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Handmade Gifts for a Homemade Holiday at the Cabin

Published: October 1, 2006
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Photo by Cabin Life Staff
Fear and trepidation have no place among joy, peace and celebration. So why is it that some of us harbor a secret dread as we march toward the holidays? Because we know it is inevitable that one of these years someone in our extended family will exclaim: “This year, let’s make gifts for each other!”
   
It is a natural and sensible proposal, especially if the holidays will be celebrated at the cabin – that special place we hold dear that’s all about things natural and down-to-earth.
   
But there are some among us who don’t know their way around a glue gun, don’t write poetry, don’t bake, don’t sew, don’t paint, don’t compose music, don’t sculpt, don’t scrapbook ... and we are terrified.
   
Fear no more! Here are 12 simple ideas for making a handmade gift for that special person on your list.

1. Framed Vintage Magazines. Think about the interests of the person on your gift list, and there’s probably a vintage magazine out there that fits them like their favorite, well-worn cabin jacket. How To: If you don’t have vintage magazines on hand, pick one up from a used book store, antique store or eBay. Purchase a fairly deep frame and matting, and cut the matting to size.

2. Votive Candle Log. For a natural and outdoorsy centerpiece, make a candle-lit log. How To: Instead of splitting and burning that birch log in your fireplace, create a decoration for any table by drilling out one end with a flange bit large enough to hold a votive candle. Line the hole with a metal or plastic jacket. Decorate around the log with pine boughs for the holiday season.

3. Framed Antique Lure. This is an easy-to-make gift that is sure to be treasured by the angler in the family. How To: If you don’t have an antique lure with a special family history, look for one in antique stores or on eBay. Shadow box frames are easily found at any gift, department or craft store. For the background, use a a piece of birch bark or fish net, a vintage newspaper page, textured fabric or
anything else that strikes your fancy.

4. Fire Starters. Think of all the possibilities: fire in the fireplace (snuggling), firepit (s'mores), campfire (shore lunch). How To: All you need is newspaper run through a shredder, tightly stuffed into a paper towel tube, then soaked in paraffin. (When melting wax, always melt it in a double boiler because wax is flammable.) Cut the fire starter into 3-inch lengths.

5. Pinecone Bird Feeder. Kit Making a pinecone bird feeder is a great project for grandparent and grandchild. And this kit is easy enough for a child to put together. How To: Box up all the makings. You will need a large pinecone, peanut butter, birdseed and a ribbon or string. Include directions for making the bird feeder: Smear peanut butter on pinecone, roll in birdseed and hang in the nearest tree. 

6. Grilling Rubs. Don’t forget those grill masters on your list! Straight from your spice cupboard into their hands, they’re sure to love this flavorful gift. How To: Check out the June/July 2002 issue of Cabin Life magazine for the Grill Master’s spicy rub recipes. Or look for recipes on the Internet. Place the rub in small tins, jars or plastic ziplock bags and present in a wooden crate or box. Personalize with your own labels.
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Photo by Cabin Life Staff
7. Pinecone Wreath. Bring the outdoors inside with this rustic wreath. Follow the design shown or try different size pinecones for your own unique design. How To: All it takes is a wreath form (Styrofoam or a metal frame wrapped in floral tape so the hot glue sticks), a variety of pinecones, some shellac to bring out the natural colors, of the pinecones, perhaps dried flowers or ribbon to embellish, some hot glue and voila! – a little bit of nature for your cabin wall or door.
 
8. Nature Picture Frames. Personalize store-bought frames with natural inspirations from the forest floor or the beach. How To: Use any wide, flat, smooth-finish frame. Look for treasures such as twigs, shells, tiny cones, acorns, moss. Attach with hot glue.

9. Pressed-Leaf Gift Cards. Take inspiration from the outdoors to create personal, one-of-a-kind cards. How To: Twigs, cones, leaves, branches, etc. can decorate a simple, unadorned card. Glue them on with a glue gun, then adorn with ribbon, stenciling, stamping or your own handwritten message.

10. Recipes in a Jar. The busy chef in the family will appreciate a meal-to-go direct from the pantry. How To: Recipes for jarred soups, snacks and cookies can be found across the Internet (check out sites such as www.recipegoldmine.com). Simply layer the ingredients in a clean, sterile canning jar and add a tag with preparation directions. Place a few different jar mixes in a festive basket, along with cooking spoons or cookie cutters, for an entertaining present!

11. Yearly Photo Albums. For all of those special people who joined in this year’s events at the cabin, here’s a memorable gift idea that’s sure to become a tradition. How To: At the beginning of the year, create separate files for each person you wish to present with an album. As you get your photos printed or developed, plan on multiple copies and place them in the corresponding person’s file. As time permits, write your memories on a small piece of cardstock and file. At the end of the year place all the photos and memory cards into separate albums for each person.

12. Personalized Plants. Plants and herbs direct from your cabin garden are quick and thoughtful gifts. How To: Use an antique vessel (a teapot, cup or milk glass candy dish). Add about an inch of small gravel to the bottom for drainage, fill with dirt and finish with a special herb or plant from your garden. For those in cold weather areas, use house plants from your cabin or move the herb garden inside at the end of the season for continued growth throughout the winter.

Now that you’re inspired to make one of these gifts – or your imagination has been sparked and you’ve come up with your own idea – get going and make that gift!
  
And enjoy your holidays at the cabin.
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