Creative and Budget Friendly Christmas Gifts

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I am writing this guide as part of the Bzz Agent Campaign for @Ebay_UK guides.  Whilst Christmas time is always thought of in a haze of commercialism, television advertising and gift buying, for some even the thought of Christmas is enough to bring them out in a nervous rash. For many of us whose budget struggles to stretch though the normal financial challenges of the year Christmas can seem like that one challenge too far. This is where it helps to consider re-cycling some of our unwanted or unused items to free up some extra cash for Christmas; purchasing some of our gifts through E-bay; and sourcing some craft supplies as economically as possible in order to make personal and creative gifts for loved ones without breaking the bank.
Homemade gifts can often be misconstrued as rather amateur affairs, with the emphasis on creativity rather than presentation, and yet this really does not need to be the case. As someone who loves to visit local craft fairs and Makers Markets I believe that given enough care and attention there is no reason why our handmade offerings need to look like something we knocked up with a cardboard tube and some sticky tape. After all, we are hardly going to present someone with a gift that we wouldn’t expect them to like. Before you start it is always worth investing in a roll of cellophane wrap such as the cellophane used by florists; an assortment of florists ribbon and some gift bows. It is also helpful if you are able to gather together any reusable presentation boxes which can be given a new lease of life when decoupage with PVA glue and pretty gift wrapping paper or gift baskets.
Jams Pickles and Preserves
Although much of the preparation of our jams and preserves is done during the summer or autumn harvesting season it is still not too late to knock up a tasty batch of Christmas Chutney, Cranberry Sauce or homemade Lemon Curd. Remember to present these in attractive jam jars or clip top jars and either purchase a pack of beautifully printed labels or print some off on the computer (don’t forget to write the date the batch was prepared). An off cut of inexpensive gingham fabric and a length of pretty ribbon is all it takes to dress the jars up to look as eye catching as you might find in any local delicatessen.
Sweets and Chocolates
Sweets, chocolates and fudge are always popular. Truffles and small slices of any sweet treat look best in tiny petit four cases which can be layered between sheets of greaseproof paper and presented in prettily decoupaged boxes or  small recycled gift baskets before being wrapped in cellophane and topped off with a flourish of ribbon.
Keepsakes and Photographs
Never underestimate the sentimental value of keepsakes marking the developmental stages of grand-children, god-children nephews or nieces. Children love to get involved in creating hand or footprints in either clay or paint which can be given as ornaments for the tree, for display in the home or presented in inexpensive or recycled photograph frames. Over the years what can begin as an inexpensive gift when times are hard can develop into a long standing family tradition which offers as much pleasure to the giver as the recipient.
Personalised Gifts
Another popular gift which is cost effective is the personalised keepsake. All that is needed is an assortment of marker pens suitable for ceramics and some plain white ceramic mugs or plates; the rest is up to you. Whether you write someone’s name; monogrammed a letter; write a personal message, or a recipe, once you have allowed it to dry just place it in the oven at the temperature and time recommended by the pen manufacturer. I’ve tried these using homemade stencils with very pleasing results.
Gifts in a Jar or a Basket
Although there are many more ideas out there my final suggestion is for the ingredients for a favourite recipe presented beautifully. Choose a popular family recipe and take the time to either print out the list of ingredients and the methodology or write it out on a pretty piece of card. Then all you need is either a large glass clip top jar in which you can layer the measured ingredients ensuring the first ingredients to be used will be at the top of the jar, or parcel them up in a prettily decorated box or inexpensive cake tin/cookie tray. An inexpensive tea-towel or oven glove can finish the whole thing off and make the gift look a lot more expensive than it actually cost. Once again though, the secret is in the presentation.

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