Whether you’ve already blown your budget or want to eschew consumerism this festive season, you can still spread holiday cheer with a sweet and simple handmade gift.
For the plant lover
For even the most botanically inept, terrariums are easy to make, and look fabulous under the Christmas tree. To start, you’ll need a clear glass container – such as a goldfish bowl, pickle jar, a vase with a broad base, or a large mason jar. Give the container a good clean, and add about 5cm of stones at the bottom (for drainage), a layer of activated charcoal (to prevent fungi), and a layer of potting soil. Using your fingers, dig a well to put the plant in. Try to get miniature plants in different colours, shapes and textures – succulents are great because they need very little water. For the finishing touch, add moss or decorative pebbles.
For the fashionista
Here’s an easy way to put your personal stamp on a gift that will keep on giving. Turn a plain tote bag into a stylish work of art, by using a potato and acrylic paint to create a punchy pattern. If you have access to a sewing machine, you might like to create your own tote out of cotton, linen, or canvas, and some leather for the handles. Or you could buy a blank tote for less than £2 – online, or from an art and craft shop. Cut a potato into a shape of your choosing, dip it into the acrylic paint, wipe off the excess, and get stamping. You might even like to fill the bag with a few of their favourite treats – homemade, of course.
For the phone addict
Got a friend who’s always losing their phone or tablet in the depths of their bag? Surprise them this festive season with a homemade sleeve to keep their device safe and sound. You don’t have to be a sewing whizz to create one – chances are, everything you need is already in your home. You can use any kind of material – leather, cotton, linen, even an old woollen jumper – and any colour thread. Simply measure the fabric to size using the device you’re creating it for, secure the edges with sewing pins, and use a machine or needle and thread to sew the edges together. Turn inside out to hide the seams, and voila!
For the beauty fiend
A good moisturising lip balm is a godsend for frosty winter days – and incredibly simple to create at home. To make 12 or so 15g balms, you’ll need eight tablespoons of coconut oil, three tablespoons of beeswax, one and a half tablespoons of raw honey, and about two dozen drops of an essential oil of your choosing. You’ll also need a dozen little tins with lids to store the balm in – you can get these from art and craft or hardware stores. Place everything except the oil in a double boiler, and heat gently until melted. Add the oil and place the pan in a large bowl of cold water, stirring quickly until the mixture thickens. Pour into the tins, cover with the lids, and let cool for about 12 hours. You can even decorate the outside of the tins with acrylic paint for a personalised touch.