Updated: Dec 6, 2020


Do you have some special people in your life who deserve a little something this holiday season? Whether you are making gifts for teachers, coworkers, neighbors, or family, I've got an idea for you. Here are 3 different homemade ideas ranging from effortless to impressive for you to make this Christmas!


Holiday Scented Pot-Pourri


Ingredients

1 orange

1 cup cranberries

2 cinnamon sticks

1 tablespoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

16 inch Wilton disposable piping bags

bows of your choice


The ingredients above will make 1 batch of pot-pourri. As an Amazon affiliate, I may make a commission on items purchased using my links at no additional cost to you.


This is the easiest gift ever! You might as well make some for yourself! Simply layer the ingredients into the piping bag saving the orange for last. I chose to put in the nutmeg, cloves, then cranberries, and then I slid the cinnamon sticks down the side to be sure they were visible from the front. You'll want to twist the top tight and secure with string or a twist-tie. These bows came with a wire twist tie attached so they were perfect for this project.


If you or your giftees have never heard of pot-pourri, you simply slice the orange, add 1-2 cups of water and simmer over low heat and enjoy the beautiful aroma of Christmas in your home for hours on end! Add water as needed!


Homemade Apple Butter


This is another super easy gift idea that only requires a few ingredients, a slow cooker, and some patience. Add some cute recycled jars and bows to it and you've got a show-stopping homemade gift!


I used this recipe from The Magical Slow Cooker with the following changes:

  1. I used Fuji apples.

  2. I did not peel the apples, I simply cored and sliced them.

  3. I didn't have one full cup of brown sugar so I used 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup regular sugar.

I usually read anywhere from 3-10 different recipes before I start something and these were all things that I saw in other recipes so I knew they would be okay. I ended up going with the recipe linked above because it called for 5 lbs of apples and that's exactly how much apples I had to use!


Hand-Dipped Caramel Apples



Let me first warn you that this DIY is not quite as simple as the other two. If you've never made caramel apples before, you should know there are a lot of things going on at once and the likelihood of one of them going wrong is high. As you can see in my before shot above, I had a lovely bowl of milk chocolate. However in the final pics of the finished caramel apples, there is no milk chocolate in sight, only caramel and white chocolate.


I am not a baker. I have had many baking accidents in my life time. Sometimes I make the most amazing desserts and sometimes I go into something super confidently and end up with a disaster on my hands.


I truly thought this was going to be a disaster because I ruined 2 WHOLE BAGS of milk chocolate during the melting process. I have definitely melted chocolate before with no problems, but not on this day. As it turns out, the apples were still beautiful with only caramel, white chocolate, and pecans and, if I do say so myself, THEY WERE DELICIOUS!


I will try melting chocolate again soon for another project (I've looked up some tips) and I'll let you know how it goes!


Ingredients


Granny Smith apples (I made 9 small ones - thats how many were in my 5 lb bag)

Kraft caramel bits (2 bags)

Nestle premier white morsels (12 oz bag)

Pecan halves or pieces

6-inch lollipop sticks

clear treat bags (Wilton carries different sizes, make sure they are big enough for you apples)


Directions

  1. Wash your apples, thoroughly dry them, and remove the stems. Insert your sticks using a hammer. The hammer helps to make sure your stick will be straight up and down. If the stem of your apple points off to the side, insert your stick at the highest point instead.

  2. Melt your caramel and white chocolate according to the directions on the package. You may also choose to add milk chocolate or dark chocolate. Keep in mind that each layer will be pretty thick so you may need larger bags to accommodate.

  3. Lay out wax paper on your countertop shiny side up.

  4. Carefully dip each apple into the caramel and spin to let the caramel drip off. Stand up right on the wax paper.

  5. Once the caramel is no longer sticky to the touch, you can repeat the same process in the white chocolate.

  6. Alternatively, you may choose to drizzle your additional layers of chocolate instead of dipping them. This works really well if you don't have enough chocolate to fully cover all the apples.

  7. Feel free to get crazy with your combinations of chocolate, nuts, and other toppings! If you're adding nuts, sprinkles, or something else, be sure to add them while your top layer of chocolate is still wet!


Don't forget to follow me on IG @carlyrhill and tag me if you enjoy any of these DIYS with your family this season!








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Updated: Dec 4, 2020


I can't exactly tell you where my inspiration to make this DIY animal cookie wrapping paper came from, but let me be totally honest about this project. Do I love how it turned out? Yes. Would I do it again? No. At least not without better materials.


I decided to make my own 'stamps' using some animal puzzle pieces that we already had. I also intended to make these stamps out of super cheap sponges. Sadly, I couldn't find any cheap sponges at Kroger and really wanted to get this paper done THAT day. I probably could have found some at a dollar store but due to COVID and having a toddler, unplanned trips to the store are kind of hard to come by these days.



In order to save money, I made my own stamps out of cardboard. It was not ideal and if I were to do this project again I would probably search for the sponges with a little more effort OR make a stencil rather than a stamp. The reason is because the cardboard kind of stuck to the paper, had to be repainted before every single stamp, and they started to curl up after a bit.


Anyways, this is still a totally doable project and may inspire you to try something new this year with things you have around the house! After wrapping my daughters 12 books of Christmas that I got FOR FREE by hosting a party with my awesome book lady, I decided I had enough leftover wrapping paper from years past and did not need to make anymore.... Maybe next year I'll get a head start and some better stamps!


My plain white wrapping paper is from Hobby Lobby originally $4.99 but it was 40% off!


After letting the paint fully dry, I was able to roll the paper back up and store it until I was ready to wrap. I wrapped each present as normal, and then added the pom poms at the end with tiny dots of Elmers glue. It may go without saying, but don't add the pom poms until after you wrap and you will probably only want to add pom poms to the 'tops' or 'fronts' of your presents. You can purchase the mini pom poms I used here. It may be $10 but I've used them for 3 different projects already and could probably use them for 100 more! As an Amazon affiliate, I may make a commission on items purchased using my links at no additional cost to you.


Sneak my DIY ornaments in the picture above! This tutorial will be posted on the 5th day of Christmas as well as a template for all of my animal cookie projects! Make sure you are subscribed so you don't miss it!


Don't forget to follow me on IG @carlyrhill and tag me if you enjoy any of these DIYS with your family this season!







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Updated: Dec 3, 2020


While my daughter's room is a bubble gum-pink winter wonderland this year, the motif in the rest of our house is much more traditional. After my husband trimmed up one of our evergreen trees earlier this season I was inspired to use some branches from our own yard to bring a little natural element to our holiday decor.


This DIY isn't necessarily hard, but it is more laborious than most of my others. You've got to work the trimmers, get up and down off the ground a lot, and, trust me, you want to wear gloves. I made two of these 7-8 foot garlands, but if you only made one, this could definitely be a one nap craft.


You should also know that this is the first time I've ever done anything like this so don't feel intimidated to try some new things this year!


Materials for the Greenery

  1. Clippings from our evergreen tree and bushes

  2. black zip ties

  3. floral wire

Directions

  1. Organize your clippings by size. I had a large, medium, and small pile.

  2. Lay out your largest clippings, overlapping quite a bit, making sure that they are as long as you need them. (You can add length later with the medium and small clippings if necessary.)

  3. Use strong black zip ties to connect each branch at two points. You may need to add more if they are not as sturdy. Life up your garland to make sure they are all secure.

  4. After connecting all your largest clippings, spread out your medium clippings along the length of the garland, filling in gaps where necessary.

  5. Use 8 inch pieces of floral wire to attach these to the large branches in at least two places.

  6. I chose to save my smallest clippings to add once my garlands were placed so I could fill in any gaps. I simply laid one garland on my mantle and for the arch way, I used a combination of picture hanging hooks and floral wire so that I could wrap it around the garland tightly.

  7. You may be able to just stick your smallest clippings but you can use additional floral wire to make sure they are sturdy.

These have been hanging in my house for over two weeks and they haven't dried out a bit. I did not soak or spray them. In addition, my husband was pretty concerned about falling needles but the only time we experienced that was when we were hanging it up. No additional sweeping has been necessary!


Cinnamon Ornaments

  1. ground cinnamon

  2. apple sauce

  3. cookie cutters

  4. fishing line

  5. tooth pick, skewer, or straw


I used this recipe form Completely Delicious for these ornaments. I loved it because it utilized only two ingredients and included oven directions rather than sitting out on the counter for 24-48 hours.


I used a gingerbread man and a Christmas tree cookie cutter to make my shapes. I used a tooth pick to poke a hole for hanging, and I baked them on a piece of parchment paper for easy clean up.


These ornaments aren't as delicate as you think but do be careful as I'm sure thickness, oven temp, and humidity can all affect that differently. I dropped one from on top of my ladder while hanging them on my garland and it didn't break.


Another thing I noticed is these ornaments did not change shape in the oven like a cookie would so you don't have to worry about your hole closing up while baking. I knew I wanted to use fishing line but if you plan to use something bigger like ribbon, make sure you poke a bigger hole accordingly!


Dried Orange Garland

  1. oranges

  2. sharp knife

  3. fishing line

This DIY hardly needs directions it's so simple but in case your curious, here we go!

  1. Slice your oranges as thinly as possible. I tried using our mandolin but the orange flesh was too delicate so I used a sharp serrated knife.

  2. Place them in a single layer on a cooling rack over a baking sheet.

  3. Turn your oven as low as it will go (170 for me) and let them dry for several hours.

  4. My technique was to check in on them every hour and take the ones out that were ready. Some took several hours as my slices were not as uniform as I would have liked but none of them burned. If you touch the flesh you can feel if it still has moisture in it.

  5. I stored my oranges in a large zip lock back on the counter until I was ready to string them together and hang them up.

  6. To make a garland, simply cut a piece of fishing line as long as you need. The fishing line easily pokes through the flesh of the orange. I stuck it in on one side and then back through the other so that they would all face forward when hung.

  7. Depending on the thickness of your fishing line, you may choose to tie knots in between as the oranges can slide around on the line. I just used the. branches of my garland to prop them up and make sure they stayed still!

Don't forget to follow me on IG @carlyrhill and tag me if you enjoy any of these DIYS with your family this season!







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