Christmas is without a doubt the most expensive holiday of the year and with the passage of time it grows ever more costly. Looking back to Christmas past however, there was a time where people gave each other things like sweets, preserves, garments and toys that they made themselves and celebrated the true spirit of the season by giving of themselves. They may not be as flashy as electronics or as symbolic as gold and diamond jewellery but these gifts are representative of another rare commodity in our busy society, one’s time and heartfelt effort.

Give holiday magic…

If you are the slightest bit crafty or even if you aren’t, sewing and decorating your own Christmas stockings can be as easy or as complicated as you desire and it’s a delightful way to show someone just how fond of them you are.

Stockings can be made from velvet, fun fleece, old corduroy, an old woollen blanket or even leather depending on whether you would rather make them from something new or go it old school and make them out of material scraps from around the house. They can also be knitted depending on how much time you want to devote to the project.

To begin, make a stocking pattern out of paper depending on what size of stocking you desire. A simple way is if you already have old Christmas stockings around the house that you can trace. If you don’t feel confident in creating your own pattern, download and cut out this pattern from the Internet, available here:

Display&craftid= I 1052With your pattern cut, pin sides together and either stitch it from the inside out or the outside in using an overlay stitch with perhaps some gold or silver thread or thread of a different colour. With the stocking sewn, it’s time to trim the opening of the stocking with just about whatever you like from faux fur to felt or different coloured fabric. Decorate with a felt appliqué of the recipient’s name, a felt cut-out of something festive, jingle bells, an ornament or just about anything else you would desire.

For more detailed instructions:

And for decorative ideas: 1003_stockings/ff 1003_stockings.html

Homemade Christmas ornaments are another lovely gift idea for the Christmas lover in your circle of friends and family. They are also a gift that keeps on giving as every year the recipient will look back and remember you and your heartfelt efforts when they decorate their tree.

Simple ornaments

Should you happen to have an abundance of pinecones in your midst, with a little bit of gold or silver spray paint these gifts of nature make for wonderful and festive ornaments. Simply lay pine cones out on an old sheet of newspaper in well-ventilated room or if you can bare it, outside. Allow to dry, tie a loop of matching thread to the stem and voila, an instant box of ornaments.

As cinnamon is an aroma that we often associate with the holiday season, why not try these delightful, easy-to-make ornaments that are not only attractive and inexpensive but also fill the home with a wonderful scent.

Make the dough with the following recipe:1 cup of ground cinnamon (it does not have to be high quality)1 tsp. cloves

1 tsp. nutmeg 3/4 c. applesauce

2 tablespoons of white school glue Cookie cutters

Paint, for decoration, fabric glue or acrylic works fine Ribbon of any desired colour

Mix the first five ingredients to make dough, knead until stiff. Dust out your rolling surface with cinnamon and roll out dough to about a 1/4-inch thick

Cut with cookie cutters into desired shapes, anything from angels to gingerbread men to stars or any other cookie cutter available to you.

Place all of your freshly cut ornaments onto a sheet of wax paper and cut small holes at the top to allow the ribbons. Allow to dry for up to two to four days, turning frequently to ensure that they have dried properly.

Once the ornaments have dried, paint and decorate in the way you would a cookie, affix ribbons and your done

There are so many different varieties of home made ornaments that can be made easily, even by little hands. For more ornament gift ideas, why not check out what Martha Stewart, the queen of home entertaining, suggests on her website at

Love in a jar

Truly wonderful gifts that are reminiscent of Christmas past are homemade preserves in hand-labelled jars. In the past, folks traditionally gave fruit jams for morning toast as fruit was scarce in wintertime. However, as ingredients from far away are so much easier come by these days the possibilities are literally endless. This lovely apricot-jalapeno jelly is a wonderful accompaniment to pork and other meats and makes 7 to 8 half cup jars.

Apricot-jalapeno Jelly

1/2 cup chopped jalapeho peppers, stems and seeds removed

1 large red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed (optional)2 cups cider vinegar 1-1/2 cups dried apricots, chopped

6 cups of white sugar 1 package of Certo liquid pectin

Place jalapenos, bell pepper, and vinegar in blender and purée until coarsely ground.

Combine apricots, sugar, and pepper-vinegar mixture in large saucepan and bring to a boil, allow to boil rapidly for five minutes

Remove the pot from the heat and scoop off any froth or foam Allow the preserve to cool for a few minutes, mix in the pectin Pour into sterilised jars, seal, and allow cooling. Process in a water bath for ensured preservation

If you have never made preserves before, have a look at the link below from the Reader’s Digest web page as preserves need to be done properly in order to ensure safety. Nobody wants botulism for the holiday season!

Readers Digest also has some wonderful recipes for other gifts from the kitchen at: ift/home.html

Give warmth…

With the cold season upon us, staying warm is something that is on the minds of just about everyone.

Homemade mitts, scarves and hats are a practical and thoughtful gift for just about everyone on your list and can be knitted or fashioned out of leather by skilled hands but what if you are not just not a good knitter or have never worked with leather before? The answer is simple, fun fleece! Fleece is inexpensive, easy to come by and most importantly it’s fun to work with!As it’s still early on in the season, there is plenty of time left yet to measure the handsand heads of potential recipients. Sure they may find it a little odd when you ask them to lay their hands down on paper so that you may trace their hands to get the size right. Measuring their heads may also come off, as strange but hey, chances are you would not be taking the measurements of someone you don’t already have a close enough rapport with them, right? If you really don’t want to ruin the surprise, however, measure the hands and head of someone else who looks similar in size.

For mittens, take your traced hand and retrace it on to another sheet of paper adding a half-inch all the way around to allow for seams. Cut your pattern, pin on to fleece and cut your material. Sew sides together. Pin a fabric, elastic band along the inside of the mitts and gather the material evenly with the pins. If this seems to difficult, you can also cut a one-inch strip of fleece the same circumference of the wrist of the mitt and sew a fabric tube to string the elastic through with a safety pin and seal up. The mitts can be decorated in just about any way with appliqué faces for little children or the initials of your loved one for big people.

With the mitts made, cutting a scarf from the same material requires very little effort as fun fleece does not fray. Measure out the desired length and cut away! You can cut fringes into the end if so desired, trim it with colourful threads and do like wise with the mitts or sew on various different appliqués depending on individual tastes. Someone’s initials are a lovely and tasteful suggestion.

Fleece hats can be slightly more complicated, depending on what type of hat you would like.

A pattern can be made from an old hat from around the house or by taking your head circumference measurement, adding two inches to allow for seams and then dividing by four.

Use the quarter measurement to make your pattern by first marking the length on paper, this will be the base of your triangle as the idea is to sew the four triangles together in the form of a hat with all of the points meeting up for the crown of the head. The lengths may vary depending on whether the hat is being made for a child or adult so measure out approximately how long you think would be necessary. If it appears that your hat may be too long, do not worry as the base can be rolled up to form a brim or hemmed underneath depending on the desired length. Cut the pattern, sew the triangles together and decorate if so desired.

This is a simple design for those with a bit of sewing experience. Should you not feel confident cutting your own pattern, go to these following websites for other hat ideas:,1789,H GTV_3320_3378664.00.html = Craft

Display&craftid= 10034