a kitchen counter with all the ingredients needed to make christmas cake

Spread the joy among loved ones this Christmas, with unique, homemade and affordable present ideas that speak to a lifetime of memories.

There are so many advantages to making and offering a handmade gift for Christmas. Coming from the heart, a DIY present is thoughtful and original – something that’s rarely forgotten. It’s a good option for people like neighbours, colleagues or teachers: people you'd like to celebrate but perhaps don’t have lots of money to spend on. 

Equally, going homemade is joyful for the maker. Everyone in the family can get involved by helping to tie ribbon on packages of chocolate salami, or putting together jars of DIY bath salts. It’s also a fun cue to get in the Christmas mood and tap your creativity; by hunting down gifts around the house you could repurpose, for example, or personalising a second-hand book. The following ideas are a pleasure to give, receive and make:

Edible gifts

A great option to take as a present for neighbours, teachers or party hosts. For inspiration, look to Anna Jones’ recipe for easy chocolate truffles. With candied ginger, pistachio or dried rose petal coating, they look fabulous; especially in a nice box encased in ribbon. 

a jar of homemade granole

Meanwhile, Nigella Lawson’s chocolate salame recipe is fun and a little unique. Little ones will love helping to slice the salame into rounds, wrapping them in brown paper with string or sprigs of rosemary attached. Nigella also has a great homemade pancake mix recipe, which you can place in a jar with handwritten instructions on how to make the fluffiest pancakes. You could pair it with a bottle of maple syrup, too. 

The same simple approach applies with this basic recipe for homemade granola; it works well as a standalone but you could also jazz it up with a handful of chocolate chips or coconut flakes in the mix. Team it with a hand-carved spoon for a really special gift. On the savoury side of things, dried mango chutney always goes down a treat as the perfect companion to leftover turkey curry. Yum. 

Finally on the food front, you might have a leftover hamper or wicker basket that you can repurpose to a theme. For example, a hand-picked tea hamper could include homemade biscuits, bread, jam and jars of tea leaves, along with a splatter enamelware mug. A chocolate hamper, on the other hand, might feature DIY chocolate truffles, a rich hot drinking chocolate and homemade beeswax candles (see below). 

a homemade Christmas hamper

Personal gifts

A family recipe cookbook is a wonderful way to save those nostalgic recipes that get passed down through the generations. Ask your family to all share a favourite recipe then collate together in your own scrapbook with photos, or jot them down on recipe cards

Similarly, with all our photos on our phones these days, printing pictures off into a tangible collection would make a really special gift; creating something physical to pass around the family come Christmas day. Again, you could use an actual book or a photograph archive box, for a trove of memories that can be added to over time. 

a Mabel & co letterpress archive box with photobooth photographs inside

Putting a special item into a frame can also be a wonderful way of preserving and sharing memories. It might be anything from a cinema stub from your first date to a fabric cutting from your grandmother’s wedding dress, or a piece of children’s artwork. 

Think about getting it framed professionally if you can; but a charity shop frame can do the job, too. For the super-creatives, try making a memory scrapbook of your friendship or relationship with a loved one. Fill it with images, memories, poems and song lyrics.

Another personal gift to people of any age are classic books and first editions, found at fair prices in second-hand shops and bookshops. You can always add a handwritten note on the inside, or carefully wrap the cover in beautifully printed paper. You could do the same with much-loved books that you already own and are choosing to pass on.

Calming gifts

Making your own bath salts is a truly joyous thing to do; you basically get to play at being your very own apothecary, with beautiful scents to match. Wild Sage has some great inspiration on how to get started, with garden herbs that can be made into bath soaks or essential oils. If you save up amber jars, or scour charity shops for little stoneware pots, these can be a lovely mode of presenting oils (or if it’s your first time trying it, you could use a premade blend). 

Homemade scented soy candles, meanwhile, are another pampering gift for loved ones; and they also make beautiful objects for your own home over the festive period. If you want to try your hand at hand-dipped beeswax candles, these make a fun – if somewhat messy – festive activity, and the results are always so satisfying. Don’t worry if they’re wonky, that’s all part of the charm. Keep them in pairs and tie them in spools of ribbon. You may also have unique glass bottles around the house that you can use to display them in. 

Fabric and yarn gifts

If you’re proficient with a sewing machine, making an heirloom stocking is a wonderful way to use up leftover fabric and make something that will be treasured for many Christmases to come. There are lots of tutorials out there, but if you need a helping hand, you could opt for a kit with everything included. Is knitting more your thing? A bobble hat is a timeless festive present, and something that grown-ups and children alike will be grateful for this winter. 

handmade heirloom stocking by KAte Owen

Take a look through your fabric stash, too. There may be some linen swatches that you can make into a pair of homemade napkins. Alternatively, you could personalise premade napkins that you already have, using embroidered initials or star shapes. Tea towels are also easily customised, using embroidery, stamps or cookie cutters dipped in paint; making a particularly nice gift for hosts and foodies.

Don't have time for online orders? Visit our shop in Stroud, open in the days leading to Christmas!


December 21, 2022 — Anna Brech