We’re half way there guys!! I adore Christmas! It still holds the magic and excitement of my childhood and every year I try to out do the Christmasiness of the last. In previous posts I’ve talked about my nostalgic, sentimental self and my need to hold onto things and I’ve talked about my love of all things home-made and local so in this ‘half- way’ post, I want to share with you some of my favourite home-made and local finds of Christmases past so you can plan ahead for your very own easy peasy home- made Christmas!
Orange and Carrot Marmalade
A couple of years ago I ventured, tentatively, into the world of preserves. I blogged all about this yummy carrot and orange chutney here. Unlike ‘real’ marmalade, I needed none of the expensive paraphernalia or experience (or even common sense) to make this scrummy preserve. I decanted it into small Kilner jars and made these cute labels using a Kirsty Allsopp stamp set. I added them to a small wicker basket with some water biscuits and strong, local cheese and gifted them to some co-workers with a nice bottle of red wine.
A perfect ‘home enhanced’ gift for my girlie friends was a mini-pedicure set. I popped a sparkly nail varnish, toe spacers and foot scrub inside a jar. I downloaded the ‘For your Mistle Toes’ tags from this website and tied it around the jar- simple, thoughtful and not like all of the other Boots gift sets swimming around at Christmas time, plus I love the humour of the tag!
As you may have guessed, if I can’t totally home make something then I like to, as I term it, home enhance it! A perfect example of this was a pamper set I put together for my aunties one year. Along with locally made and natural soaps and bath oils, I made them each a jar of vanilla and brown sugar body scrub. It was so easy that it felt as though I was cheating! If you would like to have a go then the recipe I used can be found here. I really recommend trying this as a home-made starter project or with children as it is very easy, cheap and effective. It smells yummy and you can add a cute tag to really set it apart from the shop-bought gifts!
Decorations and gift-wrap
When it comes to gift wrap, I’m a brown paper and butchers string kinda gal! Yet, whilst I love the simplicity of brown paper, I also love to add a little christmas cheer to each gift. I often buy tree ornaments which I love but won’t fit with my tree theme to embellish gifts with or wrap the raffia in a fancy style.
One year I decided to buy a block of Das clay and cut out stars and tree shapes. I then pushed a little whole in the top of them and used a holly stamp to push a pattern into the Das before leaving it to air-dry. I intended to paint them gold but once they had dried, I decided I like the white and so left them. When I wrapped a gift I simply added a star or tree onto the ribbon. I also cut larger ones out and used a clay tool to scratch the date and my niece and nephew’s names into the back of them so that after their gifts were opened, they could keep them as tree decorations. Simple, cheep and, of course, home made. This is another easy home- made christmas project I recommend doing with little ones.
I love wrapping gifts! Sad I know! I love making simple gifts look special and I adore the way the presents look under the tree but one thing I hate doing is writing gift tags! I always end up scribbling the same boring message on every tag and my handwriting just gets worse as the wrapping goes on! Bring in…..THE STAMP! By far one of THE best things I have ever bought! All I do now is buy brown or cream luggage tags and stamp away! Then on the other side I simply write the name of the recipient. Over at The English Stamp Company website you can choose from a range of predesigns or select a custom option. This is what I did. You can select from 9 fonts and 8 boarders as well as typing your own text. I opted for ‘Ho,ho, ho! Merry Christmas! With love from the ‘Try-hard’ family XxX’ this way, as our family dynamics change, our stamp won’t have to! This simple solution cost about £18ish and lets me add that personal, home- made touch I so love to all of my gifts without getting hand cramp!
Every Christmas Eve we have an ‘open-house’ where our friends and family pop in for a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine. Every year I like to bake a treat for them too. Often it is a little pack of gingerbread men (you can’t beat the smell!) but sometimes I like to whip up some cup-cakes. A lovely friend of mine from secondary school has her own business making printed editable icing sheets and I chose to purchase a set of cake toppers and a whole sheet print from her.
They added a festive look to otherwise normal cupcakes and I got to support a small business. I chose to cut triangles from the full-print sheet and arranged them to look like bunting- I think they look almost too cute to eat! Take a look at Fleur’s huge catalogue of printed icing here.
This Year I am loving this easy- to- home- enhance candle idea from The Suburban Mom Such a simple yet special gift I am planning on giving this year is the sent of Christmas. You can find the instructions I plan on following here. Danyelle gave them to her neighbours but I’m thinking of having them as my take-home gift at this years open-house.
I’m going to try- hard to be organised this year- good planing and plenty of time are the keys to a home-made Christmas!
Let me know if you try any of the things in this post. Check back in October (and of course before!) for my series of ‘How to’ Christmas posts.
Util next time…
Mrs T Xx