Christmas is on the way. Now is the time to start planning which homemade creations you're going to treat your friends to.
Plan your gifts
The most important way to avoid homemade disasters is putting in a bit of forward planning. You need to make sure you first work out exactly what you’re going to make and then make a list of everything you’ll need.
Unless you’re a bit of a Kirsty Allsopp in training, start with something simple which you can make easily. Whatever you decide upon, factor in enough time to make the number required to avoid any last-minute stress.
Shop around for your materials
Whether you decide to embark on making red onion chutney or a metre-long wool scarf, go online first to find the best deal on the products you need to buy.
Using the internet is a good way to save money and websites such as Price Runner and Kelkoo will show you cheaper versions of the things you need. Cashback websites such as Quidco and TopCashback will also help you shave off a few pounds if buying online.
For a higher rate of success with homemade presents, instead of making several elaborate gifts, stick to just one or two things, such as chocolate truffles and oat biscuits. This is cheaper as you’ll just need to buy one set of ingredients (in bulk) and this will take less time.
We’ve rounded up some ideas for creating a present you’d be happy giving to someone else which also won’t break your budget.
Knitting supplies can be found cheaply online and the most expensive thing you’ll have to buy is the wool itself. Getting a good quality wool is essential, but on the other hand you don’t need to go for a branded company as this will cost more.
Obviously the amount you spend on a scarf is completely up to you. A knitted scarf from John Lewis, for example, will set you back around £30, but three balls of yarn from from Black Sheep Wools, along with a set of needles, can be bought for less than £20. If you're happy spending a bit more, there's free delivery on orders over £25.
What’s more buying in bulk is generally cheaper. So if you buy a packet of say eight balls of wool it’ll work out more cost efficiently; you just need to make sure you’re not buying more for the sake of it and you actually have enough people to give the scarves to. Your local charity shop is also worth checking out for these materials.
Glass bottles can be bought cheaply in bulk and makes a brilliant festive Christmas gift when filled with a pre-mixed cocktail or a flavoured spirit.
You can get 12 empty ones from Amazon for £14.87.
Once it's ready tie a colourful ribbon around the bottle and your present is ready.
This is a classic homemade gift. When choosing your flavours don’t go for anything too exotic and stick to varieties which have ingredients you can pick up easily and cheaply.
A pot of caramelised onion chutney from Sainsbury’s costs £1.50 a pop, but seeing as you only need a few ingredients it’s a lot cheaper to make your own. Save your jam jars up throughout the year.
Pesto, tapenade, jam and passata also work well and if you make your own labels and add a stream of ribbon or a holly leaf you've instantly got a festive gift.
For a personal gift which stands out from the usual run-of-the-mill presents you end up giving people, print off some of your favourite photos of you and your friends or family and give them as gifts.
There are several online photo printing websites to choose from and if you can enlarge an image and put it in a frame you’ve instantly created a personalised gift. Try Photobox, Snapfish, Boots and Poster Prints.
Cards and ornaments
Handmade cards and ornaments are an easy way to create an individual keepsake. If you need inspiration head to the many craft blogs across the internet or try Pinterest.
One idea is to take pine cones and paint or spray them festive colours, attach a ribbon and you’ve got a decoration. Decorations which have passed their peak can also be revamped with ribbon, fabric and spray paint and given out as gifts.
Salt dough is another cheap way of making decorations or ornaments for gifts. Once baked, allow to cool and paint with seasonal colours and add on a festive ribbon. Get the kids involved: it will certainly be an individual gift for the recipient!
Mulled wine mix
A mix for mulled wine is easy to assemble and cheap too.
Simply buy a bottle of red wine and use a pretty fabric to put ingredients such as ginger, cinnamon and cloves in and tie this to the bottle with a ribbon. For a festive touch add a sprig of holly to make the gift look a little more special. You could even try this twist on the classic by adding chocolate, as demonstrated in Paul A Young's video.
Dry jar mixes also work for gifts and you can assemble the dry ingredients for anything from ginger biscuits to a chocolate cake easily. Include a label with instructions on how to make the finished product and you’ve instantly got a great present for a foodie.
Preening and pampering
Sometimes your loved one just needs a bit of TLC. Have a go at making sugar and/or salt scrubs, scented with lavender or coconut and lime.
Or for something a little livelier, try making a DIY Lush bath bomb.
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