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.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Fast ways to boost you Christmas gift supply!

Thinking about this I came up with a lot of things I have made in big numbers.  This is my favourite way to really boost the present supply,  make multiples production line style!
I came up with a long list which I have narrowed down by considering things that we can realistically do now in time for Christmas time wise!
The next factors are things that will suit at least several people plus be a reasonable cost.  Better still, use items we already have on hand!

Many times I have made batches of prettily wrapped soaps.  I buy pink Dove soap in boxes.  The fact they are boxed makes the wrapping look neat and lovely.  Usually I can get these for $1 each in the cheap shops yet it is beautiful soap that smells just lovely.  When I post these everyone says how the parcel smelled so good!
You can use wrapping paper,  craft papers, images from magazines or books, wallpaper...
I got the idea when I saw exquisitely wrapped soaps in a gift store. They were $20 each!
I have used all kinds of ribbons I have, silk flowers, bling, old brooches...

One year I worked crochet edges around face washers and little flowers and paired these with my soaps.  If you crochet this is a fairly fast project.  My edgings tutorial is here. 
Working an edging around something is much faster than crocheting the whole item. Edgings look lovely on kitchen towels, aprons, pillowcases, wash cloths, scarves, towels... and more!

My soaps are usually in a few colour schemes.  I have used floral book pages and all sorts of images.

The main thing is to wrap neatly and stick things down in such a way that your ribbon will conceal everything. I then craft glue the ribbon edges to hold tight.  
I have also given these away in groups of three if I need a larger gift.

Another gift I have made lots of times is various versions of notebooks.  Most of us love note books! You need to find inexpensive little books with plain covers.   Sometimes I have found them in multiple packs.  If you are a crafter or card maker and have images, sparkly stuff, stickers etc you are set.  Also lace, motives, ribbon,  etc are possibilities.  

These are fun to make and if you make small ones they post well.  A pen could be an addition.   Another idea is to use larger books and cover them with fabric to be diaries or with food/cooking images to be somewhere to write best recipes. 

Similarly cards make good gifts!  I love a big card making session.  If you make them into packs of five or six you have a gift. Everyone uses cards and they cost a fortune!   

I usually use cellophane bags as my packaging but a lovely box would be very nice.  Again a pen would be nice if you want to add something, stamps or a birthday book maybe. 
My dear friend Ethel many years ago would make up a folder with dividers and pockets.  She did this for the Mums and Grandmothers.  It would have cards for every occasion and all the family birthdays written in.   So Grandma could turn to January and there was a list of Birthdays plus the cards needed. This was a beautiful and helpful gift.  It was a gift of help, money saving and thoughtfulness.

Another one Ethel taught me was mini Christmas cakes.  She saved the tins from tuna and washed them up. He husband would knock the sharp edges with a hammer.  These became her little cake tins.  Lined well with non stick paper she would make up Christmas cakes.  These can be made well ahead.
Most years I do some of these.  They are right for a person who lives alone or even a couple.

You could use any recipe at all. My Christmas Cake recipe keeps at least a year and that is here.  Ethel decorated hers beautifully with royal icing.  My icing skills are not so hot.  You could also use muffin trays or little round souffl√© dishes or any small cake tins.

Gift tags are another idea.  Like cards they make lovely gifts in packs.  They could also be book marks.
Tanya has made lots....  

She cut up a book of flowers for her images. They are really pretty!

Six in a cellophane bag tied up prettily is a good gift.

Tanya your gift tags are just lovely!  The bottom ones I can also see as luggage labels for travelling.

Another I make every year is Coconut Ice.  In stores this is sold in tiny pieces as it is rich.  I make a couple of baking trays of it and cut them into about 3 x 5 inch pieces.  This is one of the times I use my dried rosebuds too.

This is so yum and easy to make.  It is smooth and creamy.  I like to make the top layer the palest pink.  

This is my recipe Coconut Ice.

Lots of recipes are good for making big batches.  Packaged nicely they make great gifts.  I like fudge, rocky road,  gingerbread, peanut brittle....

I usually make shortbread.  Even with the price of butter this is a spectacular gift for very little.  To give it as a big gift I do the whole recipe on a pizza pan and give it whole.

This recipe is good as it isn't crumbly! Vanilla Shortbread. 
It can be cut out in shapes as well or baked whole and cut into wedges.  If you have tins then it can be given this way.

If you have someone who is gluten free (or grain free etc) making them a batch of something they can have is a really wonderful gift!  It is thoughtful and special and most store bough special diet items are very expensive!  This could be a hit. 

Holley suggested Crock Pot Candy. She shared this easy recipe which is here.  I am going to try this thank you Holley!

Barb suggested making up little hampers with a theme.  Pampering,  coffee drinker, afternoon tea, gardener.  This can be quick and easy to put together.

Jane has made lots of things in big numbers.  One is lip balms...

Another was shopping bags.  

Something like this would be great if you have a lot of fabric and fairly fast to make up.  
Pretty pillowcases are another one!  

Jane also decorates pegs. These are amazingly useful!  She started with a tutorial found on Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth.  A couple of years ago I did ones with birds on them.  They still keep the cheese packet shut! I gave them away on cards of six.   Thank you for demonstrating this also Jane! 

Wendy makes decorated hand towels in big numbers.  This is another good one. She adds a strip of pointed fabric and lace etc.  If you have fabric or lace remnants this would also work on face washers or kitchen towels.

Another I love to do is make up hampers of some of everything.  If I have preserves I will include a cake, jam, packets of shortbread, gingerbread, peanut brittle or whatever I have been making.  It is a selection.  Size it to match the family.   I watch for baskets from the op shop/thrift stores and save wooden boxes, trays etc.  With some cellophane and ribbon you can make it look wonderful.   If you look at the prices of hampers in the stores they are extremely expensive.  These are wonderful gifts.   

Sometimes I have found bulk packs of things that can be broken down into gifts.  I watch out for these!  This can apply to pretty much anything but the last time I did it was the hugest pack of Christmas Sweets.  I broke it up into about 20 little packs that I decorated and added these to my hampers.

With just over a month to Christmas making a big batch of something can really boost what you have.  Timing is everything.  For most of the baked goods I collect everything I need now.  Make sure I have cellophane etc as well.  I generally make coconut ice, shortbread etc about a fortnight before Christmas and give it out then.   For things given on Christmas Day I would do this kind of cooking a few days before.   Everything else can be done now to keep Christmas week calm!

Thank you everyone for sending in ideas!  There are some more in comments on last Wednesdays Christmas Challenge post and I have run out of time.   If you would like to add ideas and recipes please do!  

I can't believe how close we are to Christmas!  I know tomorrow is also Thanksgiving for our USA friends. Happy Thanksgiving!   

I hope your week is going well!  It is hot here! xxx


  1. Dear Annabel and Bluebirds,
    Beautiful gift ideas from y'all. Annabel, you have a true talent for making things pretty.
    My gift making fell through this year due to health issues, so we must shop. I have a list of 2018 sewing projects, so Lord willing, I will do better next year.
    Love and hugs,

    1. Dear Glenda,
      Thank you! I cant wait to see your new year sewing projects. I hope to sew more next year also... I have a stash of fabric saved up. With lots of love

  2. Dear Annabelle and Bluebird Ladies
    Well I just love everything about this post! I would have to say I LOVE Wednesday posts the best. So many great ideas.
    I have just about every idea mentioned on my 'to do' list or my 'already done' list for Christmas. Thank-you for sharing all of these wonderful ideas ladies to help make Christmas giving a whole easier and budget friendly.
    Jane where did you find those lovely lip balm containers??
    Blessings Tanya xxx

    1. Dear Tanya, I will ask Jane about this, I know she is busy with visitors. I agree the look so nice!
      I am glad you like these posts! They keep me motivated to be making things. Most of the time I do but sometimes life gets in the way. I love a good supply in my present cupboard. And I also think working on things is good for me i.e. I feel happy and content when crafting! Thank you for the beautiful pictures! With love

  3. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas! Also thanks to Jane, Tanya and Holley for their lovely work.

    These are all good reminders for me. We have been saving oatmeal tubs to put our holiday baked goods in. We have so many in our church that have blessed us that we can't wait to bless them w/ homemade goodies. Of course, there are a few gluten-free, so Holley's recipe will be helpful.

    Happy Thanksgiving from the U.S.

    1. Dear Leslie, It is really handy to have a container to fill as your base. I am always on the look out! With love

  4. Dear Annabel, well you know that those soaps are just about my most favourite idea of yours EVER! Stunning. Mimi xxx

    1. Thanks Mimi! I keep meaning to to the chocolates version that you do. This is just beautiful and I always think they would make amazing favours as well. It is really a case of elevating the ordinary to new levels with a bit of bling and loveliness! I might do the chocolates at Easter. Thank you! xxx

  5. Wonderful post Annabel, your packaging is exquisite. It makes everything look so classy and expensive. Xxxx

    1. Thank you Lorraine! Cellophane bags would be one of my most often used things for packaging. And ribbon! xxx

  6. Beautiful gift ideas and inspiration. I make up hampers- coffee lover, tea lover, cleaning, gardening to suit whoever they're going to. I make dozens of chocolate spoons for the coffee hampers - some I flavour for flavoured coffee, some I leave plain. Knitted dishcloths with matching trimmed tea towels, aprons, handmade soap, fudge, white Christmas, hazelnut shortbreads. I make gardening journals and match them with a pencil; book covers; bookplates in sets of 12 (just 2 sheets A4 paper to make 12)and I put double-sided tape on them so they are self-adhesive; mini Christmas cakes and puddings; bottles of vanilla essence, spice packs. Goodness when I thought, there are lots of things in the gift box! Thank you Ladies for the reminder :)

    1. Dear Cath, I love your ideas and I love the chocolate spoons! I have seen these in shops! Very much a treat and a bit special... I also saw cocktail glasses filled with chocolate fudge with a tiny spoon ties on the stem of the glass. I liked this!
      You have got me thinking on the spice racks! I have got op shop ones and painted them up and given them way for girls who collect nail varnishes... as they are good nail varnish racks! Also for jars of glitter... other craft items!
      It sounds like your supply is very good! Thanks for these inspirations! With love

  7. I just added in pegs by Jane. I went swimming tonight as it is hot. I was half way down the pool and I remembered "the pegs!" I know I promised to show them and forgot! Last year I made glitter ones to hold paper bags of christmas cooking shut. These are a great thing to mass produce!

  8. Thank you Annabel and all the lovely bluebirds who contributed :). They are all lovely gift ideas indeed now I am getting my thinking cap on for some gifts for some close friends.


    1. Dear Sewingcreations, Your honey is a really good possible gift... if you have a printer there are honey labels you can print that are lovely. With love

  9. Dear Annabel, Love this post of ideas!
    I took a look at the Coconut Ice recipe again and may attempt to make it, I usually make something new to my food gift giving every year.

    1. I hope you like it Laurie! Its really popular here and so pretty! xxx

  10. I am always so amazed at the gorgeous crafts and baked items that you and so many of your followers make. I'm not that great at making things look 'just right' and my baking skills are more along the line of burned rolls. What a delight to see so many out there who love their craft and share the joy with others. Gosh, how can I get on everyone's Christmas list? :) Diane

    1. Thanks Diane. Give non baking a try as these things are only assembly no cooking like coconut ice or microwave fudge! xxx

  11. Annabel,
    Everything is so pretty! I didn't get to make a lot this year with everything going on, but I am enjoying seeing what everyone else has made.
    Jane- I love your lip balm containers those are really pretty!

    1. Thanks Vicky! You have made tutus! And they are a good gift for all the little girls! xxx

  12. Hmmm I really haven't made anything except cards! Time is running out, thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Dear Amanda, Packs of cards are lovely gifts. Or gift boxed... add a pen, stamps, stickers.... Also with card making skills you are set on decorated note pads, book marks, calendars and many things! With love

  13. Annabel I just love hearing what everyone is doing. I have a notebook that I write ideas down in. These ideas help me to change up what I gift each year. Thank you so much for all the wonderful ideas.

  14. Dear Annabel,

    What a lot of great ideas! I can use a bit of inspiration, as with a few of the other commenters, I haven't gotten as many gifts made ahead of time this year. I have my kids embroidering initials on hankies for the Grandpas and Dads...quick and the recipients love them! I have big plans to be much more prepared next year, so I am gearing up to get started just after Christmas!! :)

    Lovely photos!

    xx Jen in NS

  15. Finally I have a few moments to sit and catch up on what is happening in your nest. I am not getting many of these "moments" lately...

    I have been in awe of all the pretty things that have appeared on your blog this year Annabel.

    Unfortunately life has gotten in my way of making things, but I am going to fix that with a revamp of my crafting room. I have made lots of progress out there (old family/craft/junk room outside under the carport), and there is not much more to do before I can sit and craft until my heart is content...hopefully (she says with bated breath). It will be all ready for next year...yay! I will even have space for soap making :D :D

    All these ideas will really come in handy...thank you ladies.

    I am going to look further into Jane's idea of lip balm, this is a lovely gift to add in a hamper or similar. I found the pretty containers on Aussie soap supplies, for anyone that is interested :)

    God bless you all,



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