3 D.I.Y. Christmas projects to start now

Christmas is still a couple months away, but if you want to give homemade food gifts, it's time to get started! My suggestions include my limoncello recipe, homemade vanilla extract, and a lovely small batch orange extract recipe.

Every year I try to think of a fun project to make for Christmas to give family and friends. I haven't quite landed on a project for this year but it got me thinking about some of my more successful and well received projects of Christmases past.

I personally love receiving homemade gifts. I know when I make mine, I try to think of the people I'll be giving them to and imbue love and well wishes into the gift I'm making. I just feel it's a part of me that I'm offering to friends and family. Gifts of any kind take time, whether you spent time making it or spent time researching, seeking it out and purchasing, it's the time and thought, right?

If you're like me and thinking you want to try your hand at some do-it-yourself / make-it-yourself gifts, it's time to seriously get to the business of deciding what it is you want to make, especially if you make anything that needs time to develop.

Some things to consider

  1. Make a list of those people in your life you'd like to give a homemade gift to. 
  2. Decide on the amount per person that you want to spend. Will it be $5 or $10? Multiply that by the names on your list in step 1 and that is your budget. Do your best to stick to it. 
  3. Pick the project.
  4. What supplies will you need? Make a list and source out the best prices.
  5. How do you want to present your gift? Just a tag and ribbon or cellophane bag, paper bag, box?Will this be included in your budget or will you have a separate budget for presentation or simply use what you already have on hand?
  6. How long will the project take? For example, my limoncello project needs at least 4 weeks to rest in a cool dark place before it can be bottled. Resting time, fermentation time, growing time all need to be considered. I do what we call a "back-out schedule" in where I determine the day I plan on wrapping the gifts and work backwards from there to determine my minimum start date. 

An example of a back-out schedule if I continue with the limoncello example:
  • Weekend of 12/16: Wrap gifts
  • 12/12 - 12/15: bottle limoncello and attach bottle labels
  • 12/8-12/9 Design and print labels 
  • 11/17: Order bottles, labels, gift wrap
  • 11/11: Make limoncello
  • 11/10: Shop for ingredients

So by creating a back-out calendar, I now know that if I want to make limoncello in time to give to co-workers on Monday, December 17, I need to start my project on November 10. 

Suggestions on what to make

Get the recipe
My all-time number one Pinterest pin and post with the second-highest number of comments is my limoncello recipe. It's a wonderful, refreshing Italian aperitif that you can drink straight in a chilled shot glass or use it to cook with, which I admit, is my favorite way to use limoncello. 

Get the recipe
If you have bakers in you life, then my virtually never-ending homemade vanilla extract is a perfect project for you. I made this for the first time for friends in 2013 and I have people telling me they are still using theirs. As the extract gets used, your giftee can simply top off the bottle with vodka or bourbon to keep the vanilla going. And if it starts to taste a little vanilla-weak, they simply remove the spent bean and add another.

Get the recipe
A similar process to the limoncello, I made orange extract in 2015. I have to say, it seems that this extract gets even better with age. I just used the extract I kept for myself from this project Sunday night to make an orange flavored version of my sugar skulls cookie recipe and it gave such a lovely floral orange hit to the cookie that we think I might need to post it for you all!

I hope these ideas help inspire you to make this holiday season a fun D.I.Y. one!

Until next time, my lovelies... xo, ani