Homemade Christmas: gifts on a budget

Christmas Day is just three weeks away and still your ‘to-do’ list is huge; “Buy the turkey, decorate the tree, buy Granny’s present, hang the tinsel, mull the wine, clean the house, hoover the cat….”<--break->“><img decoding=Netmums.com suggests the following recipe:

350g plain flour

1-2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

200g butter or margarine

175g soft light brown sugar

1 egg

4 tablespoons golden syrup

Makes about 20 biscuits.

Mix the flour, soda and ginger in a bowl and then rub in the butter.

Add sugar and stir in the syrup and the egg until a firm dough is formed.

Roll out thinly and then use any cutter you like to shape your biscuits.

Gingerbread men are traditional but stars and Christmas trees are also attractive and tasty!

Bake at 190C/Gas 5 on greased baking trays for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Leave to firm up on a wire rack to cool.

Then decorate away with a sprinkling of icing sugar or ice on features.

Tip: Chocolate chips make great noses and buttons for gingerbread men and taste yummy too!

Salt dough decorations

Salt dough decorations are again easy to make and fun to mould into shape. Even very young children will find them fun to make (under supervision) and not only will they look fabulous on your Christmas tree but they make lovely keepsakes and gifts too. You will need:

1 cup of salt

1 cup of plain flour

1 cup of water

Mix the salt and the flour together, ensuring there are no lumps and then gradually add the water.

There is no need to add all the water – stop when the mixture becomes a firm dough – but if you add too much just add a little extra salt and flour until the mixture stops being sticky.

Roll out the dough until it is thin and using cookie cutters, cut out some shapes.

If you want the shape to be hung on a tree poke a hole in the top so that ribbon can be threaded through after baking.

Place the shapes on greaseproof paper on a baking tray and cook on a very low heat in the oven for about three hours. Turn the shapes over every now and then if they are very thick so they bake all the way through.

When the shapes are baked, allow to cool and then thread a ribbon through the hole as desired.

Acrylic paints are best to use to decorate the shapes as the colours are vibrant but others can be used too.

Tip: Add PVA glue and glitter or sequins to the shapes when decorating for a sparkly addition to your tree!

If you need more inspiration, The Imagination Tree website and the Netmums website  have other suggestions for fun, cheap, easy to make Christmas decorations and gifts.

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