Still stuck on those last few Christmas gifts? Feeling uninspired, or running low on cash? I’ve got you covered, with my top 5 DIY gifts. I’m not going to lie, these aren’t as easy as just buying someone a box of chocolates but they are a lot more thoughtful.

TERRARIUM

Everyone loves some greenery in their life, and it’s been scientifically proven that having plants in your home is good for you. But, not everyone is the best at keeping plants alive (hi!). That’s where the terrarium comes in, not only are they really lovely to look at they’re also really hard to mess up. Apartment Therapy has some really great instructions and tips for putting one together. Added bonus, they’re much less spiky to carry than a cactus.

COOKIE MIX IN A JAR

Still got that box of chocolates on your mind? This one should satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. It’s the perfect antidote to the loss of Bake Off and any new year’s diets. All you need to do is measure and add the dry ingredients for cookies into a jar, then add a label with instructions for adding the wet ingredients. For all in one instructions, The Very Best Baking has everything you need. If you’re looking for a different cookie recipe, these are some of my favourites:

For healthier sorts, Lee Hersh’s Cherry Pistachio Energy Balls

Or for slightly more indulgence, go with these brownies from the ever wonderful Oh Lady Cake

My favourite choice chip cookies from Tanya Burr, you’ll probably need to scale down this recipe to fit it in a jar.

Keep the festive season going with some gingerbread, don’t forget to gift a little person cutter with your jar for this one.

SOAP

I found out this year that homemade soap is surprisingly easy to pull together, so I’ve added it to this list. There are so many variations that can make the humble bar of soap something really special and it’s easy to bulk make if you have a lot of gifts to put together. A Beautiful Mess has so many you can peruse, from colour block soaps to spiced latte soap, to soap on a rope, and loads more beside those. If you’re feeling fancy you can even make a little popsicle tray/sled to deliver your soap on. 

JUMPER MITTENS

If you can’t knit but still want to give the gift of toastiness to your loved one, this is for you. A Beautiful Mess (again, can you tell I love their DIYs) has all of the instructions you need to turn an old jumper or any knitted item really (where are my Helgas at?) into a lovely pair of homemade mittens. If you want to make them extra special have a go at putting some embroidery, maybes some initials. 

MARBLE EFFECT COASTERS

Still don’t think that DIT gifts can be modern and stylish? Think again, these marble effect coasters from Homey Oh My will please even the most discerning of customers. They’re also really fun and easy to make – always a bonus. If you’ve got any friends who have recently moved or just love homeware this is the DIY for you.

Not sure I would be much of a blogger these days without doing a run down of my christmas favourites, so here it is, a list of 10 things I’ve been loving this festive season.

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  1. I’m not much of a hat person but this cashmere number has been keeping me warm all winter, so much so I’m not sure I’m going to take it off.
  2. Wrapping paper was one of the hardest picks for me this year, nothing has really reached out and grabbed me, but in the end I went with this trio from Cath Kidston because it made me nostalgic for Christmases from before I knew what Christmas was.
  3. I’ve recently become a bit obsessed with my oil burner, I think the mix of lavender and geranium essential oil might actually be my version of catnip. Now it’s Christmas I’ve been going with cinnamon and pine scents though.
  4. Now I’m a “grown up” (quotes definitely needed) mulled wine is one of the things I look forward to the most about winter. This is the reasonably priced best supermarket bottle I’ve had so far.
  5. My polaroid camera is a favourite all year round, but I’m making a special effort to use it more over the holidays because I’m getting to see so many people I love.
  6. I’ve lusted over Rifle Paper’s stationery for a long while, but this Christmas I finally took the plunge and bought these cards amongst others, and I don’t regret it at all.
  7. Miracle on 34th Street  couldn’t not be a festive favourite.
  8. Mince pies are always a favourite, this year I’ve been reaching for these ones from sainsbury’s.
  9.  This is technically a bit of a cheat, because I’ve not got to experience it yet this festive period, but something I’m really looking forward to being reunited with at home is the wood burning stove.
  10. Perhaps not the most exciting but this invisible tape has seen me through many festive periods before and hasn’t let me down yet. It’s not an over statement to say that this little dispenser changed my life.

Lebkuchen are one of my absolute favourite christmas treats. They’re a kind of german gingerbread that’s somewhere between a cake and a biscuit. This year has been the first year I’ve tried to make them myself though (I normally just rely on sainsbury’s). I was really pleased with how they turned out so I thought I’d share the recipe so you can try them for yourselves.

INGREDIENTS

LEBKUCHEN

  • 250g plain flour
  • 85g ground almonds
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200ml clear honey
  • 1 lemon zest, finely grated
  • 85g butter
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch each ground cloves, grated nutmeg and black pepper (or replace all the spices lebkuchen spice mix if you find them)
  • 1 tsp baking powder

ICING

100g icing sugar

15ml water

30g bar dark or milk chocolate (I go for dark)

THE BAKING BIT

  1. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl
  2. Heat the butter and honey on a low heat.
  3. Once the butter has melted add in the dry ingredients mix and the lemon zest. Mix well until it forms into a dough.
  4. Leave to cool, covered, for 10-20 mins
  5. Put your oven on at 160C
  6. Break the dough into around 30 balls (they should be a bit smaller than a golf ball) then squish them into the shape of a cookie.
  7. Put them onto as many lined trays as you need, and bake for 15mins (no more!)
  8. Leave to cool (for real though leave them to cool, I know they smell good)
  9. Once they’re cool you’re ready to ice. Mix the icing sugar and water in a bowl, you might need a little more water but see how you feel. Dip one half (semi circle type half, you could do either, but this is easier) into the icing, leave to set.
  10. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie (a bowl over a pan of boiling water) and dip the other half of the lebkuchen into the chocolate.
  11. Leave to cool then enjoy!

There’s so much going in London throughout the year, but even more so over the festive period, some might say it’s even too much. But I’ve sorted through never ending list of and pulled out a couple of gems so you don’t have to.

1. Experience Christmas Past at the Charles Dicken’s Museum, where the rooms that Dickens lived and worked in will be decorated for the festive period as they would have been then.  (30th November – 8th January)

2. Take a wander down the mile-long festive trail in Kew Gardens at night and see it lit up with more than 60,000 lights, ft. a sparkling Christmas tree and colour-changing reeds.  (23rd November – 2nd January)

3. Go skating at Somerset House, then, if you’re feeling fancy, visit Fortnum’s Lodge to warm up after (17 November – 15 January)

4. Visit the giant Christmas Tree Oslo gifts Britain every year at Trafalgar Square, if you’re lucky you might even catch some caroling 

5. Get magical at Hogwarts in the Snow at the Warner Bros Studio (19th November – 29th January)

6. See the Christmas lights on Oxford Street, I pass them every day and I’m still not tired of seeing them 

7. Enjoy some mulled wine and pick up some Christmas Gifts at the Winter Festival at the South Bank Centre (11th November – 22nd January)

8. Eat, drink, and be merry in Borough Market – I’m particularly excited for the Eve of Cheese. (7th December – 24th December (14th December for the Cheese))

9. Take a break from shopping and enjoy some carols at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church (Check for dates and times)

10. Sit on Santa’s lap or watch La Soiree in the Leicester Square grotto  (11th November – 24th December)

Because I’m living on my own, this year will be the first year I decorate a tree, and the rest of my room, from scratch. Without the primary school throw back tree decorations and the aged tinsel stash from the loft to rely on I’ve decided to turn to DIY, because, well, tree decorations are expensive. I also think adding a personal touch to Christmas decorations can make it all them more special, and making something yourself means it’s going to be exactly what you wanted. These are some of the DIYs I’m thinking of making this year.

1 – BRASS ORNAMENTS

I love how minimal and easy these are. While I love a bit of over the top Christmas, I feel like sometimes something pared back and classy can have just as much effect.

2 – PRINTABLE TREE DECORATIONS

These couldn’t be easier. I might even adapt the printable and add my own patterns in. If you run out of space on your tree they could even work as mini free standing trees for a mantle piece or desk.

3 – 5 POINT PAPER STAR

You can’t beat a bit of origami. All you need is a piece of paper, and it would be so easy to personalise this one using different prints and colours so it matches the look you’re going for. I might try these as bunting as well as single hanging ornaments as well.

4 – FABRIC BAUBLES

These fabric baubles couldn’t be lovelier. I personally love the blue designs they’ve used, but you could so easily change them up and personalise the designs to whatever suits you. The idea of having soft decorations as well as the are traditional kind feels like a bit of a school throw back but also adds a certain homeliness into the mix.

5 – HONEY COMB ORNAMENT CHANDELIERS

While there’s probably going to be a lot of tinsel and fairy lights going on around my room, I really love these hanging chandeliers to add some variety. I love how the colours and textures really make it fun, you could adapt and reuse these for other festive occasions too.

BONUS – CHRISTMAS TREE NAPKINS

These aren’t really decorations, and I’m not sure when I’ll have chance to make them. But if you’re hosting Christmas this year, or just throwing any kind of festive dinner party, these origami tree napkins are such a fun and special touch to any table decorating you do.