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

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.

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