Like many people, I’m trying to curb the excess this Christmas. I’ve scaled back my shopping, and I’m trying to make more gifts. One of the biggest wastes is wrapping paper, especially the glittery, embossed kind. That said, I do love a pretty parcel, so I decided to try and make some gift bags using a YouTube tutorial. I have to confess that although I love crafts and making, I’m particularly challenged when it comes to paper folding, or anything which requires left brain activity. Just can’t do it! So it took a few hours to wade through the many offerings online, until I found some very simple instructions for these bags with a flat base. I found one on YouTube called How to Make a Paper Gift Bag, Version 2, which was perfect. All you need is some sheets of newspaper, and some glue. I chose to decorate mine with pressed flowers that I’d been saving from my summer garden. These are easy to attach with slivers of paper washi tape. The bags can be made stronger by doubling the newspaper, and then by slipping a cardboard base into the bottom of the bag. Just punch holes in the top, and you can tie with pretty string, raffia or ribbon. When we were in Paris last week, I bought lots of jars of delicacies, such as cornichons, basil pesto, honey and Provencal soap. These make ideal gifts to slip inside. Or you could make your own. Marmalade is brilliant, most people seem to like it and grapefruit are very cheap to buy at the moment.
I’ll definitely be pressing flowers again in the spring/summer. My most successful ones are cornflowers (the pink ones are heaven), and hellebores. I just have a very small flower press acquired from a charity shop, but heavy books are fine as a substitute. I sandwich the flowers between two sheets of non-textured paper and leave them for about a week.
I have made a herbarium with some of my flowers, and I’ve added in garden and botanical related quotes. This would be a pretty gift for a plant lover. Keep an eye out for vintage notebooks or school exercise books at car boot sales, you can sometimes find them. You can stick the flowers over existing writing, it just adds to the charming effect. Summer gatherings for Christmas gift bags and tags
Other ideas for home made gifts are pickled onions, pears or cucumbers and chilli jam.
A few weeks ago I collaged my ideal Christmas store cupboard and it looked like this…
Fudge is another great stand by, and here’s my favourite Mince Pie Fudge. I wrap it in greaseproof squares and I was delighted to come across a stash of old kilner jars in Oxfam in November, so I bought those to gift it in. I love the thick old glass.
Last week I was sent a lovely book to review.
This is published by www.unbound.com and has hosts of ideas for making inexpensive gifts and decorations. I really liked these ideas for home made treats – all the recipes are in the book:
- Rum butter
- Mince Meat
- Candied Peel
- Lancashire Oatcakes
The book also has step by steps to making your own crackers, wreaths and pomanders. It contains advice on which evergreens to choose for natural decorations, and there are even tips for growing your own. The text is woven through with lots of folklore, history, games, and traditions. It’s a lovely one to dip into and it made me feel very festive. There are only two other books which have this effect on me: Nigel Slater’s Christmas Chronicles and Rosamund Pilcher’s novel, Winter Solstice, which you can often find in charity shops. All three are heartily recommended if you’re feeling the Grinch.