Every holiday season, sites like ManMade spend all kinds of effort doing our best to help you find meaningful, quality gifts that you'll be proud to give someone. Or, at least, that you can add to your wishlist and let those in your life know you'd love to unwrap yourself.
But once the gift guides are published, we never seem to revisit those things until the following year. So, today, during this week after Christmas, I thought I'd ask — Did you get anything cool for Christmas? Or give something that particularly excites you that we should all know about?
No offense, but I don't love your grandmother's cookie recipe. I know you do, and that's amazing. And I know it's more about making them that eating them, and that's nice, too. But, if I'm going to go crazy with some unhealthy eats this holiday, I want that extra sugar to be inside something that I care about. Specifically, these cinnamon rolls, baked in cast iron skillet.
Because the season of indulgence is here, and you might as well make sure those calories taste amazing.
I think I was eight. Maybe seven. It was my birthday, and a family friend who'd taken a mentor role with me stopped by to give me a small gift. I don't remember what was in inside, but I can so perfectly and vividly recall that it was wrapped in the full, CMYK color of Sunday comics section, and it blew my freaking mind.
Giving gifts? It's the best, right? Not cheap plastic things, and certainly not gift cards. But thoughtful custom - and most of the time handmade gifts - that I know someone will enjoy for years to come. Take a look at our list of 50 gifts for men here, and gifts for women here.
Of course, the gift has to be wrapped in something special as well. So, why would I want to use lame paper gift tags from the discount store after all that work? Here is a simple project to make some name tags that are as thoughtful as the gift.
As far as holiday gifts go, it's hard to beat something to sip. And this year, you can do a little better than swinging by the grocery store and grabbing a bottle of wine.
This wood-infused project only take a tiny bit more work than buying something from the liquor store, but boosts all kinds of flavor benefits and handmade points, turning the spirits into a proper gift.
Make some in bulk for everyone you know, and your holiday shopping is done.
I have gone on record, in this publication and elsewhere, about why the hot toddy is the perfect cocktail to be sipping in December. It's warm. It's spiced. And at least according to folk wisdom, and able to heal a nasty wintertime sore throat, it's good for your health, and can help to heal a nasty wintertime sore throat. But, to be honest, until last Tuesday evening, I didn't actually like a hot toddy.
They were fine, but not delicious, and not really an improvement over a simple glass of neat whiskey.
In truth, hot toddys (toddies?) always disappointed: never quite hot enough to truly enjoy, and somewhat ... harsh. There was something I never liked about adding acidic lemon juice to a healthy glug of bourbon, then heating the whole thing up. It seemed to bring out all the rough, grain-y flavors, and hid the tasty warm and spicy barrel-aged notes that make whiskey, well, whiskey.
It happens every year. I'll spend a couple days reading old November issues of my favorite cooking magazines and pouring over the food blogs to come up with our Thanksgiving menu. I'll make a plan, shop way ahead of time, and spread my prep work out over the three days prior. Come Thursday, there will be an established timeline, and it will be executed to a T. And when the sides are ready, the turkey will be out of the oven and well rested to keep the juices in. I'll go to carve it, and inevitably, I'll say to myself:
Crap. I forgot that I do not have a work surface on which to properly take this thing apart.
I have cutting boards. Nice, thick, end-grain hard maple butcher blocks that I made myself. But they were designed for chopping vegetables, which are relatively dry, and not carving a turkey, which (if you cook it right) is very, very moist. Those juices will flow, and saturate any number of kitchen towels, and make a huge mess, covering my hands in poultry drippings to the point that I can no longer safely grip the knife and everything goes slippery, sliding (but flavorful) chaos.
It happens every year. I say to myself, "I really ought to make a proper carving board." And this year, I decided it was finally time.
So, here's how to make a diy cutting board yourself. Once you have the materials, it's only 90 minutes of work, and will last for many, many holiday seasons to come.
Its the season of nippy evenings and crisp mornings and the smell of leaves gathering over mossy ground. For most of the nation at this point in the calendar, the temperature has finally started tipping toward a chill. It is also the season when the entire world of marketed goods becomes pumpkin spiced, cinnamon sprinkled and otherwise given a taste that makes it seem like you're sucking on a mouth full of allspice berries. And you know what? I love it. I really do. We don't have a lot of big, broad ways in which we all, as a people experience the passage of time. So we might as well let our common appetite for sugar and spice become something that binds us together.
One way to let this explosion of cliché fall flavors come into your world, responsibly, is in your coffee cup. Because why not? Coffee is a daily part of many of our lives. And unless you are the Scroogiest grouch when it comes to the amusements of the months of October through December, why not let the occasional cup get gussied up with the joy of the season and its holidays? So, if you are the kind of person who likes to drink a little whimsy now and then, here's how to bring all of the warmth and cheer of the fall into your morning cup.
Freaking out because you haven't finished everything you need to do on your list? No worries! We have some last minute tips for you.
This holiday season, I wanted to come up with rustic, outdoor-themed ornaments. I love combining real, organic materials with modern tools and technology, and this project marries those perfectly: a natural wood slice ornament is printed with a photograph that's been digitally edited and enhanced for just the right look. To pull it off, I teamed up with Adobe to use their new Photoshop Elements 12 application to process the image and get it ready to live in the physical world. It's super easy to use, but still full of all kinds of features that are perfect for doing art and craft projects.
It's not that hot chocolate is hard to make...especially if you go for the little packets of powder. But there's definitely something seriously straightforward about making a fresh cup with only two high-quality ingredients that makes it much more likely to enjoy a cup every night between now and the new year.
Okay... Christmas music. It has the simultaneous ability to both 1) make you feel all present and warm inside and 2) repel you as far away from any valuing of tradition and seasonal good will as possible. The good songs are good because they're classics, or because some clever band you'd already like in non-December contexts decided to take their turn at a holiday record.
But the bad songs are bad in so. many. ways. At one extreme, they're aggressive mall music that only ever appealed the most simplest of you-can-buy-happiness consumerists. At the other, they're treacly, brusk and brash melodies whose only chance of working at all is being sung by large groups of squirmy children, and you've contributed DNA to at least one of them.
But, just for the fun of it, let's see if we reclaim some of those unbearable, seasonal drudges. Are there tolerable, even enjoyable, recordings of even the most noxious of holiday tunes? Challenge accepted.
When you're on the road, the trail, or up in the air, it's not always easy to procure a high-quality cocktail. At least not without paying the room service kid $17 plus tip for some watered-down mess.
It is, however, fairly easy to locate, or pack, some reasonably drinkable spirits and a glass. And once you have that, you can make simply make yourself a proper drink with this DIY travel, carry-on friendly cocktail kit.
This holiday season, I wanted to give my friends and family a customized gift with some personality. So, using nothing but our own photos and a few crafty tools, I came up with this coaster project which is super fun, super inexpensive, plenty easy, and you can dial it in perfectly for each person on your list - just raid their Instagram or social media accounts!
Let's get to it!
At this point in the season, the big gifts have already been decided. And if you're on your game, they're boxed, wrapped, and under the tree. But this week is all about the little bits: the practical things, the accessories, and the stocking stuffers. If you or someone on your list is a maker, DIYer, woodworker, tinkerer, or just a general creative type who likes to build and fix things, here's our list of quality stocking stuffers that are just as good as whatever's in that huge box with the bow on it.
Many are schmaltzy, a few actually festive, and plenty completely unwatchable, but like it or not, the annual viewing of many a holiday film classic just comes along with the season. And if someone in your house is going to watch one anyway, you might as well make it something worth revisiting year after year.
This is the week. This is when we get to take a break, surround ourselves with friends and family, and eat plenty of great food. There really isn't much about this season I don't look forward to, and that's partly because I've learned to take a few steps to make sure it's a time we'll file away as a great memory for years to come.
There are lots of ways to give gifts for the holidays. You can give in a way that simply checks a person off the list; acknowledges that it's expected and therefore here's your Amazon giftcard... (Not recommended.) You can can give gifts that are elaborate, expensive, and make everything that also helped create that pile or wrapping paper look negligible. (Also not recommended.) Or you can source something that person didn't know existed, and legitimately surprise them. (Solid.) You could give them something you know they want, but wouldn't spend the money on for themselves. (Nice one.) Or, for many a practical-minded recipient, you can
Not every guy is in a relationship with a woman, but between sweethearts, siblings, parents, and friends and family, almost all of us will be buying something for the women in our lives this holiday. They're special, in a million different ways; here's a solid set of gift ideas that will let them know you care.
Perhaps you've drawn a name for the office Secret Santa and it's time to pony up for a solid gift that won't break the bank. Maybe it's for your brother-in-law, a buddy who helped you move. Perhaps, even though you're thirty-two, your mom keeps on insisting you give her a complete wishlist from which she'll select her favorites. Whatever the reason, it's gift giving season. Here are 50 options to find something they (or you) will love.