This simple sewing project comes from local nature writer Lyanda Haupt’s lovely blog, The Tangled Nest (her blog’s most popular post ever!) The materials are ordinary enough you might find them in your house (fleece, cotton cloth, rice), the project is simple enough for beginning seamstresses, and the product is ingenious. Also check out her complete holiday gift guide, for more homemade gift ideas.
Spiced nuts are terrific gifts for teachers, party hosts, the sitter, and of course, they make great stocking stuffers. Recipes abound, but we especially like these rosemary spiced nuts by Ina Garten, courtesy of The Kitchn, and Smitten Kitchen’s delectable — and easy to make — sweet and spicy nuts. PCC’s also got a tasty-sounding recipe as part of a foodie gift round-up.
How about making and packaging your own cookie dough with recipe attached as a holiday gift? You can tailor to a friend’s taste and it can be refrigerated for weeks and frozen for months. It's hard to beat this classic chocolate chip cookie recipe from Weelicious. For vegan or health-conscious friends, try Nikki’s Healthy Cookies from 101 Cookbooks (see photo). For friends who are new moms or expecting, try some flaxseed-rich lactation cookies (a name guaranteed to keep other family members away!). P.S. Another good idea is the Cookies in the Jar concept.
A Book Holder for the Book Lover
Another simple sewing project is a rice-filled, "book bone" that plops quite handily across your book to keep it open as you’re reading. Years ago, my sister made these for everyone in our family and we have used them ever since. She says: “Cut out a large bone shape in sturdy fabric (leaving a 1/2 inch hem), sew up the whole thing except for an inch at the top, fill it with rice and hand-sew the opening.” (The photo is of my well-worn book bone.)
Everyone — trust me, everyone — needs a no-knead bread recipe that delivers fantastic, crusty bread with about five minutes of work. Bake several loaves yourself, package them prettily, and add a printed and laminated recipe. Ah, but which recipe — therein lies the rub. I like Nancy Leson’s (and here's her follow-up recipe for Irish Brown Bread). A friend of mine, whose no-knead bread originally started me on this path, swears by the Chocolate & Zucchini recipe.
Personalized bookmarks, with family photos, quotes or your child's drawings, are easy and fast. Start with an image upload it to a photo editor like Picnik, add a quote or saying, print and laminate. Another last-minute photo present idea is a photo mug from Costco — only $6.99 and they ship very quickly. (Obviously, there are tons more ideas for photo gifts, but remember to make sure they’ll ship in time.)
How to keep the kids busy while you’re working on your gift goodies? Over at Made By Joel — a Portland-based craft blog — is a simple video tutorial from guest blogger ElSage Designs on helping your kids make homemade wrapping paper using potato stamps and butcher paper.
Or have them work on some of the stellar homemade ornaments recently featured on ParentMap.