WHAT TO INCLUDE IN A HOMEMADE LETTERBOX GIFT SET FOR FRIENDS OR FAMILY…

I love making gifts for my friends and family and nowadays you get get gift box subscriptions from a number of companies but actually making your own homemade letterbox gift set is a bit more unique and very very special.

With lockdown slowly but surely coming to an end I thought it might be a nice idea to put together a letterbox gift for some of your special friends and family who you have not seen for a while.

So, here are my ideas and how to go about making a letterbox gift. The first thing I did was to go and look on websites like Etsy and Not on the High Street. I wanted to make a note of the size of box I would need. There are lots of websites that sell letterbox size boxes but the minimum I could find was for 25. Amazon is your best bet where I found 10 for £5.60 and the size was perfect at 200x100x20mm. This is a large box but the bigger the better I think. You then need to think about weight and postage price which you can find online at The Post Office.

Making it a bit special means thinking about a lining and tissue paper seems to be the post popular and can easily picked up from The Post Office or local Supermarket. Now it’s time to decide what you want to put in your box.

Making it personal is what will make this a very special gift so start with your own handmade card with some plain card which again you could buy from The Post Office or, you could do like I do. I keep all my Birthday and Christmas cards and cut them up so that I can use them for friends and family cards. To make it personal you can use ladybug clipart. Clipart can make it look so professional and you can even make your own envelope and use them on that. Making your own envelopes is also easy with plain or patterned paper and you can find lots of images and videos on how to make your own envelope on Pinterest.

So, you have your box, your tissue paper to wrap it in and your personalised card to put inside the box. Now its time to think about what you want to put in your box. The best way to start this is to have a blank page for each person you are making these boxes for and start listing the special things you remember about them by using the alphabet. Here is a list of ideas to get you started. Write the list by asking yourself if they like any of the ones I am listing.

A. Art, Animals, Aunt – you could add a piece of art in it or an image of their favourite dog and is this for your Aunt so ask your Mum if she has idea of things she loves.

B. Birthday, Books, Baking, Biscuits, Birds – you could time it for their birthday, add a book if they love reading books, maybe a baking book if they like baking and their favourite biscuits or the latest bird food for their favourite outside animals.

C. Cooking, Card, Chocolates, Country, Coffee, Cat, Candles, Clip-art – you could find something different and very small that could help with cooking, make a few handmade cards for them, put in their favourite chocolates, or their favourite coffee which you can now buy in ‘bags’, a tiny fluffy cat, some candles and some bumblebee clipart so they can have a go at it themselves.

D. Dog, Daddy – you could put in a personalised doggy gift (handmade by yourself of course) anything personalised with Daddy on will melt any Dads heart.

E. Essential Oils – I use these for soooo many things as there has to be one that every one likes.

F. Flowers, Food, Friend, Feminine – you could put a small bunch of dried flowers in the box, little sample food items, if its your special friend then anything with special friend on, and if he/she loves smelly things then you can go to Boots Travel Size products and buy some to pop into the box.

G. Gardening, Golf, Grandma, Grandad – you could buy some seeds for that gardener you know or golf pegs for the golf lover and if its for Grandma or Grandad then you should start with a photo book and let it grow from there.

H. Hobbies, Hair Products – I have mentioned a few hobbies but there are so many your friend or family member may love something unusual but you are sure to be able to buy something for it. Hair Products is useful to all of us and again you can buy travel or sachet size to pop into your box.

I. Initial, make something yourself or look on lovely sites like Etsy and Not On The High Street.

J. Jigsaw, Jewellery – you could buy or have a jigsaw made through a photo shop company, or buy this lovely collectable work of art for their wrists.

K. Knitting, KeepFit, – you could buy them a knitting pattern and some wool and put it into the box and for a KeepFit fanatic then how about a video or some sweat bands or fun item that relates to being fit.

L. Logo or Lego – you could get a Logo designed online for someone just starting up in business or for a bit of fun to put in your box and I included Lego as what man doesn’t like a bit of Lego to play with. The adult stuff I mean. You can buy small ones with sooooo many pieces.

M. Memories, Magazines, Mum – you could put some memories together with a photo book. I absolutely love them and make them on a regular basis. You just cannot beat putting all your memories together. Magazines is an easy one as I am sure most family or friends would love a magazine to read, and there are a few companies online which will let you purchase a single magazine rather than a subscription. Finally Mum, well where do you start. You would probably need a bigger box with Mum but maybe start with a photo book and a few bits and give her a bigger one next time around.

N. Nails, Newspaper – nail polish and accessories is a great one and even the guys need nail clippers. Newspapers are a lovely thought for the elderly as you could find a really old one to pop into the box. It will bring back lots of memories.

O. Organised – this is to think of how organised are they. Could they do with a lovely A-Z or a book on decluttering. There is plenty out now to help people become more organised.

P. Pictures/Photosbook/Poster/Painting – back to the pictures again. Happy pictures bring back happy memories and at the moment we all have time to look through our suitcases of old pictures. Pop a few in the box to bring a memory back to life. Photobooks as I am talked about before are very easy to do online now. Posters can again be done using clip-art. Painting I have really only taken up over the last year when I was given an adult paint by numbers but I absolutely love it.

Q. Quotes – think of little quotes that are appropriate to the box received and pop them into a little box or envelope for them to open when they are feeling a bit low.

R. Reading – if they love reading you can easily pop a couple of books into your box but before you buy them check how thick they are so you will know if they will fit in the box.

S. Scrapbook, Spa, Sewing, Sweets, Sachets, Shed – you could start a scrapbook to put into the box of a family member and ask them to add to it the send it onto another member of the family to add to it. Spa was just to trigger off what you could put in the box for someone to enjoy a spa at home. Sewing has become very popular again but you can buy some really fab vintage sewing patterns online for someone who is a keep sewer. Sweets is very popular in boxes and easy to get or miniature packets. Sachets are also available now in supermarkets and online and could be facial products, hand or body products and very easy and light to put in your box. Shed was for the keen gardener but these man sheds are full of all sorts now.

T. Tea- there are so many types of tea you can buy now and can make a lovely box with just a book and some biscuits or chocolate.

U. Uncles – is this for your Uncle, maybe ask your Aunt for a few hints.

V. View – do they love a view, do they overlook a view. You could make a lovely poster or image from a picture you have taken of the country side or seaside and a very personal item.

W. Writing – do they love writing or like having notebooks around. I do, I have them everywhere and have one friend who always buys me some for Christmas. You can buy some stunning ones online and a lovely addition to the box with maybe a biro thrown in as well.

My A-Z is just my ideas but it could help you to put yours together and get started with your box. When its all finished and packed ready to go you could even finish with a touch of clipart. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them. Enjoy making your box, it will definitely put a smile on someone’s face.

FORAGING NEAR THE COAST…

Foraging –

forage/ˈfɒrɪdʒ/Learn to pronounceverbgerund or present participle: foraging

  1. (of a person or animal) search widely for food or provisions.”the birds forage for aquatic invertebrates, insects, and seeds”
    • obtain (food or provisions) by searching.”a girl foraging grass for oxen”
    • search (a place) so as to obtain food.”units that were foraging a particular area”

Foraging has become quite a popular word or late and no more than by the coast and countryside. In fact, you can go on numerous Foraging Courses where with this particular one Bushcraft and Celtic folklore specialist, Jonathon Huet, will take you on a guided walk to forage for wild food and impart his knowledge on different native trees in each season. The walk ends with a primitive fire-lighting demonstration and you will experience a Celtic Fire Ceremony around the glowing embers of the fire and learn the folklore of native trees.

There are short breaks when life gets back to normal or study your local district coastal foraging information. The UK coastline is one of the largest in Europe and is host to a wide range of habitats. From machair to cliffs to salt marsh, providing homes for everything from plants to birds.

Low Impact write how coastal foraging covers a wide variety of wild food available at the coast – plants, seaweeds, shellfish and crustaceans etc. Coastal foraging can be done everywhere from sea cliffs and dunes, out to the low tide point in the rocks, gullies and pools, as well as mudflats and estuaries. Coastlines offer a particularly abundant and one of the most dependable habitats for foragers. For these reasons, throughout our history humans have often chosen to live by the sea. Midden piles of discarded shells from ancient coastal foragers are the evidence that remains, and attest to the importance of the seashore as a plentiful food resource.

Some coastal food remains common in our diets today, such as prawns and crabs, and even carragheen seaweed hidden as a thickener in anything from toothpaste to desserts; whilst others, still delicious and nutritious, like winkles have fallen off the radar somewhat.

Coastal foraging can provide you with an abundance of truly nutritious food. In particular, shellfish offer a very high energy return with little input, and other than some low-cost (or even home made) equipment, it is free! Seaweed can be easily harvested and is high in vitamins and minerals.

Some coastal areas are now protected, either because of birds, flowers, insects, grasses and even due to the importance of the marine ecology under the waves, so its worth browsing your local councils website for more details of the type of areas you can forage.

You can find some great recipes from cookery books like The Seaweed Cookbook : A guide to edible seaweeds and how to cook by by Caroline Warwick-Evans and Tim van Berkel (Author), The Cornish Seaweed Company

 There are 100 deliciously creative recipes from simple and wholesome dishes to chef-inspired specials. Often overlooked during rock pool scrambles and beach walks, seaweed is one of the most nutritious, versatile, sustainable and intriguing natural products.

Another brilliant book is Eat The Beach : A Guide to Edible Seashore by Fraser Christian (Author)

Eat the Beach is a uniquely informative, practical guide to coastal foraging, essential for anyone interested in survival skills or just wanting to get more out of messing about in rock pools. Fraser Christian runs the UK’s only specialist Coastal Survival School. This book teaches anyone how to collect it, catch it, prepare it, cook it and enjoy it.

The website Low Impact go on to remind you that it’s worth taking the sea, and it’s changeable weather seriously, but don’t let it put you off. Check the weather before you go and particularly avoid disorientating sea mists or storms. It’s very important to be aware of the tide times, and the speed of the incoming tide. Because of the risks, it’s generally best to go with someone, and take a phone. It’s good practice to tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to be back.

VINTAGE CAKE BAKING TIP…

A great baking tip from a few decades ago. “To extend the life of your cake store with an apple or a couple of sugar lumps. “It’s a long time since I’ve seen sugar lumps but I am sure you can still buy them.

FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT GRANDMA’S APRON..

The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few.

It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the Autumn, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, to tell us it was time to come in for dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.

Grandma would also set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters now set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.