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Get Creative This Christmas

Home > Everywhere > Cheap | Christmas | Craft | Gifts | Jewellery
by Maddy Butler (subscribe)
A Sydney based writer, director, actor. Loves going out and exploring what Sydney has to offer.
Published December 9th 2012
Ideas for creative (and cheap) Christmas presents
Christmas can be a stressful time of the year, what with forking out wads of cash for presents and trying to even find the perfect present for all your loved ones.

I've generally always made all of my presents for people and below I've listed a few ideas. It's a great way to save some dosh, show people you care and give a present that they won't have already or no one else will give them. (Too often has my mum given my cousins presents to find that her sister, their mum, had just bought them the exact same thing.)

I've been obsessed with making books ever since my boyfriend gave me a book-making book two Christmases ago. I haven't attempted (yet) many of the designs in the book as they're complicated and timely, however, I was inspired to create a simple version that doesn't take long to make.

Fold at least 20 A4 pages in half, hold them together with bulldog clips and punch three holes (using an awl or small knife) along the side opposite the fold, all 1.5cm from the edge, one hole 4cm from the top, one 4cm from the bottom and the other right in the middle. Use a needle to thread the pages together. Lovely papers and bookbinding tools can be bought from Amazing Paper. You can also recycle paper: use paper that has a relevance to the recipient, e.g. something they've worked on, and fold in the side that has been printed on.

Recycled book
A recycled book

You can personalise the book. Last Christmas I made my brother a recipe book on mushrooms. I sourced recipes from the internet and drew in pictures (a hard task, as mushrooms make me want to retch). Or draw a picture on the front cover and cut out all the pages in that shape using a pair of scissors. I gave a biologist friend a book in the shape of a squid and another friend a book in the shape of a hermit crab. (This was after a night of fantasising that at age 70 we'd have pet hermit crabs with little knitted caps. Long story.)


You can also create photo books for the family, an especially good present if you have relatives overseas. There are many websites that offer this service and most deal websites offer photo book vouchers from time to time.

Handmade jewellery always makes a person feel special. You can make something simple and elegant or something wild and quirky. It's a relaxing activity, which I enjoy doing while watching TV. Wrap your necklaces, bracelets, anklets, earrings and rings in tissue paper or small organza bags. The I Love You beads shop in Sydney has a spectacular range of beads and jewellery making tools and holds classes every Saturday.


Hampers make lovely gifts and by preparing your own you can save money and ensure that each item will please the recipient. Choose gourmet produce from local delis and supermarkets. If the person drinks alcohol, add bottles of fine wine that you can order online for great prices (I often spend $5-10 per bottle).

You can also include your own food creations, perhaps some almond butter balls, rocky road or granola. Just be careful, as some of these items need to stay cool.


Place the items in a basket and decorate with ribbons and coloured tissue paper. For a more environmentally friendly version, use a brown paper bag and draw on designs or staple on decorative papers and ribbons.

I have never given someone a store bought card. A handmade card is personal and meaningful. The simplest way to make a card is fold a piece of paper in two, draw a few pictures, glue on a photo or cut out some Christmas wrapping paper shapes and stick them on. Even cut out pictures from old Christmas cards! If you're good with scissors or a knife, cut out some interesting shapes in the card. At Amazing Paper you can buy packs of coloured and patterned papers and cards, which you can layer on the front of the card.

Handmade card
This was actually for my grandparents' anniversary

And, if you haven't had time to make a present, just fill the card with cash.
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