A few years ago, I participated in a Handmade Christmas campaign led by my blogger friend Heather.  I normally try to make as many gifts myself as I can handle, but this campaign encouraged me to take it to another level and make even more than I normally do.  I came out of the experience with realizations about my abilities, and a new appreciation for those who make things for a living.I also took away lots of tips for future handmade gifting.

Handmade Tip #1: It always seems like you have more time than you do.  Time goes by quickly – especially during the Holiday season, so be sure not to overbook your crafty projects.

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The term “handmade” has grown so much with the insurgence of Pinterest and other sites that allow you to easily customize things and make them your own. (I am actually kind of glad that Pinterest didn’t exist (I don’t think?) when I did this handmade Christmas project, because there are SO many things that look fun/cute/awesome to make, it may have been overwhelming.)  To me, handmade can mean many different things including (but not limited to): yarn craft, photography, cooking, baking, writing, card making, and personalizing.

Handmade Tip #2: Make sure you make it clear to your husband (or anyone else in your household) that what you are making is to give away as a gift – not for immediate eating.

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Since Etsy and Pinterest have come around, I feel like the prevalence of hand made gifts has been more popular than ever.  People that never thought they could give hand made because they couldn’t make it themselves now have an outlet for simple ideas in Pinterest (though, not everything that looks simple is actually that easy!) or a place to buy handmade gifts made by others in Etsy.  There are of course local craft fairs to buy from too, which I think are becoming more popular (and drawing a younger crowd) as well.

Some of my favorite things to give that are handmade:

  • Knit hats.  I love giving these, especially as baby gifts.  They knit up quickly, and what kid doesn’t look adorable in a hand knit hat?!My go-to pattern for gifting:  For infants, I usually just keep it simple stockinette stitch and mix up the colors with some stripes, for adults I like the Gitana Hat or the Pincushion Hat.
  • Knit scarves.  I don’t give these as often, since I feel like most people wear hats but not everyone wears scarves, but these are great for gifting in colder climates.  Scarves also generally knit up quickly and are usually less intimidating that hats. My go-to scarf pattern for gifting:  The Gaptastic Cowl which is a bulky infinity scarf.  (I have one myself and it is the warmest and coziest scarf I own.)  For more advanced knitters, I also love the Volcano Cowl.
  • Baked Goods.  Who doesn’t like muffins, cookies, and/or bread?  (Just make sure you know the dietary restrictions/preferences for the people you are gifting to!) My favorite baked goods options: Applesauce Spice Bread, Chocolate Chip Nutella Cookies, Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Chocolate Chip Dough Balls, Snickerdoodle Blondies.
  • Granola. Personally, I am not a huge granola fan but it is pretty simple to make, and usually pretty healthy.  My favorite granolas: Chocolate Chip Cookie Granola, and Easy Toss and Bake Granola.
  • Nuts. Again, I’m not a huge fan, but they are fairly easy to make, and to me, roasted/candied nuts are a pretty Wintery gift, generally healthy, and I know a lot of other people who enjoy them.  Some of my favorite nuts to gift: Mexican Hot Chocolate Roasted Almonds.

So, tell me, what are you making for gifts this year?

**portions of this post originally appeared on my other blog, Brownies and Zucchini**


Full Disclosure: I was sent some Old Factory Candles to try and review.  I am not being otherwise compensated for this post, and as always, the opinions are completely my own.

Let’s take a break from talking about baby things for a minute, shall we? (I don’t intend for this blog to be completely baby things, even though that is what it has basically been so far. But I suppose that’s what happens when you are pregnant!)

When the people at Old Factory Candles offered to send me some candles to try and review, I knew I was in.  I have candles lit at least once a day, and even more often in the Fall and Winter.  There is just something so comforting and homey about them! In the Spring and Summer, my candle scents of choice are usually fruity – strawberry, citrus, and other fresh Summery scents.  In Fall and Winter, I tend to choose more cozy and warm scents like vanilla, apple cider, candy cane, and other Holiday based scents. (of note, Bath and Body Works came out with like 10 different pumpkin based flavors this year and I’m not a fan! Apparently my dislike of pumpkin goes beyond the flavor.)

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Old Factory Candles has many different scent combinations to choose from (each set comes with three different 2oz candles) and I was torn between the Winter Wonderland (Hot Cocoa, Roasted Chestnut, First Snow) and Happy Holidays (Christmas Tree, Candy Cane, Gingerbread) sets, but ended up going with the Happy Holidays since Candy Cane is usually one of my favorite Winter scents.

Before I lit them I smelled them all and was actually pleasantly surprised at how they all smelled.  Even the Christmas Tree scent which can be pretty overwhelmingly pine was not too strong.

oldfactorygingerbread

The only one that I have lit so far was the Gingerbread scent, and I really liked it.  It wasn’t super strong, and it was very pleasant smelling.  (I’m not a fan of super overwhelming or purfumey scents)  I burned the little 2oz candle for a couple of hours, and it barely looks like it has been used at all – definitely a change from some other much faster burning candles that I’ve bought in the past!

The candles come in sets of 3 for $25.00 and are available in a wide variety of scents.  I really enjoyed the scents that I got (can’t wait until it is closer to Christmas to burn the Christmas Tree and Candy Cane!) and would definitely buy more again.  Especially since they seem to burn so long for such a small candle! (Each 2oz candle is supposed to last over 20 hours!) The sets would also be great as a gift!