Christmas Ideas Part one – Cards, photos, herbs and other thoughtful yet cheap presents.

Does Father Christmas/Santa exist?  Of course he does. However, he has to deliver to 1.8 million homes so we want to help him out.  Here’s a few ideas and Mr Christmas if you are reading this I actually do want socks this Christmas and I have been a good boy (pretty much).

Christmas always seems to come at the wrong time, no matter how much you try to put by for it, it never seems enough. The trouble is, there are too many things you feel you have to buy to make the festive season run smoothly. The truth is much of it is needless spending, advertisers and retails have become very adapt at selling you the perfect Christmas.  This is why we at selfsufficientish would like to try and cut the spending around the festive season and hope to offer some ideas for a sustainable and more frugal Christmas.

Christmas Cards

If you are a hoarder like me then you will have some Christmas cards left over from last year. It is simple to turn these into cards again for this Christmas.

  1. Cut the front off the card and recycle or compost the back.
  2. Glue a new piece of card to the front of the card so you once again have a compete Christmas card.
  3. Give out to DIFFERENT relatives or friends.

Point three is quite important as it would be quite embarrassing to give someone the same card they gave you the year before.

What I have also done is simply draw an arrow indicating that the to and from has changed and given back the cards I have been sent by others. Again you can’t do this too often but some think it is funny the first time you do it.

Present ideas

Photos – If you have a lot of digital photos then why not make a disc for all your relatives with computers. You could give it that personal touch by printing out covers for them too.

Herb cuttings – Take cuttings from your favourite herbs and pot them in painted pots. You might want to print out some growing instructions too. It is better to take hardwood cuttings in the colder season. If you live in New Zealand or Australia then softwood cuttings can be taken at this time of year, during the growing season.

A memory album
– This is for all those relatives without computers (or who don’t know how to use them). Piece together some important memories in a scrap book. These can include photos, theatre tickets and so on. A good one would be a special holiday or event that you spent together.  You can even splash out in a quite expensive scrap book as e ssentially t he rest of the present is free.   It should cost a lot to do, only a little time but personal gifts like these are always well received especially by elderly relatives.

Personalised Oils

This is something I did last year.

Buy some cheap olive oil and cut a few twigs of rosemary or a similarly decorative herb.

Put the herbs in the fanciest bottles you can find.

Top up with the oil and print off your own labels with something like Rosemary infused Olive Oil Bottled Exclusively for …..’.  This works with all kinds of herbs, basil, chili etc and you can do the same with pickles or jams you may have left over.  A lot of the time people would prefer a more personalised gift than some tat you bought at the last minute when you were drunk on Christmas Eve.

Bake gingerbread men for tree Decorations

These can make healthier alternatives to the chocolate decorations that you find on many trees. Cheaper too and it can also be fun for your children to help.


350g (12oz) Plain white flour
5ml (1tsp) Bicarbonate of soda
10mls (2tsp) Ground or greted ginger
100g (4oz) Butter
175g (6oz) Light soft brown sugar
60mls (4 tbsp) Golden or maple syrup
1 Egg (beaten)
currants or rasins for the eyes ect. You could also ry using a dollop of icing.


Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger into a bowl.
Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs then stir in the sugar. Beat the syrup into the egg.
stir. Mix to form a dough and then knead it until smooth.

Divide into two equal sizes and roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm = 1/4 inch thick. Using cutters cut out gingerbread figures and put them on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Decorate with the currants/rasins or icing to make eyes, mouth and all that.

Bake in a pre heated oven at 190c (375f /gas mark 5) for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Cool on the tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

You now have your ginger bread men. Next step is to affix them to the tree. This can be done with some ribbon sellotaped to the back of the gingerbread men.

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6 Comments on Christmas Ideas Part one – Cards, photos, herbs and other thoughtful yet cheap presents.

  1. From what I understand, fresh garlic cannot be preserved only in oil. There’s a risk of botulism poisoning. I think it may be because the solution is not acidic enough.

  2. Yes, you are right I did not know that – thanks for letting me know! I have edited it out now. It seems that you can put garlic in oil but you have to freeze it. Dave gave me some garlic in oil as a present one year, which is where I got the idea from, now I think he had ulterior motives!

  3. Re-gard the Garlic in the Oil comment,my dad alway’s kept his Garlic in olive oil in the Fridge,he was never ill,i have never heard of botulism poisoning before from doing this!!and he did this for many year’s. :wave:

  4. I know this is late for Christmas, but I think garlic can go into vinegar alright, just not oil.

    Or you can heat the oil and garlic together, remove the garlic clove, and store in sterilised jars (which you know all about already from the preserving/jam making etc). : )

    This time of year, it’s a good time to grab some spare raspberries and chuck them into some cheap vodka. Or sloes into gin in the autumn. Or lemons and sugar into vodka anytime (leave for at least 80 days) for limoncello. These, from experience, are very well received even if the recipients are not into GYO, cooking etc.

    And bakers will always appreciate some vanilla sugar, made by simply pushing 2 vanilla pods into a jar of castor sugar, shaking once in a while, and sticking a posh label on it (I often add this to a hamper of “HG Goodies” for foodie types – mostly HG things, but the odd maybe nice piece of cheese to go with the chutney, or nice bread mix for with a pot of jam….all depends on time and budget!

  5. On the herb line of thought last year I bought some cheap sea salt and used my HG dried herbs and flowers to make
    1. Herb salt mixes, put into those glass jars with the wired on lids.
    2. Lavender flowers, sage leaves and rosemary and a dash of sweet almond oil to make a herbal exfoliating scrub.
    like lots of the things mentioned above this is the type of thing that costs a fortune in ‘posh shops’. Yours will be better and fresher!

  6. what about a jarful of preserved lemons!?for a large kilner style jar you will need approx eight lemons depending on size, sterilze the jar..scrub the lemons (incase they have wax on them)cut four slits in each lemon from tip to tal and fil the cavity with salt (normal table salt will this to all the lemons and pack them into your jar top up with boiling water and add another 2tbls salt and a few things such as bayleaves..maybe a chilli or some peppercorns or a cinnamon stick..pour a little olive opil over the top and put the lid on make sure all the lemons are under the lquid.leave on a sunny (this time of year?) windowsill for approx three to four weeks.To use..remove a lemon from the liquid. rinse well cut out the pulp and discard. you can use the skins in allsorts of things as they will now be mild and soft but still very lemony!

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