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Gifts from Your Kitchen?

 
master steward
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As a young homemaker, I sometimes did not have a lot of money at Christmas to buy gifts.

One year I spent most of November and December picking up pecans. That year everyone got glazed pecans for Christmas.


source

Another year, I made instant soup mixes, if I remember correctly the mixes were for tortilla soup, cream chicken soup, and potato soup:

Here is a recipe for Potato Soup mix:

2 cups dehydrated potato flakes for mashed potatoes

2 cups nonfat powdered milk

2 tablespoons chicken bouillion granules

2 teaspoons dried chopped onion

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Mix all ingredients.  Assemble jars with tight-fitting lids that will hold 1/2 cup soup mix or more for more than one serving.

Fill the jars and tighten the lids.

For gifting add a colorful piece of material with a ribbon and attach a label or tag with directions:

"To prepare 1 serving of soup, add 1/2 cup soup mix to 1 cup boiling water.  Let stand 2 minutes for the water to be absorbed, then stir well and add any topping as desired, such as bacon bits, grated cheese, or chives."


source

I was really close to my aunts who lived in other states so I always made cookies and mailed them.  To keep the cookies from crumbling, I popped popcorn and put that in among the cookies.

This looks like a good way to send cookies:


source

Popcorn balls were always a hit with the kids on my list:


source

What have you made from your kitchen for gifts?
 
gardener
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I'm a huge fan of the soup mixes! Not only are they a great 'emergency preparedness' meal but they are a great option for taking into the back country.

A friend of mine has been making dog treats from organ meat that they had left over from hunting. I thought that was such a great use of resources and a great gift for dog owners!

This year a lot of my gifts were "extras" from food preservation or harvest ( pickles, canned peaches, whole chickens).

Honestly, anything that comes in packaged a mason jar makes me so happy!
 
gardener
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Ah, many have been the year that I've joked with family that I hope they wanted something that could be made out of pumpkins, sticks and/or leaves of some kind because that's all I have to work with. This year, I'm giving pumpkin gingersnap cookies, hopefully find the time to make some pumpkin bread to gift too. In years past, I got a bunch of half price apples from an orchard I used to work at and made lots of apple butter to gift. That was a real hit! Other times, I got bulk nuts and made fancy nut butters for people.

The holidays are the one time of year we usually get oranges. An idea I had a little too late to implement for gifts this year is to make a tasty bitters/digestive tincture out of the leftover orange peels and some ginger. Hopefully next year I can step my game up and make some herbal teas and such to gift as well!
 
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My friend's Bantum Chickens had to come to live at my farm when her last landlord died. She had ended up with a surplus of Bantum eggs, so I suggested that a few people who'd helped her out with those chickens, might deserve the gift of pickled Bantum eggs. My friend boiled them and over tea the two of us shelled them. Later I made up the pickling juice and divided the haul into suitably-sized bottles and got the brine over them. Pickled Bantum eggs sliced over a pretty salad over the holidays will hopefully remind the recipients of the sunny weather to come!
 
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We give the neighbors home-baked bread for Christmas. Two loaves for the people with kids, 1 for the families without. We've been doing this for 20+ years now, so it's a tradition. We bake a single-rise yogurt bread. Takes about 1.5 hours start to finish, usually takes 3 rounds of 4 loaves each round.
 
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where I live cookies can't take the Christmas heat and humidity, so it's often a fresh baked bread or hot cross buns or something. Or, often enough, candied peanuts. you could conceivably use whatever nuts you have on hand. it's easy and cheap and in a jar with a ribbon, it's cute, but once it's open they are GONE in a flash!
(I like to make them with coarse Korean pepper flakes and smoked salt, but you could spice them however you please).
https://www.davidlebovitz.com/candied-peanut/
 
pollinator
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The past two years I have mailed out small stollen loaves and homemade candies.  Last year it was caramels, but this year they came out too hard, so we smashed them into toffee bits and made chocolate toffee candies.
 
pollinator
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I have done gluten free shortbreads, jams, and cordials as gifts. if someone gave us things cookies or sweets would be welcome along with cakes, jams eggs, meat or fish etc. Soup mixes would just go directly into the bin bread would be either eaten or end up in the freezer or the bin, depending on if it was better or worse than my own and how much I already had in the house!
 
Jennie Little
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This year, we're baking bread again, as usual. I'm low on garlic salt too, so I may just make a double or triple batch and give some of that away as well. It takes next to no time, it's cheap, and oh boy does it show up the supermarket tasteless junk!
 
pollinator
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If one has the luxury of a dehydrator, try black garlic- one head plus some salt, ground up, makes some amazingly umami-rich salt that your gifts' recipients will find themselves putting on everything :) Expensive in stores, much more doable for me if I make it by hand! But the main way requires a dehydrator/proofing drawer, or other device for constant high temperature, as far as I know.

To get around that requirement, gift seasoning salt that uses sun/air-dried herbs!

I also give pies around this time of year. 9-inch potato-veggie-sausage-gravy pies in an all-butter crust are kind of a specialty, but I make different kinds sometimes.
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potato-veggie-sausage-gravy-pie-in-an-all-butter-crust
 
gardener
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This year I'm giving quick breads -- acorn squash gingerbread, sweet potato pecan, and banana cardamom.
In past years, I've given homemade bread with pear sauce from my family's pear trees, seasoning blends with homegrown herbs, and a variety of cookies.

My husband's favorite was the year that I surprised him with a bunch of freezer meals. I cooked some at my in-laws and stored them in their freezers to hide until Christmas. His love language is definitely food, especially when it's something convenient that he can simply grab, heat, and eat.

Not kitchen related, but a few years ago, I grew luffa and it produced SO much more than I expected. I felt like a frugal version of Oprah Winfrey - "you get a luffa, you get a luffa, everybody gets a luffa!!"
 
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It's not exactly "kitchen" but I made it in the kitchen, so....everybody gets goat milk soap. I also made some little rope baskets with embroidery floss, crochet washcloths, and I made quince preserves for the first time from fruit from my own tree. Gifting my family with homemade chevre and, if they are brave enough to try, pickled eggs.  It's more work but more fun to do homemade gifts but, I only have a few folks to do it for so that makes it manageable!
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gifties
gifties
 
gardener
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I always make home made chocolate truffles (adults only) for our best shop customers. If I say so myself, I'm getting quite good at these now. The trick is plenty of beating at the blending stage to get a really fluffy centre.
This year I was so pleased with my first trials of making apple cider vinegar, that I decanted some for my parents and sister in law's hampers that we send.
 
gardener
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My dad often gives homemade specialty wine .. wait a second,I didn't get my bottle this year! Hmm....

I often give candy - toffee and fudge and popcorn balls and nut cookies and  taffy and.... Changes every year based on my ambition.

Or jams, apple sauce, etc.

I made homemade hand cream one year, and have had requests for a repeat of that.

Also homemade aftershave- an awesome gift to myself to make it, because I was regularly having migraines from the aftershave of someone I regularly rode in the car with! He liked mine better than the store bought stuff, too.
 
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I give dehydrated vegetables/fruits/powders etc. ( in variety of jars or sometimes smaller, vacuumed sealed jars) to those I know will appreciate, ask for and actually use them.
With mutual understanding of returning jars for refills
The photo is one of  few samples.
From-the-left-side-dehydrated-garlic-oranges-powdered-cauliflower-cauliflower-florets-October-2019.JPG
dehydrated-garlic-oranges-powdered-cauliflower-cauliflower-florets-October-2019
 
pollinator
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Last year, my clients all got spiced medlar jam. Made from medlars picked from our neighborhood Commons garden. This year some of them gave me homemade gifts, like spiced nuts (which I appreciated even more than the $100 bills tucked in the card).

I am experimenting with a microgreen CSA. I wanted to try and get some experience with production and distribution, without giving up any precious garden space (I am in an apartment with ~350ft squared outdoor growing space).

This year, clients got 1 month's worth of weekly microgreen delivery. It helps me iron out kinks and they get some fresh greens in January. The greens are grown in my living room, not my kitchen, but close enough.

Various other friends got Christmas kraut (with leek and black pepper), sourdough loaves, spruce-tip shortbread, and fermented cranberry relish (that recipe and the kraut are from Kirsten Shockey's Fermented Vegetables book).
 
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This year  I made a variety of things but the favorite everyone loved was fudge. Super easy! Fast. It is still good a week later. My gifts were local so I didn't have to worry about shipping in warm weather anywhere.
   I bought some of the plastic 4 and 8 ounce containers online from https://www.webstaurantstore.com and used a ice cream scoop and scale to get everything perfect. Looked plum store bought and professional! It was also the easiest way to package for me I have found.
  This link https://www.shugarysweets.com/?s=fudge is a list of her fudge recipes. I have copied I think 60 ? of them and I am working my way through the list to see which ones I  and others like. So far they are all good.
   Her recipes are very easy and I don't think I have had a problem with any of them.
   I also provide a list of ingredients for those on a special diet or allergies so they can enjoy without problems.
  All natural no added preservatives from me. Absolutely melt in your mouth and nobody has turned them down! I get a smile and almost a drooling look from anyone receiving the gifts.
Love
Ranchmama
 
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I've made :

1. roasted garlic salt [roast a couple heads of garlic, then squish this into a pile of salt.  put in the oven to dry out at a low temp, stirring every 10 - 15 minutes. Break up the chunks the best you can and use either a mortar & pestle or processer/grinder to get the big chunks].  SO GOOD and excellent on thin slices of bbq'd eggplant!!

2. Cardamom sugar OMG SO delicious!! [sugar of your choice, but I use a blend of traditional white and brown, and crack about 10 cardamom pods for every cup of sugar. for more punch, add some cardamom powder as well.  Let it sit in a sealed jar for at least 3 months. Shaking every week or two.] -- sprinkle on sugar cookies, sweeten your coffee or tea, delish!

3. homemade vanilla [I ordered some beans from a women's collective, and then heated up a couple cups of a plain, good quality vodka. slice the bean lengthwise and scrape all of the bean-y goodness into the vodka.  put the flattened bean in the vodka as well.  Let it sit in a sealed jar (like the vodka bottle it came in!) for 2-3 months +. Shake it up every week or so.

4. bread, brownies, dishcloths, etc

5. Frozen cookie dough balls with instructions on how to bake them!  I've done this with chocolate chip cookies, molasses/ginger, and mexican chocolate cookies!  You just need to make sure that you *test* each type from frozen to make sure it bakes up properly.

Thanks so much for starting this thread!!
 
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Several years ago, my son bought two pretty, festive tins and started baking cookies/brownies/treats for his grandparents for Christmas.  They were thrilled and he didn't have to buy a useless knick-knack for them.  They return the tins each year for refilling. He gets to play and experiment; they get homemade treats from their grandson. Win, win!
 
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This past fall I wanted to repair some of the beeswax wraps that we had unintentionally melted with hot water. In typical fashion, I turned a small task into a ginormous task when I thought I might as well make more wraps while I was at it. I may have gone overboard and made way more than what we needed so I gave away most of them as gifts this year for christmas. I made round ones and square ones,  small ones and large ones, and the sandwich wraps are my favorite! I attached some pictures of the pile remaining after I gave away most of them.
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pollinator
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There is so many options ... I will list some:
20210927005.jpg
Very hot peppers infused in honey from my bees.
Very hot peppers infused in honey from my bees.
Ostatni-sos-2019.jpg
Fermented hot pepper sauces.
Fermented hot pepper sauces.
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Roasted pumpkin seeds.
Roasted pumpkin seeds.
Toum7.jpg
Toum (garlic spread).
Toum (garlic spread).
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Vegetable jars.
Vegetable jars.
 
pollinator
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This year it was the dry ingredients for dill dip for my future in-law family. When they were up here visiting last year, the one guy was walking around with the dip bowl raving about it, very cute, so it seemed like a good gift. For many others, it was a pain relieving salve made from herbs found or cultivated on the property.
 
Jay Angler
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Gifts from the Kitchen, don't have to just be a Christmas thing. The whole world might be a friendlier, happier place if we think in terms of a "Gift Economy", but step one of getting there, is to give without any expectation of getting something in return (which isn't the case at Christmas!)

The other day I made some hummus, as I had some chickpeas that needed using up. My family doesn't eat it, but I have a friend that loves it. I divided the results, freezing some so I'd have a quick lunch if I needed one, some for me to eat fresh, and a small jar to give my friends that would be plenty for a lunch at their house - they're elderly and mostly the husband likes it, so too much and it would go to waste, but a small jar got a big smile, and I know it will be a healthy treat for them.

If only some of my other friends were so easy to please!
 
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Jelly, I give jelly any kind made with any fruit I can get my hands on free. I give it as hostess gifts, birthdays, welcome, whenever a gift is needed.
Everyone loves it.
 
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I bought a bunch of day old bagels, cut them up, tossed them in a light beef stock and dehydrated them. I printed up some cute dog treat labels and gave them to friends with dogs.
My dogs are partial to "Everything" bagel chunks - no beef stock needed. Whenever the surplus bread store has bagels, I stock up. They make a chewy treat much cheaper than the regular dog treats.
 
pollinator
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Cookies: rolled, cut out, decorated, Xmas themed, hole in top for hanging on tree.  Can be made edible with gingerbread, standard sugar cookie recipe, or permanent, inedible ornaments out of baking soda 'clay'.

Shortbread, no more needs to be said.

Gingerbread cookies, all shapes, including gingerbread humans, fully decorated, with holes for hanging, as well.

Gingerbread A-Frame mini houses; about 2 dozen for the kids stuffed with dollar store trinkets like bubbles and cars.

Mini orange cranberry loaves, made with lots of peel and orange EO, topped with orange glaze, mmmmmm.....

Mini coffee cakes, oh boy, double cinnamon brown sugar stuff in the middle.

Mini lemon loaves, with tart lemon glaze, with lemon EO and LOTS of peel, inside and out.

Jams and jellies from foraged (black)berries.

BUT, THE BEST, AND EASIEST, AND MOST "IMPRESSIVE"...HOMEMADE CHOCOLATES!  Stupidly simple with "melting wafers", essential oils or flavorings, maybe some nuts and dried fruits....

TRUFFLES:  (google for recipes) make Ganache, flavor it (orange or peppermint EO, or your favorite liquer), handroll the filling, and dip in melted wafers, refrigerate.   DONE!

CHOCOLATE BAR: layer of melted chocolate, slightly cooled, topped with nuts/dried fruits then coveted in more chocolate  - instant chocolate bar.

FANCY FILLED CHOCOLATES:  for this you need molds, but they look SO professional!  

Melt wafers, fill mold 1/4 -1/3 full and tip mold sheet to coat the walls and make a 'shell'.  Allow this to cool, pipe in your 'cream' (aka, flavored icing, such as used for a cake, like a butter cream), top with more melted wafers. Cool, remove from molds by inverting, and gently tapping.  Prepare to be astonished!

Instant coffee, EO's, liquers (Irish Cream, Rum, Grand Marnier...), or grocery store flavorings ALL work for flavoring either the melted wafers OR the "icing" filling.

It's been awhile,  say 8yrs, since I was last able to do this, and was living on no money.  I would watch for my Xmas supplies to go on sale, starting in september, slowly stocking up...

For $200 I was able to supply 8 relatives, another dozen friends and neighbors with:
2 of each loaf, 4 dozen cookies, and 2 dozen chocolates.  PLUS, 6 large, assorted platters of cookies and chocolates for several businesses that were very helpful,  on a regular basis.

My cranky back put an end to my Xmas Baking Boxes, but to this day,  I get asked "Am I on the Xmas parcel list this year?"  

Bath salts, also ridiculously simple, epsom salts+essential oils. Put in a pretty, sealed jar, add instructions and a ribbon.

 
Jay Angler
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:

CHOCOLATE BAR: layer of melted chocolate, slightly cooled, tipped with nuts/dried fruits then coveted in more chocolate  - instant chocolate bar.

I generally don't like pointing out someone's typo, but I am soooo... "coveting" your chocolate bars, that I figured it was a Freudian typo that would get a smile from you if I mentioned it!

I've made similar in my past, although based on a "turtle" type recipe using a layer of melted sugar around the nuts. As much as it was a great treat, I admit I'm trying to find "treats" that have some redeeming characteristics, as too many of the receivers eat far too many empty calories already.
 
gardener
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Jay Angler wrote:My friend's Bantum Chickens had to come to live at my farm when her last landlord died. She had ended up with a surplus of Bantum eggs, so I suggested that a few people who'd helped her out with those chickens, might deserve the gift of pickled Bantum eggs. My friend boiled them and over tea the two of us shelled them. Later I made up the pickling juice and divided the haul into suitably-sized bottles and got the brine over them. Pickled Bantum eggs sliced over a pretty salad over the holidays will hopefully remind the recipients of the sunny weather to come!




You can use pickled beet brine for the pickling brine, makes the eggs a beautiful color.

There’s probably a limit how many times you can recycle pickle brine, so you can also make fresh brine, adding beet juice for some of the liquid

I love bread and butter pickles, and use that brine, also the turmeric vinegar honey and mustard seeds brine.  You would have a beautiful set of colors….. red, gold, and kinda greenish ,
But I don’t think the colors would remain bright if they resided in the same brine
 
pollinator
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At one point when funds were tight,  everybody received homemade gifts from the kitchen for Christmas.  I made banana nut bread,  hot chocolate mix in a jar, lots of fudge and cookies.   We don't exchange as many gifts now and I only give homemade goodies to those who actually seem appreciative nowadays.  This year's offerings included violet and dandelion jelly I made last spring as well as some sewn/quilted items.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Ooooh! Violet jelly?  Dandelion jelly?

You steep the flowers?  Proceed as usual for jellies?  For pectin use apple or other high pectin fruit?
 
Michelle Heath
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:Ooooh! Violet jelly?  Dandelion jelly?

You steep the flowers?  Proceed as usual for jellies?  For pectin use apple or other high pectin fruit?



Yes I steeped the flowers overnight I believe and proceeded as usual.   I did use a commercial pectin though as our apple trees were casualties of an early fall snowstorm a few years ago.  I'll did out my notes and post the recipe here if you'd like.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Location: Somewhere about 100 miles north east of Redding California
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Thanks, Michelle, I would love that!
 
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My friend is impossible to shop for, so I make his favorite plain chocolate chip cookies for a Christmas present every year.

My mom always makes Cream of Mushroom Soup in a huge batch, then freezes it in smaller containers and gives that out.  She has made other soups, but she is a true master of Cream of Mushroom.  It does NOT go under the tree, though  

I made a lovely Doug Fir Liquor last year that was a big hit, so I gave that instead of material goods to a couple people.  Also homemade ranch and garlic dipping sauces made great gifts...
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Location: Somewhere about 100 miles north east of Redding California
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I have a brownie recipe that has no flour, uses puréed black beans .  Can be made without eggs, so it can be vegan.  It’s a fussy recipe to make, but I give it to a friend of mine for her birthday every year.
 
Anne Miller
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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This year, I have a lot of almonds and walnuts.

Other than the candied recipe in the first post, what could I make so that they will be gifts from my kitchen?
 
Jay Angler
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Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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Anne Miller wrote:This year, I have a lot of almonds and walnuts.

Other than the candied recipe in the first post, what could I make so that they will be gifts from my kitchen?

There are lots of cookie and tart recipes that call for almonds or walnuts, and I even have a couple that aren't very sweet.  However, you could also roast them in savory spices like Bits and Bites without the commercial junk in it.
 
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Location: Caucasus mountains
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This is such a fun topic! Thanks everyone for the input . It makes me eager to see what I can do this year, especially now we are settling into a new country and trying to get to know our neighbours..!

Last year I made these cute little packages that went in the mail. Not edible, but kitchen made . A little more than 'just' a Christmas card, and they were very well received.

They have a tiny beeswax candle, a 'wax label', which is scented with essential oils (you could also experiment with whole spices) and a little tin of hand cream. Everything decorated with stuff we found in the woods (except the grapefruit slices, sadly. ) and packed with some 'woodwool'.

I made them with my kids, who loved it. We made them as a relation gift for an company and even made a little money on the side, even though it was ofcourse way to much work. I'll probably never do 140 again, but it was a lot of fun!
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Esther ter Reehorst wrote:This is such a fun topic! Thanks everyone for the input . It makes me eager to see what I can do this year, especially now we are settling into a new country and trying to get to know our neighbours..!

Last year I made these cute little packages that went in the mail. Not edible, but kitchen made . A little more than 'just' a Christmas card, and they were very well received.

They have a tiny beeswax candle, a 'wax label', which is scented with essential oils (you could also experiment with whole spices) and a little tin of hand cream. Everything decorated with stuff we found in the woods (except the grapefruit slices, sadly. ) and packed with some 'woodwool'.

I made them with my kids, who loved it. We made them as a relation gift for an company and even made a little money on the side, even though it was ofcourse way to much work. I'll probably never do 140 again, but it was a lot of fun!



Lovely! How do you make the wax stamps?
 
Ela La Salle
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Esther ter Reehorst wrote:



Holy macro! Those are lovely! You gotta have A  LOT patience ! LOL
P.S.
Bees wax is very expensive here. Just like nuts and many other goodies.
 
Esther ter Reehorst
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Location: Caucasus mountains
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Heidi Schweitzer wrote:
Lovely! How do you make the wax stamps?



You melt wax (soy, bees or rapeseed), add some oils for a nice smell, pour it in some sort of mall (I actually used silicone cupcake malls).

When the wax is still molten but starts to solidify, you add the decoration. I used pieces of dried citrus, dried flowers and those little cones you get from a tree that I don't know the English name of .

Then you hope it turns out nice. I actually used a blow dryer (that I had to borrow 😂) to sometimes melt the top a little extra so I could make some adjustments.

I used orange, clove, cinnamon and pine oil to give them that nice and wintery smell.

That's all!

If you try it, be sure to let me know how it turns out!
 
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