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Special section Thrifty gifting

We've searched to the North Pole and beyond for easy, yet impressive, things you can make at home.

Best homemade gifts

7 splendid homemade holiday gifts

3. A personalized cookbook
Create a cookbook of much-loved recipes in the family, in your neighborhood or in your circle of friends. It could be a project you do with others as well. Magsamen suggests writing down a list of favorite dishes and then asking the folks who typically make them for the recipe. You may even want to include stories about how the recipes came to be. Print out the recipes on the computer and place in binders or a decorative scrapbook or journal. Another idea for holding the recipes is a book created with paper bags, which comes from "Christmas Together," by Dahlstrom.

3 paper lunch bags.
Scoring tool.
Hole punch.

Directions: Lay the first bag flat with the bottom flap on the bag facing up and to the left. Lay the next bag on top of the bottom bag, with the bottom flap facing down and on the right. Lay the third bag on top of the other two bags, with the bottom flap facing up and to the left. Fold all bags together in the middle. Mark positions for holes down the folded side of the book. Use a hand hole punch to create holes in one bag at a time. Add a strip of cardstock or patterned paper to the front to decorate where the holes have been punched. Once the holes are punched, tie the book together with ribbons.

4. A sensational recipe kit
Include the dry ingredients and recipes for cookies or other sweet treats in glass containers, such as Ball jars. The Ball jars cost around $4 for a four-pack of 8 oz. jars and around $4.50 for a four-pack of 16 oz. jars at most large retailers. Add an oven mitt or apron, and place the items in a basket with a tablecloth, says design expert Kathy Peterson.

5. The '100 Things I Love About You' box
Buy a decorative box, and if you want, decorate the outside. Then write on 100 slips of paper what you love about that person. Wrap it with a big bow, and voila, you've created a meaningful present. "It has such an amazing impact because again you're telling somebody that you love them and what you really love about them," Magsamen says.

6. A passel of pecans
A pound of pecans toasted with this recipe could be divided into four gifts, put in cellophane sacks and decorated with colorful ribbons. "A homemade food gift is still really treasured," Byrn says.

Seasoned roasted pecans (from the "What Can I Bring? Cookbook")
Vegetable oil spray, for misting the baking sheet.
cup sugar.
2 cups warm water.
2 cups pecan halves.
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or more to taste.
-- Posted: Nov. 21, 2007
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