Christmas gifts – tips and recipes
You know you don’t want to be at the mall the next few days, or at least, you want to spend the least amount of time physically possible in one, popping in to get only the items on your list. I’ve only just gotten around to making my presents, but it’s not too late! Below are some tips for saving some time and money on doing DIY gifts or making your presents look pretty without being pricey or wasteful.
While DIY gifts can take a little more time, they’re so much lovelier and special than store bought gifts, and are far more rewarding for the gift giver to make. You shouldn’t be working extra hours to pay for christmas presents – use those hours to do something different!
Wrapping, boxing and decorating
If you’re anything like mymother, you’ll have bags of old wrapping paper carefully peeled off gifts from years gone by, as well as a stash of ribbons and bows. Usually you should be able to get away with only getting one new reel of ribbon. Make sure it’s mat (not glossy), as this will ensure that any tying mistakes you make will not be drastically obvious should you need to re-tie. Also, pick a colour that matches most of your existing old ribbons. Good colours are silver, gold, white, and red, which also look great together.
Using old ribbons: the thin plastic kind which wrinkle easily can be easily re-used. Just use some pointy scissors to un-tie, then make sure you use the tied bits again so those wrinkled bits don’t show up. Voila, you’ve doubled your ribbon arsenal.
If you’ve got thick ribbons, you can cut them in half lengthways to use as thinner ribbons – just make sure to use extra sharp scissors, and only halve ribbons that have a tight weave or are plastic.
Got a thick fabric ribbon with tie-wrinkles? Wrinkle the rest of it to create a rustic-looking ribbon and to add texture to the look of your gift.
Make your own wrapping paper by decorating old newspapers or butchers paper with simple red green and gold stripes or Christmas ink pad stamps. Oddly shaped gifts can be put in bags made from off cuts at your nearest fabric store – just sew 2 sides (or three if you’re making a bag with two pieces of fabric) and tie the top with some nice ribbon.
Re-use old containers, peel the labels off, and put Christmas baking in them, then tie some pretty ribbons on them. Cyclops organic yoghurt makes great containers (pictured) with easy-peel labels. These can be decorated with your own handwriting using permanent marker (silver ones are nice, although be prepared to pay a premium for them!)
If you’re a photographer (aspiring or otherwise), print out your top shots of the christmas tree on photo paper (6 per 6×4 print) and use them as christmas tags and labels. You can also stick them to some card and create personalised Christmas cards.
If you’re baking and your packaging is clear, it’s nice to add some sprinkles in your packet of goodies. Shake in some chocolate hail for cookies, or dried herbs for savoury items.
Cranberry swirl ice cream
(base recipe courtesy of Imperrfrections)
makes just under 2L
1 can sweetened condensed milk
5-7 Tbs cranberry conserve, jam, or syrup
Whip cream until it keeps its shape. Fold in sweetened condensed milk until fully incorporated – do not beat more. Pour into container, swirl through spoonfuls of cranberry conserve, and freeze for at least 4 hours.
Parmesan and Thyme crackers (base recipe courtesy of Cook Like Mad)
makes 5-6 dozen, depending on size.
3c plain flour + 1c for flouring
3/4 Tbs salt
1/3-1/2c finely grated parmesan (use rind grater)
1/2 tsp thyme (fresh is best but dried will do too)
1/3c vegetable oil/olive oil
Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl, then create a well in center. Pour in wet ingredients, stirring to form a dough. Sprinkle flour on a clean cooking surface, and knead the dough, adding more flour to form a soft but not floppy dough, about two minutes. Chop into 4 dough balls, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes. Once rested, preheat your oven to 190C, with rack in middle. Very lightly grease 2-3 baking trays with cooking oil.
Lightly flour your cleaning surface and roll dough ball out to 1/8th inch thickness, no thicker than 2mm. Cut into desired shapes, dot with a fork, then fit together on baking tray. Ensure no crackers are touching, but you don’t need to leave more than 2mm room between them. Pop in the oven for 5 minutes, then rotate tray 180 degrees, then bake for a further 5-7 minutes. Take crackers out when golden and crispy. Let cool on a rack and store in a sealed container. Normal crackers will last about a month, but as these have parmesan in them, try and consume within 2 weeks.