Tis the season... but for what, exactly? Christmas shopping involves two very distinct emotions: the desire to make your loved ones happy with things they'll enjoy and the slow creep of guilt as we spend money buying and wrapping gifts, packaged in cardboard and plastic and wrapped in paper. While there's nothing wrong with storebought gifts, it's much better for the environment -- and the soul -- to make your own all-natural gifts (and while you're at it, wrap them greenly too!). Here are five of our very favorites.
1. Pancakes in a Jar
Joy the Baker, as her name suggests, is fantastic at baked goods... and she has the perfect idea for giving baked goods with a long shelf life. Her whole wheat pancake mix is perfect for giving to friends. At Christmas, cookies and cakes abound, but giving homemade pancake mix ensures that the receiver will have a sweet something to enjoy long after the gingerbread men have been gobbled up. Topped with chocolate chips for a bit of sweetness and tied with a ribbon, this easy-to-make gift is perfect to give to friends and co-workers.
2. Knit Scarf
It's a bit more involved, but close loved ones will adore receiving a homemade knit scarf. Free knitting patterns can be found online, and wool is easy to come by. Use organic wool; happy sheep make comfy scarves!
3. Homemade Soap
Soap has long been a standby gift for those people who you don't have any ideas for. But homemade soap... that's another story. Our easy DIY homemade soap isn't difficult to make, but anyone who receives it will realize it came from the heart. You can vary this soap depending on your personal preference (or that of the person receiving it) for scented soaps with all kinds of flowers and herbs in them.
4. Handmade Slippers
When in doubt, turn to the queen of DIY herself, Martha Stewart. Amongst Martha's many suggestions are these handmade felt slippers, inspired by mocassins. Use organic, plant-dyed wool felt, and feel good about making these for someone you love. Buy the felt in bulk, and you can make several pairs!
5. Homemade Kahlua
If you start making this gift today, it'll just be ready in time for Christmas. Homemade liqueur is easy to make if you give it enough time, and this homemade kahlua recipe is divine. Alternately, try our very own homemade cowboy kalhlua! Just make sure that you use organic coffee beans, cocoa nibs, vanilla and cinnamon, for a treat that tastes good and that you can feel good about giving!