Happy Holidays! The festive season is upon us and so it’s time to share my annual gift guide. This year instead of sharing products I’ve decided to focus on a homemade gift guide for the holidays.
The past two years have taught us so many lessons and as I type, full of gratitude for being able to finally move to Canada after waiting 19 months from our original moving date, I remember all the extra skills and hobbies we picked up during all those months indoors, saving lives.
So I’ve put together a festive list for all the previous tutorials and recipes I’ve published on Postcards from Hawaii to inspire you to gift consciously. These eco-friendly ideas are low in waste but big in love.
Together we can bake sugar cookies for the children, crochet beanie hats for partners, sew hair scrunchies for friends, bake mince pies for the neighbours, make mulled wine for parents and jam for grandparents – just to name a few! Take a look below for more homemade Christmas ideas!
Check out the links below to my previous gift guides:
The ultimate Christmas gift guide for travellers 2018
The ultimate Christmas gift guide for travellers 2019
Low-waste Christmas gift guide for travellers 2020
Sustainable stocking fillers for travellers with Coconut & Cotton
Crochet is no longer a thing of the past. In fact, crochet garments were spotted all over social media and high street stores in the summer of 2021. Keep the trend alive during the chilly months by making a crochet beanie hat for your loved ones to keep them warm whilst looking cute.
My crochet beanie hat tutorial is aimed to help beginners to crochet something from start to finish. This really simple and free beanie hat pattern is also written out as a step-by-step guide to help you follow along and better yet I’ve also created a YouTube tutorial which you can find below or within the blog post.
If you live in the southern hemisphere where Christmas is in the summertime then swap out that wooly crochet beanie hat for a homemade flower crown inspired by a Hawaiian Lei Po’o. Use my blog post How to make a lei po’o (flower crown) or YouTube tutorial below.
Festive food & drink
If you want to show your love this festive season in the kitchen then try out these recipes for mulled wine, mince pies, sugar cookies, jam, Mauritian Napolitaine cookies, and achard légumes. Everyone loves a treat this christmas so why not make them extra special by making them yourself?
Mulled wine is spiced red wine that’s served up warm. Traditionally it’s served in Europe but it has become widely enjoyed throughout the world at Christmas markets, gatherings, bars and restaurants.
My mulled wine recipe will not only add a fancy touch to your holiday gatherings this festive season but it will also make your home smell incredible! It’s like one of those holiday simmer pots that everyone is going gaga over on social media but you can actually drink it and be very merry whilst doing so!
If you’re planning to give homemade mulled wine as a gift then simply make it using my recipe and set it to the side to cool. In the meantime, clean and remove the label to the wine bottle you just used, you can find out how in my blog post here. Make your own sticky label and once the mulled wine is cool, pour it in carefully (a jug or funnel will help) and pop the lid on. Add a ribbon or some twine for extra festive pizzazz. All your gift receiver has to do is warm it gently on the stove top.
Another idea for gifting mulled wine that is particularly handy if you don’t have a whole lot of time on your hands, is to fill a little muslin bag with the spices and tie it to a bottle of red wine then direct them to my mulled wine recipe so they can add the fruit and sugar and make it themselves.
In the Wisdom-Lester household the only thing that says Christmas more than mince pies is the Coca Cola Holidays are Coming advert. The smell and taste of mince pies is like a nostalgia no words could ever describe and as we spend our first Christmas in another country to our families I have no doubt that tears will be shed as I bake them in our new home in Canada.
This recipe comes partly from my own experiments finding a good veggie mincemeat recipe and from Michael’s Nanny who gave me the recipe for her pastry. Nanny’s mince pies are like angels on high made them themselves. They’re so good that they were my last request from her before moving to Canada and not only did some of the 10 she gave me to take home (after I stuffed down two) get enjoyed on the plane they were also eaten in Canada when we arrived. Yeah, that good.
So aren’t you lucky I’m sharing the recipe with you! Yes, yes you are.
Get a cute cookie tin to pop them in to give to friends, family or your mail person, concierge, accountant… whoever!
I make my sugar cookies every year for Valentine’s Day and Christmas, I also made them for Wimbledon this year. They’re easy, quick to bake, tasty and you can make them into all sorts of fun shapes. If you don’t already have some festive shaped cookie cutters you can use stars or circles and decorate them as the the Star of David, the Star of Bethlehem or baubles. Last year when my Christmas cookie cutters were in storage Michael turned the flowers into Santa with a beard and he pulled out the top of the hearts to be Rudolph’s antlers (he was very proud, I was proud of him too actually).
The recipe is made as vegan but I previously I made them with dairy and eggs so if you’re not into trying plant-based recipes yet fear not, they will taste amazing either way. I do encourage you to try a few vegan recipes though to give our beautiful planet a helping hand to recovery.
A cute cookie tin or a simple sheet of baking/parchment paper tied neatly into a parcel with twine will make your cookies look extra festive and special when you gift them for the holidays.
My Mum’s jam recipe is so stinking simple you’ll never buy jam again! You only need 3 ingredients to make a jar of jam and it tastes way better than any store bought jar of jam.
Not sure how to up-cycle jars to use for jam making and food storage? Not to worry, my PFH June Favourites blog post shows you exactly how. Make your up-cycled jam jar cute with some ribbon, twine or cut a circle from a festive fabric with shearing scissors to put over the lid.
You could even give a couple of tea lights with the jam so they can use the up-cycled jars to put candles in when they’ve finished their jam!
This same jam recipe can be used to make a cranberry jelly to go with yours or a loved one’s Christmas dinner!
Mauritian Napolitaine cookies recipe
Mauritian napolitaines are sandwich cookies made from a savoury shortbread with jam in the middle (see my Mum’s jam recipe above) and coated with pink icing. They’re sweet parcels of heaven!
Make my family’s napolitaine cookies festive by switching the pink food colouring to red or green or you could skip the food colouring and add gold edible sugar for shimmering napolitaines!
Purchase a cookie jar or tin to put them in that your loved ones can reuse for years to come as part of their gift.
Achard légumes is similar to a vegetable pickle. It doesn’t go through a pickling process but it is preserved by lightly cooking the shredded veggies with lots of fragrant spices.
My family’s achard légumes recipe goes perfectly with your festive cheese board and is particularly tasty with leftover turkey. It’s veggie and vegan too so if you’re not eating meat or cheese you can enjoy it with a meat alternative or as part of a salad bowl.
Cook up some achard légumes, set aside to cool and fill up some jars to give as gifts for the holidays. Not sure how to up-cycle jars to use for your homemade achard légumes? Take a look at my PFH June Favourites blog post where I share a step-by-step guide for cleaning them and getting rid of that sticky residue from labels.
Achard légumes is also a great recipe for giving life to the carrots, cabbage and flat beans in the bottom of the veggie draw of your refrigerator that didn’t make it into your Christmas Day meal.
Sew this is Christmas
…and what have you done? Planned to make something from my handmade gift guide I hope!
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro with a sewing machine, I’ve made these tutorials fun for all skills. I have been told by novice sewers that they are easy to follow and I have a fashion degree and love making the items below.
These hair scrunchies, handkerchief and drawstring laundry bag tutorials make the perfect stocking stuffers, gifts and you can use the handkerchief and drawstring bags as reusable gift wrap!
My handkerchief tutorial is the easiest sewing tutorial on here. It simply takes a square of fabric and finishes the edges to make it a reusable tissue to replace single-use tissues, a neckerchief, a pocket square, a napkin, a headscarf or you can make an extra big one and use it to wrap gifts.
LUSH has a very handy video below that shows you how to wrap your presents using a headscarf/large handkerchief.
You can make 3-5 hankies, fold them nicely then put them in a handmade drawstring bag and gift them for the ultimate handmade, low-waste and reusable gift! Even the “gift wrap” is reusable!
If you know how, embroidering the corner of your homemade hankies adds an extra special touch!
My drawstring laundry bag tutorial is a gift that keeps on giving. Either make a set of them in different sizes for laundry, shoes, accessories etc. or make them and use them as the gift bag and stuff them with other homemade gifts like jam, a wooly hat you crocheted or hair scrunchies you sewed with my step-by-step guides.
Save yourself time by making these drawstring bags with felt as it doesn’t fray and you won’t have to worry about finishing the edges.
My hair scrunchies tutorial will have you addicted to making every fabric you can find into hair accessories! Every time I sit down to make them I end up with a pile within a couple of hours!
Handmade hair scrunches are the perfect stocking filler or you could fill a handmade drawstring bag with a couple of scrunchies and headscarves and give them as a main present.
It’s a slightly trickier DIY sewing project than the drawstring bag but it only takes sewing two hair scrunchies to get the hang of it and then you’re set.
Be creative with your scrunchies and play with fabric textures! The best handmade hair scrunchies are made from up-cycled fabrics. Turn your old clothes into the cutest hair accessories this festive season!
This one is if you don’t feel confident with a sewing machine but want to give a handmade Christmas gift that isn’t edible. Or maybe you can do it all and are looking for easy and fun stocking fillers that will also make said stocking smell amazing!
My homemade soap tutorial is so easy! There’s no messing with toxic ingredients here, just skin friendly ones that will have you whipping up bars of soap you and your loved ones will be so impressed with they will think they’re shop bought!
This simple melt & pour soap making tutorial will help you to personalise bars of soap with colours, scents and shapes of your choice, you can even add loofah slices or mix in poppy seeds to add extra exfoliation.
Get some fun shaped silicone moulds like the ones I’ve linked below.
Mele Kalikimaka, Gabriella