Sunday, 25 September 2011

Home made Christmas cards.

I made these cards using old christmas paper that has repeating designs of santa, snowman, angel, robin etc cut out the pic and mounted on tissue paper or arranged in a simple design as on the card on the left. They took minutes to make and have a hand made look which is very appealing.  Don't be put off by not having the correct envelope size as a packet of 50 white envelopes costs 99p and can easily be cut and glued to fit each design. If you dig out your old wrapping paper and try to use up what you have lying around then the possibilities are endless. Why not give it a go!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Boozy Treats Make Great Thrifty Presents

Now is the time to gather damsons and sloes to make damson or sloe gin which will be ready by Christmas.
Here's the recipe I use for damson gin and you can adapt it for sloe gin, perhaps adding a smidge more sugar.
You will need:
                700 ml vodka or gin
                 440 (ish) g damsons (stab with fork)
                350g caster sugar

Put into a sterile jar in a dark place for about 3 months. Turn when you remember! That's all there is to it.

For sloe gin you need to prick the sloes allover with  a needle. I used a safety pin and because the sloes are small you can leave this in a bottle.  A delicious treat. Pour into interesting bottles and give as Christmas presents. Chin chin!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Christmas count down!

It may sound odd but now the children are back at school and the nights are starting to draw in, this is the ideal time to start thinking about Christmas preparations. Preparing early will have the advantage of spreading the cost over the coming months and beginning any projects you may want to start ie hand made presents such as scarves, hats, cushion covers, christmas cards etc.
1.To begin with make a present list and start to think about what you can make, what is cost effective and what skills you might need to brush up on.
2. Begin shopping/making with presents in mind.
3. Consider making your own cards, see above. We will have some ideas in later blogs but do think about the cost. Handmade cards are lovely but if you spend more on them than bought cards then they may not be cost or time effective. The trick is to have a simple design and use every scrap of art materials to make it look good yet cost effective.
4. Consider making your own alcoholic drinks. My friend has a splendid damson tree and gathers the damsons and infuses them in gin to make damson gin which is absolutely delicious.
5. Pace yourself , set a budget and try and make or source several presents per month.
6. Consider people's hobbies and put something unique together for that person. My aunt loved herbs but was short on time and a garden. I bought several lovely terracotta pots, hand painted them with simple designs and arranged them prettily in a ribbonned box with herb seeds. These were very inexpensive and she was delighted with the result as she could grow her herbs on the window sill.
7. Similarly a good book, hot chocolate set and mug can make a really thoughtful present.
8. Online auctions can provide really reasonable stuff. If you love silver jewellery you can buy lovely pieces from China at a fraction of the cost you would pay in the UK. If you study the feedback and are sensible then nothing should go wrong and if you pay via paypal then you can claim your money back if there is a problem.
9. Amazon is also an amazing site not just for books but for all manner of items including clothes and jewellery.
10. With a bit of ingenuity and thought you can give great, thoughtful presents which will be a pleasure to give and receive. And remember that you can still give of your time and skills which are invaluable. If you can baby sit, decorate, cook, garden then make a handmade voucher  instead of a gift.