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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?

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 17-May-13 21:05:21

<<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.

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