It's Christmas month, and there’s a lot to think about. This time of year can bring up a bunch of emotions, without adding the reports of rising costs of living to the mix. December is a time to enjoy festivities with loved ones and can be the most expensive month of the year, so in this blog I write about how to have a perfectly beautiful Christmas without the worry of excess spending. Gifting can be done in so many ways that needn’t be costly. I love how money-saving expert Martin Lewis suggests we ask ourselves ‘Is what we are buying a help or a hindrance?’ If it is a help, then give away with joy, and with love, but if it’s a hindrance, then stop. In his video, he talks about how it is more pertinent than ever this year that we do not miss-prioritise our giving and create unnecessary financial burdens. He continues to say, it isn’t about not giving gifts to our spouses and little children but the never-ending list of people when we feel we need to reciprocate, and that money could be best spent elsewhere. Spending wisely is on so many people’s minds right now, and there are many ways to have a great Christmas without breaking the bank a lot of these things happen to be planet friendly too.
So here are 6 ways to gift well without breaking the bank!
1. Make & bake one simple way to create a fun gift is to create little ‘Cookie jar mixes’ where all ingredients are weighed up and put into a clean jam jar, decorated with a festive ribbon ready to be gifted. You can vary the ingredients for biscuits, brownies or even cake mixes. Just don’t forget to attach a recipe with information! If no jam jars are available then food-grade pouches can be used and be adventurous with the favours! You can be creative and add chocolate chips, smarties, cinnamon, allspice or ginger powders. Even dried fruit can be used and you can create your own.
2. Brilliant & bottled – bottled gifts,as a forager, I have done this for a few years now as making the most of seasonal produce that is available to us in the wild is too good an ingredient to miss. Whether it is raspberry and thyme gin, blackberry gin, haw brandy or botanical syrups. Using unbranded gins or vodkas means that you can flavour the bottles yourself with botanicals, spices and fruits. Why not try our simple gingerbread gin recipe below? For a non-alcohol option, there’s always gingerbread syrup!
3. Preloved gifts – one positive thing about preloved gifts is that they can help be a sustainable choice, and often goods can be a bit more unique. For instance, suppose you are looking for a certain gift such as fine bone China plates or rare books that are no longer in print. Buying preloved means, you can tailor your gift to the person that you are gifting. I’ve recently discovered Vinted where one can find clothes of all ages, accessories and even home items. A good number of the stock is brand new and the prices are very reasonable. The way Vinted works is the buyer buys a postage label too so there is minimal fuss over postage and queues at the post office!
4. Secret Santa – this is a set-up where everyone contributes one gift to the party involved. Everyone spends an agreed price so essentially everyone spends the same amount on each present. This is a win–win, as all gifts are covered without the huge outlay. Often the organiser can give a hint on who people will be gifting to so the present can be a bit more appropriate. This works well in so many settings from family, clubs, and groups to colleagues.
5. Books – being a bookworm, I love this, in fact, there are books to cover every topic known to man, I’m sure! If reading books are not suitable, then there are always notebooks, journals, colouring in books (think of de-stressing!) planners and even photobooks produced with pictures of family or loved ones. If you are the crafty type, maybe you can make your own with crafted paper.
6. Less is more – sometimes buying a small gift of exquisite quality is enough to show the ‘thought that counts!’ I once bought an exquisite box of chocolates for a friend, they were handmade and extremely extravagant and there were only 12 in the box. That present is still talked about today and I am reminded of the impact. Why not have a go at making your own chocolate truffles? They require few ingredients and can be flavoured to suit your giftee. Perhaps give the recipe below a go?
Easy chocolate truffles
150g dark chocolate (ideally 70% solids)
150g double cream
1 large tablespoon of butter
50g cocoa powder to coat
Additional flavourings; a splash of brandy, rum, Irish liqueur, coffee liqueur, orange liqueur
Additional coatings: desiccated coconut, ground almonds, chopped pistachio nuts, orange zest powder, beetroot powder- the list is endless!
Heat the double cream and a tablespoon of butter until this just begins to simmer.
Whisk the dark chocolate into the cream mixture until smooth. (If adding flavour stir in at this stage)
Let chill for a few hours till set and then roll into small balls and coat with cocoa powder or your chosen toppings! Or even coat them in warm melted chocolate for an indulgent treat, just chill to harden the chocolate afterwards.
100g fresh ginger (skin on)
2 cinnamon sticks
100g brown sugar
70cl unbranded gin
Chop the ginger into smaller pieces and pop it into a large jar with a lid, all the rest of the ingredients leaving the gin till last. Finally, top the gin into the bottle and seal the lid and give the jar a good shake.
Let the flavour infuse and shake the bottle every day for a few days, then strain the gin out through a muslin cloth and bottle in a sterilised bottle.
Enjoy as a mixer with prosecco, cocktails, tea, over ice cream or other desserts!
Whatever you decide this year on Christmas gifts, remember budget can be beautiful!
Wishing you a fabulous Christmas and a superb new year!
Wellness & Sustainability Champion
(Image: Yulia Khlebnikova)
(Image below: Julia Topp )