hintsandthings.co.uk »Spare Room

More Christmas related topics, tips, recipes, gifts etc.

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.


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.



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

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

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

*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

Mix with a fork.

Knead and if sticky add a little more

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 –

Decorating Tips

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

to make and Buy

Tips on how to hang holiday
/ Christmas lights

Christmas and Party Recipes

Christmas decorations
to make and buy

Christmas tree
from across the world