I was asked recently to write my Top 10 Tips for Make Do and Mend Christmas for a local paper, and thought that I would share the longer version that was too long for the paper with you lovely lot!
1) Make your presents! We made at least 90% of the presents that we gave last Christmas, and yes, it was hard work, but infinitely preferable to days spent battling round the shops in the pre-Christmas rush.
You don’t have to be a whiz on a sewing machine or spend a lot on materials-I made a hat, scarf and mitten set from an old jumper, and a table lamp from an old wine bottle, amongst other things.
2) If you are going for a homemade Christmas, then presents that you can make in batches make life easier-I made a couple of batches of bath bombs, and gave them to my mum and mother in law, my sister in law as well as putting some in the kid’s stockings.
3) Edible presents are always a sure-fire winner. I got some lego moulds secondhand on E-bay recently, and am now fully equipped to make chocolate lego bricks and lego men 🙂 I also made a batch of chocolate fudge last year, rolled it into balls, and then bagged up my ‘reindeer poos’ for the boys and their friends.
4) If you like cooking, and one of your relatives doesn’t, then how about portioning up some meals for them to stash in the freezer, especially if they live on their own. It sounds a bit strange but I have done this for my mother in law on her last two birthdays, and she was delighted!
5) If you are buying rather than making, then do keep your eyes peeled in the charity shops and on E-bay. With a little bit of thought, a secondhand gift can be really special. My brother is an avid cricket fan, and we managed to track down a copy of the Cricketer magazine from the month and year he was born, for about £3.
6) Don’t be afraid to give gifts that aren’t actually ‘things’. I would LOVE to get a night’s babysitting, so that hubby and I could go out. You could print out vouchers, so there is still something to hand over on the day-anything goes, we have donated an afternoon’s worth of digging on my parent’s allotment before.
7) Remember that all things Vintage are pretty cool right now, and vintage is just another word for secondhand, so check out your local flea market (there is a great one at the Bath and West Showground several times a year) and vintage fairs, for all kinds of loveliness.
8) Contrary to what the big retailers would like us to believe, Christmas isn’t all just about presents, there are ways to save money on your decorations too-we made a Christmas tree from egg boxes last year, which at the time felt a little like madness, but looking back, was actually really good fun, and certainly made for a good talking point! I also opted for more traditional decorations like paper chains, and made ‘tinsel’ by sewing together long lines of felt circles from a shrunken jumper.
9) You can save yourself a fortune on wrapping paper, by using plain brown paper or even newspapers, and then trying all the pressies up with matching ribbon, or even wool or garden string-think ‘shabby chic’. We also use the previous year’s cards to make labels for the presents, or as notelets when it comes to thankyou letter time.
10) Lastly, and probably most importantly, think about who you are buying for, and why you are buying. Don’t just buy for the sake of buying. And don’t be afraid to be the one who broaches the subject of cutting back this year, and either not buying for some of the people on your list, or doing some kind of Secret Santa. I think most people, far from being offended, will be glad that someone has been brave enough to bring the subject up, and will be only too glad to cut back too.
So there you have it.
I have a post planned where I pull together all of the brilliant ideas that you have given me for homemade presents, but if you can’t wait for that, then check out the ULTIMATE Start Gift Guide for people who are bored of giving crap at Christmas!