Inexpensive, Original, Hand-Made Christmas Gifts
by Gail Miller
How many times when Christmas comes along do we end up spending a fortune on gifts for friends and family, which are not the least bit personal, and regretting it afterwards? These days we often seem to get caught up in a rush to spend as much as possible on commercialized products when in fact we could save money and give much better presents if only we applied ourselves to hand making them. Here I bring you a selection of lovely gifts which are easy to make and will certainly not break the bank. The recipients will love the fact that you have put your own time and effort into making the gifts and will treasure them.
Personalized Recipe Book
If one of your recipients is a vegetarian or has a penchant for curry, loves anything with tomatoes in or is a sucker for chocolate, make use of the fact by making a personalized recipe book. Start collecting appropriate recipes from books or magazines and purchase a small, inexpensive book to write them in. Copy them out in your neatest handwriting or use calligraphy if you are talented. If you have artistic flair, you can also include illustrations! What a delight this would be to the avid cook or food lover.
You need ordinary envelopes and cheap cartridge paper or newsprint. Now go through all your magazines and cut out decorative pictures or illustrations. Stick them to the fronts of the envelopes down the left or across the top. If possible stick matching borders or motifs on to the paper too. If you cannot get them to match, not to worry, just try to get illustrations with a matching color.
Buy a pack of plastic picnic spoons. These are very cheap and you can get literally dozens in a pack (enough to make all your presents!) Melt some chocolate with a knob of butter in a dish stood in a pan of boiling water. When the chocolate is runny dip the spoons up to where the handle starts into the chocolate. Place on greaseproof paper to dry then wrap with cellophane wrap and finish with a pretty bow. To add flavor you can add liqueurs, mint, or coffee, orange or vanilla flavoring to the melted chocolate mix.
Dress Up Box For Kids
You have to start this present halfway through the year as you can add to it as you go along. Obtain a large cardboard box from your local supermarket and cover it with pretty wrapping paper. If desired stick a large label on the front with the name of the recipient on it. Every time you go into town, browse round the charity shops and pick up cheap hats, scarves, veils, tutus, jewelry, gloves and small size dresses or jackets. Kids will go mad for something like this and you can tailor the clothing to a girl or a boy.
Instead of buying the kiddies selection boxes which are just a collection of chocolate bars packed together and grossly overpriced, why not build up a store of regular chocolate bars or packets of sweets throughout the year. Every time you visit the supermarket add a couple to your basket. Come Christmas time, divide the sweets between how many children you are catering for, into pretty bags made out of wrapping paper. Decorate with ribbons and bows. You will save a fortune!
Get a book on calligraphy from the library and make personalized gifts by writing a poem, or if you are not that confident, the recipients name on delicately colored paper or card. Add a pressed flower or two and mount in a bargain frame.
A set of cheap white hand towels can be made unique by the addition of colored ribbon or braid sewn approx. 3 inches from each end. Make them extra special by attaching the initials of the recipients with some scrap fabric. Practical and customized!
Decorated Coffee Jar
Dont throw out your coffee, jam or pickle jars, especially if they are those really beautifully shaped ones that you get nowadays. All you need are some sequins or diamantes, which cost literally pennies from haberdashers. Stick them on at random and glue a label to the front with "coffee", "spice", "pasta" or anything else which the jar might be utilized for storing. Tie a silver or gold bow round the neck of the jar.
Hand Decorated Ceramics
If you are artistic, why not purchase a set of plain white ceramic egg cups, tea cups or plain glasses which are extremely inexpensive. Using a bottle of ceramic paint decorate by hand or stencil or stamp on each one to make them unique. If possible find out before hand the color scheme preferred.
Flavored Cooking Oil
Save empty oil or vinegar bottles throughout the year, or buy the plain corked ones you can by extremely cheaply at thrift stores. Half fill with peanut or olive oil. Add twigs of Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Oregano, Parsley etc. If desired also add some peppercorns for decoration and further flavor and then fill bottle with more oil. Lid or cork and add a pretty ribbon to the neck of the bottle. Not only will these look great on any recipients kitchen shelf they will also enhance their cooking!
Instead of making lots of ordinary size biscuits, why
not make one or two giant personalized ones? Make a large batch of biscuit mix using a recipe from a book, but instead of using regular size cookie cutters, use an 8 inch cake tin to make the shape or make a paper template of a heart can cut the shape round that. Cook and cool, then decorate with icing using the recipients name. Wrap in cellophane.
A Set Of Fridge Magnets
Decide who you are going to give fridge magnets to earlier on in the year and take some photos of either the person or their children. Make small squares or circles out of cardboard and stick the photos onto the card. Finish by attaching small magnets to the backs.
Home Made Honey Bath Oil
Mix together a cup of light baby or olive oil with 1/2 a cup of honey, 1/2 a cup of liquid soap and a drop each of your favorite essential oil. Mix together gently and decant into a pretty a squirt bottle.
Home Cooked Delights
When you make your traditional Christmas Cake, double or treble the quantities of ingredients. Make extra cakes which you can decorate with gold or silver ribbon round the outside, and give to relatives.
Personalized Photo Album
Photograph albums can be picked up very cheaply, especially when sold together in bulk; i.e. three or five sets cello'd together. Cover the albums with pretty fabric or lace and stencil the recipients initials on the front to personalize it.
Home Made "Throw"
Throws, which are very much in fashion these days are very expensive to buy. A large remnant, or a number of them patch worked together and edged with fringing, makes an excellent and unique throw. A delightful and unique present!
Gail Miller is a writer and artist.