There is nothing quite like the joy of receiving handmade gifts, and there are plenty of reasons to make them. Handmade items can be an affordable alternative to boutique purchases, and creating custom goods gives you the ability to personalize what you’re making to fit each recipient’s specific tastes. Handmade crafting is also a wonderful way to draw friends together in a group activity, which has the added bonus of "many hands making light work," as the proverb suggests.
Whether you’re after a holiday party favor, a stocking stuffer, or a little something to fight off colds, here are four holiday craft projects you can make in about an hour for gifting to your near-and-dear ones. These were chosen from books you can use and draw inspiration from, not only for crafting and sharing during the holiday season but over and over again year-round, in the artful elevation of your kitchen, your garden, and other parts of your home. Furthermore, you could gift one or several of these books to the maker in your life.
1. Threaded-Leaf Wreath
From Plant Craft: 30 Projects That Add Natural Style to Your Home by Caitlin Atkinson
Indoor garden projects are immensely rewarding, bringing renewed life into your home and keeping you connected with nature, which is extra beneficial during the winter months. The Threaded-Leaf Wreath
in Plant Craft: 30 Projects That Add Natural Style to Your Home
couldn’t be a better-suited uplifting holiday project. This wreath is in essence a garland made with floral wire, eliminating the need for thread and needle, which you’ll wrap into a wreath when you bring the garland round full circle. Then just twist the wire on both ends together, leaving a bit extra to make a loop for hanging it with, and voilà! What you have is a remarkably lovely wreath. Author Caitlin Atkinson suggests using sage green manzanita leaves or eucalyptus leaves. Get about a pound of either of your choice from the grocery store or your local florist shop, making sure to set aside the extra scraps once you’re done making the wreath. The fresh leaf fragrance is gorgeous and curative and will last about a month. Put them in a bowl in your bedroom or on a table tucked beside a reading chair.
2. Everyone’s Favorite Elderberry Immune Syrup
From Herbal Apothecary: 100 Medicinal Herbs and How to Use Them by J. J. Pursell
'Tis the season for boosting immune systems in order to fend off colds and other seasonal bugs. Depending on the circles you travel in, medicinal elixirs may be unexpected gifts to give and receive. They are the best sort of gift that keeps giving, though, and I have never seen anyone turn their nose up at elderberry syrup, which tastes more like a "spoonful of sugar" than a dose of cough syrup. Your friends will thank you for something so practical, effective, delicious (and smart!), and the ingredients for making it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
J. J. Pursell, author of The Herbal Apothecary: 100 Medicinal Herbs and How to Use Them
, is a board-certified naturopathic physician, licensed acupuncturist, and the owner of The Herb Shoppe here in Portland. I can’t recommend her book enough. But don’t take it from me — two of the biggest names in the medicinal herbs community, herbalist Rosemary Gladstar and Mountain Rose Herbs co-owner and vice president Shawn Donnille, have given their seals of approval to this book as a staple addition to your herbal library. Pursell’s recipe for Everyone’s Favorite Elderberry Immune Syrup
in The Herbal Apothecary
calls for ashwagandha root, but you can substitute whole anise star like I did to give it a nice licorice flavor for the kiddos, plus the little star pods are visually stunning and will pop in the bag of herbs and spices, as you can see.
There are two ways to gift elderberry syrup — you can either gather all of the dry ingredients into a small cellophane bag and package it alongside a honey bear, or you can simmer the herbs and spices on the stove and then pour the elixir into jars to give away, ready to sip!
3. Wooden Spoons
From Pyrography: 18 Step-By-Step Projects to Make
Go out and get yourself a wood burning tool called a pyrography pen. Because once you do, you’re going to want to brand designs into every wooden object within reach. Many of the pens come in a kit with an assortment of technique points which are handy to have and use right away, and a good choice for the budget-minded to buy as a bundle. Wooden Spoons
is the first, beginner project in Pyrography: 18 Step-By-Step Projects to Make
, although all of them are fairly simple once you get the hang of it. The book recommends drawing on a practice board first to get the feel of the tool and how much pressure to use to create your desired groove depth. There are samples of the patterns from each of the projects throughout that you can use, such as the ears of wheat and flower designs shown, although the author urges starting your own sketch book to serve as a resource for new ideas.
4. The Cutest Gnomes in Town!
From Magical Miniature Gardens and Homes: Create Tiny Worlds of Fairy Magic and Delight With Natural, Handmade Decor by Donni Webber
Crafting The Cutest Gnomes in Town!
is inherently oh so fun, due to the very nature of what you’re making. These mini gnomes are guaranteed to spread cheer and bring out smiles wherever you put them. It is the ideal project for adults who enjoy coloring miniatures and also makes for an easy afternoon craft activity for children… but really, creating these little guys will be a treat for anyone. Paint your choice of hair, skin tone, stocking, and clothing colors on them. Put holes in the tops of their hats and attach them to the ribbons accompanying your gifts, hang them as ornaments on your tree, or display them on a window. Your options are only limited by your imagination, which is delightfully stoked by all the other tiny projects made effortless to achieve in Magical Miniature Gardens and Homes