Sunday, December 29, 2013

Gifts from the Homestead - the List

Last year, about this time, I started thinking about how abundant my homestead is, and yes, even with my miniscule quarter acre nanofarm, I do feel that we have an incredible abundance. So much so, in fact, that I'm embarrassed by the sheer amount of waste we produce. We throw away and/or fail to take full advantage of a lot more of what our farm produces than I am even comfortable sharing.

We. have. so. MUCH!

It was about that time that I started looking at homemade gifts. Over the years, I've spent a lot of time making things for friends and family. One of my favorite gifts was the travel pads I made for our friends' children. It had a dry erase board on one side and a chalkboard on the other and a handle so that it could be suspended from the back of the car seat. I've also made my share of board games, wooden puzzles, rice packs, "mixes in a jar", and my other favorite Dammit Dolls (although the pattern I use for mine is very different than the ones I've found online - the poem I have is different, too).

Last year, though, I started thinking about things we could make from stuff we either grew or produced right here, right on our homestead, and I came up with an impressive list, actually.

The list included:
  • maple syrup (although this is a pretty precious commodity, of which we get only a little, and so we're not as likely to share)
  • honey (see maple syrup)
  • wine and custom, non-hopped beers
  • popcorn
  • dried herbs
  • herbed vinegars
  • herbal tea
  • rabbit jerky
  • knitted items from dog fur
  • soap (although we'd need fat that we don't produce here)
  • beeswax candles
  • salves, lip balm, and hand creams
  • potpourri
  • incense
  • grapevine dream catchers

There are other things, too. This year, we made Dandy Kahlua, using a recipe a friend gave us. The recipe called for coffee, sugar and vodka, but we substituted our own roasted dandelion root for the coffee. We also bake gifts, using some things we've grown and some things we've purchased (or bartered for) - like canned pumpkin bread. I can sew, and I could make gifts from old clothes (like a bath mat or some pot holders or a quilt or cloth bags) or something like pajama pants or a poncho from an old sheet. I have an old copy of a Physician's Desk Reference, which would make an awesome treasure book.

There are dozens of ideas for homemade/handmade gifts, and for me, there is nothing quite like making something special for someone special. I like giving homemade gifts AND I like receiving them. To know that someone took the time to make something for me ... for me ... well, there's no feeling quite like that. One of my favorite gifts from last year was a couple of bottles of hot sauce made by a family member on their rural-suburban farm. We used it all up and savored every drop. And the jellies ... oh, my! This year, I can't wait to crack open the jar of lemon drop habanero jelly I received. I LOVE hot pepper jelly!

The best, unintentional gift, is that my children have caught the fever. This year Precious made for me my very own rice pack - hand sewn. It was a pretty awesome gift!

We gifted some of the items above this year, and all I can say is that I really enjoyed making every single thing that I made, and plans are already in the works for future Gifts from the Homestead.


  1. Wendy,
    I'm so glad you took the time to follow-up to your original post about the gifts you had in mind. I needed more inspiration! I was able to make several gifts for family this year, but not as many as I'd hoped to. (Apparently my newbie knitting skills still aren't fast enough to complete that many projects, albeit "small" ones. LOL) I'm inspired, though, and sat down yesterday with my planner and a sheet of paper to plot out gifts for 2014 - not just for Christmas, but for Mother's/Father's Day and the birthdays. I've learned my lesson on trying to make it all myself too; the kids will be joining in, or at least the older one who does beading and a little embroidery.

    So far I have plans for bookmarks (printed & laminated with homespun yarn made by the kids or me, or beaded by my daughter), some knit items, and a few other things. Our homestead doesn't really produce much at this point, but at the least we can use things from around the house to make other things. I am thinking I must "steal" (haha) your Beanie cold pack idea for the kids' stockings and maybe even for some grown-ups I know who would enjoy it. Making a list and having a grand time doing it. Anything that is purchased will be local (wherever we are), small business items whenever possible.

    How awesome that your family joined in. My daughter did some knitting and beadwork and drawing this time around. I'm with you on the receiving too. My mom knit me a wonderful super long hooded scarf - it's so long that I can actually sit with it down my lap like a throw! Since it's double knit on a knitting board, it's deliciously thick and warm - surely planned since I am always the coldest one anywhere. ;)

    Thank you for the continuing inspiration, my friend! Best wishes for wonderful times making goodies in the coming year.

  2. For years I made gifts - from baked goods to lingerie to 'gourmet' vinegars. I found the gifts were more readily accepted when I said they were handmade not homemade. Guess the connotation of homemade is of items that aren't well made. Silly but true.