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I may have mentioned already that I am feeling a bit behind this holiday season. This year has been that way – life just keeps happening and, with all the changes in my life, keeping me preoccupied. The last few weeks things in particular have been a bit frenetic what with being sick, and producing my first event at my new job.

So this weekend, the last one before Christmas weekend, I did some serious shopping, drove around to enjoy some Christmas lights, finished decorating the house (mostly…)

and did my menu planning for next weekend – including throwing together a big pot of soup for the next couple of days worth of lunches. I have decided that Saturday’s family Open House will be a very simple buffet filled with apps and desserts, Christmas Eve will be an ode to my Norwegian heritage with my great-grandma’s meatballs and on Christmas we will pay tribute to both my husband’s and my German roots with rouladen. Sandwiched in between those meals, on Christmas morning, will be easy cinnamon rolls (so easy because I buy them from the bakery!) with some good sausage or bacon complete with mimosas and home-made hot chocolate and marshmallows (we should have plenty of these on hand at week’s end 😉 )Wait till you see!

Every year I make some home-made gifts and even though I am running out of time this year I was not about to let that stop me! I scoured the web and found some fast, easy gifts from the kitchen to make and give.

As the week goes on, I thought I would share some of these cute ideas with you so that you can journey with me as I attempt, while working full-time, to finish making these last-minute gifts. Maybe it will inspire you to put together something really simple and made from your own hands – even in the eleventh hour!

The first one I made this weekend (in less than five minutes!) is probably the easiest gift I have ever made and only cost me around $9 apiece!

Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract

Who knew that homemade vanilla extract could be so easy?

I had several of these bourbon infused vanilla beans that I scored at this year’s Will Bake For Food from Marx Foods so I decided that vanilla extract would be a great gift for the bakers in my life.

I looked up several recipes and they were all were the same – soak some vanilla beans in some vodka for a time, shaking every few days. That is, they were all the same except the timing and the ratio of vanilla beans to the vodka. But I took a stab!

I found these cute little bottles on sale at the grocery store ($3 apiece) placed one split vanilla bean in each, then filled them with vodka (about 1-1/4 cup) – being sure to cover the bean completely.

Then I just decorated the bottles and included a tag saying when it will be ready for use (3-4 weeks – though some recipes said several months!) and to shake it gently every couple of days.

Turned out nicely – don’t you think? Stay tuned for more!

Do you have a go-to, easy-to-make gift that you like to use at times like these?