During the long, hot days of summer, the last thing we think about is Christmas shopping. After all, that's a task we usually relegate to the month of December, right? But the truth is, the job of shopping for Christmas gifts is something many people loathe. Parking lots are crowded, malls are jam packed, and finding just the right gift for that special someone can take hours, or even days. What if there was a way to get some of your Christmas gifts ready during the summertime and put them away in storage so they'll be ready to go when the holiday season rolls around? Before you grab your keys and jump in the car to go shopping now, stop and take a look around your own home and garden. There may be some gift possibilities lurking right under your own nose that are homemade, thoughtful, and very inexpensive.
Many of us raise vegetable gardens in the summer, and we wind up with more fresh produce than we can possibly use. Instead of letting it rot on the vine or giving it all away to neighbors, consider canning. Many vegetables like fresh green beans and tomatoes can be canned and then given away as gifts at the holidays. Fresh bell peppers can be made into relishes, and cucumbers can be pickled and canned. Cans of fresh produce also make wonderful hostess's gifts when you are invited to holiday parties. Top off the jar with a colorful square of fabric and tie with a ribbon to make the gift really attractive and special.
If you enjoy cooking, consider using your fresh produce to make other items like homemade spaghetti sauce, fresh salsa, or pickle relish that can be canned. For a really nice touch, put a couple jars of spaghetti sauce into a gift basket and then include some related items such as a pound of pasta and a loaf of fresh Italian bread. Other nice touches might include an Italian cookbook, a bottle of good red wine or gourmet olive oil, and even some fresh parmesan cheese. The idea of themed gift baskets based on your homemade canned goods can be expanded into other areas, too. For example, if you've made some fresh salsa, include items in your gift basket like tortilla chips, margarita mix, and a bottle of good quality tequila.
Homemade gifts from the garden don't have to be limited to only vegetables. If you grow fruits such as blueberries, cherries, or raspberries, consider making homemade jams or pie fillings that can be canned for holiday gifts. Nice additions to round out a gift basket with these items could include a new pie dish, or some homemade bread for toasting. Fresh fruits can also be made into syrups that can be given as gifts along with some homemade pancake mix. Furthermore, if you grow fresh herbs such as parsley or basil, consider making fresh pesto at the end of the summer and canning it into small jars to give as gifts.
Homemade Christmas gifts that have come from your garden make nice gift items for almost anyone. After all, everyone enjoys good food, especially when it's homegrown. Even better, a gift like this is very thoughtful, and shows the recipient that you put some time and thought into what to give them. So if you've got a garden that's overflowing with fresh produce, take an afternoon and do some canning. You'll save yourself both time and money when December rolls around!