I knew early on this would be the year of homemade gifts for Christmas. For one, I find them absolutely charming, and with all the amazing blogs out there now in the handmade/crafting niche it’s impossible not to become smitten with a few (or a hundred) ideas. The second driving factor in the homemade theme is that just in teacher gifts alone I have 9(!) people to buy for. A $5 gift card to Starbucks didn’t seem quite adequate for all the headaches my children surely give their teachers, nor did we have room in the budget for much more.
I don’t have the eye or the mind at this point to come up with my own ideas, but I can follow directions like a champ. And thus, the quest for homemade Christmas gifts was on. The winners? Homemade vanilla extract and jars of granola.
Directions abound for homemade vanilla, but I found the tutorial from The Simple Dollar the most helpful. If you like this idea, stash it away for next year. That’s what I had to do – I thought it sounded like a great idea last year, roughly two weeks before Christmas. The vanilla beans need time to steep in the vodka, though. I started mine in late October. It smells fantastic, and every once in awhile I’d just pull a bottle out of the pantry to get a good whiff. Really, it’s much healthier than what I normally do when I pull out a bottle of hard liquor.
The bottles come from Specialty Bottle. Even with all the time I had to research, I couldn’t come up with a cheap source for bottles. It’s not that the bottles are so expensive, it’s the shipping. As in $20 for shipping. My advice, if it kills you to spend that much in shipping, is to spend the next year with your eye out for bottles that would work in thrift stores. The vanilla came from Vanilla Products USA. After steeping the beans in the vodka, you can find other uses for the beans. I’ve mixed some with sugar to make vanilla sugar, which is nice in baked goods and in tea. You can also use them to make homemade vanilla ice cream. there are lots of sources for free printable labels. I used these and printed them on adhesive paper.
I love that the vanilla, in particular, made so much. Every year it seems I’m the recipient of so much goodness, and it feels like I never have the extra cash or the foresight to have something of my own to pass along. I intentionally made more than I needed, just to have some extras to pass out.
What are you making this year? Or better yet, what homemade gifts have you been the lucky recipient of?