Of course, a dedicated Christmas Fan will have started planning, preparing and producing for Christmas way before now. It makes sense, especially on a tight budget, to make like a squirrel and buy little and often, hiding them away in your own or someone else’s house (make sure you’re either related to them, or they know what you’re doing: it’s hard to explain why you’re using their garden shed to hide a new present otherwise) or to use the gift of time to produce a gift that you *know* will be well-received.
I’ve had the planning pages in my Filofax since the end of August, and I’ve been making little notes, ideas for decorating the house, stockingfillers, activities listed ready to fill in on the diary when I am confident that Christmas will be going ahead as normal or to put to one side for the year again if we end up with restrictions due to You-Know-What. (and if we do end up in a Lockdown or more, remember Celebrating a Contagious Christmas is about still having a good season whatever is happening to us!
I’m still celebrating Autumn full-volume, of course I am…. but I used to be a Cub Scout Leader and the motto, Be Prepared, has always spoken to me. Add to that the advantage of spreading the cost, effort and staying away from shops as much as possible during December, and advance planning really does make sense.
I’m not going to go into my full Christmas planning here, but to give you a heads up for low/no cost gifts that you can buy or make now. Some of them are stockingfillers, some are great small gifts for a friend or relative. Most have links to either an external website or shop. None are affiliate links, except for Amazon, and many are sites I’ve used before and know worked okay. They’re also not sorted by any kind of category, because I know at least one adult man who would happily have a sock monster and a few children who could enjoy real life Meccano*.
Ready? Here we go, with 15 ideas for no cost/low cost gifts:
- A framed piece of art. Ideal for the copious amounts of art work children can produce, or a really meaningful present for a close friend. Buy frames cheap on Amazon, or store up charity shop finds. I love this skyline artwork, which would work for both children and adults!
- Homemade Jam or Chutney. Use garden produce or bulk bought supermarket products, make sure you sterilise everything well and label clearly. The Happy Foodie has a great range of links to a variety of jams and chutneys.
- Small knitted or crocheted items. Now is not the time to start a king-sized bed blanket as a gift, but scarves, pot holders and cotton make up remover pads are all small, quick and easy to make in an evening or two. Add a decent soap to a cotton washcloth for a small gift for a friend, or use items to bulk up pamper parcels.
- Embroidered items. Any plain item can be personalised with a little embroidery. Buy handkerchiefs, dinner napkins, guest towels or some plain material and trace or iron on small pictures or initials. I’m still dreaming of embroidering some hankies with daisies, a la You’ve Got Mail. Designs can be as easy or as complex as you like.
- Felt (or other) decorations or figures. The Spruce Crafts have a selection of cute and easy ideas. A gingerbread man, a gonk or an embroidered heart are all good, easy shapes that suit most people. Use a fabric paint like Tulip, in a tube, to add details or a name and year to personalise the gift.
- Sock gnomes, monkeys, dolls or more! Little mascots made anyhow (I’ve crocheted amigurumi animals and people in the past) are usually welcomed by most teenagers as well as children. A crocheted Cthulu or Boba Fett, perhaps? But this year, before or after Christmas, I’m going to try and make some sock gnomes from It’s Always Autumn’s instructions. It’s a good way to use up an excess of socks, too! The original uses a 9inch foam cone, but I figure a cotton bag filled with rice or beans would work as well.
- Heated rice pack or handwarmer. Microwaveable rice packs are useful for many reasons, depending on size. A larger pack makes an ideal backwarmer while smaller, 10 x 10cm packs are great handwarmers. They can also be frozen to create cooling pads, but don’t wash the rice packs, so if you know you’re a messy one it might be best to create washable covers!
- Paint or decorate rocks with animals or affirmations. I did this a few years ago with permanent white and black gel pens and some varnish: the rocks are still on my dressing table. Pinterest, as always, is full of rock painting inspirations. If I needed a present for a child of, say, six this year I think I’d paint the rock like a cat or a mouse and create a small house for them to live in: sleeping bag, tent and a small cup made from a tube lid.
- Bath salts in a fancy recycled jar. Made from Epsom salts, colouring and essential oils, I remember spending my pocket money on these at every school Christmas Fair when I was about 8 or 9. They were a cheap and easy Christmas present for my Mum and Nanna. Nowadays showers tend to be more popular, but a jar of salt scrub can be just as welcome.
- Happiness Jars or Gratitude Jars can be a great gift. In fact, an empty jar and paper can be used by the recipient for many things. If you want to spend more time on the making, then write out happiness quotes, thoughts or affirmations to be chosen and read one at a time, or fill the jar with journal prompts to use over the year. Montana Happy has a selection of 100 Hygge Prompts that work well. With a notebook and a pen, this is a good present for a great friend.
- Homemade lip balm, face balm or other balms. One Little Project has a lip balm to make in minutes from only three ingredients, although investing in and decorating your own proper lipbalm tubes is an added nice touch. This Healthy Guide will give you ideas for sprucing them up as well… I fancy the peppermint balm.
- Plants or flowers from cuttings and offshoots. I have spider plants in all my bathrooms, and they are all producing little offshoots that, for a little bit of effort, I could root and give away. Plants always look great when given in handpainted flower pots, obviously… and that’s a craft any age can do!
- Pot pourri or simmer pot parcels. Pot pourri was a perennial present back in the 90s… and although it’s fallen out of favour, sometimes the only decent filler for a goldfish vase on the fireplace is something that smells nice. Simmerpot recipes, meanwhile, are taking over from artificial air freshners as a cute way to scent your home. You’ll find 12 winter and autumn scented recipes here, but The Happier Homemaker has a recipe in a mason jar to gift, which is such a cute way to present it.
- Anything Edible! Cookies, bread, truffles or chocolate bark… anything that can be made easily on a big scale, wrapped and eaten is a good gift. If time is not on your side, try collecting the ingredients for a gift together in a jar, write or print off the instructions and give the gift of making the treat as well as eating it! Give a small additional gift on the side.. a cookie cutter or a proper spaghetti spoon… to add a nice touch!
- Spice Mixes are a classier version of the gift in a jar. Mixing up the spices for a chicken rub, a curry or the intriguingly named Everything Season means you can give even that hard-to-buy-for husband a gift he might actually enjoy.
Today’s header is the Christmas divider in my planner: behind this lies all the pages my brain needs to have Christmas planned for and under control by December 1st. It’s from Sort Stuff Out, who makes some beautiful dividers and inserts for planners. I couldn’t survive without my external brain.
*Real life Meccano: an extra gift idea on top of the 15. Just collect as many nails, screws, nuts and bolts and bits of wood as you can and give them to a child old enough to be sensible and young enough to enjoy using a hammer or a screwdriver for fun!
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. August is like a pause before real life begins again in September, so it’s a second chance to set up rituals and rhythms that boost happiness and work for you.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
On the principle that it’s never too early to start thinking ahead, really, and that Christmas is always on us before we know, how about Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas? Christmas is about the small things in life, much as hygge is, and establishing what you want from Christmas and then being able to say no to the excess is important. The book has hints and tips that hopefully will help you enjoy what is, too often, a frantic season.
Available as just an ebook, and a short, sharp read, is Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas: Easy Ways to keep the Joy of Christmas, and your Sanity, intact. It’s an easy read, with ideas and hints to keep you sane through the season. The self-care advent calendar is one I’ve followed for a few years now, and it really is a small daily dose of calm in a manic month.
And on the basis that we may well find ourselves in Lockdowns or unable to enjoy an absolutely normal Christmas under Covid regulations if numbers spike, why not read and plan alternatives? Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was written in response to the pandemic last year, and will need updating soon, but it is about celebrating whatever the situation, and does have good advice on stocking up an emergency cupboard, celebrating when travelling to relatives is impossible and putting the heart of Christmas back into the heart of the celebrations.
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.