Christmas without the Expense

Christmas can be an expensive time for most people but there are ways to cut the costs as well as the time and effort involved.

Many gifts can be hand-made at home using very basic resources. For example, those who knit, sew or crochet can make many different items, from toys for children to clothes for adults. These days, knitted or crocheted handbags are very popular and, if the crafter makes up their own designs, they can make a gift that will be very personal to the recipient. Receiving a home made gift is so much more special than receiving something mass-produced, and many such gifts can be handed down from one generation to the next. A handbag can easily be made using colourful yarn and embellished with something simple like a button or buckle.

A wonderful and useful Christmas gift to receive would be a blanket or a quilt. A quilt can be made to cover a double or single bed, or a blanket can be knitted for someone to place over their knees on a cold winter's day. Baby blankets are always well-received as presents for newborns and can be made for use in the pram or cot; gifts like these will soon become family heirlooms and may be used for siblings, too. Knitting or crochet is ideal for such blankets but, for those who have sewing skills, patchwork quilts are very popular. A great idea is to use fabrics from other items that have been worn by family members, so saving money, too.

Cross-stitched items are very popular. There are many designs that can be purchased from craft stores, but, for those who want to give something a little more individual, a unique design can be produced using graph paper and a pencil, then transferred onto canvas in coloured thread. On a similar theme, embroidered samplers are very popular, especially if they record a particular event such as the birth of a newborn. Samplers make wonderful gifts and, for occasions such as wedding anniversaries, can be made every year for the same couple. Picture frames for them can be hand-crafted, picked up from second-hand stores, or bought brand new.

People who are accomplished woodworkers can put their hands to making many gifts; with some planning and imagination, a complete farmyard, say, or a fort, can be produced, and something like this will last for many years, providing a great deal of pleasure.

For those who are good at drawing or painting there are no limits to what can be achieved as gifts for others. Portraits of families and their pets, as well as paintings of their homes and gardens, will be very welcome and will also provide a record for future generations.

Finally, edible gifts are also great for giving, especially at Christmas time. Hand-made chocolates, biscuits, cakes, pickles and chutneys, are always popular, and there are other ideas, such as 'soup in a jar', which simply involves placing the dry ingredients for a particular soup recipe in individual layers in a jar, and labelling with the name of the soup and instructions for making it. The jars look very attractive because the layers can be seen through the glass.

All these ideas are easily achieved at home with little expense, and can involve the whole family. In time, if they become family traditions, ideas will naturally develop and evolve. Making presents should give as much pleasure as receiving them; to be able to save money while making something unique for a loved one is an added bonus.

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