A home made Christmas - Gifts
The nights are drawing in, the leaves are turning and the heating has been turned on for the first time since the end of Spring. It's time to turn your thoughts towards the festive season - after all, you have no choice, the Christmas displays are already up and running in the shops so what are you waiting for?
Over the last couple of years our Christmases’ have become more and more homemade. To start with it was all about economy but it has since turned into a pleasure to take time to make something with your own hands for someone special. A lot of people think that to make a present is just about saving money and it’s seen as “cheap”. Some are even embarrassed to do so and would rather spend money they don’t have to impress friends and family, missing the point of how special the home made gift is. I think it’s a brilliant way of showing someone you care by taking the time and effort to hand make something you know they will love.
A crafty Christmas isn’t necessarily a cheap Christmas. You need a certain amount of equipment and of course your raw materials, but if you make your list and shop around you can save money, and you can use your basics year after year. A well stocked kitchen, good pair of scissors, tweezers and a glue gun has seen me fine over the last couple of years. The internet of course is a valuable source of information, from 'how to' videos on YouTube to materials via eBay and online stores and of course thousands of recipes can be found online. I am a craft novice and not at all at competition standard, but I love crafting and enjoy even more being able to give my creations as gifts or decorate my home with them.
If you are a novice, or don't have the time to spend the last two weeks before Christmas crafting, then now is the time to start. An hour or so everyday should be enough to gather a wonderful selection of home made gifts in time for a stress free festive season.
As a child and into my early teenage years my Mum, Grandma and Nanna taught me to knit, crochet, cross stitch and embroider, skills I have largely forgotten in my adult years. Last year my Mum knitted me the most brilliant red and white tea cosy and it has inspired me to try knitting myself, although I think I will need a lot more practise to match my Mum's skill level! Even my friends thought the tea cosy was a fantastic gift and have asked for one from my Mum this year.
So I thought I'd have a go at knitting. I bought some 5mm knitting needles and hubby chose a grey wool and I am now knitting a scarf for him. With a quick google search I found a YouTube video and learnt to cast on and basic knit within a few minutes. I am really enjoying my rediscovery of knitting, I measure my progress each day and proudly show off the scarf to hubby each night. I did make some mistakes in the beginning, but I would rather dub them the 'rustic effect', although I have improved as I've gone along. I am now officially bitten by the knitting bug, and in a recent trip to John Lewis I spent ages in the Haberdashery department choosing wool and needles. I have bought some extra thick 15mm needles and fluffy wool and intend to make a snood for my mother-in-law. All I can do right now is a basic knit (knitting patterns seem to me to be in a foreign language) and so I think some one on one tuition with my Mum is in order! Lots of the wools in John Lewis recommend needle size and stitch patterns and the staff are very helpful and knowledgeable in all things knitting. One thing I have learnt is fat needles plus fluffy wool = a quickly knitted scarf.
You can knit just about anywhere, my most productive times are on the tube to and from work. I know my hard work will pay off and my knitted gifts will be more appreciated because of the time and effort I have put into them. It's a little late this year to make gifts for all of my family, but next year I am going to start early and be a little more adventurous.
Cant make it then buy it?
Lets face it, some of us aren't cut out for crafts or sewing and knitting, but there are some professionals who can do the hard work for you. Visit any Christmas market and it's a treasure trove of hand made goodies, I love a good mooch around with a cup or two of mulled wine.
I like to give gifts that are, if not unique, then one of a few. Some sellers will take commissions as Murray Lane does at Greenwich Market (London) every Friday at Cushion Lane (www.cushionlane.co.uk). He has a fantastic range of hand made cushions and bunting ready to go or if you are after something special it's not a problem, just ask. For a splash of hand made bunting visit Crafty Adams (www.craftyadams.co.uk) who can make up bespoke bunting for around £6 per metre.
So many of my friends started to make their own gifts and have now started small businesses, there is such a demand for hand made that it's worth giving it a go, you never know you may surprise yourself!