Make-it-yourself gifts are very much in the spirit of the idealised Victorian Christmas. But beware – costs rack up if you need to buy raw materials and handmaking can be very time-consuming, so play to your strengths and your resources.
Are you a cook, florist, gardener, knitter? Do you have a larder full of homemade jam? Pop ribbons around a few jars. Do you have a bag full of half-used balls of wool? Knit up chunky scarves or bobble hats.
Alternatively, you could try one of these ideas:
1. Christmas cactus cuttings
Take cuttings from your Christmas cactus and propagate them for your houseplant-loving friends. A section snipped from the end of the parent plant will take a couple of weeks to root in water and can then be potted up in soil. Within a few months, your recipient will have a well-established plant that’s ready to flower the following winter.
2. Knit some welly toppers
These are worn just below the knee and peep out of the top of the boot or can be folded over. They’re a bit like a pair of old-school legwarmers and are handy for people who don’t like thick socks or who have the common problem of flappy wellies.
All you need to do is knit two rectangles approximately 35cm wide by 30cm long (you’ll have to have a discreet squint at the recipient’s leg to judge size), then join the short edges to make a tube. You can use any chunky wool, any colours and any stitch pattern you fancy.
3. Make a personalised snow globe
This project starts with a rummage in the recycling bin to find a biggish glass jar with a screw-on lid. If you find a globe-shaped one, you’ve struck gold, but any shape will do. You’ll need some plastic characters to suit your chosen theme – maybe your recipient is a dog-lover, shepherd or enthusiastic gardener. Christmas-cake decorations or toy-farm figures are ideal.
Article courtesy of Clare Hunt. Clare is a writer and smallholder novice enjoying the good(ish) life in Devon.
You can paint the inside of the lid, line it with oven-bake polymer clay or just firmly glue your figures directly to it. Then fill the jar almost to the top with water and stir in a couple of teaspoons of glycerine along with some biodegradable glitter. Put a trickle of waterproof glue around the thread at the top of the jar, screw the lid tight and leave to dry before turning it upside down and marvelling at the magic.
4. Bulb planting
Plant bulbs in little terracotta pots with saucers. Hyacinths can be a bit pungent for some people, but narcissus grow readily indoors and are always a joyful reminder of the coming spring.
5. Make entertaining your gift
Make entertaining your gift. If you love a seasonal knees-up, invite friends and family round, ask everyone to bring an item of food or drink and agree a spot of jollity is the gift you’re giving each other.
6. Wrap it up
Legend has it that wrapping paper as we know it today was invented in the early 1900s by Hallmark, when it was just a stationery store, not a global brand. Buying fancy paper is pricey, but a lovingly wrapped present can be a thing of beauty.
So what to do? Get creative, save money and cut down on waste – as well as non-biodegradable foil bits.
You can use:
- Remnant fabric or lightweight scarves – ideal for covering awkwardly shaped items.
- Wool – odds and ends of colourful yarn can stand in for twine or ribbons.
- Recyclable kraft paper – easy to decorate with ink stamps or tie up elegantly with string.
- Salvaged ribbons – save them up, just like your granny would have done in an old tin, to give them another life.
- Foreign-language newspapers and old maps, comics and magazines from charity shops – colourful, decorative and easy to recycle.