The Giving Spirit

Christmas Cookies

Gifts… what to get, who wants what, does anybody in my life really need more stuff?! These are the questions I ask myself every November as I start to prepare for Christmas.

I’ve always loved giving gifts, finding that perfect something for that perfect someone, but for the last few years I’ve found myself becoming increasingly flustered and stressed with gift giving. I’m not sure if it’s that I’ve simply run out of ideas for cool stuff to buy or if everyone in my life has run out of room for all that cool stuff. Either way, I’ve decided to change my gift giving tune.

Last year none of the adults in my family exchanged gifts. Instead we all saved that money and went on the most remarkable family vacation ever! This year we decided to do the same, but I was feeling a little gift giving withdrawal. I knew I didn’t want to get online or muddle through the Christmas shopping crowds to buy things for my family that again no one needs, but what about something priceless? Like something from my hands and my heart? So what I came up with was a handmade gift exchange.

It may sound a bit daunting to those of you who aren’t as in to crafting and cooking as I am, but as the idea took form I realized there are many, many, ways to give a meaningful gift to those you love that doesn’t cost much more than your time and creativity.

My husband promised to make me a shoe rack for my winter boots. My sister makes the best eye make up remover and body scrubs. My aunt has a great decorating eye and is gifting me her time and energy to help me decorate for the holidays. My father has thousands of fun family photos he could easily make into an album for all of us. You don’t have to be able to sew, knit, cook or craft to make a meaningful gift for someone you love. You just have to be a little creative and play to your strengths!

So onto my gift ideas for this year!

Monogrammed Dish Towels for my Aunt Mary Beth and Godmother Debbie Brassel

Monogrammed dish towels for my Aunt Mary Beth and Godmother Debbie Brassel

I knew I wanted everything to be handmade and I do love a theme, so I decided to put together gift crates that speak to a specific idea. I hit up Pinterest for inspiration, instructions and recipes and built individual boards for each crate so I could keep all those great ideas organized. The only problem with Pinterest is that I’m so insanely obsessed with it that I can spend days just gathering ideas and pinning them but never actually doing any of it! I will not fall prey to the Pintrap this time!

Once I gathered and organized all my ideas I made sure I purchased everything I’d need for each crate so there would be no excuse not to get going! So far I’ve decided to do five different gift crates. If all goes well I may add a few more, if all goes wrong I may just do two and give duplicate gifts.

I’m doing one for the tea lovers in my life that will include homemade tea blends, a couple of hand decorated mugs, a set of hand sewn tea towels, homemade shortbread and coffee cake mixes in mason jars instructions for baking included, a homemade candle and knitted hand warmers to keep you cozy while you sip your tea.

Badlands Ranch fringed dinner napkins for my Mom

Badlands Ranch fringed dinner napkins for my Mom

The next crate will be for the cooks in my life and will include hand sewn aprons, dish towels, homemade herb infused oils and vinegars, homemade jams, chutneys and curds and the recipes I used for everything and ideas on what you can use the jams, chutneys and curds for. I have another gift crate for those who love a clean sweet smelling kitchen. This one will have my homemade counter spray and wipes, glass cleaner, dish detergent, dish soap, hand soap, pots and pans cleaner, a couple of handmade candles, knitted dish rags and towels and of course recipes to recreate it all when you run out.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed these gift ideas are all a bit feminine, so for the men in my life I came up with the mixologist gift crate that will include homemade flavor infused simple syrups, homemade flavored infused vodka, cocktail glasses with my own creative twist, homemade crackers and nut mixes, and some fun cocktail recipe ideas. My father is a teetotaler who loves chocolate and sweets so his gift crate will have homemade fudge, all his favorite Christmas cookies, several different cookie mixes in mason jars and homemade truffles.

A Plethora of Dish Towels! Hand Sewn Vintage Tea Towels for a Friend who Loves to Bake!

A plethora of dish towels! Hand sewn vintage tea towels for a friend who loves to bake!

I realize the task I’ve set ahead of myself is a wee bit overwhelming! Soooooo… if I don’t get to all of this by December 25th then I will have to scale back the scope of each gift crate, or like I said scale back the number of different crates I’m doing. The good news is that many things like the candles, jams, oils, simple syrups, hand sewn dish towels (that I’ve already started thank God!), teas, cleaning supplies, chocolates, cookies, and fudge can all be made in bulk. So I can dedicate a day to candles and make enough to store for future gifts, a day for teas, a day for jams and so on and so on.

We’ll see if I manage to pull the gift crates off and still maintain my Christmas spirit and humor! I’ll let you know how it all turns out! XOXO

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  • Kate Manning

    Good morning, Katie! So glad to have found your blog…after 10 days on Kauai and a lot of art galleries; I felt so inspired to “get with it”……and then, we get home and voila ! There you were; brimming and overflowing with more inspirations! Thanks so much
    We live in SW Oregon in a vineyard next to the Applegate River….oooooh, not half bad!
    Lovely day

    April 9, 2016 at 3:43 pm Reply
  • Elaine

    What awesome ideas! Thanks for sharing. It is a huge list but it’s only April. What a wonderful way to pack love all year long

    April 9, 2016 at 11:32 pm Reply
  • T.Verteniku

    i am searching in Wikipedia about Giving Spirit; is taking care of homeless. in this case the home is equally to spirit! may be is, may be not. I know there are a lot of people they like traveling around the world, sleeping everywhere: as guest, in a tent in mountain etc.
    My opinion is that Giving Spirit should be between a couple of lovers or at members of a religion or when someone is stressed in his life: putting the spirit in his/her actions.
    in fact is a very large life aspect.

    April 10, 2016 at 8:42 pm Reply
  • Abby

    Katherine, PLEASE spill your cleaning product recipes! The cleaning crate sounds amazing and I would love ideas for homemade cleaning products. I am loving all of the crafting and baking/cooking ideas for gifts, but the cleaner crate sounds especially unique. I am super jealous of your DIY lifestyle and sincerely wish I knew how to use a sewing machine.

    October 17, 2016 at 4:59 pm Reply
    • Amie

      I’m also very curious about your cleaning recipes. Also Abby youtube has tons of videos. Use the library for simple how to books. Look for the sew in a weekend type books. You can get a basic sewing machine. Thrift stores or garage sales can work. (You might even have a friend that sews and can show you. Maybe you can teach them something.) The more you do something the easier it gets.

      October 23, 2016 at 2:10 am Reply
  • natalja

    So much thought and love and time went into planning and making these presents. So much. You are a wonderful person with so many talents. I hope your gifts were appreciated. Can’t wait to see what you come up with this year.
    All the best to you and your family!

    November 29, 2016 at 10:46 pm Reply
  • diane

    Hi Katie,
    This is my 1st blog! Congrats on your baby boy! You have such a cute family and I don’t know how you do it all!

    April 1, 2017 at 3:58 pm Reply
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