home made

a twiggy christmas star

Our neighbours have a magnificent gum tree that hangs over our fence. I don’t know how long it will be there for, because one of the big limbs just dropped off in the storms a year or so ago.  And they got an arborist to take a look at it confirming that it’s on its last inner urban legs (it’s a short life for inner urban trees that drop branches).

And it’s a profilic twig dropper as well.  Which has been handy lately, becuase I have collected some and made myself a twiggy christmas star for our front door.

IMG_7573

It’s cute isn’t it?

I got out my glue gun and glued the twigs into place, and then tied up the critical points with garden twine.

I tucked in some tiny spring/summer flowers – seaside daisy and salvia ‘hot lips’ – to make it a bit pretty.

I think I might collect some larger sticks and make a bigger one.  And use it as the base of a Christmas wreath.  With some more substantial flowers.

Clearly I am on a bit of a ‘nature craft’ roll.

Have you made anything crafty for Christmas this year?

IMG_7576

it’s beginning to feel a lot like christmas …

You know how sometimes you just have little rules that you live by …  well, I have a rule about Christmas. That we put the tree up on 1 December. And not a day earlier.

I nearly compromised and did it on Sunday. But then I decided that November was a slippery slope, and I just didn’t want to go there.

So I waited one more day, and I dragged out the plastic tree ($5 at the op shop) yesterday. We used to have a real one.  It lasted about 5 years. It had a couple of years of looking small but quite good, and a couple of years of looking a bit wonky.  And then I repotted it and it died. The plastic one is indestructible and at least for the short term is perfect for us.  And it reminds me of my childhood.

I put the tree up while the girls were at school. And I went shopping for wrapping paper, and started wrapping all the second hand presents I had stored under the bed.  Hooray! I was super glad to get them out. It was getting pretty full under there.

IMG_7486

This year I chose minty green wrapping paper. And my home made gift tags which feature washi tape for colour are matching nicely. Lovely.

When the girls got home they decorated the tree.

Every Christmas tree needs a theme right? Our theme doesn’t really revolve around colour. I stick to lights and an eclectic mix of individual decorations. That’s it. I try and add in a couple of new ones each year. And chuck out any that are looking a bit tired or trashy.

IMG_7507

The big red and white striped balls are my new addition this year. They’ve got a bell in them and I really bought them because I thought Lolly our cat would like them (she loves chasing christmas decorations – they end up all over the house).

But mostly our tree reflects crafty projects and creative fun. There was the year we painted glass balls.  And the year Elise made felt with Tahlia’s kinder class and then cut out bells and trees and stars. And the year I sewed felt Christmas trees and added sequins to them.  And the year the girls threaded buttons at kinder.  And then last year India made a photo frame star at school …  And more.  Lots more.

Everyone at our house likes to add their own creations to the tree and talk about where they made them.  So it is definitely a group effort to decorate.  And a great way to celebrate crafty fun.

Do you have lots of home made things on your tree?

10 great ideas for a home made christmas

In our family we have a home made (and second hand) Christmas.  So, you either have to make something for the present you give or purchase it second hand.  It’s about sharing the creative things you like doing and valuing each others skills, time and effort.

And if you get a second hand present, it is often a very thoughtful present.  Because someone has seen something that REALLY reminds them of you (like a nice golf shirt for dad).

Today I have put together a list of 10 great home made gift ideas.  They are tried and tested …

1.  Cook some food

Food is a great present.   For someone who has everything, disposal gifts are ideal.

Preserves are a great starting point.  Everyone uses tomato relish. Strawberry jam is good too.  Last year we had rhubarb in the garden and so I made rhubarb relish.  We ate it on Christmas day.  And I gave a jar to everyone to take home.  It was a great Christmas present.  And here are olives from our tree and tamarillo paste that I have packaged up nicely  – we have a tamarillo tree in our garden.

If one jar of jam seems a bit meagre, you can make a ‘home made food hamper’.  Buy a basket or a nice box and fill it up with jams and preserves and vinegars and cellophane wrapped biscuits.

Nick, my brother-in-law makes an annual gift of florentine biscuits.  I think he uses his Mum’s recipe.  He makes them with dark chocolate and my Mum loves them.

You can give these types of presents to anyone.  Neighbours, friends, teachers.

2. Make slime or playdough

While we are on a cooking theme, making something fun for the kids like slime if they are at primary school, or playdough if they are at kinder is a good present.  Package the slime in a nice jar, with a cute label.  It lasts for ages if you keep it in the fridge.  And playdough can look gorgeous in the right packaging.  You could make rainbow playdough.  Or you could add some Christmas glitter and package it up with some cookie cutters.  Or a tea set.  Or some wooden blocks. Or a packet of coloured icy pole sticks.  Playdough goes with some many things.

IMG_6052

3. Knit or crochet something practical

Does someone in your family enjoy a cup of tea?  Why not knit or crochet a tea cosy.  You could buy a new teapot and add some home made love with a cosy.  Or you could jazz up a groovy second hand pot with a home made tea cosy.  A couple of Christmas’s ago I specialised in cosies (with roses on the top).  I got inspiration from some books I borrowed from the library.  I am sure there are loads of patterns online as well.

IMG_5974

Or knit a dish cloth or two.  I have given these away with a bottle of fancy dish washing liquid.  Or you could look out for an interesting dish washing brush. Everyone washes dishes.  Everyone could do with a home made dish cloth.

IMG_6037

Or a hot water bottle cover.  I made these quite a few years ago now.  I knitted one for myself, one for Elise and one for each of Clive’s parents.  These were all the people I knew who unashamedly advertised that they used hot water bottles (I didn’t want to give them to people who might think they were daggy!).

IMG_5995

4.  Decorate some salad servers

I am always happy to get a set of nice salad servers.  Buy some plain timber ones and add some personality.  I recently bought a whole heap of salad servers and painted them black or white.  I used acrylic paint and then waxed over the top.

You could give these as presents by themselves or with a salad bowl or platter if you wanted to add something extra.

5. Grow a plant and pot it up

As already mentioned, we have a tamarillo tree and Clive is sure that everyone else in the world needs to own one of these trees as well.  I quite like tamarillo paste with cheese and biscuits, but he eats them when the are ripe and loves them (I find them a bit too sour).  I agree it is a handy tree to own.

This year he saved some seeds from the fruit and he has been growing tamarillo plants for Christmas presents.

IMG_6053

And Elise is busy taking cuttings from her favourite indoor plants and growing some for presents as well.  She was inspired by Ali.  I can see it is going to be a ‘green’ Christmas at our house this year.

6. Make a family calendar/video

Every year for the last 5 or 6 years someone in our family has made a calendar for every family.  Merryn is currently carrying the mantle.  She uses Snapfish I think. The calendar is super.  She puts in everyone’s birthdays (so there’s no excuse for forgetting) and she loads it up with photos taken in the previous year and places them in the calendar in the month relevant to the birthday boys and girls (ladies and gents).  The kids love to get to their month and look at all the photos from the previous year.

And last year my aunty had some film footage that my grandpa took about 45 years ago converted to digital.  She gave everyone a DVD for Christmas. It was of her and my mum playing with their cousins at the beach when they were young.  And all the extended family that I didn’t meet or don’t remember except through photos.  That really was a great present.

7. Make a quilt

Like quilting?  Make a quilt.  I have made 5 quilts for my own kids and some of my nieces and nephews over the years.   It is a big job to tackle. So I always give them at Christmas so that at least all the effort gets admired!  And hopefully the recipients will keep their quilt forever and remember who made it for them.

IMG_6004

8. Give  a voucher

My Mum and Dad always give me babysitting vouchers.  They are such a great present.  It just means I can ask without feeling like I am imposing.  The one above I got for my birthday.  A weekend without children (hooray!).

Or if you like cooking you could give someone a dinner voucher or a series of dinner vouchers.  Or if you like sewing you could offer to make a skirt for someone.  Giving someone your time is an excellent present.

IMG_6051

9. Make a Christmas decoration

Christmas decorations are something that your kids can make, or you can make.  Most years the kids make something for their Nanna’s tree.  And for their teachers.   It’s lovely to look back at the glass ball covered in fingerpainting that India made when she was a baby.  And last year we painted some pre-bought white plaster Christmas tree decorations.  They were good too.  I found them at Bed, Bath and Table Factory Outlet.

This year I am contemplatig making some strings of colourful dyed pasta.  But I might chance upon a better idea on Pinterest …

IMG_6073

10. Make something for the garden

If people are fussy about the inside of their house they might appreciate a present that is for the garden.  You could get into the current ‘cool’ and make some concrete pots (I am seriously considering this idea).  Or get some copper paint and get into the copper thing.  Or macrame a plant hanger (it really is so easy).  Or make an outdoor mobile from driftwood (tick!).

IMG_6061

A couple of years ago Pricey made a set of these garden stakes for us.  They are THE BEST.  I move them around and use them as I need them – to prop up plants, grow tomatoes or just to add some arty interest to the garden.