Tuesday, 18 December 2012

4 Best Homemade Christmas Gifts

Hand made gifts are lovely, thoughtful and far more personal than anything you can expect to pick up in a shop. They are also perfect when you’re on a bit of a budget or – heaven forbid – you forget someone at the last minute. Here are our top 4 hand made gifts that we’d be genuinely happy to receive.

Mulled Wine Set

A bottle of premixed mulled wine is a decent enough gift, but this year you can make it extra special by putting together a Mulled Wine Making Set. For this you’ll need

  • Presentation box – big enough and sturdy enough to support a bottle of wine
  • Bottle of red wine
  • Muslin cloth
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • Cinnamon Stick
  • Dried orange peel
  • Dried lemon peel
  • 3 cloves
  • Grated nutmeg
  • Orange

Place the sugar and spices in the centre of a piece of muslin cloth, gather up the edges and tie with some string.
Place the spice parcel, bottle of wine and orange in the presentation box – might be nice to fluff this up with a bit of tissue paper.
For an extra special touch, write some hand written instructions and a personal message on a card.

TIP: You don’t need to spend loads of money on the wine. Opt for a few bulk buy deals in the supermarket and you can make the same gift for a few friends.

Lemon shortbread

Shortbread is one of the easiest biscuits to make. Here’s what you need

  • 50g castor sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 150g plain flour
  • Zest of half a lemon

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Stir in the lemon zest.
Gradually add the flour and mix until a smooth dough forms.
Roll your dough out the cut into shapes and place onto a baking tray.
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until golden.
Leave to cool slightly then sprinkle with some more caster sugar.

Once they’ve cooled you can place them in jars, or presentation boxes to gift to family and friends.

TIP: You can add anything you fancy to the basic shortbread mixture including chocolate chunks, dried fruit an nuts.

Orange Vodka

Usually infused vodkas can take months to make – this recipe can be done in around 4 days so it’s a perfect last minute option. It’s also easy to do, pocket friendly and the end result looks like you’ve gone to lots of effort. For this you’ll need

  • Air tight jar – you can use an old jam jar provided it’s nice and clean
  • Pretty glass bottles – must be clean and airtight
  • Bottle of decent vodka
  • One orange

Peel the orange rind off in thin strips. Be very careful to avoid the pith as it will make the vodka bitter.
Place the rind in an airtight jar and top up with vodka. You’ll need around 3 slices per 100ml of vodka.
Leave to rest in a cool dark place returning to taste it every day. Give it a good shake before tasting.
You want a nice orange flavour but not too bitter – if you leave it too long it will get pretty bitter.
Once you’re happy with your creation, strain into a pretty bottle and present to your giftee.

TIP: If you go for smaller glass bottles, you can make one large bottle of vodka stretch to make a few different flavours – lemon, lime, berry or apple.

Nutty Brittle

This is a great way to liven up the staple nut selection that everyone likes to munch on over Christmas. You can also make this gift up in different batches so you can present different people with their favourite nut. 
  • 100g of your chosen nut
  • 100g Caster sugar

Place your sugar in a pan and put on a low heat.
Move the pan around as the sugar begins to melt until it turns into a deep caramel colour.
Add your nuts and move the pan around until they are completely coated.
Pour out onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
Leave to set in a safe place.
Once completely cooled you can smash it into pieces and box it up.

TIP: You could try presenting this gift whole in a little tray along with a tiny hammer so the lucky eater can break it up themselves.

Photo credit 1 2 3 4 

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