Saturday, August 24, 2019

Live Chat Saturday: Christmas/Holiday Gifts Festive Foods

Cheery Potholder

Good morning, all! I hope that between us all we can come up with lots of great holiday gift ideas. In our family, we also have 2 birthdays in fall, so I will use some of these ideas for birthday gifts.

So, I'll start with my list.

Cheery Knit Potholder
Since I like to do one knitting project each year, I searched for easy to knit ideas. I really, really love this potholder idea.

(Link)This easy to knit potholder is made double-thickness by folding over a knitted or crochet square and crocheting the edges together.

If you click on the link, you'll find a blue-gray clickable box for downloading the free pattern. I don't crochet very well, so I plan on knitting something very similar, then crocheting just the edge. Cute, don't you think? These remind me of a Scandinavian Christmas. And as I am half Scandinavian, that appeals to me a lot.

I am contemplating knitting a rectangle instead of a square, so that my finished potholder would be wider. The yarn used is Lily's Sugar 'N Cream Twists in Barnboard for the body of the potholders and Sugar 'N Cream Country Red for the edging.

Both of these yarns were hard for me to find locally. Online, the best deal I found for both the Barnboard and Country Red was at Ben Franklin Online (craft supplier) for $1.99 per skein, plus shipping. I played around with the shipping estimator on the page with the shopping cart and was able to have up to 3 skeins of yarn for a shipping charge of $3.63. That means each skein would cost me $3.20. This was the best deal that I could find on a small order of these yarns, including shipping. The site where the free pattern is found also carries these 2 yarns. But the price per skein is $2.99 and the shipping for my area was $7.95 for 3 skeins. Also, the amount of yarn the pattern states is required is 2 of each color, which looks to me is too much for the Country Red edging, don't you think? If I wanted to make just 2 or 4 of these potholders, I would guess that at max I would need 2 skeins of Barnboard and 1 skein of Country Red.

A pair of these potholders would make a nice gift.

Celtic Cross Earrings

Handmade Earrings
Are you up for a small challenge? For the last week and a half, I've been teaching myself how to use wire to make these earrings. I spent about 20 to 30 minutes on 5 separate evenings practicing twisting the wire to form these Celtic crosses. On the 6th try, I was able to make the first pair of earrings that I thought looked good. I think that's pretty good for learning a new craft, and to me, that indicates that for anyone who has some craftiness, they could learn to do these. Just find a simple pattern to begin with, master that, then move on.

the supplies that I used
the tools that I used 

I followed the instructions provided in this video. I bought the wire, crystal beads, and fish hook ear wires at Michael's, using 40% off coupons for all items (a couple of different visits to the store). I also bought one pair of round-nose pliers at Michael's, again using a 40% off coupon. To pay for all of this, I used a gift card that was given to me for my birthday. All of my supplies and tools cost me about $14. (They would've been much more if I had not used 40% off coupons for every item.) The pliers are now a tool in my craft supplies and will be used many more times. The beads, wire, and ear wires can be used for another 14 pairs of earrings. So, I estimate that each pair of earrings cost just under $1. Similar earrings are selling for between $15 and $25 per pair on Etsy.

I'll be making a couple of different designs. Here's one that I thought I might try next.


I love the look of these earrings. I have always wanted to learn how to make jewelry. I thought I'd need to have welding supplies to do so. Now I know a way to craft jewelry with very simple tools. 

In addition to the pliers that I bought, I also used our household needle-nose pliers and wire cutters.



Men's T-Shirts

Men's Short-Sleeve T-Shirts from Michael's and Long-Sleeve T-Shirts from JoAnn's
Michael's has better color choices and prices than Joann Fabrics in the short-sleeve t-shirts, but JoAnn's offers long-sleeve t-shirts. Both stores have great coupons and sales. The blue and green t-shirts in the photo are short-sleeved and from Michael's. I got them last weekend on a 40% off sale for $2.39 each. The black t-shirt on the right is long-sleeved, bought from JoAnn's, using a 60% off coupon, for $3.99. For my area, these are crazy good prices for basic t-shirts. The shirts may no longer be on sale in your area, but the coupons that are available almost weekly at Michael's would give you the same price as what I paid.


https://melissaknorris.com/how-to-make-an-evergreen-swag/

Evergreen Swag
This will actually be a birthday/Thanksgiving gift for a young couple. They live in an apartment and don't have a yard that they can raid for evergreen trimmings.

Instructions for making a swag can be found on this site, with additional helpful information for keeping the evergreens fresh for an extended time on this site.

We have lots of evergreens, here. I can make a swag for their front door for about the cost of ribbon and a door wreath hanger.

Homemade Blackberry Pancake Syrup
Some of that blackberry pancake syrup, bottled in a nice bottle will make a nice gift for someone who doesn't have the inclination to make this themselves. For bottling, here in Seattle, there is an online vender who has a walk-in store, where you can buy just 1 bottle if that's all you need.  Specialty Bottle is a Seattle-based operation that carries a wide variety of shapes and sizes of bottles and jars.
A single traditional 8 oz syrup bottle sells for $1.79 plus tax.  Or an 8-oz square, swing-top bottle sells for $2.63, plus tax. Shipping is based on weight and can really drive the cost of bottles up. But I mention Specialty Bottle because they have a storefront in SODO, and their prices are really great, for those in the Seattle area.

I'm also a fan of buying bottles at thrift stores and sterilizing them at home to fill with syrup. And of course, repurposing any bottles that you already have is the best way to "recycle" any glassware. I save bottles that I think have appeal as gift containers. I wash and sterilize them at home and replace any corks with new ones.

This bottle is a nice one for homemade fruity syrup.
I'll clean it up, remove the label, and make
a new hanging tag to tie around the neck of the bottle.

If you're using a bottle that needs a cork and are buying new corks, make sure that they are made for bottling and not crafts. Bottling corks usually specify if they are for beer or wine. Beer corks are slightly smaller in diameter. But both would be appropriate and safe for food purposes.

No blackberries for making syrup? You can make a blueberry syrup using frozen blueberries. Instructions for making and canning syrup from berries (including frozen blueberries) are on the National Center for Home Food Preservation site. Dollar Tree sells 10 oz bags of frozen blueberries for $1. This about 1  1/2 cups of blueberries and should make enough syrup to fill one to two 8 oz. bottles. And because these blueberries are frozen, you can make blueberry syrup long after summer has left us. 


The long bar of lavender soap that I made 3 years ago.
I cut it into smaller bars with a kitchen knife.

Handmade Soap
In 2016, I made 2 types of soap, honey-oatmeal and lavender. I used melt and pour soap, soap scents and essential oils, soap colorant, ground oatmeal and lavender buds, plus a spaghetti box that I used for the mold. Here's a link to how I made the oatmeal soap.
And here's a link to how I made the lavender soap.

Both types of soap were well-received. I have enough leftover melt and pour soap base that I can make one more batch of soap. I'd like to alter it somehow from these two types. Any suggestions on how I could change the scent or shape of these soaps with minimal extra expense?


gift for Christmas 2015

Ornament Balls Filled with Drinking Chocolate
In 2015 I made these for my brother's family. They were wow-ed by the appearance. I bought fillable plastic ornaments from Michael's (on sale, I believe) and layered in cocoa mix, milk powder, crushed candy canes, and ground chocolate. These ornaments would easily be filled with other powders, such as bath salts or soup mixes. Here's the post where I gave info for making these filled ornaments.


Pumpkin Cake Roll
While a pumpkin cake roll makes a beautiful dessert to take to a potluck or serve at home, it also would make a nice gift during the holidays. My recipe comes from Libby's, with just a couple of tweaks from me.




Buche de Noel
The chocolate cake roll that is frosted to look like a log makes a beautiful holiday dessert. Once the cake is filled and rolled up, the decoration part is really easy. Frost with cocoa-buttercream icing, use a fork to draw the bark lines, trim with leafy matter, such as kale and red berries (Skittles or M&Ms), and sprinkle some powdered sugar for snow.

Corn Relish -- need a recipe
For many years, we had a family friend who made a corn relish using canned corn, peppers, vinegar, sugar, and maybe something else. Anyway, she gave some to us and my family loved it. I've wanted to make it since, but I'm afraid she has passed on and I don't have a recipe. Have any of you made a canned corn relish that you then canned? Do you have a recipe you could share? I'm thinking my family would be pleased to have this again this Thanksgiving, and using canned corn means that this i=should be quite frugal to make.

I can add photos of any of your ideas if you email them to me. I'll update this post periodically, as needed.

So, there are a bunch of my ideas. Now it's your turn! I'm so looking forward to this.

These are from Ruthie: play cookies, for children's tea parties or kitchen play.

Ruthie says, "Two pieces of felt, cut like a sugar cookie are sewn or even glued together, topped with a yo-yo (like the old yo-yo quilts) - topped with a button.  Be sure to sew the yo-yo and button on before adhering the bottom piece of felt.  You don't really want the stitching to show through on the bottom of the "cookie"."




Also from Ruthie, "Another idea is to record yourself (or anyone else) reading a favorite story and giving that with the book.  You could have grandma reading a bedtime story anytime.

I also really enjoy knitting dishrags in bright colors.  They are so cheery and don't get so dingy looking." 

Love these, Ruthie!

23 comments:

Cheryl said...

Lili, you have a lot of great ideas.

Lona said...

Happy Saturday to you Lili! Thank you for having this. I am busy today and will not be able to join the live chat. I will, however, be gleaning some wonderful ideas at the end of my day from this post. May the Lord bless these endeavors and you see it as a ministry and outreach to us all!

live and learn said...

Great ideas. I have a comment about the knitted pot holders. I'm not familiar with the yarn you mentioned, but make sure the yarn does not have too much polyester in it. I have a potholder that was made from all polyester melt before from the heat.

Lili said...

Thank you, Cheryl.

Lili said...

Thank you, Lona, and special thanks for asking a blessing. I hope you have a great day.

Lili said...

live and learn said...
Great ideas. I have a comment about the knitted pot holders. I'm not familiar with the yarn you mentioned, but make sure the yarn does not have too much polyester in it. I have a potholder that was made from all polyester melt before from the heat.


Very good point, live and learn! This yarn, the Lily Sugar 'N Cream, is 100% cotton. But for anyone wanting to knit potholders with other yarn, the fiber content should be all natural, such as wool or cotton. Cotton is preferred. The article Best Yarn for Potholders explains how to choose the type of yarn when making potholders.

I'm so sorry that your potholder melted. Good lesson for us novice knitters who might not think of this.

ruthie said...

I love the potholders and think I will make some for my co-workers. I was looking for a different project to knit or crochet.

Is the corn relish you are looking for a sweet one or more vinegary? I tried a recipe for it last year from "The Daring Gourmet". You might want to look at it and see if it is similar to what you remember.

I love cheese balls as gifts, too! When I can get cream cheese on sale, they make great gifts, too.

Love the jewelry! I'll have to check it out. I made bracelets several years ago so I have the tools, but have never tried earrings.

Lili said...

ruthie said...
I love the potholders and think I will make some for my co-workers. I was looking for a different project to knit or crochet.

Is the corn relish you are looking for a sweet one or more vinegary? I tried a recipe for it last year from "The Daring Gourmet". You might want to look at it and see if it is similar to what you remember.

I love cheese balls as gifts, too! When I can get cream cheese on sale, they make great gifts, too.

Love the jewelry! I'll have to check it out. I made bracelets several years ago so I have the tools, but have never tried earrings.


Hi Ruthie,
I think your felt play cookies are adorable. I wish I'd seen something like this when my daughters were young! I'll wait for grandkds.

Cheese balls -- great idea. So many holiday food gifts are sweet, so this is a good option when not wanting to add to all of the sugary foods. I'm sure they're appreciated.

The corn relish was sweet and tangy, I think. I'll check the Daring Gourmet. Thank you!

I was surprised at how easy it was to learn to make these earrings. I'm now inspired to try more wire-wrapped jewelry. I've seen some semi-precious stones wrapped in wire to use as pendants that are very beautiful. What type of bracelets did you make? Did you make beaded ones?

Lili said...

Ruthie,
Daring Gourmet Homemade Sweet Corn Relish looks a lot like what this friend used to make, only our friend used canned corn. Thank you! I'm going to give this a try, if I can figure out the conversion in quantity of the corn, from ears to cups.

Anonymous said...

Love the earrings. Here are a few things I've given as low-costs gifts:
- Homemade biscotti cookies, wrapped a few in plastic wrap and tied them with a ribbon. These were pretty popular.
- Last year, I sewed small Christmas stockings (ornament size) for everyone, using mainly fabric and supplies I had on hand (I did by one piece of fabric at the thrift store for under $2). I then embroidered the person's name or initial on them. They turned out so cute!
- I wrote a funny poem for my boss, printed it out, and then framed it in a thrift store frame. It's still hanging in our office.
- We've also done gift baskets of homemade or inexpensive food items, using a basket from the thrift store.

We don't do family gifts anymore (except for one nephew under 18) , but I will probably make or bake something for my co-workers.

- tina

Lili said...

Tina said...
Here are a few things I've given as low-costs gifts:
- Homemade biscotti cookies, wrapped a few in plastic wrap and tied them with a ribbon. These were pretty popular.
- Last year, I sewed small Christmas stockings (ornament size) for everyone, using mainly fabric and supplies I had on hand (I did by one piece of fabric at the thrift store for under $2). I then embroidered the person's name or initial on them. They turned out so cute!
- I wrote a funny poem for my boss, printed it out, and then framed it in a thrift store frame. It's still hanging in our office.
- We've also done gift baskets of homemade or inexpensive food items, using a basket from the thrift store.


Hi Tina,
great ideas! One year, one of my daughters wrote a really touching poem and framed it for me. I have this on my dresser still and am really touched that she knew what was going on with me well enough to write what she did. So, I can totally appreciate the funny poem that you wrote and framed for your boss.

Homemade biscotti is a wonderful food gift, as so few know how to make it. I'll add that to my list for this year.

I love the description of your small stockings. Very nice and personal.

Anonymous said...

My mother in law also has made a spiced tea mix and a spiced cocoa mix, packaged in a mason jar. I don't drink sweet things, so it literally wasn't my cup of tea (ha ha) but my husband enjoyed them.

- Tina

Anonymous said...

And, regarding homemade biscotti, you can also make it gluten/dairy free (and nut free if needed). So it's pretty versatile.

- Tina

Lili said...

Tina said. . .My mother in law also has made a spiced tea mix and a spiced cocoa mix, packaged in a mason jar. I don't drink sweet things, so it literally wasn't my cup of tea (ha ha) but my husband enjoyed them.

My mom used to make something called Russian Spiced Tea. This was back around 1970, so it was probably not at all Russian-like. But it had Tang, instant tea, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves. It was actually pretty good. Spiced cocoa sounds delicious.

Lili said...

Tina said...
And, regarding homemade biscotti, you can also make it gluten/dairy free (and nut free if needed). So it's pretty versatile.


That's good to know, Tina. I've never made biscotti gluten-free. What kind of GF flour has worked best with this?

Anonymous said...

Regarding the gluten free biscotti, it has been awhile since I made them. I think I used a recipe featuring almond flour (which of course is not cheap). I did a quick Google search just now, and there are a lot of recipes out there.

Laura said...

Hi Lili,

For the last several years, ive made homemade chocolate truffles and coconut macaroons as gifts for friends and coworkers. Both are fairly easy although the truffles do take time. But the macaroons are so simple and seriously so appreciated...I have people asking me about them year round and I feel a bit as though I’m getting away with something if they only realized how easy they are to make! Both can be a bit expensive although I try to buy the ingredients on sale and I stock up on coconut when Aldi has it as a seasonal item. I have bought different flavoring extracts at Joann or Michaels using coupons as well, to keep the cost down. And a bottle of flavoring will last for many years.

I love all the ideas that you and others have shared...thank you!

Lili said...

Thank you for that info, Tina. I'll google some recipes.

Anonymous said...

One more idea, I have also done homemade or cheap thrift store joke presents. The funny poem in a frame that I mentioned was one of them.
I also made a Reese's peanut butter cup fleece blanket for a coworker that loved that candy (I used items I had on hand or that were bought cheaply at the thrift store). That was hilarious.
And I made a "runner's emergency kit" in a mason jar for a female runner. It had a few ponytail holders, bandaids, plus a couple other things I can't remember right now. The recipient loved it.

Unknown said...

There is a Ben Franklin store in Monroe.
-Kathryn

Lili said...

Laura said...
For the last several years, ive made homemade chocolate truffles and coconut macaroons as gifts for friends and coworkers. Both are fairly easy although the truffles do take time. But the macaroons are so simple and seriously so appreciated...I have people asking me about them year round and I feel a bit as though I’m getting away with something if they only realized how easy they are to make! Both can be a bit expensive although I try to buy the ingredients on sale and I stock up on coconut when Aldi has it as a seasonal item. I have bought different flavoring extracts at Joann or Michaels using coupons as well, to keep the cost down. And a bottle of flavoring will last for many years.


Hi Laura,
Homemade truffles and coconut macaroons sound like fabulous gifts. Coconut macaroons are a favorite of mine. I don;t know if you have a WinCo near you, but their price on flaked coconut is pretty low in fall. A friend of mine makes these every year and says that everyone she shares them with absolutely loves them. I may add these to this year's cookie list.
I do the same with Joann's coupons -- I buy paste food coloring and flavorings when I have 50% or 60% off coupons. That's really the only affordable way to buy any of the Wilton stuff.

Thank you for sharing what you make!

Lili said...

Tina said...
One more idea, I have also done homemade or cheap thrift store joke presents. The funny poem in a frame that I mentioned was one of them.
I also made a Reese's peanut butter cup fleece blanket for a coworker that loved that candy (I used items I had on hand or that were bought cheaply at the thrift store). That was hilarious.
And I made a "runner's emergency kit" in a mason jar for a female runner. It had a few ponytail holders, bandaids, plus a couple other things I can't remember right now. The recipient loved it.


I agree -- thrift stores are so great for white elephant-type gifts or unusual gifts. Great idea for the mason jar gift. I think there could be a lot of ways to customize that to someone's interests.

Lili said...

Kathryn said...
There is a Ben Franklin store in Monroe.


Thank you, Kathryn! I'll give them a call and see if they stock the yarn I'm looking for or can order it for me. Thanks!!!