Make Homemade Gifts and Holiday Decorations

A woman shares the holiday decorations and homemade gifts she creates for Christmas.

| Appeared in November/December 2014 issue of GRIT

Homemade Gifts for the Holidays

Salsa, soup mix, jelly, potpourri and candle rings make excellent homemade gifts for the holidays.

Photo by Ginnie Baker

For a long time now, I’ve been making the majority of my holiday decorations by hand, along with homemade gifts. I’ve done it for a long time. I begin thinking about what to make in late summer and early fall. That’s when I begin gathering natural materials, planning my home canning for food gifts, and getting my thoughts together on who gets what for Christmas.

The home-canned gifts are usually a complete meal that may include dry ingredients in a jar, along with stuff to complete the meal such as home-canned salsa, relish, and such. If it’s a soup jar, I include crackers, canned meat if needed, and soup bowls.

I grow Sweet Annie, a wonderfully scented herb, and I make approximately 35 candle rings to use on my individual candles, window lights, and numerous armed lighting fixtures throughout the house as a year-round decoration. The rings are simple to make. Just take a piece of Sweet Annie and wrap it around itself into a ring, and add a sprig of rose hips to each ring. The wonderful aroma of the Sweet Annie fills the house.

Another homemade item I’ve made for years is Christmas Greens, similar to potpourri. I start gathering and drying materials for the Christmas Greens in early fall. I grow Lemon Verbena and begin with that, putting it into a large Amish enamelware apple butter kettle. I add bunches of pine, needles and twigs cut into small pieces, from the many pine trees on the homestead. I also add sassafras twigs or small branches cut into matchstick-sized pieces. As I add ingredients, I mix everything to keep it drying. I then gather rose hips from the wild roses on the property and add them to the drying mixture. I dry orange peels separately, adding them at the end when everything is dry. I throw in a few cinnamon sticks and mix everything frequently as it dries. I keep the kettle on the floor in the kitchen, and the aroma fills the kitchen with the smell of Christmas.

When everything is dry, I add a few drops of cinnamon oil and then put handfuls in clear plastic bags, add orange peels and wrap the bags with a big red bow.

I also made fabric balls to display either in a wooden bowl to add some bright color to a room or on the tree — they make beautiful yet cheap Christmas ornaments. They are easy to make and are ideal for getting kids involved in the making of Christmas items.

mother earth news fair


Feb. 17-18, 2018
Belton, Texas

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!