A Homemade Holiday

Posted on December 14, 2011 by Melissa

No one enjoys talking about it, but the costs of the holiday season really accumulate. Between numerous trips to the grocery store for special holiday foods and baking supplies, and drives to department stores for gifts and decorations (or if you’re like me, strolls to the laptop on the kitchen table to make sure Amazon stays in business)  we may tell ourselves, “It’s okay! It’s the holidays . . . I’ll get my budget under control again after New Year’s Day.”

But is it okay? Maybe . . . maybe not. It depends on your perspective and values, and there just isn’t a right or wrong answer.  Some argue that consumerism drives the holiday season. Some people, such as moi, like giving holiday gifts and enjoy the whole holiday season. I like it, I really do!

But, this year has to be a little different. My husband lost his job a couple weeks before Thanksgiving and I just cannot afford to purchase gifts for everyone I care about. Nor would they want me to, because they care about me too.

I did say purchase gifts. Did you catch that? Remember I like giving gifts, so there is no way that I am going to let a lack of an income get in the way of that! My solution? Make gifts myself – a homemade holiday – just like in the olden days!

Children are especially fun to give gifts to. For them, a gift is something special and magical. I’ve never met a child who does not love “play food,” so that is what I decided to make. It came out so cute, that I decided to sell it and create an Etsy page (which is a work in progress, so I’m not sharing the link yet!).

There is webpage after webpage, and book after book that contain ideas for do it yourself gifts. If you are talented in the kitchen, try giving a “Sweet of the Month Club.” The recipient of the gift receives one baked good/month for one year (this is what I gave my father-in-law this year). Give a child homemade play dough (candy cane and gingerbread are popular holiday scents). If you are handy in the workshop, creating a small wooden boat to give to a child is green and saves green! Share a box of handmade ornaments cut from cinnamon dough – trust me, they will still smell amazing three years later! Would a little girl you know love a new dress-up tutu? They are sweet, easy to make, and cheaper than store bought. Try using Snapfish or another website to create a photo book (the picture on the top of the page is from an ABC photo book that I made for my children about their summer).

The thing about homemade gifts is that they are almost always appreciated because of the extra time and thought that went into creating them. When I receive a homemade gift I think to myself, “Wow. This person made this gift just for me.

If you don’t have the time to make a gift yourself, I suggest checking out local craft fairs, art galleries, or shopping online from Etsy or a similar website. Or, ask a crafty friend to help you out. Maybe you could exchange talents – she could knit you a scarf to give to your mother and you could bake her dozens of cookies for her holiday party.

Through making homemade gifts, such as my Play Café Breakfast Set, I’ve discovered how much I love sharing my talents with others. I would like to give away one set of play breakfast food to a Greenists reader (set includes four donuts with a box, two pieces of bacon, one pancake, one sunny-side up egg, and one customized breakfast menu). Maybe she/he will keep it! Maybe she/he will give it away to a child in their life as a part of their effort to make a homemade holiday. To enter, simply leave a comment below sharing what your favorite homemade gift to give is, or about the best homemade gift you ever received. Only US residents may enter. Entries will be accepted through midnight, Sunday, December 18th, 2011. The recipient will be chosen by a random number generator and announced on Monday, December 19th, 2011. Good luck and Happy Holidays to all!


  1. This is so cute! And I love the idea of giving thoughtful gifts without spending a ton of money!

    December 14th, 2011 at 10:04 am
    Comment by courtney
  2. While decorating my tree this year I placed an ornament of a hat with two braids of red hair that a certain someone made me a few years ago. Homemade presents are the best.

    December 14th, 2011 at 10:08 am
    Comment by Elizabeth
  3. I love your homemade breakfast set!!! I think Anya would adore it as well. My favorite homemade gift is anything with photos included (framed/books/calendars) or jewelry.

    December 14th, 2011 at 10:47 am
    Comment by Holly
  4. My crafting talent is leaves much to be desired. But my fave homemade gift to give is gifts made of photo memories, such as photobooks from Shutterfly…although not physically made by me, the design is made by me and photos are taken by me. I love your breakfast set and wanted to buy one for my kids when I saw that you are selling them, but already spent (over) my Christmas budget for them. Maybe I’ll be the lucky winner!! They are awesome! MerryChristmas to you and your family!

    December 14th, 2011 at 10:51 am
    Comment by Mandy
  5. Thanks for the post in my page and the giveaway! Very cute!

    December 14th, 2011 at 11:01 am
    Comment by The Orgainc Mom
  6. I have mostly homemade ornaments, on my Christmas tree. I have fond memories of the people who made them; and of the Christmases when I received them. My girls ask me to tell them about the ornaments, each year when we are putting up the tree.

    December 14th, 2011 at 11:32 am
    Comment by Elizabeth
  7. I forgot to mention how EXCITED I am to receive the breakfast set that I ordered from Melissa! My girls are going to have so much fun with it :) And, I am going to try to make some homemade play dough to share with my daughter’s Kindergarten class. Thanks for the reminder about all of the great smells that can be incorporated into the homemade dough.

    December 14th, 2011 at 11:33 am
    Comment by Elizabeth
  8. Love the post! We make ornaments, picture frames and chocolate somethings every year with our kids to give away to friends, family, Sunday School teachers, neighbors, etc… It’s become a family tradition that we all look forward to. Homemade is the best because, as we tell our kids, the secret ingredient is love.

    December 14th, 2011 at 12:41 pm
    Comment by Patrice
  9. LOVE the play food — it would go wonderfully with the play kitchen that my daughter is asking Santa to bring this year! :) My favorite homemade gift is a long-ago memory now…of the many years we spent making hard tack candy at my grandma’s house. Grandma would cook it and all the aunts and cousins would gather around the table to cut the hot candy and coat it with powdered sugar, and it looked so sparkly and beautiful, lined up in mason jars with fabric circles on the lids. Each child had a favorite flavor (which Grandma always remembered to make) and we would spend hours after we got home sorting and trading. Sticky fingers and yummy candy and wonderful family times!

    December 14th, 2011 at 1:00 pm
    Comment by JJ
  10. I have been supporting the homemade holidays for the past several years for the exact same reasons you are. I love to do craft projects and the best joy in giving a gift is watching someone open up the prefect gift and seeing them realize you made it just for them. my favorite two gifts are shirts i freezer-paper stencils for my mom (a johnny depp shirt) and a chuck norris shirt for my friend. i can’t wait til my daughter is old enough to start doing projects with me:)

    December 16th, 2011 at 8:35 am
    Comment by Erin
  11. I love to gift food, particularly sweets, to people I care about. I found a great cookie recipe last year that is rapidly becoming a signature item.
    The play food is so cute! I know several young ones who would love to play with it!

    December 17th, 2011 at 11:19 pm
    Comment by Jillian
  12. Very cute! My kids would love these. I am trying to make more homemade gifts…I love to make “homemade” frames with the kids and put their punctures in them. Thnaks!

    December 18th, 2011 at 12:57 pm
    Comment by Jen
  13. Pictures that is! Ha.

    December 18th, 2011 at 12:58 pm
    Comment by Jen
  14. [...] on December 19, 2011 by Melissa Thank you for entering at A Homemade Holiday for a chance to receive the Play Cafe Breakfast Set. The lucky recipient of the Breakfast Set is [...]

    December 19th, 2011 at 8:32 am
    Pingback by Giveaway Update: A Homemade Holiday
  15. Thank you for your entries. This giveaway is now closed.

    December 19th, 2011 at 8:54 am
    Comment by Melissa
  16. Comment by Melissa

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