As the holiday season nears, consumers are starting to make lists of gifts that Santa Claus, or his surrogate, needs to buy.

But in this economy, many shoppers are looking to spend less than in previous years. And there’s also been a backlash against the overconsumption that’s rife during the holiday season. 

Increasingly eco-savvy consumers see the holiday season — with its quickly discarded wrapping paper and bows — as the opposite of green.

Homemade gift ideas are a solution to all of these concerns. And they require the very thing gifts are meant to convey: heartfelt thought.

A viable homemade gift runs the gamut from baked goods to crafts to homemade soap. And these ideas will cut down on how much time you’ll spend braving holiday shopping crowds.

Here’s a list of homemade gift ideas to try out this holiday season:

1. Baked goods

Few people will turn down homemade cookies, cakes or pies — especially during the holiday season when baked goods are as much a part of family tradition as wreaths and Christmas trees.

Chocolate cookies are always a good standby year-round, but in November and December other baked goods are also appropriate. Pecan pie is a Thanksgiving tradition, and gingerbread cookies and houses have come to symbolize Christmas.

What’s more, baking a homemade gift idea can be fun for the whole family.

2. Canned fruits or vegetables

In many parts of the country, fresh produce is still available at farmers markets and grocery stores. Canning fruits and vegetables is a cheap way to keep produce in one’s winter diet, and it also makes for colorful stocking stuffers for friends and family.

Because canning often rescues produce that might otherwise be discarded, it’s also a very green activity that could easily become a new holiday tradition. For step-by-step instructions on canning and equipment tips, read this primer on Epicurious.com.

For additional information, read this article on howtodothings.com.

3. Homemade knit scarf and gloves

Scarves and gloves have long been traditional gifts for Christmas. So why not honor tradition and go green at the same time by giving someone you love a hand-made knit scarf?

You’ll need yarn, knitting needles and a pattern. In addition to scarves, homemade gloves and shawls also make great green gifts.

For tips, feedback and links to specific patterns, check out this article on momadvice.com.

4. Homemade soap

Homemade soap makes for a fresh-smelling gift item, and it fits in a stocking.

Making your own soap will allow you to personalize the gift as much or as little you’d like. Fragrances and essential oils can transform your soap into something special that can’t be bought at the grocery store.

To learn the basics, check out this article on soapmaking at about.com.

5. Ladies clutch bag

Homemade and high fashion don’t have to be polar opposites. A hand-made ladies clutch bag is one of many homemade gift ideas that style queen Martha Stewart highlights.

To make the clutch, you’ll need a sewing machine, but most of the materials are available at your local craft store.

For instructions and video, check out this article on MarthaStewart.com.

6. Gift baskets

Gift baskets make superior homemade gift ideas because they’re limited only by the giver’s imagination.

You can fill a basket with food and wine, or artisanal soaps and beauty products, or a variety of other items. You can recycle a gift basket you have received or buy one fairly cheaply at a craft shop.

Be sure to add some holiday decorative flare with, for example, a ribbon, which you can recycle from last year.

7. Holiday wreath

Most families won’t skip the wreath when Christmas rolls around each year. Because they’re specialty items available for a limited time, wreaths can be quite pricey.

You’ll only need a few things to make your own homemade holiday wreath. In addition to holly and other greens, you’ll need clippers and a wreath frame, which you can buy at a craft store.

For detailed instructions, check out this article on Heavy Petal.

Got other thoughts on homemade gift ideas? Leave us a note in the comments below.

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