10 Thoughtful but Cheap Gifts
Giving gifts should be fun. Often I spend hours trudging around shops, wincing every time I get out my debit card to pay too much for something I am only half sure will even be liked. Hopefully, some of the ideas below will put the joy back in to gift giving.
Now I know that home made gifts have a stigma for being tasteless and tacky, but if you plan well and take your time you will be surprised at some of the lovely things you manage to turn out.
1. Cookie or Brownie Mix in a Jar
My friend gave me one of these last year and I loved it. A one litre jar (with lid) is not expensive and a five minute scour of the web will provide you with a multitude of fun cookie or brownie mix recipes. You fill the jar with the dry ingredients, many of which you may already have in your cupboard, and add a gift tag with any extra ingredients needed, cooking instructions and baking times. Friends and family can enjoy freshly baked cookies at their conveneince.
Make it Extra Special: Add some cute sugar sprinkles or fun shaped cookie cutters for an additional touch
Links to Some Recipes for Jar Gifts
2. Personalised Wine Glass
This one works out cheaper the more people you do for. A set of glass pens will set you back about £4-£7 and is the most expensive part of this gift. We used the stores own brand wine glasses and they were more than adequate. You can decorate the glasses as your whim takes you. When we did this we wrote the recipients name and 'Merry Christmas' so kept it really basic. If you want to try more elborate design try printing an image to scale and taping it to the inside of the glass as a guide, though be sure to wash the tape residue of properly afterwards. The best bit about this is until you seal the ink on (there are numerous tutorials online that will show you how to do this and tecnique may vary depending on the pen you are using) it is easy to wipe off so if you go wrong you can just start again.
Make it Extra Special: Line the glass with tissue paper and fill it with wrapped candies. Put a little extra tissue paper on the top (or pull the excess from the side over) to keep them hidden and safe.
3. Home-made Candy
If you have a little patience and quite a bit of time, there are so many recipes about for home made chocolates, fudge and other sweet treats to be found. I personally think that with home made candy a lot can be added with presentation. Most craft stores sell little boxes and bags, add a few ribbons and maybe a cute little label and you have something that looks that yummy and professional.
Make it Extra Special: Use an alphabet chocolate mould to spell someones name or write a short message. You can also add extra flavours or extra ingredients to existing recipes to cater to someone's specific tatses.
4. Themed Hampers
There are endless themes and different ways that you could take this so I will just list a couple to give the general gist:
Movie Night Hamper – DVD, Popcorn, Fizzy Drink, Blanket
Pamper Hamper – Facemask, Bubble bath, Body Lotion, Nice Bar of Chocolate
Hobby Specific Hampers (e.g. for baking) – Cake deocations, Flavour Essences, Cookie Cutter, Apron
5. Home-made Christmas Ornaments
My favourite Christmas ornaments to make are with salt dough. Salt dough is made with flour, salt and water so there is no need to buy anything special in. I use cookie cutters to get tidy shapes and a straw to cut a hole for the ribbon. Once they have been baked and have cooled you can decorate as you will. Salt dough is just one of many different ways to make your own Christmas decorations, you could also knit or sew something special or maybe decorate an old light bulb with glitter and fabric. It's always lovely to have something home made and personal hanging on the tree.
6. Personalised Clothing
This works great for children, best for babies and maybe not so much for adults. Fabric pens can be found on the internet for not too many pennies and can be used to decorate onesies or white t-shirts with funny pictures or captions to make little ones smile. For girls also you could buy a basic cardigan or top and add buttons, ribbons or sequins to your hearts content.
7. Home-made Photo Gifts
Photo collages and scrap books are great gifts. Buy a scrapbook and create pages full of fun and happy memories. Scrapbooking can sometimes get a bit pricey so another option is to use regular A4 paper, you can print, draw or stick on decorations to make it look nice then put in plastic wallets and collate in a nice folder.
Make it Extra Special: Collaborate as a group to work on a book or collage for a friend or family member. Get everyone to contribute photos and write down memories, messages or funny stories.
8. Framed Poem or Quote
This may be more appropriate for a significant other or close family member. A funny or sentimental poem written by you would make a unique and quirky gift! Type it, or write it out very neatly if you have been blessed with good handwriting, and put it in a nice frame. If you are not really a writer another option is to write up someones favourite quote and get that framed.
Make it Extra Special: Use a bigger frame so you have room to decorate or add a photo.
9. Date Day (or Night)
It is said that there is nothing more prescious that the gift of time and I fully concur. Give a card with the when, where and what to wear and tailor an afternoon or evening for them. Maybe pick them up coffee in hand and take them for a walk round their favourite park then a picnic or go somewhere neither of you have been before. The key to this is in the planning, if you research a little ahead and find free or cheap activities and pretty places to go there are so many ways that you can take this.
Make it Extra Special: Find a cafe or restaurant close by to finish up at. Take a look at the menu ahead of time to see if they do the type of thing the recipient would like and be sure to book a table if the reviews are good (if the reviews aren't good maybe don't go)
10. Recipe Collection
Do you have a friend that loves cheese or chocolate, or just junk food? Spend some time finding recipes that they may not have tried but you think they would love. Recipe books are great gifts but the ones from the store often have at least a few different versions of things we already know how to make and usually have a few things that we wouldn't ever really fancy. This is so much more personal and any foods that they don't like can be avoided.
Make it Extra Special: Is there a restaurant dish that is a particular favourite? Try to find a copy cat recipe or at least a very similar one so they can make at home.
I hope that some of these ideas help put the fun back into giving this year.
© 2014 Hannah David Cini