The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Saturday 6 June 2015

A gift to you!

Recently Wendy asked me when am I doing more craft posts!? I had a patch where I was working on Chloe's blanket and that was all I did for a couple of months!  Well, now it is July! This means serious business as it's time to get started on Christmas presents. Don't have a fit as if you want to seriously make all or most of your Christmas presents now is the time to start!

I want to stress you do not have to be crafty to make your presents! Coming up I will share what I am making as I go. Also look in my crafts, crochet etc sections for ideas. But to help I am giving you all my e book for free. It will take a bit longer to read than a regular posts! But it will take you through a process of working out what you are good at, what your resources are and what gifts would be great for your family and friends.

Quite possibly you have both skills and items you can get your hands on for free or very inexpensively that will become wonderful gifts. Can you imagine how much this might save you this year? Would this help your budget? Apart from not spending too much you could think of it as a way to improve your emergency fund. Spend 1/4 what you normally would and save, build up your pantry or something to improve your home. It is absolutely possible. Now is the time to do this. 

I have seen ladies who said they did not think they were crafty or artistic blossom and have so much fun making things! Many times our creativity has dried up due to perfectionism. We think our work is not good enough. I won't say anymore it's here in my E Book. 

I would love to hear what you decide your talents and gifts are. Also what you might already have that you can use or what resources you might have around you. Once you have this worked out you will have time on your side. Starting now you may only need to make a couple of gifts per month. We will work that out. You are going to have plenty of time and be ready to wrap well before Christmas Day! So this is a big start but it is the start of the most economical Christmas ever but the best one ever!

I am very happy to help with gift ideas based on your talent or gift and your resources. These combined with the recipients ages and likes. It is just like maths.  Talent + Resource+ likes = perfect gift! You will stun your recipients and yourself! xxx

How to make your Christmas and Birthday gifts.
(And how to have a joyous Christmas with no financial strain)

Christmas and Birthday gifts can be a huge strain on the budget. For many these times create a budget blowout that has a hangover well into the next year and is a stress that is the downside of what should be a wonderful time.

We all THINK it would be wonderful if we could make our gifts but Christmas comes around and we are lucky if we have made a gift or two. And times are frantic, it just doesn't happen! Worse, we run around spending too much as the last minute approaches. Desperation sees us overspend. And this cycle goes around and around! Having an after Christmas debt is not the way to start a new year. We want to celebrate and be generous but there are ways to do both without getting into debt!

For many people times are getting financially tougher. So if we are ever going to save money on gifts now might be the time! And I am going to help you get started! 

Part One. What are your talents and resources?

The gifts I make for my friends and family will not be the same as the ones you are going to make. Firstly lets think about our skills and things we might have on hand to create our gifts.

Maybe you have been a sewer in the past and have a cupboard full of fabrics. So I know you can sew and that you have materials already. Combining these two things is a place to start. Maybe you have collected yarns over the years. The things you have in your stash can be a good place to start as you can turn them into gifts. 

 Consider your skills. If you are a good photographer use family or friend gatherings to take beautiful photos. Everyone loves photos of their children or pets! You could even offer to take a series of family photos so they have an informal portrait. Instant and very appreciated gift. In this case your skills are your resource and are valuable in creating many gifts in the future.

Or maybe you like to garden and have a heap of plastic pots. These two would get you off to a good start with potted gifts. Last year I potted a series of succulents and also took cuttings from a local Jade plant which grew brilliantly. These gave me a dozen gifts which I used in place of the gift of flowers on several occasions. Lovely pots if you can find them at good prices are helpful otherwise wrap your plastic pot in hessian and tie up with string. This makes them look really stylish and rustic for very little. Or paint terracotta pots in blackboard paint and use chalk to write on the name of the plant.

Possibly you have plants that multiply in your garden. My aunty has Agaves. Big ones are over $100 in the nursery. These are a resource as are any plants that you might have multiplying. Go and see how much they are each in the nursery!

So lets think about making a list of skills, even those that might need a bit of brushing up, and even those no one might know about! Maybe you can paint or draw nicely. Maybe you are a good cook. Whatever it is consider it a skill you have. List them.

Now consider any materials you might have that would get you off the ground supply wise. Write those down as this will come in handy later. 
I really recommend you start a little book where you write down your ideas. List your skills and things you might be able to use up. And we will add things to make and also list the names of people we want to give to and ideas for them as they come to light. Then supplies to look for and all your gift making notes.

The internet especially is a huge help now. If, for example, you have lots of small pieces of material and no idea what to make with it actually search "gifts to make with fat quarters" or "patchwork gift ideas". And be specific ie if you have a friend who loves her kitchen or to cook search "fabric gifts for cooks" or even "easy fabric gifts for cooks" and start pinning and taking notes on ideas that you really like.

This process helps you use the skills you have and use up things you have on hand. You will be amazed at the ideas this process produces and the choices you have. Using materials you have on hand is going to save you so much money.

Next consider resources you might have that you COULD use. We have an apricot tree, eggs, my Mum has a Bay Leaf tree... I count these as assets and every foodie parcel or cooks gift includes Bay Leaves and my apricots give me lots of jars of jam to also add to food hampers and I give apricot pies as gifts too. Once again google ideas or recipes to use up your resource.  Make the most of this money saving gift. 

Write down a list of possible supplies or resources you have. And start a corresponding list of possibilities. For instance if you have a lemon tree search "lemon preserves" or "what can I make from lemons?" as you will get everything from recipes to cleaning products! This is how you get ideas you just never thought of!

Realising you have a resource is a big thing. Many people won't consider the things they have as potential materials for gift giving. But open your eyes to the possibilities.  I just had access to some old wooden ladders.... ohhh the possibilities! I found some old wooden windows and made frames from them. You might be surprised what your resources are...

Sometimes things will just come your way or perhaps you will see a huge bargain. I got a whole big box of tomatoes for $5 knowing this bargain would be really handy. It made us lots of pasta sauce and I made jars of chutney. A stash of these added again to hamper gifts.

Just think about what materials you have access to. If my husband was a carpenter I would be asking for offcuts to make beautiful French shaped chopping boards with a rope through the handle! If a friend sewed wedding dresses I would be asking her to save me beaded and luxury fabric scraps! There may be materials right under your nose that you haven't even thought of! Identify your materials and search for ideas that will give you beautiful gifts. If my husband was a tiler I think I would be going into mosaics!

Identifying things that you might have access to for free can possibly save you so much money. And it is fun to be this creative. 

The next one is to look for suitable gifts for family and friends using the skills you have and buying some supplies for these projects. This requires some planning. We want our gifts to be beautiful but not break the bank because that is the whole point! So costing things out is important. Sometimes materials can be found much cheaper when we compare around, sometimes we can decide to use a substitute and other times we need to scrap an idea as it is just going to be too costly! We need to be sensible on this one. 

Another idea is to look on free cycle and in op shops and garage sales etc and be open minded about what could be a material you could work with. Having lots of ideas of things you would love to make and keeping an eye out until the opportunity comes along. Last year I had the idea to make everyone kitchen blackboards. Eventually I saw a pile of wonderful frames put out as rubbish on the side of the road! Bingo! My husband Andy cut boards to fill each one and I had six beautiful kitchen blackboards (chalk boards). 

Your skills, whatever they are, are a starting point and we need somewhere to start. But you may think your skills do not equate to suitable gifts. This is where your research comes in. See what other people are doing with those skills, what people are buying in stores and what stores are charging. Online stores like Pottery Barn, Anthroplogie etc are great to look at for modern ideas from older skills like knitting. They charge a fortune for knitted homewares! You can gather so many ideas. I have met people who think their skill is old fashioned and does not equate to give able gifts. If I can show them what people are paying high prices for it is an eye opener! So if you feel this way about your skills have a look around. Even macrame is fashionable again! 

Target your searches. If you want to make gifts for someone who is a keen cook and loves her kitchen then look in Kitchenware stores and Gourmet stores. You will see beautiful bottles of herbed oils, fabulous chopping boards, stunning jars, linens and there will be things that will surprise you. There will be things that amount to ideas that you could make. I will even take a photo so I remember and I will notice the price too. My ideas go into my book. If I need to I will google instructions, go through recipe books or even watch a You Tube tutorial to start making up some of the ideas that I think might work. I am just always on the look out for things that are beautiful and that I think I could make without too much expense. Keeping the ideas coming in is both really fun and exciting but ensures after this Christmas and round of birthdays you have new ideas to get started on.

Make a study of it. Recently I browsed in a stunning home wares store that had a french country theme. It was gorgeous. I could have stayed there all day! But I was studying. Much of their stuff you would find in your Grand Fathers shed, old ladders, vintage jars, then hand knitted wash cloths and hand towels, potted herbs in rustic pots and tins... I came out of there with so many new ideas of things I can make. Also some presentation ideas. They used hessian to wrap and trim things and it looked beautiful. Jot your ideas down, ask for a catalogue or look online... and you have a list of your ideas. 

After a session of inspiration like this it's easy to forget all these great new ideas. So I tend to write them down, draw little pictures, collect photos or instructions etc to refer back to.

A resource you may not have thought about is your heritage. If you have your Grandmothers recipes, photos, cards or notes you have a resource. Compile these into cook books for the family. Include Grandmas own handwriting if possible. Make heirloom treasures that will go into future generations and record this wonderful history. What could be a better gift!? If you have old family photos they are a resource. Washable markers are great. You can write a family recipe onto a tea towel and even use that as a way to wrap up a kitchen gift. Photocopy Grandma's hand written recipe and frame it or make it up and tie the recipe to the container the food is in. What a lovely present.

Skills do not have to be crafty. If you are good with the computer and can upload photos or edit photos you could consider making personal calendars, diaries,cards and all kinds of things or use an online shop to create them for you from images you supply. These can be very inexpensive. A book of photos for Grandma could be the nicest thing you could give her! A calendar or diary full of family photos and verses or quotes of your choosing... imagine the possibilities of a personal and priceless gift. Most of the online stores that do these kind of printed products have amazing specials and if you join they will inform you. The products are so professional and amazing. What a stunning but inexpensive gift. If you feel you have no crafty skills remember back to things you were once taught. As it is amazing how quickly we pick back up skills we once learned. It might be years since you did something but a refresher can produce startling results! 

Part two. The question of time.

There are a couple of aspects to consider. The first is how do you fit the work involved in creating all your gifts into your life which may already be busy? Well, you do not have to do a lot per day. There are three hundred and sixty five days a year.You will be amazed at how much you will produce by working on things all year around. I mostly do handiwork at night after dinner when the tv might be on. I will knit, crochet or embroider then. If I was travelling to work on public transport, provided I was seated I would probably crochet in this time. We can use our snippets of time and the funny thing is this is quite relaxing. In my case I love to watch the tennis in summer and the football in winter. These times see me get through a lot of yarn gifts. 

Soft chenille rugs...

Warm woollen blankets.

These gifts I know have been well loved. And they have taken NONE of my time. I would have watched the football anyway!

Other times I might have a sewing afternoon or a painting afternoon and these times I tend to produce a lot! Later in the year there will be a few days where I'll cook towards my foodie gifts. For instance I will make fruit cakes for Christmas in October each year. This is the ideal time as they mature and taste divine in December. Plus it means that a good portion of gifts are made well ahead. Then in December I might do Shortbread, Chocolate Fudge and Coconut Ice. Packed up all these look gorgeous and as I make big batches I only cook three times for gifts in December and still end up with a lot of gifts.

You may be helped too by enlisting helpers! If you have kids they will probably love crafts and being involved. Children learn so much this way and take great pride when the gift is given and they helped. So enlist your workers if you are lucky enough to have them. My husband has handy man and woodworking skills.  If I ask him he will cut out things for me and I made french shaped chopping boards this way that looked so expensive but cost a few dollars each. I copied the shapes from a beautiful kitchen store near us and used rustic rope to tie through the handles. I found french label images on The Graphics Fairy to make french labels to tie to the handles. I was so happy with them! 

Sometimes I have found something simple like making someone a cake as a birthday gift has been the most successful present. I have had someone cry as they had NEVER had a cake made by them before, even as a child (and I never knew this). A cake might cost only a few dollars to make. I have no cake decorating skills I just use flowers....

If I had spent a hundred dollars I couldn't have had a better reaction or thanks than I did with this cake.

If you are a person who works better with someone see if you have a friend who might also like to make her gifts. Instead of coffee together have craft sessions together. It can also work well to exchange skills with someone. For instance if your friend can knit and you can make soap you could agree that you will make lovely soaps and she will knit cotton wash cloths then swap so you both have soaps and wash cloths. Arrangements like this can increase the variety of what you have. Similar arrangements with Christmas cooking would be great, cook you specialties in big quantities and swap some. Just the extra motivation of working with a friend can be a big help. Make a list of skills that those around you have and ask if you can make a deal or maybe if they can teach you so that you increase your own skills.

Another form of this is to join online groups, money saving blogs, craft blogs etc and share what you are doing and see what others are doing. I find these really inspiring. Participating in sharing ideas is good for me, it keeps me thinking! Sometimes accountability helps. For me I like to write down each month what I have made. I see the list growing. Lists work for me. And then I think about what I will do next. It moves me along!
(now this is here on the blog we could do this by reporting in our progress!)
Really the key is to do a few projects each month. You will then never have too much to do and come December you will have so much to give. It is that easy. 

Part three. Plan your attack.

Most of us have two groups of people to give to. Some of our family or friends who like the things we like. I tend to have friends who love vintage and pretty things, Shabby Chic, and I can craft away making pretty things I love and they will love them too. With this group I note their favourite colours and the colours they decorate in so what I make will be in the colours they love and fit into their kitchen, for instance, if I am making pot holders or something like that. These are the easy gifts to make! 

Last year I made luxury powder puffs, amongst other things ,after seeing a lovely powderpuff for fifty dolalrs in a department store. And I love powder too. These were a hit amongst my friends.

The next group are those with tastes nothing like mine! My Dad, brothers, sister in law and the teenagers and children. I write up a list in my book and all year long I listen and ask questions. Last year my nephew James moved into his own place. He didn't have much and he said he had two drinking glasses. So on my list I wrote "glassware" next to James. This sounds so obvious but we hear tips all year and forget them and go blank when we need to think of something! So I also know James is perpetually hungry and loves all kinds of home cooking. Note!

Then I hear my sister in law is bottling produce. While thinking good thoughts about that I note she might like labels or pretty tops for jars, both being things I could make.
Just accumulate ideas and write them down.

Then do some detective work and deduce... ie your uncle who is a diabetic.... imagine making some diabetic friendly treats for him. How kind would that be? 

Or an aunt who lives alone, maybe some little parcels of biscuits for some afternoon teas.
Or even some chicken pies in individual sizes for her freezer as easy meals. People are blessed by your thoughfulness. Maybe make a stack of pretty cards for someone who likes to write.

There is always someone who is difficult to give to. Ultimately everyone has a favourite food and that is often the answer for me. 

Just consider peoples likes, needs and interests and you will come up with a list.Then you won't face that frenzied moment of WHAT will I get ......?

If you have children gifts for teachers might be on your list too. I have heard of people spending large amounts on this. Yet the greatest gift you can give a teacher is a handwritten letter of how much they have helped your child and how much you have appreciated them. A small homemade gift will mean more to them than ANOTHER teacher coffee cup or apple eraser! Another option is a gift made by your child. A teacher will really love that.

The last group is gifts for people you don't know and can't hope to find out what they like. It sounds ridiculous! But think, it's the person at a family function you have not met, or someone you hear of that has no family... for these times I keep a few things that are more or less always well received like pretty soaps, some cards or a wash cloth. Just a few spare items and you have these covered. In any instance being thoughtful and considerate, including people and being kind is the gift they probably really appreciate.

Part four. Start producing.
While we are gathering ideas and planning I want you to get started on something. It can be something easy and small but something. As action creates more action and your confidence will grow. It may be filling some pots with soil and planting herbs in them. Or striking some cuttings or casting on a baby rug. Anything. As we are creating a habit here of continually adding to our gifts in the making. And some things need time to grow, be worked on and develop. We need to get started! It is natural for me that when I sit down I pick up work to go on with. But it doesn't feel like work, it is lovely. I would feel silly just watching TV and doing nothing! If I am very tired or have a headache that might happen but usually I just pick up where I left off and it is amazing how your work adds up.

If you feel your skill levels are still a little low then consider really easy things. If you can sew a little bit then embellishing things with simple trims is very easy. Inexpensive tea towels or sheets can be trimmed with pretty lace or braid. It only involves a straight line of sewing but elevates something from basic to gift worthy. I like to add braid or pom pom trim to tea towels and napkins and it makes such a difference. Choose a few easy things to get yourself going. Really your confidence will increase and you will feel proud of the results.

I made all these kitchen cloths from vintage material backed with cotton and added braid.

Make it easy for yourself. I keep my yarn and needles right where I sit in the lounge so it is all right there next to me. This means I don't have to go searching, I can just get on with it. 

Part Five. Increase your skills.

As we work on our gifts ideas will pop into our head. People also may comment that they love what you are doing and give you ideas. Write them down before you forget! But there will always be next year as well so as we go we want to increase our skills and learn new ones.

With pinterest, You Tube, online tutorials we are surrounded by easy and free ways to learn just about anything. I recently started watching You Tube tutorials to learn to crochet new things. Oh my goodness it is fabulous! Seriously whatever you have ever wished to learn it is there! If you would like to learn cake decorating or calligraphy or quilting or whatever it is there! The bonus is it is really fun. I had a lovely time this year with new patterns and stitches I learned.

The next one not to be overlooked is to learn from those around us. If you are lucky enough to have a Nan, a neighbour or Mum who has skills in sewing, cooking or any handicraft ask them to teach you. Spend that time with them. It will be a wonderful time and so much more will come of it than skills. But the skills will help you with your future gifts.

Part Six. Storing and organising.

I have a cupboard I keep just for storing presents in. And it is amazing that later in the year when I go through this cupboard I find I have forgotten many of the things I made earlier in the year. The last two years I have taken everything out and worked out who is getting what. I have been so shocked at how much I've produced! It's like a shop! And I have ended up with MORE than I need. The wonderful thing is that this has meant I have been able to give extra gifts to charity and to someone I might find that might be really blessed by a gift. You will find you have saved so much and you can also be more generous than you ever thought possible. 

Part Seven. Confidence and appreciation of value.

This is a big one. We can think anything we can produce is not gift worthy. If you feel the slightest bit this way then I have some projects for you. I want you to go to some lovely upmarket home wares stores and really have a look around. Take notes even. You will find so much inspiration. You will find hand knitted and crocheted rugs and cushions that are divine and HUNDREDS of dollars. You will see many hand made and vintage things that you could make and probably die when you see the prices! Do the same in some gift stores. Study the catalogues that include hampers and foodie gifts. Go to a beautiful department store and look at the foods presented to give. Packaged cakes, biscuits, hampers of jams, chocolates and all kinds of sweets. Look at the way they are presented. Look at  the prices. A Christmas cake, maybe medium in size will likely be fifty dollars or more. A packet of biscuits maybe sixteen dollars... Really explore and study. I want you to realise your box full of cupcakes made for your nieces Birthday would be worth $60 to $80. And she will think it so sensational. We need to value what we have made and feel proud if it! 

If you are using your gardening skills go to a nursery and note the prices of plants. Note how they present plants for gift giving, interesting ways to label and identify plants, things that are particularly popular... 

As your confidence grows try to expand your skills. Leap on any opportunity to learn new things. Many older people are so knowledgable on how to do things from make soap to drying herbs, knitting and sewing and so on. As we learn our confidence grows. Soon you have people wanting to buy what you are making. That is a lovely thing, then you KNOW your goods are valuable and make great gifts!

Part Eight. Packaging and presentation.

So much of how the things we have made look depend on how we present them. Packaging is a huge factor. I'm hoping from exploring and looking in shops you have noted some packaging ideas. This will confuse your recipient. They won't be sure if you bought your foodie gift in David Jones or you made it yourself!  When they find out you made it they will be so impressed. That's what packaging does. It elevates things to a professional level. This is where the finished product looks so good you are thrilled with it!

Once again we don't want our packaging to blow the budget out of the water. Looking at professional methods helps as they are trying to make a profit AND have things looking appealing so we can learn a lot from them.

Each year I package up my Coconut Ice and make it look pink and lovely. Last year I placed it on trays with fresh pink roses and people picked a piece.

The year before I used dried pink roses and organza ribbon. It looked lovely. Another year I cut it into heart shapes. It always draws oohs and ahhs!

I find cellophane and cellophane bags very helpful. Also nice jars and boxes. But I am continually looking out for ideas. Craft stores and food stores stock noodle boxes and all kinds of containers and cellophane bags that can be prefect for packaging. When you need a really large cellophane bag use an oven bag it looks the same!  If I see something packaged beautifully I happily take a photo of it to remind me when I have my own packaging to do.This all will help you feel confident and proud of your own produce.

Last Christmas I made lolly kebabs for some young girls. They looked so pretty like wands. They were a great hit and cost about one dollar each to make.

I also made gifts for cooks and included Bouquet Garni made from herbs in my garden. I used muslin and string to wrap the herbs and large cellophane bags to hold groups of six.

The next thing is to use "props". I will look for simple containers and items to make a gift seem complete. If I am making a pie as a gift I will use a pretty pie plate to hold my gift and that becomes part of it. Usually I pay about $2 for these at a cheap shop. But it makes it easy and look good. The same with a gift of meals, I might use a couple of little casserole dishes that are part of the gift. They can be a dollar or two each. 

A good teenage gift is a Chocolate Pizza. A pizza pan is about one dollar in a cheap store. Melt chocolate and cover your pan and then decorate while warm with sprinkles or sweets. You can form a number to signify a Birthday or write a message... The pizza pan is the base of the gift. Wrap in cellophane and a ribbon. These are so easy and the kids can decorate them! A pizza pan can also be covered in toffee with nuts or sesame seeds stirred in. You tie it up and include a mini hammer to smash it up. It is stunning and costs about a dollar to make. You can do the same as a giant biscuit and decorate it. 

Baskets are quite expensive so I watch for them in op shops and then paint them up in a session near Christmas. You can spray paint them or even use a greyish paint to give them a soft french glaze that makes them look fabulous. Then you have a way to add several items and you have a hamper. I might add a jar of jam, Chocolate fudge, a mimi Christmas cake, some Coconut Ice and what ever else I have made. These make lovely gifts. When you are doing your research look at hampers and how they are presented and the prices! They are hugely expensive! My favourite container for hampers is a small wooden box. Sometimes I am lucky enough to find them and recycle them for this.

Part Nine. Multiply.

There will be many things that are suitable for more than one person. And it never hurts to have spares. So think about making extra while you are working on one thing. You can end up with so many more gifts this way. A little bit of a production line... A while ago I did pretty wrapped soaps after seeing beautiful wrapped soaps for twenty dollars each in a gift store! Yes they were really $20 each! Rather than do one or a couple I did several dozen in a couple of days. These have been so handy! I have given them as singles and in groups of three or paired them with a wash cloth I have made as a set. While I was wrapping and decorating I might as well keep going. It gave me a lot of extra little gifts.

When I make wash cloths I make heaps! These and the soaps have paired together naturally and been pretty gifts. 

Next I made piles of dish cloths from cotton I had. They are soft, absorbent and thick. I will give them in sets of three in kitchen themed gifts. And they were fun to do.

Another way to multiply your gifts is to make big batches of what ever you cook. If I do coconut ice I make enough for about twenty parcels. I make a fruit cake in a baking tray and when it's cold I cut it into nine smaller cakes and ice them individually. Then I have nine decorated small cakes perfect for hampers. Or you could cook your cakes in Texas Muffin tins so you have a series of individual sized cakes. Wrapped prettily these are gorgeous gifts. I just always make extra if I have the materials. For a family a large cake is suitable but for individuals smaller cakes are just right. Whatever extras I have end up being gifts I can give someone unexpected. Batches of old fashioned fudge or toffees are so inexpensive to make, so wonderful and it makes good sense to make a big batch.

Part Ten. Consider gifts of time or help.

Sometimes the best gift is a gift of help. 
Other times the a gift could be making a special meal for someone and a general fuss of them. Here I gave the gift of a special little afternoon tea to a young girl. And she loved it!

Another time I sat a table outside for dinner so my husband knew it was special and cooked him a beautiful dinner and served it outdoors. He really loved it. If you make someone feel special and loved you have pretty much succeeded! 

Part Eleven. Presentation and giving.

When Christmas time comes and the Birthdays that roll around enjoy giving and wrapping. And appreciate the work you have put in. Be proud of youself and note what you might have saved over the season. I hope it means a reduction in strain for your family and an increase in security instead!

Wrapping and presenting your gifts is the final process. You want them to look wonderful In many ways wrapping is so important. First impressions count!

I use a lot of tulle. Tulle is much cheaper than buying ribbon and looks very luxurious. Another one is using lace curtains. I have bought lace curtains in op shops, washed them and cut into strips for lace ribbons and used them to wrap things. Miles of lace for a couple of dollars.

I also use a lot of brown paper, I think it looks really stylish and is pretty inexpensive. 
Last year I crocheted flowers and made chains to embellish parcels. These were my favourite and I was able to use bits of yarn up in this.

An idea I have for this year is sea shells, string and brown paper. Or gum nuts, string and brown paper! A lot of natural elements make amazing embellishments. Again think of what is available to you. If you have beautiful gum nuts from a tree use them natural or spray paint them silver. If you have poultry save feathers, they look amazing on brown or black paper tucked under string. Tiny pinecones stuck in a cluster, your babies footprints all over a parcel (or your puppies paw prints) Peacock feathers, dried roses from the garden. Look at what you have and what is around you and collect. My uncle had a Holly bush and he tucked bunches of Holly under the ribbons of parcels at Christmas. How lovely! 

Part Twelve. Repeat.

After Christmas and the dust settles it's time to begin it all again. But here is the thing. Crafts and handiwork, gardening and giving are good for us. Busy hands really do make happy hearts. I notice that when I am absorbed in handiwork I am content and happy. It keeps my mind on nice things.

You may soon be in a position to share your skills with others and help them reduce their costs and enjoy the happiness and contentment that working with your hands brings.

And you never know. Some of the things you produce might be considered treasures and heirlooms someday and serve as reminders of your love. 

What could be lovelier than that?

I want to thank everyone who bought my E book last year and supported me. I hope it helped you have a wonderful and inexpensive Christmas last year. 
I have felt that the idea of using our own resources and talents to make things is timely now. These things also give us things to trade, things to sell, as well as gifts.
I really hope that working through each stage you will come up with lots of ideas. You can have so much fun with this and save such a lot. If you have something and just don't know what to make with it then ask! One of us will have an idea.

You really can have a wonderful Christmas,  give lovely gifts and also spend so much less than usual. I hope this will be a help to you! 
Have a really good week.


  1. You are such a sweet dear lady to know. Thank you for sharing your creativity and knowledge with us. I am sure appreciating each post!

  2. You are one very clever and creative lady!. I LOVE your ideas. Is your ebook still available. Glennis. (I don't know how else to identify myself!)

  3. Dear Glennis, Thank you so much! I am just doing a series on Christmas now, each money. This A Gift to You was tow parts and was my ebook made into posts so you have it for free.
    Im glad you like it! Many thanks! I hope this leads you up to the best and least expensive Christmas ever! With love,

  4. Hi Annabel, I too loved your e-book. It has given me many ideas for next year after another rush around for this year's presents. I do enjoy your blog so. Thank you.

    1. Dear Barb, Thank you! Many times we have resources or supplies we didnt even think of! But they can give us all kinds of things to make and gifts! Real savings here! Thank you very much, Love

  5. What a wonderful blog! So full of practical and helpful advice. I've been blessed reading your e-book and I love the photo of your little budgie. Thank you for all the care and thought you have put into your blog. Plus, your'e a fellow Aussie:- even better!

  6. Thank you so much! I really admire your work! Nancy


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