Saturday 28 September 2013

Make it personal this Christmas

Following on from yesterday's festive post, I thought I'd share just a couple of ideas on how you can get a bit crafty and add a personal touch to your Christmas celebrations and gifts this year. A little time and a little thought is all you need and I promise your family and friends will appreciate all your efforts.

* Christmas Cards *

Now, it's not the cheapest way to pass on your sentiments of the season, but I really love making cards for people and this year, rather than go completely mad in Hobbycraft like I normally do, I've planned to make a maximum of three different card designs this year to make it simpler and budget-friendly. Above are a couple of examples from previous years and this year, I'm planning on cutting out gingerbread men and Christmas tree shapes from different festive patterned paper, then adding button / bow star details before mounting onto brown card. I'm also going to try making a wreath shape from a circle of buttons, stick a bow at the top and mount onto patterned paper.

* Gift Tags *

I love luggage labels and whether you choose the traditional brown or opt for red, green or white, they can make brilliant gift tags for presents. You can also pick them up really cheaply on eBay or at your supermarket. Simply punch a festive shaped hole at one end, add a festive sticker or stamp a seasonal message on the tag. Finish with some ribbon or coloured twine (cheap as chips but can really look great on your presents if you like a traditional or handmade look). 

*  Gift Bags *

Keep an eye out for some simple gift bags in plain brown paper or simple, nordic prints. I picked up a box of 24 gift bags like the above in Ikea for abour £7 and Tesco also had some larger gift bags that were plain but lovelt for about 20p each - perfect for decorating yourself. Add a gift tag and a little Christmas decoration like above (wooden decorations bought last year from Tesco for £2 for 12) or get creative with washi tape or festive stamps and decorate each bag however you like.

* Gingerbread *

Last year, I decided I would make a few gifts for people and they were so well received, I think I'll be doing the same this year. You could make gingerbread, shortbread or cookies, whatever you like, just use festive shaped cutters. You can buy cellophane bags on eBay to put your finished baked goods in and make sure people know you've made them by adding a personalised sticker (I buy mine from Label Amour on eBay). Pop them in little gift bags or seasonal tins (Home Bargains always have some great tins for about 50p each which are great for this) and voila, a homemade gift that everyone will enjoy.

* Chocolate Truffles *

I had a go at making truffles last year and it was a lot of fun, if a bit time consuming. My advice would be to research recipes and try them out before you're going to make them so you know what to do and you can be sure it's going to work. I started ambitious wanting to make white chocolate, baileys and dark chocolate truffles, all rolled in different toppings such as chocolate flakes, sugar, chopped nuts and so on. In the end, the dark chocolate truffles worked out the best, I think due to the higher cocoa content. I found a baking supply website and ordered these pretty chocolate boxes. I can't remember how much they cost but I had around 20 of them and when I worked out the cost of ingredients, each gift box probably cost about £3-£4.

* Crackers *

Shop bought crackers are a bit of an accepted joke aren't they? The dodgy jokes, flimsy paper hats and plastic gifts... but it's just not Christmas without them. Unless you spend more on them, high street crackers can be a bit of a waste in my opinion so why not have a go at making your own? I've used felt before, wrapped around a card tube and tied with ribbon at the ends. I've also bought kits, like the one pictured above from M&S last year. They come complete with hats, jokes and everything you need to make the cracker, all you need to do is buy something small to put inside. What I like about this is you can personalise the cracker so each person gets something they'll actually use. I put a scratchcard in the men's crackers, mini lip glosses and key rings in the ladies and everyone had a few chocolate coins too. Cracking!

* Advent Calendar *

As this is our first Christmas as a family of three, I want to start some family traditions, even though Ethan won't remember them this year. One idea I have is to make an advent calendar where each day, each of us will have a chocolate treat as well as a themed task to enjoy. I'm thinking anything from 'watch Elf' to 'bake gingerbread', 'make a decoration for the tree' and 'go for a walk', just something we can enjoy as a family in the lead up to Christmas. I've bought the above wooden advent calendar from Hobbycraft, which is supplied plain for you to decorate yourself, and can't wait to make this our own for Christmas this year and many years in the future.

Top tips for keeping to your crafty budget:
  • Plan what you want to make and what you need and do your best to stick to it (I'm a sucker for anything sparkly too but do your best to resist buying more than you really need).
  • Choose a theme for your cards and gift wrapping - like the brown paper and red theme above I chose last year - because that way, you can mix and match your materials across your different craft projects so nothing is wasted, plus everything will look great together.
  • Think outside the craft box - what can you use to add a personal touch? Pine cones, cinnamon sticks, fabric off-cuts... you can use anything to make your presents or cards look special and handmade.
I've placed my order with Hobbycraft for this year and I've been really good. I wanted to buy three different sets of stock paper in festive patterns but chose just one and as I said earlier, I'm limiting the number of card designs I'm going to make.

I'd love to hear your ideas on how you can personalise your Christmas gifts and decorations so let me know if there's a great project you're planning this year.


  1. I made truffles as Xmas presents last year too. I had little money to spend on presents so gave people who were not immediate family or my closest friends a box of homemade truffles. They went down very well! Think I might do ginger bread xmas shapes dipped in chocolate this year.
    The Thrifty Magpies Nest

    1. I think people really appreciate the thought and effort that goes into it!


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