The holidays are here! It’s crazy how fast time flies each year. I feel like it was a couple of days ago I was planting my garden and now we are 5 days away from Thanksgiving! This time of year is my absolute favorite. I am a Christmas junkie–like…I’ve already watched Hallmark Christmas movies and listened to Christmas music junkie. There’s just something about this time of year that is so special. I love sharing traditions with my girls and others, showing support for those less fortunate, and being with family and friends.
One thing that I always struggle with in my adult life is buying presents for my parents and in-laws. My mom is the sweetest lady you’ll ever meet and hates offending others. When we first had kids, she insisted we get her nothing because she has everything she wants and we were just starting out as a family. We made homemade ornaments with the girls hand prints and tried to do little things to still be able to gift something.
It’s a really funny situation if you stop and think about it…at least to me. Starting a family is stressful–not just because of the sleepless nights and tiny people you’re suddenly responsible for, but because they are SO expensive. Between diapers, daycare, and eventually formula, there were a few years where money was definitely tight. My dad is pretty matter-of-fact and once told me, “Listen, Lib…I hate to point it out, but we make more money than you guys.” He said he’d rather have hubs and I provide for the girls than stress about getting them a present.
When I began adopting the “homestead lifestyle” more and more, I came up with a GENIUS idea! I had been sharing things I had been canning and growing in the garden, plus the meat birds we raised. Everyone loved being able to share in what I had put so much of my time and effort into. When the holidays were starting to roll around, hubs and I were racking our brains to come up with good presents for our parents. This is where the homestead holiday basket came to be!
I had the idea to buy cute baskets and fill them with different things we had grown or raised. My perfect plan was to include a chicken, potatoes, and carrots for a dinner pack of sorts. Unfortunately, our potato harvest that year was embarrassingly small and the girls ate the carrots before I could get to them! Instead, we included a chicken and different items I had canned throughout the year.
Holiday Basket 2.0
This year, I started the spring thinking about different things I wanted to include in the basket. It does take some forethought to create, since most of the canning happens during the summer. I also wanted to source out a couple of items from my maker friends. I love supporting small businesses and it allows me not to attempt to be too crafty. Here is what is included in our holiday basket this year:
I started with a basket. Last year, I ordered really cute wire ones off of Amazon. My parents live in a town that has a store called “Basketville.” It’s a super cute store that sells a crazy number of baskets and other Vermont-y things. They’re closing the retail store, so I was able to snag these cute canvas totes for $6.00 each! I like to give baskets that people can re-purpose. At the risk of being too wordy, I’m going to list what I stuffed the basket with.
- A chicken we raised. It’s really the best chicken we’ve had and we’re able to give different sizes depending on whose basket it is. Our parents usually get a smaller one, since it’s just the two of them, while my sister-in-law will get the biggest since they are a family of 6.
- Different canned goods. I don’t have a pressure cooker yet, so this year it’s jellies, jams, different pickled things, butters, and my famous BBQ sauce.
What I really like about including canned goods is that I can customize it for each person. For instance, I know my sister-in-law is the only one in her family who likes apple butter, so she’d get a small one in their basket. On the other hand, my father-in-law would eat apple butter on everything if he could, so he gets a big one!
- Homemade vanilla extract–find the recipe I wrote over at Homestead How-To! (Shameless plug: I started this blog with another homesteader from Vermont. It’s a great resource for straight, to the point articles. We’ve had some of our homestead friends write some pretty fun ones!)
- Infused cooking oils. I did lemon, rosemary, roasted garlic, and jalapeno. Find the recipe over at…you guessed it! Homestead How-To! Quick note that I need to update my other post with: CHECK THE OIL! I went to bottle it so it could be cute and pretty for the photos, but the oils weren’t as flavorful as I wanted. They’ve been sitting for almost a month, so I just added more ingredients today. I will check again in two weeks–I want maximum flavor for my gifts!
- A potholder made by my 6-year-old! She got a frame and weaving loops for her birthday and I thought it would be fun for her to be able to include something of hers in our basket.
- Honey from an old classmate/coworker. He and his dad have their own apiary and he shares his amazing videos on their Facebook page! I love supporting my friends and, since I’m terrified of bees, am really grateful I know someone local who makes amazing honey!
- A salt-cellar hand turned by a student. This kid is seriously amazing! One part of his day is spent in the wood shop where he makes these dishes, bigger bowls, and rolling pins. He is insanely talented and I was so thrilled when he agreed to let me buy three of them!
- I will probably also throw in a dozen or so eggs and a loaf of my grandmother’s bread!
- For my sister-in-law, I will also share a vial of the homemade fire cider I made recently. It’s not ready to use yet, which is why it wasn’t included in the picture. It’s a scary blend of some big flavors: horseradish, garlic, ginger, orange, lemon, jalapenos, turmeric, onion, apple cider vinegar, and honey. It is supposed to be AMAZING for immunity. With 4 kids, someone in their house is always sick. She and my brother-in-law aren’t afraid of big flavors and love natural remedies
The best gift!
We LOVE sharing what we’ve made with those we love! I know I’ve said it before, but I truly adore how customizable these baskets are. Being able to include special items I know are loved by some, not all, is what makes this basket a unique gift idea. Next year, I intend on planting enough to include the potatoes and carrots and give people a whole dinner! I also will have a pressure canner, which will give me SO many more things to include!
If you’ve been stuck on an idea for a holiday gift, consider sharing what you grow, make, and create! I find it to be an incredibly thoughtful gift–the time and energy I put into all of the items (or the time put in by those I care about) makes it so special! While I do buy the majority of my presents for the holidays, making them, and seeing people I love enjoying them, truly warms my heart and embodies the Christmas spirit!