Each Christmas I channel my inner Kirstie Allsopp and challenge myself to hand make some gifts and foodie treats for my friends and family - mainly because I absolutely love doing it, but also because I love seeing people's reactions when they receive a gift from me that is homemade, or when they taste (and hopefully enjoy) some of my homemade food.
This year I tried to be kind to myself (what with having a newborn etc) and only hand make a few gifts. This year bags were my running theme - and I throughly enjoyed adorning some plain canvas totes with prettiness.
GIFT 1: LUTON FC TOTE BAG
This gift was for my good friend Josie, who is mad on Luton FC (The Hatters) - Josie isn't a particularly girlie girl, so I decided to design a bag for her that incorporated the logo of her beloved team in felt, and added decoration with orange and blue buttons to carry on the Luton theme.
the finished design
GIFT 2: HAMA BEAD TAGS & LUTON MAGNET
I love hama beads! They really remind me of my childhood and although fiddly little things I really enjoy working with them. This year I used them to make some Christmas themed present tags/decorations, and a Luton magnet to go with Josie's bag!
GIFT 3: PHOTO TRANSFER TOTE BAGS
I've recently been playing around with photo transfers - they're tricky things to get the hang of, and quite time consuming to transfer using a hot iron - I played around with them and (mostly) won!
This Christmas I made a few different transfer bags including a wash bag for my mother-in-law with a cute photo of Bert on it, a canvas tote bag for my friend Liz full of transfers of our favourite pins on Pinterest with giant buttons and other embroidered decorations, and finally, this tote bag for my sister with the lovely Bert on...
GIFT 4: HOMEMADE VANILLA EXTRACT
Inspired by the gorgeous Carmela from Carmela's Kitchen I decided to make some wonderful smelling vanilla extract from scratch. I really enjoyed the process, and think that the finished bottles made lovely gifts for my fellow foodie friends.
the large bottles 'brewing'
the finished extract decanted into smaller bottles and labelled up
Every year I use brown paper to wrap my gifts. I love the classic look it creates and how strong the paper is - it really will wrap anything, and doesn't tear easily like lots of papers. Each year I try to decorate each gift with a personal touch - hear are a few of my ideas....
- ink stamps
- doilys (like snowflakes) stuck on
-hama bead tags
-glue gun chocolate coins onto the wrapped gift
You can see a selection of these ideas below in the picture showing a few of my wrapped gifts this year...
Every December Liam and I hold a Christmas party at our house in Bedford - it is mainly a chance for our closest friends and family to get together, swap gifts ready to go under the tree, and have a good knees-up before the xmas madness begins. Each year I choose some homemade food to make for our guests, and this year was no exception.
the spread - a mixture of homemade and shop bought lovelies!
I always try to strike a balance between homemade and shop bought foods: I'm well aware I don't have the time or money to make everything from scratch, so I select key items to make, and some to cheat on.
American biscuits (cheese scones)
mince pie tarts
Chocolate Fudge Cake
Pigs in Blankets
Hotel Chocolat chocolates
My homemade Viennese Whirls (a blog post recipe on these to follow shortly)
My homemade sausage rolls
and my homemade asparagus twists
It has become tradition that each Christmas I make Liam a full blown Christmas dinner that we eat together at home a week or so before Christmas. We never actually spend Christmas day itself at home, which in turn means I'm never in charge of cooking our actual Christmas dinner, so it's nice for me to cook one just for us... what goes into your perfect Christmas dinner?
Ours this year consisted of:
roast chicken (as there was only 2 of us eating)
honey and mustard roasted parsnips
leeks with cheese sauce
pigs in blankets
before being covered in gravy!
smothered in gravy and cheese sauce - yum!
Do you have favourite Christmas food you just have to make each year?
What about gifts - do you make from scratch?
Do you agree that a homemade gift means so much more than something shop bought?
In an ideal world I'd love to have the time, money and energy to make every single gift from scratch, but alas, I fear that probably won't ever happen.
So, that's it for another year - Christmas is over, the gifts have been open, the food eaten and now its time to concentrate on the new year, shifting those Christmas pounds, and finding homes for all the lovely gifts we received this year!
Until next Christmas....