To really get into creating homemade gifts you need to use your imagination, plan ahead and have room to save everything that you might normally throw away
Over the years I have suffered from extreme skintness, especially when I was a single parent student. I got into the habit of never throwing anything away and instead of spending money on presents I would spend time and effort. Sources of free things are various I look at all the packaging from my shopping, if friends or family get flowers I have been known to beg the bows and cellophane from them. Just let your imagination run wild!
Some of the things I would recommend hoarding are:
~ Unusual or attractive material
~ Wrapping paper
~ Packaging anything shiny or coloured is good for example Quality Street wrappings made great decorations to go on presents scrunched up and stuck together they can look like a shiny flower or bow
~ Interestingly shaped boxes not only are these handy for wrapping presents but if you have young children they can have great fun making all sorts of weird and wonderful creations with some old boxes, paint and glue
If you have very young children to buy for consider making toys for them. Babies love different textures and colours and are not too fussed about something being in fashion or the latest thing. Make sure the fabric you use is clean and for very young chewy babies, not likely to shed and choke them. Department stores have a good selection of safety eyes, bells, stuffing etc that can be incorporated into toys. For my sons first Christmas I used a black synthetic velvet skirt to make all my his friends a spider with a bell in and googly eyes it turned out to be far more popular than all the fancy toys they got that year as the legs were easy to grasp, the eyes made them giggle and when they shook it a bell tinkled. To be honest it looked really naff but the kids were happy! Do make sure that your sewing is strong; you dont really want your lovingly constructed toy to explode at the seams and choke the poor child at the first chew use a sewing machine and make sure all eyes etc are safety approved
Old clothes are superb source for creating all kinds of things. One of my favourite presents to my sister was a travel wrap. I cut up two skirts of contrasting colours into rectangles, stitched them together with varying sized pockets along the lower edge and a flap across the top. The whole thing wrapped up to be tied with a strong ribbon. Inside I put a travel toothbrush, a small tube of toothpaste, some travel wash for clothes, plasters, insect repellent spray, sunblock, lip salve, Savlon cream and of course, since she was a student a packet of three!
Material remnants can be found very cheaply from many places; I picked up a great selection in John Lewis last month and made a collection of cushion covers. The bag of material was colour coordinated and I bought some piping cord and trimmings cheaply and for under a tenner made five cushion covers. If you arent any good at piping it doesnt matter as I only piped two of the cushions and they all looked fine and were given to an aunt who now has them in pride of place in her lounge. This is a cheap and easy present to give someone whose colour scheme you know.
Patchwork is a brilliant way of utilising odds and ends of materials. Either get some remnants or collect any material you can; your own old clothes, browse charity shops and jumble sales, beg from friends and relatives when they have clearing out sessions and make sure the fabric is all clean and pressed. You can either make templates from card or if you are sewing challenged (or lazy like me!) cut the fabric into random shapes to make crazy patchwork. When I was a teenager Laura Ashley had some extremely cheap offcuts in odd shapes and I bought a large bag and, using the zigzag function on my sewing machine sewed all the pieces onto a single sheet. The result was a fabulously bright funky quilt that my best friend uses to this day
Baskets and boxes can be filled with smellies, homemade sweets or tiny cheap fun gifts. Discount stores are a perfect place to pick up cheap baskets of all styles, shapes and sizes. The trick is in the presentation. Get a basket or box and partly fill it with shredded tissue paper (shred your own that you saved in your stash to save even more money!) or scrunched foil or wrapping paper. If you are giving bath products you could line the basket with a cheap flannel; discount stores sell these for pennies so you could even splash out and buy two or three in different shades. Arrange your chosen items then cover the whole with cellophane or cling film and top off with a bow or ribbons. A friend of mine was a teacher for many years and each Christmas and on the last day of the school year she came back laden with a box of assorted bath products which she could not use as she had very sensitive skin. We would recycle these gifts by opening everything and making up goodie baskets as gifts for neighbours or other friends
Another popular gift I have given over the years is homemade vouchers. Think about what you are good at and then get a piece of paper and either using the PC or by hand create an attractive voucher offering a service. Last year I made a voucher for my mum with photos of all the family and the offer of a days personal shopping for clothes and a small amount of money that I would contribute to her new clothes. In the past I have made vouchers for babysitting services, cleaning, car washing, gardening, dressmaking, sewing of curtains. Vouchers are really great for kids to give children enjoy making artistic designs and can then give a really meaningful gift to grandparents, aunts and uncles an offer to babysit, wash the car, weed a flowerbed, all these go down so well as people will appreciate the time and thought that has gone into the gift. If you and your partner are raising a young family and money is tight why not spend what you have on the children and give each other vouchers? A promise to bring tea in bed each day for month, do the washing up, to babysit so that the other can go out with friends, all these types of offers cost nothing but written down prettily (and the promise kept of course!) will be appreciated and last for a long time. Basically anything that can be considered a chore is a great thing to offer on a voucher
So go on go for it; get creative at Christmas and birthdays, weddings and anniversaries, Easter, Halloween, all year round your friends and family will love you!
Unique gifts which show you've really thought about your loved ones! YOU CAN DO A HAMPER FOR ANYONE A hamper is a box or other vessel into which you put items - often groceries of your choice. The whole idea has gone a bit stale with catalogues doing £100 ones which you save up for all year but let's put a new spin on it... Good Hamper vessels: Decorated Boxes Pretty bags and packets Decorated Buckets Baskets Tool boxes Etc...! Just arrange the goodies in them! PRETTY PALS You've got a mate who loves getting all made up for a night out. Gather the following: Cotton wool balls Brushes Sponges Glitter Sets Pictures of Celebrities Pocket books on styling Samples of products BOY RACERS It has to be car stuff - think about stuff he quickly runs out of or needs: Maps Vouchers for halfords Pocket books about cars Car wash products Air Fresheners Make a Cassette of top driving tunes CHOCOHOLICS Be stylish or stick to cadburys! Pick N Mix Chocolates Posh Choccies from posh shops! Different hot chocolate sachets Kids favourites Novelty shape chocolates like chocolate willies! Visiting at christmas Go to a supermarket or specialist shop and buy little pots of food that the person wouldn't normally buy themselves or haven't tried yet. You can eat them together over christmas. Little jars of jam/spread/salsa Vegetable crisps Minature sweets and cakes Savoury nibbles Mulled WIne Sachets Posh coffee beans BOOZE HOUND Minatures Wine Guides Boozy Chocolates Cheeses Crisps and snacks Cocktail accessories SUMMARY You can spend as little or as much as you like. You can show you've really thought about the person. You can make it look unique and attractive You choose each item and it's pr
ice! You can ensure all products suit the person. No one will by the same for them unless you have a psychic sister!
If you are like me then the words “Homemade Gift”will immediately give you visions of crudely painted salt dough angels or wonky calendars made by my children at school but with patience, effort and a bit of inspiration that need not be the case. A homemade gift can mean so much to the person giving as well as receiving. It is the most personal gift there is and says “I invested time and thought in you” and not just a quick run round the shops throwing pounds around. A well made item can also be kept as a keep sake and passed down the generations. I have a couple of lovely embroidered tablecloths that belonged to my late Mum that had been made by my oldest sister. Just plain white linen with the most fabulous stitching on. Providing presents on a budget can also be a difficult task and that is when a home made gift really comes into its own. For inspiration a trip to a local craft shop is a great idea. Here in Manchester we have a number of craft shops and even a craft centre (where the old fishmarket was) but by far the most well established, well respected and my absolute favourite is a shop called Fred Aldous. It is situated on lever Street in the centre of town and sells absolutely everything you could possible need or want for any project however large or small. They also run regular demonstrations showing how to make various things and even have a website with projects on. Another good way to save money when making items is to recycle as much as you can (I am not talking about washing up liquid bottles either!!) Shells, leaves, cones, items picked up when walking in the countryside even old greeting cards can be used to great effect. It may take a lot of practice before you get it just right, but keep trying and don’t start out trying to be too ambitious! As an ideal first project and memory book or box would be ideal. Select either a sturdy shoe box or buy a hard
backed book ( Nicer if has plain pages)and carefully cover it with handmade paper ( from craft shop) The paper contains little flecks of wood and it rather like thin parchment. Very carefully cut out something appropriate from a used greeting card, either cute, tradition, or festive, depending on the occasion, you could even use photographs if you have any. Stick them on with either PVA or craft glue and then paint over the whole thing with some green Patina (also from the craft shop) which will give it an antique look and then finish off with using calligraphy pen with words like Memories. These could be made to be given to a girl just Marrying or having had a baby for little keepsakes and I can almost guarantee it is one present she wont get two of.
I am a firm believer of sending home made gifts at Birthday’s, Christmas, Easter or whatever time you like! There is never a wrong time to send a homemade gift in my view – even wedding, anniversary, Christenings and all sorts can be times to send products from your own creative mind. Just this Christmas in fact I made my nephew a homemade Train track and train – made from wood! It’s kind of inspired by the make brio, but thanks to my Dad’s training I was able to put my craftsmanship knowledge to the ultimate test! My nephew Jacob is only 3 years old, but he knows what’s hot and what’s not if you know what I mean – he can speak well and would speak his mind if something was below his standards! It took me around 4 months to make, spending 2 hours each weekend in my rather flimsy but large enough shed. The track itself consists of 30 different parts, and there are 12 train parts! Ok, so why didn’t I just get him a Brio or Lego set? Well, that would have been a lot easier, and a lot cheaper but it wouldn’t have given me the same satisfaction when my nephew opened his parcel of goodies – he was delighted, and I felt rather proud J! The track itself wasn’t too hard to design, but I needed the help of my Dad and next-door neighbour along the way. I feel a little bit guilty though as Jacob doesn’t play on anything but the train set! My Brother and Sister in law don’t mind though as they got him lots of clothes that he wears a lot. I just think that this was a good thing that I did, my wife thinks we should have kids of our own, and one day we will hopefully, but I have to think of what to make for my future child in the meantime! Homemade gifts are an excellent present I think – be it a cake, an item of clothing (remember how your granny always used to make you a sweatshirt with 3 arm holes? No? Maybe that was just me…) and whatever you mak
e it will be appreciated – for a long time I hope. You can always buy something that the professionals have made – stick with a well known brand name if you like, but for me I do like to give home made gifts. The train set went down really well, so I was pleased. Jester
I have a very nice lady that works for me and last year I gave her some M & S vouchers for Christmas. Now this is all well and good but to give the same type of gift year in and year out seems a little thoughtless so I sat racking my brains for something suitable. This lady has three young children and being a mother myself I usually end up spending vouchers on the children ! This is obviously not my intention when the present is for rewarding hard work throughout the year. Eventually I came up with the idea of a food hamper and knew that at this time of year this would be a most welcome thing for the whole family. However, everywhere I looked the hampers had so many items in that just weren't practical for a young family. A jar of mincemeat and truffle pate just wouldn't fit the bill. There was only one option available to me and that was to make my own. Now this can be quite an enjoyable experience especially if you enjoy the act of giving as much as I do. A trip to Sainsbury's with the idea that most of the things that I would like to receive would probably do kind of a list. Obviously you have to include the usual Christmassy sort of items such as mince pies and brandy cream etc. but you can also tailor make it. I included large chocolate coins for the children and babybel cheeses as will as nuts, fruit and chocolates. I had a great time preparing this present and then I wrapped it all in a large box with a bow on the front - if you were really organised you could have got a wicker basket in the summer !! Needless to say the hamper was given the week before Christmas (to ensure that most of the goodies hadn't already been bought !) and was very well received. I am really glad I did it and would recommend this idea to anyone that has a difficult to buy for friend or relative. It certainly is much cheaper than buying a ready made one. My total cost was about £40 compared to £100 if I had purcha
sed it ready packed !!
I am a great fan of making some of the presents I give to people and they always appreciate a present more knowing the hard work you have put into it, especially grandparents. Recently I went to my local diy store and they had large wooden boxes ready made to paint and they only cost roughly £2 each. I bought some lilac wood stain that only cost 50p, some silver paint £2 and a stencil of chinese writing £3. It sounds like a lot of money but you could make a hundred boxes with the amount of paint I bought. I wood-stained the boxes with a household sponge and waited from them to dry. I then stencilled chinese writing in silver paint on them. They are really cheap and they look amazing. My friends are asking where I bought them and I should imagine if the shops were lucky enough to get ones like these they would charge a small fortune but mine cost £2 plus the paint. Plus, I really enjoyed making them. Other ideas I've had were to go to the local charity shops and buy wooden items that caught my eye. Painted up they look brilliant and cost a fraction of the price. I bought a mirror for £2 and did glass painting on it and it looks really expensive, but really it's a charity shop find that has been given a bit of character. And again, family and friends will appreciate the hard work you have put in.
I am not an artistic person really. I am more often to be found tapping away at a computer keyboard, or reading a book. So, if I can do this, I figure anyone can. This Christmas money is pretty tight. So, I'd been trying to figure out what I can give to people that they will appreciate. I found myself wandering around the local hobby and craft shop, looking at various crafts, and ceramic painting caught my eye. I purchased a starter set of "Marabu - Ceramic" ceramic paints, a set of stencils/designs to copy, and a set of paint brushes. Then I went and bought some very cheap plain white plates, side plate size. I've spent the last few weeks painting Christmas designs, copied/traced from the set I bought, onto the plates. Things to remember: 1) make sure the plates (or cups/mugs/whatever) are heat resistant 2) try to use as fine a brush as possible The paints are water-based, so the brushes can be washed out easily. The bonus is that any mistakes you make can be carefully cleaned off with a damp cloth or cotton bud. Once the design is finsihed to your satisfaction, the item is put into a normal domestic oven (160 deg C, Gas Mark 3) for 30 minutes. It's even dishwasher-proof once this has been done. I found the easiest way to copy a design onto the plate was to trace the design onto plain paper with a sharp wax crayon, then turn the tracing over, tape it into the required position, and gently rub the back of the tracing to transfer the copy to the plate. Then remove the paper and carefully go over the wax outline with your chosen paint colour using a fine brush. I found an old box of ceramic floor tiles in the shed. My daughter's Brownie Pack had a lot of fun last week, I showed them how to make coasters. My children have been using the rest of the tiles to make gifts for friends. My philosophy when making presents is that it doesn't have to be "perf
ect", the people I care about will be happy that I took the time and effort to make something special.
Salt dough modelling! The great thing about salt dough is that it is just about one of the cheapest modelling medium of all. All the ingrediants and utensills required for mixing and modelling the dough can be found in most kitchens. Dough crafts have been going on for years and is a great hobbie for the young and old.Once you have made your basic dough recipe you are well on the way to making endless projects. Basic recipe.! The following recipe will make about 2lbs of salt dough. 12oz of plain flour 12oz of salt half a pint of water. 1.mix the flour and salt together thoroughly. 2.add half of the water,mixing well until smooth. 3.add the rest of the water slowly.The dough should take in all the water but be careful not to make the dough sticky with too much water.If this happens just add a little more flour. 4.Knead the dough for a few minutes,when dough is ready for modelling it should be smooth and dry to touch.Put into a clean plastic bag and put into the fridge for half an hour. 5.you are now ready to start modelling. Basic utensils! mixing bowl measuring jug rolling pin pastry brush flat sided non stick baking trays ruler kitchen knife forks modelling tools bottle tops for different sizes of circles kitchen scissors cheese grater garlic press biscuit cutters These are great for cocktail sticks making shapes!! Cooking times! Bake ornaments at a constent temperature of 75 c gas half or 240 f in the middle shelf for upto 12 hours bigger projects will take longer to harden. Painting! Once the ornaments have been cooked they can then be painted.I prefere to use felt tip pens as they get in all the small places and look great. When finished coat with clear varnish and leave to dry. I love making salt dough ornament
s and have now got quite a collection.I have made a rocking horse which hangs in my babys nursery,two teddies which my daughter has on her bedroom wall,fruit basket,photo frame,christmas decorations and a bathroom ornament of a swimming lady. I have really enjoyed making these as they are great fun and the end result is so rewarding. I hope this might inspire you to have a go and make your own masterpiece. It has enabled me to make pretty wall decorations for my children and lots of other amazing and beautiful projects. Thank you for reading my opinion,let me know your thoughts. Why not make something special for a loved one or friend for christmas!
I like to make my friends laugh and have a reputation for having a filthy mind. So last year i took it upon myself to be as rude as possible and made some hysterically funny, custom-made christmas cards. Special person that i am! INGREDIENTS:-2 x porno cards (£2.99 per pack) 1 pack stick-on stars (99p) 1 pack coloured card (£1.99) 1 pritt-stick (99p) TOTAL:- £9.95 (makes 108 cards- you get jokers too!) RECIPE:- 1.Trot down to local sex shop and try to enter cooly. Wander around for a while with jaw hanging open. 2.Stare at huge rubber fist and try to think of anything but what its destiny is. Go red. 3.Eventually go up to counter where huge man with ladies haircut and Jerry Springer nails asks if he can help. 4.Ask for porno cards, one set of each sex, insist on telling bloke (?) what you intend to use them for. 5.Blush. 6.Leave very fast and go home. 7.Nice cup of calming tea. Aaaah! 8.Remove porno cards from packaging and laugh. Feel like a dirty old shrivelled-up lady 9.Calm down 10.O.K. 11.Select rudest/funniest cards and decide to whom they are most suited. 12.Select the most complimentary sheet of backing card for each porno card and cut a nice shape (rectangles will do - hearts are nice and christmas trees are naff!). 13.Attach porno card with pritt-stick. 14.Select most graphic areas of card and censor with a stick on star
! This gives the recipient the option of whether or not they wish to be exposed to the filth. 15.Write a nice wee note on the back in neat and pretty writing (gold or silver pen looks cool) 16.Ta-daaa! Feeeneesh'd! I is readdy for yoo! You will either repulse people or totally make their day (always worth the risk i think!) A porno card is not just for Christmas, you can delight people with them all year round! note: I did not send one to my Aunty Lillian. She wouldn't have appreciated this side of my humour. Think about what you're doing before you give these 'censoring-worthy' cards out. Thou canst not turn back the exhausted and withered arm of time!
Here is a nice simple set of instructions for making cheap presents from kids to other kids or even grown ups. The result is a picture which looks like a view out of a night-time window, which is cheap and easy to make. You need: 1) Picture frames 2) Cardboard (white and black or navy) 3) Glue 4) Foil pens and glitter 5) White paint I brought my picture frames from Ikea; a three pack of plain pine frames for £1, so that's just 33p per present. You can also get frames in pound shops or charity shops, and paint them with tester pots of emulsion paint if they look a bit grotty. Take a piece of navy or black card the same size as the insert in your frame and get your child to paint a winter/night time scene. My two-year-old did finger painting with white paint to look like snowmen and snowy fields. We then used glitter to liven it up. When it is dry put it in a frame and decorate the outside of the frame if you want. We left ours plain so they are appropriate for adults as well. Cut the white card into 1/2 cm or 1/4 inch thick long strips then use a paper glue to paste two strips across the outside of the glass of each frame in a + shape, like the panes of a window. If you are feeling really adventurous you could stick two thin strips of fabric on either side of the frame like open curtains.
No, I'm not talking santa hats or reindeers..to be honest I've forgotten which song my title comes from now!! What a good start.....haha! I'm talking BOBBINS. The wonderful creative "stuff" that you can make with these has got me totally hooked..my fingers are sore but the spirit is still christmassy! For those of you who havent got the slightest idea what I'm prattling on about, a bobbin is a wooden cylinder with a hole running through it..think of a narrow version of a toilet roll. On the top there are four nails or metal loops.You buy some wool,multicoloured is best,thread a piece through the hole, top to bottom,then wind the wool round all four loops twice. The trick then is to lift the bottom layer of winded wool over the loop or nail with a blunt needle.You wind the wool as you go,repeating the lifting on each loop. You gradually see a tube of wool emerging from the bottom of your bobbin.This makes beautiful bracelets,necklaces or even place mats if you spiral the tube and stitch in place.No more friendship bracelets need to be bought.....you could even set up your own market stall selling the stuff...they are really more-ish and kids just adore making them.
One of the best gifts, in my opinion, is food. And there are lots of ways you can do this, without having to buy lots of boxes of choccies. 1) Chocolate. Buy some cooking chocolate, melt it in the microwave, carefully. (it holds its shape, so it can be hard to judge). Mix in nuts or marshmallows or cherries or dried fruits. Spread it out in a nice big pan, and leave to set. Then break it up into bits, and wrap them up in a cellophane bundle, or fill a small tin. You can also make single large bars. 2) Hot Chocolate! You can find recipes on about.com for hot chocolate, or other drink recipes. A nice jar of hot chocolate mix goes well with chocolate spoons - buy a bunch of plastic spoons (nice clear ones or gold/silver coloured ones look best) - and dip the spoon in chocolate, making sure the bowl of the spoon is full of chocolate. Rest them on some tinfoil to dry. 3) Another thing you can do is Cookies in a Jar - layer the dry ingredients for your favourite cookies in a jar, add the recipe, and some ribbons, and your done. In my experience, most people love the idea of recieving something hand-made - especially since they know you have put more time into it.
If when you look at the prices of table crackers..you`d rather not bother, because they can be £10 or more a box. Have a go at this. I buy the very cheapest I can find, usually there is always somewhere that has them a £1 a box (like on the market or a pound shop). Depending on your dinner guests, or whoever may be pulling the crackers, buy some bits & pieces that you know they would like.. eg. sweets, fun size chocs, pens, keyrings, nail clippers, bath pearls, hair scrunchie, nail varnish....or anything else you see that costs hardly anything. Wrap it up in some xmas paper and open one end of the cracker & pop it in. If you haven`t enough bits or ideas, kids always love to get a 20p or some coppers wrapped up. Then add tinsel in a co ordinating colour, or bows & ribbon to make the crackers look special.
If you want to bestow a unique gift on someone which won’t break the bank, but at the same time will not look cheap or home-made, read on. The following ideas are cheap and easy to make or buy but at the same time stunning in their simplicity, not to mention practicality. A set of cheap white hand towels can be made unique by the addition of coloured ribbon or braid sewn approx. 3 inches from each end. To make them extra special attach the initials of the recipients with some scrap fabric and bondaweb. Not only practical but customised too. Pick a price limit and buy lots of small gifts up the the price you have chosen. For example a washing up bowl filled with soaps, scourers, dish brush, dishcloth etc. or a laundry basket filled with detergent, pegs, softener etc. Cover a small empty cardboard box with scrap fabric or sticky back plastic. On some cards, in your best handwriting, copy out some of your favourite recipes. Fill the box with the cards and also enclose some sachets of herbs and spices. Photograph albums can often be picked up very cheaply. Sometimes they are packed together in twos or threes and they can be really inexpensive bought this way. If you see any for sale cheap, buy them anyway, even if you have no use for them at the time. When Christmas comes round, cover one with pretty fabric or lace and stencil the recipient's initials on the front to personalise it. If you are artistic why not purchase a set of plain white ceramic egg cups, tea cups or plain glasses which are extremely inexpensive. Using a bottle of ceramic paint decorate by hand or stencil or stamp on each one to make them unique. If possible find out before hand the colour scheme preferred.
There a lots of reviews for toys on Dooyoo and I am sure there are some very good and interesting ones among them, the majority of which will probably cost a fair bit to buy. What I would like to say is don't forget the simple things that also make great presents for Birthdays and at Christmas. I recently had to look after a girl of five who was staying with us. She has always had a large selection of toys, though not always new. So which of these reletively expensive games did she want to play for the couple of hours she was in my care? We used a few sheets of blank white paper, a red felt tip pen and a few bits of a roll of sellotape. First she decided to make a paper plane, then did a drawing and finally she wrote out some price tags and stuck them to some household objects and pretended she was running a shop, all of this her ideas. I'm not saying there isn't a place for more sophisticated toys but it doesn't always mean that the more it costs the better the toy and the more the children will play with it.