The ultimate Christmas DIY gift guide: part 2

posted by in Budgeting

homemade christmas presents

Festive DIY gifts

Back in November we posted the ultimate DIY gift guide with plenty of ideas to make your own pressies for Christmas.

The thing is, it’s easy to tell others to have a DIY Christmas and say it’s cheaper than buying presents but what kind of folk would we be if we didn’t practise what we preach? Terrible folk, that’s what!

I had tried to select a range of gifts for the original post that seemed thrifty, but how could we be sure they actually were? There was no proper evidence to our claims and so a decision was made; each member of the MoneyAware team would make one of the presents from the post.

And so the DIY challenge was born. Each member of the team selected a gift from the list (or a close variant) and created a step-by-step guide of themselves making it (had to make sure they didn’t cheat now didn’t I?). Click on the images created to see full versions of our guides on Pinterest. 

Once the gifts were complete the team had to honestly review their own creations and each others’. Let’s see how everyone got on…

James made homemade BBQ sauce

Step by step visuals to make BBQ sauceJames, what was your gift? Barbecue sauce

How much money did your gift set you back?  Liquid smoke (£4 – I had to order this online as it’s imported from the US, in hindsight I’d have just skipped it and used whiskey for the smokey taste), Tomato sauce (50p), Distilled vinegar (44p), mustard (25p), cayenne pepper (50p), brown sugar (£1.49) and Henderson’s relish (£1.50ish – but any cheap Worcestershire sauce will do).

Was it a real challenge or did you find it rather easy (you crafty thing you)?
It was pretty easy, which is good because I’m pretty terrible at this sort of thing. I cut a few corners on the original recipe but I’d say they were improvements rather than changes.

Would you be happy to be the giver of this gift?
The recipe made two pots, so I do have one left over that I was going to give as a Christmas present. I’ve since decided to keep it for myself because I like it so much, even if it isn’t quite in the Christmas spirit!

How  would you feel about receiving any of the gifts the team have made (be honest)? I’d quite fancy the jam and the hot sauce. The biscuits look a little burnt around the edges but I’d still eat them. The foot scrub isn’t quite my cup of tea and I’m not sure I’d trust a hot beverage on that tea tray!

Do you consider yourself a DIY mastermind now or are you glad it’s all over?
I think I’ll have another go at making more barbecue sauce when I get through my first batch. I’ve already got ideas about how I’d change it next time – less mustard, more spices and some dark chocolate to give it a bit of depth of flavour and a better colour.

Jen made homemade strawberry jam

step by step visuals to make jamJen, what was your gift? Homemade strawberry jam!

How much money did your gift set you back?  £3.00 strawberries + £1.35 for the jam sugar + 30p for the lemon + £1 for the jar.
£5.65 seems a lot for a jar of jam, but if you bulk buy ingredients and re-use old jars it would be cheaper. Also I had to buy sugar so I went for special jam sugar (don’t judge me, I’m a rookie jam maker and I didn’t want anything to go wrong), if you have caster sugar in your house I think that would work too.

Was it a real challenge or did you find it rather easy (you crafty thing you)?
It was pretty simple! I had visions of burning jam spitting at me from the pan but all went smoothly. I had a sneaky taste of the jam too, it was surprisingly delicious!

Would you be happy to be the giver of this gift?
Yes! It would be a nice gesture to give to a friend.

How would you feel about receiving any of the gifts the team have made (be honest)? I’d be pretty happy with any of these gifts!

Do you consider yourself a DIY mastermind now or are you glad it’s all over?
I definitely consider myself an absolute pro when it comes to DIY gifts now. Homemade is the way forward for me.

Laura made a rustic tray

step by step visual guide to make a trayLaura, what was your gift? A tray made out of an old picture frame

How much money did your gift set you back?  Not very much. Most of it I had around the house already, like the old picture frame, wrapping paper, and an old necklace. The only things I had to buy specifically were the sample pot of paint and the galvanised staples from a hardware shop, which came to a grand total of £1.95. Not too bad.

Was it a real challenge or did you find it rather easy (you crafty thing you)? I’m artistically challenged so it wasn’t the easiest of tasks for me! The hardest bit was attaching the handles without breaking the whole frame. I’m a bit of a bull in a china shop when it comes to using a hammer so it did splinter in places…

Would you be happy to be the giver of this gift? I’d use it around the house myself but I’d be a bit embarrassed to give this particular effort as a gift! If you’ve got a bit more patience and are less clumsy than me I think you could get a lovely result.

How would you feel about receiving any of the gifts the team have made (be honest)? Most of the other gifts are edible so I’d be more than happy to receive them!

Do you consider yourself a DIY mastermind now or are you glad it’s all over? Phew, it’s over…

Rachel made lemon sugar foot scrub

step by step visuals to make foot scrub

Rachel, what was your gift? It was a lemon scented sugar foot scrub for tired tootsies!

How much money did your gift set you back?  Not much at all – the jar was free because it was previously a jam jar that I washed out and saved. The sugar was £1 for a standard bag weighing one kilo, and the coconut oil was also £1 (the amount of it that I used probably cost 30p) . With the lemon flavouring, the recipe I took inspiration from initially used essence of lemon which can cost as much as £5!! I said nuts to that however, and picked up lemon food flavouring instead which is just as good for 99p.

 Was it a real challenge or did you find it rather easy (you crafty thing you)? It was very easy – the most challenging bit was cutting out the labels and making them stick onto the jar with craft glue.

Would you be happy to be the giver of this gift? Only if it was part of a ‘homemade pampering set’.

How  would you feel about receiving any of the gifts the team have made (be honest)? I think they’re all lovely, but I think they only work as pieces of a larger present, such as a hamper.

Do you consider yourself a DIY mastermind now or are you glad it’s all over? I’ll never be a Kirsty Allsopp and I’m really at peace with that – back to the High Street for me! 😛

Rory made festive Christmas biscuits

step by step visual guide to make biscuitsRory, what was your gift? Home-made Christmas shortbread biscuits.

How much money did your gift set you back?  It was
£1.50 and all I needed was sugar, flour and butter!

Was it a real challenge or did you find it rather easy (you crafty thing you)? Rather easy! Shortbread can take a couple of attempts to get right, mainly because it bakes so quickly that it can often burn. Once you’ve mastered that part, it’s a recipe you can bake very easily.

Would you be happy to be the giver of this gift? Yes, I think I’d need to give the gift slightly before Xmas so that they could be hung on the Christmas tree though.

How  would you feel about receiving any of the gifts the team have made (be honest)? I think I’d be more likely to enjoy the food gifts but only because I love food so much! I like to see that people have taken time over a gift, that’s more important to me than the cost.

Do you consider yourself a DIY mastermind now or are you glad it’s all over?

I do enjoy baking, although it doesn’t always go very well! Practice makes perfect…

Peer made American hot sauce

step by step visuals to make hot saucePeer, what was your gift? Chilli hot sauce

How much money did your gift set you back?  Around £2.50 for two bottles of the stuff, which is pretty good value. I’m not including the time and electricity used of course, but as it was quite fun I didn’t really mind.

Was it a real challenge or did you find it rather easy (you crafty thing you)? It’s quite straightforward, as long as you don’t gas yourself with the fumes!

Would you be happy to be the giver of this gift? Yes – perfect for those who like a bit of spice with their food. One for the father-in-law or a brother.

How  would you feel about receiving any of the gifts the team have made (be honest)? I’d be very happy to receive it. I’m also a man who likes a bit of spice to my food!

Do you consider yourself a DIY mastermind now or are you glad it’s all over? I am a cooking genius. Well, maybe.

So there you have it, the truth is out and it turns out you can have a thrifty DIY Christmas after all. Just as we suspected, eh?

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Have you made any of the gifts from our list? Tell us in the comments below.

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  • Jlyr

    I made homemade gifts this year – crocheted scarves, nail creams (for the women) and a soothing facial oil for my brother. The scarves cost about £2-£4 each and the nail creams about £1 at the very most as I had a lot of the ingredients. I also made extra and gave them as gifts to my son’s teachers which were appreciated apparently. Next year I will be practising making gloves and hats!!

    • moneyaware

      Hi Jlyr,

      We’re glad to hear you’re on board with a DIY Christmas! Some great ideas for gifts there.

      Have a lovely Christmas!

      Kind regards,

      Jen