Creating DIY Christmas gifts is a lovely opportunity to spend some time being creative with your children, as well as giving your loved ones a gift that shows how much you care.
Whatever age your child is and interests they have there should be a kind of craft or recipe that they will enjoy. Here are some of my favorites:
Chutneys and Jams
Tasty chutneys and jams are a lovely gift, especially when presented in a pretty Kilner jar or similar. They generally aren’t too difficult to make, but take some time simmering to get the right consistency. Red onion marmalade, mango chutney and cranberry jam are some of my favourites for the Christmas season.
Mango chutney is a really nice choice for Christmas time, as it complements a turkey sandwich perfectly!
- 4 large mangoes
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 baking apples
- 1 tablespoon mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 pint white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 450g/1lb caster sugar
- Peel the mango and apples and chop into small, even chunks
- Put the ginger, garlic, apples, vinegar, mustard, cayenne pepper and sugar in a pan over a low heat, until sugar is dissolved.
- Bring the mixture to the boil and add the mangoes
- Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the chutney is syrupy
- Spoon into sterilized jars and seal.
Chocolate truffles are surprisingly easy and quick to make, yet look very effective when packaged nicely. You can add whiskey or rum to make alcoholic truffles but don’t let your kids get too involved in that bit, obviously! Here is a simple recipe:
- 300ml double cream
- 300g chocolate, chopped small
- 1 tsp salt
- Cocoa powder
- Bring the cream to a simmer in a medium-sized pan
- Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of water. Avoid letting it boil.
- When the chocolate is melted and the cream simmering remove from the heat and combine with the salt. Add the chocolate a third at a time.
- Put the mixture in the fridge for 5 hours or so to allow it to set.
- Use a small melon baller to scoop out your truffles, then roll in cocoa powder, nuts, desiccated coconut or whatever else takes your fancy!
Homemade Christmas crackers are lovely to make for any guests you have on Christmas day, but are also a nice gift idea for family and friends that won’t be joining you. If you are buying presents for a family consider buying small thoughtful gifts for each family member, and putting in pretty crackers that they can decorate their table with on the day. Here’s how:
- Decorative paper
- Cracker snap
- Toilet roll
- Small gift
- The present needs to be wrapped in tissue paper then put inside a toilet roll tube.
- Attach a cracker snap, available at craft/DIY stores to the outside of the toilet roll tube.
- Wrap the paper of your choice around the cracker snap and tube, tying at each end with ribbon to form a cracker shape.
- The fun part: make sure each person’s name is incorporated in some way, then let your children decorate in any way they wish; glitter, sequins, fabric scraps etc.
It is possible to make your own lovely soaps in your home. They make excellent Christmas gifts, especially if you have any friends that prefer natural products to those with a lot of artificial chemicals.
You could experiment with herb scented soaps, citrus ones, lavender, coconut or exfoliating oatmeal. Some parts are a little tricky, and involve using lye, which is caustic and can cause chemical burns if you don’t take necessary precautions when handling it. Therefore it might be best to work on this with older, teenage children.
A chai latte soap is a lovely idea for cold winter months and smells just as good as the tasty drink.
- Palm oil – 90 g
- Coconut oil – 90 g
- Olive oil – 90 g
- Cocoa butter – 30 g
- Castor oil – 30 g
- Lye – 46 g
- Water – 100 g
You can find detailed instructions on how to make it at the ‘Soap Queen’ blog here.
Emily Bradbury is writing on behalf of Midlands- founded company The FCA, an agency for fostering in the UK and world-wide.