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Homemade Christmas Presents

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    18 Reviews
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      18.01.2012 14:52
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      Nice little touches for home made presents

      You might think it's completely the wrong time of year to be writing about this, we've only just survived last Christmas and the next one seems a million miles away.  However, there are some things that can be made into Christmas presents that require a little prior preparation.  I'm lucky enough to be the father of two little girls, and we find that the following things to make are a good way to spend time with each other, and are gratefully received by the people we gift them to.  They'll also save you a bit of cash too!   I'll try to include as much information as I can to help you make these things yourself.   Gift Tags   When you take down your Christmas cards, sort through them and look for any that have a decent sized image on the cover that could be cut out and used as a gift tag for the following Christmas.  We have some of those "crinkle cut" scissors that leave a zig-zag effect, and I supervise the girls as they cut out robins, snowmen, reindeers etc.  One thing to check for is that the person who sent you the card hasn't written on the inside cover, you will be writing on this side so it needs to be blank.   When we have a nice pile of neatly cut out pictures, we then make one hole near an edge with a hole puncher.  This allows us to thread a small length of ribbon through it so that the tag can be attached to a wrapped present.  If you're careful, you can re-use the ribbons from presents you have unwrapped - no-one will ever know and together with the labels cut from cards, you've saved a few quid and also have one less set of things to buy in October / November as you prepare for the next Christmas.   We don't actually thread the ribbon through as soon as we've made the tags and punched a hole, but keep it all together in a box ready to be used nearer the time.   Chillie Jam   Start saving jam jars and their lids now.  Then, starting in march, I plant some chillie seeds and nurture them from seedling to fully ripe chillies in September / October time.  Chillies for Christmas on their own would be a bit "new age" for most of my family and friends to receive, so instead we make them into a "jam" which can be spread on all those lovely cold cuts of left over turkey meat.   If you've never grown chillies before, here's a quick low down.  You can get seeds quite cheaply from shops such as Wilkinsons, B&M bargains etc.  In March, pop a seed into a small pot of compost and keep moist and warm, it'll take a couple of weeks to germinate and start growing.  At this stage, I keep my seedlings on my kitchen window sill - it gets a good chink of sunlight through the day through the window and stays warm because it is in the house.  Don't let the soil dry out, but don't swamp them.   By about May, you should have a small plant that's about 3 or 4 inches high.  Put this into a larger pot and either keep on your windowsill or put outside into a green house or under cover.  As the summer progresses, you'll get small white flowers on the plant which will drop off and the chilli starts to grow where the flowers were.  They're ready to pick late September / early October.   Once you've picked all your chillies, wash them, and remove the green stalk from the top.  Finely chop them and remove some but not all of the seeds and white pith.  The more of this that you leave, the hotter the chilli jam will be.  Also, finely chop the same amount of red or green sweet peppers, prepared in the same way.  If you can't be bothered doing all this fine knife work, then blitz the peppers and chillies in a blender for a few seconds.  Put all of these in a big sturdy pan with roughly the same weight of golden brown sugar and roughly a quarter the equivalent weight of clear vinegar.  You can add chopped garlic cloves and chopped ginger if you like for extra flavour and spice.  Bring this to the boil and skim off any scum that appears on the surface.  Once at the boil, turn down and leave to bubble away slowly for about an hour.     Now get your jam jars ready - wash and sterilise enough jars and lids to hold it all and use the type of lid that has a depressible safety button in on the top.  I use the dishwasher to wash my jars and lids, then put them in a low oven for 5 minutes as an extra precaution.  Use oven gloves to take them out of the oven, and try not touch the inside of the jars or lids once sterilised.   After this time, turn off the heat and carefully pour out the jam into a sterilised jar - using a funnel.  Fill them right to the top and screw the lid on tightly straight away.  The jars will be very hot so you might want to use oven gloves.  When screwed on tightly, keep the jars hot by placing them in a bowl of boiling water.  Every couple of minutes, try pressing down the button on the lid until it no longer pops back up - when the button stays down, the jars are sealed.     When I seal chilli jam in this way, it will last for months.  When the jars have cooled, they can be stored in a cupboard out of sunlight until you are ready to get them out and start giving away as Christmas presents.   To make the jars more "Christmassy", I print out labels from the internet to stick on the jar, and to make the lids more festive I cut out a square of paper and let my girls colour them in and draw fancy patterns on them.  These then get put over the lid and are held in place with either wrapping ribbon or tinsel - it's a bit fiddly but looks great when done.   Apple Sauce   Dead easy to make - peel and chop your apples, removing the seeds and hard bits around the seeds from the core.  Then chuck into a big sturdy pan with the same amount of weight in sugar - I use ordinary granulated as there is enough pectin in the apples to help make it "jammy".  To make the sauce taste more festive, I add a couple of teaspoons of ground allspice and two cloves - removing the cloves at the end prior to pouring into jars.  I have been known to also add a splash of sherry.  Bring the pan to a boil - as it gets hotter the sugar will melt and the juices from the apples will also be released, let it boil for a good five minutes then turn down so that it slowly bubbles away for about an hour.  Prepare your jars as mentioned above for the chilli jam recipe, then funnel the sauce into the jars and do the "pop dwn lid trick".     Again, labels are easy enough to find and print off from the internet, or you can make your own and also the lids can be covered and decorated as per the chilli jam jar lids.  6 large Bramley apples made me 5 regular sized jars last year.  Store it as per the chilli jam.  I think they make a useful present as nearly everyone buys apple sauce for Christmas - tell the people you intend to give it to beforehand though so that they don't waste money on buying their own.   I make the apple sauce when Bramleys are in season in the autumn as the apples are noticeably cheaper.   Cranberry Sauce   Wash and de-stalk your cranberries, then add into your by now well used (but washed!) sturdy pan.  Crush them ever so slightly with a masher, but not too much as they will pop themselves once the heat is high enough.  Throw in roughly the same weight of granulated sugar, a splash of water and a splash of something alcoholic - port, red wine, sherry etc.  Orange and lemon zest works well with this recipe too.  Let the pan boil for five to ten minutes, then turn down and simmer for an hour.  Easy peasy - cranberry sauce easy.  Jar up as per above into pre-sterilised jars.  I make this in November / early December when the supermarkets start selling cranberries for the Christmas season and it's something that most people will eat over Christmas so makes a handy present.   Summary   I also make my own Christmas cake, plus one for my mum, although I won't put the recipe on here as there are plenty of recipes kicking about on the internet.  One thing we do as a family with the Christmas cakes is to follow the "stir up Sunday" tradition where, the last Sunday in November, we all have one stir each of the mixing bowl as it's supposed to bring good luck.  We "feed" our cakes too - every 5 days we peel back the tin foil and drizzle a table spoon of sherry or brandy over it until it gets unwrapped two days before Christmas eve when we apply the marzipan.  The day after that we roll out the icing and adorn the cake with decorations, then on Christmas Eve itself, we put the cake out and dig in!   These things that we make not only save a few quid, but they also ring true with the "it's the thought that counts" adage as it shows your gift recipients that you've spent a bit of time on them and their gift rather than just buying socks, shower gel sets and novelties like musical keyrings.   Thanks for reading.    

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        08.11.2008 03:36

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        give it a go it will be a nice gift

        Not long till father christmas is comeing.! Well i have a few ideas for great home made gifts for friends and family. if you buy a few balloons slip in a lotto ticket or a scratch card and when they pop the balloon they get a lucky little treat. also to get the kids excited for christmas send them a little letter back from santa with a small gift getting them excited for the day. another good idea is to make a hamper for a friend or family member such as small shampoos conditioners mini hand and foot creams small chocolates its all small but it means alot. or you could make a present out of old memorys such as first photos first cinema ticket first shared such and such. instead of giving money in a card slip the note in to a christmas tree ball ball one that u can put things in and give it to them to put on the christmas tree it will look prettyand funky to. or you could make a cake but have a little boxed gift in side one that wont melt obviosly

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        14.10.2008 22:33
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        So much thought goes into homemade pressies and i think that is the idea of xmas!!

        Well i can hear those jingle bells a ringing!!!!!! Here are some of the things i am making or have made this year or previous years in order to save money and give a little more of a personal touch!! ********* " the night before xmas hamper" *********** I have made these for my children , i get a small wicker basket, or you could even get a box and decorate it with xmas paper. and inside i put in some new pj's, a xmas book, some cookies for santa, some reindeer food, a letter from santa, bath bomb, a carrot for rudolph, some puzzles, some hot chocolate and shortbread ........ there are many other things you can add dependant on your child, its a loverly gift to have the night before to give them a little excitement. More details on hamper ***The letter from santa*** i type out myself just telling them to be a good girl or boy and go to bed early so that santa can get all their pressies ready for them...just add some clip art etc....there are also many free sites that you can use to print out a free letter. *** reindeer food**** You mix porridge oats with glitter put it in some celophane or food bag what ever you prefer....i also make a tag with the rhyme on...... Make a wish and close your eyes tight then sprinkle on your lawn at night as santas reindeer fly and roam this food will guide them to your home ***cookies for santa*** I always put some just normal cookies in some celophane with a blank tag and let my children write there own message for him. ***carrot for rudolph*** I wrap this in celophane also and just put on a little tag saying that this is to help him see and his nose shine bright. *** xmas book*** I tend to buy one each year, but there are some websites where you can download a book, im ure my sister did this one year, or you could make up your own little story for them. ***Bath bomb*** I tend to buy one from Lush as it knocks them out!!! hehe!!....but you could just get some cheapy ones from the pound shop etc (although depends on your childrens skin type) *** Hot chocolate*** I get them a xmas mug from Primark ...they are a pound, i then wrap a portion of hot chocolate in a bag with a ribbon and place it in the cup with a couple of marshmellows. There are many variations but i can assure you your kids would love this. ***********hampers for family members***************** I get empty boxes ( be it shoe boxes or larger ones) i decorate the outsides with nice wrapping paper or collages of pictures of the kids and then try and fill them with some personal things to them....... This year i brought some nice frames from the pound shop and decorated them with some embellishments i had and then put a piccie of the kids. There was a great voucher code on hotukdeals.com that enabled you to get a personalised desk calendar for free just pay p&p (1.50) so i ordered some of these. I brought a buy one get one free jelly babies from woolies and i am going to wrap them in celophane with ribbons on. I brought some little samples of foot and hand creams from boots on their reduced rack for 15p each ***bargain*** I have brought some of the five items for a fiver bubble baths etc from Avon. There are loads of things you can get and as long as you do not go over the top you can really save yourselves lots of money.... it is great but also i have found that my family members have loved them much more than other years when i brought them a voucher or clothes I could go on forever with all my ideas, stockings, decorations, cards, thrifty shopping etc etc but i do not want to bore you all.

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          13.10.2008 18:14
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          Handmade special gifts at a budget that suits you.

          If your anything like me then Christmas is a time of year that you love, with one drawback. I can never find anything to buy for the men in my family. Vouchers are always good but they can be a bit boring, and sometimes feel like there's not much thought behind the idea. And last year was no exception. After thinking of every possible thing in the world for my Uncle, nothing seemed appropriate. After racking my brains for about a week I came up with the best idea I have had in a while (if I do say so my self haha). My Uncle is a really hard working male who seems to have everything possible and even two of some things. He does however enjoy to relax at the end of a hard day, with a drink of wine, some chocolate and a DVD. So I came up with the idea of the 'Pamper Hamper'. I always used to think that a hamper was just for women, but when I made this up, I was really impressed with how it turned out. I started off buying a basket from one of my local stores, Rejects in Kirkcaldy, which cost me £6.99. I then went to Asda and had a look at all the different wines, I was really undecided on what to buy, as I am not a wine drinker and couldn't tell you the difference between a red and a white wine. So after much deliberation I ended up with the small 'taster' bottles, which gives you about 1 glass. At the time that I bought them, you were getting a deal 4 bottles for £5. So I ended up getting £10 worth. I then went to the sweet aisle and purchased his favourite chocolate, Terry's Chocolate Orange. I wasn't sure what else to add to my basket, so I decided to buy some bubble bath and a body puff, this cost about £10 again. The last thing on the shopping list was a voucher for a DVD which I purchased from HMV for £10. Here is how I then proceeded to arrange it (you will also need tissue paper, cellophane, cello tape, some packing a bow and a pair of scissors.) 1 - First of all I took the basket and lined it with 2 really nice shades of green and red tissue paper, just to make it more Christmassy. 2 - Then I arranged the largest items that I had first, as its easier to find a space for the smaller items later. I found that it is better to make the weight roughly the same on either side where possible so that you don't end up damaging the basket. I put the bottles of bubble bath in first. 3 - After the bubble bath went in, I then proceeded to arrange the bottles of wine. By this time the hamper was quite heavy, so I decided that it was time to get the cellophane ready. 4 - Make sure that you buy enough cellophane to cover the complete basket, I always find that its best to buy more than you need, just in-case you make a mistake, or so that you don't have to join it together as this can look tacky and spoil the whole look, that you have worked so hard to achieve. Place the measured amount of cellophane under the basket and leave the ends out ready to close over the basket. 5 - Then add the last item which should be the smallest things that you have purchased, my last items were the chocolate, the body puff and the DVD voucher. These were very easy to arrange as I found that I still had plenty of room left. Once you are happy with the arrangement then you can add the finishing touches. 6 - you can either purchase a pull bow, which is really easy to use, there are two 'tails' of the bow that you pull and it makes what I call a 'chocolate box bow', or if you are very arty and handy then you can make your own bow from paper ribbon. Once the bow is made then lay it aside for the moment. 7 - Prepare your cello tape, as this makes it easier when you are holding the cellophane. Pull the two ends of the cellophane up and over the top of the basket, you can either cover the contents of the basket or cover the full basket right over the top of the handles (if you have purchased one with handles that is). Once you have covered it how you wish then you need to secure it with the cello tape that you prepared earlier. 8 - Add your bow from earlier. 9 - And then write out a Christmas gift tag to add your own special personal message. ****Hints and Tips**** I found that it was easier to purchase my basket first, as you might end up purchasing too much and then either wasting money, or being stuck with stuff you have no use for. When arranging the basket try to have the items at different heights, this is easily achieved by scrunching up some of the tissue paper that you have. You don't have to have all of the items fully visible, some can be partially covered over with other items. You can also make this item for a birthday, anniversary etc, and you can add anything to the basket depending on the taste of the person you are making this for. This item can also be made to any budget, the one for my uncle cost me approx £40, and it was £40 well spent he loved it and was really impressed at the time that I had spent making it and putting all of the thought into it. You can also make these for women as well, with the same items or something different, how about a make-up one? So if you are struggling on what to buy for someone this Christmas, why not give it a go, and you will be pleasantly surprised.

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            10.12.2007 20:37
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            The Joy Of Home-made Presents

            So, here it is. The time of year when TV adverts are taken over by toy, celeb perfumes and supermarket adverts. The Coco-cola advert appears and we all go into mass panic worrying what to buy people and who to visit. Yep, it's Christmas time. Every year it's exactly the same. You have so many people to buy presents for, you lose count. You have to save like crazy, or sell any valuable posession to get enough money to be able to afford it all. Then when you actually get to the shops, they're packed full of stressed shoppers in ques going around the shops. The joy of Christmas shopping. Walking around the High streets in the freezing cold, bags bashing into your legs when all you really want to do is sit at home, in the warm. Well, with making your own Christmas presents. You can. Remember when you was little, and at School you would make these gifts. Macaroni photo frames were my speciality. Stick random bits of macaroni down, and you could always trust 1 kid to eat the raw pasta. Then you would slap lots of fishy-smelling glue on top of it, and pour heaps of glitter on. I used to be so proud of them, and could never understand why they mysteriously "vanished" after new years day... I also made incredibly useless felt purses. Get 2 pieces of felt. Sew them around 3 edges and Ta-Daa you have a purse. They were lovely, but just plain rubbish. Well, thankfully there are other home-made presents you can make, unless you want to make macaroni photo frames of course :) CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES: Yes, you can buy these in the shop. But you miss out on the best part! These are veryvery simple, and quick. And you can make hundreds (if you want!) in one go. Here's how to make the Truffles: Ingredients (for 36 truffles) - 150g (5oz) Either Milk or Plain chocolate - 150ml Double cream - 25g (1oz) Unsalted Butter - Drop of Vanilla Essence Method - Break the chocolate into small squares into a microwaveable bowl. Put in microwave on medium for around 2 minutes (depending on microwaves voltage+amount of chocolate) until it is smooth - Put the chocolate to one side. Put the butter into a separate bowl and part-melt in the microwave - Add the cream and drop of vanilla essence then put back in the microwave to completely melt butter - Leave on the side to cool. Once cooled, add the butter+cream mixture to the chocolate slowly stirring - Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for about 1 hour, or until its set - Take out fridge then using two teaspoons scoop out small amounts, and roll into circles. Using either chocolate sprinkles, or cocoa powder. Roll the truffle in this until it is covered. Repeat as necessary Simple, and incredibly addictive. To make these a proper gift you could present them in a number of ways. Either, by wrapping them in polythene and tying with a ribbon. You could leave them like this, or put in a nice festive basket. You could put the truffles in a box lined with tissue paper. Or serve these to your guests on a plate! SCRAP BOOKS/ CALENDARS These are always nice things to make, and receive. A plain scrapbook ready to be filled can be purchased from many shops, I'd say Hobbycraft has the best quality range. You can buy packs of special papers very cheaply from hudreds of shops, or you could just use plain coloured papers and do interesting designs onto them. You can do whatever you wish with a scrapbook. You can fill it with Family+friend photos. Or of places, or things the person likes. Same with a calendar, either send the photos away to somewhere like Snapfish. Or, you could buy a kit which is very cheap. And all you need to do is print photos onto the paper provided. Easy! JEWELLERY : Every girl loves jewellery. So whether your looking for a present for your Mum, Gran, Sister, Auntie, whoever! This is a great idea. Beads and such are very easy to get hold of nowadays. First thing, you need to decide whether your going to make a necklace or a bracelet. Then, you need to get hold of the appropiate tools. Hobbycraft is a great place, it stocks everything! But, if your not near a store then www.jillybeads.co.uk is the next best thing. Everything is at very reasonable prices, and delivery is only 70p no matter how much you purchase. You'll need beads, chain or elastic and clips. If making one completely from scratch is far too daunting for you, then buying a kit is just as fun! These include everything required and clear instructions. Great for amateurs, who aren't sure what to do. Other ideas of what to make are: Cookies- you could decorate these, and display them in a similar way to the truffles. Recipe for basic biscuits is on 1 of my Recipe reviews Photo frames - Basic Polystyrene or cardboard ones are available, all normally under £2. Simple paint these and either decorate with beads or sequins, etc. Then put a favourite photo inside Knitted Scarves/ Hats/ Gloves - If your good at knitting, or want to start this is a perfect idea. Either buy a simple kit from shops like The Works. Or do 1 from scratch if you know what to do Making presents is really easy, and a cheaper solution if your abit short on money. Hope this have given you some inspiration! :) Merry Christmas :)

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              02.10.2007 22:03
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              Homemade Christmas cookies that are perfect for gifts.

              It's now that time of year when all the shops on the high street start bombarding us with their range of Christmas gifts and seasonal products. You can find practically anything, in all shapes, sizes, colours, themes... you name it. Unfortunately, over the years the hype over shop bought gifts is becoming something where it is making Christmas look quite materialistic. I find this a real shame, as for me, Christmas is one of those occasions where money and piles of gifts shouldn’t make Christmas, if you know what I mean. That’s why a few years ago I started making homemade gifts, something that had a personal touch and something which I could put my thought, time and effort into for the people I care about and giving them something they will enjoy (my family are mad for cookies)... One set of gifts which I made for various members of my family last Christmas was a collection of home-made cookies with a small scented tealight, presented in a box wrapped in seasonal cellophane wrap with a charm tied around the middle. Of course you can make whichever kind of cookies you choose, however I chose to make a set of three different types –cranberry and white chocolate, white chocolate and lastly cranberry. I then wrapped 5 of each separately in clear cellophane which can be bought from a craft store. To create the box for the cookies, I layered up the 3 stacks (of 5 cookies) and meaured the height, width and depth and transferred a simple 4 sided template onto pearl card, so when you put the cookies in the box, one side is open so the cookies can be seen and the top open as the gift is meant to stand vertically. I then decorated the box with Christmas sequins of holly and red berries and place the cookies inside and pop a tealight on the top (at the open end of the box). The fun part was then placing the vertical box (with cookies and tealight) onto a large square of cellophane. I used clear cellophane with gold marble effects. You then gather this upwards and tie with a piece of red ribbon. On this ribbon I also threaded a small gift tag and a small silver Christmas charm. Once you’ve tied the ribbon, arrange the cellophane at the top into a fan shape and there you have it! All of my family loved their gifts and you can’t beat the feeling of knowing that your loved ones really appreciate the time and effort you have put in and that it’s something different and unique.

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                08.04.2005 13:04
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                • "Frustrating if it all goes wrong!"

                When my younger sister was at college I was a very hard up new mum. For Christmas one year I planned ahead and each week when I did my family shopping I would add an extra tin of food or a small treat to the shop. By the time Christmas had arrived I had amassed a nice little collection which I put in a big cardboard box wrapped in brightly coloured paper. I packaged the goodies up by using shredded tissue paper saved from various sources Some items I would suggest are: ~ tins of basics e.g. beans, vegetables, spaghetti hoops – it all depends on the recipients tastes; obviously you won’t want to include a tin of meatballs for a vegetarian! ~ Bags of rice or pasta ~ Toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, ‘feminine hygiene products’, or if a the hamper is for a young man, then shaving foam, razors, body spray ~ Small treats such as a book, chocolate, a posh piece of indulgence from Lush My sister was very pleased with her hamper especially as it meant that at a time when students are particularly impoverished after buying presents and financing their Christmas social lives her January grant went further because of the amount of basic non-perishable food I had included. The little treats made the dull winter months and longs days of studying (ahem!) more pleasurable too If you are fairly good at cooking a box of homemade biscuits, sweets or a cake will go down a treat presented in a handmade box with tissue paper and decorations. This is another thing that children can join in. let them loose in the kitchen to make some garish messy buns and sweets then they can make a mess of another room while they create boxes and bags – I guarantee any grandparent will love the result. Of course you’ll have to cope with the clearing up – getting flour and eggs out of hair, and glue and tinsel out of the furnishings, but that is just part of the true sprit of Christmas Of course homemade cards are popular too – messy to make certainly but very pleasurable to receive. This is an ideal pastime for your offspring, you can while away many a dull afternoon in autumn manufacturing cards and decorations. The kids will be happy sticking, pasting, cutting and generally getting very messy and you’ll be able to feel very smug as they are not glued to the goggle box or Playstation – just glued to each other and the furniture! Get a pile of cheap card, tinsel, glitter, felt pens, glue, sweetie wrappings (Roses and Quality Street are good), scraps of material, tin foil and any ting else that catches your eye. Round up any stray kids put them around a newspaper covered table in their old clothes and sit back and enjoy the spectacle with a relaxing glass of wine in your hand. By the end of a couple of hours you can shove the kids in the bath, clear up the devastation and (hopefully) survey a small mound of cards destined for adoring Grannies! Think about your wrapping style – this can turn a small gift into something personal and fun. As a teenager my friends and I could really only afford to buy a cheap but appropriate mug for each other; I wrapped mine so that the paper went inside and through the held – it looked just like a mug, the opposite of disguising the contents and I added a gift label that had very clear instructions that the present should not be prodded or handled so that the contents would be a surprise on opening. Loo roll tubes are ideal for making cracker to hold small items such as jewellery or perhaps from children a handful of sweets. A bottle of wine can be swathed in paper so that it looks almost like a bouquet if you use masses of crepe paper and tie a big bow, or add a cheap Christmas decoration above the top of the bottle and leave plenty of paper spare above to fan out. Boxes enfolded with paper and topped off with a big bow look delightful no matter how small a token the contents are. Save all the wrapping accoutrements over the years and you will have a fine collection to turn a cheap piece of tat into an object of beauty. One last little touch I add to my offerings is the label – I save Christmas cards each year and the following year use the Christmas card I was given as the gift tag – a glass, a pen and scissors make this the cheapest gift tags I know of! And personal too – people get their own cards back! Ok, they might not realise it but it makes me smile! [PS - sorry this so early, but I have already started hoarding bits for Christmas pressies!]

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                  27.12.2001 17:09
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                  Well the festive season is nearly at an end and I must say it has been a great holiday and I am so glad that my daughter really enjoyed it and I have managed to convince her that santa is real so not a bad seasons work but I am hear to tell you about a great present that santa brought for my daughter. Now we have all seen or had a little play with the Brio train set it is made completely of wood and the trains are moved around and connected by magnets but the only problem is that they are so expensive with a starter set costing about £30 and for extras you pay about £10-£25 for a handful of pieces of track but not us. Santa(aka Grandad)decided to avoid doing the norm and going out and spending a fortune on presents instead for the past 4 months he has been busily buying and carving pieces of wood into track for a railway. I have observed him making this set for about two days and it really is amazing for about £10 he bought loads of quality wood and taking a piece of brio track has copied it down to a tee so you can even attach pieces of real Brio to it and you would not notice the difference and because he used to be a carpenter he was able to even make sturdy bridges and houses to go with it. As for the trains again he bought one for about £7 from the shop and has managed to copy them and has made carriages and engines that I would say are better than the real thing but again can be linked to the Brio set. Yes it took him a very long time to make and you probably won't have the time to build it yourself but if you can it will save a fortune and is much nicer than something mass produced and just bought from a shop. I have to say that I have had as much fun with it as she has and have even gone out and bought a couple of trains for it and yes they work perfectly on it. Because it was in a nice string bag and had no logos or trade marks on it really made it seem like a real santas present a bit like you see and use d to imagine on films etc where all the little elves are busily working away making wooden toys for the children of the world. This truely is a great money saver and helps add towards the illusion of Santa but only if you have very skillful hands such as grandad and lot's of time I certainly could not do it but will have a go soon when she needs a wee bit more track.

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                    10.12.2001 01:41
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                    • "The effort!"

                    I've got glue on my sofa, glitter on the floor, it took me an hour to pull the stickers out of my daughters hair and I don't think my landlord is going to appreciate the new artwork on his nice white walls. She screamed at me I screamed at her and daddy screamed at us both. What on earth have we been up to? Why making Christmas cards of course, it seemed such a simple idea. Draw some simple snowman scenes on card and set Thai to work with crayons, glitter and cotton wool - no problem. But then once again I had under estimated the frustrating ability a two year old has to thwart every flawless plan. I could have gone down to Clintons and bought some very cutesy wootsy cards and signed it from the girls but oh no I have to be different. Silly mummy - you know she says that a lot and I'm beginning to think she may just have a point. For a start getting a 2 year old to colour in one picture isn't so difficult and you know green skies have a certain charm but by the 4th one she's suddenly decided that EVERYTHING has to be green or even better BLACK. Ah but I'm one step ahead, do it in sessions and she'll forget she was bored and we'll get 4 adorable pictures all ready to decorate. Ha ha ha, skip forward 3 weeks and the final touches go onto the last picture. I breathe a sigh of relief until I remember that we've got the real fun stuff still to do and suddenly I break out in a rather cold sweat. You know it's not too late to back out and visit dear old Clintons. I can feel that stubbornness rising up in me again and decide that I will not give in, I will not loose to a toddler I am mummy and I am in charge. Just think positive and remember who's boss and we'll have this done in no time. Why oh why oh why didn't I pay attention to the fact there is a VERY good reason why most parents don't put themselves through this. We start with the glue and glitter, I'll glue you glitter and we'll be finished by tea time. That would have been pretty good had madam not decided the gluing looked like much more fun than the glitter and point blank demanded she do it. Now anyone who has one of these adorable? little people knows that putting your foot down really doesn't work and for all your most wonderful intentions you will ultimately loose almost every battle. And so she proceeds to glue everything in sight although at least I'd had the foresight to constrain her in her highchair - trust me small consolation! An hour later and a few screaming fits I pry the brush from her hands, bribe her with some special water (a capri-sun!) and we're back to the glitter. After 2 cards we have enough of the stuff piled on her tray to Finnish all the others but little miss bugger box is now having fun with the once redundant but now highly amusing glitter pots. And so it continues to flow building up into nice little mounds resembling the snow hills I tried to create on the cards. A little more intervention and screaming, tears and cuddles and we're all happy and ready for the cotton wool. Now I've come so far I am NOT giving up now, one more mountain to climb and we are done. So out comes that oh so wonderful glue, the glitter on my hands, clothes, floor carpet, table and hair can wait till later. This time I'm NOT giving in and I glue the cards while throwing cotton wool buds at her so she doesn't have time to realise she's missing out. Oh this is good things are going pretty well here, she's putting them in the right places and seems content until "fish-it mummy, do painting" UGH. No darling we'll do that later, do some more sticky sticky first. You guessed it we're back to screaming fits - why oh why oh why but I already said that didn't I! JUST ONE MORE TO DO, I know I can do this............I think I can do this... .........I HOPE I can do this. Ah that's it, disappear into the kitchen and come back with a jelly baby (another good intention out the window). It works, last snowman has his body and a few beads later all 4 snowmen have eyes and a nose - FINISHED. I backed them onto more folded card and wrote the message myself and they are ready to be sent. What a fiasco, what a nightmare, what unimaginable fun. Maybe I am just a glutton for punishment or perhaps a tad sadistic but just seeing the finished product and knowing that they will bring the most immense enjoyment to their recipients, namely the two sets of grandparents, a great-grandmother and our closest friends. Perhaps I can wait till next year to start again but I will certainly be doing this again and next year with the girls being one and three it should be even more FUN??!! If you have the patience (or even just enough not to go mad) then I really do recommend you do this even if it's just one special picture you put away in the memory box.

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                      25.11.2000 16:37
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                      You want your children to make some lovely homemade gifts for the family at christmas? But haven’t got to much time on your hands. Then read on, here’s a great pressie what doesn’t take long to make. Home made truffles You will need: Ready made Jamaica/Ginger Cake or similar Dried Cranberries Plain Chocolate Milk Chocolate Cointreau ( if you require) Icing sugar for dusting Petit Flous Baking cases (small baking cases available at supermarkets) To make these truffles first melt the milk and plain chocolate. Then crumble the cake into the chocolate and add the dried cranberries. Mix all of this together and if you require add a capful of cointreau to give them an extra kick for adults. When you’ve done this, take small quantities of the mixture and roll into a ball then place into petit floss baking cases. When you have used all the mixture dust them over with icing sugar. Simple! To hand out to relatives I save empty cardboard packets what you get from tomatoes, Kiwi fruits, Mushrooms etc and simply display them on the cardboard tray (you could cover this with silver foil or wrapping paper) and then put food wrap (cling film) over the top. Don’t forget to make the traditional christmas crackers this year. Start saving your loo rolls now!!! This year we have wrapped the toilet roll in coloured crepe paper tied on end with tinsel, put a christmas bow on the front, fill it with Celebrations, tie the other end with tinsel and add a homemade gift tag to one end. The gift-tags were made simply by folding a small piece of card in half and cutting off the corners, add a piece of cotton and yes very impressive.

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                        22.11.2000 01:22
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                        I come from a family who don't have much money but adore christmas. So when it came to decorating our room we wanted something really nice and cheerful to go with our feelings about christmas but when we looked at the price of alot of christmas decorations our happy spirits soon weren't so happy! But we soon cheered up when my Nan suggested we made our own decorations. All you need is coloured paper for ceiling decorations because you can make paper chains and then glue little pictures of angels etc on to them.Then get cotton wool and toilet rolls (just the bit left at the end) and make them into little snow men. I hope this was helpful!

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                        18.11.2000 05:33
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                        The recipe i am going to write is great for childrens christmas parties as an individual treat for children to take home with them afterwards wrapped in a pretty ribbon. It is mocha cake recipe which is simple to make and needs no baking, but very sugary for teeth as a downside but as christmas is but once a year i think it is a lovely treat. For this you will need. 5oz of margarine or butter. 2 Tablespoons of Golden Syrup. 3 " " of Icing Sugar. 2 " " of Cocoa Powder 1 Packet of Digestive biscuits. Method. Melt the margarine and syrup in medium saucepan. Add Icing Sugar and Cocoa and mix together. Take off heat and add the crushed Digestives. Place into a greased dish and place into the fridge to cool. If want to do quickly then put in freezer for half an hour. Cut when cake is nearly cool to have lovely seperate pieces. Tip: Put packet of biscuits into a carrier bag and roll with rolling pin this will really save time and effort. This recipe is easy,cheap and fun for the kids. It makes a lovely present from the children to their friends anf family. I hope you enjoy making and tasteing it as much as i did!!

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                          18.11.2000 03:49
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                          Take all your old empty kitchen dispenser rolls and loo rools. These can then be covered in either crepe paper or felt into Christmas characters. Cut out a piece of black card in the shape of two feet and glue to base of tube. Cover the tube in material of coice adding items such as a belt for santa or buttons fo a snowman etc. Draw a face for the top and again add a beard for santa nose etc for snowman. Make a santa hat or snowmans top hat as the top and then the tube can be filled with little sweeties.

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                          15.11.2000 19:30
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                          If your children want to make something for their friends at school or even family.Why not make some christmas biscuits and put them in a nice box. To make about 20 biscuits you will need; Assorted christmas cutters 2oz icing sugar 3oz soft margarine yolk from a large egg vanilla essence 6oz of plain flour greased baking tray beaten egg yolk and food dyes to decorate. Mix the icing sugar and the margarine together until smooth. Mix the egg yolk in stirring well.Add a few drops of vanilla essence. Pour in the flour and mix in with a wooden spoon until you get a smooth dough. Wrap the dough in foodwrap and put it in the freezer whilst you mix the dyes. Put some egg yolk into some saucers. Mix in a few drops of dye into each saucer. Roll out dough. Cut out your shapes. Put them onto baking tray. Use a clean paintbrush and paint your shapes with the dye. Put them in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. When the biscuits are cool,decorate your boxes with ribbons.Put tissue paper inside. Place the biscuits into your box and stick on a christmas label. I am sure children will love to make these as my little girl will be taking some for her nursry class! Have fun!

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                          12.11.2000 05:57
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                          Every year since I was little I have adored Christmas and the very idea of Santa and the reindeers. When I had my eldest son my basic decorations consisted of the usual tree, lights and a few knitted Christmas toys( handknitted by myself). We used to walk around 2-3 miles to and from school when he attended the Infant school and in Winter that was a huge misery. When my youngest son came into our lives and so did winter I needed a way of keeping them occupied on the way back from school in the dark so I invented a plan. My sons were like all other children in getting excited at the first sight of decorations or lights. So when the cold and dark nights came in fast, and people put up their decorations we started to count together the amount of houses that had them lit up. They absolutely loved it. they not only passed the time quicker to get home, they pinched ideas for our own decorations and learned to count at the same time. It kept them amused sio much that it took less time to walk home and I would advise any parent in the same boat to give it a try. We still do it now even though they are almost teenagers and I have learned myself that it pays to light up peoples lives and doesn't hurt anyone. We now make our house into what my friends call 'THE NORTH POLE'. Everyone visits it and leaves in wonder but most of all it keeps children amused and lights their way home!

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