DIY Christmas Gifts: Keeping it Local (+ a recipe for marionberry jam!)

I always love doing handmade gifts. The time and love that go into making something yourself make the gift that much more special. I also love custom gift baskets. It lets you tailor the gift perfectly to your loved one's taste and preferences. Combine the two ideas and -- wala! -- you've got a handmade custom gift basket! Since we're celebrating our first Christmas together in Portland this year, my theme was Portland-made. The gift package above is for my dad--he's a big breakfast guy, so I included homemade marionberry jam, coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and, to satisfy his sweet tooth, chocolate bars from Moonstruck Chocolate Company. Each item has a special connection to Portland: the marionberries are Oregon-grown, and Moonstruck and Stumptown are Portland-based companies.

The package above is for my father-in-law. He's not as big on chocolate, so I took out the chocolate bars and included a larger jar of the marionberry jam. All the supplies to put these together--crinkle paper, paper boxes, and ribbon--were purchased at Joann's. Any other craft store should do as well. On the underside of the lid I used washi tape to attach a list of the contents and their connection to Portland. Next year I think I'll make custom gift tags as well. I had a lot of fun putting these packages together, and I hope the recipients get some joy out of them too! Finally, below is my recipe for homemade marionberry jam. Amazingly, it is the perfect topping for coffee ice cream. Weird, right? If you're outside of the Pacific NW and can't find marionberries, blackberries are a close substitute.

Marionberry Jam

80 oz frozen whole marionberries
4 tsp powdered fruit pectin + 4 tsp calcium water*
4 cups granulated sugar


  1. Place clean glass jars in a large stockpot and fill with water to at least 1" above the tops of the jars. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 min. Meanwhile, place all the lids in a separate pot and cover with water. Heat to approximately 180° F. The lids do not need to boil, and doing so can reduce the lifetime of the rubber seal. Once the jars are prepared, remove from the water and place on a clean kitchen towel to dry. Keep the lids in hot water until ready to use.
  2. Place all the marionberries in a large stockpot and heat over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the berries with the pectin and calcium water. Using a potato masher, crush the berries as they begin to thaw. Eventually the berries will become liquidy and you can switch to a whisk to ensure all the pectin has been mixed in.
  3. Continue heating the berry + pectin mixture until it comes to a boil. Add the sugar all at once, whisking constantly. Return to a boil and boil for 1 min as you continue whisking. At this point your jam will be ready to set, but you can test it for doneness by dipping a cold spoon into the jam. If the spoon becomes coated and the jam doesn't drip off, you're ready to go!
  4. Pull the lids out of the hot water and place on a towel to dry. Fill each jar with jam to 1/4" below the rim (a funnel is handy here, but I usually make do with a ladle). Wipe the rim with a clean paper towel to remove any jam drippings (any jam stuck beneath the lid can compromise the seal and result in spoilage). Screw lids on jars to finger-tight.
  5. Replace filled jars into the original pot used for boiling them. Cover with a lid and boil for 10 min. Remove jars from pot and set on the counter to cool. As each one seals you should hear a loud pop! that tells you a vacuum has formed. Any jars that don't "pop" should be placed in the fridge for immediate consumption.
* I used Pomona's Universal Pectin, which includes calcium water to activate the pectin, enabling you to achieve gelling with less sugar. Any other powdered pectin will work as well--just follow the instructions on the package.


  1. Paige, your packages look lovely! I've read so many good things about the Stumptown coffee, that I hope to be able to try it one day. Maybe Jon will have a meeting in Portland next year. Happy Holidays from the rainy snowless Chicago ;-)

  2. Stumptown is fantastic! I hate to be a traitor, but I like it better than Intelligentsia. I heard they are opening one in Chicago, maybe you will get to try it sooner than you think! Happy holidays to you, too :)

  3. I didn't know that Moonstruck was based in Portland - they actually had a store on Michigan Ave. in Chicago and even one in Urbana-Champaign. Unfortunately they closed, but I loved going there. And your gifts look really nice, great idea for DIY gifts. I hope your first Christmas in Portland is a good one!

  4. Olga, I didn't know they were from Portland either--I used to think it was a Chicago company because they had that store on Michigan Ave. But when I came out here they were selling it in the grocery store and I realized they were Portland-based. Hope your move went well and you enjoy the holiday break!