Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
The fall and winter holidays are truly a beautiful time of the year, where we celebrate what we are thankful for and look ahead to a new year as the seasons change. Many people will spend time with their friends and family, and in the spirit of these holidays, exchange gifts with one another. Sometimes, it is hard to know what to give someone you care about, but I truly believe that homemade and handcrafted is the way to go.
When you make something with your own two hands, there is something special to it. Your time and effort goes into what you make, and it shows the one who receives the gift that you value them enough to create something unique! There are so many different things you can make with materials found right around your home, and we would like to share a few ideas with you. The photos included are all projects we have made, and we invite you to put your own spin on these handcrafted gifts. Most of these were made from repurposed materials from the land around us!
Wood Slice Coasters
One of the things to consider when making these wood coasters is selecting a type that will not split easily. Choose a branch that is slightly larger in diameter than the average drink can or bottle (you'll want them to be about 3.5 to 4 inches in diameter).
The thickness of the slices is up to you, but we cut ours about an inch thick. A quick sanding preps them for decoration, and it is time for you to get creative! We chose to wood-burn the initial of our last name onto these.
For those who enjoy canning fresh produce from your own garden or orchard and have extras to share, this is a special gift that often has family and friends asking for more the following year.
Use 4-ounce or 8-ounce jars to can different jams, jellies, and preserves. Pickles, peppers, salsas, and applesauce are a few other yummy ideas. Place a few different jars in a gift basket for a delicious sampler.
Pallet Photo Frame
Often, you can find local businesses and individuals that either give away or cheaply sell their spare pallets. There are so many things you can make with pallets, including a decorative photo display. Leave the pallets blank and unpainted for a more rustic look, or paint designs on it that speak to the person’s interests.
For instance, the photo shows a pallet photo frame that we made for our farm because we raise heirloom corn for seed. We’ve also made one as a gift that was whitewashed and had a border of seashells around it for someone that loved to be at the beach.
A common sight during the holidays is a beautiful wreath hanging over doorways or at the entrance to a home. Giving a wreath as a gift is wonderful, because it is something they can use again during the next holiday season! For those of you who raise grapes or may have them wild, their vines make a wonderful base wreath that you can decorate many different ways.
Repurposed burlap, corn husks, pinecones, wine corks, and acorns are just a few things you can use to bring life to a handcrafted wreath.
Another great craft involving wood slices is to make necklaces by cutting pieces that are around the same size as a quarter. Drill a small hole at the top of the slice (not too close to the edge of it as it may split) in which you can run your chain or string. Decorate the wooden pendant with paint or wood-burning, again keeping in mind the person’s interests as you decide what to put on it.
While store-bought gifts can still bring great joy, these ideas are simple for the crafter, but can be meaningful for the person that receives them. Show someone you care and consider giving them a one-of-a-kind present you’ve made with the work of your hands. May your holidays be safe, merry, and full of the company of good friends and family.
Fala Burnette is a homesteader with her husband at Wolf Branch Homestead in Alabama. This year, they have raised a large crop of heirloom Hastings' Prolific corn that they are selling seed from, along with making their own cornmeal. They have just finished building a small cabin from lumber they have milled themselves. Along with breeding Khaki Campbell ducks, they are going to be trapping for furs this Winter. Read all of Fala's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.