People like to say that it’s the thought that counts when it comes to a Christmas gift, and it’s hard to disagree. It’s obvious when little to no thought has been put into a present, and few things are more difficult to disguise than the sheer disappointment of unwrapping a disappointing gift.

How do we get around this, though – especially when looking to find something for the fabled man or woman that has everything? Especially if you’re working to a tighter budget than you may like? Well, turn your hand to bespoke, handmade gifts. That doesn’t mean a notebook that offers coupons promising to do the washing up, relinquish control of the TV remote for an hour or provide a lift to work without complaining. Try some of these ideas on, and feel the magic as a gift recipient realises just how much effort has gone into their Christmas experience.

Personalise a Classic Novel

Copyright law can be a slightly tricky minefield to negotiate, but a golden rule is usually that if a work of literature has been in print for an excess of 75 years it’s usually royalty-free – hence why you’ll find dozens of copies of the works of Dickens, the Bronte Sisters and Hardy on the shelves of any book shop, with a variety of covers and price tags.

Why does this matter? Well, if a loved one has passion for classic fiction, why not rewrite the book to feature them as a lead character? You’ll be able to find the prose of an out-of-copyright book free online that can be copy-and-pasted into a Word document. You can then use find and replace to rename a character, ensuring that Joe Bloggs replaces Jonathan Harker in doing battle with Count Dracula, or it’s Jane Smith that swoons at the very sight of Mr. Darcy’s tight britches.

Head to site such as to commission a cheap and unique cover design, commission a print-on-demand paperback from a site such as Kindle Direct Publishing or CreateSpace, and order a copy through Amazon that you can sign for the lucky recipient. This will provide you with a personalised gift that anybody will love, and you’ll even earn a small royalty on your own product!

Commission a Picture or Painting

If the preferences of your intended recipient run more to visuals than words, why not look into granting them a unique piece of art to call their own? There is a multitude of ways that you can achieve this – and if your own artistic abilities do not extend beyond poorly proportioned stick people, there is no need to worry.

Check around with friends and family members that may have studied art in the past and would relish the opportunity to dig out their paintbrush again, but if still nothing doing, take to the Internet. The web is full of hugely talented undiscovered artists, many of who will be peddling their wares on the aforementioned Fiverr, or investigate the many portfolios to be found on DeviantArt. You’ll find that most of the users of this site would be delighted to take on a commissioned piece of work at your request, without charging a price that will break the bank.

You can pick up high-quality paper – whether to be drawn on, or to be fed into a printer – from the high street, or simply take a digital file to a photo services supplier such as Snappy Snaps to have them produce the print. Cheap frames can be nabbed from a pound shop or supermarket, and the look on the face of your loved one when they open the gift will be priceless.

Convert a Home Movie or VHS to DVD

While you’re at Snappy Snaps discussing the possibility of granting you a high-res print or canvas of the artwork you’ve had designed, why not look into another popular service that many may not be aware of – converting aged VHS tapes to DVD.

This could be a delightful gift for an older member of your family, who bemoans the fact that they are no longer able to watch old home videos from days gone by thanks to the demise of the humble VCR. Of course, you won’t be limited to home videos either; if your grandparents spend their days tutting at all swearing and violence on the television today, claiming that they miss the vintage shows of the yesteryear, old videotapes (and you’d be astonished at what films and television shows can be picked up for pennies on Amazon or eBay) can be converted to DVD by an independent supplier of the service.

The sound and vision may not be all-singing, all-dancing high definition, but will not matter a jot to the recipient – they’ll just be thrilled that they get to relive their youth all over again.

Create Bespoke Bath Bombs, Soaps and Candles

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a range of sweet-smelling goodies, but there is no need to rack up a huge bill at a local chemist. Perfume may be best left to the professionals, but there’s nothing to stop you from creating your own bath bombs, soaps or scented candles – all without spending a small fortune in hobby shops.

The glory of these processes is that they can be as simple or elaborate as the recipient wishes to make them – all the gift really needs to entail is a plethora of interesting scents. Essential oils, which can be picked up from health food shops in addition to specialist providers, and herbs that are easily plucked from the supermarket, can provide these treats to the nose. Have a look online for some tutorials for suggestions as to what scents work particularly well, and maybe print these off and frame them as part of the gift, If nothing else, it’ll give the recipient something to do in the New Year to stave off the January Blues. Speaking of which…

Make a January Survival Kit

Let’s not beat around the bush here – January is rubbish. We’re forced to drag ourselves back into work in foul weather after enjoying a lovely and relaxing Christmas break; our credit card bills that make it clear exactly how much the festive season cost us arrive mid-month; and half the time we’re depriving ourselves if simple pleasures in the name of new year resolution-sponsored healthy living choices.

The way around this could be to devise a January Survival Pack as a gift, designed to lift the spirits of the recipient in this dull and dreary month.  Throw in some Alka Seltzer and paracetamol of January 1st – they may need it. Consider some non-perishable shopping essentials, such as teabags, fun-tasting healthy soft drinks and tinned foods such as soup – they may not be glamorous, but the recipient will appreciate them when every penny counts towards the end of the end of the month. Pen 31 handwritten notes that each pays a compliment to your loved one, seal them in individual envelopes, and allow them to raise a smile each morning when they wake in the dark and miserable conditions. And say to heck with the diet and toss in some chocolate. Everybody loves chocolate.

There’s still a place for socks on Christmas morning, but sometimes it pays to show a little imagination when picking out a present for somebody that you wish to express your affection for. Follow some of these suggestions and you’ll earn plenty of brownie points this festive season.

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