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Hints and Things does not use any 1st Party cookies - more information

elves packing toy sack



Every year Christmas seems to rush up on us even though we have had a whole twelve months to get used to the idea.  I thought I would create a new page in the hope it may provide some useful ideas and information for someone out there.

Wrap presents as you go, rather than waiting until the last minute to wrap all your gifts at once.  Do make sure they are clearly marked with the recipient's name to avoid any confusion later on.


To keep your Christmas tree fresh, cut 1 inch off the bottom of the trunk when it arrives at your house.  Immediately soak in boiling water for a few minutes.  Then, keep your tree watered with carbonated lemonade, with a few soluble aspirin added.  This keeps the sap from coagulating and allows your tree to ‘drink’ the sugared water, keeping it fresh for longer.

Marta Young


If you want to make an extra special present for someone and like woodwork, how about this lovely wheelbarrow planter.

wheelbarrow planter

Details instructions can been found here.



Contributed by Brenda Young


8 oz. Plain Flour

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

2 well beaten eggs

1 cup cold water

7 oz. sugar

1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

1 lb. mixed dried fruit

4 oz. butter

1 teaspoon mixed spice

nuts and/or cherries (optional)

3/4 cup sherry (three quarters not three to four cups!!!!!) - a preferred alternative can be substituted here)


Sift together flour and baking powder.  

Place all other ingredients EXCEPT FOR THE EGGS into a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil.  

Remove from heat.

Add the sifted flour and baking powder, then the well beaten eggs.

Pour into a lined cake tin (approx. 8 ins. x 5 ins.) and bake for 1 to  1.1/2 hours on centre shelf at 180 deg. C, (350 deg. F: Gas Mark 4).



You can avoid that last minute shopping panic, not to mention crushes, by making a list of all the people for whom you need presents, then take time to think of suitable items for each person listed.  These gifts can then be purchased well before the Christmas rush begins.  In addition, the selection is often better and it also helps to spread the cost over a longer period.


Check if a Christmas tree is fresh by looking at the cut edge of the truck - it should be sticky with sap.  To keep it fresher for longer, cut 2 ins. from the base of the trunk and stand the tree for two or three days in a bucket of water containing a cup of sugar or some honey before decorating.

Obviously this only applies to cut fresh trees not those with roots attached.



Contributed by Brenda Young



8 oz. plain flour

1/2 (half) teaspoon salt

and/ or 1 dessertspoonful sugar

Spices if required****

6 tablespoons vegetable oil (not Olive oil)

3-4 tablespoons water 

Squeeze lemon juice (optional)


Sieve together the flour, salt, sugar and spices (if used).

Beat together oil, water and lemon juice.

Pour onto the flour mixture and mix witha fork.

Knead lightly, roll out.

Do not try to roll out too thinly and do not keep this pastry.

**** various spices can be added according to the filling e.g. cinnamon with peach, mace with cherry, ginger with rhubarb etc.




13 oz. Plain flour and a little baking powder*

*Self Raising flour can be used with no baking powder added.

1 small cup plain yoghurt or sour cream.

8 oz. margarine


Place flour (and baking powder if used) into a bowl.

Make dip in middle and add yoghurt/cream.

Brush flour over yoghurt/cream.

Cut margarine into small pieces and add to mixture.

Mix with a fork.

Knead and if sticky add a little more flour.

Refrigerate overnight.

This can then be rolled out and spread with such things as jam, grated chocolate, chopped nuts, coconut, sultanas, cocoa and sugar, apples or any similar combinations.

Then roll and bake on a greaseproof sheet in the top of a moderate oven until brown.

350 deg. F., 180 C. or Mark 4 Gas.



A coffee mug, cup and saucer or beer tankard filled with sweets, home made biscuits, nuts etc. make ideal gifts for colleagues, neighbours, teachers etc.

Alternatively, a glass or porcelain bowl/dish can be filled with bath salts, pot pourri, soaps, emery boards, cotton wool balls/buds, nail varnish, floating candles - the list is endless.

For DIY enthusiasts try a container with a lid and include small packets of nails, screws, rawl plugs, measuring tape, sandpaper etc. etc.

A cook would be delighted to receive a baking tin or basket containing different spices.

Children love collecting all the different items to include in this type of gift and can sometimes even make some of the things to be included.


There are many more pages on site with a Christmas theme such as -

Christmas Decorating Tips

How to make economical presents and gifts to give them that personal touch.

Gifts to make and Buy

Tips on how to hang holiday / Christmas lights

Christmas and Party Recipes

Christmas decorations to make and buy

Christmas tree decorations from across the world







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