Handmade Christmas Gift Ideas: Spicy Indian Chai Recipe

Reader Contribution by Rosemary Hansen
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Happy Holidays to you!

I’m going to be a little out-of-the-box, and say that My family doesn’t give store-bought Christmas gifts any more. We make simple gifts from the heart. I haven’t bought gifts for the last few years and truthfully it is really a big weight off of my shoulders. I think it’s more fun to make gifts anyway!

Although making gifts takes more creativity, I really love how we do it because it takes the stress out of the holidays: no running around in the car, no frantically searching online for the perfect gift.

The only exception I make to that rule is getting a Mother Earth News subscription for a family member and her husband. They live in a rural area and are basically homesteaders (although they’re much too modest to say so), and they love reading about other DIYers/farmers/homesteaders. I was a big fan of Mother Earth News even before I became a blogger!

I love giving the gift of education or a handcrafted gift. For other friends and relatives, I sometimes make a knitted gift, or a hand-sewn gift – one year I made little cloth cats for our son’s little friends – or simply a watercolor painting done from the heart. I have to give credit to my Mother who taught me how to make beautiful, handmade things for Christmas and she still does it every year, bless her heart.

My list of handmade gifts & “experience gifts” I love giving

Set a date to help harvest at a local farm (If you live in an area where farmers are still growing in December). Do it with a group of friends! Make cute handmade cards inviting them to join you & your family! You could even make a basket of farm produce and leave it on their doorstep on Christmas Day.

Ready-Made Chai Tea Mix (dry ingredients) in a Mason Jar with a pretty bow & handmade label


1 cup organic free-trade sugar or organic coconut sugar
1 vanilla bean pod (optional)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground cardamom or 5 whole cardamom pods
½ tsp whole pepper


1. Clean your jars & dry them (I use small mason jars, about 275ml size or “jam jar” size. This recipe will fill about 4 small jars or 2 – 500ml jars.

2. Put all ingredients in your cleaned jars. Shake the jars to thoroughly mix.

3. Make pretty labels with directions (see below).

To Use

Put two tbsp of this mixture in your favorite mug. Pour hot water or warm milk over the mixture and stir. Drink and enjoy! Made with love & good cheer.

Homemade wine or beer. You can buy kits for about $40 which will make (750ml) 25 bottles! Beer can be ready to drink in about 2-4 weeks. The quality of the end result is excellent!

Hand-dipped beeswax candles – beautiful and healthy!

Knit some animals (if you’re skilled) or knit a purse and felt it. My felt purse (I got from a friend) has lasted for over 10 years! It’s very durable and beautiful. Try using a wool sweater from a thrift store and sewing it into a purse!

A homemade wooden sign with a beautiful quote. Use a wood burning pen to make it rustic, or use milk paint for a country-chic style.

Knit some angora leg warmers!

Plant a beautiful Amaryllis bulb in a pot and put a bow around it. They’ll have a beautiful flower to look at in wintertime. I gave one to a friend a few years ago and she still kept it alive all this time! She said she had salad plate-sized blooms this month! The gift that keeps on giving.

A spa basket with all of your favorite natural lotions, essential oils, and creams.

An herb pot for the windowsill – get some recycled pots, fill with soil, plant seeds & gift them when the plant starts to come up. Paint the pot with beautiful pictures or pastel colors.

Make some chocolate truffles/cookies/squares/coconut macaroons and package them in pretty wrapping.

A bouquet of flowers, wrapped with green or red tissue paper & a real white satin ribbon. Who doesn’t love getting fresh flowers?

Gift Ideas for kids: an invitation to a tea party with stuffed animals, a museum pass, or a special pirate/knights & princesses themed play date.

Gift ideas for men/spouses: A handmade voucher for a haircut (use an electric razor which has a depth set attachment – makes it very easy), an old-fashioned straight razor with extra blades and wooden stand, or homemade aftershave or cream for shaving. Sew a handmade wallet with leather or denim.

I hope you enjoyed my list! If it seems overwhelming to make handmade gifts, try doing it for one or two people on your list. In years when I’ve been short on time, I baked a big batch of healthy cookies and chocolate covered strawberries and gave them to everyone.

And now, for a warming tea recipe! I drink this every morning in place of coffee. It is from whole spices and it really warms the soul. Enjoy!

Spicy Indian Chai Tea


5 whole cloves
5 whole cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp peppercorns
½ of an inch of fresh ginger, sliced very thin
2 cups of filtered water
black tea in a tea ball (optional)
coconut milk (optional)
1 tsp raw honey


1. Grind the spices up in a mortar & pestle. If you don’t have one you can use the bottom of a mason jar to mash them. It is definitely worth it to get the whole spices as they are so flavorful compared to powdered ones.

2. After mashing the dry spices, put them in a pot with 2 cups of water and the ginger.

3. Bring to a low boil (watch it, it will boil over very fast) and then simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Strain the spices out and add the black tea (if using), honey and coconut milk. Mmmm!

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