Last year, in an effort to keep bills down and presents authentic, I made a range of homemade gifts: Homemade Christmas Part One. This year, I took it up a level, assembling an almost entirely homemade hamper with help from the girls. It’s Homemade Christmas Part Two.
Each year I try to find ways to create special gifts on a modest budget. Not only for economic reasons but also to try and reduce the consumerism which surrounds Christmas. Homemade is a win all round for us. Firstly, no ghastly, tiring and rather soulless shopping trips to massive stores (I’m also a sucker for being seduced by instore deals). So I effectively swap that time for crafting Christmas gifts. Well, yes, probably a lot more time is spent on the gifts than shopping but it’s incredibly relaxing.
Secondly, homemade Christmas is a great activity I can do with the kids. This year I gave them free reign to decide what they wanted to put in from them and make it. They each had their own area of responsibility which I knew the relatives would love but it also made them feel important plus engaged them more with gift giving and what it means.
Unlike previous years, I started my planning pretty early. Yep, October. After years of mocking my mother for Christmas shopping in October turns out it’s a pretty sensible thing to do. I’m adulting at Christmas! Despite being a ninja with the productivity apps I use for work, it turned out Pinterest was the best tool for finding and collating my ideas. I’ve kept my board live for everyone to see 🙂
And against all s, my civic responsibility instincts, once again, Amazon was the place that had most of what I needed. Yes. Even more homemade. I found other supplies at Hobbycraft and a few local ‘hero’ shops; Infinity Food, Clarks stationers and many of the traders and stalls at Brighton Open Market.
I resued the Amazon boxes to make the actual hampers, painting them with acrylic, adding glitter and finishing them with sealant. Which in turn made the boxes reusable for storage!
On Christmas Day, I was nervous. Was everyone going to see the effort we made on the hampers? Will they think it’s rather cheap? Well, I needn’t have worried, everyone was thrilled with their box of delights.
Here’s what we made.
Loulou loves sewing, so I bought a stack of binca (pre-holed fabric) to practice on. Turns out it’s pretty good for stuffing with lavender for little drawer sachets. A while back, we made the sachets to help with L’s anxiety, lavender has calming properties, she’d smell it on the way to school and keep it with her all day. They were popular with her friends, so we ended up making a bunch of them! So it’s seemed obvious to make larger ones for our family members to go in the hampers.
Paintings – by Boo
Boo is into her painting and has developed some great form and colour skills. I already had a stack of acrylic paint left over from last year, so I bought some small canvas boards and she completed four masterpieces. What was great, is she painted each one with the people receiving it in mind.
Bath Bombs – by the whole team!
We love making these but only ever seem to make time for it at Christmas. This year, we blended geranium and lavender to make Fizzy Bath Bombs and Epsom Salt based bath bombs, I even treated myself to bath bomb moulds. The Epsom formulation is a bit feisty and works better in muffin tins, not the moulds. Blending the wet ingredients and dry is really a two-man job, as it needs to be controlled, so it was perfect to get the girls involved. One poured, one stirred and we all moulded.
I had great fun making a range of nutters to spread on bread, pancakes or use in cooking. The recipes were actually pretty simple, it just took patience to soak and dehydrate the nuts, so I had a pretty tight routine (in and around work/ life/ house/ school). I made almond, coconut, sesame seed butter and a take on Nutella with an almond base (instead of Hazelnut). I bought preserving jars to gift the butters in which can be reused for kitchen storage. I printed off a typical uses sheet plus recipes in which to use the butters.
As there are two diabetics in the family, I look at finding healthy but delicious treats to make each year. Usually, I prepare simple vegan chocolate but to take it up a notch, I found some gorgeous fudge recipes. Well, I say take it up a notch but the fudge was just as easy to make as the chocolate, just a few more ingredients. I made sugar-free chocolate fudge and a scrumptious, nutty-tasting Salted Tahini variant. I dipped the chocolate fudge into maca powder to stop them from getting to slippy in the boxes.
The rest of the boxed was filled with the annual school photographs, infused gins and vodkas in Victorian style glass bottles which I decorated with glass paint, homemade lip balms and some puzzle books for the grandparents!
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