An insider’s guide to making your own Christmas gifts

Dec 14, 2020
There's nothing more thoughtful than a homemade gift. Source: Getty.

There’s a great appreciation for the thought and skill that goes into making gifts. I try to start thinking about Christmas gifts mid-year. If there are materials I need, I get them at the mid-year sales from June. Then I set aside time each month after that to make what I want to give at Christmas. I’ll leave the food gifts until November.

If I’m going to give plant gifts, I’ll take cuttings and plant seeds in June, so the plants will be bushy and strong by December.

One of my favourite gifts to give is a set of three dishcloths with a bar of my homemade olive oil soap. I start knitting those cloths and making the soap in July.

It’s a bit late in the year to start making gifts from scratch now, of course, but I’ve shared a few ideas (below) that may help you create presents without big price tags. The best tip: make do with what you’ve got on hand. If you don’t have any fabric or yarns, buy what you need to make a few gifts and then build up your supplies next year so you have materials ready to go for Christmas 2021.


Choose things that grow well in pots, such as herbs, chillies or cucumbers. A bush cucumber called spacemaster grows well in pots and is a full-sized cucumber that is great for salads and pickles. A potted tomato seedling is also a good idea. The heirloom called tommy toe is consistently in the top three delicious tomatoes list. They’ll need to be transplanted to a large pot when they grow but – as a gift for Christmas – go for a seedling in a medium pot.

Also in the gardening line, you could give a one-litre Mason jar with a pack of seeds for sprouting.


Cellophane bags with a ribbon are a lovely way to present food gifts. Baked food such as fruit mince pies, muffin-size Christmas cake, spiced nuts, gingerbread figures and jars of pickles, chutney and tomato relish all make great gifts.


Knitted organic-cotton dishcloths are appreciated by most. Paired with some homemade soap, or soap picked up at the health shop or local market, it is the perfect gift. People love getting something they can use. If you have a sewing machine and some fabric in the cupboard, you could also make napkins, reusable paper towels, table runners or aprons.


Play-dough is quick and easy to make for young children in your family. Simply search online for play-dough recipes. Library bags are also popular, as are small, drawstring bags for holding special Lego figures, treasures and shells found on the beach. A small selection of chocolates or lollies in a jar is always a welcome gift for a child. Or why not buy tickets to a local cultural event, if you do feel like splashing some cash.

Final Tip

The most important thing is to make everything as beautifully as you can and ensure your gifts suit your recipients. Wrap them nicely in a tea towel or brown paper decorated with leaves, ribbon or kids’ drawings and you’ll be giving a gift that is full of love and good intentions.

‘Down to Earth’ by Rhonda Hetzel, published by Viking on October 20, 2020, RRP$34.99.

Have you crafted your own gifts before? If so, what have you made that people loved?

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