Sarah Harvey with some of her canned fruits and vegetables.

 Crafters Enjoy Making Holiday Gifts 

By Christina Leach Phillips 


Clay Today

Dec. 10, 2009 

ORANGE PARK — In today’s economy, many people are cutting back on their holiday spending, but some local residents are saving money by making gifts that give a personal touch for their family and friends. 

Sarah Harvey grows her own vegetables, and she cans them to give away as presents. “I’ve already canned up pickled okra, and I’m planning on doing fresh apple sauce,” she said. “I’ve also canned up some figs, and then I make some jelly with the figs and strawberries.” 

Harvey said she always brings a jar as a hostess gift when she visits friends during the holidays. “They love it!” she said. “I actually have to send the Okra out to my son in Seattle, and when they come at Christmas, they pack their tennis shoes with jars of okra to take home.” 

Harvey also makes cookies, banana nut bread, and herb baskets to give to her friends and family.  Last Christmas, she said she surprised her two adult sons by making photo albums with all their childhood photographs. “That was one of their favorite things,” she said. 

Katelyn Nance said she and her family just spent a weekend making 11 holiday gift baskets for friends. Inside one basket, they put the ingredients to make an Italian dinner, and in another basket, they put a homemade sachet, an oatmeal facial scrub, and a bath pillow. They also decorated canning jars and layered them with ingredients to make soup and butterscotch cookies, which she calls “recipes in a jar.” 


 “Making the gift baskets provides me a sense of giving. I love the time that I spend with my family making them, and the finished product is so rewarding,” she said. 

Last year, Gina Waterhouse made necklaces for her two sisters and her daughter. “In the past, I made chocolate candy, and I would give that to all my friends as a Christmas gift,” she said. But she doesn’t know if she will be able to make gifts this year because she said she has been very busy. 

At a craft fair at St. Catherine’s Church in Orange Park on Nov. 14, some people who were selling their crafts said they also give handmade gifts to their families for the holidays. 

David Barnard

 D&S Fine Photographic Artworks owner David Barnard takes photographs and sets them to tile. He said he gives them as keepsakes to all his children and grandchildren. 

Faye Madson makes glass block decorations with lights inside that are wrapped with ribbon to look like illuminated Christmas presents. She said she gave them to her two sisters and a niece. “They love them – they put them out each year,” she said.

 Faye Madson’s crafts. 

Having six nieces to buy for would present a challenge for some people, but Mary Ellen Demarco makes baby doll clothes and dresses to give her nieces for Christmas. She said she also makes holiday flower arrangements for other family members. 

In the sprit of giving, June Hudson makes gifts for strangers. She said she likes to crochet blankets, hats, and scarves to give to those in need. “I have to keep my fingers busy,” she said. Hudson gives to Hospice, to people undergoing chemotherapy, and to pregnancy centers. Recently, she gave a hat and scarf to a homeless woman who said, “Do you mean to tell me that I am the first one to wear this?’’ Hudson said the woman put on the hat and scarf and did a little dance. “If I can do something, and if it helps somebody, it’s good,” she said.

June Hudson

  The most important aspect of making gifts is to use your talent to create something for people you care about says Lisselotte Benito, who paints pictures on Christmas ornaments, candles, trays, and gourds to give as gifts. 

“When you make something, you put your love and creativeness into it — you actually think of that person,” said Benito. “Each piece of art craft is unique. It doesn’t matter how many you do — they will never look the same — that is what makes it so special. To make a gift for a loved one, family member, or friend is more special than going to the store and purchasing an item,” she said. 


Lisselotte Benito paints pictures on Christmas ornaments, candles, trays, and gourds to give as gifts.