Last minute homemade Christmas gifts

This year more than most, there will plenty of Christmas shoppers wondering how they can afford to give presents without busting their budget. But if you're strapped for cash and dreading the last minute dash to the shop to snap up a few bargains, you might be better off considering something homemade.

Christmas candles
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Not only does homemade say you care, get it right and it can be a unique and thoughtful gift. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

If you like getting creative and have an artists' eye, consider printing your own T-shirt designs. Cheap and cheerful plain T-shirts are available at plenty of the budget clothes stores which means you can save a few pennies to spend on transferring your design to the fabric.

There are a host of different products designed for fabric printing - fabric pens are great for putting your own artwork on the shirt (particularly if you want to get the kids involved) but for computer-savvy artists there are plenty of products that allow you to simply transfer an image from a printed or photocopied document onto the T-shirt - when you peel the dry paper off, the image remains and it gives excellent results.

Not blessed with a talent for drawing? Fall back on that old favourite, the mix CD. Okay, so these days it's more likely to be an MP3 playlist but it still promises to put a smile on your loved one's face. It could be a set of Christmas classics, a rocking party playlist or a romantic collection to bring back a few fond memories.

Alternatively, you could get sentimental with a photo frame - pick up a frame from a pound store to display either an old family photo or your best arty snap. Better still, if you have a little time to spare, make your own frame from card and get creative with the decoration.

Buying for a plant lover? A simple but lovely idea is to find a pretty mug or bowl (junk shops are perfect for attractive bargains) and plant a budding flower or an array of aromatic herbs inside. It may not last forever, but the vessel can always be washed and used again.

And, of course, you can't go far wrong with a foody gift. Homemade cookies, fudge or chocolate truffles don't have to be expensive, are quick to make and, though they may not last long, they almost always go down well.

So if you don't have a great deal of time, a little thought and creativity might just provide the answer to your Christmas shopping prayers.
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