This year celebrate a totally natural noel

FESTIVE FARE: Candied ginger makes a tangy and tasty gift for those who like the sweeter things in life.
FESTIVE FARE: Candied ginger makes a tangy and tasty gift for those who like the sweeter things in life.

Old-fashioned and natural ideas are always welcome and help to fill the Christmas celebration with special warmth.

Today, using crafts of bygone days will ensure your gift is something special and unique.

For someone with a sweet tooth, candied ginger is bound to be a hit.

Pare 500 grams of fresh ginger root and cut into long thin slices, across the grain.

Cover with about one-and-a-half cups of cold water in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Simmer for five minutes, drain, and cover with one-and-a-half cups of cold water again. Heat to boiling and simmer for five minutes more, then drain and dry well on cake racks.

Combine two cups of white sugar and one cup of water in a small pan. Boil for ten minutes, add ginger slices and cook over a very low heat, making sure that it doesn't boil.

Stir and cook until all the syrup is absorbed - about 40 minutes.

Remove the ginger, dry on a rack, then roll the cooled ginger in castor sugar. Let it stand in the sugar until it has crystallised.

Men will appreciate the fragrance and gentleness of a herbal aftershave lotion. Unlike those that are alcohol-based, this lotion will soften and soothe facial skin.

Break up into small pieces three tablespoons each of dried sage leaves and dried rosemary leaves.

Next, mix together 300mls each of good quality cider vinegar and distilled water, and heat to just below boiling point. Pour the liquid over the herbs, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave to steep for 12 hours.

Strain and stir in one-and-a-half cups of witch hazel (available from chemists and health food stores) and drip through coffee filter paper.

Store in a glass bottle and cap securely with a non-metallic lid. If the scent is not strong enough, repeat the process by adding a fresh batch of herbs to the vinegar solution.

And for anyone who is even a little self-indulgent and occasionally enjoys luxuriating in an aromatic bath, lavender bath bags are sure to be well received.

Put a small pile of dried lavender flowers - English lavenders have a very strong scent - in the middle of a small square of fabric, such as lavender-coloured, sprigged, thin cotton and tie into a small ball.

Secure with a piece of string, long enough so the bag can be hung from the bath tap and let the hot water gush through it. Tie several of these bath bags together with a lavender-coloured bow and attach an appropriate swing tag.

This Christmas, take a helping hand from Nature and let her make it a little different and enjoyable.