The best kind of gifts are hand made and home made because you're taking the time and effort to prepare a gift for your loved one rather than buy a 'quick fix' from the shopping mall. By choosing to make a hand made gift you can also recycle items from around the house and get your creative juices flowing. There's a certain amount of magic, care and special thought that goes into a gift you make yourself and you can entice other friends or your kids to help you out to share the experience, particularly if you're donating to charity or the local school fête. The possibilities are endless - so get your art on by starting with our suggestions below and adding your own unique touch.
HOME MADE BODY PRODUCTS - Making your own beauty products is easier than it sounds! It's also a cost effective way of giving the extended family a Christmas a gift that comes from the heart and not from the pocket. For this gift you can use those old jars you've been keeping (and if you haven't now is a good time to start). Simply dress your gift up with some ribbon or twine and attach a tag to it (you can also make these yourself if you're feeling extra crafty).
A really simple recipe for a body scrub you might like to try is using a 2:1 ratio of melted sugar to coconut oil with sugar being the majority ingredient. Mix these together to form a paste and add a few drops of your favourite essential oil or if you have a lemon lying around, squeeze a few drops of lemon juice in.
For the men in your life, try this Rosemary Mint Shaving Cream. You'll need: 1/3 Cup Shea Butter & 1/3 Cup Coconut Oil which you will melt together in a pan on a low heat until just melted. Add in 1/4 Cup Jojoba or Sweet Almond Oil and 10 drops of Rosemary essential oil. Stir to mix. Place the mix in the refrigerator until solid then remove and whisk until light and fluffy. Spoon into a jar and keep in a cool, dry place.
HOME MADE ART - Even if you're not the best painter in the world (or even in the room), you can still impress your gift recipient with a piece of art worth hanging. Try re-creating the picture on the left by purchasing the canvas size of your choice, a piece of card to go over the top (in this instance as big as you want your apple or image of your choice) and any paint colour of your choice. Take your card and draw the outline of an apple including the stem. You can have a few attempts at this until you get it right then once you're happy with your outline cut the shape out with scissors or a Stanley knife. Now cut out two small areas in the middle of your apple as these will be the pips. Place the card over your canvas and paint being careful that the canvas doesn't move and no paint goes underneath your cardboard cut out (you really want crisp edges). Now paint in your 'pips'. You only need to do around the edge of the card and the pips before you can pull the card away and paint your chosen colour to the edge of the canvas.
STAMPING - There's so many things you can make using simple products from around the home and a little paint. Think cards, bags, wrapping paper - anything material. For example, if you were giving a baby shower gift you might take a plain baby blanket and apply a stamping technique using fabric paint and something from the kitchen to create a stamp. A potato is great tool for creating a stamp. Simply cut this in half and etch out your chosen design using a knife in the potato. You could make a star or flower using this method. Or, you can use an apple for an apple shape (pictured). Once you have your chosen shape, pour your fabric paint into a dish that your stamp will fit into and stamp your shape directly onto the fabric. You can use different colours and different shapes. Allow to dry. The fabric paint will have best washing instructions on the jar which you may want to print out onto a small card and give as part of the authenticity of your hand made gift. Other ideas including using corks for circles or leaves you find outdoors.
USING MODELLING CLAY - A visit to your local art store will provide a few options for modelling clay that you can use for a variety of gift purposes. There's lots of colours to use and you can choose from a single colour or a pack containing multiple colours. Some clays need to go in the oven for a short time to harden while others are self-hardening. Whatever you choose, be sure to follow the instructions on the packet.
One use for clay that creates a personalised gift is to create herb garden tags. You can do this by shaping your clay into colourful rectangles cut into a triangular shape at one end (the pointy end that goes into the dirt). To create your herb labels simply stamp the name of each herb into the tag. You can buy letter-stamps quite cheaply online or from a stamping shop. Follow the instructions to harden your clay and when ready place each stamp into its matching herb. Present your herbs in a wire or wooden basket as a ready-made chef's garden.
Another use for modelling clay is making jewellery. Using any kind of stamp will create an impression in the clay, draw your own design or use your alphabet stamps to spell out your gift recipients name. Add a hole before hardening to thread through your chosen necklace material.
HAND MADE SIGN - Making a sign like this is easier than you think and doesn't require too many materials. You'll need board for the background (this could simply be a plank of wood), hammer and nails, string and access to a printer for the lettering. Firstly, choose your phrase and a font that your like, then print it out at the size you want it on your sign. Cut out the lettering and place on your board with easily removed tape. Now, get your nails (make sure they're small - 5ml to 1cm will suffice) and tap them in around the edge of the lettering about 1cm apart. Remove the paper background and tape. Get your string and tie a small not below the head of the nail. This is your starting point and from here you basically want to keep wrapping the string around the other nails, just under the head of each nail. Keep going until you fill in the lines of your 'font' and your word is now clearly visible. Tie off the end and snip any excess string.
This gift idea can also be personalised by making your gift recipients name.