Christmas – Homemade gifts

Homemade gifts made by children for parents or grandparents are very special items and here are some ideas and instructions of what we have made in the past.

Pebble Paper Weight

You will need:
Children’s paint
Indelible pen (optional)
Ronseal clear varnish (optional)
Googly eyes (optional)

Buy pebbles from a garden centre and give them a base coat of paint then release your child to create a pebble bug. Ladybirds are always popular. Write the date and name on the base with an indelible pen. Varnish the pebble with a clear varnish and add googly eyes if you wish. James’ pebble (above photo) has been sitting on my desk for seven years now.

Photo Frame

You will need:
A photo frame
Children’s paint

Give an unpainted, unvarnished photo frame a base coat in gold or silver paint and then let your child decorate it. It could be with stickers or with paint depending on the age of your child. I bought photo frames from Wilkinson a few years ago and you could also try Hobbycraft. I used children’s readymix paint – nothing special. The final touch is to insert a photo of your child into the frame for the proud granny. A variation would be to buy little boxes or candle holders and decorate them. Baker Ross hold a vast supply to keep you going.

Sloe Gin

You will need:
450g sloes
300g caster sugar
1 litre gin any brand – cheap gin works just as well
A 2 litre Kilner jar
A bottle for decanting

This ruby-red liqueur looks beautifully rich as you can see in the photo above but if you are too late in the season for collecting sloes, remember it for next year! Full instructions are on my earlier post called ‘A sloe autumn stroll’.

Marzipan Fruit

You will need:
Food dyes

You don’t need much marzipan to make these cute little fruits (see above photo). I used coloured dyes and each child kneaded the marzipan with a few drops of dye until it turned the colour of the dye and then divided it up so we all had a variety of colours. We had so much fun making fruit and then branched out into making sausages, mash and peas! We presented the meals on tiny dolls’ plates as gifts for grandparents. This website link gives you more detailed instructions and images of marzipan fruit.

Homemade Chocolates

You will need:
Chocolate moulds (bought at many kitchen stores)
Double boiler (or two different sized pots)
Caramel filling (optional)

It can be little fraught doing the activity with a young child or a few children at the same time because you are dealing with hot chocolate and boiling water so I would recommend this as a one to one activity. Fill the larger pot with water and allow it to boil on the stove at a low heat. Place the second pot into the water and add a few blocks of chocolate at a time, stirring continuously. Using a double boiler, keeping the heat low and stirring continuously should mean the chocolate won’t burn. Once it is melted, remove from the heat and use a teaspoon to fill the chocolate moulds. Once they are filled, give them a gentle tap and place in the fridge to harden. Try experimenting with marbled chocolate of white and dark swirls or filled chocolates. To make filled chocolate create shells in the chocolate mould, harden them, place the filling into the shell then cover with more melted chocolate and return to the fridge. The chocolates can be packaged in cellophane bags or in homemade origami boxes.

Coconut Ice

You will need:
250g condensed milk
250g icing sugar
200g dessicated coconut
Pink edible food colouring

This is a great recipe for younger children as no heat is required and makes lovely gifts when placed in cellophane bags or tins. It is from the BBC GoodFood website.

  1. Using a wooden spoon, mix together the condensed milk and icing sugar in a large bowl. It will get very stiff. Work the coconut into the mix until it’s well combined – use your hands, if you like.
  2. Split the mix into two and knead a very small amount of food colouring into one half. Dust a board with icing sugar, then shape each half into a smooth rectangle and place one on top of the other. Roll with a rolling-pin, re-shaping with your hands every couple of rolls, until you have a rectangle of two-tone coconut ice about 3cm thick.
  3. Transfer to a plate or board and leave uncovered for at least 3 hours or ideally overnight to set. Cut into squares with a sharp knife and pack into bags or boxes. These will keep for up to a month at least, if stored in an airtight container.

This post is part of a Christmas theme of how I as a mum approach this season. As with anything, pick and choose the ideas that appeal to you – I don’t do all of them every year! However I have included all the activities, crafts and traditions that I have done over the past few years. Feel free to share your ideas as comments.

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