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Jessica Joy

Knitwear designer, teacher and author

I’ve bat­tled over the last few years with present ideas for my friends and fam­ily, there’s always that nag­ging worry that I’m over-spending on some­thing they may not like or need. Last year I think I man­aged around 30% hand­made; a start, but it still left me poorer than I would have liked! So my goal this year was 100% handmade.

I set aside an after­noon of research and this is what caught my imag­i­na­tion. Some I didn’t get round to mak­ing for a lack of time and tools, but there’s always next year! I think they’d make nice gifts what­ever the occa­sion so here’s a roundup of how I got on. See the list below for orig­i­nal tuto­ri­als or recipes. There’s a full roundup over on my Pin­ter­est account.

  1. Chilli Jelly - This was prob­a­bly my biggest suc­cess in the ham­per of good­ies. Nigella Lawson’s recipe is so good — I wouldn’t rec­om­mend alter­ing or sub­sti­tut­ing ANYTHING in the recipe. I didn’t quite have the right ingre­di­ents for my first batch and the results were not good!
  2. Caramelised Red Onion Chut­ney - This recipe is from the Guardian online, takes a lot of onions and cry­ing but is very tasty.
  3. Gin­ger Ale Syrup - This is such a fan­tas­tic idea and so quick and easy, cour­tesy of Vanessa at Nifty Thrifty Things. The syrup has a lovely warm kick and offers some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent in a ham­per full of pre­serves. Tastes awe­some with straight fizzy water or tonic water.
  4. Easy Straw­berry Jam - Another great recipe from the BBC web­site. I used a mix­ture of rasp­ber­ries and straw­ber­ries when I made this; never realised how straight­for­ward jam mak­ing is — I’ll def­i­nitely be mak­ing more.
  5. Coconut Ice - I have lin­ger­ing mem­o­ries of coconut ice from my child­hood liv­ing in Canada. This recipe from Two Lit­tle Dicky Birds is scrummy. I chose to use tra­di­tional pink and they came out so so pretty.
  6. Flavoured Cof­fee Syrup - From the very tal­ented Elsie at A Beau­ti­ful Mess, this is another bril­liant idea. Sugar syrup is so ver­sa­tile if you have the imag­i­na­tion to turn it into some­thing. I made the vanilla ver­sion and it lit­er­ally didn’t take more than 15 minutes.
  7. Home­made Tea-bags - Another one from Elsie at A Beau­ti­ful Mess. I got together all the com­po­nents to make these but found hand-stitching the cof­fee fil­ters quite tricky; think a sewing machine will be on my list of pur­chases this year.
  8. Cro­cheted Ban­gles - This is a really pretty tuto­r­ial from Sec­ond Sis­ter. I do really want to try this at some point, but I ran out of time for my Christ­mas hampers.

I man­aged to find some clear sweetie bags in a local cook­ery shop, along with lots of empty jars and sealed bot­tles for the syrups. There’s all man­ner of ways to present a ham­per of gifts; in the end I went with red and white bak­ers twine, scal­loped lug­gage tags and cir­cles of pretty scrap mate­r­ial to top the jars. Did you man­age any hand­made pressies this year?

6 comments
  1. Angela 6 January 2012, 6:08 pm

    We received some of these good­ies and they were all deli­cious, need­less to say there are no choco­lates, coconut ice or jam left and only a small amount of chilli jelly and red onion chut­ney. Do it again next year please. PS it is my birth­day in March. xxxxx

  2. Clare 6 January 2012, 11:47 pm

    Also received these fan­tas­tic good­ies! So nice to get hand­made presents. By the way my birth­day is in March too!! X

  3. Jess 7 January 2012, 11:05 am

    Thank you guys :) birthday’s noted! I can’t believe I for­got the chilli choco­late fudge. Here’s the recipe: http://www.carnation.co.uk/pudcasts/easy-chocolate-fudge — I sub­sti­tuted the choco­late for Lindt’s chilli choco­late! Yumm.

  4. DD 7 January 2012, 3:07 pm

    I got this ham­per as well. So nice to wan­der around Wait­rose know­ing that the onion rel­ish I got from Jessie is at least 100 times bet­ter than there’s. My Chilli Jelly is all gone — I found Alice paw prints on the empty jar!!

  5. Sophie 10 January 2012, 10:26 pm

    These are just gor­geous ideas! Lucky, lucky friends and family ;)

  6. The Makery: Book Review | Jessica Joy 7 November 2013, 8:28 pm

    […] or stag head; I must con­quer my fear of sewing!I may even use a few of the projects for my hand­made Christ­mas ham­pers this year. Mak­ery is a book suited to both the novice crafter, and more sea­soned pros. The projects […]

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