General ramblings

The Goose is Getting Fat….

Or not. As that would imply some kind of preparation for Christmas.
It is looming far too quickly for my liking. Just a week left of November-eeeeeekkkkkkk!

The major take home message from our Make Do and Mend Christmas last year, was START EARLY.
What have we NOT done?
Make any kind of start at all yet.

Hey ho. I am undeterred. This WILL be a Make Do and Mend Christmas, and we will try our very best to buy little, if anything, new.
I have no idea yet as to how we will achieve this.
This is what I need to sort in the next 30-ish days.

Advent Calendars
Hubby-I did this last year, and think I will repeat because I am lazy it makes a good tradition


The Smalls-for the Smalls last year, I did this, and will do the same again, but will obviously need to vary the activities a little. I will post an updated version ASAP for anyone who wants to join in!

Presents-we have already had a present list ‘cull’, so the list is not too long, and I hate the whole thing of giving for the sake of giving (I blogged about it last year), but this is the minimum I can get away with!
Hubby-I have literally NO idea what to do for hubby (sorry hubby if you are reading this…)
BigSmall-I have a plan to rag rug each of them a rug from their old baby gros and clothes, but I may run out of time… Failing that, maybe an apron for baking. That sounds really lame for a 5 year old doesn’t it? Ideas?!
SmallSmall-I have also seen some cool hats to crochet, but as I crochet at the speed of an arthritic snail, this too may have to wait. I might do each of them an initial frame for their rooms?
Dad-No idea
Mother in law-No idea-maybe a knitting needle case, following on from last year’s knitting bag?

sue-pressie1Brother-Seriously no idea
Sister-in-law-some kind of pamper kit? With homemade bath salts etc? Other than that, you guessed it, no idea
Teacher and 2 TAs at school-fudge/rocky road


Christmas Cake
Christmas Pudding-although I think we may have one left over from last year
Mince pies
Christmas biscuits

christmas-biscuits-iced1Christmas Dinner and all the trimmings

A tree-last year, we went Egg Box.

egg-box81It was fab, but we want to do something different this year. Stay tuned!
Decorations-not sure how many will have survived being squashed into a box and kept in the loft, may have to re-do some.
Wreath-my bauble wreath was looking a little sorry for itself by the end of the festive period, so a new wreath is in order

Following on from last year’s starring role as the Inn-Keeper, this year, BigSmall, in his first year at Big School, is…..
….a Bluebird.
OK, not quite so easy to rustle up a costume from a pair of old curtains and a tea towel for that one!

Hmmmm. I had my head in the sand, but now I am starting to panic slightly a lot.

Any ideas for QUICK and easy, yet delightful and wonderful, handmade gifts for the above list will be received with eternal gratitude.
I’ll even swap them for some of my homemade present ideas 😉

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  • Reply Christmas 2013-the post-match analysis | My Make Do and Mend Year January 6, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    […] our Christmas prep in September, needless to say we didn’t. In fact, if anything, we were less organised than ever. But I think we pulled it round. No one was present-less, and the only things we (by we, I mean […]

  • Reply Make It Christmas! | My Make Do and Mend Year December 2, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    […] after my moaning and whining about not being in any way ready for Christmas, it is now already December, and I have progressed hardly any further at all. BUT, you have all […]

  • Reply Heather November 26, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    I’ve planning some foodie homemade gifts this year. I’ve been saving glass jars all year and have trialled some chutney recipe. I’m now trawling charity shops looking for baskets. The plan is to give a home made hamper made up of a jam, a chutney, possibly something else in a jar and then either some biscuits or mince pies. I was also thinking of home made moisturizers but I’ve not made them before and I was wondering whether I should trial them first! Perhaps a thought for next year.

    I love the above ideas too. Lots more food for thought!

    • Reply Jen November 27, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      Some great ideas!
      I’m going to try the moisturiser bars 🙂

  • Reply Charity Shop Fairies | My Make Do and Mend Year November 24, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    […] of pre-loved goodies. Well, they must have been following the blog, and read my post where I had a mild panic about all things Christmas, because the very next day, I went for a wander around my local charity shops and came home weighed […]

  • Reply Sara November 24, 2013 at 2:42 am

    Thank you to Helen for sharing a link to my blog, because that led me to find yours and I am enjoying it so far! =) An idea for sister-in-law’s pamper kit is home-made lotion bars (they sell these for a fortune in the natural cosmetic store LUSH):
    Cute knitter ornament for your mother-in-law?;all#axzz2lWh6XqfI
    And if I could sew I would make this multipurpose wrap for myself and everyone else:
    By the way, I love the egg carton tree.
    Happy holidays,

    • Reply Jen November 24, 2013 at 9:58 am

      Hi Sara
      Thanks so much for these ideas-the lotion bars look AMAZING!
      Going to have a trawl around your blog later on too-love finding new blogs 🙂
      Have a great day.

  • Reply lesley November 23, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    There is just about enough time to make picallili or preserved lemons. Very cheap and the picallili is a great little pressie for men, who are always difficult to buy for. Shoosh it up by wrapping in cellophane and ribbon in masculine colours. Recipes on the web or I have done some at

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 10:48 pm

      Ooh yes, piccalilli is a good one-thinking about doing my dad some kind of cheese based hamper with homemade crackers and chutneys-picallili would go well with this-thankyou!

  • Reply Nic November 23, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Add a body scrub to SIL’s pamper kit; 50g solid coconut oil whipped together with 2 teaspoons of sweet almond oil (olive oil would work too) until fluffy, add 10-15 drops essential oil (I always use bergamot to feel exotic and haven’t tried any others yet) & mix. Gradually add 60g brown sugar (the finer the sugar, the more gentle the scrub will be). You’ll need a 100ml jar (or double it up & stick it in a kilner jar). Scrumptious! And beautifully moisturising.

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 10:47 pm

      That sounds great, thank you 🙂

      • Reply Jo aka Kiwijo November 24, 2013 at 9:23 am

        Oh, you can also try a Lemon version. Mix white sugar with enough olive oil to bind, and add lemon juice – done!

        • Reply Jen November 24, 2013 at 9:58 am

          Oooh, you are so clever, these all sound fab 🙂

  • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    You are all FABULOUS!! Thankyou so so much 🙂

  • Reply Jo aka Kiwijo November 23, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Chocolate marshmallow fudge a-la Lorraine Pascalls recipie – quick and easy and very yummy :o)

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 8:00 pm

      I seem to remember trying this last year, will check it out-thanks Jo!

  • Reply frugalhappylife November 23, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    How about homemade heat pillows made from a sleeve of material, maybe a sleeve from old jumper/cardi and rice. Add some drops of essential oil and then they can heat up in microwave to use. Just saw idea recently on Superscrimpers.

    Fabric bookmarks.

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      I did some of these last year for my mum from material-great idea to use a sleeve though-thankyou!

  • Reply Lydia November 23, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    For the teAcher why not make a book cover for a diary or note book

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      Fab, thankyou!

  • Reply Chris November 23, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Hi, Just a couple of ideas I have made liqueurs but this needs about a month, I can send you the recipes if you like. I thought I would add home made sweets in a dish from the charity shop in a couple of week’s time. You could make a recipe book with a cover decorated by the smalls or a notebook again with the cover decorated by the smalls. A calendar with a photo of you all and you can download the calendar off the web. If you have some suitable material you could make tea towels or tote bags and let the smalls decorate them with indelible markers, preferably outside. Self grow pot plant kit of a nice pot some potting compost and some seeds. I am always short of ideas for men but if they would wear them home made bow ties.

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      Great ideas, thank you so much. I do actually have some elderberry gin steeping, which I had quite forgotten about until you mentioned liquors!

  • Reply Nell@PigeonPairandMe November 23, 2013 at 9:09 am

    How about getting hold of a few brightly coloured, pretty seasonal squashes, then coating them with spray varnish? They make gorgeous ornaments/paperweights/table decorations, and last for ages…..

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:58 pm

      Lovely idea, thank you!

  • Reply Kelly Hall November 23, 2013 at 7:46 am

    I just made these aprons for my little niece and nephew Am teaming them up with a cooking mix in a kilner jar. Good luck!

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      They are ADORABLE! BigSmall was complaining the other day that he no longer has an apron now he has grown out of his. Must find some suitable boy fabric 🙂

  • Reply Lyndsey November 23, 2013 at 4:41 am

    Jen- A little birdie tells me that Warminster and Wylye Valley WI Lite are Wreath Making next meeting as they do every year – think its 4th Dec at Bishopstrow Village Hall. I shall be making my own here in Oz with whatever I can find in the Bush! for details. x

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      How on earth do you know that from the middle of the Australian Bush! But thank you so much, date is in the diary 🙂

  • Reply Beth November 22, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    1) upcycle a tin can into a plant holder with a cutting of a spider plant or christmas cactus (it’s retro baby!) OR into a candle holder, google forinstructions(i found a nice molly makes one)
    2) choc truffles. Decent quality choc (cheap from lidl/aldi!), cream and cocoa powder. Awesome.
    3) instructions and pre-prepared dry ingredients for mug cakes. Possibly including a mug! Theoretically i’m gonna hand write these and sew them together for my sis, but everyone knows i’ll be copying them from teh interwebz and printing them out at the last minute 😉
    4) this is no use to you but i’m dead excited about it- my other sis is moving to where i live so i’m gonna write her a guide to life here 🙂

    Hopefully one or two of those will be useful! I can provide links/instructions/recipes if required 😉

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      What brilliant ideas Beth, thank you! Your sister will love your guide 🙂

  • Reply Eco Thrifty Living November 22, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    All my parents, inlaws and grandparents on both sides want are photo calendars filled with pictures of the kids. So I’m making some! I will be blogging about it soon (although mine are looking pretty basic so far…)

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      We have previously bought the ones from Boots that you can just slide your own pics into, but last year hubby made a template and we did our own on the computer-much better, and cheaper! Will keep my eye out for the blog post 🙂

  • Reply helen marshall November 22, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    i found a iny bit of inspiration so far-

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Great, thanks Helen

  • Reply notsogranny November 22, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    This year I wilk be decorating and personalising plain mugs with a ceramics pen. V quick and easy, would work for plates or glasses too (charity shop) a previous hit gift was homemade limoncello and biscotti. Delish and easy.

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      Loving the decorated mug idea. Do you need a special pen? Will do some research.
      Limoncello and biscotti sounds yum too!
      Thankyou 🙂

  • Reply Sue November 22, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    I make prezzies for the girls at work of melted chocolate dropped onto a baking tray, then sprinkle on the chocolate before it sets, any mixture you like of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, in fact anything you fancy. I use dark, milk and white chocolate. When they are set just put a selection into some pretty cellophane or tissue paper and tie with ribbon.

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      That sounds brilliant Sue, thank you!

  • Reply Karolyn November 22, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Frome!! that’s the answer!
    Sunday 1 December!
    Huge artisan/up cycle style market and craft market in the Cheese & Grain…and fab range of charity shops! 🙂

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      Frome is always the answer 😉

  • Reply Hilary November 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Jen, I think it’s stir up Sunday this weekend so the best time to make your cake or puddings, so you’re not behind with those. Good idea for MIL, I’m making lots of patchwork bags for female relatives, and a patchwork hot water bottle cover for a niece. Luckily we are a very female biased family so don’t have to think of many male presents which are always difficult to think of. Tree branch with twigs painted white and glittered can look pretty for Xmas tree set into plant pot. Grown ups don’t have stockings in our family just children. Will put thinking cap on for anything else I can think of. Good luck!

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      Boy presents are so hard!
      Yes, Stir Up Sunday tomorrow-I have the dried fruit swimming in brandy as I type 🙂
      Patchwork hot water bottle sounds super cute-would be a good mini intro to quilting for me!
      Thankyou 🙂

  • Reply mehubbyandthekids November 22, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Do you think your dad would appreciate some happy memories in the form of a photo collage of your mum? If you had pictures of them when they were young; your mum with you as a little one; ones of her and the Smalls?

    I’ll have a proper think and let you know x

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      That’s a really lovely idea Nicola. I will see if I can spirit away the photo albums, and see what I can come up with. Might make a nice pressie for my brother too. Thankyou xx

  • Reply Vivienne Downes (@VivienneDownes) November 22, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    If you don’t have enough time to make everything then what about visiting some charity shops or craft fairs that use recycled materials ? I’ve bought a lovely handmade backpack in the shape of an Owl (feathers all made from scrapes of different material) for my Great Niece

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      Yes, I will Vivienne. Good to know I have a fall back if things aren’t going well 🙂

  • Reply Linda Ashworth November 22, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    I am impressed with your Advent ideas etc. Homemade presents? A snuggle quilt made from children’s outgrown clothes, backed with an old blanket? For either the children or Mother-in-law who would certainly remember the clothes and all the memories? Photos of the children in re-cycled frames, perhaps jazzed up with collage/mosaic style additions?

    • Reply Jen November 23, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      Great ideas Linda. I fear a quilt would take me far too long given my fear of quilting and never having tried it before-maybe I should set myself a New Year’s challenge! Loving the idea of the pictures 🙂

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