Monday, December 29, 2008

Homemade Christmas Gifts

Now that Christmas is over I can finally share a few of the homemade gifts I handed out this year. Since the recipients of these gifts occasionally read this blog I had to keep my ideas a secret until after the holidays were over. Many family and friends received homemade gifts this year. Aside from setting a tighter shopping budget this year than usual (and almost sticking to it) I wanted to incorporate reused and recycled items into my gifts. Also, people seem to really appreciate the fact that you took time to make them a gift.

Aunts and uncles all received boxes of homemade cookies and chocolates. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the wrapped boxes but they sure looked great. I bought dessert and candy boxes from the craft store so the gifts looked professionally packaged. Next year I will have to source out some better deals for the boxes because I think stores like A.C. Moore and Michael's are actually a little overpriced for these sort of things. Inside the boxes were sugar cookies that I sandwiched with raspberry preserves and Nutella (the Nutella filled cookies were outstanding, those are definitely getting made again) and what the New York Times calls "the perfect chocolate chip cookie". I don't know if I am qualified to judge the perfection of these cookies but they were pretty delicious. I think the real secret was the sprinkle of sea salt each cookie got before baking. The tiny taste of salt before biting into a chocolate chip was divine. Notice I say was, because they are already gone.

I made a few super easy chocolate candies to go along with the cookies. Peppermint bark is something I started making last year and will definitely be something I continue to make year after year because it so simple and everyone seems to enjoy it. All it takes is melting a layer of white chocolate on top of a layer of dark chocolate and sprinkling the top with a few smashed on candy canes. It's yummy and pretty. I also made Oreo truffles which are too easy for words and another item that garner rave reviews from family and friends. Open one package of Oreo cookies, dump in bowl, mash to smithereens, add one package of softened cream cheese, dip in melted chocolate to cover, let cool and enjoy.

In addition to edibles gifts, I made a few gifts for my closest girlfriends. I was inspired by a post from Design*Sponge with instructions on making journals from office paper that has been printed on one side. Since I find it painful to throw out paper that is still good on one side (GOOS) I always have a stack of it sitting on my desk. I won't give you a fully tutorial here because the the Design*Sponge post does a pretty good job but I will give you a sort explanation of how I put the journals together. The covers for my journals were actually not made of recycled materials. As I've mentioned my love for scrapbook paper in the past, I found yet another use for it. I purchased a package of beautiful papers (a box of 60 is so much more affordable than the individual sheets) and 9"x6" boards used for water color painting. I trimmed down the boards and adhered the paper to them with Elmer's glue (which probably wasn't the best option but it's all I had in the house and forgot to pick up spray glue at A.C. Moore). I choose a coordinating paper to cover the inside of the front and back covers as a nice decorative touch.

Here's just about all of the supplies it took to pull this project together. The original post recommend using a binding machine to hold the journals together but the only type I had access to was the one my office uses for reports which is really not that pretty. Instead I read a few short tutorials on hand binding (words made it sound more confusing than necessary, a short YouTube video made it all really clear) and decided to use a coptic stitch to bind the journals.

Here's a shot of the finished product with a close up of the binding. I am so proud of the finished product I will definitely be making more of these for myself. Hope the girls liked their gifts.


  1. Love your ideas, and the website looks great, have you had a change around?

  2. Thanks, I was fooling around yesterday and finally figured out how to had a third column. I moved some things around but now I have to make a new header to fit on the page.

  3. Been trying to work that one out as well, how did you get the third columm?

  4. I followed these instructions:

  5. I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.


  6. I really like this idea!! I just don't know if i am up to the hand binding! I will give it a go though because i know my friends will love it :) Thanks for sharing!