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Christmas and Hanukkah Gift Ideas!

With the holidays fast approaching, I thought a post about home-made gifts would be fun. Now I haven't tried any of these yet so the results aren't guaranteed! But they all seem very doable and something that the kids can try too.

I will definitely make the bath salts and craft dough (and I'm pretty sure Marine Momma will join me in trying the Chocolate Spoons ;-).



You can make your own floral potpourri, but it is quite time-consuming. Pick your flowers in the morning after the dew has dried. Spread the petals on a cookie sheet and air dry them for approximately 48 hours.

Place a 1/2-inch layer of petals in a container and sprinkle sea salt on top. Repeat the layers until the jar is about three-fourths full. Close the jar tightly and leave it in a dark, dry place for 10 to 12 days. After the petals have dried, separate them from the salt with a wide slotted spoon.

(wow- that's a lot of work. I would rather just order them here.)

Now that you have dried flower petals, it's easy to make potpourri. Orrisroot is a fixative which prolongs the scent of the petals. For a springtime potpourri, mix together two cups of dried rose petals, one cup of dried geranium petals, 1/4 cup of dried peppermint leaves, 1/8 cup dried lavender petals and 1/2 teaspoon of orrisroot. Store in a sealed jar for four weeks, turning it every day.

If making your own floral potpourri seems a bit too time consuming, there are easier homemade alternatives.

The Amish make a spicy potpourri by blending one ounce each of cloves, nutmeg, caraway seed, cinnamon and mace. The Amish use this potpourri in closets and drawers because it repels moths.

For a citrus potpourri, try combining 1-1/2 cups of lentils, (flax seed or small dried beans may be substituted), broken cinnamon sticks, 1/3 cup of cloves, orange peel and 10 drops of essential lemon oil.

Here are four different floral sachet recipes as well as two more good sites for potpourri.

You can buy one of these cool eggs to hold it!5c8d49d5a936c9d7681301572fba05f2[1].jpg


Make scented ornaments and gift tags with this recipe:
Cinnamon Spice Craft Dough
~ 1 cup apple sauce
~ 1 cup cinnamon
~ 1 teaspoon nutmeg
~ 1 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix until the dough has the consistency of playdough, adding more apple sauce or cinnamon as needed. Roll flat, dusting countertop and rolling pin with cinnamon if dough sticks. Cut out shapes with knife or cookie cutter. Use a toothpick to make a hole for hanging. Dry at room temperature for 5-7 days, turning over at the end of the third day to ensure even drying. They dry more quickly in a food dryer and give your house a wonderful aroma.


Scented Sugar
Scented sugar adds a suble perfume and flavor to coffee, fruit desserts, and baked goods. Layer granulated sugar with aromatic edibles like scented geranium leaves, rose petals, orange and lemon peel (first set out for a day to dry), or vanilla beans. Mix small batches, and let them sit for a few days in tightly sealed jars while the scents infuse the sugar.gt_geransugar01_l[1].jpg


Dried Fruit Garlands

~ variety of fruits and/or nuts*
~ tapestry needle
~ any thread such as fishing line or raffia
~ dehydrator or cookie sheet and oven

*nuts require a small drill bit to create a threading hole

1. Cut the fruit into slices about 1/4" thick. Oranges, lemons, limes and apples all have beautiful interior designs. Cut star fruit makes perfect dried star shapes (and is available this time of year at Safeway).
2. Use the dehydrator to dry the slices, making sure they are not touching on the racks. Or preheat the oven to 200 and set the fruit on a cookie sheet. Leave them in the oven 2-8 hours and check periodically to see when fruit has completely dried.
3. Thread the tapestry needle and tie a loop and knot at both ends for hanging the garland. Mint dental floss also works well and is holiday green.
4. Alternate the shapes, sizes and color of the fruits and nuts. You can also add cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and chili peppers for variety.tah270_dfg_d[1].jpg


Hanukkah Candles
Give your celebration a special glow with these hand-rolled candles, made from sheets of beeswax in the subtlest shades of ivory, butter yellow, and deep olive. These holiday gifts are both pretty and useful; during the eight days of Hanukkah, a total of forty-four candles are lit.

1. Using a utility knife and ruler, slice wax sheets into 2-by-4 1/2-inch rectangles.
2. Cut wicking into 5 1/2-inch lengths; make a knot close to one end.
3. Warm wax with a blow dryer until just pliable, 10 to 15 seconds.
4. Lay wicking along edge of wax with 3/4 inch of wick hanging beyond wax.
5. Roll wax around wicking; press seam with your finger to smooth and seal.
gt_hacandle01_l[1].jpg gt_hacandle02_m[1].jpg


Snow Globes
This is a classic toy. Homemade globes let you create a wintry scene straight out of your own imagination. Almost any jar works for this project: Baby-food, pimiento, and olive jars are good choices. Look for plastic or ceramic figurines (metal ones are prone to rust) at flea markets and hobby or model-railroad shops. Synthetic evergreen tips are available at many floral-supply stores. If the jar lids are not in seasonal colors already, paint them with oil-based enamel paint or glue on holiday fabric. Sand the inside of the lid until the surface is rough. With clear-drying epoxy, adhere the figurine to the inside of the lid, and let the epoxy dry. Fill the jar almost to the top with distilled water; add a pinch of glitter and a dash of glycerin (available at drugstores) to keep the glitter from falling too quickly. Don’t add too much, or the glitter will stick to the bottom of the jar when it’s flipped. Screw on the lid tightly, being careful not to dislodge the figurine. Turn the jar over and back again—and let it snow.
gt065_snowglobes1_l[2].jpg gt065_snowglobes2_m[1].jpg

Here's another nice site for snow globes (or glitter domes).


Apple Wreath
Cut apples in 1/8" slices, using a sharp knife or an apple slicer. If you slice apples vertically you will get a heart shape from the apple. If you slice them horizontally, the apple will have a star in the middle.
Place slices in a bowl of lemon juice for about 15 minutes. The lemon juice will preserve the apple and retain the color. Next, place apples on a cookie sheet and bake for 4 to 6 hours at 175 - 200 degrees. Turn the apples every twenty minutes and be sure to leave the oven door slightly open so moisture can escape.

Hot glue dried apple slice to a wreath. The wreath can be made of grapevine, wire or herbs. Embellish the wreath by adding other materials, such as cinnamon sticks, pods, cones, nuts, and ribbon.
Finish by spraying a clear acrylic spray on to the apples.
For a dazzling, but more time-consuming version of the apple wreath, slice the apples horizontally so you have a star in the center, then dry them. Gently slide several pieces of raffia or wire through the star in the apple. Continue threading apples on the raffia or wire until it is completely covered . Be aware that this wreath requires many more dried apple slices than the first version. Once the slices have been strung, twist or tie the ends of the raffia or wire together, and embellish with cinnamon sticks or ribbon.tht_applepic2.2_d[1].jpg


Dreidel Game

A favorite Hanukkah game becomes a wonderful gift for kids when it’s presented inside a cloth sack customized with the rules. Fill bag with a dreidel and counters (you can use coins, candies, or buttons).

To play, you need two or more people and about ten counters per person. The game is played in rounds; to start, each player puts a piece into the center. A player then spins the dreidel and takes the action indicated by the letter on the upturned face: for nun, take nothing; for gimmel, take all; for hay, take half; for shin, add one. If the pot gets down to two counters or fewer, everyone pitches in a counter. If you have none left, you’re out of the game. The winner is the last person left with counters at the end.

To decorate a bag, download this design and print onto iron-on transfer paper following package directions. Cut out design, and iron onto cloth bag. ft_holiday04msk06_t[1].jpg


Candy Cane Bath Salts

Put these bath salts in a pretty container with a festive bow and a few real candy canes and you'll have a great holiday gift to give or to keep. Peppermint tends to be stimulating, so these bath salts are best for the morning or a mid-day pick-me-up rather than for use before sleeping. To use the salts, toss a handful into the bath.

Yield 20 ounces

Tools 2 mixing bowls or sealable plastic bags
measuring cups
large jar or bottle
ribbon or other decoration (optional)

~ 2 cups Epsom salts
~ 1/2 cup rock salt or sea salt
~ 4-5 drops peppermint oil
~ 2-3 drops red food coloring
Mix 1 cup of Epsom salts and 1/4 cup of rock/sea salt in a bowl or baggie. Add 2 or 3 drops of peppermint oil and mix well.

Mix 1 cup of Epsom salts and 1/4 cup of rock/sea salt in the other bowl or baggie and add a drop of red coloring. Mix well and continue to add color and mix until the desired color is achieved. Add 2 or 3 drops of peppermint oil and mix well.

Pour a layer of red salt into the bottom of the jar or bottle and alternately layer with the white salt to create candy cane effect.
Seal the container and decorate it as desired. Half litre Naya water bottles work well because they are ribbed. Tie with a ribbon and some small candy canes.


Chocolate Spoons
Get some good quality plastic spoons to start with - no flimsy stuff! Try using gold or silver ones, clear will work too. Also find some good quality chocolate and different extracts/liqueurs to make the spoons different flavors. There is no end to the flavors you can come up with! Melt chocolate over low heat - don't hurry or it will scorch! Add extract or liqueur of choice (Grand Marnier, Frangelica, Kalua*, peppermint, almond, raspberry or other extracts, etc). Then just dip the spoon into the chocolate. Lay the spoons with their handles over the edge of a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet until set. You can drizzle white chocolate in a design over dark or milk chocolate...or dip 1/2 of spoon in dark and 1/2 in white. Don't just dip lightly - you want a nice puddle in the spoon bowl and part way up the handle.

Wrap these in clear plastic bags tied with raffia and a tag stating the flavor. These are marvelous with coffee or cocoa so make plenty!
You can also use a new, small paint brush to paint the mixture on the back side of freshly washed, dry leaves (rose and camellia work well). After chocolate has dried, gently peel off the leaf and enjoy your new chocolate leaf.

*The liquor stores now stock all these liqueurs in 50 ml. sample bottles for the holidays.


~ vegetable cooking spray
~ 34 pieces assorted fruit-flavored hard candy, crushed
~ 2 TBSP light corn syrup
~ heavy weight plastic spoons
Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper and spray with cooking spray. In a small heavy saucepan combine crushed candies and corn syrup and melt over low eat stirring frequently.
Spoon candy into bowl of each spoon. Place spoons on prepared cookie sheet with handles on rims and spoons level. Allow to harden. Store in air tight container.


Posted by floranista on Dec 03, 2005 12:50 am

1 comment

#1 geme at 4:27 pm on Mar 21, 2018

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