Make, Bake and Create your Gifts this Year
Is it just me or is everyone more organised than ever this year with their Christmas gift buying? The streets are teeming with buyers, arms laden with shopping bags and pockets bulging with money the rest of us don’t have, gathering up the latest must-haves without a second thought; children sent their lists to Santa week ago and shops have started running out of Christmas essentials already. Well don’t worry… it’s not too late to give amazing presents this year without having to take out a second mortgage. With a bit of creativity, imagination, effort and lots of love you can save money and give something special straight from the heart.
As The Duchess discovered recently with her colouring books, being creative has many a benefit – it’s meditative, calming, cheap and cheerful. Plus it needn’t be relegated just for the little’uns, the craft movement has gone from strength to strength lately and it’s completely inclusive – it’s not just for the arty among us.
Here are my five simple ideas for making memories and creating a personal yet cost effective alternative to gift giving this year. Time to have yourself a crafty little Christmas!
1. You’ve Been Framed
DIY picture frames can easily look like a five year old’s crappy summer school project if you don’t know what you are doing. Yet I still believe they are one of the best gifts you can give to the sentimental people in your life (read: Grandma) – but you have to know what you are doing first. The best ones I have made were from shells (hear me out, this isn’t going to look like cheap tat from the Blackpool Pier gift shop… I promise).
1. Buy a bag of assorted shells or go to your nearest beach – this also works with pebbles
2. Buy a cheap frame from the pound shop, or similar
3. Invest in a glue gun (my best friend at this time of year)
4. Glue the shells/stones into an attractive formation around the edge of the frame. Don’t leave gaps, make sure the type and size of shell is varied and spaced out.
5. Here’s the bit where you make it look quality – paint over the entire frame in white. Yep, all of it (except the glass of course).
If done well you should have what appears to be an original, modern frame. Make sure you give it plenty of coats of paint so that you can hardly see any details, just the wonderful forms and shapes beneath.
Lastly, add a sentimental picture of you and the recipient (a childhood picture of you both on the beach work best). It looks even better when you add a paper frame over the photograph too… just for the added touch of luxury.
2. Balls to you
I love making these at Christmas. They are the perfect gift for neighbours or your child’s teacher – and you can add rum and brandy to them, just what the teacher needs to deal with the last week of term! Take a look at this quick and easy demonstration. Cheap, fun, tasty and naughty… what more could anyone ask for in a gift this Christmas?
3. Sew Good
I love this idea because you can make it as simple or as extravagant as you like.
Take a trip to your local haberdashery shop or department store and ask them for the following:
1. Embroidery threads and needles
2. A cheap pack of pillow cases, sheets, towels… basically whatever you want to embroider
3. Embroidery pen
4. A great imagination (okay, don’t ask them for that – just make sure you have one)
Then your options are limitless.
You can start simply by printing off your recipients’ initials from the internet, placing them within the pillow case and tracing them on to the fabric. You can consult You Tube for advice as to what stitching options to choose from, but a simple monogrammed His & Hers pillow case makes an original and personal gift. Once you get your confidence up you can always move on to cross stitch cushions, patchwork quilts or even the Bayeux Tapestry.
I’m sure they started off simple at first…
4. Handy Kiddie Crafts
Everyone loves a handmade present from the kids… Okay, well Daddy and the Grandparents will at least. Children love getting messy and (patient) parents love painting with the kids over the Christmas holidays too. So take one diddy hand, a few pots of paint and some coloured card and make their hand print into Santa, Rudolph, a Christmas tree or anything their little imaginations can conjure up. Yes kids’ paintings are two a penny, but there is something about knowing that their little hand will never be that tiny again that makes you want to treasure that card forever. Glitter is optional. Glitter is ALWAYS optional!
5. Magical Memories
You don’t have to be rich to give a gift this year that will mean the world to someone. The most appreciated aspect of any friendship or relationship are the memories – so why not create a place chock-a-block full of the best moments of your lives together. Whether it’s for your mother, boyfriend, daughter or best friend… buying a cheap wooden box and decoupaging it (paper and runny glue glaze) with photocopies of pictures of you both then filling it with their favourite things is certain to be something they won’t receive from anyone else this year.
Or, for something more conventional but guaranteed a winner, take some time out to create a photo book on sites such as Photobox or Snapfish. I design one every year for both of my kids’ grandparents… and they now have a mini collection of books filled with the best photos of their grandchildren that year. You can’t get more personal and priceless than that!
Whatever you choose to give to your loved ones this year, make sure it’s from the heart. After all, when it comes to giving gifts at Christmas there is one saying that has never run truer… it’s the thought that counts!