This week I thought it would be fun to post some gift ideas since most of us are in full holiday shopping mode now! To start off, here are a few suggestions for handmade gifts. Handmade presents are often--though not always--less expensive than a store bought gift, which is great if you have a lot of gifts to give this year. However, they also reflect the time and thought that went into preparing the gift. Here are a few ideas for crafting, baking, or sewing gifts you can make yourself:
A tablecloth or a set of napkins makes a nice gift. If you know someone with an unusual table size and you have the sewing skills, a tablecloth can be a really practical gift. A set of cloth napkins can be used by almost anyone; choose a solid color for the most versatility or a fun pattern that seems to reflect the recipient or match his/her home. Fabric stores often have discount fabrics that work well for napkins; you only need a yard or two, but just make sure that it's a machine washable fabric like a thick cotton or linen.
I made these brown linen napkins this summer using this Martha Stewart tutorial:
Basic Linen Napkins
From Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts
If you don't want to tackle napkins, a simple item to sew is a pillowcase. Soft, patterned fabrics are perfect for kids, and you can choose a fabric that matches their room or their interests.
My mother made this flannel pillowcase for our son; he loves to point out the trains, trucks, and airplanes. Here is a free tutorial on how to make a pillowcase.
Another option is to buy pillowcases and embroider the ends. You can add a design or monogram (go here for a list of embroidery stitches and here for a list of embroidery patterns), or even just use your sewing machine to add a few bands of design in a contrasting thread color.
If sewing isn't your thing, homemade goodies are also fun to bake and give. Dress them up a bit by wrapping a box or tin of cookies in a festive dishtowel or filling a little basket with a towel, cookie cutter or spatula, and some edible treats.
Tag always makes some really cute holiday linens. This poinsettia jacquard dishtowel ($7.25) is a little more traditional, and the merry moose towel ($6) is a playful option.
Another great option is to find a inexpensive new or vintage cake stand, tray, or platter and include the serving piece as part of your gift. I found this Blue Willow platter at a flea market for $3; it would be pretty loaded up with some pecan bars (see recipe below), tied with an ivory satin bow.
From Southern Living
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2/3 cup butter
3 tablespoons whipping cream
3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1. Sift together the flour and powdered sugar. Cut in 3/4 cup softened butter using two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Pat mixture on the bottom and 1 1/2 inches up the sides of a lightly greased 13x9 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool.
2. Bring brown sugar, honey, 2/3 cup butter, and whipping cream to boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in pecans and pour hot filling into prepared crust.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
Don't forget to download some gift tags from Better Homes & Gardens and print them on white card stock to top off your homemade gift.