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On the JJ Barnes Blog, I look at how the cost of living crisis is impacting Christmas and the advice from Bed Kingdom about how to save money with DIY gifts.

In September 2022, a YouGov survey found that six in ten people in the UK, are planning to spend less on Christmas this year as a direct result of the cost-of-living crisis.

Giving gifts is one of my favourite things any time of year, but especially at Christmas, and especially for my children. Sharing gifts with loved ones is such a beautiful thing but I’m stressing about it this year more than usual, so I bet you are too. With this in mind, I’m sharing the advice for Christmas gift ideas for those struggling in the cost-of-living crisis that experts that has come from experts from Bed Kingdom.

DIY Christmas gifts can be much cheaper than buying in the traditional way, and the kind gesture and thought will be much appreciated. All these DIY gifts can be given individually, or wrapped together in a big homemade Christmas hamper for families and friends.

Cosy night in hamper – £10 

Lots of us love a big night out to celebrate Christmas, but that can be very expensive, so out of the question for many of us. Making a cosy night in gift hamper can give your loved ones a stress-free night that still lets them enjoy the indulgence of the festive season.

Sleepy tea, hot chocolate, cosy bed socks, facemasks, and a mug would make an excellent gift for someone who loves to relax on a cold winter’s evening. Putting all or some of these items into a box or basket decorated with ribbon will transform the gift into an expensive-looking hamper.

Baked goods – £5-10 

Christmas is a time for tasty treats, so baking a loved one’s favourite treat makes a perfect cheap and thoughtful gift. For a bigger gift, putting an assortment of baked goods and favourite snacks into a hamper is a special touch for everybody in the family.

Gingerbread men, brownies, cookies, or mince pies would all make a wonderful gift. Add a special touch by personalising the decorations using writing icing edible glitter. The baked treats could be wrapped in a simple box or placed in food-safe cellophane bags. 

Gingerbread men recipe: 

 350g/12oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling out 

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 

2 tsp ground ginger 

1 tsp ground cinnamon 

125g/4½oz butter 

175g/6oz light soft brown sugar 

1 free-range egg 

4 tbsp golden syrup 

  1. Sift together the bicarbonate of soda, flour, cinnamon, and ginger and pour into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the mixing bowl and stir until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out and knead it until smooth, wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper. 
  4. Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them. 
  5. Bake for 12–15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. When cooled, decorate with the writing icing and cake decorations. 

Compile a cookbook – Free 

I LOVE cooking, and I’m always posting the food I cook. If you’re like me and a proud chef who loves creating your own meals from scratch, letting friends or family in on your best cooking secrets is a meaningful and free gift. Try writing out your best-tested recipes for a present will only cost you time.

For an extra special touch to this gift:

  • Write the recipes into a nice notebook  
  • Take photographs of completed dishes and stick these into the book with annotations
  • Curate the book with defined sections, such as breakfast, lunch and dinner or starters, mains, and desserts. 
  • If a particular recipe has a heartfelt story attached to it or was created by another family member, add in little notes and anecdotes.   

Recycled Christmas candle – £0-5 

Getting crafty can be tricky at first, but the results can be amazing. Reuse and make a brand-new-looking Christmas candle by taking old Christmas candles from the previous year that still have wax left. Candle wicks can be purchased in bulk at craft shops such as Hobbycraft or countless online craft retail websites, whilst the candle container can be old teacups, glass jars or ramekins you have lying around the house.  

To make a DIY candle: 

  • Clean the bottom of the chosen vessel and dry it thoroughly.  
  • Use super glue to attach the wick to the base of the container; central is best.  
  • You can extract the wax from your old candle jar by placing it in the freezer overnight; cold temperatures cause the wax to harden and shrink. The wax should pop out easily. Alternatively, you can pour boiling water over the candle, which will allow the wax to float up to the top for easy removal once cooled.
  • Place the wax into a microwavable container that will not be used for food prep, and heat for one minute at a time until pourable.  
  • Place a pencil or cocktail stick across the new candle container and gently wrap the wick around it. This will prevent the wick from moving during the pouring. 
  • Once the glue from the bottom of the wick is completely dry, you can proceed to pour in the candle wax.  
  • Let the wax set for at least 48 hours before wrapping and giving it as a gift.  

Photo album – £10 

Sharing photos is a wonderfully nostalgic gift for a loved one, especially if handmade. Buy a ring-bound scrapbook and order photo prints to put together this gift. Guaranteed hit for grandparents and relatives who love to watch children growing up or live far away so will enjoy reliving special memories from when you were together.

The album could be arranged with photos in time order for a real trip down memory lane, or it could be curated to feature the funniest memories you have with the other person. Annotating each picture with dates, locations and stories would make the gift all the more special.

Tesco and Boots stores often have instant photo printing services with prices starting at just £0.07p per 6 x 4 print, so you could fill an 80-page scrapbook for less than £6.  

Monogrammed Pyjamas – £10+ 

If you’re handy with a needle and threat, regular pyjamas can be made to look more expensive and thoughtful by personalising them with embroidery. Whether the pyjamas are a gift for a child, family member or partner, stitching a name, phrase or meaningful logo onto the sleeve or pocket can be a thoughtful and truly appreciated gesture. All you must do is choose your pyjamas, pick up some embroidery thread and a needle and plan out your design.

Follow these steps for beginners to embroidery: 

  • Choose your phrase, and decide on the size of your lettering. 
  • Sketch the design very lightly in pencil if you are nervous about going straight into the fabric. 
  • Thread the needle and tie a knot at the end. 
  • A backstitch technique is the easiest way to hand embroider and is perfect for lettering.  
  • To start the backstitch, come up underneath the fabric and pull the needle and floss through. Make your first stitch, then bring the needle back up underneath the fabric a full stitch length, leaving a space between the needle and the previous stitch. (Lots of stitchers recommend using a length about the same as a grain of rice.)  
  • Bring the needle back and pass through at the end of the previous stitch to create an entire line. Pull the needle through and move forward in the same way until you stitch the whole letter. 

Bed Kingdom

 A spokesperson from Bed Kingdom commented: 

“Spending lots of money on gifts may not be a realistic option for many Brits amidst the cost-of-living crisis. Fashioning your own carefully handmade and curated gifts will show the people you love that you care about them, regardless of how much money is spent. Each of these gift ideas can be created for less than £10, or slightly more if embellishments are opted for, allowing those struggling with money to focus on paying for absolute essentials this Christmas.”  

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