Home-made pasta crate. Filled with our pasta sauce, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and pasta and a bottle of wine. Hopefully, someday soon the wine can be from our farm too!
Home-made pasta crate. Filled with our pasta sauce, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and pasta and a bottle of wine. Hopefully, someday soon the wine can be from our farm too!

There is something so special about a homemade Christmas gift.  It gives those traditional gift exchanges among friends and families an extra dose of special meaning.

In fact, some of our favorite Christmas gifts of all time have come from the creativity, hands and hearts of those closest around us.  Our Christmas tree is filled with ornaments of all types made from relatives, old friends and our very own children’s past school projects.

There are quilts and blankets that have been knitted or crocheted – and of course – nothing in the world can beat the basket of fresh-baked cookies or brownies that arrives from a neighbor’s or friends house.  Whatever the gift – it always means so much when someone takes the time to give of their own talents.

So for  us – this is the time of year that we try to come up with a few special homemade gifts of our own to pass along a little of us and the farm. As each year passes and we grow a little more – we get to expand our little gift crates.  This year, we added popcorn and honey to the mix – and hopefully  in a few years – we can create a few fruit baskets when the fruit trees begin to take off.

Creating The Gift Basket Crates:

We make the crates out of strips of wood cut from scraps of wood from past DIY project l
We make the crates out of strips of wood cut from scraps of wood from past DIY projects.

A few years back, we figured that it would be neat to not only make most of the ingredients of a gift basket – but the basket itself.  So we began to make a few simple wooden crates with some of the left over barn and pallet wood that had become the heart and soul of so many of our projects at the farm.  This year, we had some beautiful blocks of cedar left over from a pergola we had built, so we used them to make our crate baskets.

For the small canned good crates, it’s a simple process. We just simply nail together a few wooden slates to hold two or three jars of salsa, hot pepper mustard, hot pepper flakes, popcorn or whatever the gift may be – and it’s ready to go!

For the larger crates – we start by cutting down the boards into 1″ wide slats about a quarter of an inch thick on the table saw. We then cut four 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 8″ blocks to make the corners of the crates.  After that – it’s as simple as popping a few nails from the nail gun into the slats and corners and putting it all together.  In a little under an hour, we can usually have four or five crates ready to fill.

We create a stencil - and then will hand paint the farm name on the crate sides. This is the mock up for this years stencil.
We create a stencil – and then will hand paint the farm name on the crate sides. This is the mock up for this years stencil.

For our extended family’s white elephant exchange this year – we created a couple of special themed baskets.  Most everything in the basket came from the farm and our kitchen, including our home-grown garlic, home-made pasta sauce, and a selection of pasta.  With the Italian heritage, we of course had to include a bottle of wine (purchased) in the basket – but hopefully in the future – that can be our own as well! Grow grapes grow! 🙂

Here’s to home-made gifts and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! – Jim and Mary

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