It’s homemade—the best kind of gift!

Gift tagsMany of us love to bake during the holiday season, and share our treats with friends and neighbors. Cookies, fudge, toffee, dipped pretzels, popcorn balls, flavored oils and vinegars, liqueurs—whatever you love to make is what makes those great homemade Christmas gift ideas, because they comes from the heart.

I love opening the door to our friendly neighbor, who is hand delivering her annual gift of chocolate-covered toffee. We exchange holiday greetings and catch up on the neighborhood news. She, like everyone I know who shares the gift of their cooking, simply loves to do things for others and never expects anything more than a happy greeting in return.

Many people have favorite homemade Christmas gift ideas—usually something they’re very good at and make every year. Often, the unique packaging or festive wrapping is just as creative as the gift inside. I especially love the Christmas gift tags that proudly proclaim who made them, or the labels that make it look like they came from a professional kitchen. Personalized stickers make great labels for jars and boxes, while tie-on Christmas gift tags work well for cellophane wrapped or bagged gifts.

Even if you don’t make your own gifts this holiday season, you can make your own gift tags and keep enough on hand for those last-minute hostess gifts or gift exchanges. A gift tag that says “Holiday Greetings” makes any gift, even a bottle of wine, feel more personal.

Shop our Christmas gift tags for stickers and tags that will give your homemade gifts a personal touch. And for more gift ideas, keep reading our blog.

What are you thankful for?

Thanksgiving NotelettesIf you are lucky enough to have a warm home to go to this Thanksgiving, filled with the mouthwatering smell of roasting turkey and the happy chatter of family and friends, then you have plenty of reasons to be thankful. It’s easy to get swept up in the hubbub of cooking and decorating, not to mention family tensions, and lose sight of what’s most important on this uniquely American holiday.

Every family has their own Thanksgiving traditions, such as helping out at a food shelf or participating in a fun activity like an annual touch football game, but when everyone finally settles around the table we all share one thing: our thanks. Some families appoint one person to say grace, others join hands in a prayer or a song. Still other families go around the table and ask each person to share something they’re thankful for.

Having been put on the spot a few times, some of us at Pear Tree thought it would be a nice idea to create note cards especially for this purpose. Several of our little mini note cards have been (or can be) personalized to ask the question “What are you thankful for?” with a blank area beneath the message or inside the card to write your answer. You can also use simple thank you cards for this purpose. We love Thanksgiving traditions like these, for lots of reasons.

First it’s a meaningful activity for both kids and adults. The notes can be filled out in advance and read aloud, or passed around the table. You can even make a game out of guessing who wrote each one. Best of all, they can be kept! Send each guest home with their note as a remembrance, or give them to the hostess or the eldest member of the family. Thanksgiving is a time to count our blessings, and these little notes are a tangible reminder that we have a lot to be thankful for. It may even replace your old Thanksgiving traditions.

Shop our Thanksgiving mini note cards and invitations to coordinate the look for your Thanksgiving celebration. Or for more Thanksgiving ideas, keep reading our blog.

Holiday Hostess Gift Ideas

Hostess gift ideas I don’t know about you, but I’m not one of those people who keeps a closet full of candles, chocolates and tip towels wrapped and waiting to be used as last-minute hostess gifts. No, during that last minute before a party I’m usually running to pick up a bottle of wine, a gift that displays as much thought as the dozen other bottles of wine lined up inside the hostess’s door. This holiday season, I vow to be a more thoughtful guest. Continue reading

Fun Christmas Party Ideas: Cookie Exchange

Christmas cookie exchange partyA Christmas cookie exchange is one of those fun Christmas party ideas that puts everyone in the holiday spirit. Hmmm, could it be because you leave with dozens of cookies to eat and lots of new recipes to try?

I have to admit, I had an ulterior motive to hosting my first Cookie Exchange. I like baking cookies, but don’t have the patience to bake more than one or two varieties. Hosting a cookie exchange would guarantee me lots of different kinds of cookies, and enough to last through the holidays!

The idea is pretty simple. You invite friends and ask them to bring cookies. Lots of cookies. Enough cookies to give half a dozen or a dozen to everyone attending. As the hostess, you get to set the rules (number of guests, amount of cookies to bring, how to package them, etc.) and you should communicate this information in your Christmas party invitations.

There are different ways to do it, but I invited eight guests, and asked each guest to bring eight-dozen cookies, all the same kind. It sounds like a lot, but most of my guests agreed that it was a lot easier to double or triple a single recipe than to make dozens of different kinds. Adding to the fun, I also asked each guest to create a recipe card for the cookies they made, and to bring enough copies for each guest to take home.

My guests arrived with large boxes and trays of cookies, and we set them all around my table. I provided each guest with an empty holiday cookie tin and wax paper for layering. (Lined boxes or plastic containers would also work.) We shared wine, hors d’oeuvres, and funny cookie-baking stories, but the highlight of the evening was parading around the table, filling up our cookie tins.

I expected the Christmas spirit, but was surprised by the feeling of sisterhood that developed. It felt like an old-fashioned quilting bee, where the women of the village join forces to create something we could never have done on our own. Everyone went home happy, with eight different kinds of cookies, a tin to keep them fresh, and recipes to try next year—in short, a very successful, very satisfying party.

Christmas card stuffing—it’s a family affair

hot chocolate
Sending Christmas cards can be a lot of work for one person. This year, make it a party and get the whole family involved. Stuffing envelopes and affixing stamps and address labels are jobs even kids can do. Here are some family Christmas ideas that will make it more fun:

  • Have your Christmas card list, address labels, cards, stamps and envelopes ready to go
  • Make it a festive occasion with some holiday tunes or holiday movies playing
  • Break out old holiday photo albums to share with the kids
  • Serve hot chocolate for the kids, wine for the grownups
  • Use snacks as a reward for finishing a task (sticky fingers and Christmas cards don’t mix)
  • Be sure to have the correct postage on hand. Most of our cards require one stamp, but we do sell a few that require more postage. If you are using a Christmas letter insert, recipe card insert or extra photos, it’s a good idea to weigh your card at the post office before buying stamps, just to be sure (self-adhesive stamps are easiest)
  • Self-adhesive Christmas address labels make addressing your cards go twice as fast—and they add a festive touch to your card before it’s even opened. Many cards have coordinating address labels designed to match!

Once you’ve got your Christmas cards and address labels ready to go, read more ideas on addressing Christmas cards on our blog. We’d love to hear more family Christmas ideas from you!

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