As a homesteader, you may at times find yourself strapped for cash or otherwise seeking ways to make ends meet. Gifts can be expensive, especially at times of the year where you feel inundated with shopping lists and feel the need to find something special for everyone on our list.
Luckily, if you have a homestead, you are already well acquainted with the art of stretching a budget and creating something out of practically nothing. There are hundreds of unique gifts you can give to your loved ones as a holiday treat, or even simply as a special way of saying “I love you.” Consider stockpiling your homesteading supplies throughout the year to make the most of your gift giving budget.
1) Quilts and Blankets
If you have extra fabric lying around, or are skilled at sewing, knitting, or crocheting, consider making homemade quilts or blankets this holiday season. These cozy throws are a great way to show your loved ones you care, as well as to use up your old fabric supplies. You can even repurpose old clothes to create memorable heirlooms that your family and friends will enjoy for generations to come.
2) Fabric Toys
If you have children, Christmas can be a tough time of the year. You want to give your kids the best possible gifts without breaking the bank. Here are a few suggestions.
If you have a few scraps of fabric hanging around, you can easily make a sensory cube out of leftover pieces. You can use any patterns or textures you like – the more mixing and matching you can do, the better, as it will give your young child or baby more sensory experiences.
Another option for those fabric scraps is a fabric book. These are a great choice for very young children, as they can easily be thrown into the washer when they become stained. Use a pair of fabric scissors to cut out different shapes, designs, or animals, and make up the words as you go along.
3) Wooden Toys
Again, a few great options for kids can be made out of wood. While you can make a dollhouse out of a cardboard box, leftover plastic, or other recycled items, wooden dollhouses tend to last the longest and can be painted to increase their attractiveness and durability. You can even make your children carved or Mod Podge dolls to go along with their new dollhouses.
Other fun wooden toys to make – depending on your ability level – include play food sets, play tools, rocking horses, and sensory blocks.
4) Homemade cosmetics
It’s easy to make homemade makeup for the teenagers and fashionistas on your shopping list, and homemade cosmetics are better than store-bought ones because they contain no artificial chemicals. A win win! To make your own cosmetics, consider using a recipe from an online source. You can find countless concoctions on websites like Pinterest. Some of the more popular include herbs like cinnamon as well as corn starch to bind, arrowroot, and other scent-producing goodies.
Your family members will love receiving handmade ornaments this holiday season. The opportunities are limitless with this one. You can DIY ornaments out of leftover yarn, old socks, photographs, wood slices, or pine cones. Use the craft supplies you have on hand, and get the whole family involved to create a long-lasting memorabilia.
Candles are great homesteading gifts, particularly because they are so expensive to purchase yet so easy to make! If you raise bees, you already have a bulk supply of beeswax. You need to heat your wax flakes first, but be careful doing so – this can sometimes cause a flash fire. Monitor your wax careful, ideally using a double-boiler to keep things extra safe.
Once the wax has heated to a liquid state, strain it through cheesecloth into another saucepan. Add a carrier oil, like coconut oil, to help even out the imperfections in the wax. You can then add any essential oil you’d like to use, like peppermint or citrus. Stir gently.
Then, strain the mixture into glass mason jars. You can use any style of container you’d like, but mason jars tend to be rustic and in good supply around most homesteads. Before you pour the liquid into the jars, make sure you have inserted a pre-waxed candle wick into the jar. These tend to have trouble staying upright – if you find this is the case and the wicks keep toppling over, you can hot glue them to the bottom of the jars. Let the candles cool, and you’re ready to wrap them up!
Learn how to make tallow candles here.
7) Lip Balm
Did you know that many store-bought lip balms aren’t just ineffective, they are downright bad for you? Many balms contain artificial sweeteners, parabens, camphor, and menthol – all drying, damaging ingredients. However, you can easily make your own lip balms at home to keep for yourself and give to family and friends.
All you need is a bit of oil (think almond or coconut oil), some butter (like shea or cocoa), some beeswax, and a few drops of the essential oil of your choosing. Melt the oils and blend the wax in a double-boiler, than add the rest of the ingredients. Pour the mixture into tubes or tins, and you are ready to go.
Lotion is incredibly easy to make. Homemade versions tend to be much better for you and last for years, containing no preservatives and harboring extra-moisturizing properties. The best hand lotions include almond oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, beeswax, and a butter (like shea or cocoa). You can then add any essential oils you prefer, as these are merely for scent.
Who wouldn’t love a homegrown house plant as a gift from a loved one? Cultivate your own plants this spring, and gift them for summer birthdays or housewarming presents. Good options include indoor-loving plants like aloe, African violets, lilies, herbs, and leafy greens, but just about any plant can be cultivated indoors, split, and regifted – even fruit trees!
Have an excess of lard this butchering season? Don’t throw it out just yet. Lard is a key ingredient in making suet, which sounds a bit unappetizing but is a great gift for the birdwatcher in your life.
To make it, you first need to render your lard. This can be done in a crockpot, and while it doesn’t emit the most pleasant smell, it can be a rather hands-off endeavor. Allow the lard to sit in the crockpot for 24 to 48 hours. Strain it, allowing only the liquid to be pulled off. Any fat that remains can continue to be rendered, or discarded.
Once you have enough liquid to satisfy your suet-making needs, allow it to cool for another 24 hours. Then, add bird-friendly ingredients like scratch grain or sunflower seeds, stirring the mixture into the cooled lard. It can then be stored at room temperature for several months.
11) Fruit and veggie baskets
Your family and friends, particularly those that don’t have their own home gardens or orchards, will love receiving baskets of fresh produce. You can choose to combine various ingredients for a themed basket – think “autumn harvest” or “Fourth of July picnic” – or just give a basket of whatever you have on hand. Tie a decorative ribbon on the basket for a stylish flair.
12) Baked Goods
If you know how to bake, you have a great gift idea on hand. You can give your family members homemade baking mixes, like a brownie mix in a jar, or choose to give them the delicious baked concoctions in a ready-to-eat format.
13) Canned Goods
If you have excess produce, meat, or sauce, canning is a great way to preserve your excess bounty. In addition, canned goods make excellent gifts. These gifts last forever and are a great way to show your family you care.
Most popular recipes, like dill or bread and butter pickles, don’t even require the use of a pressure canner. This means you can safely can dozens of delicious, edible gifts for your family and friends without even having to invest in additional canning equipment.
14) Herbal Teas
Herbs are fantastic gifts, either when gifted by themselves or included as part of a special creation. You can bundle and dehydrate your herbs for loved ones, or create herb satchels. These can be used as scent pillows or even for homemade potpourri.
An even better option? Use coffee filters, some cooking twine, and dried herbs to create decadent homemade teas. Some good options include mint, lemon balm, and rosemary.
15) Essential Oils
If you grow your own herbs, you’re already halfway there to creating your own sweet-smelling essential oils. These can be bottled and given to your loved ones for them to use topically or as part of an aromatherapy routine. Popular essential oils include rosemary, cedar, basil, peppermint, and lavender.
If you have honey bees, you are likely already harnessing the delicious nectar of these important creatures. In fact, your family and friends have likely already started hounding you for some honey, which tends to sell for a pretty penny at grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Make it a holiday treat by bottling it in beautiful jars, adding delicate ribbons, and homemade labels. Your loved ones won’t be able to thank you enough!
17) Baby animals
Now, this isn’t an option you will want to explore without factoring in all of the variables first. Baby animals can make fantastic gifts, but if you are gifting living, breathing creatures to other families, you need to first make sure they are set up for the situation. In other words, don’t give the neighbor’s five-year-old daughter a newborn lamb without first making sure her parents are okay with that decision!
That being said, freshly hatched chicks, piglets, lambs, bunnies, and calves are all great gift options for savvy homesteader neighbors. This is a great way to spread the joy of farming, as well as to provide others – especially children – with a truly unrivaled and wonderful life experience.
There are about a million different soaps you can make as a homesteader, and all of them are great gift-giving options. People love homemade soap, largely because it doesn’t have the chemicals or harsh ingredients that store-bought soap does. And no, you don’t always have to use lye, which some people are opposed to because it can be rather caustic.
While all soap recipes call for lye – which essentially prevents your soap from becoming a nasty glob of chunky fat – you can purchase pre-made melt- and – pour soap that has been pre-saponified. This way, you don’t have to handle the lye yourself.
While making your soap, you will need a bulk supply of oil (coconut, olive, and avocado oils are best, but shea butter and cocoa butter are other good choices). You can further customize your soaps with fun, sweet-smelling ingredients like herbs (think lavender, chamomile, or calendula), natural colors like cocoa and ground coffee, and texture-adding ingredients like oatmeal and sea salt.
19) Jams and Butters
Jam is an easy option for a homesteader, because if you have fruit trees or bushes on your property, you’re already halfway there to creating delicious spreads. Some good options include raspberry or strawberry jam, apple butter, and pear preserves.
You can even make some of these in your slow cooker to make your job easier! Best yet, jams can be safely canned using a water bath canner, so you don’t have to worry about the canning process if you don’t own a pressure canner.
Consider gifting flowers as a holiday or “just because” gift. People love beautiful floral arrangements, but very few people have the talent and resources to make them on their own. You can gift simple vases full of flowers (mason jars make great gifting receptacles) or create decorative wreaths. You don’t even have to grow flowers in order to make beautiful floral arrangements – balsam or cedar wreaths make excellent presents around the holidays.
21) Handmade Furniture
If you have a knack for carpentry, homemade furniture is a wonderful gift idea. These items make fort he most unique heirlooms, most of which are usually passed down between generations. A great option if you have the skills and time to create a masterpiece!
Do you have an eye for the camera? If you have access to a decent camera and some photo editing technology, a photographic gift is a great idea. Take pictures around the homestead and arrange them in homemade frames. Your loved ones will go crazy over their new decorations.
23) Wool and Yarn
If you have sheep, alpacas, or other wool- or fiber- producing animals, you will likely need to shear them at some point. When you shear them, you can give the wool to crafty friends and family or spin it into yarn. Use the yarn to make a hand-knit sweater or gift the yarn to someone with a creative flair.
24) Handmade Clothes
If you have leftover fabric from another project – or clothes that you have simply outgrown – you can repurpose them to make your own handmade clothing.
An idea that has become extremely popular in the last few years is the idea of taking clothing from a loved one who has passed on – such as grandpa’s favorite old flannel shirt – and using it to make clothing for a child. This is a great way to spread the love and to keep your family members’ memories strong.
25) Homemade Wine
Do you grow grapes, strawberries, dandelions, or other tasty morsels on your property? If so, making your own homemade wine might be a fun way to make your own creative gifts.
This gift does take some time to produce, as you need about six weeks for fermentation to occur, but it is well worth the wait. The same goes for homemade beer (which can be made from homemade hops) and DIY mead (from your own honey).
You can make jerky out of just about any kind of meat, and all you need is an inexpensive dehydrator (or a bit of patience with the oven) to make it work. Consider popular varieties like venison, beef, or lamb jerky, and vacuum seal your packages so that they will last for months at a time.
27) Fermented Goods
Fermented goods are particularly beneficial for your health, as they help to promote digestive health and overall immune functioning. Plus, they are absolutely delicious. All you need to make your own fermented goods is some white vinegar, and of course whatever it is you plan to ferment. Consider fermenting and canning your own pickled vegetables, kombucha, or kefir to keep your family healthy and feeling loved.
28) Mason Jar Gifts
You can’t go wrong with the homestead classic – the mason jar. Create a unique DIY snow globe in a mason jar, or put together a homemade oatmeal recipe with the ingredients resting inside one of these jars. The options are limitless depending on your style, budget, and gifting occasion, but if you have mason jars on hand you are guaranteed to make your loved ones extremely happy.
29) Homemade Jewelry
Again, there are quite a few options for homemade jewelry depending on the materials you have lying around and what your personal style looks like. You can make homemade jewelry out of old pieces of wood, leftover beads, fabric, shells, stones, or other knickknacks you find lying around. No shopping trip necessary!
30) Barn and Driftwood Crafts
If you have leftover wood lying around, you’re in luck. The latest trend in home decor is upcycled wood, so the grungier the better. You can use old barn slate or cut firewood to make a wooden frame, or even wood burn a decorative sign. Some homesteaders have even had successful nailing old barn wood into planters, cutting boards, or serving trays.
If you find yourself scrounging around for gift ideas this holiday season, look no further than your own home. There are hundreds of unique gifts you can make for your family and friends – our list is only a sampling of the myriad opportunities.
Consider making one – or all of these! – the next time you find yourself in a gift-giving dilemma, and watch in utter satisfaction as your loved ones enjoy these priceless treasures.
Rebekah is a part-time homesteader. On her 22 acres, she raises chickens and bees, not to mention she grows a wide variety of veggies.