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If you have some time and talent to spare (or at least persistence and enthusiasm), consider making some of your holiday gifts rather than purchasing them. Homemade gifts can range from the simple to quite complex, depending on your skills and timeframe, but no matter the final result, gift recipients almost always recognize and appreciate the extra effort that goes into creating something from scratch specifically for them, be it a plate of homemade cookies or a unique piece of artwork.
homemade gift ideas

Here are some simple yet meaningful ideas to inspire you and help you create some unique gifts for family and friends:

Gifts from the kitchen: An old standby, but since you can never have enough homemade baked goods and treats, spend a few weekends in the kitchen preparing a variety of cookies, mini-loaves, chocolates, jams, or flavored oils as gifts for all. Present your collection on a keepsake holiday plate, or in parchment paper in a bakery box wrapped with velour ribbon.
Holiday Recipe Collection: While you're doing your holiday baking, take digital pictures of each item that you prepare. Then gather all the recipes you used in electronic format, along with the photos, and assemble a simple cookbook in Word by pairing the recipe along with its corresponding picture in a 5.5" x 8.5" booklet format. Alternatively, burn the recipes and pictures onto a CD and make a customized label! Give this cookbook along with your baked goods for maximum impact.
Offer a Lesson in your area of expertise: Can you play guitar, build a website, use photo-editing software? Whatever your particular skill set, offer to give a lesson or class to your gift recipient. You can make a simple IOU-type certificate in Word by finding clip art that matches your skill, adding a border and text to indicate the type and duration of the gift lesson.
The Artist's Gift: Share your artistic gift with others by creating one-of-a-kind works of art for friends and family, such as hand-painted cards, poems, framed art photographs, songs (written & performed), decorated plant pots, an embroidered guest towel, knitted items, origami with holiday-themed paper, stained glass window ornaments...go to town with it!
The Gift of Time: Possibly the most valuable gift of all. This can take any form you want, but formalizing your offer makes it worthy of being put under the tree. Consider monthly babysitting or dog-care “coupons” or help someone do a difficult all-day project of their choosing, such as painting a room, preparing flowerbeds, assembling furniture or organizing photos.

Other sources of inspiration:,,,,