'Now now' I hear you cry- 'it's not even October!' And normally I would be right behind you- I am a firm believer of all things Christmas being contained to December and advent- but with one exception. If you plan to make part or all of your Christmas gifts, leaving it to the last minute is a recipe for stress.
Marcus and I both have quite large families so a few years ago we decided the best way to give thoughtful gifts that aligned with our values of sustainability and simplicity was to put together a handmade hamper for everybody. All the hampers are the same which helps with the planning and making as you can do big batches and buy in bulk which saves money too. The final benifit worth mentioning is that you can always work from a framework, like the one below, but each year the possible variations are unlimited.
For example most years I always include:
a christmas decoration
a bottle of hedgerow tipple
a jar of jam or chutney
a sweet treat
a crafted item
Here are a few specific ideas of things that work well and you can make ahead of time are:
summer fruit jam
tomato and onion jam
hot chocolate mixture in a jar
caramels or fudge
a handmade journal
a knitted bookmark or keyring
stuffed lavender hearts
forced narcissi in a pretty pot
scented soy wax tealights
One example from last year is the decoration I made. It was mostly made from foraged items and things I already had in my home. It is a bit large so probably best as a wall decoration rather than for the tree. Here's how I did it:
Things you will need:
-thin branches or driftwood
-pinecones, 3 per decoration
-buttons, 3 per decoration
-water based spray paint, white (optional)
-hot glue gun
-Collect the pinecones and dry them, an airing cupboard or the oven on low is best for this.
-This step is optional- give them a light dusting of spray paint.
-Then cut up some driftwood/ branches into 20-30cm lengths.
-When it comes time to assemble, turn on your glue gun and cut 4 lengths of string in varying sizes per decoration.
-Use the glue gun to first glue one end of the string to the bottom of the pine cone, then glue the button on top to hide the join.
-Once the glue has set tie each pinecone to the piece of wood and tie the last string as a hanging loop.
When planning your hampers, as well as what you are going to include it is worth thinking about how you are going to wrap them. In the past I bought a big box of surplus inventory cotton drawstring bags off ebay- it worked well because I put all the things inside tied, it up with some festive ribbon, and then the recipient could reuse the bag after. You could also use wicker baskets, vintage tins, or cardboard gift boxes.
I love Christmas and I love giving handmade gifts so Christmas hampers works great for my family (or a least nobody has ever complained to me about them). Though if making a whole hamper seems too much just starting with something small is also great. I find anything made with love is always gratefully received. If that is still too much, and this year who would blame you, please do try and shop small; because its not a cliché that when you buy from a small business someone literally does a happy dance.
Happy making, Grace x