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Gift ideas


  • This is not a new tip as such but a big thank you for the idea of making ones own gift baskets. I followed the idea of creating themes and made one on baking, and another on scone making. It is great to be creative and the cost of these baskets is so cheap compared to ready made ones. - E.L., Christchurch


  • For the last few years all the adult family members decided to enjoy the food, wine, and company for Xmas. The gift buying is only done for the children, grandchildren etc. That is what makes it a great day - watching their faces! - Sue, Christchurch.

    A reader from Whangarei is having a "make it" Xmas. One lucky family of relatives will be receiving a custom-made chicken coop made from left-over building materials. "It features Ritz style nesting boxes and perches to cater for every rung on the pecking order."

  • A lot of my Xmas gifts came from dollar stores. No one needs to know the price. I bought men's and women's perfume for only $6. It was well worth my time and money when you are on very tight budget. - LM, Paraparaumu.

  • Christmas ideas. Print out a snowflake template from internet.  Trace it onto an old plastic milk bottle, cut it out, decorate with glitter, buttons, beads etc and then glue a child's photo to the centre, punch a hole, add ribbon and you have a gorgeous personalised ornament to hang on your tree or a grandparents one. - Andrea, Te Puke

  • Christmas sweets. If you make uncooked slices, instead of spreading it flat - roll in balls and coat with coconut - Truffles. For gifts put about 6 in the containers you get from supermarket deli sections. Some supermarkets will sell them for a nominal cost. - Ranat, Christchurch

  • A lot of my Xmas gifts came from dollar stores. No one needs to know the price. I brought men's and women's perfume for only $6. It was well worth my time and money when you are on very tight budget. - LM, Paraparaumu 

  •  This year I was on a very tight budget so this year I decided to give a jewel I no longer wear as a Christmas gift. I made a pretty gift bag for it. I get most of my gifts from the dollar store like coin save or variety plus shops. - L.M.

  • We have decided this is the best way to go this Christmas. I have made beach bags for my Grand daughter Cost nothing as I have material scraps at home As they are teenagers have included an inexpensive hair bush, lippy hair grip and mascara One granddaughter has made an apron for mom and painted a picture for dad and has hand made pressies for her friends at school. I do all the Christmas baking which includes the cake, mince pies, truffles and stuffed dates. The girls bake biscuits for the neighbours. – MD, Auckland.

  • My three year old has been very busy all year making Christmas gifts. We bake and freeze throughout the year and save our large tin cans for him to paint and pop plants into them for the gardeners in the family. We also make him decorate all our labels (for homebrew and chutneys) and because he goes to kindy and makes about 10 pictures a week throughout the year I use them as wrapping paper for pressies. The family love getting his 'gifts' and he is very proud of his hard work and peoples reactions to it. - A OS, Wellington.

  • I have recently been trawling galas, garage sales and op shops for Christmas pressies for the kids. You can buy fantastic gifts at very reasonable prices. I have bought all my nieces and nephews puzzles and games of their favourite cartoon characters for 20c each and they are still in almost new condition. My nieces are also getting jewellery boxes that were less than 50c each and my son is getting a huge box of lego we found for $5. Cannot believe how little we have spent so far and the fantastic toys and gifts the kids are getting this year. Have also saved some presents for Birthdays too! - A OS, Wellington.

  • Save as much money as you can using your supermarket Christmas Club. When Christmas time comes around you can use your club money to do the usual shopping, saving your usual shopping money to spend at other retailers.  Also buy non perishable goods, (soap, detergent, foil, loo paper, rubbish bags, stuff that you won't be tempted to use before Christmas), when they are on sale through out the year and put them aside for the Christmas period. Leaving you more money for nicer things. - Mean Girl", Hastings.

  • I have a lot of soap pieces that I keep during the year. I render them down in an old pot, when it's a bit cooler add petals from your garden, even pieces of orange peel, apple peel, lavender flowers, even use your old perfume. Use cookie cutters [$2 shop] stand on waxed paper, and tip the melted soap in and let it set, and wrap in sellaphane paper and tie with ribbon. D.M.

  • I think the only way to prepare for each Xmas is to put some money away each week, fortnight or whatever and try NOT to use it during the year.  It makes things so much easier and not so stressful. Buy presents during the year but it this doesn't happen put a limit on each present and stick to it.  The same goes when buying groceries - stick to a limit and look for specials ALL THE TIME!!!!!  If you haven't got the cash on hand for Xmas items then the credit card nightmare begins and the start of the New Year is one big nightmare!!!  Don't go there!!!! - Peter & Robyn.

  • Last year I made pickles and chutney and made nice home made labels for them on my computer. I wrapped each jar in bright red or green new tea towels and tied them with ribbon. My friends seemed well pleased with them and if you make a few extra they come in handy for gifts for people who visit around Xmas time (recycled jars of course). These can be made in advance and take a lot of stress out of Xmas. - Canny Scot, Christchurch


  • For years I have been making gifts for my family and getting ideas from others. these include; oven gloves, pot-plants, photo frames (either make your own or do up an old one from a garage sale or second hand shop, with a nice family photo in it), homemade body or cleaning products (good ideas in library books), sewn handbags or  pillowcases, homemade lollies, drawer, wardrobe and shoe sachets to keep clothes and shoes smelling fresh, garden signs, decorated notepaper or handmade paper and notebooks (get a made or brought plain notebook like a school or office one for a few dollars from paper plus etc, and cover  neatly with nice material), card sets (make nice all occasion cards and envelopes, and put in a nice box),  jewellery from old beads, buttons and wire etc. The list goes on, and I find it real fun to think of and make presents for people, especially useful ones. - E.H

  • I was helping my daughter with her stickers, and after I'd taken the stickers of, the plastic that the stickers were on, I cut around the shapes, and painted them with finger nail polish, and made a small hole with a needle, and hung them up on a small stick in the bathroom. Already my friends ask me where did I buy them, but that is my secret. Try it, the recycling habit is so good. D.M.


  • Buy a cheap ($7) bunch of flowers from the supermarket; take it home, carefully undo it, and add flowers, ivy, small berry branches from your garden to the outside of the bunch. Wrap it again in the paper it came in with maybe a ribbon.  You will end up with a spectacular bouquet that looks amazing at a fraction of the cost of one from a florist. – C.S., Nelson

Gift ideas

  • I bought two inexpensive pillowcases and have just finished embroidering a design on them. With the addition of a bit of lace, I have some pretty, personalised pillow cases for a Christmas present. I did the same with a plain tablecloth, which I found at an op’ shop, but this time I used fabric paint for the design. One does not need to be an artist to do this, just copy or trace a simple picture, and transfer using transfer paper from an art supply store. I start making/buying Christmas presents early in the year, so that by Christmas, I have them all already. - PB.

  • My daughter loves to give her teacher a gift each year. Not costly, around $10. However, this year, she decided that she wanted to give a gift to 3 other teachers and also those who care for her after school. I realised this was going to be too costly so made a batch of Russian fudge, brought 6 cheap pretty glass containers from the warehouse, some ribbon and everyone got lovely ribbon wrapped Russian fudge for a gift! Definitely going to do it again this year as it's a very cost effective way to cater for all the teachers. - SG,  Wellington. 

  • GIFTS: collected seeds popped into home made gift envelopes make wonderful gifts for gardening lovers. - Jules, Napier

  • Our wider family got together and decided to limit Christmas gifts to $2 per person. That way nobody is too disappointed when they don't get anything flash. After all what do you expect $2? So what can you give for $2?

  • Photos with a message printed across them, from digital machines.
  • Photo frame, brought or home made.
  • Plants grown from seed or cuttings.
  • Home made biscuits, cakes, drinks, etc
  • Personalised pens made by printing names (or something more imaginative), on stickers in a small font. Also make a pen holder to go with them.
  •  Glue give away fridge magnets to the back of a small notepad, maybe attach a photo or calendar to the top to personalise it. You now have a handy shopping list to keep on the fridge.
  • A family favourite is chocolate. Look for a mould that has about a dozen deep individual shapes. Slowly melt chocolate in the microwave to coat the sides of the shapes. When they have set fill with a cold gnache, made by heating 100mls of cream and dissolving 100grms of chocolate into it. This can then be flavoured with peanut butter, liqueurs or honey.
  • Kids love to get a plastic glass full of lollies.
  • Or lolly kebabs.
  • Just make your gift look good and have fun! -Mean Girl", Hastings.

 Greeting cards

  • For about 6 or 7 years I have been making my own greeting cards. I started by taking the insert out of the cards people had given to me, put a new one in and send them to someone else. Then someone was kind enough to give me off cuts from a printing firm and I cut out the front of the old greeting card and put it in the new card. And a school gave me photocopy paper, which had only been partly printed. Then friends started to give me their old cards and it has become a little cottage industry, with some people buying my cards. Then last year I heard you could make your own paper with torn up paper and water! So I bought a paper making kit and that’s what I do as a hobby! I still cut out old greeting cards and even have used stamps from envelopes to make an abstract design on the cards. After cutting inserts for the cards, I often have lots of scraps left over and that in turn gets used for making more pulp. – J.O. Christchurch.

  • Cut the back off previous years cards and fold the front in half to make gift tags. This works best with patterned cards rather than a complete picture. - F.L., Auckland


  • Indoor plants – split and repot. Good for presents. – D.G.


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