Keep­ing Christ­mas cheap but cheer­ful

Kapi-Mana News - - BACKYARD BANTER -

Many Ki­wis reckon Christ­mas is the most stress­ful time of the year when they spend far more money than they in­tended.

For­tu­nately the silly sea­son doesn’t have to cost an arm or a leg. Here are a few easy DIY gift ideas that won’t cost a lot but will look like you’ve gone to a lot of ef­fort. Most el­e­ments can be found at op shops, gar­den­ing or hard­ware stores, the su­per­mar­ket, in your garage, or in your neigh­bour’s garage.

Some of the loveli­est gifts are the sim­plest. Fill an empty jar with any­thing from home­made lol­lies or beau­ti­ful shells to all the in­gre­di­ents your lucky re­cip­i­ent needs to make Christ­mas cook­ies (just Google ‘cookie in a jar’ for a sim­ple recipe). Beau­tify the lid with pretty fab­ric or pa­per and a rib­bon, and top it off with a home­made name tag.

Ter­rar­i­ums are per­fect for peo­ple who don’t have much room – or a rep­u­ta­tion for keep­ing gar­dens alive. Trawl op shops or ask around for a big glass jar or bowl. Line it with a few cen­time­tres of peb­bles, add a layer of ac­ti­vated char­coal (you’ll find this in the aquar­ium sec­tion at a pet store) and a few inches of soil, then plant a cac­tus or suc­cu­lent or two. Add a per­sonal touch to your ter­rar­ium with a small dec­o­ra­tion like a gold­painted di­nosaur or shells.

Per­son­alised mag­nets and coast­ers are sim­ple yet spe­cial ways to share your most mem­o­rable mo­ments with fam­ily and friends – and they’re use­ful. Head on­line to sites like to trans­form your favourite pho­tos into handy gifts at the click of a few but­tons. They’ll get de­liv­ered straight to your door too.

There’s noth­ing cuter than kids’ draw­ings, es­pe­cially when you think it’s a tree but ac­tu­ally it’s a robot. Im­mor­talise your child’s art­work by fram­ing it then gift­ing it to grand­moth­ers and aun­ties. Frames are easy to find at stores like The Ware­house; keep an eye out for old frames you could re­pur­pose (think paint or spray paint) at garage sales; or head to a spe­cial­ist fram­ing store for that pro­fes­sional touch. Ask your lit­tlies to de­scribe ex­actly what’s go­ing on in their mas­ter­piece and write up their de­scrip­tion in a Christ­mas card for the lucky re­cip­i­ent.

Herbs are the gift that keep on giv­ing. Con­sider re­pot­ting cut­tings into pots and pass­ing them on as gifts. Herbs are also in­ex­pen­sive from a gar­den­ing or home­wares store. If you want to go the whole hog, cre­ate a sim­ple win­dow box out of wood off-cuts, then pop three or four pots in­side. La­bel each herb with brightly painted metal clips or ice cream sticks for a splash of colour.

Home­made soap makes the per­fect smelly gift. You’ll need to buy a soap base like shea but­ter along with soap moulds, but al­most all of the other in­gre­di­ents can be found in your pantry or gar­den. Think lemon, grape­fruit, laven­der, co­conut oil, milk, vanilla, mint, sage, oat. The lucky re­cip­i­ent will love lath­er­ing up your hand­made wares.

Christ­mas giv­ing doesn’t have to cost you a small for­tune.

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