Of course, I love to give out my homemade soap and candles as gifts, but I realize those projects are a bit more labor intensive and not for everyone :-) . Here are some really easy ideas for homemade gifts that will be sure to please.
This lip balm recipe is so easy! Since I'm a soap maker/lotion maker, I already had all the ingredients on hand. I bought empty lip balm tubes from Amazon (don't pay more than $.50 each), but these would look darling in little round metal tins. I didn't have the vanilla oil the recipe called for, so I just used spearmint & lavender essential oils. I got a free label download from Brambleberry, which I printed on full sheet sticker paper and cut out. I think this may be the best lip balm I've ever used, and I'm rather particular. I love that it's all natural, too.
I've posted this in the past, but this lotion recipe is my favorite! It's very easy to make, and is one of the best products I've ever put on my skin. I recycle cute food jars (or use wide mouth 8 oz mason jars) and use the free label download from A Sonoma Garden. This year I made orange/lavender, clove/lime, tangerine, and grapefruit ones for gifts. (P.S. Goo Gone is the BEST at getting old labels off jars. First soak your jar in warm, soapy water, and then spray on the product, wait a minute or two, and then easily scrub off with a scotch brite pad).
This year, I tried my hand at homemade vanilla. And, WHY is it that I've never done this before? All you need is vodka (or brandy or rum), vanilla beans, and about 5 minutes. This is the pretty much the best thing ever! I bought 2 large (1.75 l) bottles of vodka for about $15 each at Target (the cheapest kind is fine), and ordered organic Madagascar (bourbon) vanilla beans at a great price from this great seller on ebay. DON'T buy your vanilla beans retail - they are usually $1-3 each! You can use any bottles you wish, I didn't really have anything useful on hand so I purchased some Amber Boston bottles (8 oz) for about $1 each. I was able to make eight 8-oz bottles of vanilla using one of the large vodka bottles, and I just put vanilla beans in the other one for an endless personal stash. :-) I used the proportion of 3 vanilla beans, split and cut into thirds, per 8 oz. of vodka. As long as the beans stay submerged in the liquid, the vanilla is good, so cut them small so they stay close to the bottom of your bottle. You can also refill the bottles again and again, using the same vanilla beans. Keep in mind, the vanilla does take about 12 weeks to brew. I chose these handy labels so I could write in the use date. The 8 oz. bottles I made came out to about $4 apiece - compared to a good quality store bought vanilla that is a steal!
This giant bottle of brewing vanilla is the jewel of my pantry! :-)
And, as for my latest venture - well, that one is still in process. I'm learning the art of brewing Kombucha Tea. Since I am hooked on the stuff and refuse to pay retail, I must learn :-) Stay tuned on the blog for my adventures in that. :-)
Other easy, homemade food gift ideas that I like include:
-cinnamon rolls prepare ready to bake in a disposable pan (include icing in a baggie)
-granola (for years, I've used this recipe from Alton Brown, but I sub in coconut oil. I often add pumpkin pie spice to the recipe as well)
-candied spiced almonds these rock in salads or just eaten out of hand
-the best zucchini bread ever I like to make these mini; they freeze great
-jars of spice mix mix your own barbecue seasoning, salad dressing herb mix, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon sugar, vanilla sugar, etc.
-a jar of freshly made nut butter almond, peanut, cashew, or a mix (great if you have a vitamix or good food processor)