I hate to break it to you, but if your Christmas shopping still isn’t done, you’re skating on seriously thin ice. There’s not much time before you plunge into a freezing cold lake of regret.
Thankfully, if you’ve got some spare time this weekend, all is not lost. Here are four not-too-taxing craft ideas for perfect presents: the materials are all things you could pick up your local corner shop, the actual artistic skills required are average-to-minimal, and the results will be pretty great, especially compared to whatever generic nonsense you could pick up on a last-minute dash down your local high street.
Go on, give it a go. ’Tis officially the season to make your Mum remember what it felt like to be proud of you.
This idea is shamelessly borrowed from Nigella Lawson, who in turn shamelessly borrowed it from the entire Italian nation, who have been crafting biscotti sausages at Christmas for decades. What makes this version different is that unlike the traditional recipe, it doesn’t include fresh cream and eggs: which means you can stick it under the tree without causing major issues (at Christmas, preventing e coli is at the forefront of no one’s minds). Plus, it’s way more than a gag gift: it’s deliciously moreish sliced with a cup of tea, like a cross between a Florentine and a chocolate truffle. Just be careful not to gift it to anyone who’ll be disappointed it’s not actual meat…
300g dark chocolate
100g salted butter
150g condensed milk
150g ginger biscuits, crushed
150g dried cranberries
Melt the first three ingredients together and stir until smooth. Leave to cool. Stir in the ginger biscuits (chopped into pieces approximately 1cm across), nuts and dried fruit. Place a long (approx 80cm) length of clingfilm on the countertop and place the mixture in the centre like a long sausage, leaving a 10cm gap at either end. Roll it up and chill in the fridge. If it’s not a perfectly round log, don’t worry: it’ll stay malleable for an hour or so, letting you reshape it as needed.
At least three hours later, comes the fun part. Unwrap it, dust with icing sugar, and wrap it in string as per this video. Then, wrap it in clingfilm again and tie ribbon at each end, before giving it as a gift to someone worthy.
I’d always imagined that lebkuchen involved some intense yeast-based German wizardry in their manufacture, but they’re actually incredibly easy to make: essentially just iced spiced biscuits. These sweet little numbers are a homage to 2023’s whimsical motif of choice: the red and white spotted mushroom. Present them in boxes lined with shredded green tissue paper and decorated with leaves for maximum cottagecore charm.
For the biscuits
200g plain flour
100g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ginger
3 tbp orange juice
For the icing
150g icing sugar
1 egg white
Red food colouring paste
200g white chocolate
Melt the honey and butter together, then leave to cool. Stir in the other biscuit ingredients and leave to firm up in the fridge for at least an hour. Then, lightly knead the dough on a floured surface. Divide into two parts. Make slightly flattened balls for the mushroom caps, approx 3cm across, with one part. Make 5cm long stalks with the other part. Place on greaseproof paper-lined baking sheets and bake for 12 mins in a 200C preheated oven. Leave to cool.
Then, mix together the egg white and icing sugar to make a smooth icing. Colour half of it red. Dip the round biscuits in the red icing, and the long biscuits in the white icing, then leave on tinfoil-coated baking trays to dry (for the neatest results, move them onto fresh sheets of tinfoil after 10 minutes, to get rid of any overspill). Finally, melt the white chocolate. Carve small holes in the bottom of the red mushroom caps, and use the chocolate to stick on the stalks. When they’re set, use a piping bag (or failing that, a skewer) to make little white dots on the mushroom caps.
Celestial metal garland
When artist @theprintedpeanut posted her beautiful DIY metal Christmas decorations on TikTok, she inspired a slew of crafty imitators. She recycled tomato paste tubes for her creations, but let’s be real: who’s really eating that much homemade marinara? Keep things easier and cheaper by buying disposable foil trays and upcycling them in a glimmering garland that offers maximum satisfaction for minimal crafting skills: cutting out and decorating these starry motifs is a untaxing enough to be done in front of a gentle Christmas movie on telly.
1 aluminium baking tray
Black paint (optional)
First, cut a 10cm rough circle from the tray. Then rub it with a teaspoon on a flat surface until smooth. Then, use a skewer to draw the outline of your design (trace round a star or heart-shaped biscuit cutter as an easy starting point). Use the skewer to emboss a pattern on the surface: swirls, dots, and stripes all work nicely. Then cut out your shape. You can rub a small amount of black paint over its surface to create an aged pewter effect if desired. Finally, poke hanging holes in each shape with a skewer or darning needle, and thread them on a string, securing each with a slipknot. Wrap the finished garland round a stiff piece of card to give it to your intended recipient, so it doesn’t get tangled.
The reward:effort ratio on this one is just ideal. Especially if you’ve got fewer functioning brain cells left than your seven-year-old nephew will have brussels sprouts on his plate, come Christmas day. All you need to do is to locate some Biscoff spread in your local supermarket and you’re riding a one way steam train to festive joy.
200g dark chocolate
200g milk chocolate
200g white chocolate
100g Biscoff spread
100g Lotus biscuits
Melt the milk chocolate and Biscoff together in the microwave (around one minute on full to start with, followed by ten second bursts, stirring each time). Pour onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Melt the white chocolate and dark chocolate in the same way, and pour onto the same baking sheet. Use a knife to carefully swirl the chocolate into marbled patterns, then tap it against the counter top to get a level surface. Decorate with Lotus biscuits. Place in the fridge to set for at least three hours, then cut into pieces and package in cellophane bags.