Even if you don't cook, you can make beautiful herbed vinegars for your DIY Christmas gifts using herbs from your garden or the store. Save attractive bottles all year 'round.
PHOTO: RICK WETHERBEE
These easy, inexpensive DIY Christmas gift ideas will make any gift recipient smile.
Homemade Christmas Gifts
Infused Herb Vinegar Gifts
Red Wine Garlic-Herb Vinegar Recipe
Spicy Asian Vinegar Recipe
Easy Herb Vinaigrette Recipe
Vintage Hankerchief Sachet Gifts
Homemade Christmas Gift Basket
Christmas Photo Gifts
Christmas Gift Certificate Ideas
You can make these quick, inexpensive gifts even if you are craft-challenged and ridiculously busy. (See gift links above.)
When the holidays roll around, it's easy for me to rebel against the credit card companies and department stores pressuring us to shop 'til we drop. Waiting in long lines just to go into debt is not my idea of fun. Also, unless you're starting out in life-like our 21-year-old son who needs everything — most of us already have too much stuff in our homes, which we continue to rearrange until it eventually ends up in a landfill.
With all this in mind, I'm always in search of holiday ideas that will enable us to have the It's-a-Wonderful-Life kind of holiday while remaining environmentally and fiscally responsible. Homemade gifts to the rescue. Although some shopping is still necessary, it won't make much of a dent in your pocketbook. And believe me, I'm not talking about turning your house into a craft factory from August through December. Any crafts in my life must be easy to assemble, no glue gun or power tools required.
In case you're dismissing the homemade alternative because you don't have time, consider this possibility: Making these gifts takes less time than driving to your local department store and buying Uncle Fred a tie. Maybe you're remembering that crazy holiday season of '87 when you attempted to mass-produce complicated craft gifts for everyone you knew. I dutifully hang up my gold pinecone wreath every December as a reminder of the year the relatives decided that we'd all exchange only homemade gifts.
We learned from that experience, so I can offer you this sage advice: Get the kids involved; keep it simple; have fun; and enjoy getting into the spirit of giving.
Holiday Gifts that Give Back
Most North Americans who have encountered the idea of "fair trade" have done so through their purchases of coffee. Though fair trade coffee is more expensive than regular coffee, advocates say it's better for the pickers and the environment. But in creased cost is not the rule in purchasing fair trade products. Bargains abound.
In the collection of mail-order catalogs listed here, we counted numerous great stocking stuffers for $5 or less (and other price ranges). All these distributors are members of the Fair Trade Federation (one of the best indicators that they live up to the fair trade credo).
Offers: olive wood carvings
San Jose, CA
David Appalachian Crafts
Offers: everything quilted
Offers: pashminas, home decor, bags
Grand Rapids, MI
Friendship and Peace Society
Offers: embroidered pillows, bags
Offers: variety of home and gift items
New Windsor, MD
Mountcastle International Trading
Offers: kitchen accessories, etc.
Pete Beach, FL
Nicaraguan Cultural Alliance
Offers: art and business cards
Offers: Shade-grown beans
Susan Hebert Imports
Offers: Copper boxes, bowls, plates
Portland, OR 97209;
Offers: jewelry, clothing, note cards
Offers: hemp and batik items