The need for speed

Just three days to Christmas and let’s be honest – time is precious right now. Yes, handmade stuff looks amazing and costs just pennies, but no-one has the time to be faffing around making jam by hand or baking biscuits to use as Christmas tree decorations. That moment has passed.

But if you’re still stuck for a couple of presents, or your tree is a bit bare, here are a couple of solutions – each looks like it took you ages to lovingly pull together, but only takes ten minutes max, promise.
A last-minute present that suits everyone
Everyone loves sweets, from best mates to brothers – and they can keep the useful jar afterwards.
Visit Poundland, a 99p Store or Pound Stretcher, and buy an old-school jam or sweet jar like the one above. Then, from the same shop, buy a couple of bags of sweets – go for retro Fruit Salads and Black Jacks; different flavoured bonbons; liquorice strings; or even multi-packs of Orbit chewing gum. Finally, you’ll need a piece of ribbon (satin or metallic curling ribbon) and a luggage tag (can’t find one? Cut up a spare Christmas card and punch a hole in it).
Pulling it together:
Pop the sweets in the jar. Tie the ribbon round the neck of the jar. Write the name of the sweets, or a Christmas message, on the luggage tag. Easy!
Total cost: £3-4.
Professional tree decorations
Origami birds look fab hung from a Christmas tree or bunch of sticks arranged in a vase. Or you can just pop one on every guest’s plate as a table decoration. And despite appearances, they’re dead easy to make.
Take some wrapping paper and cut it into squares 15cm by 15cm. Grab a reel of cotton thread (any colour), a needle and some scissors. Turn on your computer.
Pulling it together:
Visit Follow the simple instructions to make your origami birds (the beauty of a video is that you can pause and rewind if you get stuck). If you want to hang it up, use the needle to thread cotton through the top part of your bird and tie to make a loop. Voila!
Total cost: free
Cheat’s chutney
Okay so this is a bit cheeky, but it transforms an ordinary item into something a bit more special – perfect for aunties, nans and neighbours.
Buy a couple of jars of shop-made chutney, marmalade, jam – whatever takes your fancy. Grab a sideplate, some scissors (pinking shears are best but ordinary ones will do), a scrap of cotton fabric (you could use an old brightly-coloured top or t-shirt if you have nothing else), some string and a luggage tag (or cut up a spare Christmas card and punch a hole in it). Boil a kettle.
Pulling it together:
Stand your jar in the sink or a large bowl, and pour hot/boiling water round it until the label is covered. Leave it to soak until the label rubs off easily. Then take the sideplate and use it as a template to draw a circle on the underside of your fabric. Cut out the circle. Place it over the lid of the jam jar and tie round the neck with a piece of string. Attach your luggage label and write the name of the jar’s contents on it. Done!
Total cost: £2-3.

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