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.

Sunday 5 July 2015

A gift and a new week part 2.

I had so much trouble posting today. I think because of the length of my E book. Hence the series of posts . 

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. 

Part 3 coming next...


  1. Dear Annabel I'm just revisiting some older posts of yours and loving all the ideas for homemade gifts. I've come across quite a few photos with cards and tags you've made, they are so gorgeous. We only get a glimpse of these and wondering if you could do a post on the cards and tags you make. You also present and wrap your gifts so beautifully. I would love to see what you include in some of your gift baskets spread out to give a full idea of what's included. I'm very much one of those people who need to visually see something. I love your blog Annabel, you are my fave one to read always. So down to earth, helpful and so friendly and caring in all your replies. I thank you for all the time and effort you put into your blog, a little slice of paradise and inspiration for thousands. Kind regards Lorraine ������

    1. Dear Lorraine, Thank you so much! I will take on board your idea on the gift baskets and next time I make some up I will show the contents. Thank you! Now... I do have some card making tips. First try here...
      And then here:
      To find more of my cards this is a cheats way.... google The Bluebirds are Nesting cards. Choose the images setting and you will see all the cards and if you click on those it will take you to that post. Some have a few instructions others are just what I have been making lately. Most of my cards are super easy ones! This week I will be posting some card making as I just made some. This will be tags as well. They are a huge money saver! Also there is a post about using your cards as gifts as well...
      These days very often I give little packs of gift tags as gifts... everyone needs cards!
      Thanks for such kind words! I really appreciate them! I will get moving on some gift baskets! with love


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