10 ideas for homemade gifts this Christmas

Christmas is one of the most hectic times of the year and perhaps the most financially demanding.  The pressure to buy gifts for everyone begins to build, but we have your resolution!  This seasons trendiest items may be at the top of everyone’s list but no one can resist the originality of a homemade and personalised gift.

 We have compiled a list of inexpensive and easy homemade gift ideas that will leave relatives and friends happy and keep more money in your pocket.

1.  They say the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach.  One of the easiest gifts to give is a scrumptious dessert and since it’s Christmas time, why not cook?  Truffles are a sign of the season, and here’s how to make a batch of Christmas inspired mint candies:

What you need is a trip to Sainsbury or Tesco for:

50g of butter, 200g of dark chocolate, 100g of grated white chocolate, 80ml of single cream, and 1-2 tablespoons of mint flavouring.

Directions:  Add cream and butter to a pan until the butter has melted, stir, and boil.  Slowly add the mint flavouring and stir.  Next, cut the dark chocolate into small pieces and add to a bowl.  Once the cream, butter, and mint are heated, pour the contents into the bowl containing the pieces of dark chocolate and stir until mixture is thick.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or until hardened. 

Next, take spoonfuls of the mixture and roll them in the grated white chocolate into a ball shape on a cooking sheet or tray.  Repeat this step until all the mixture is used and refrigerate for an hour.  Take them out and serve!

2.  Candles are a great holiday gift and are easy and fun to make.  Find an old jar you have been saving or a small teacup to serve as a base for the wax.  You will need a candy thermometer and a trip to the hobby store for paraffin wax, vybar, candle crayons (for coloring), oil based scent, wicks, and metal tabs.  You can pick up candle supplies at Fielders located at 8 High Street, Kingston.  For a simple guide to prepare the candles click here.  

3.  Everyone loves a personalised gift, so let your creative flare take over and make a memory board or card full of photos, quotes, or other memorabilia.  Whether it’s a small card, or big poster of special times this will make a great gift and lasting impression.  Inexpensive art supplies are available at the 99p Store located at 27 Wheatfield Way, Kingston, or in Surbiton at 73 Victoria Road. 

4.  Gift baskets are an easy last-minute gift idea!  Whether its gathering a few nice items such as tea, wine, biscuits, chocolates, or creating a theme- you can’t go wrong.  A “dinner-in-a-basket” full of pasta, gourmet tomato sauce, and herbs or spices make for a nice gift, or perhaps the ingredients to bake homemade cookies and the cooking directions. 

If you want to really personalise the basket, fill it full of the recipients favourite things whether it be popcorn and a film, or sweets.  The 99p Store is the best place to look for small items to fill baskets, check either locations in Kingston or Surbiton.  For miscellaneous items, visit the various charity shops like Fara located on 25 Castle Street, Kingston or in Subiton at 25 Victoria road.  

5.  Festive to the holiday are Christmas ornaments, which are simple to make from scratch. Scented ornaments are quick and something you can give the whole family.  A short and inexpensive trip the grocery store is the only preparation required.  Here’s how to make cinnamon scented tree décor:

You need 200g of cinnamon, 150g of applesauce, 1 tbsp. of nutmeg, 2 tbsp. of white liquid glue, and string.

Mix the cinnamon and nutmeg together in a bowl.  Add the applesauce, white liquid glue and stir.  Continue to mix the ingredients together until dough forms (you may want to use your hands).  Smooth the dough over flour and cut the shapes of your ornaments, remember to make a small hole at the top of the shape for the string to tie.  The dough will need to dry for a few days and it may be helpful to turn them over to dry both sides.  When the shapes have completely hardened you can decorate with paint, or leave them as is. Don’t forget to tie the string, and voila- you have a scented ornament!

6.  Everyone loves baked goods so why not bring brownies in a jar?  Simply provide the brownie mix and they can do the rest.  You can spruce up the jar with holiday ribbons and a small card.

You will need 450g of white sugar, 55g of unsweetened cocoa powder, 155g of flour, 5g of baking powder, and 6g of salt.

First, pour the sugar into the jar and press down firmly with a spoon and repeat with the cocoa powder.  Mix flour, baking powder, salt and add to the jar.  This is simply the mix, the directions are as follows:

Add contents of the jar into a mixing bowl along with 4 eggs and 170g of butter until blended.  Pour batter into a greased 9×13 inch pan and bake at 180 degrees C for a half hour.  Cool and serve.

7.  Bath salts make the spa experience come alive without the expensive spa trip.  They are simple and require few ingredients.  You can personalise them with specific scents and wrap them in small bags, tying the top with a bow, or a small jar.  You will need epsom salts and baking powder in equal parts, food colouring, and essential oils of your choice.  You may need to purchase epsom salts beforehand on ebay or skin care websites as they are not commonly sold in the local pharmacy.  Essential oils can be purchased from The Body Shop for £8 or at Boots for £6.

To make the bath salts mix the epsom salts and baking powder in equal measures with your hand, wearing gloves, into a mixing bowl.  Add a few drops of food colouring.  Then mix the essential oils until the desired amount of fragrance is achieved. 

8.  Homemade jewelry is always a hit.  Check out the season’s trendy jewelry designs and create your own fashion inspirations.  Earrings, bracelets, rings, and necklaces can be made with a visit to the arts supply store.  Beadtime in Kingston on 14 Castle Street has a plethora of jewlery-making supplies and artistic ideas. 

 A kit full of beads, threads, and other material for earrings can go a long way this Christmas.  Beaded bracelets of your best friends favourite colour with a matching set of earrings makes for an inexpensive and creative gift.

9.  Pamper someone this holiday with an aroma therapeutic experience of homemade body scrub.  Scrubs can be made from simple household items.  For a more delicate scrub pour raw sugar into a jar, add a layer of coconut oil and mix evenly.  Then scent the scrub with an essential oil of your choice.  Repeat the same steps for a grittier scrub but replace the sugar with sea salt.  Decorate the jar with pictures or ribbon and you have a quality homemade gift.  All ingredients can be purchased at Sainsburys and various essential oils from The Body Shop or Boots. 

10.   A personalised video or photo slideshow is the cheapest way to a meaningful gift.  This may take some time but any PC or Mac notebook should come with a slideshow generator.  All you have to do is find some photos, videos, music and compose the memories.  You can burn the creation to a CD or DVD and wrap it up for family members or close friends. 

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