_ It may save you time and energy, but it will cost you extra to get ready-made Christmas hampers. So why not put on your thinking cap and come up with your own custom-made hampers? All you need are some cardboard boxes, wrapping paper and cellophane, and voila! Making your own Christmas hampers, on top of being a money-saver, can turn out to be a great source of family fun if you ask your kids to help you. If you are stumped for ideas and have no clue where to begin, we have put together a few to get you started.

You can reuse old cardboard boxes for this exercise; take out some old shoe boxes or the box in which your stereo came if you need something bigger. Try to get one that can be sealed or that has a lid, in the case of shoe boxes. If you cannot find either in your house, you can buy the boxes from packaging supply retailers. Next, get some wrapping paper with colours that suit the occasion; for Christmas these are usually red and green. Wrap the paper all around the box, taping it in place on the inside of the box. Fold the excess paper at the corners of the box and tape or glue it down. You can then spice up the box by cutting out shapes from the remaining wrapping paper (the red one if you had wrapped the box in green or vice versa) and pasting them onto the sides of the box. You can go a step further and make paper flowers or wrap the box in a satin ribbon, tying a neat bow at the top.

If you will be packaging edibles in the cardboard box, make sure they are impermeable to moisture as this could ruin whatever surprise dish you had packed. You might want to store the goodies in an air tight container before putting them in the decorated box.

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