Not only are home made Christmas gifts well received but just about everyone, they will also be remembered long after store bought choices and, they're relatively inexpensive.

This year my sister Tracey and I decided to create lots of small stocking stuffer gifts and have a stall in her driveway. We put an add in the paper and set up our Christmas stall last Saturday and had a great time.

I made individual Christmas puddings and cakes, small 150ml jars of Brandy Alexander Chocolate Sauce, Caramelised Balsamic Vinegar and Tracey made Plum Sauce for ham.

As she's a graphic designer, she also made #preservelabels, ingredient labels for pantry storage items and bookplates.  

We also decided to have samples for buyers to taste.

I had a bowl of Christmas cake and Christmas pudding and I'd made a brandy custard for dipping. We started pretty early in the morning so we had people there by 7pm. Honestly though, I really wonder where some people's heads are at. One woman came over to the table and commented "Oh you have food, what a pitty, I've already had breakfast". Of course never one to knock back an opportunity for sarcasm, I said "we're not a cafe, it's just to taste before you buy". She gave a nervous giggle and said, "well maybe next time I'll remember not to eat first". Well sweetie you'll be waiting a while, it's a CHRISTMAS STALL.

I also put out crusty bread and drizzled some of the caramelised balsamic into my favourite olive oil (Bunna Bunoo from the Hunter Valley). That went down a real treat. One teenager who obviously didn't have breakfast before he came with his parents, did think it was a cafe and proceeded to stuff as much bread in as he could. He didn't worry about the oil and vinegar, too messy I suspect!!!!

I'm not suggesting you hold a stall, but home made produce makes great gifts, especially for people you want to give something to but don't want to spend a lot.

When I made my basic Christmas cake mixture, I got about 10-12 individual cakes out of it. That's 12 individual gifts. Not bad for one batter mixture. And with the Steamed pudding recipes I got about 15.

Then we packaged them up in little cellophane bags am tied them off with gold string and Tracey designed a delightful label that we printed on clear Avery Labels then stuck on the plastic sheets you buy to back ring bound reports, then guillotined them to size. A little fiddly to create but they looked fabulous.

I cooked each cake in disposable cake mould and the puddings I steamed in 125ml dariole moulds then when they were cooled, I put them into small paper moulds then into the cellophane bags and tied the same as the cakes with their own labels.

Tracey also created stick on labels, again using standard Avery labels, for the sauces and caramelised vinegar.

I've usually always made some part of my Christmas gifts, but this year, I decided to make all of them. It was fun, inexpensive and gave me an excuse to drink lots of champagne while I was cooking and listening to Christmas carols.

If you don't want to go to the trouble of printing clear labels, peeling them off then sticking them on plastic sheets then cutting them up, you can just print the labels on an A4 sheet of stiff card then guillotine or scissor cut them up and place a small hole in the corner to thread the tie string through.

Our parents, God love them, came to help and decided to sell a few things of their own. Not food or gifts, just garage sale items. They did rather well too.

Once you've made home made gifts once, you'll do it time and time again. It really is a lovely gift to give. Perfect for…

  • Colleagues you feel you need to give something to but don't want to spend a lot of money.
  • Your children's school teachers.
  • Friends whose house you're going to for Christmas drinks.
  • Friends you don't really like but need to buy for and don't want to spend a lot on.
  • Neighbours.
  • Suppliers or clients.

Happy Christmas cooking!