Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Handmade Christmas

Have you ever challenged your family with a handmade Christmas?  We have not done this for quite a few years but it is a fun challenge and really makes the gift giver and the recipient think about what they are giving and the effort that the other person has put into making the gift they are receiving.

When I talk about this idea with people I get mixed reactions.  Some have already had a handmade Christmas with their family and others just can't see how they would ever have the time or the skills to be able to make an acceptable gift.

It does require some thought and an assessment of your skills, but there are so many ways to make your own gifts, or decorations, cards or wrapping for a home made Christmas that it is really worth giving it a try.
A few years ago I made some lovely crochet snowflakes to decorate my tree.  I only made 7 or 8 and they looked so lovely that this year I've decided to add to the collection and make more.  They are starched with a powdered starch that is mixed with water and the snowflake is submerged in that and then the excess is squeezed out.  Then I pinned it into shape using just regular dressmakers pins and a cardboard box.
While crocheting these I thought a set of snowflake decorations would be a lovely homemade gift and started thinking who I knew that would like a set.  Pretty soon I was envisioning myself under a pile of snowflakes because pretty much all my friends, work colleagues and family would like these.

The patterns I am using this year can be found at Coats Crafts here and they are offered free, and there are plenty more than can be easily found with a quick search on the internet.

Crochet Snowflakes before starching and pinning
I'm not the worlds most confident crocheter as I prefer to knit, but many years ago I learnt to crochet and so I have the basic skills.  I went in search of patterns that indicated they were 'easy' to make.  I use a thin white cotton thread, No 10, and a 2.5mm crochet hook.  Both of these can be picked up very inexpensively from a local craft store or even thrift store.  This makes a set of crochet snowflakes are very very economical present and one I am sure would be greatly appreciated by friends and family as they are both beautiful and the recipient can see that you have spent valuable time making something special just for them.

Pinned and starched snowflake, drying
Maybe crochet is not your strong point but you are a terrific cook or gardener, sewer, woodworker, painter etc.  There are plenty of ideas to make for gifts if you just give it some thought and have enough time to be creative.

One year I kept a small baby food jar of every preserve I made throughout the year and grouped them all into a gift basket for my uncle.  His reaction at Christmas was worth that little bit of extra work each time.  I have also bottled homemade Bailey's Irish Cream which was a welcome gift with everyone who received it.

Knitted items, socks, hats, tops etc, are usually under our tree despite having Christmas in Summer here in Australia.  Other ideas could include fruit cake, truffles, cookies or boiled sweets, potted plants, vegetable from your garden in hampers, for the adults. Wooden toys, slime, gak, playdough, dolls clothes for the kids.  The ideas are endless and the internet makes it so much easier to find them these days.  Check out the 'crafts' page here on the blog for some more ideas.

If you are struggling with the Global Financial Crisis and are wondering just how to get through Christmas this year why not announce to your family and friends that this years Christmas theme is 'Homemade' and ask them all to join in.



  1. When we were travelling I would decorate our tree (a branch of any random tree) with homemade ornaments. One year it was origami, one year felt ornaments, one year baked clay. thanks for the snowflake idea - I think that is just what my tree needs this year. By the way I have never been able to get those baby jars to seal again, the lids keep popping off - what is your trick?

    1. The preserves basket was many years ago africanaussie. I can't remember doing anything special beyond filling with hot jam so a vacuum seal was created when it cooled down. That's how I bottle my jam these days too. I may have given some a water bath to seal them. It could be that they are not made to reseal these days as a safety measure against keeping baby food for too long.

  2. Please pardon my ignorance, or naivety... but one thing that I have always wondered about is how Christmas is celebrated in the Southern Hemisphere... without snow.

    A few years ago I asked a friend of mine who is originally from South Africa how Santa came to his house. He looked at me like I had just asked the most illogical question. I was curious if he came in a "sleigh pulled by 8 tiny reindeer" or came another way since there was no snow. He never really answered my question... perhaps it was the fact that I am a grown adult, without children and purportedly, intelligent. But I really have no idea how it works. I think it has something to do with the magic corn the reindeer eat and that the snow is not necessary.

    So... anyway, that's a long intro into why I am surprised to see snowflakes for your Christmas Tree. :-)

    They are very beautiful.

  3. We still have all the Christmas cards with snow covered scenes on them but as you say it is Summer here at that time of year and usually quite a hot day. Many families will spend Christmas Day at the beach. Our family always has a cold lunch feast with a lot of cold turkey or chicken, some seafood and many different salads. Dessert is always trifle and pavlova covered with fresh cream and fresh fruit.
    Santa still comes in a sleigh pulled by reindeer that lands on the roof and comes either down the chimney if you have one or in through the window. Kids leave out milk and cookies or other treats and something for the reindeer. People decorate their houses with lights and we put trees up and decorate them but usually about 1st December each year and we open presents early Christmas morning. Some families still do the traditional Christmas roast for lunch or dinner but many have converted to more practical fare for hot weather.


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