The mental load of working out what to get people for Christmas can be incredibly challenging. A practice that I’ve incorporated into my lifestyle is connecting with my friends to make Christmas presents together, as everyone has a passion that they enjoy in their leisure time, be it cooking, creative arts, knitting/crocheting, gardening, reading, performing or engaging in a sport of some kind.

These productive Christmas parties started a decade ago during my undergraduate days, when I didn’t have much cash and still wanted to do Christmas presents for my friends and family. Chatting with friends from other sharehouses there were a few that had a passion for food.  We picked out a recipe each that we knew how to make and had a fun day cooking together and splitting up products for everyone on our Christmas lists. It was certainly much more cost-effective and didn’t involve several weekends at shopping centres and outlet stores!

This approach takes a lot of the pressure and financial stress away from giving presents, by setting aside a day to exchange some skills, learn from each other and generate some cost-effective gifts whilst having a great time. Today’s post for Day 19 is all about 2019’s productive cooking and crafting Christmas party that I organised with a group of girlfriends.

Make it fun and don’t go it alone!

A traditional Christmas party that you have with family and friends can be a hassle to organise, with all of the logistics and catering for the event. By turning it into more of a potluck or a share-a-plate style, it can reduce the amount of time as a host to prepare for an event and also expose you to types of food that you’ve not encountered before!

Hosting a craft and food Christmas party was a bit of a worlds colliding type experience, where I had friends from volunteering, old housemates and co-workers meet for the first time. A few of the girls had friends or family that were also excited to attend, so it was a really great mix of people and the experience created a sense of community.

We had had some discussions online about the types of things that we’d all like to make and I gathered supplies based on everyone’s interests. The day was by no means planned or structured and left to organically sort itself out by catering to what everyone felt like doing at the time. It was also awesome to see friends teaching what they had just learnt to newcomers to the event.  

Also, the day was about connecting, chatting with like-minded people and reflecting on the year that each of us had experienced. Christmas can be a really difficult time of year with high expectations, family conflict, burnout, financial pressures and loneliness. It’s important to be able to be there for each other and be mindful that people that you’re close to could be needing some emotional support.

Beyond Blue has an excellent article for how to take care of yourself and those around you this holiday season. If you find yourself experiencing difficulties over the Christmas period, there are other great resources online and phone support services that you can access as well.

What we made…

Over the course of the day we made a few different types of things, these are summarised below with their affiliated recipes and/or instructions:

1. Vegan Lip Balm

Using candelilla resin as a substitute for beeswax, you follow a double boiler method where you add any essential oils afterwards. This one actually sets a lot faster than beeswax, but fear not, you can pop the bowl back over the pot to re-melt the portion of the mix that didn’t make it into the containers before solidifying! 🙂

Vegan Lip Balm created during our crafting adventures!

See Organic Beauty Recipes for more details at:

2. Mango Chutney

I’ve been making this one for over a decade, it’s my favourite kind of chutney, everything goes in the one pot and it makes a tonne of jars. We ended up making up a huge batch with two trays of mangoes!

See Not Quite Nigella’s amazing recipe below:

https://www.notquitenigella.com/2013/02/01/made-from-scratch-mango-chutney/

3. Beeswax Lip Balm

This recipe utilises a double boiler method where you add any essential oils afterwards. We chose the same rosemary and peppermint oil mix as used in the vegan version.

Beeswax lip balm set in containers.

The Inspired Little Pot gives a great step-by-step guide for creating your own lip balm below:

4. Beeswax Wraps

My friend Nikki attended a Beeswax Wrap workshop at The Planting Festival earlier this year. She showed me how to make the wraps in exchange for my soap making knowledge in November. I passed along the technique to everyone on Monday, it’s super straightforward, all you need is an iron and ironing board, an old towel, baking paper, beeswax, pine resin, coconut oil and the fabric you want to turn into wraps!

Putting the fabric pretty side down, you sprinkle grated beeswax like cheese on a pizza (a + b), then season with a little bit of pine resin and coconut oil (c). After placing baking paper on top, you gently iron the bundle on a medium low heat (d). The mixture starts to melt and coat the fabric and after it is evenly applied (e), you can gently peel the baking paper back, let it cool for 30 seconds and then place it on a clothesline to fully dry (f).  

5. Crochet Coasters

I taught myself to crochet this year by watching YouTube videos. One of the girls had admired the coasters that I had created for our dining room table. As we were starting to wind down and have dinner, I gave a crash course in how to do some basic crochet stitches so they could continue to work on the project at home with the guide by Bella Coco and YouTube video below:

Final cost of items

To reduce the cost of the items that we created, we utilised a few different tricks of:

Each of the items worked out to be the following prices, and we also had some excess leftover that I have been selling to my neighbours, friends and family that were unable to attend on the day!

ItemPrice
Vegan Lip Balm$2 per jar
Mango Chutney$2 per jar
Beeswax Lip Balm$2 per jar
Beeswax Wraps$14 for a kitchen set
Crochet CoastersFree!

Interest generated for future events

From chatting to everyone about the day, it was unanimous that they were really glad to have been able to attend and are keen to keep in touch to do these types of events on a more regular basis. There’s a few ideas brewing like:

  • DIY beauty routine day with face masks, scrubs, cleansers, toners and moisturisers
  • Tomato day for passata
  • Preserving summer’s stone-fruit bounty for cold winter days
  • Soapmaking  

Share with us!

Today’s feature image is of the delicious mango chutney we made over 30 jars of on Monday, with our Moong Dal dinner simmering away in the slower cooker 🙂

We hope that today’s post encourages you to consider tackling your Christmas present list by hosting a similar style event with your friends!

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