It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the festive period – I’ve already done a lot of my Christmas shopping, I’ve planned out my gift wrapping theme (a very important consideration, I think you’ll agree), and I’m in countdown mode until the tree goes up on the 1 December.
As well as taking a lot of joy from buying people gifts I know they’ll love, I always try and make a selection of homemade items to add in with their presents. In the past I’ve made skincare, soaps, jams and chutneys, fudge, bath salts and all sorts, and I love making my own gift labels or customising wrapping paper. Having all these little projects really gets me into the Christmas spirit and I find it takes away some of the ‘commercial’ pressure if I feel I’ve made things as well as indulging in some Christmas shopping.
This year my main Christmas crafting project is making candles. (Spoiler alert if you are receiving gifts from me, there will probably be one of these under your tree!) Candles are relatively easy to make if you pick up some soy wax and wicks – you can add your favourite essential oils if you have some already, and all the process involves is melting the wax, adding oils and then pouring them into a jar. I’ve been saving jars for a little while now – Liam is very happy that the best jars come from the pork scratchings at the pub! You can also make nice labels for them using a printer and inkjet cartridges and printing stickers.
I found the instructions in the November issue of Simple Things magazine but there’s also another good guide here using soy wax, which is what I’ve used. My favourite essential oils for Christmas candles are cinnamon, cedarwood, wild orange, clove and cypress. (Obviously I can’t reveal my very secret blend… ha!) My only problem is that I love the ones I’ve made so much that I keep burning them as part of ‘quality assurance’ – something tells me I’m going to have to buy more wax!
I always find that edible treats go down well – be it biscuits, chutneys or even sloe gins or flavoured vodkas. I must admit that my biggest hit however has always been homemade fudge. Presented in a jar with some twine and a pretty label, it looks fab and tastes even better. I always use this recipe for Maltesers Fudge and this one from Olive magazine for the Baileys and White Chocolate Fudge – both are pretty foolproof!
Another foolproof DIY project that doesn’t even involve the kitchen is to make a pillow spray. All you need is a glass spray bottle (you can buy them from eBay, Amazon or often Essential Oil suppliers will sell them), witch hazel, distilled water and essential oils. (There’s a good guide here). I like adding lavender, sweet orange, chamomile, bergamot and frankincense, with lavender being the main oil.
If you prefer those projects that don’t involve boiling up ingredients then beard oils are a great, easy gift to make for the hairier members of your family! All you have to do is mix carrier oils – I recommend argan oil, jojoba oil and almond oil – with essential oils, I recommend cedarwood, frankincense and rosemary. This recipe shows you the measurements and has some free labels you can print but I’d definitely recommend using cedarwood in lieu of some of the ones they recommend, it’s great for stimulating growth, circulation and it’s anti-fungal and anti-septic.
I can’t deny I do love giving an edible gift – and chocolate truffles are another one that are incredibly easy to make. I’ve used this BBC Good Food recipe before (I used my hands as I didn’t have a melon baller!) You can freeze them for up to a month or they last several days in the fridge (not that I’ve ever known them to be any other than wolfed down on the day they’re given!)
I pretty much exist on cheese, crackers and chutney in the period between Christmas and New Year, so having some good chutneys in the cupboard is a must, making them a great gift. There are so many variations of chutney recipes but I’ve heard that this Mary Berry one is delicious – it’s definitely on my ‘to-make’ list this year. Like almost all of these DIY projects, a nice jar and a pretty printed label make all the difference here!
Are you a fan of DIY Christmas projects? What are your favourite things to make?