I know Christmas seems like it is a long way away – but when you are considering making your Christmas presents it pays to think ahead. It is amazing how much money can be saved simply by learning a few simple skills and taking a few hours to make wonderful presents for children and adults alike.
Most of us can say we were taught to cook, sew and knit as a child and these skills are perfect for creating stylish and creative gifts. Your friends and family will think you are so clever and you can sit back and think of all the money you saved.
If you can do a basic back and forth in plain knitting, then you can produce a wonderful light and airy scarf. By some mohair wool (Ebay is the best place for cheap wool), the longer the fluffy bits the better. Now this will sound strange , but use one very large needle (size 10 is perfect) and one smallish needle (around a size 4) and knit your scarf in plain stitch. The result will be a holey, airy, whisper light scarf which will look as though you spent forever slaving over the knitting needles doing something complicated. Add some strands of wool as tassels and there you go.
Costume jewellery make perfect gifts for the ladies in the family. Everyone loves a bit of inexpensive bling. But at £10-£15 for a necklace it really does add up. If you want to have a go at making your own jewellery, it really isn't that hard. You will need to buy some basic equipment. A pair of cutting pliers and a pair of round nosed pliers. You can pick these up online very simply. Then invest in what are called “findings”. These are the silver bits which join all the beads together. They are tiny and very cheap. Then go mad on beads. You can find them in Hobby Craft or online and the options are endless. For around £10 you can easily make 2 necklaces, some earrings and a couple of bracelets and they will be completely unique. Get a book out of the library and learn a new skill. The techniques can be tricky, but practise makes perfect.
Bags are great as gifts. Everyone, even men, worry about the environment and having your own shopping bag, lovingly crafted will make sure you stand out from the crowd at Tesco. A simple rectangle of fabric with a strap attached is very easy to make and requires little skill. You can use scraps of material and remnants from fabric stores. These can be found for as little as a £1. Also ask on your local Freecycle group for any odd pieces of material which people are giving away. Plain material can be tie dyed or printed with fabric paints for an individual approach.
Get the kids involved and make sweets, fudge, coconut ice, chocolates and caramels. A nice idea is to go to second hand or antique shops and pick up decorated china cups and saucers. As they are not part of a set they will be cheap to buy and can be so delicate and pretty. Pile the sweets into the cup and cover with cellophane and a bow. For a truly eco-friendly option put the sweets into a paper or cardboard boat made out of your recycled newspapers or cereal boxes. It is a kitsch idea, but the kids will love it.
Above all, be creative. Nobody has endless amounts of money to spend this year, but it is possible to show your love for your family and friends without breaking the bank. The time and effort you put in will show how much you appreciate those around you.