Crafty presents

This year I will be making as many of my presents as I can. I would also love to get Libby involved in at least some of the things that I make.

This will be done in the free time that I don’t have. The ingredients and materials that I need will be purchased with the money I haven’t got. That’s why I think I need a bit of help. I’m really hoping that somebody out there will have some fabulous ideas. I’m thinking maybe my good friends +Marianne Hopwood and +Ben Michelle Powell might have some great ideas. If anyone at all has any ideas though, please do let me know, I’d love to hear any comments and I’d love to read your blogs if you have written a post about this sort of thing. 

Here are my (borrowed) ideas so far: 

  • Elderflower gin
  • Cherry Brandy
  • Skittle vodka
  • Various sorts of jam
  • Chutney- green tomato and apple has been successful in the past
  • Taking up knitting (I currently can’t knit) and making some scarves
  • Buying some nice charity shop items and “improving / personalising” them
Here are the main issues I’m having: 
  • 14 year old brother. Problematic in every way. I would also like ideas as to what I could make for him
  • 11 month old daughter. Equally problematic. Also, is there anything I could make for her that would be an acceptable parent to child present? 
  • Mum- doesn’t drink, doesn’t like chutney, doesn’t eat sweets. Just jam seems like an insufficient present for my mum
  • Husband- would love to find something that Libby and I could make for him. He has everything and will think I’m being a bit of a cheapskate for doing this at all. 
  • The nice bottles to put the gin into are spectacularly expensive! Can anyone recommend somewhere cheap to buy them or a recycled alternative? 
My ultimate aim is for whatever presents I make to be as exciting as the wrapping paper was for Libby last Christmas! 



  1. Marianne Hopwood
    May 16, 2013 / 8:59 pm

    Brother: Beany hat. Easy to knit if you find a beginners pattern that doesn’t involve complicated things with four needles (I’ll look out for the one I used to use in my baby knits book – it was what I used for my dad’s before I took up naarlbinding)
    Daughter: get the biggest cardboard box you can find, fill it with balloons, wrap it up. Instant best present ever for a small person. Also, felt animals and finger puppets are sooo easy to sew.
    Mum: home made spa set – salt or sugar scrub in a kilner jar (Douwe egberts coffee jar), home made candle in a charity shop tea cup (instructions online on how to safely melt down candle stubs, once liquid add cooking flavours and colours and a new wick from a craft shop), stick em in shredded tissue paper in a kids shoe box you’ve covered in pretty offcut of fabric.
    Husband – if he drinks, a vodka bar with a selection of small bottles of vodka with different fruit flavourings, plus a couple of shot glasses, again in a nicely covered shoebox.

    nice bottles, depends on how much you want to make. I use fancy brand glass pink lemonade bottles for my homemade lemonade and whatnot as they’ve got a cool old stylee stopper. Otherwise, reuse the bottles the booze came in originally and wash, sterilize and make a new label for them.

    Hope this helps xxx

    • Natalie Ray
      May 16, 2013 / 9:12 pm

      Wow, thank you so much Maz! I knew you would have some great ideas! Great idea about making a few things for my mum, last year we did a hamper for dad of things we’d bought from supermarkets but this year I might do the same for several people but with things I’ve made! I love the idea of the lemonade bottles with stoppers too! The kilner bottles are so expensive! I only want little bottles. Brilliant! Thank you 🙂

  2. Elaine Livingstone
    May 17, 2013 / 7:26 am

    things like a picture made with hand and footprints would be loved by grandparents, attach glitter while paint still wet. Goves you scope to expand on it for a few years as they can keep them and you redp them every year as she grows.
    Plenty of on line places will do 30/40/50 free photo prints you could get an stick on a book and add some writing.
    ask on your local freecycle for empty bottles, plenty chuck them away.
    as for your daughter, re wrap half of what she already has as she will only want the boxes and paper anyway.

    • Natalie Ray
      May 17, 2013 / 7:50 am

      Thank you, they are lovely ideas. I especially like the hand and footprint idea. Great idea about free cycle for the bottles too 🙂

  3. The "Powell" Life
    May 17, 2013 / 3:54 pm

    I can think of plenty of “presents” a husband might like from his wife but they’re all far too rude to put down here! Or go for personalizing something (glasses, mugs etc etc) You could always make a very low alcohol drink for your brother, a bit naughty but not actually that bad. (and the only way you could then be a cooler older sister would be to buy him an ipod!!) eg flower champagnes they don’t use any bought yeasts just the ones growing naturally on the flowers and they’re usually only about 2-3% Bottles-try charity shops you often see “decorative” bottles that can be used for bottling

    • The "Powell" Life
      May 17, 2013 / 3:59 pm

      Just remembered a pressie Chell got me. A painted mug with a footprint done by Isaac on it. Or you could do something like a plate with both your handprints on it.

    • Natalie Ray
      May 18, 2013 / 2:17 pm

      Aw that sounds like a brilliant idea! I might steal that idea 🙂

  4. Natalie Ray
    May 17, 2013 / 4:03 pm

    Thanks Ben, I knew you’d have some ideas 🙂 Great idea about personalising glasses, I might try to get some glass paint. Really interesting about the low alcohol drinks, I think I might try that for my mum too. Any idea where I can get a recipe from?

  5. The "Powell" Life
    May 18, 2013 / 10:18 am

    Another idea,for your mum this time. Is she into baking? If so make her a sourdough starter (Just flour and water left for a while and topped up with more flour and water) in a nice big swing top/clip jar. Knock up a nice set of instructions on how to look after it and some recipes (I have a good set of instructions from the River Cottage Bread book, I’ll scan and send you them if you are interested). Put bow round it. Done. I’ll do the same with scanning some dandelion and elderflower champagne recipes, will also find the cordial recipes. Best book so far on the subject is Booze for free by Andy (Might be Dave his brother cant remember) Hamilton. Check out their website/forum Lots and lots of good stuff there.

    • Natalie Ray
      May 18, 2013 / 2:20 pm

      Aw yes please, I would love to see the recipes, that would be amazing! I had a look at the website and there are some elderflower recipes on there that look brilliant, we have loads of elder trees so I’m definitely going to make a few different things. My mum would enjoy the cordial or champagne I think, there is also an elderflower wine recipe on there so I might have a go at that, saves us buying wine next Christmase! thanks so much for all the ideas!

    • The "Powell" Life
      May 21, 2013 / 3:58 pm

      The twins at Selfsufficientish are great. Their books are well worth a look. The selfsufficientish bible is well worth a look at as is Booze for Free and How to grow your food for free. I’ll get you those recipes to you as well

    • Natalie Ray
      May 21, 2013 / 4:09 pm

      Any book called Booze for free is a winner in my book! 🙂 I look forward to the recipes, thank you 🙂

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