Welcome Guest – Malory Ford

Homemade Christmas gifts the way our great grandmothers did it – with a few modern shortcuts

It happens every year. I sit down to make out my Christmas list, and the list seems to get longer and longer until it closely resembles something Mr. Clause himself might make. Between church friends, teachers, extended family, and the folks who keep our household running smoothly, I could easily spend a small fortune on Christmas gifts.

Enter – easy homemade Christmas gifts. The special bonus is that I’m a toddler mom with a baby on the way right after Christmas and these can all be done months beforehand and placed in a closet until gatherings commence. My toddler can help me with many of these, and I’ll note which ones specifically as we go. They’re great projects for children or grandchildren to get involved and feel even better about giving gifts to those they love.

Homemade Soap

Nope, this is not your great grandmother’s soap process.

Safe for little hands

I know what you’re thinking. I did indeed say these were easy, and I have not misled you. The modern shortcut we’ll be using for this one is melt and pour soap bases from your favorite craft store. There’s no caustic fumes, no danger of burns, and it’s completely safe for little hands to help.

Simply follow the directions on the soap base to melt it in the microwave and add essential oils for scent. You’ll see my silicone soap molds pictured here, but you could absolutely do this in a loaf pan with parchment paper and simply cut the bars with a knife when finished. My daughter loves to add drops of essential oil for scents and stir the melted base. She’s not quite old enough to pour the soap into the molds yet but an older child would absolutely be able to.

Synthetic scents and dyes are inexpensive and lots of fun for littles, but you can also keep the process more natural by using essential oils for scents and coloring with natural coloring agents like those listed here.

Dry Brownie Mix

This is an excellent way to use those old quart mason jars you found in your grandmother’s attic.

Safe for little hands if you don’t mind a bit of a mess

This one’s a common one, but sometimes the most obvious things slip my mind as the countdown to Christmas parties approaches. Many of the items for these you’ll already have in your pantry, and they’re an easy and adorable way to remind those around you that you’re thankful for them.

The ones pictured here are from this recipe but many are available if you do a quick search. You can trade out chocolate chips for red and green chocolate candies for a little extra Christmas fun.

For decorating, I generally print off some cute Christmas tags on cardstock with a quick note and the wet ingredients they’ll need to add. Fat quarters in Christmas fabrics from your local hobby store and a ball of twine or ribbon are really all you need to make these festive and adorable.

Homemade Jams and Jellies

This requires a little bit of knowledge on safe canning practices, but it’s an easy foray into canning if it’s always been a bit intimidating.

I don’t know about you, but nothing quite beckons Christmas like homemade jams, jellies and preserves. Spread a spoonful of peach jam preserved at the height of their sweetness over a loaf of homemade bread from a neighbor and I’m a happy girl.

Not only is this a great way to use up the apples your neighbor’s always bringing you from their apple tree (apple butter, anyone?), but you can also easily substitute store bought fresh or frozen fruit if you weren’t lucky enough to have a surplus of sugary goodness earlier in the year.

Safe canning practices for jams and jellies would take far too many words for me to get into here, but the good news is that most fruit jam recipes will be high acid enough to water bath can rather than needing a pressure canner. Here’s a great resource on high acid canning safety, as well as a link to the USDA’s free downloadable guide from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Crocheted Scrubbies and Soap Holders

Even if you don’t know how to crochet – yet!

Two things you should know about me: I love to develop random skills and I’m not particularly talented in textile arts. I know my way around a simple sewing pattern and can do a total of three stitches with some yarn and a crochet hook, but I’ll not be dropping jaws with my skills anytime soon.

I learned to crochet from a youtube video (like this one) and quite a bit of trial and error. My scrubbies and soap holders utilize exactly one stitch (the most basic of basic stitches), but they’re soft and handmade and can be thrown in the washing machine over and over (amen!). The secret to these is that I don’t measure anything, I don’t keep up with how long my rows are other than by sight, and I just fold over and stitch two of the sides together when I think I’ve got a big enough piece. They vary in size, and I certainly don’t want anyone looking too closely at the mistakes, but people will feel so loved that you took the time to learn something solely to bless them.

For those of you who already knit or crochet, you can probably do much fancier projects, but I’ll stick with my beginner skills for now. If you made the soap above, it’s an extra step to make the gift even more special. This is also a great project for upper elementary school kids to learn, and it’s certainly doable for that age.

Whatever you do, keep it fun and lighthearted. Homemade gifts aren’t special because they’re perfect, they’re special because you took the time to make them. Leave the perfectionism at the door, because the charm of many of these is the slipped stitch, the chocolate chip that somehow settled down into the flour in the brownie mix, and the spot where your toddler just couldn’t keep her finger out of the soap as it set.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to homemade gifts, and I’d love to hear some of your favorites! Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of my new book, A Way to Joy.

The Way to Joy

Violet Gilbert is carrying the weight of her bitterness against her father. Not only does she feel crushed under the burden, but her faith is in tatters as well.

Nicholas Carson is a cowboy turned farmer who can’t shake his feelings for Violet no matter how many times she rebuffs him. He remembers the girl she used to be, and he’s fighting for the opportunity to see that girl again.

When Nicholas’s sister Lily enlists Violet to help with their yearly Christmas program, she has no idea Nicholas has been recruited to build the sets. As sparks fly and feelings grow, Violet struggles to forgive her father and imagine a future of joy and love. And when an unforeseen winter storm threatens both their lives and those of the school children, the two must work together to avoid disaster.

The Way to Joy – Amazon

Also, the box set for my Legacy series is currently on sale for only $0.99!

The Legacy Series BoxsetAmazon

 

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37 thoughts on “Welcome Guest – Malory Ford”

  1. You can grate Ivory soap, microwave it in short bursts, and shape it into snowball soaps.

    I make homemade chocolates: solids, chocolate-covered cherries, chocolate-covered coconut bon-bons, peanut butter cups, etc… plus fudge, and cookies.

  2. I like all arts and crafts, and they make great gifts. I also like giving things that hold memories. One year, I made my older children a memory quilt from their old tee-shirts with the organizations and events they had been in and the places they had been.

  3. What awesome ideas – I remember making lots of cookies, hard rock candy and fudge to wrap up as gifts as a child!

  4. I make homemade candy and fix little bowls to give out to some of my family. One year I made up oatmeal spice cookies in a jar to give out. Years ago my grandmother gave all of her grandkids little glass piggy banks with a quarter in them. She had about fifty grandkids at the time and everyone of them got their piggy bank.

  5. Homemade gifts. I love making them. I’ve made Homemade ice cream, lighthouse mailboxes, painted ceramics and made Quilts and knives and many more different things. They are the best gifts to give. Thank you for spending time with us all. Hugs

  6. I love homemade gifts!! One year I embroidered different items for my family. I’ve received quite a few different homemade gifts through the years, mostly from my Mom, but from others, too.

  7. You do have a lot of good suggestions for homemade gifts, thank you! I will keep these in mind as I get my Christmas list together. I’ve not made things like these in a long time, sorry I don’t have any good suggestions for you.

  8. These are some very beautiful and creative ideas! Thank you for sharing with us. I remember years ago my Mom and I would make some Christmas candles to share with shut-ins, etc. We used an old, typically small, milk carton (not the plastic jugs), cut off top, put in ice chunks and a wick, and poured red dyed paraffin wax in it. The result was rather lacy and delicate, after we later peeled the carton off the sides.

  9. Homemade gifts are always so nice and so special. My grandchildren and I have made photo ornaments , and many years ago I used to embroider pillowcases and sheets for my parents. We have 2 pecan trees and my husband shells them and we have given them as gifts before in bags. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome homemade gifts, you have some great ideas! How special that you are having your toddler helping you, how fun for your little one. Before you know it, you will have 2 more little precious hands helping you. Your book sounds like a great read and I love your book cover. Have a great weekend and stay safe.

  10. Those are adorable gift ideas! Lately I’ve been enjoying making Christmas ornaments. I usually buy kits, either needlepoint or cross stitch because I’m not inventive enough to come up with my own designs, but they are a fun relatively quick thing to do that people seem to enjoy.

  11. welcome today. I love to make hand made gifts. Right now I am working on placemats for my daughter and cloth blocks for a great nephew born any day now. A gathered toy holder for a great niece. Our family every year, someone would make ornaments for everyone else. Now the family is so big, it has broken into three factions. Last year my husband and I made 3D snowmen. He printed and I painted.

  12. We bake cookies and pumpkin bread to give as gifts. I also make calendars and banners with sequins and beads. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

  13. We have done homemade gifts for Christmas for many, many years. My husband build a beautiful doll house for our daughters one year. When our children were in school, I made Teddy Bear Bread for the teachers and others. It is a sweet yeast dough, fun, and easy to make. As the kids got older, they could help make it. I’ve made jams and conserves for friends. More recently, I have made apple bread and bourbon balls for friends and family. When our children were young, one year I made alphabet pillows spelling out the names of our children, nieces, and nephews. Another year, I did a framed cross stitch picture of their first initial with a child playing for the same children. We have crafted many other things for gifts. I made Advent Calendars one year for our women’s club Christmas Bazaar.

    I like the idea of making soaps and might give that one a try. I hope you have an enjoyable Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

  14. I make homemade jams and jellies and give to my nephews neice’s and always my children have their cabinets with these homemade items they love them!

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