Has anybody noticed that it might not be the biggest, most expensive presents that make us the happiest? Receiving a drawing from a child (no matter how abstract), hearing them telling us that little story they just came up with, (in which you are a character), those couple of flowers (half falling apart) picked up by the side of the path in the park. These are the best presents you can ever receive. And has anybody noticed the sense of pride in the children's eyes when they give it to you? This Christmas, in the Foodie household, we have tried to more creative and come up with some homemade presents and decorations. As I mentioned in another post, it's the thought that counts, not how much you spend.
Yesterday, I helped Marie make some Christmas decorations for the school Christmas tree. She is really hoping to win a price for them. Although one of them had already nearly been amputated (poor Santa) by the time she got to school this morning, she was really proud of what we had achieved.
Not too bad, considering that my manually artistic skills are comparable to Marie's (and she's only 6).
It was really easy to make though and only required very cheap ingredients that everybody has in their cupboards.
You just need to mix 2 glasses of flour and 1 glass of fine table salt, add some water and knead (that's the only messy bit, I promise) until you get the consistency of play dough (it should not be sticky or too dry). If you want (and have some) you can separate the big ball into small ones and add some food colouring and knead again until evenly coloured. After that, the world is your oyster. When you are done, put in the oven on a low temperature (60 degrees C) until fully dried out or leave out to dry (but it does take a long time that can try your children's patience, and yours.). If you have some dough left, you can wrap it in cling film and keep it in the fridge and reuse it later! And it's completely safe for younger kids ( if they accidentally try to taste it once, they will more than likely not try again as it is very very salty).
We decided to make a basket of scented candles for a very dear family friend. Once again, you can enlist the kids to help. We picked up a cheap basket, loads of small scented tea candles, some ribbon and a big jar in Ikea (I'm a big big big fan). And I spent a couple of hours putting the basket together with the help of Marie (and under the very curious gaze of Noelie). We used some ribbon around the basket, lined the bottom with some wrapping paper, and put down a layer of pot pourri, filled the big jar with scented candles and put it down in the basket, and finished filling it up with some more candles and TA DA, here is the finished product.
Finally, I decided to make some body scrubs and gift them to people. So rather than going out and buying expensive gift sets in the shops, I used products I already had at home (don't worry though, I used a recipe that has been tried and tested and I tried it myself before setting into high production mode). All you need to do is mix some (a couple of cups) sugar or Epsom salts with a little unscented cooking oil (vegetable or sunflower). Add a few drops of essential oils (I was lucky enough to have some in the house), a few drops of food colourings (to match the smell). Put in a small (Ikea) jar, wrap a nice ribbon around the top, and there you are. A lovely homemade body scrub. And the kids can help too (well at least once they have gone past the stage of putting everything in their mouths!!)
I know that we will all be very proud of handing out our homemade presents this Christmas, and that people will also appreciate them for the thoughts and efforts we put into them. And that they will also probably mean more to our friends and family than any other quickly grabbed- off- a- shelf more expensive one.
''But it is a cold, lifeless business when you go to the shops to buy something, which does not represent your life and talent, but a goldsmith's.'' ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Gifts," Essays, Second Series, 1844