Twig Stars. See how to make them.
(Reposting with all the links, because it’s that time of year!) Ten things (and more) you can do now to prepare for a homemade Christmas!
1. Panic. (Just kidding. Or not….) Then check your pantry to make sure you have everything you need. Make a list of everything you’re going to bake/create. Don’t forget the oranges and lemons for dried slices on the tree, and popcorn and cranberries for garlands.
3. Make cookie dough for cookies. You know, the ones to eat. Refrigerate the dough till you’re ready to bake.
4. Make at least one candy recipe, one that keeps well. Next week, make two.
5. The world doesn’t have enough corn husk angels. Make some.
6. Drag all the lights out of the attic and check them. That way, you won’t be upset when you put up the tree and find out half of them don’t work. Be sure you have enough ornament hooks, too.
7. Hunt down all the jars you need to finish canning gifts.
8. Make some candles. They make really welcome yet frugal gifts, especially if you recycle candles and use old canning jars. You can also put together potpourri mixes from dried fruit peels and things you collect outside. (For wood stove enthusiasts, try some pretty fire starters.) You can make soap in matching fragrances and make gift baskets of candles, soaps, potpourris, etc.
9. Check dollar stores and second hand stores and your attic and basement for baskets. (You can also get really pretty gift bags at dollar stores for next to nothing.)
10. Browse this post for a list of more links to some of my recipes and other posts with instructions for free (or nearly free) homemade and handmade gifts. I’ll also be posting several new homemade Christmas ideas and recipes between now and Christmas.
Most important thing to do: Prepare your mind. Christmas is not about money, though it’s very easy to be sucked into the commercial excess surrounding the holiday. It’s about giving something from your heart. It takes time, planning, and effort, but it also saves time, stress, and frustration by keeping you out of malls and out of debt. You can put together huge, wonderful gift bags and baskets filled with welcome treats, ornaments, decorations, candles, potpourris, and more that will be a delight for anyone who receives them.
I do make an exception for children, who want, and often actually need stuff, but fortunately my checkbook keeps me from overdoing it! In most cases, adults don’t need more stuff. If you’re part of a somewhat competitive family in the gift-giving arena, remember that you can take the opportunity to be a leader (or a rebel, whichever the case may be). Give them all baskets and bags filled with gifts handmade or home-baked. Let them know in advance if necessary to avoid shock. Many homemade items can be shipped, so that doesn’t have to hamper your plans either, just prepare your gift baskets according to whether you are taking it over to their house or mailing it. Order your preparations to have items that will be mailed in boxes finished first and items that will be hand-delivered finished last. Line up everything you’ve made and assemble gift boxes, bags, and baskets with each recipient in mind.
MAKE LISTS! A well-planned homemade Christmas is far easier than a store-bought one due its sheer simplicity. All together, it may sound overwhelming, though. Break it down. List what you already have ready from various crafting (including canning) you’ve worked on all year, and list what you still need. Make this cookie dough today, that candy tomorrow, gather potpourri mix items on a walk the next day, string some cranberries the day after that. Can and create and bake. I’m often amazed that the most difficult part of doing anything is getting ready to do it. I like to get all my supplies organized and laid out as if that alone is a task then put it all together–and it’s a snap! Gradual step-by-step preparation is the stress-free key. Remember also not to make everything difficult. Many easy, simple things make wonderful additions to round out a gift mix.
There are four weeks till Christmas. Lay it all out, day by day, a little at a time. The best part is, it’s all FUN, as opposed to finding a parking spot at the mall, and you can do it all at home and almost for free.
Don’t give stuff this year. Give love–everybody always needs more of that! Okay, who’s with me?
P.S. If you want to buy something, I’ll make an exception for the 2011 Chickens in the Road Calendar (Farm Babies edition!). You can get it here.