Last year, I was in Hong Kong for six months over Christmas so I had to buy presents online for my family back in the UK. Despite the fact I was on what I cheerfully referred to as a “sabbatical” (read instead “long holiday”) and wasn’t earning any money, I felt a bit sad that I wasn’t with the rest of my family for Christmas and wanted to make sure I sent nice presents over.
So I over-compensated. I spent £800 on presents. £800! And that’s not on presents for everyone, just my family. And to clarify again, I don’t mean aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents. No, I mean mother and siblings and siblings-in-law. Eeeeeep. I didn’t even buy everyone grand amazing presents, I just did that thing where you see something cool online and it costs £15 or so and you think “Oh, that would be a nice little present for x” and you buy it and then you forget you’ve bought it and you keep on going until you’ve got five “little” presents for x and accidentally spent a fortune.
Anyway, lesson learned this year, and the plan is to spend nothing at all and make presents for everyone (or at least only spend money on supplies…)
With this in mind, here’s a round-up of 20 appealing-looking tutorials for presents. I’ve only made a few so far, but I’ll keep you updated on any successes (or amusing failures…)
You can find more craft projects that I’m planning on making at my Pinterest board I could make that. Go on, follow me there, you know you want to.
I’m normally tempted to go all-out on knitted presents, but this year I am trying to keep the selection small, as this is one of the slower ways of making presents and I have less time on my hands than normal, what with a four-month-old to look after and the past few weeks spent making presents for my partner’s birthday. Here, then, are a few quick and simple knits:
Gorgeous outfit, gorgeous baby… Photographed by Rebecca Painter of Barefoot Journey Images
1. Baby aran bodysuit by Eileen Casey.
I absolutely adore this little cabled romper suit (and the cute baby in the photos…)
I’ve had the pattern saved in my Ravelry queue for ages and a Christmas present for my baby is the perfect excuse to get it out of the queue and onto the needles. By the way, if you’re on Ravelry too, do friend me. I’m here: Wolves in London.
If this romper suit is just so much adorable cuteness that you can’t actually bear to stop knitting once you’ve finished it, there is a matching hat and booties to go with it too. All for free. Amazing…
2. Bella’s mittens. A free pattern by Marielle Henault found through Ravelry. These look lovely and snuggly with a big thick wintery cable pattern. I’ve already started on these, in fact, and the first mitten knitted up super-quick. I’ll dedicate a separate post to them, once finished.
4. Selbu Modern hat. This looks so elegant and comfy. Free pattern found through Ravelry (as always!) I’ll be making this for the same sister who is getting the mittens. I’m currently trying to decide whether to match yarn or just make two completely different items. Hmmmmm…
3. Cable knit socks. Classy, woolly sock pattern from the Purl Bee. These would be perfect for wearing under wellies or boots, or just for slouching around the house.
5. Cornish dormouse tea cosy. I know, I know, it’s amazing isn’t it? Not a free pattern, sadly, but surely worth $3.99…
Bath and beauty
How appealing does this trio of sugar scrubs look? Photo and tutorial by Maybe Matilda
6. Citrus sugar body scrub. I followed this tutorial from Maybe Matilda to make up a tub of sugar scrub for a friend earlier this year after she had a baby.
She said it smelt so delicious that she had to taste a little bit to try it. If that’s not high praise, I don’t know what is.
(Disclaimer: no matter how gorgeous your scrub smells, I don’t advocate eating it…)
7. Bath Fizzies. Simple sounding instructions from the Martha Stewart website.
8. Also from Martha Stewart, these grass soaps look amazing…
There is something about the presentation here that is so fantastic. There are lots and lots of different soap making projects on the website so I definitely plan on buying some melt and pour soup base and having a crack at a few of these.
9. Bergamot and coconut skin salve. Even the name of this sounds delicious, doesn’t it? I’m going to try and find some nice vintage tins to put it in.
10. For all my bath and food creations, I plan on printing out and attaching some homemade labels. I was inspired by this post on a thousand word’s blog. She’s made a whole hamper for her friend’s birthday with matching labels on all the products. So gorgeous. There’s a raft of great labels to download and use on the World Label blog.
11. I’ve been planning a quilt for my sister and her husband for some time. I bought some stunning Liberty fabric a few years ago and it’s been sitting waiting to be transformed ever since. Consequently, I’ve been storing lots of quilt tutorials, so can offer a few options:
12. Lavender and cedarwood bags in matching fabric to the quilt. I met up with my sister the other evening and was gratified to see that she was wearing the snood I made her for Christmas two years ago. Less gratifying to see though, was that there were a couple of holes in it — however, gratifying again, that when I pointed this out, she was genuinely annoyed at seeing them and said they have got a serious moth problem in their new house. So, lavender and cedarwood bags are an essential. I won’t actually be following a tutorial for this as it’s pretty straightforward, but there is a great tutorial on Martha Stewart’s site that also tells you how to print your own designs onto fabric first.
I’m not entirely sure where I’d be finding big slabs of wood, but if I do I will certainly be making…
13. These amazing chopping boards by Centsational Girl and
14. The Design Sponge pencil holder
15. This must be one of the simplest ideas for a present ever. Print out some beautiful vintage bookplate designs and cut to size! I’ve come across a few different free graphics for these, so I’ll be putting together a combination of the ones I’ve found at The Graphics Fairy (pictured on the left), Design Sponge and Benign Objects (links take you directly to the bookplates). I think I’ll also make some little envelopes to hold them all. Will cut some to size out of card, stick one of the bookplates that is inside on the front and embellish the insides using the Guardian’s guide to making envelope liners. It’s a really simple idea, but hopefully will be appreciated by the bibliophiles in my life…
16. I’m going to have my first crack at grown-up potato stamp printing, inspired by the tutorial for this stunning feather-printed gauze blanket. I think I will try and craft mine into a scarf, however.
17. I’ll be following my own tutorial for transferring printed images onto fabric to make some more printed T-shirts, this time for friends’ children. I’ve been storing cool free graphics to use for this. The advantage of doing this is you can make the perfect T-shirt for their tastes. One friend’s son is crazy on horses, so he’ll get a horse T-shirt and I am already excited about how much he’ll love that…
18. I’ll be making some more of the delicious apple and sage jelly that I cooked in September.
This is a really perfect homemade present: hard to find in the shops, a bit unique, looks beautiful and, best of all, utterly delicious…
19. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Turkish delight. I’ve never tried to make it before, so I don’t know how well it would turn out, but this turkish delight recipe from the Guardian sounds pretty simple.
20. These peppermint hearts from Flossie Teacakes blog (love that name, don’t you?) originally got on my radar as a potential Valentine’s Day present. But I think they’d be great for Christmas too: all wrapped up in a nice box, with a jolly ribbon tied on. I think I’ll make up a couple of batches of these to use as “back-up” presents, just in case I forget to buy someone something…
So tell me, what have you got planned for your DIY Christmas presents? And what amazing tutorials have I missed off this list? Please share anything fabulous you’ve seen or created by posting a comment below…
I’ve made a few of these projects now, so I’ll add links here to anything I’ve tried out
My favourite of the completed Christmas presents was definitely the homemade soap. It went down really well with the recipients and I made so many I’ve used a fair few myself! Read more about it: how to make your own soap
Hot water bottle
I managed to get a fair few things knitted in time, including the lovely Bella’s mittens, along with a hot water bottle cosy and a nice slouchy cable hat. See more photos and details of all at Christmas knitting
After printing more T-shirts, I put together some tips for transferring images to fabric, along with photos of some that I made
The bookplates were certainly one of the simplest but most appealing of all the homemade presents. See the finished bookplates and the cute little envelopes I made for them (ahem, even if I do say so myself…)