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When you’re giving a present, nothing brings you quite as much happiness as these three words: You made this?!
If you can’t be there every minute of every day to offer a hug, this warm shawl is the next best thing. The simple pattern calls for a basic stockinette stitch; it’s just the kind of project you can work on while you relax and watch a movie at home.
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Transform scraps of wool into tactile little pouches with refreshing aromas like balsam or lavender (which naturally repels moths). Make dozens of them assembly-line-style in a day and they’ll perfume your loved ones’ linens or woolens for years to come.
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What makes a house a home? An abundance of love, yes, but the scent of home-baked goodies in the oven should also factor in. Any of these baking extracts -- citrus, vanilla, almond -- will infuse your friends’ homes and homemade desserts with your handiwork. These fresh, pure flavor boosters are made by pouring vodka over citrus peel, scraped vanilla beans, or chopped toasted almonds. Let them sit at least three weeks before giving or using.
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Some things only get better with age, like a vintage sports car or briefcase. The same goes for these key sleeves, which will weather and soften to perfection the longer they’re used. Make them in multiples for all your family members and you can be certain they’ll think about you at least twice a day (when locking and unlocking the front door).
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Gingerbread captures the essence of the holidays -- warmth, homeyness, time-honored traditions -- in a single pan. These mini loaves baked in biodegradable wooden trays are the most economical way to offer all of that to your friends. One batch of batter turns out four loaves of perfectly moist and spicy bread. (It easily doubles for eight.)
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A pair of hand-knit mittens should be the universal symbol for wintertime happiness and comfort. (It’s also an instant heirloom: How many an orphaned mitten is cherished long after losing its mate because someone’s nana knit it?) The nubby ones here are made with an ingenious one-piece pattern that calls for the speedy garter stitch, so you could knit a pair for every family member.
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It’s jam made with bacon. Do you really need any more convincing? Suffice it to say it’s a heavenly sweet-savory mixture that also involves brown sugar, bourbon, maple syrup, shallots, and vinegar -- and manages to transform a pound and a half of bacon into about 10 presents that can be spread on a burger, stirred into a dip -- or eaten straight off a spoon.
Make friends feel pampered as well as extra-special with this duo. Big batches of homemade soap are affordable yet indulgent, and a hand-crocheted washcloth (made with fique -- or pineapple -- yarn) takes the gift above and beyond.