With Secret Santa deadlines fast approaching, we all know the drill: last-minute, under-a-tenner panic purchase from whatever shop is still open at 6pm the night before the gifts are to be gifted, or, if you’re that guy in the friendship group, the morning of. Until today, that guy might, indeed, have been you, but watch your old habits die swift deaths with the help of a succinct and deliciously accessible acronym: D-I-Y.
Listed below are some fun, rewarding and – say it with us – *low cost* gift ideas that you can make in the comfort of your own home. Wow, the group with thoughtful creations that could earn you brownie points to cover the next time you forget a birthday (‘I thought it was next week!’) or play too fast and loose with your time management (‘it’s not my fault that they closed seven minutes early and aren’t open on Sundays!’).
Hot Chocolate Spoons
An expensive-looking gift that is, in fact, dirt cheap to make. The measurements depend on how many you want to gift, but are pretty self-explanatory and can be determined by sight rather than technical specificity.
- Melting/cooking chocolate (£1.10 for 200g from Sainsbury’s)
- Teaspoon of Demerara sugar
- Dollop of golden syrup
- Candy cane
Cooking instruments needed:
- Functioning hob
- Heatproof dish
- Empty ice tray (preferably rubber)
- Disposable wooden spoons (could probably find these for free in a boujee cafe, or cop them for pennies from your local craft shop)
- Plastic sheath) in which to place chocolate-laden-spoons (sourced at aforementioned local craft shop or supermarket or, if you must, Amazon)
- Cotton string/twine for rustic look (see above)
1. Put the saucepan on a lit hob, with a centimetre of water in the base. Carefully place the heatproof dish in the water, before bringing the water to simmer. The water should encompass the base of the dish, but not spill into it. Melt the chocolate by breaking it into pieces and placing it into the dish. Add the sugar and a dollop of golden syrup. Once the chocolate is mostly liquefied, stir the mixture until fully melted.
2. Using oven gloves, carefully lift the dish out of the saucepan and place it on the countertop. Grab your empty ice cube tray and pick your favourite cube pocket. Spoon in melted chocolate to just over the halfway mark and expect it to get messy. Distribute the remaining chocolate in the number of pockets that correlate with how many spoons you want to gift. We won’t judge you for just making one, but others might call you a stingy so-and-so (their words, not ours).
3. Fracture the candy cane. Smash it up into little shards however you see fit. We use a massive knife (but very carefully and responsibly). Aesthetically scatter the shards atop the chocolaty cubes. Diagonally place a wooden spoon in each chocolate cube, so that they are standing upright but slightly leaning backwards. Deposit the tray into the freezer and leave it for about 45 minutes to harden.
4. Tease your hardened chocolate cubes from their chilled casements. For a flourish that will really excite fellow gift-givers, slip the laden spoon into a plastic sheath, pinch mid-way and tie a string bow. Attach a pleasant, personalised note (perhaps including a comical quip related to the receiver, or a profound, abstract rumination on ‘the funny thing we call life’) and you’ve officially won Secret Santa.
If you’d rather watch someone make them before braving the recipe yourself, here’s a YouTube video made by yours truly, Lifestyle’s very own Molly Workman Some of it does, admittedly, resemble an edited, chaotic fever dream because it was made at 3AM and that is essentially what it is.
Don’t-I-Y: Gift Boxes
This one’s for anyone who wants to avoid the ‘D’ of ‘doing it yourself’. If creating isn’t your thing, compile an assortment of cheap and cheerful trinkets that all share something in common (for example, their colour). Call it a ‘Cup of Sunshine’ (inspired by @aspynovard) and fill a canary-yellow mug with packets of Sour Patch Kids, Burt’s Bees lip balm, and the Super Sonic Yellow shade of Sharpie. ‘Naughty or Nice Potluck’ could be a box filled with, as the title suggests, a medley of opinion-polarising goodies: a share bag of Malteser’s (nice for all except the lactose-intolerant) and an iconic Ark ‘boob’ keyring (define ‘naughty but nice’ for £6.50), balanced out with an empty packet of gum (definitively norty).
Other ideas include:
‘Jet Black Jackpot’: A motley crew of gothic trinkets, including a 10cl bottle of Blavod voddy, a Mars Bar or two, and an ethical charcoal facemask.
‘Box Of Things That Are Pointy’: For your aichmomania-inclined friend.
‘Re-gift Box’: Rehome some of your relatives’ more misguided bestowals from Christmases past with a seasonal Secret Santa that costs nothing.
In summary, gift giving doesn’t have to be a time-consuming slog that saps your energy as well as your bank account. Thoughtful DIY Secret Santa gifts are achievable, cheap, and cherished by those who receive them, because they are made with love. And even if they aren’t made with love – even if you secretly loathe negative Neil who you’ve now gotten for the third year in a row – you could’ve fooled us.