Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight has graciously offered to host The Loveliness of Handmade Gifts. This should be a very special offering of so many wonderful and talented ladies. Please be sure to get a nice hot cup of tea before you visit so you'll be ready to indulge in all the Homemade ideas!
Here is a post from last year at Sweetness and Light, we had fun with these little surprises!
I have several books in my library that I refer to from year to year to draw inspiration for homemade gifts:
- Handmade Christmas by Martha Stewart
- Martha Stewart's Christmas
- The Herbal Pantry by Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead
- The Perfect Basket by Diane Phillips
- The Christmas Kitchen by Lorraine Bodger
From The Perfect Basket, this makes a luscious and very inexpensive gift. I sent this to my brother one year and I think he ate the whole jar himself:
Chocolate Praline Sauce
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecan halves
In a heavy saucepan, cook the sugar over moderate heat unitl it begins to melt. Cook, stirring with a fork until it is fully melted, then cook, while swirling the pan, until it is golden caramel. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cream, then simmer until the caramel is dissolved. Add the chocolate and cook over low heat, whisking until the chocolate is melted and the sauce is smooth. Whisk in the vanilla and stir in the pecans. Serve the sauce warm or at room temperature over Vanilla Ice Cream.
One of the most fun gifts to put together with my dear ones has been homemade Hot Chocolate Mix in a special Mug! Here is a fun recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix, also from The Perfect Basket:
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa (my favorite is Hersheys unsweetned cocoa)
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
Combine and blend the ingredients in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container, or for gift purposes: place contents in a ziptop bag and decorate with a pretty ribbon and then place inside a festive mug or "bowl" style coffee cup and give to a dear friend!!
I truly delight in making homemade gifts from the kitchen, and as I am not real adept at preserving jams and jellies, I have taken to making other preserved foods, including herbal vinegars, spicy jellies, mustards, butters, pickles and preserving in oil. Here are two delightful and easy ones to try from The Herbal Pantry:
Olives in Oil
After draining and rinsing your olives of choice, select from these variations for flavorings:
Thyme & Garlic
Orange & Cardamom
Lemon & Fennel
Garlic, Thyme, Oregano, crushed Bay leaf, lemon slices & Allspice
Add your desired ingredients and some Black or White Peppercorns, then cover in good Olive Oil and seal in an airtight container or jar! Decorate as desired! This makes a fun gift to give guests as a favor before you send them home. Including a recipe for a yummy focaccia bread would be a lovely gift addition as well!!
Herbed Butters Basic Recipe:
1/2 pound unsalted butter
5 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, herb flowers, of 2 1/2 teaspoons herb seeds
1 teaspoon lemon juice or a few gratings of lemon zest
Salt and white pepper to taste, or dry mustard, cumin, or paprika (optional)
These are a beautiful addition to any holiday table and make a lovely hostess gift, especially if you know what is being served, then you can pair your flavorings to the hostesses main dish vegetables or breads.
Other delightful flavorings to add to the Basic Recipe above:
- Dill, Mustard seed, parsley, and a touch of lemon rind or a few mustard seeds for fish and potatoes.
- Thyme, garlic, chives, oregano, and parsley for tomatoes, zucchuni, eggplant or beef.
- Sage, parsley, and chives for chicken, veal, rice and pasta.
- Tarragon or fennel, lemon zest, and parsley for fish, chicken or eggs.
- Chives, mint, and chervil for fish, tomatoes, carrots and peas.
Don't they all sound delicious!!
The kids and especially Violet and I will be creating many little treasures for gifts from our recent adventures at Threads of Love, please visit and let us know what you think! I gave sweet Violet an early cold weather gift, 'cause I just finished it!!
Many Blessings and Happy creative days to you in this wonderful time of making special things to tuck away for another special day!