As November draws to a close I get stocked up with ingredients and plan my Christmas baking. There will be Christmas Fairs, school productions, events at Church and the month of December always rapidly fills up with one thing after another. Get planning and making as and when you can now so that you don't get too overwhelmed closer to the festive season.
As always my mantra is:
Pick manageable crafts and edible treats to make, don't run yourself ragged.
Yeah, I know, pot/kettle! There are lots of biscuit and muffin recipes that can be frozen or that keep for ages. Do what you can, when you can. Take time to enjoy Christmas preparations and stop for a well earned cuppa once in a while. There is no law that says you have to turn into Martha Stewart or Nigella Lawson and bake/make for the entire world. Sometimes a homemade card and small item is enough, sometimes there is no need to bother at all. Don't feel the pressure to give to everyone your family comes in to contact with. Be selective and make the gift meaningful for those people.
My best tip ever is: Put it on a stick!
Cookies and cake pops make impressive gifts and you can get away with giving someone half a dozen prettily packaged items as a gift if they are on sticks rather than in little cases or a gift box. It makes your creations go much further. If you gave someone 6 plain cookies they would think you were a scrooge. If they're on sticks and individually wrapped with cellophane and ribbon, somehow half a dozen looks impressive. LOL
|Chocolate Christmas Tree Biscuits recipe is here|
What about hampers and jars?
A gift that usually goes down well doesn't actually involve having to bake anything at all. I put baking mixes in jars, wrap them up including a cookie cutter and wooden spoon and that's it. Kids can make them as it helps them with measuring and pouring skills and you don't have to turn on your oven. Brilliant! Jars and wooden spoons can be bought very cheaply, baking ingredients are usually on offer too so it makes an attractive gift - both from a budget and low faff point of view.
Wrap your homemade baking and gifts well. You've spent energy and effort making gifts so make an effort with presentation too. It needn't be expensive either. Cover cardboard trays, boxes, etc in Christmas paper to recycle them. Look out for cheap ribbon, cellophane, baking tins and glass jars to put your goodies in. The £1 stores usually have jars, tinsel, paper and other wrapping items or use reusable wrapping like a lovely teatowel, fabric gift bag or lined tray made from fabric remnants.
Swap baking and goodies with your friends.
They may be good at making things that you aren't, swap what you make and then you both benefit. If you have 30 jars of chutneys and preserves like I do, swap with a friend who has made loads of Christmas cakes or other goodies. Tis a winner all round.
|Easy Christmas Cake Balls recipe is here.|
Have a Christmas Craft Afternoon
Our Church organises one every year and there are other informal sessions I have with friends as well. It is a good opportunity to enjoy spending time with friends help each other make gifts that will save money and have a cuppa and natter at the same time. It's also brilliant for picking up new ideas and skills, plus learning new techniques and recipes from others.
Get your kids involved
It's a really hard hearted and rude person who will turn their nose up at a homemade gift made by adorable children. They wouldn't dare hurt their feelings, would they?! It also has the added benefit of keeping kids amused when the weather outside is cold and awful and they are bored in the weekends and week or so of school holidays leading up to Christmas.
Recycle what you can, make your own when you can.
Use old Christmas cards as gift tags, old tins as plant pots or baking tins for mini Christmas cakes, get your kids to make wrapping paper from plain paper, and use Christmas tea towels to wrap bags of baked goodies or Christmas cakes in. Make your own Christmas cards, gift tags and even stickers using a colour printer and your home computer. Get your kids to make gift tags and wrapping paper, save money and keeps them amused at the same time. Go plain when it comes to wrapping paper. If you really can't resist shiny Christmas wrapping paper, buy plain colours like red, silver, green or gold or which can be used to wrap all kinds of presents all year round.
Self adhesive felt is craft material sent from heaven!
It can be used to make decorations, just cut out shapes using cookie cutters as templates, add a loop of ribbon and stick two together. So simple! It can also be used to cover old tins that make great cookie holders in hampers. You can also use shapes cut from self adhesive felt to make Christmas cards, or stick them on cardboard and cut around them again to make gift tags. So versatile, and not too expensive either.
I'll be blogging my low faff Christmas Recipes over the next couple of weeks that will hopefully make your homemade gift baking and making much easier. If there are any recipes for treats you would like me to blog please let me know.