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Date: 14 October, 2008
'This year, why not buck the trend (and save a bit of money too) and give hand-made gifts.'
Suzanne Elvidge looks at how to save money and help the planet by making your own Christmas presents
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Christmas is coming (don’t click this link if you don’t want to know how soon)… and it’s traditionally when we get and give a lot of stuff (nice stuff, but still… stuff).
This year, why not buck the trend (and save a bit of money too) and give hand-made gifts. And I know it’s still only October, but I wanted to give you plenty of time to start making.
Food hampers are lovely gifts, but they can be very expensive. Make your own, starting with a decorated box or an old picnic basket or other wicker basket.
Fill it with food gifts, perhaps from local farmers markets (or even bought in bulk from a cash and carry if you are doing a number of hampers – more eco-friendly too) packed in shredded brightly coloured pages from old magazines. You can tailor the hamper to the person.
There are lots of food gifts you can make yourself, including hand made chocolates (and chocolate bags to put them in), stained glass window biscuits, British sweets like fudge, even Indian sweets (though perhaps not candy floss using your bike), but you will have to leave these to the last minute.
Food gifts you make in advance include flavoured oils and vinegars, jams, chutneys, pickles, wines, beers and liqueurs like sloe gin.
There are many things you can make out of paper – bowls from magazine pages, origami bowls, CD cases, flower boxes, papier-mâché frames, lamp shades and bookmarks (and more bookmarks!)
You can recycle paper (or denim) into more paper, and use it to make your own Christmas cards and pop-up cards.
Weaving isn’t just about having expensive looms – you can weave your own small pieces of fabric on a cardboard loom, or make a drawstring purse by weaving all the way round (see Weaving Without A Loom for a purse with a flap and some other weaving projects).
If you want to try something bigger, you could use a cupboard door. You can also weave with index cards or try card (or tablet) weaving.
You don’t have to just use fabric and yarn for weaving. Got a pile of sweet wrappers or crisp packets (and no, this isn’t an excuse to go out and start eating)?
Start by making a bracelet and if it works well, then move on to making a bag. By scaling up the cardboard loom idea, you can make a rug out of plastic bags.
You can make woven baskets out of paper or gift boxes out of card – these would be ideal for the gifts you make (and can be recycled afterwards).
When you have made your gifts, you could wrap them in colour pages from magazines (use this formula to make sure you don’t waste any).
Other alternatives include last year’s wrapping paper, old maps, the cartoon pages from newspapers, old calendars, recycled fabric bags (or just a nice piece of recycled fabric), children’s pictures, leftover wallpaper, or wrap it in another gift, like a scarf.
And don’t forget Present Aid.
Ethical Christmas gifts
Make your own beauty products
Christian Aid 2008
• Read other ethical lifestyle articles