next year (too late for this year) is to make homemade vanilla extract. I guess it is really easy – you just take a large bottle of (cheap) vodka and put in 2 or so vanilla beans (whole beans) and then you let it fester for 2 months or so and it is good to go. You can then pour it into cute little bottles and give as gifts.

  22. I have to admit that I’m beginning to want a thread just for the people who make infused and flavored liquors. And then I will put myself up as an objective taste-tester.Okay, not really. I’m pregnant. But I’d love more recipes for that sort of thing.
    I’d also love recipes from anyone who makes flavored chocolate truffles–I’m looking for a good reliable one–and/or anyone who knows of an inexpensive place to buy good bulk chocolate.
    Sorry, this is not a very useful post! Usually I try to knit a few hats, and I knit one big thing for my mom (lace, sweater). My father likes figs, so most years I’ve made him Nigella Lawson’s figs in rum syrup (from Domestic Goddess; needs way more syrup than she says, though). I’ve also made a cranberry chutney, pear butter, candied pink grapefruit peel, and pink grapefruit marmalade–they’re either from Putting Food By or, um, another preserving book I can’t recall right now. (Also not useful.)
    A local guy does food classes and every year he has a holiday chocolates-making class. You pay around $100, go for 8 hours one day, and end up with a giant jar of caramel, peppermint bark, loads of truffles, turtles, etc. This has worked great for me in the past, but I’ve moved further away and just don’t have the energy this year.
    In fact, this year I don’t have energy for anything, too sick and tired. Fortunately my family all seems to be on the same page, so it’s going to be low-key, and that’s fine.

  23. @sueinithaca: how do you make the lip balm? and what do you put it in?We often give pickles, but they didn’t do so well this year. Also other food–Wondertime magazine has a recipe for very easy-but-elegant-looking buttermints. I’m thinking that this year I’ll put them in emptied pasta jars.
    We recently did a very simple and successful craft for my sister’s b-day. Used a vase we had around (b/c we usually have a few that I never get rid of from flower deliveries, but you can also always find these at garage sales). I tore pieces of tissue paper (again, we just had it around the house, but I guess you could buy to match decor), and I had my girls put them on the vase, collage-style, with mod podge. It came out surprisingly pretty, and it’s something that the really young ones can do.
    I think that my 4-yr-old is getting a box full of rice with measuring cups among her other gifts, and I was thinking of making one of those tulle/flower/butterfly canopies. . . hunting for easy directions.

  24. Heating pads! They are easy, cheap and practical gifts. You can use dried corn (from a feed store ~ 40lb for less than $20) or rice. Purchase flannel material by the yard and cut & sew rectangles (12-15 inches long, 6-7 inches wide…or any size you’d like). Leave one end open, fill with the corn/rice (I’ve heard of people using herbs mixed in too, but haven’t tried it personally). Fold the open ends in and sew a topstitch. You want the corn/rice to move freely in the pad…so don’t overfill them. To present them you can gather the material and tie on a matching ribbon or string.

  25. My kids always make gifts:door name tags
    painted ornaments
    painted plant sticks/tags
    painted mugs
    bead ornaments
    cookies in a jar (lots to google)
    homemade applebutter (started with applesauce and put in the crock pot, so EASY!)

  26. The December issue of Martha Stewart Living has a bunch of homemade spa gifts- I think I’m going to make body scrubs and bath fizzies. There are also instructions on how to make lip balm and those bath bombs, but those are more difficult to make, so I;m going to skip them.

  27. With a one-year-old I have neither the time nor the energy to get all crafty. But we’re gong to do photobooks for the grandparents, and for my husband I’m doing a photo collage at of my son’s first year. Then I’m going to get it framed.The cranberry vodka sounds wonderful–I’ll make that for some friends and family.

  28. @ katieLip Balm containers are available online at container stores (google lip balm container) or at Jo Ann fabrics in the soap making aisle. They’re the same price at both locations (within a few pennies) but the Jo Ann ones usually come with both tubes and lip balm pots in a bag, so if you want/need everything to be uniform, you can order them. I made them with my daughter’s preschool class, and needed all pots because the tubes were too tippy for three year olds (we made it for Mother’s Day and called it “Luv my Mama Lip Balm).
    3 ounces almond oil (or coconut oil, or olive oil, or plain old vegetable oil)
    1/2 ounce grated beeswax
    essential oil, if you want (peppermint, grapefruit, cinnamon, etc)
    Melt oil and wax together. Pour into lip balm tubes/tubs. Put one drop essential oil in each container, close quickly. The end. Standard lip balm containers are 1/4 ounce, so a little goes a long way.
    There are TONS of recipes on the web and in books – different oils have different properties – some are drying, some sealing, some moisturizing, etc. But you really don’t have to get too scientific about it the first go around. Just remember that using a fat that is solid at room temperature will yield a firmer lip balm than a fat that is liquid at room temperature. So if you’re using all tubs, you might not want to use coconut oil or cocoa butter, since it would be hard to rub onto your finger. But all of them are fine for tubes – the wax provides enough stability.
    For the record, I like my lip balm unscented. The beeswax gives the balm a WONDERFUL honey scent that’s better than the essential oils, in my opinion (though the grapefruit is pretty darn good).

  29. To those having trouble finding wine bottles:If you live near a winery, they often put them out with the recycling. The wineries near my house can’t reuse bottles because of the automated bottling system they use – a tiny chip in the lip could cause a big problem on the line. They’re more than happy to see the bottles reused, and give them to anyone who asks
    For those not lucky enough to live in a winemaking region 🙂 – ask the loca fancypants restaurant. I’m sure they’d let you pick up their bottle on the day before recycling day.

  30. I have made beanbags for lots of kids birthdays. Put them in a dollar store bucket and it’s a game. I am making PJ’s for Christmas this year. The patterns are really simple and you can get material on the clearance racks.

  31. I like to bake things to give to friends for Thanksgiving (particularly to those who do not observe Christmas.) One of the things I’m making are these Owl Cupcakes. I did a trial run for some gals the other day, and these little cuties got rave reviews:
    As for my DIY wishlist, there’s a way to turn a photo into a pencil portait that looks supercool. (I wish a design-savvy friend would make one of DS!):

  32. Not much time for making this year. Still considering:1) ‘shopping’ my craft supplies and making cup/glass tags (mug tag?) – I just need the findings, I have scads of beads.
    2) shopping my fabric to make scarves (tons of fleece, for example, some velvets).
    I have in the past made herb blends from herbs I grew and dried myself. I didn’t harvest this year, so I can’t really do that (sigh – I had tons of oregano I wasn’t using…). Now it is late for it (already snowed!).
    My mom used to do candy, so did my step-mom. I miss those, but I’m not doing it – seriously not my thing! A sister who does some decent amateur photography made photo cards from her best shots (photo glued on front of good stock). Another sister made journals for the kids (works in a printshop). For kids, scarves and such for dressup could be made from scraps or castoffs or tweaked thriftshop finds.
    Time is limited, though – and my crafty brain is mainly going to make dresses for Miss R, who can’t bear seams or zippers or buttons (thankfully, I’ve found a pattern that I can do lap seamed and pull-on in fleece, woo!).

  33. Last Christmas I had my sister and my mother pick out their gifts for me to make this year. So I have knitted my sister a funky wool hat with long ears/tassles and my mom’s crochet vest is about 1/2 done. It goes shockingly fast and as soon as all my grading is done I’ll be able to crank it out. I might do another hat for my father–I made this one last year and he loves it: have a kind of funky dad though. My step-father was less enthusiastic about it.
    This year my daughter is getting a little apron if I get a chance to get on the sewing machine. I also cut out a nightgown pattern a year ago and would like to finish it. and a fleece sling to carry the baby in.
    cooking: we set up some peach brandy this summer–its way way past time to strain and bottle it. I nearly always bake breads (whole wheat cinnamon swirl and banana bread) and we’ve got apple butter to finish soon.
    we’ll see what all gets done!

  34. we canned 5 dozen pints of tomato sauce in september, so now we have a lot to give away. our relatives are spread around the country so we have to invest in bubble-wrap (which is also why we can instead of freeze).

  35. I’ll be dipping pretzels, dried cranberries, apricots, and shortbread in chocolate. This requires a fair amount of wax paper and space to let the chocolate harden – I just cover the kitchen table with wax paper. I’ve also done toffee (Betty Crocker recipe), peppermint bark, and caramels from the Joy of Cooking. The caramels require a thermometer, but the rest is not difficult.

  36. So I must be the worst person in the world, but I am tired of my sister in-laws homemade gifts for our family. I appreciate the thought, but they just go in the closet. One issue is that there isn’t much thought into what we want or need, but what they can or cannot make. And before you call me completely insensitive, I am a knitter, so I appreciate the time that goes into homemade gifts.I like the idea of having the person you are making the gift for pick it out!

  37. Didn’t read all your comments – sorry if I duplicate.This year I am sewing flannel pants for everyone. Kids sizes 6-10 take about a yard and a half of fabric and adult sizes about 2 yards. The comfy lounge/PJ pants are very easy to make, unisex and quite comfy. A pair an hour (or under an hour), even for a slowpoke like me. This is also an inexpensive project I think I spent less than $10 per pair so far.

  38. We live overseas but would like to mail homemade foods (candy, cookies, breads, etc.) home to the States. Does anyone have any ideas for items that will mail well? It can take a week or two for them to arrive.

  39. Building on Andrea’s heating pad suggestion – adding lavender to the rice adds a nice scent. In a smaller size this would be a great baby gift too (like a “Happi Tummi”).My mom used to make candied pecans in massive batches to give as gifts, pretty much just coated them in a slurry of melted butter, sugar and cinnamon and baked until the sugar glazed. If you can get a deal on the raw nuts and be creative in your packaging it can be pretty economical, and they last a while if sealed properly.
    I doubt I’ll be making much this winter, but it’s nice to live vicariously through y’all. Some pretty creative people on this board…

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