Budget Homemade gifts made now that just get better in time for Christmas

(113 Posts)
Afrodizzywonders Sat 11-May-13 11:04:03

I've started making foodie things over the last month and thought....these would make nice gifts for Christmas. I thought (hoped), maybe others could share their ideas.

Neverending Vanilla essence - I'm trialing this, 5 vanilla pods (bought online) plopped in 250ml of vodka. In 3 months time it's ready, as you use it top up with more vodka. Great for bakers.

Vanilla Sugar - couldn't be easier, vanilla pods in caster sugar.....put in a pretty jar, wait 2 weeks.

Now the biggie, DIY champagne or sparkling wine as its being made in my garage not champagne technically! I'm planning this now, never homebrewed, but...big but! I think I can make 30 decent bottles of fizz for £30 excluding equipment, so I'm trying to find cheap ways of doing this over the next week. If a success, we will have a bloody big party and I will make tonnes of the stuff.

Finally, spiced apple chutney (apples from our tree) but that's a little way off.

Anyone else up to any homemade stuff?

Afrodizzywonders Fri 17-May-13 20:23:53

I'm alone here but will keep posting, a distant SOS to other weirdos thinking about Christmas so soon....

I have purchased home brew equipment and over the weekend will be making some ginger beer (with lime, chilli and lemongrass in it). If it goes well and tastes nice I'll have 25 litres of the stuff, make a nice mixer with vodka for a Moscow mule! This home brew malarkey seems quite technical, I am immersing myself in the homebrew forums.....I need to wear a faux beard when brewing for good luck me thinks.

Mummybookworm Fri 17-May-13 20:28:02

Never ending vanilla extract - home made? What is this marvel of which you speak?

<<sings>> You are not alone
La la la la laaaah

(channeling my inner Micheal Jackson there)

My DH used to make beer, he had the barrells, the heat-belts, the huge plastic mixing bins.... takes up so much room and so much time.

Ginger beer sounds good though (I like Fentinums it's tangy and not as sweet as regular 'soft drink' ginger beer)

Do you make flavoured vodkas? They can be done in advance AFAIK (I don't drink alcohol myself so I've never tried it or made it)

But you could make your Christmas Pudding and give it an extra long maturation time?

headlesslambrini Fri 17-May-13 21:10:45

ahhh the Christmas thread in May. I luffs you.

I'm not into foodie stuff but love sewing so am hoping to be able to do some home-made gifts that way. Am going to do the DC's a hot water bottle cover each but haven't got any more ideas than that.

forcookssake Fri 17-May-13 21:21:35

Brilliant idea! I was just wondering about this very thing. I am starting off some chocolate vodka made by pan roasting raw cocoa nibs and putting a half cup into a bottle of vodka.
Takes a while to infuse, but we've got a while! grin

Afrodizzywonders Sun 19-May-13 20:43:38

mummybookworm here is the marvel of which I speak, never ending vanilla essence

70isa I am doing the ginger beer tomorrow....slightly nervous as this whole sterilisation malarkey with the kit and general chemistry feel to this project needs time. My DH has very high hopes for this and it's bound to disappoint, I want fizz in my beer....bottle bombs away!

headless glad you approve, has to be done! I like sew ideas so keep me posted.

forcooks Ooooh yes. I have some roses in the garden and fancied doing some rose vodka....I followed the threads last year on here with just about every sweet popped in a bottle of vodka and fancy that. Need to get myself some small bottles and get trialing!

BiddyPop Fri 24-May-13 15:30:02

I popped the first of my concoctions together 2 weeks ago - I couldn't find the bottle of vodka, so the first batch is rhubarb gin!! (I'd already chopped the rhubarb and ginger). I'll have a btach of vodka this week I think (rhubarb is growing very merrily this year).

I need to start a new batch of mince meat this year as I will be doing a lot of visiting over the hols (unlike recent years). I usually start that in late summer or earlier for best results.

I want to make limoncello again this year, as that is lovely when HM. Just put the juice of 15 lemons, the zest (in large peels, not tiny zest) and sugar, with 1.5l vodka, shake occasionally but basically ignore for 80 days. Then strain and bottle nicely. (Original recipe I got didn't call for juice, I just added it and it was lovely -and doing it right means adding sugar after 40 days, but I throw it all in at the start and it works fine).

And I want to make lots of sloe gin in the autumn. And maybe some blackberry vodka too. Lots of blackberry jam. But no raspberry as i have no canes anymore.

MadamGazelleIsMyMum Fri 31-May-13 09:30:35

I have never tried making my own alcohol but I usually batch make chutneys and jams in the autumn. I'd quite like to try some more adventurous stuff as well. Posting for inspiration as I will need to start planning presents soon so I can spread the cost and preparation needed!

ExasperatedSigh Fri 31-May-13 09:33:00


HidingUnderMyDuvet Fri 31-May-13 09:42:51

I'm loving how most of these gifts are alcohol based! grin
The limoncello sounds amazing- definitely going to try that. It sounds like it may need a test run before gifting it. wink
You can make sweet flavoured vodka by just chucking sweets in a bottle- they start to dissolve and the vodka picks up the flavour.

Jojobump1986 Fri 31-May-13 09:45:39

Rhubarb gin? Homemade limoncello?!

I love MN! grin

My parents have made sloe gin & sloe vodka before... & I think mum experimented with other berries too. I've always wanted to have a go but I have no idea where to find a sloe tree around here & buying berries from the supermarket doesn't seem quite as fun! We have rhubarb, blackberries & cherries growing in the garden though so I'm sure I can do something with some of those! I shall count the number of people giving odd looks to the heavily pregnant lady buying lots of booze... grin

CuttedUpPear Fri 31-May-13 09:58:47

<peeps round corner>

Jojobump1986 Fri 31-May-13 10:10:16

Probably not a Christmas drink but... Doesn't this sound totally amazing?! I absolutely have to try this!

Afrodizzywonders Fri 07-Jun-13 18:14:57

Jojo,I've just done a batch of rhubarb vodka. The in laws gave me 2kg of the stuff and I just whacked it in some vodka with sugar, got to wait 3 months now but it is already a lovely colour. A nice mixer with some champagne/cava I thought. Also made some rhubarb and ginger jam.

Well I kind of went mental on the homebrew! Made 38 x 500ml fiery boozy ginger beer, a gallon of prosecco style wine, some mint wine that will probably be mingling.....and this weekend I am making 5 gallons of rose petal wine. Got Demi johns and fermentation bins blooping gas all over the house, sounds like I'm in a submarine....

My rational is, if it's good I can give it as gifts...if its not good then it's mixers for a homebrew tasting party!

MrsHende Sun 09-Jun-13 21:02:14


BiddyPop Mon 10-Jun-13 10:34:28

Jojo, a couple of years ago, I got a load of cherries and couldn't eat them all, so put a punnet or 2 into some honey rum we had from Canaries (had to do something with the bottle) and ignored for 6 months, then used the cherries in homemade chocs. Oh delish!"!!!! Very nom nom!!

(That was the year I had time before Christmas, so had made some candied peel with all the orange and lemon skins I had - brekkie juice and so on - and dunked slices of those in choc too for orangettes/lemonettes. And a couple of batches of regular truffles - choc and double cream, I think I added a dash of Grand Marnier too).

One other great thing for HM is your own mince meat. If you do it now, or as soon as the dried fruit goes on special offer for Christmas baking, it's delish. Quite cheap, usually much nicer tasting than shopbought, and can be altered to personal tastes - the recipe I usually use (Darina Allen) calls for grated apple among the ingredients, and you can use all sorts of dried fruits like apricots, figs or cranberries that are not in generic ones. Along with fresh orange juice, and a nice slug of something alcoholic (Grand Marnier, dark rum, honey rum, HM fruit liqueurs, etc instead of the standard whiskey or brandy).

It is great given either as fully made up mince pies, or as a jar to use at will (perhaps with a recipe sheet attached to show "different" uses like crumble, or in cookies or icecream, or with your favourite pastry recipe).

bedmonster Wed 12-Jun-13 19:30:32

Is now a good time to make mincemeat? I don't eat it, but mil usually makes loads and passes some on to us and Dp makes mince pies with the dc on Xmas eve, but I'm sure I could make it myself.

BiddyPop Thu 13-Jun-13 11:38:01

Bedmonster, the sooner you make it, the longer it has to "mature" - which basically means all the flavours come together. You can make it up to 4 weeks before Christmas, but last year, I used 1 jar that was a year old and 1 that was 2 years old - there was a distinct difference in the 2 even though they had the same recipe, more depth to the older one. So the longer you can leave it, the better!!

bedmonster Thu 13-Jun-13 11:59:34

Thanks Biddy, I will start saving my jars! And what's the best way to sterilized them?

bedmonster Thu 13-Jun-13 12:00:55

Okay, obviously I know how to spell sterilise blush

pollywollydoodle Sat 15-Jun-13 01:33:45

jojobump we get loads of sloes from by the canal

Afrodizzywonders Sat 15-Jun-13 08:08:48

I think a mincemeat mission is on the cards for next week now! Thanks

Zeeky Thu 20-Jun-13 12:55:37

Great thread! I'm determined to start early this year, as every year I don't start thinking about making stuff for Christmas until September and then run out of time or can't do stuff cos it take 4 months to brew!

I usually make jams and chutneys - strawberry and raspberry from now, chutney in the autumn. Also do flavoured vodkas and gins - blackberry mostly, but also did strawberry vodka and rhubarb gin last year.

Would like to try making some chilli jelly this year and also some rhubarb jelly (have lots of rhubarb in the freezer and the garden). And also would like to try making limoncello.

I have the world's largest stash of jam jars. DH says I'm obsessed with jars, as never throw one away! But it saves having to buy them every year to give away.

NumTumDeDum Thu 20-Jun-13 13:13:36

I've been on the lookout for baskets to use for hampers. I wanted to make a few things to go in. I thought a food hamper and a toiletries hamper with home made soap and bathbombs.

We have an apple tree too. I made apple and green tomato (had a glut of those too! sad ) chutney, and apple and cinnamon vodka. Both were very nice.

Zeeky Thu 20-Jun-13 16:43:27

Taken up sewing this year, so hoping to make a few fabric gifts too. I was thinking bunting with their name on for each of the children of our friends - everyone likes bunting, right? And maybe some tote bags, glasses cases, lavender sachets for older family members.

Pop a vanilla pod into rhubarb gin or vodka to get a rhubarb and custard liqueur.

I wanted to do it last year but didn't get around to it, but this year I am definitely making some fancy mustards.
I went to a really interesting mustard seminar a few weeks ago, and it totally inspired me to try making some myself. If they turn out nice, then I can give a small jar as a gift, perhaps with some nice cheese and/or homemade crackers; these are heavenly and always go down well).

I've also made some strawberry jam, but suspect that that will not last till Christmas and I'm going to have to do another batch and hide it!

What I also did last year (but this is not really a make-ahead as such) is spicy roast nuts which went down an absolute storm.
It's worth practicing though, to get the combination of nuts and spices that you want. Makes a fab gift, especially with a bottle of something homemade and alcoholic!

Oh, my ideas were so crap they killed the thread blush grin

NumTumDeDum Fri 21-Jun-13 13:54:29

Ha, no they weren't. What's your recipe for the spiced nuts if you don't mind sharing?

It's a bit make-it-up-as-you-go-along, but basically:

mix together unsalted, non-roasted nut selection (I've just done one with pecans, cashews and almonds, 200g of each)

mix in a couple of tablespoons of oil (depending on what spice-flavour you're going for, you can use olive, rapeseed, sesame, chili etc) until nuts are all coated and shiny.

mix together your spice combination (the one I've just done was chili flakes, coriander, pepper, cinammon and salt) - you'll need at least 2 heaped tablespoons altogether of mixed spices for that amount of nuts. Salt is very much a personal taste thing, you need to experiment to find how much you like (but it'll probably be less than any commercial bag of spiced nuts you can buy).

Sprinkle spices over nuts and mix until all are coated well (I added a bit of maple syrup to the combination I've just done as I wanted a sweet/spicy taste).

Bake in oven on a tray (I use a baking sheet to cut down on cleaning) on 180° for about 15 mins until they are just starting to brown.

Take out and LEAVE TO COOL. They will be sort of soft and chewy straight out the oven and not at all pleasant.

Once they are cool, they harden up again. Taste to see if they need more salt, then store in a sealed container. They last for ages (theoretically, that is. If you are like me you will end up nibbling them with a glass of wine every night until a huge 1litre pot of them is all gone and you suddenly realise you've eaten the lot yourself over the course of about a week!!).

I did a really good moroccan-spice combo at Christmas with cinammon, turmeric, a bit of chili, paprika - it was truly heavenly.
And I also used a ready-mix of arrabiata pasta spices for doing spicy walnuts that was absolutely addictive!

OMG that was a bit long blush

pollywollydoodle Fri 21-Jun-13 17:30:37

long is good in this casesmile
they sound great!

Somebody mentioned Marmalade Gin recently, which I so wanted to try.

I'll chase up the recipe and post on here shall I?

[smile ]

My mouth is watering reading those recipes for spiced nuts!

MooseyMoo Sat 22-Jun-13 16:30:49

Ooh Hopeforthebest those nuts sound lovely. I got my DH a subscription for The Spicery and each month, along with spices and receipe card, they include a spice sample. Just had a look and there are a couple that would work on nuts. Can't wait to try it out.

Also going to try Limoncello and Everlasting Vanilla Extract for myself, then will make for christmas presents.

ConsiderablyBiggerBuns Wed 26-Jun-13 14:14:39

Hello All, on these homemade threads there is often a search for appropriate bottles for bottling homemade alcoholic beverages. Sainsburys have some very nice kilner bottles ~.5l with old fashioned flip top lids. They are at 25% off at the moment at £1.68. Also some similar but shaped bottles, marketed for sloe gin but they are a bit more expensive.

MrsHende Wed 26-Jun-13 20:03:25

Marmalade gin? Oh yes please!

SuzySuzSuz Thu 27-Jun-13 18:59:04

I stumbled across this thread checking what homemade gifts went down well last year and now seem to have fully joined you all! Some things are a bit rubbish right now so it feels a bit like escapism in doing some advance homemade Christmas bits!

Just been to Ikea and stocked up on my kilner jars, so far the plans include:

- vanilla essence
- vanilla sugar
- lem

SuzySuzSuz Thu 27-Jun-13 19:01:21

Doh flamin pod!

- lemoncello
- Christmas pudding vodka
- delia mincemeat
- strawberry jam - not done before so test batch will be done first
- cherry brandy

But will be keeping an eye out for more ideas!!


NumTumDeDum Thu 27-Jun-13 19:28:17

I want to make some soap. Has anyone ever done that? How hard/easy is it?

mrsdinklage Thu 27-Jun-13 19:58:37

Hope - fancy mustards - please tell us more. Those nuts sound great I'll have to try them.

wafflingworrier Thu 27-Jun-13 20:10:41

4 anyone doing hampers lidl are selling vanilla, hazlenut or caramel syrup for £1.50! bargain and lovely treat i recon

wafflingworrier Thu 27-Jun-13 20:14:03

for making soap try watching fight club :D

I don't have my mustard-making bookmarks on this pc but a quick google came up with this link which covers pretty much what we learnt at the mustard seminar.

Here's a David Lebovitz recipe that sounds (and looks) rather gorgeous (it's got maple syrup in it, which I think would work really well as a more smoky, caramely flavour to the more usual honey).

And here are 6 DIY mustard recipes to try.

Even The Guardian has a basic Dijon recipe, with some nice variations (I'm liking the 3-fruit red one).


Dilidali Fri 28-Jun-13 21:02:29

Hope, love the biscuity thingy recipe, how far in advance can you make them?
Also, do you have any wrapping ideas? I might seriously do a 'foody christmas', keep the ideas coming please!

mrsdinklage Sat 29-Jun-13 08:31:24

Hope - thanks for the links.

Jojobump1986 Sat 29-Jun-13 16:30:02

Num here is a really easy sounding way to make soap. I've added it to my to-make list!

Kveta Sat 29-Jun-13 20:24:09

can't believe I'm posting here in JUNE!

anyway, I'm thinking of making elderflower cordial this year, as the local trees are covered in blossoms - has anyone tried it? I thought a bottle of that and a wee jar of, say, rhubarb and ginger jam (because my rhubarb is out of control!) would make a nice christmas present?

buildingmycorestrength Sun 30-Jun-13 11:03:38

I've started saving jars and bottles for vanilla essence. I found a load of beautiful stoppered glass bottles online but postage was dear so will see how I feel with a budget version.

NumTumDeDum Sun 30-Jun-13 11:15:43

Kveta there's a recipe for Elderflower cordial in Kirsty Allsop's Craft book. I haven't tried it but I was thinking about it as there are lots of elderflowers about.

mrsdinklage Sun 30-Jun-13 12:56:27

There are also several recipes on bbcgoodfood for elderflower cordial. I bet all those elderflowers disappear in the next few days smile

Kveta Sun 30-Jun-13 13:28:36

after posting here yesterday, I had a good look at the elderflower cordial recipes online, and most say they only last 2-6 weeks, so that's no use for christmas! might try some anyway though smile

I have spent this morning cutting lavender and herbs (sage and thyme) from the garden, to dry, and will use them to make various flavoured salts and lavender bags I think. I don't have a sewing machine, but could probably rustle up some bags out of cotton and hand sewing. might get the DCs to decorate them, then that's their gifts to family done.

last year I made loads of jams and chutneys, and hand made and decorated sugar cookies, need to mix it up a bit this year though smile

I had an idea for smaller children of friends, I might make them a wee personalised story book. I've got some concepts of stories to do, so need to sketch it out now, and see if it looks anything other than crap grin

Afrodizzywonders Sun 30-Jun-13 18:04:47

Wowsers, been busy and not checked back for a while and now there are all these amazing suggestion...my to do list keeps getting longer.

Just been out and collected some elderflower, I'm making 6 bottles of wine, so it's going in the demijohn tonight, takes a year to improve so I a, actually making it for Christmas 2014 blush feel like a loon.

Made some more rhubarb and ginger jam, was very nice. Got my eye on my rambling rose that's gone berserk, some rose petal jam there I reckon.

SOAP-someone asked about soap....sorry on iPad typing one handed with baby on nork. I did a soap selection box for family and friends 3 years ago, Bought stuff from www.soapbasics.co.uk/ just go melt and pour, you can add Shea butter etc, some nice essential oils and dried petals. Pop in a nice mould, and then faff around wrapping them. Really easy, and I kid you not, everyone asked if they could have them again. Which reminds me I should do some of those too! So I highly recommend doing some good quality melt and pour soap.

Struggling to get stuff done right now, baby is 6 months and going through sleep regression/separation anxiety/teething/fuck knows.

Jojobump1986 Sun 30-Jun-13 18:34:03

Working soapbasics link here

VegPatchLurker Sun 30-Jun-13 18:43:32

We have a lot of people coming for Christmas this year and not much money, so a homemade Christmas is the way to go!

We'll be doing Blackberry Mead (made 10 bottles last year - have only 2 left which we're saving for Christmas - it gets better with time). Blackberry wine.
Am now going to be making Limoncello - the demijohns are empty until the bramble crop comes in so might as well make use of them ;)
I also did a runner bean chutney and an apple and green tomato chutney last summer - but we had such a glut of both that we still have some left!
Oh and Bramble Jelly is gorgeous - the smell and taste of summer on toast through the winter.

I make a big stash of mango chutney in the slow cooker when mangoes are very cheap in the summer. We also make llackberry jam, sloe gin, damson gin and marmalade. With apples, I do some chutney too. I've done chilli jam in the past - very easy.

HomageToCannelloni Wed 03-Jul-13 15:29:26

Kveta, if you can get hold of some citric acid your cordial will last longer...not sure about Christmas from now though. There is a v tasty lemon and mint cordial recipe by Hugh F.W. that you could make with supermarket ingredients nearer the time, and I bet it would be easy to make a Christmassy cordial of some sort! You can also freeze it, but once defrosted I've found it only lasts about a week or two.

HomageToCannelloni Wed 03-Jul-13 15:30:56

Ooooh veg patch, would love that blackberry mead recipe if you have it?

YoungBritishPissArtist Wed 03-Jul-13 15:53:20

Mustard seminar? I love this thread grin

I'm thinking about making body scrubs, some with brown sugar, some with coffee granules, haven't quite figured out the recipes yet.

buildingmycorestrength Wed 03-Jul-13 17:28:11

I did sugar scrubs a few years ago. Easy a and nice to experiment with on yourself!

Olive oil, caster sugar (not granulated!), few drops of essential oils. Could do seasonal, like frankincense or nutmeg. You just put them together til the texture seems the right sort of gloopiness... I think. I remember Lakeland had Kilner jars for about £10 for 6 at the time.

YoungBritishPissArtist Wed 03-Jul-13 19:02:24

Thanks, buildingmycorestrength!

I'll start experimenting grin

craigslittleangel Mon 08-Jul-13 15:53:13

Scuttlebutter, mango chutney in the slow cooker? Fancy posting your favourite receipt?

Afrodizzywonders Tue 09-Jul-13 19:47:34

Yes, I also like the sound of a slow cooker mango chutney!

I made some rose petal cordial yesterday, really delicious, would like to make some and give in Christmas hampers but not sure how I can make it keep. Suppose I could freeze some? How long does citric acid prolong shelf life for things anyone know?

It looks like I'll be doing hampers this year, just bung in bits I've made through the year.....that is if we don't eat and drink it all first. We've almost polished off the 5 gallons of ginger beer with lashings of rhubarb vodka blush

MooseyMoo Fri 12-Jul-13 06:16:28

Smirnoff Red Label 1 litre is £17.50 at Waitrose at the moment. Bought some for everlasting vanilla and limoncello

buildingmycorestrength Fri 12-Jul-13 06:41:32

Think I'm going to have to buy glass bottles for the vanilla essence...worldofbottles looked good but wondered what others were using?

Afrodizzywonders Sun 14-Jul-13 18:09:28

I think Ikea have some small swing top bottles.......I know they have larger ones as I'm using them for the cordial at the moment.

Got lots of rose petals happening here, so I've put on a gallon of rose petal wine, plus I'm making more cordial and freezing it. I fancy remembering these hot summer days when it's winter and dark! Put another 5 gallons of Ginger beer as it's been sunk plus the prosecco stuff I made was a good hit. At first DH wasn't sure but after two glasses we were 3 sheets to the wind and he was very vocal at how wonderful it was! At 60p for 1.5 litres he wants gallons of the stuff for some Christmas parties.

Next week I'm going to make lots of mincemeat....going to use the recipe suggested on here.

LifeIsSoDifferent Thu 18-Jul-13 10:20:34

Argh I've been roped in!

Very interesting in making alcohol and vanilla essence. Anyone know any links to good easy fool proof recipes?

I can't remember who wrote about putting berries n vodka? Would that work well? Oh and sweets which have people tried?

Aw I'm going to end up on the hunt for bottles now aren't I

AGnu Fri 19-Jul-13 14:48:20

Pinterest is your friend Life! I'm finding so many ideas on there! My sister will be getting an ice cream kit in a jazzed up icec cream tub if I can find one big enough - cones, sprinkles & homemade magic shell sauce with a cute ice cream scoop if I can find one she'll like. My mother will be getting vanilla essence as she's a keen baker. Apple chutney always goes down well with the men in my family. My older sister & SIL will be getting homemade smellies of some description & 2 of my 3 nieces will probably end up with homemade skirts. I've not decided what to do for my eldest niece yet! Might attempt to crochet a cute hat for her... I've never crocheted anything other than v simple granny squares before so that could be interesting!

Hopefully planning on doing homemade presents again this year.

leesmum Fri 19-Jul-13 22:23:48

I need some ideas for Apple recipies ladies, our Bramleys start falling 2nd week of August so would love some of your chutney recipes , could I make apple vodka or would it not work? Thanks

Zeeky Mon 12-Aug-13 21:15:20

So far I've made raspberry jam, strawberry & pimms jam and strawberry, rhubarb & vanilla jam.

Once the crab apples in the garden are ready, I'll make some crab apple jelly, and will start blackberry picking to make blackberry jelly or jam and blackberry gin (bung equal amount of berries & sugar in a big jar with a load of cheap gin, shake daily & keep in a dark place).

Quite like to have a go at some vanilla essence and limoncello.

Not started on any sewing projects yet though which I really need to cracking with, as planned to make lots of personalised bunting for children.

Here is link for slow cooker mango chutney link

It's from the slow cooker cookbook I use - and like the blogger I make extra quantitites. I chop up the squash small and put it on for a good long cook - this is one of those recipes that everyone loves who tries it. It turns out the most wonderful colour. Depending on the size of the mangoes or the squash I add more. I make it in the summer ready for giving at Christmas. If there's a pot of this, some chilli jelly and some marmalade, some jam, the colours of the jars are wonderful.

I know everybody in the world except me has already done this, but how do you make skittles vodka? I'm thinking I might start by having a go at that. Are there any other (preferably retro) sweets that work? I'm thinking of making a few for my difficult to buy for brother.

Deathbyladybirds Mon 19-Aug-13 19:45:15


Callani Wed 21-Aug-13 11:13:46

I'm making raspberry gin for gifts this year, and supplementing with some internet made photo calendars for the grandparents... just going to be a struggle not to drink all the gin before Christmas I think!

AGnu - Crocheting a hat should be pretty easy if you have a simple pattern. I'd recommend checking out ravelry.com or craftster.org for some good patterns with LOTS of advice!

Megsdaughter Wed 21-Aug-13 11:19:48

Nice glass bottles (I have some from fancy bubble bath last year, if not cheap from ebay).

Extra virgin olive oil, chop chilli and garlic, put into bottle add, mustard seeds and herbs, finish off with a stick of rosemary, seal and make a label add a ribbon.

They smell and taste wonderful, I make them all year round to use.

craigslittleangel Wed 21-Aug-13 21:23:01

Has anyone made Bailey's? The recipes on line look easy enough, but all seem to insists on Irish whiskey. Does anyone know why?

FranklymydearIdontgiveadamn Fri 23-Aug-13 13:24:27

Craigsangel, scotch whiskey isnt as light as irish whiskey, it has more of a flavour. So I would imagine it might alter the end taste of a homemade irish cream. I could be wrong though!

FranklymydearIdontgiveadamn Fri 23-Aug-13 13:28:37

Zeeky you have been busy!
I really want to try sloe gin, I have bottles ready. I also have colourful fleece blankets I bought last year but never got around to using them blush . I had in mind some sort of personalised snuggie blankets for the dc, for our Friday night dvd nights. Need to crack on with those soon as I have 5 to make. Any suggestions welcomed!

FranklymydearIdontgiveadamn Fri 23-Aug-13 13:30:27

Megsdaughter, do you take the garlic out after a while? I'm always afraid to try making it in case I poison someone!

Zeeky Fri 23-Aug-13 15:49:07

Made some totally delicious (even if I do day so myself!) chilli and coriander jelly. I used Nigella's recipe for chilli jam as a guide for quantities and then changed the ingredients as had made a load of juice from windfall apples that I wanted to used instead of cider vinegar. I forgot to take the seeds out of the chillies though, so it is on the HOT side!! I love it, but will make another batch without the seeds as I think it would be too hot for some of my planned recipients!

Also made some apple & mint jelly (with some more of the juice) but I haven't tried it properly yet. Again, it was a made-up/experimental recipe which seemed to turn out ok!

Megsdaughter Sat 24-Aug-13 14:07:30

Nope I leave the garlic in. But then they don't last long in our house smile

AnneUulmelmahay Sun 01-Sep-13 19:56:31

Bumping for Julia x

hotbot Sun 01-Sep-13 20:14:10

I have started bramble vodka and limoncello, but o only used the zest of 4lemons, wait a week then add water and sugar syrup to it. Hope it's ok.

Wiifitmama Sun 01-Sep-13 20:14:52

We are planning hampers or home made goodies for presents this year. Dh has made so many different kinds of jams and jellies and I have lots of bottles of fruit liqueurs on the go. I also made some homemade lip balms.

What I need help with is what to use for the baskets for the hampers? I don't want to spend lots of money on them, but need something nice. And strong as it needs to hold all the glass jars and bottles.

Chopsypie Sun 01-Sep-13 20:21:15

Ooh I'm glad I've seen this thread, I've made a start on mine today. Made blackberry vodka (6 glass
Flip top bottles for £8 from wilko's, bargain!) and have started harvesting chillis to make chilli oil. Also considering garlic/herb oil ad I've got loads in the garden. Now if anyone has any idea for a glut of potatoes, I'm all ears!

DoItTooJulia Sun 01-Sep-13 20:25:59

I'm here!

Homemade limoncello? Better then my lemonade idea! Thanks Anne.

DoItTooJulia Sun 01-Sep-13 20:26:49

How big are those flip top bottles from wilko chop?

SarahAndFuck Sun 01-Sep-13 21:06:15

Place marking smile

It all sounds very lovely.

UnicornsPooGlitter Sun 01-Sep-13 21:46:33

Thanks, lots of great ideas!


Chopsypie Mon 02-Sep-13 07:53:40

Dolt, they are 500ml but look bigger. The glass is quite thick, they are from the home brew section so built to take fizzy stuff as well I think.

DoItTooJulia Mon 02-Sep-13 08:18:34

Thanks! Off to Wilko today then!

missinglalaland Mon 02-Sep-13 08:23:41

I tend to stick with sewn or knitted gifts rather than food. I am afraid I'll get the canning/bottling wrong and make some one ill or worse!

At the moment, I like the idea of buying about 4 balls of chunky/luxury wool from Rowan or Debbie Bliss and making infinity cowls in a seed stitch pattern. I know that similar quality in the shops is well over £100! And I can pick up the wool for less than £30 if I watch the sales. It's also an easy, portable knit that I can knock out while waiting around at swimming lessons etc.

I just hope these looped cowls are still in fashion. My lack of fashion sense could be where this plan falls apart...

colleysmill Mon 02-Sep-13 08:36:04

September is about the time I make plum brandy from a receipe I got years ago from Good Housekeeping. So easy even I can make it.

About a pound of plums (often gifted from a friend with several plum trees) caster sugar and a bottle of brandy - I go for what's on offer, cheap or use vouchers saved.

Wash and Pierce plums, stir in brandy and sugar and leave in air tight box in dark cupboard for a month.

Replace into nice sterilized bottle. Drink within 2-3 months


colditz Mon 02-Sep-13 08:42:34

Sloe gin and blackberry vodka.

pudseypie Mon 02-Sep-13 08:52:11

just picked a load of blackberries yesterday to make blackberry liquer for the first time. like the plum brandy idea too, going to try that too. am seriously skint this year so homemade is the way to go! wink

misskatamari Mon 02-Sep-13 10:48:22

Oooooh what a fab thread!

I always make gifts for DH - usually appliquéd tshirts with computer game stuff on so will be doing that as usual.

Hoping to make a minecraft crotchet scarf for my nephew and maybe a cupcake one for my niece.

I've always wanted to do more foodie gifts and there are so many fab ideas on here I might actually pluck up the courage this year smile

Also considering making some candles - I have wax etc and have loads of glass sundae dishes from my wedding party (used in centrepieces) so it would be nice to recycle them smile

Really want to try the vanilla essence too and thing sil would love something like this sundae kit

Sybilvimes Mon 02-Sep-13 10:56:13

Ooh, a minecraft scarf! Ds would love that. Do you have a link to a pattern?


misskatamari Mon 02-Sep-13 11:02:35

Alas not I'm planning on making it up.

I'm hoping to get lots of greens and make granny squares to sew together along with black ones for the face to make a creeper. Should have this sort of effect but abit more ordered scarf

I think you could do most things from the game like this as it is so pixelated. Fingers crossed anyway

DoItTooJulia Tue 03-Sep-13 11:04:44

My Wilko had none! Boo!

Zeeky Thu 05-Sep-13 17:03:18

Took the children on a marathon 3 hr blackberry picking session on Tues - got tons, so put some blackberry schnapps on to brew. The rest are earmarked for some blackberry and apple jelly. Also picked the last of the rhubarb from the garden and made some rhubarb gin.

I have yet to start in any of my planned sewing gifts though. I'm hoping that now ds1 is back in school and ds2 starting nursery imminently that I will have more time to get cracking with the sewing.

Planning to make 3x personalised hooded towels (and swimming bags if I get time). Also angry bird handwarmers. Will probably make chocolate truffles nearer the time for teachers.

Chopsypie Sat 07-Sep-13 18:20:14

Doittojulia, do you have a 'the range'? Noticed they had some in, again in the home brew section, 12 for £9. If not you can order wilko's online

Scout19075 Wed 11-Sep-13 08:27:14

If making a trio of (fruit infused) brandy to give as gifts, how much of each would you give? I don't want to appear stingy but giving large quantities of three types of brandy could get expensive....

The same goes for gin, except two of those.

And just one vodka (candy cane -- yum).

WitchOfEndor Fri 13-Sep-13 19:20:59

I love this thread! I'm hoping to do some cherry vodka using frozen Morello cherries. Does anyone know how many grams per litre I will need and if sugar is needed? Don't mind if its quite piquant! I'm also making Christmas cakes for DM and MIL as well as ourselves and doing Tablet slabs for DM and DB and myself I'm also looking at the Soap basics site and wondering who I can do them for.

Scout19075 Wed 18-Sep-13 17:24:01

Has anyone tried alcohol infused gummies?

davidtennantsmistress Wed 18-Sep-13 19:11:24

Oh brill will have a read of this as I want to do home made hampers this year for everyone. With the peanuts what do you store them in just little jars? X

IsaacCox Wed 25-Sep-13 12:00:32

Every year I say I'm not going to do food hampers again but alas here I am! I'm buying some jars today but just need to decide what to make first. Definitely doing mincemeat, chilli jam, some sort of fruit jam. I usually do mixed berry but want to make something a bit fancier- any ideas? Thanks smile

IsaacCox Wed 25-Sep-13 12:20:40

Right, I've just across this recipe which has great reviews. If I make it this week, will it still be ok for Christmas? Thanks

TheYamiOfYawn Wed 25-Sep-13 13:05:07

You can get get plain jute shopping bags on eBay in a variety of sizes. They are fairly cheap, sturdy, look tasteful, and are mire useful than a basket after Christmas is over.

Zeeky Wed 25-Sep-13 21:05:09

Isaac most chutneys keeps for a year or more unopened, so will be fine for Christmas.

There was a free WI jams & preserves booklet in the daily mail last weekend and I just made the Plum & Mulled Wine Jam recioe from it. It is lush and perfect for Christmas. My kitchen smells like Christmas!

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