Homemade and handmade Christmas gifts are fun to make and a joy to receive. Make a commitment now to giving each person on your Christmas list at least one homemade and one handmade gift. You’ll be delighted at the reaction and be proud that you have made a small difference to the environment.
Why buying handmade Christmas gifts makes a difference
Love and joy have gone into the making of that item
Mass production is where most of the Christmas gifts bought this year will have come from. Robots, machines and conveyor belts are cold, heartless beings and no love will have gone into the creation of what you are investing your money in.
Handmade gifts are special because a person has used their time, imagination, effort and skills in the making of them and that will make the creator smile and feel proud. Call us sentimental if you like, that makes us happy too.
It’s good for the environment
- Handmade gifts are made in homes, workshops and small factories so the impact of their production has less of an impact on the environment
- The packaging used as protection, presentation and transportation of most handmade products is minimal and often recycled or recyclable
- Natural products are more likely to be used in handmade toiletries. They may not have a long ‘Best Before’ date but they are much kinder to your skin and the environment
- Fewer machines are needed so pollution is reduced
- Buy from a local business and the product’s carbon footprint in terms of fuel will be low
- Sustainability is easier for small businesses making handmade products.
You’re helping a small business
- Support small manufacturers
- Buy from local shops
- Invest in the dream of another human being
- Look for businesses who employ the local community and people who would struggle to get a job such as those with physical and learning difficulties
- Companies such as TRAIDCRAFT and charities like Oxfam source handmade products from all over the world to support jobs, development and entrepreneurship in poverty struck areas.
The item you buy may be part of a range, but each individual product will be slightly different from the one before it. Machines create perfection and uniformity and there’s no soul in that.
When I was little, I loved choosing the teddy bear with a slightly wonky eye or a happier smile than the others. Choosing from handmade gifts replicate that joy in finding the one that was perfect for me.
Creativity and imagination
Handmade gifts made in small quantities can be quirky, unique, funny and outrageous. The spectre of ‘big business’, current trends and mass appeal to dull the imagination of the people who design and make them.
A selection of our favourite handmade gifts
Bicycle chain bookends from ‘TRAIDCRAFT’ for £24.99.
The perfect gift for a cycling enthusiast! Made in Moradabad, India, from recycled bike chains. Great quality, hand-crafted and no two sets of bookends will be the same.
Handmade chocolate gifts from ‘Helen’s Chocolates’. Prices vary.
Beautifully made and presented, these delicious chocolates are from a family-run chocolate shop in the Lakeland village of Bowness-On-Windermere.
There’s a huge choice of flavours, designs and presentation so there’s something to suit every palate. ‘Helen’s Chocolates’ also offer sugar-free and dairy-free options with a vegan chocolate coming soon.
These chocolate animals are a fantastic idea as stocking fillers for kids. The cute sheepdog is my favourite at £2.99 for a gift-wrapped pair they are great value.
Handmade soaps and body care from ‘The Yorkshire Soap Company’. Prices vary.
Bath and body care, or ‘smellies’ as we all call them, is a quintessential Christmas gift. High street shops and supermarkets must sell thousands of heavily packaged, generic body lotion and bubble bath sets every year.
Instead, look to ‘The Yorkshire Soap Company’ for gorgeous soaps and body care. Their products are lovingly handmade with natural ingredients and fragrances and the presentation is minimal but exquisite.
This rosebud soap is almost too beautiful to use and it smells divine. It’s a gift most women would love to receive.
Handmade Wooden Toys – iPhone made from organic and repurposed wood £8.50 from Etsy.com
Your toddler will love using this smartphone just like Mummy and Daddy. You, in turn, will enjoy the delicious irony of a symbol of technology and big business being crafted out of sustainable, recycled and handcrafted wood.
Find lots of other gorgeous handmade wooden toys from ‘The Wooden Toy Shop’ on Etsy.com. Fill your child’s nursery with objects of beauty and clever design.
Where to find lots of handmade gifts in one place
Local gifts shops, farmer’s markets and garden centres are great places to find delightful handmade gifts. If sustainability and your carbon footprint are important to you, then they should be your first choice.
If you have a specific idea in mind or don’t have the time to wander the shops, try websites such as Etsy.com and NotOnTheHighStreet.com. They sell a vast range of products from lots of different small businesses, artists, creatives and independent retailers.
Home Made gifts and why they are so special
They can tell a story of your relationship
A homemade gift is given because it will remind you of a trip you took, a meal you ate at a special time or a funny memory. The story is as much a part of the gift as the object itself as it shows that the giver cherishes those memories as much as you do.
It will show you listen to them and remember the things they enjoy
The perfect homemade Christmas gift may that you listen to your friend or relative when they speak of their favourite type of cake or a new interest they have discovered.
It’s especially powerful if the conversation was a long time ago. Pay attention throughout the year, watch what your wife gets excited by in gift shops and what foods she exclaims over in restaurants.
Time and effort have been invested in the gift
- Homemade gifts take time and effort and that makes the recipient feel loved
- The thought process needed to decide on the gift
- Sourcing and buying the materials and/or equipment
- Learning how to make the object and having to have a few attempts
- Planning the gift in case it takes a long time to produce.
A homemade gift is utterly unique.
No-one will have the exact same drawing of your beloved pet, a similar hand-stitched teddy bear or the glass vase delicately painted with your favourite flowers.
It is a gift that will suit you, and only you.
It doesn’t have to be perfect.
A colleague of mine once made me some chocolate brownies that included pieces of all my favourite chocolate bars. I was always on a day off when she baked for work and it made me sad because I love cake!
She made my Christmas brownies in a rush at 5am before our last shift together and gave them to me in the vintage Quality Street tin I’d seen in the shop next door and had loved.
When I opened the gift, the cakes looked as though they had been run over but OH. MY. GOD, they were delicious! It is still one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received.
The best ideas for a DIY gift
Thought. Time. Effort. Those are the three things that will make a homemade gift perfect for the person receiving it.
Homemade peanut butter fudge in a ‘Kilner’ jar
If I received this from you on Christmas Day morning, I would love you forever. I ADORE peanut butter. Fudge is my FAVOURITE. I think Kilner jars are ACE, seriously I do, they are an epic piece of kitsch engineering.
Here’s the recipe. Make two batches, one as a specific gift, the other as spare for whoever you have inevitably forgotten. Place in medium-size Kilner jars (to be used for cotton wool or similar after!) and tie them with a big red ribbon.
Build a terrarium for your plant mad friend
A cute little mini-garden is a lovely idea for a friend who loves plants and nature or your brother who lives in a flat in Milton Keynes and never sees the colour green.
All the building blocks you need are sold here at Hobbycraft.
This is a long-term project but learning to make jewellery is an awesome skill to learn. As you become more proficient, each piece will become personal to the recipient of the necklace, earrings or bracelet you have made.
If you’re already a master with bead, wire and pliers then think about your loved one’s favourite colour, the new dress they love and include charms that reflect their hobbies.
This jewellery making kit will get you started or make a great gift as it is.
Flavoured gin in a beautifully painted glass bottle.
- Flavouring gin takes a few weeks, so planning is needed
- Work out from your friend what her favourite flavours are and source suitable ingredients
- Find a pretty bottle that is airtight but can be used as a vase or lamp after the gin has been enjoyed
- Find a simple design that reflects your friend’s interests. Flowers, a line drawing of mountains or a quote you know she will love
- Practice the design using glass paints on bottles you’re sending to be recycled
- Use this festive and warming Cinnamon Bun Gin recipe and when it is ready, decant carefully into your artfully decorated bottle
- Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect!
Clever ideas for homemade gift wrap
Mass-produced gift wrap isn’t recyclable so here are a few homemade, planet-friendly ideas for presenting your gifts.
- Brown paper. It’s cheap, you can buy it in massive rolls, it’s easy to decorate, is recyclable and can be bought from the Post Office and supermarkets
- Source recyclable wrapping paper such as It’s more expensive than your average shop bought roll but is much better quality, is easier to save for next year and is fully and easily recyclable.
- Wrap your gift in a pretty fabric that will become part of the gift. Hem square and rectangular pieces of fabric that can later become table runners, scarves or place mats.
- If your gift is a lemon cake, some chocolate tray bake, pieces of cranberry fudge or handmade chocolates then invest in some of this reusable beeswax food wrap. The pretty colours and geometric prints aren’t very Christmassy but I’m sure no-one will mind!
- Decorate brown paper wrapped gifts with hand drawn bows, foraged holly, leaves or ferns and cut up old clothes to make ribbons.
Whether you decide to buy a pretty or ornate handmade gift or make one yourself, the thought process and effort you make will be admired because nothing quite beats handmade Christmas gifts on a day when family and friends are unwrapping mass-produced presents.