Instead of getting caught up in the whole Black Friday, commercial gift buying insanity, why not make your own gifts this Holiday Season? Nothing is more thoughtful and satisfying than making a gift for someone special. They’ll know it came from your heart and it can be very economical, too!
Need some inspiration? There are craft stores in most towns in the valley selling everything from fabric to the doodads for sewing (or gluing) on it. Michaels is a big chain loaded with supplies. Don’t forget all the Dollar stores or Family Dollar stores around, too. You could buy the materials to make all manner of gifts at any one of them.
There is even an exciting shop on Route 212 between Saugerties and Woodstock that is a DIY destination, with craft supplies, workspace and instruction, called Fiber Flame studio.
Of course, you don’t have to leave your kitchen to make some very special gifts. A recent article in the Daily Freeman included a recipe for pancake and waffle mix with the suggestion that they could be made ahead, packaged in canning jars and given as gifts. Virtually any recipe of dry ingredients would work. But don’t stop there. Cookies, cakes and candy are all make great gifts, too! Decorative tins and boxes from the craft stores would add a festive, reusable packaging.
If you aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, some local shops specialize in creating food gift packages for you. One “from scratch” local bakery, Hudson Valley Dessert Company, offers colorful boxes of artist hand-painted cookies and shrink-wrapped woven baskets filled with a selection of the best local goodies. They include some of their own fresh baked cookies and biscotti, along with local pancake mix, maple syrup and other local delicacies.
If you are adventurous and have some experience in the kitchen, and maybe some discerning palates you want to impress with your prowess, you could try your hand at homemade mustard. There’s a little book of mustard recipes titled “Mustard.” In it, author Janet Hazen included a German-style mustard that is spicy and as good as any you’ve tasted. If you can measure ingredients, and run a spice grinder and a blender, you can make this mustard.
The recipe for Moutarde de Richard says to puree all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Place in a clean jar in the refrigerator. Let it age for at least two weeks to remove the bitter taste and come together. Then simply serve to rave reviews or package for gifts!
One of the aforementioned craft stores also has a selection of jars to choose from. They can be easily personalized using Avery labels. Simply go the Avery website and search the templates for your label number. (Labels are available in many shapes and sizes, including gift tags and hangers.) From there it is easy to select graphics, fonts, and styles using their designs, or importing your own. Nothing personalizes a homemade gift like a professional looking tag or label.
It’s that easy! With a little thought and a small amount of work you can create an economical gift as a lasting memory for everyone on your list. Happy Holidays!