Budget friendly ‘DIY’ Christmas gifts your friends and family will love

By Vanessa Wiltshire

WENDY Gower’s peanut butter and choc chip cookies come out of the oven just begging to be eaten.

With ‘cracked like the desert’ surfaces, they are hot, soft and fragrant. Left to cool for half an hour they harden — but only enough — to deliver a deliciously crunchy bite. Perfect in every way.

Earlier this year the McIvor Times spoke to the popular money-saving blogger, who has appeared on A Current Affair, Mama Mia and

Her tips for ending up with more money at the end of the month were so popular, we decided to follow up with her tips for budget-friendly Christmas gifts.

“For me Christmas is, and always has been, about making do with what I have, or what I can source relatively inexpensively” Wendy said.

“For example, glass jars make excellent packaging for gifts like homemade cookies, hot chocolate, even bath bombs. Op shops are wonderful places to find secondhand glass jars, even ‘buy swap sell’ sites. If you ask, you’ll be amazed at what you find.

“I’m such a fan of DIY. It shows people you care. It also means less packaging goes to landfill. Plus, it’s budget friendly.”

Journalist Ness Wiltshire decided to road test three of Wendy’s top recommendations; peppermint hot chocolate, bath bombs with coconut oil and tea-tree essential oil, and, the peanut butter choc chip cookies.

“I had a lot of fun in the kitchen on Saturday,” Ness said. “I used a bath bomb in the shower, and it made my skin feel smooth and revitalised. An inexpensive way to exfoliate the skin, and gentle enough to use it every day. The tea-tree essential oil made me feel alert and awake — just what I need at this busy time of year”.

“The cookies were a huge hit. My husband loves them. I’ll be sending them to work with him every day this week. And the hot chocolate — creamy and decadent. Perfect for Christmas Eve with your favourite liquor.”

For more recipes, and Christmas and money-saving tips, visit Wendy’s blog at

Wendy’s peanut butter and choc-chip cookies

1 cup of butter or margarine (250 grams)

¾ cup of white sugar

¾ cup of brown sugar

½ cup of peanut butter – crunchy or smooth

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda ( bi carb )

2 ½ cups of plain flour

½ cup of choc chips

½ cup of crushed peanuts

Cream the butter/margarine and sugars together with electric beaters.

Add the peanut butter, baking powder and baking soda and mix well.

Add the flour, choc chips and crushed peanuts and mix well.

Roll dough to desired size on to greased baking trays and flatten with your hand. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 180°C until slightly golden around the edges. Remove from the tray when cool.

Cookies stay fresh for up to seven days in an airtight container. They are great as teachers’ presents.

Wendy’s bath bombs

We used coconut oil and added an extra tablespoon. The consistency should be like wet sand. We also found the bath bombs are best baked on an extremely low oven for 30 minutes, with care not to burn.

Wendy’s hot chocolate

We added peppermint chip chocolate and marshmellows to this recipe.