Homemade Christmas presents are green Christmas presents!
Homemade Christmas presents are a delight to give and receive - so much more personal than some bought item that caught your eye amongst the Christmas glitter in the shops. And the good news is, of course, Christmas presents made at home are generally a whole lot greener than commercial ones!
Picture: Homemade flower essences or other health and beauty products are often very acceptable.
Why? Unless you are firing up a factory-like outfit to make your Christmas present, the embodied energy is likely to be far lower. Embodied energy simply means all the different energy which has gone into making the product - from the raw materials from which it is made, to the factory where it was put together and the transportation which brought it to the shop - and then to your door.
Of course, homemade Christmas presents have some embodied energy cost, too. If you make cushion covers, the material used will likely have been made in a factory miles away. If you bake biscuits or make sweets, some of the ingredients are likely to be imported or have been grown using fossil fuels. A carbon-free Christmas is far from easy to achieve!
Nevertheless, there are many simple gifts which can be made at home which are likely to have a far lower carbon footprint than most bought goods. And if you use some recycled materials - you get a few extra brownie points for lowering your carbon footprint even further.
Making homemade Christmas presents is also potentially cost-saving - and of course, it's fun - but you do tend to need to start well in advance of Christmas to make most presents.
A consumer trend has taken over our lives: it is seen as cool and sophisticated to buy expensive stuff. Conversely, some people see homemade articles made by friends or family members as somehow less good and glamorous than shop-bought items. It's hard, particularly with older children and young adults to fight against this trend - and I don't for a moment think that the child wanting the latest computer game or this season's must have techno-toy is going to be the least bit impressed by a hand-knitted cardigan instead!
Picture: Home-grown plants can make beautiful and lasting presents; Mahonia even flowers around Christmas time!
Nevertheless, there are plenty of people who will value well-made homemade produce and will value it especially for the personal touch that it gives. Who remembers where that pulp fiction best-seller came from? Or the department store hat and gloves set? But we all remember who gave us the handmade photo-album or the handmade chocolates!
Here are a few ideas for beautiful homemade Christmas presents which can be customised to suit your family and friends.
Easy homemade Christmas presents:
This is one which needs to be made well in advance. Rumtopf is a very acceptable Christmas present for almost any adult who is not tee-total! Rumtopf is made from summer fruits, preserved in generous amounts of dark rum.
Present it in an interesting jar - preferably made from re-cycled glass - and you have an easy homemade Christmas present to take to winter house parties or to friends and relations.
Full instructions on how to make rumtopf can be found here: How to Make Rumtopf
Here's another easy homemade Christmas present.
Sloe gin is easy to make and uses fruit which is freely available to all - at least in most of Europe and northern Asia. You can use a similar method to make other drinks, too. Try brandy and vodka as a way to produce interesting and attractive presents. These are very acceptable to most people who enjoy a little alcohol-based refreshment!
Sloe gin needs to be begun about three months before Christmas to be ready in time. The resulting drink is like a sweet liqueur with a sharp refreshing taste from the sloes. Raspberry or blackcurrant gin or vodka can be made in a similar way.
Cushion covers are easy to make in a variety of styles.
Recycled materials from your loft or the local charity shop can be used, if you like. Some towns also have scrap stores which can be very handy for sourcing cheap recycled materials and other things. Often the merchandise is completely unused - donated by local companies simply because it was surplus to requirements. Some regular material stores have off-cuts and ends of rolls which may be suitable for making cushions.
Try Googling + "scrap store" or + recycled goods. Freecycle is also an excellent source of free goods which can be recycled.
To make cushion covers you need some attractive material, needle and thread, pins, scissors, a zip for each cushion or some velcro fastening strip and a ready-made cushion pad. Choose material which is sturdy enough to put up with a bit of wear.
For a small cushion you don't need a sewing machine - hand stitching is quick enough and quite relaxing to do. You need good light to work by and somewhere flat to lay out the material.
Here are instructions for making a 30cm square cushion.
Gather all the materials,as mentioned above. You will need a zip - 20 or 25 cm ideally in the same colour as the material. Alternatively, use a strip of velcro.
That's it - an easy way to make cushion covers quickly and simply! These homemade Christmas presents can easily be made at other times of the year, of course.
Of course you can do more sophisticated designs. Round cushions are easy and if you like a variety of patterned materials, why not try your hand at simple quilting?
Appliqué designs can look great and personalise your gift still further. You just need to research your friends' likes and dislikes a bit more thoroughly for this, as one person's "cute" is another's "kitch"!
A draft excluder (draught excluder) is easy to make. You can use recycled old stockings and tights to stuff it or you can use hollowfill fibre which is lightweight and not so expensive.
The sewing skills are virtually identical to those used for the cushion cover. Its best to make an inner of ticking or other reasonably stout material. Make a cover of whatever material takes your fancy. Ideally it should be easy to wash and hard-wearing. Curtain material is a good choice.
As the design is typically long and thin, you don't really need to use a zip. Just slip-stitch the end of the sausage. When the material needs a wash, use a quick-unpick to release the stitching.
Some people like to personalise their designs to look like animals - the sausage dog used to be a staple of the sixties! Faux fur looks quite well in this role. You can let your imagination run wild. Design one end to look like a snout/dog nose/cat's face in profile. Add cloth ears eyes and tail of your chosen animal to finish.
A more classic but equally decorative effect can be achieved by using carefully chosen materials and embellishing the final piece with cording and/or tassels.
Other pages about homemade Christmas presents and greening Christmas:
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