A return to crafts of yesteryear and making gifts for Christmas is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit, save some money and keep the kids busy when school finishes.  Read on for a few simple but thoughtful gifts for friends and family.

Edible Gifts
People love homemade baking but rarely find the time to do it. Rustle up a couple of batches of Christmas favourites like shortbread, florentines and Christmas mince pies. Put a few in a basket, or wrap in cellophane, then decorate and attach the baking recipe. This is a great way to share the fun of baking.

Try some fudge varieties or homemade chocolates. These are easy with a couple of moulds, some melting chocolate (which can easily be melted in the microwave) and if you want to, you can get fillings to add as well.

Make up a really big batch of mulled wine, lemonade, or fruit punch. Bottle it and attach the recipe to the bottle with a tag around the neck.

Make Christmas cakes or Christmas puddings to share, and don’t forget a little something special for Santa too!

Christmas Decorations
Children love being involved in making things and decorations for the tree are a fun activity for most ages. Buy some crepe paper, cut into strips, loop into circles fastening with cello tape and then link them up like a chain. Use different coloured paper like green and red for a traditional look.

Bake bread dough decorations and paint them. If stored in a cool, dry place these can last for years and make a wonderful gift.

Collect small cones, some ivy and create your own wreath. Wrap the ivy round in a circle twisting it around itself. Secure with a twisty tie or alike. Glue on cones, tinsel, ribbons and stars. If you have some gold or silver spray paint, you could spray a little on the cones for effect.

Gift Baskets or Goodie Bags
Think about what your friends or family members are interested in. Put together a collection of relevant things. For a runner, you might get liniment, energy drink, sports socks, and a drink bottle, for a gardener how about a collection of seeds, a new pair of gardening gloves, or a tool caddy full of things. For a new mum who might need some pampering, there are recipes available to make bath salts, face masks, relaxing teas or make up a CD of her favourite songs.

Make up celebration hampers with a bottle of wine or drink appropriate to recipient, some nibbles, homemade chocolates and/or baking.

It can often work out cheaper to put things together yourself, and with a bit of forward planning you can pick up things on special.

Living Gifts
If you have a garden and people have admired certain plants, divide them if possible, or take a cutting, pot it up and decorate with a ribbon. This will save you at least $10-25, and shows thoughtfulness on your part.

Pot up a collection of herbs, or create grouped container plantings, for example, a mesculun salad collection, or pizza herbs or even stir fry mix. Container plants are perfect for people with a small outside space.

Gift of Time
Create vouchers to offer your time for childcare, gardening, housework, driving lessons, walking the dog, cleaning the car, making breakfast in bed, hanging out the washing, mowing the lawns or a foot massage. The list is endless! Think about what you might like someone to do for you and chances are others would like it too. Making vouchers is a great idea for children to give to their parents and is very inexpensive.

A Stitch in Time
If you are handy with a sewing machine, make stockings to fill with baking or chocolates. Have fun with your children and make personalised Santa sacks. You could also make personalised tablecloths, adding initials to the corner. In time this will become an heirloom piece and could become the “Christmas tablecloth”.

With a little bit of planning and organisation, a lot of these gifts are quick once you get started. Make sure you have all the things you need before you begin and enjoy the process. The sky is the limit when it comes to making personalised gifts!