I have gathered here lots of ideas for gifts for friends, family and relatives that I hope you will find useful. I shall be adding to them all the time, so please come back and check it out from time to time, and I would love to hear your ideas too.

The theme here is that all of these cost minimal amounts of cash, in the spirit of ThriftyLesley, and I’m hoping that many of them will spark off other ideas too.

I know that many lovely readers like to make up hampers of home made goodies at Christmas time to give as gifts, and many of the things here would work well for that.


Comic covered notebook . The one I first found was at Shiny Pigeon, but I couldn’t get any of her lovely images to load. The idea could be adaptnotebooked for any stationery lover.

So a photo copied wrapping paper full of rockets and starships, or pink princesses, or some good quality (ie thick) wrapping paper with Happy Birthday/ Anniversary/ Wedding/ Christmas images/words. Or you could use  some lovely vintage fabric. Or how about getting a newspaper from the relevant date of the occasion and using copied parts of that, and tuck the newspaper inside.

As a grandmother myself, I would love a notebook covered in copied photos of my grandchildren from various stages of their childhood to date.

You could do one for a big birthday of the birthday boy/girl with copied pictures of themselves at various ages. Or if they have a particular interest, pictures of them taking part in it, or of images related to the interest. All kinds of adaptations can be made.


Fabric covered boxes – to come

Calendars. I have found this great site that does free downloads for various things including a photo template.  You can add  family photos  (in Word) to make a small gift for any relative, possibly as part of a hamper. It would be nice too, to add relevant dates, birthday reminders, maybe when you are going to visit them etc.  They suggest doing calendars that are romantic using images special to you both, for your boyfriend with special pictures of yourself (and that doesn’t mean rude ones, this is going on the wall!), or with a theme like Cooking, Grandchildren, Golf, Line Dancing, whatever you recipient likes


I made handkerchiefsome pretty Handkerchieves using drawn threadwork that I learned about from Little House in the Suburbs. You could use any soft, absorbent fabric. I used part of an old sheet. You could personalise them with a little embroidery, or an applique motif in one corner. You could attach some vintage lace around the edge, or crochet a little border.  Maybe a little girl would love something specially made for her, with her name or something on it and some pretty lace.

Personally, I use a fresh, clean, delicious handkerchief every day. Not everyone does I know, so gift judiciously, don’t want to waste your love and time.


IMG_1139For a small boy or girl, these hand made dolls by MakeItLoveIt would make a lovely, thoughtful gift. If you can sew at all, you should be able to tackle these, and whatever you make will have the added thrill of being unique.  MakeIt:LoveIt has a version for boys too.




These next two are from the fertile brain of Elaine Colliar and Mortgage Free in Three

juggling ballsjuggling ‘balls’ for children. Depending on the fabric used, these make great presents for girls or boys. They could be used for any gift giving occasion, birthdays, christmas, just a treat. I know a few big boys and girls that would like these too.




reversable bagThese pretty little Reversible bags for little girls or boys, again depending on the fabric used. These could be used for any gift situation, Easter, birthdays, Christmas etc. Make it in pretty fabric and put some  toiletries in there, and you have a perfect gift for a friend/Mum/Aunty. You could include a facepack, some HM bath bombs, moisteriser, a pedicure kit etc etc



Recycle-Plastic-BagsOr how about this genious idea from Vicky Myers  – using carrier bags to make a sandwich bag. You fuse several layers of carrier bag to make plastic ‘fabric’, then you can sew with it to make this bag. I’m sure there are several other things that could be made with this plastic ‘fabric’. One commenter on the site suggested using the bag as a wet flannel holder at the gym. They could be used for wet swimming costumes. If enough fused layered pieces were made, they could be sewn together and used to back a blanket to make a waterproof one. That could then be used for dogs or for a picnic rug. Or you could make one of those bottom sized padded things that walkers pop in their rucksacks for when they want a quick sit and it is damp


thermal cooking bagYou could buy a Thermal Cooking Bag tutorial from Elaine and make one as a gift. If you know someone who would appreciate an energy saving modern day hay box, this would be fabulous. It doesn’t have to be pink!





I have just discovered the site Upcyclethat and was very impressed with some of their ingenious ideas

macbook_sweater_caseHow about a laptop cover made from an old sweater. This could be adapted to make a cover for an iPad, any other tablet, an iMac, iPod, Kindle. Or of course you could use it as a handbag.  A sparkly/sequinned top would make a fab clutch bag

Each sweater would make a unique bag (so tempted to say totally unique, but my English teachers words ring in my ears – ‘something is either unique, or it isn’t. No adjectives required dear’)



milk_carton_planterOr you could plant some bulbs or a flowering plant, dependending on the time of year in these upcycled milk cartons.

Hyacinths at Christmas,  primroses in Spring, succulents or cactus at any time of year. Or as a fun hostess gift, you could grow them some pea-shoots, radish or basil/thyme/rosemary



one_shoulder_shirtI simply love this t-shirt converted to a one shoulder top. I couldn’t wear anything like that, but I know several people who could. It’s gorgeous! AND they say there is no sewing!





tshirt_necklaceDon’t fancy the one shoulder top? How about making a necklace instead from the same old t-shirt material?  There’s a tutorial here for a different style. And here on, there are 15 easy ways to make jewellery using t-shirts, including a cuff, which is very fashionable at the time of writing.




paper beadsIf you don’t fancy making necklaces from t-shirts, what about paper beads.  Tutorial here, and on ILovePaperBeads, there is a whole blog devoted to just that, with loads of ideas and tutorials on how to do it. You can use newspaper, old magazines, Sunday paper supplements, you could even paint ordinary white paper and use that, anything really





Hug BoxI simply adore this idea from Family Crafts, You make a box pretty, sealing it up and put this on the outside

This is a very special gift
That you can never see
The reason it’s so special is
It’s just for you from me.

Whenever you are lonely
Or are ever feeling blue
You only have to hold this gift
And know I’m hugging you.

You never can unwrap it
Please leave the ribbon tied
Just hold the box close to your heart
It’s filled with hugs inside.

Awww, just melts my sentimental heart. Can be adapted of course. Make the box small and fill it with lovely words, hand written on heart shaped pretty paper. Words that tell your loved one just how much they mean to you.  Things like ‘your smile lifts my heart’, ‘your key in the door makes me smile in anticipation’, ‘a text from you makes my day’, ‘I’m so glad we met’, you know, lovely dovey things like that.  And if the recipient is a friend or your child, tailor them accordingly

There are some printable calendars and vouchers there too



seedbox-st1Or this useful garden seed box , I would love to receive something like this. Again, can be adapted to the preferred interest of your recipient. Cover it with haberdashery related images, and maybe pop a couple of small related things inside and it would be perfect for a sewing fan.

Other interests could be fishing, golf (for golf balls and tees), knitting (especially if you can find something that would hold knitting needles), it could be a recipe filing box (maybe pop some index cards in there), a small toy box (maybe pop in some charity shop finds, or some lego or something) etc etc


little box of happinessThese funny little gifts at JustDipity could be adapted in many ways, to suit many occasions. They consist of a box, with a suitable sticker on the outside eg 40th birthday Survival kit.

This box,  titled, a little box of happiness, has these little things in, with an attached motto on each item



To help you see things more clearly… magnifying glass
To bring you lots of luck… clover keyring
To help hold everything together… paperclip
To help cushion any rough times… cotton wool
In case you feel like you’re losing yours… marbles
To remind you not to be a sucker… straw
To help you always bounce back… bouncy ball
To add some sparkle to your day… glitter
To remind you how valuable you are… gem
To show you there is always light at the end of the tunnel… matches
To bring you extra power…starburst
Remember after every storm comes a rainbow.. rainbow drops
Without you things would not be complete… puzzle
We will always stick together… chewing gum
To remind you to call whenever you need to… bell

This could easily be adapted to Christmas, or any other occasion when you just want something lighthearted, simple and that hardly costs anything except a little thought and effort


Clove covered orange


preserved lemonsPreserved lemons and ideas of what to do with them. Costs from 37p  a jar, super easy to make, great in a hamper, can be done any time of year. They need to done a couple of months before they are suitable for culinary uses. If you have left it to the last minute, just put the date they will be ready on the label




vanillaHome made vanilla extract from Miss South at the blog she writes with her brother, Mr North, North South Food. Miss South posted about this amazing recipe. She bought 32 vanilla pods from eBay for £8 in December 2012. I have just checked (Aug14) and you can still get them for about the same price. You don’t even need to buy that many, I found 1 for sale at £1.49, and it’s even postage free. This same seller will provide the 10 vanilla pods in the recipe for £4.99, no postage.  That’s 49p each, an incredible bargain compared to the price you would pay in the shops. I am definitely going to try this, I love vanilla



Choc fudge sauce, pancake mix – to come

Oven dried tomatoes – to come


piccallilipiccalilli, makes a good gift at anytime, men in particular seem to like it. Costs about 84p a jar to make. Skill level easy, but involves a lot of chopping. Like the preserved lemons, needs some time to mature properly. If you have left it to the last minute, put the date that it will be ready on the label




salted caramel sauceSalted caramel sauce. A good addition to a hamper, or a lovely hostess gift.





Fudge – to come

cranberry & lemon curdJams & curds. Many, many delicious flavours. A fruit curd is a luscious, special thing. Thick, spreadable, buttery and only 4 ingredients. The classic lemon has lemons, butter, sugar and eggs. That’s it.   Curds make wonderful gifts, although they have a short shelf life, so you can’t get too ahead with them if you are making hampers. Lemon curd is the classic, then there is orange curd, clementine, grapefruit and lime. I would just substitute whichever citrus you are using for the lemons

There are 94 Pins on this board, including such wonderful sounding flavours as Rhubarb, Cranberry (how’s that for a seasonal hamper flavour!), Kiwi & Lime, Mango, Blackberry, Strawberry and Apricot. I want to try ALL of those 🙂

Then there is jam, the original and most loved component of a Christmas gift hamper.  Many wonderful classic British traditional flavours, Strawberry, Plum, Blackberry & Apple, Raspberry, Rhubarb & Ginger….yum. There are 62 Pins on this board for jam, including one for a positively evil home made Nutella


Fruits preserved in alcohol, another classic, upmarket, hamper gift. This site has the basic method. You can preserve pretty much any fruit this way, you can either match the fruit to the alcohol, or use something with a fairly neutral flavour


Sweet chilli sauce – I love this and didn’t even think that I could make it until fairly recently. I haven’t tried doing it yet, but I definitely will. This is a straightforward recipe. It says to use a food processor, but you are only chopping chillies, so could fairly easily do that with a board and a sharp knife.