I decided earlier this year that to save money, we would be giving home made gifts to family this Christmas. We’ve just found out that we will be doing our Santa trip to Yorkshire to see my husband’s family mid December, so I thought it was high time I got planning.
I’d spent a little time a month or so ago cruising around Pinterest and pinning any likely looking gift ideas, so yesterday was stage 2 of the operation: fix on what I’m going to make and put together a shopping list and plan of action. Well, I spent the most frustrating day ever completing this stage 2! I have 3 hampers to put together – all will share some contents (although not all in the same amounts) and all will have their own specific contents too. Then, of course, you have to think about how you will be presenting each item and what little ‘tuck-ins’ you might want to include with some things, so I also spent time looking for cellophane cones, jars, tins, muffin cases and on, and on… I do pride myself on my planning ability and love to make lists, but even I’d had enough by 6pm yesterday!
Today was stage 3, and I’ve been making up all the item gift tags with the instructions printed on the other side, which has again taken me hours! Having said that, I do now feel very virtuous and super organised. I even have all the ingredients for every item in an Ocado shopping list so I just click a button to tip everything into my virtual trolley when I do my weekly shop next week – hurrah! After listening to me moan about the whole experience on email, my friend Leonor suggested that I write about it, which seemed like a very therapeutic thing to do, so here I am!
At the same time as indulging myself in this therapy, I thought I’d record all the items I’m making so that if you’re thinking about putting together hampers, or just the odd home made gift this Christmas, you might find this entry useful. Thankfully, most of our family are either technophobes or far too busy raising young family to read this blog, so they won’t stumble across any secrets I share here about what they’re getting for Christmas…
Chai tea mix
Mulled cider mix
The recipe for this one is from Martha Stewart. I ordered some cheesecloth and baker’s twine (you can use any 100% cotton twine to make these up) from a seller on ebay and have some saved up jam jars that I will recycle for the packaging. I’ll also include a bottle of delicious cider in the hamper – I’ve plumped for this one from Ocado / Waitrose. I like to give organic booze whenever possible as I don’t think you get such bad hangovers with it.
Jamaican spice rub
There are a couple of different rub recipes on this page (be a little patient as it takes a minute to load fully) and I went for this one purely because I think a rub is more useful for chicken than for steak – why mess with steak apart from maybe covering it with Roquefort butter or a delicious peppercorn sauce?! I have some mini parfait style jars that I will pop these into, but these little steel canisters are easily available in lots of places and I love how they’ve been presented in this picture.
I have never had s’mores, but I am willing to bet I would love them! The instructions for making these up are here. This has also turned out to be a great new blog find that I’ve added to my feedly. Of course we don’t have Graham crackers in the UK but my research tells me that they are similar to digestives, so that’s what I’ve gone with. You usually make s’mores on an open fire or bbq, but the instructions for these are to make in the oven. I’m not sure I will follow all the presentation ideas here, but will probably decant the biscuits and the marshmallows into clear cello bags and then put them and the bars of chocolate (I’ve gone for Greene & Black’s organic bars in milk and plain) in a little basket or box with some festive napkins.
Christmas muffin mix
No hamper of hand made gifts would be complete without this one! The recipe is from BBC Good Food and is super easy. I will be putting my mix into 1 litre Kilner jars and rather than the spoon, I am going to include a set of 12 silicone muffin cases (the recipe makes enough for 12) that you can use without a tray:
I found these on Ocado here and will put them (inverted) on top of the jar and then tie them on somehow.
Hot chocolate cones
Another home made staple! Everyone will love these and the great thing is that you can easily adjust the amounts in the cones to suit the number of people in the family you’re gifting to, and just adjust the instructions accordingly. I’m putting Greene & Black’s organic hot chocolate in mine along with Waitrose Belgian dark chocolate chips and mini pink and white marshmallows. I also read a tip that suggested that you pack the hot choc mix into its own cone and seal that with a mini elastic band. You then trim off the excess of the bag, drop it into another cone, then fill that with the choc chips and marshmallows, which is a great idea and will keep the chocolate powder separated.
Good for you granola
This is actually the granola I make for us, so I know it is delicious! You can either eat it as a breakfast cereal with milk or yoghurt (option to add some fresh fruit too) or you can sprinkle it on top of hot porridge to add some interest. For this hamper version, I’m substituting some dried berries and cherries for the tropical dried fruit in the recipe. I’ve ordered some sealable containers to put this into, which aren’t the prettiest, but will come in useful for storage later – a gift, in a gift!
Baked rice pudding for one
This one is specially for my Mum, who LOVES rice pudding! The recipe is here. I’ll be putting all the dry ingredients needed for one pudding into cello cones and then popping them into some other container, along with a bottle of vanilla essence and a whole nutmeg. Cute.
I hope that all these ideas will inspire you to make something handmade this Christmas! The planning may be painful, but the results should make up for it 🙂