3 Easy DIY Christmas Gift Ideas for a Stress-Free Season

Mid-December is when shopping mania sets in. Frantic shoppers dash through stores in search of this year’s special gift. But, why put yourself through the trauma? An easy DIY Christmas gift can be even more special than its store-bought counterpart while taking up less time and much less stress. We’ve put together three quick go-to gifts to cater to any skill set. Dazzle your friends and family with homemade cookies, cordials or succulent planters!

Here’s what you need for three easy DIY Christmas Gifts

Difficulty: easy 

Time: between 5 – 30 minutes per item and 1 hour for all three

1)  Mini Succulent Planters – for the Green Thumb

Give a little love the natural way!

succulent box easy diy christmas gift idea

YOU NEED:

  • A wooden box *
  • Potting soil
  • A succulent or two **
  • Broad ribbon

* You can use any container; old teapots, watering can, cookie boxes are just a few that come to mind.
** Pick a few succulents from your garden. Succulents can grow roots from their leaves, so, don’t worry about the plant dying.

STEP 1:

Take a container (or make your own box), make sure it’s dust-free and clean, and fill it up to halfway with potting soil (you can use soil from the garden).

STEP 2:

Nudge the succulents into the soil, softly and roughly in the middle of the container. Then add more soil to 1cm below the top of the container.

STEP 3:

Make a festive bow with the ribbon, tuck it in at the side of the box then you’re done! Yay! Slide your Christmas card in between the ribbon and the box. Or, spike the card into the soil! It’s a gardener’s gift after all.

2) Rainbow Cookies – for the Sweet Tooth

Spread a little festive cheer with sweetness.

hundreds and thousands cookies-easy DIY gift idea

YOU NEED:

  • 100s & 1000s Cookies
  • A box with a lid
  • Tissue paper
  • Festive ribbon

COOKIE INGREDIENTS:

You can use your favourite vanilla cookie recipe, bake the cookies, glaze them with icing/white chocolate and sprinkle with hundreds and thousands. Or, use Foodlover’s hundreds and thousands cookie recipe like we did!

If you have cookies, follow the steps, or scroll down to make your cookies first!

hundreds and thousands and white chocolate cookies-easy DIY gift idea

STEP 1:

Line a cookie tin with tissue paper and leave enough paper to cascade over the sides of the tin.

STEP 2:

Place your awesome cookies inside, (you can even add a few sachets of your favourite coffee or tea bags!). Bring the cascading tissue paper to the top of the cookies, and softly twist to cover the baked goodies.

STEP 3:

Cover with the lid, add the ribbon and Christmas card and get ready to see happy faces!

For those baking from scratch, here are the ingredients:

hundreds and thousands cookies-easy DIY gift idea

  • 175g butter
  • ⅔ cup caster sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 180g white chocolate, melted
  • ½ cup hundreds and thousands

METHOD:

hundreds and thousands and white chocolate cookies-easy DIY gift idea

  1. Mix the butter, sugar and flour until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  2. Blend in the egg and vanilla until it forms a dough-like consistency.
  3. Lightly knead the dough on a floured surface, then place in a container, and refrigerate for half an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 170°C then roll out the dough between two baking sheets.
  5. Cut out your choice of cookie cutter shapes (a tree or star would be awesome!), then place the raw cookies on a lined baking tray.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, take the cookies out of the oven when they are a light golden colour and let them cool.
  7. Spread the cookie tops with melted white chocolate and dip in or sprinkle with hundreds and thousands and let them set.

3) Rosewater Cordial – for the Life of the Party

A tasty cordial is such a simple gift idea. But, it’s so delicious you might want to keep it for a party yourself. Germarie made a pretty pink cordial, by modifying a tasty Woolworth’s recipe.

rosewater cordial with strawberry easy christmas gift idea

YOU NEED:

  • Homemade rosewater cordial (recipe below)
  • A glass milk jar, or a glass bottle with a screw top *
  • Ribbon
  • Gift box (Optional)

* Pick a bottle with chalk paint square on it, or paint a small square onto the bottle. The chalk will help you to write on the bottle.

ROSEWATER CORDIAL INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 300 g strawberries
  • 1 lemon’s juice
  • 2 tbsp rosewater
  • 1 1/2 cups water

STEP 1:

First, make the cordial. Bring sugar, lemon juice and strawberries to a simmer until the sugar had dissolved. Remove from heat, let it cool then add in the rosewater. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve for a clear cordial.

STEP 2:

Pour the blend into your glass jar. Write “Rosewater Cordial” on the chalk bit, tie it with a pretty ribbon, place in a gift box/bag and it’s ready for mixing. Keep it light with soda and a dash of lemon; mix with bubbly for a version of Kir Royale, or if you want something stronger, spirits and soda!

rosewater cordial with strawberry easy christmas gift idea

That’s it – three gifts within an hour! You can have fun while making gifts for others. I find it way more therapeutic than running in a shopping mall, although I’m often guilty of sprinting through the isles on the 23rd!

Happy festive season, and remember to take it easy!

Sweet Little Stained Glass Heart Cookies For Valentine’s Day

I’m no expert when it comes to baking cookies… in fact, I think I’ve only ever tried them once before.  But I’ve acquired so many lovely cookie cutters over the years, and when I saw these little beauties on many a festive baking post, I thought: Why only for Christmas?  And so the idea for some Sweet Little Stained Glass Heart (Valentine’s!) Cookies was born.  They were not the easiest thing I’ve ever made, I had to bite my tongue a few times as yet another cookie stuck to the counter despite what felt like loads of flour under it, but life isn’t about always doing the easy, familiar thing, is it?  We need to challenge ourselves, and I have to say I’m SO happy with how the cookies turned out.  They were absolutely worth the effort!

valentine's cookies

YOU WILL NEED

EQUIPMENT:

An electric mixer, baking sheets (I used standard shallow oven trays), baking paper and cookie cutters*

 INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, softened (I used margarine)
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (385g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Additional flour, for rolling out the dough
  • Assorted Sparkles sweets, or other hard-boiled sweets

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 190ºC / gas mark 5 / 375ºF
  • Prepare your baking trays by lining each with baking paper.
  • Using your electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Next, add the milk, egg, and vanilla extract, and mix thoroughly.
  • In a separate bowl, mix your dry ingredients with a fork.
  • Finally, in thirds, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

*Allow the dough to chill for at least an hour before working with it, longer for more humid climates.

valentine's cookies

  • Roll out the dough on a surface that has been prepped with flour. My lovely rolling pin has interchangeable discs to ensure you roll out to a certain thickness – I went for 4mm (1/6 inch) option, and this seemed to work very well.
  • Cut out the outside shape (largest cookie cutter) and place the cookie on the lined baking sheet.

  • After cutting enough cookies to fill the sheet, cut the small, inside shapes from each.

valentine's cookies

  • Place the Sparkles sweetie of your choice in the centre of each cookie. Some recipes mention crushing the sweets for this step – I found they worked perfectly with the size of the heart centre when whole, so it made sense to go for this (much easier!) option. About 6 minutes into the bake, the sweets melted into a very thin liquid that quickly filled the little heart shape.
  • Bake the cookies for 7-9 minutes until their edges begin to brown, then remove from the oven. Let the cookies cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from the baking sheet, and store in a cool, dry place before wrapping up as gifts.

valentine's cookies

* In choosing the shapes and sizes of the cookie cutters, consider how they might fit inside each other.  My outer cutters are about 95mm wide and my inner heart cutter is 40mmx40mm.

Happy Baking and Happy Valentine’s!