PUBLISHED: 09:46 25 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:14 20 February 2013
Ideas for making your own presents
Made with love
Pots of jam with pretty labels, a hand-knitted scarf in their favourite colour, a framed photo of a magic moment from the summer; personalised presents are perfect andJo Malone has plenty of ideas to get you started.
Perhaps I was an unusual child, but I used to love the jumpers knitted by my grandmother every Christmas. And definitely one of my favourite presents last year was a box full of chutneys and relishes and jams made by my aunt.
Theres something rather special about personalised presents the trick is to inject your personality and tailor them to the individual. Then they really do seem to be specially made with love ... and the fact theyre probably cheaper doesnt come into it.
Try our selection of simple to make but very effective gift ideas and make the most of the long winter nights to create something a little bit different for them to unwrap this Christmas.
Wine or sloe gin: Make it yourself and add beautiful, personalised labels to give it that extra something.
Jam: Use a favourite recipe; dont overfill the jars and add pretty lid covers and labels. Remember to add This way up to the gift tag!
Dried herbs: Make individual pots or bunches of bouquet garni. Use bay leaf, a good sprig of parsley, rosemary and thyme; wash and allow to dry until crisp in airing cupboard, over the Aga or in a very low temperature oven. Wrap in muslin and tie with twine, leaving enough length to hang over the edge of the pot.
Cakes: Package in cellophane bags and tie with ribbon and a tag. Miniature Christmas cakes are ideal make one large square cake and cut into three-inch squares, decorate and package.
Mug of love: Take a multi-pack of mugs, chocolate sticks, hot chocolate sachets and bag of mini marshmallows. Divide between the mugs, pop into cellophane bags and add labels saying A mug of love from me.
Bird boxes: Use untreated wood and dont paint it in case the birds peck it, but do personalise with pyrography (decorating by burning). Add a perch and maybe a home-made bird-cake too.
Scarves: If you know their favourite colour or the shade of their winter coat, knit one to suit. Or make an evening scarf from velvet, decorating with beads, buttons, tiny homemade pom poms or ribbon. Be sure to add your own Hand-made by me label.
Patchwork cushion: To truly personalise, include photographs of the recipient, their pets, favourite flowers, house etc printed on printable washable fabric within the patchwork.
Photos: Have one made into a jigsaw, printed on a canvas or frame it. Or print it on fabric and turn into a bookmark, sew on a plain sweatshirt or oven glove. Make a collage or a personal storybook with lots of pictures of favourite toys or pets.
Wooden height charts: Draw your design, such as a flamingo, soldier, lighthouse or giraffe. Practise on cardboard first to be sure theres room for the measure and space to write a date. Cut out of wood and paint.
Themed hampers: Choose a theme for each recipient and let the imagination go! Gardeners could have seeds, string, markers and gloves; students, a bin with rulers and pens, stickers, mouse-mat and biscuits, while those in need of pampering could enjoy chocolates, a face-pack, massage voucher and lavender sachet.
Knitted egg cosies: This great retro gift is easy to make from two rectangles of 20 stitches (27 rows in garter stitch on 4mm works well). Embroider individually, with names, music notes etc, then stitch front to back. Add to hand-painted egg cups.
Coupons: The time-rich giver could create beautiful vouchers for anything from an evenings babysitting to breakfast in bed. Remind the recipient during the year to use them.
Painted glasses: Find a suitable image, such as a cat, flower or star, and tape to the inside of the glass. Paint three layers using glossy water-based paint, allowing to dry between each layer. Bake for 35 minutes at 140c/gas mark 2. Use a similar method for mugs or egg cups.
Flower sachets: Dry scented flowers such as lavender in a warm, dark, dry place, then place completely dry heads in a dinner-plate size circle of fabric. Hole-punch around the edge 3cm apart, thread ribbon in and out of the holes, pull to gather into bag shape and tie.
Decorated hangers: In ribbon or lace; start and finish at the bottom of the hook, sew or glue ends and cover with a ribbon bow, adding a dried flower sachet.
Or paint, with their name, flowers, stripes etc. Use leftover wood paint or tester pots and seal with clear polyurethane.
For a padded hanger, wrap a long strip of polyester wadding around a hanger, stitching at both ends. Cut a rectangle of fabric big enough to cover the hanger, plus 1.5cm seam allowance, pressed on to the wrong side. Stitch in place by hand, gathering for a good fit.
Bunting: For childrens rooms, garden rooms, dads shed or even in miniature for
dolls houses. Spell out their name or subtly ask their favourite colour to help you choose the colours for the flag fabric.
Draw a triangle or heart, circle or rectangle template and cut out as many flags as you need, using pinking shears to avoid fraying. With triangles, either sew the two long sides together on the wrong side of the fabric, turnout and press, or sew together on the right side, iron and spray with starch.
Fold 13mm wide bias binding tape in half lengthwise and iron, arrange the flags equidistant from each other make sure the edge is inside the tape and sew, leaving a few flag free inches at each end for tying.
Makes about 20 pieces
175g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter
Few drops vanilla essence
Shallow cake tin, greased
1 Warm milk, sugar and butter in a pan slowly until the sugar and butter have melted. Bring to the boil, stirring.
2 Boil gently for 20 minutes, keep testing temperature until reaches 115C (or soft-ball stage), remove from heat, add vanilla.
3 Stand for five minutes, then beat until starts to thicken and gloss disappears.
4 Pour into greased tin, allow to set at room temperature.
5 Once set, cut into pieces, place in cellophane bag, tie with ribbon, label.