When you’re striving for a simpler lifestyle, it’s natural to feel uncomfortable with the commercialism of the holiday season. Yet, giving gifts to people you love seems more important than ever this year.
The solution is giving homemade gifts – but not just the standard Christmas cookie kind. (Not that there’s anything wrong with homemade cookies!)
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Why not think more broadly about the concept of a homemade gift this year? You can share your talents and skills with others this holiday season and save money while you’re at it. Here are 31 free (or nearly free) gifts for preppers and homesteaders.
1. Fresh Eggs – Some of your city friends may never have tasted farm-fresh eggs. Gift them with a dozen eggs from your backyard chickens in a pretty basket tied with a red bow.
2. Homemade Pasta Sauce – Use the harvest from your vegetable garden to make a homemade marinara sauce for friends. You can make it a complete meal by adding homemade pasta and homemade bread if you’d like.
3. Fresh Bread – Everybody loves fresh bread. Another way to make this gift extra-special is to give one freshly-baked loaf and then add the fixings for more in a jar. Make some for yourself too!
4. Homemade Preserves – Mason jars have been in short supply this year, but hopefully, you have some ready and waiting for canning. Go beyond the usual strawberry jam by adding apples, apricots, currants, grapes, soft plums, or quinces to your jam repertoire. Check out this article for new ideas for making jam.
5. Dried Fruit – Speaking of fruit, dehydrated fruit is a thoughtful gift. It stores well, offers high-energy, and tastes great. Apples, peaches, bananas, pears, cherries, and blueberries are tasty choices. Your recipients can eat them “as is” or pop them into granola or trail mixes.
6. Dehydrated Vegetables – Similarly, dried veggies can make for a unique gift, especially for friends who like to camp or go on backpacking trips.
7. Homemade Soup – Hooray! It’s soup season. The next time you make soup for your family, double the recipe to make a batch for a friend. Of course, giving freshly-made soup takes timing, so another option is to give the soup fixings along with the recipe in a jar.
8. DIY Soap – Homemade soap makes for a perfect gift because you can tailor the ingredients and the scent to each person. They’ll appreciate the natural ingredients you use!
9. Lip Balm – Winter is the time for chapped lips, and homemade lip balms are a great stocking stuffer. Here’s a lip balm recipe that uses coconut, lavender, and honey.
10. Lotions – Since we seem to be on a body product thread here, let’s add DIY body lotion to our list. This super easy recipe uses only a few ingredients — almond oil, coconut oil, beeswax, and essential oils.
11. Candles – Candles and winter just go together. Not only are they handy to have around in case of a power outage, but they add ambiance to a dreary winter’s night. Here are some cool ideas for the latter category. Don’t you love the coffee cup candle here?
12. Firestarters – Now that we’ve mentioned dreary winter weather, let’s talk about fire starters. If folks on your gift list have a wood stove or a fireplace, they’ll appreciate some fire starters as gifts. This video shows you how to make pretty homemade pine cone fire starters. Here are some other festive fire starter gift ideas.
13. Firewood – If you have lots of trees on your property, firewood can also make a fine gift. Just gather a dry bundle together with twine or place it in a basket to help keep your friends cozy this winter.
14. Jerky – Jerky is a protein-rich snack that is perfect for the backpack or bugout bag. Here’s how you can make homemade beef jerky right in your oven. Make a huge batch and place a handful of sticks in a jar tied with ribbons. You’ll be able to check off quite a few names on your list when you do.
15. Hardtack – Your prepper friends will appreciate your thoughtfulness when you give them a supply of hardtack for their emergency pantry. When properly stored, hardtack can last for years. Here’s how to make a batch of hardtack for yourself and others.
16. Potholders – Everyone has old t-shirts these days. You’re probably used to using yours as rags, but here’s an idea for turning them into potholders. Looks like a thrifty gift idea to me.
17. Face Masks – We’re all tired of wearing them, but we may need to do so for a while yet. How about giving your friends some fun homemade alternatives for their current face coverings? You pick the fabric, and here are the DIY how-tos.
18. Emergency Stoves – Have you ever made an emergency stove? Making one is an excellent project to do with your kids, and when you have the process down, you can make a few more as gifts. This article tells you how to make a survival heater with materials you probably already have on hand.
19. Herbal Tinctures – Many homesteaders have an interest in herbalism and make herbal tinctures as part of their wellness goals. This blog article explains how to make tinctures from leaves, barks, and berries. Along with instructions for use, these tinctures would make thoughtful gifts.
20. Essential Oils – Bath bombs, body scrubs, shaving creams – there are so many ways you can give essential oils as DIY gifts. Or here’s a recipe for an all-purpose essential oil blend that is sure to please.
21. Scarfs, Mittens, Hats – Do you knit or crochet? Cozy handmade accessories are always a hit. If your friends have a newborn or are expecting a baby, here is an easy tutorial for a crocheted baby beanie.
22. Fermented Foods – Fermented foods aid both the digestive system and the immune system. Here are the easy directions for making a jar of fermented veggies, which would be a perfect gift of healthy eating for a friend or neighbor.
23. Windowsill Herb Garden or Dried Herbs – Here’s something for the chef or gardener. Create a windowsill herb garden with basil, cilantro, chives, and parsley. It’s easy, and here’s a tutorial that shows how to make it happen. Another gift idea for herbs is to make a collection of dried herbs and dried flowers. In addition to giving them “as is” in labeled small jars for cooking, you can use them to make infused olive oil, vinegar, or sachets. Check out this article for instructions.
24. Succulents – It is incredibly easy to propagate cacti and succulents for gift giving. (Warning: this is habit-forming.)
26. Honey – Now that we’re thinking “sweet,” let’s not forget honey. Fresh, raw honey is a treat for the senses. If you keep bees on your homestead, you don’t even need to think about any other gift ideas.
27. Yarn – Do you raise sheep? Here’s how to naturally dye the fleece for beautiful yarn to give as gifts. (Hint: This is fun to do! Get the kids involved.)
28. Home Décor – Have you ever looked at some of the home décor signs for sale online and in stores and thought you could make that? You’re right; you can. Hand-painted signs that feature favorite quotes, baby names, anniversary dates, or say something warm or silly about the recipient (“Homestead Sweet Homestead” or “Beware of Rooster”) make wonderful personal gifts. Here are some ideas for how to get this fun project underway.
29. Pet Sweater – Do you have a friend who is a “love me, love my dog” kind of person? You can make a doggie sweater out of an old human sweater or sweatshirt. Old fleece jackets work well. Just watch this video.
30. Pet Treats – You can gift your favorite pet-loving humans or your own furry friends with yummy homemade pet treats. Here’s a recipe for healthy dog treats.
31. IOUs In A Mason Jar – Last on our list is a gift that can keep on giving all year long. Fill a mason jar with slips of paper labeled with chores or services you will perform for them. You can stipulate a redemption timeframe or discourage the redeeming of more than one coupon at a time. It’s all up to you.
Just be sure to tailor the coupons to the recipient to make the gift more meaningful. You can include anything from a free oil and filter change to back rubs, kitchen clean-up, or lawn mowing. You get the idea.
In a 2019 survey conducted by OnePoll, 62 percent of the 2,000 Americans surveyed said they prefer to receive presents that “come from the heart” over expensive store-bought ones. This response was nearly double the number of people who said they’d like a more generic gift with a value of $100.
Gift-giving does not have to empty your wallet or burdensome. Hopefully, this list has stimulated your own ideas. Good luck!
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