Christmas Crafts

A Christmas Craft Wreath with Toadstools & Felted Holly

The last few years we’ve been able to take part in a pre-Xmas home ed day doing lots of Christmas crafts but this year it just wasn’t on the cards any more (sob, sob) and so I had to make a wreath all on my very own. I’ve been meaning to get round to trying something suitably ‘me’ for a while and never quite had the time. This year I managed, as one of the very few crafty things I did do, to make it happen and I was properly thrilled with the result. It arrived on the door horribly late on in the run up to Xmas, but it did make it. Hurrah.

Yay. This years wreath is a keeper. It's late but it came out just how I wanted it :) #craft

The only fresh purchase in this was the willow wreath from The Range for £8 but everything else came from home. The pine cones are all ones that have been attached to Xmas trees we’ve bought in the past (from the days when we had a fake one) and the berries normally sit in with pomander oranges to make them look pretty (but we didn’t have time to do them this year). The toadstools, which like the cones have wire at the bottom of them, I bought in the post Xmas sales at Van Hage a few years back and have been winking cheerily at me from the craft box ever since. The bells had been in there too and with a bit of coercion, I persuaded the girls to help me felt some holly leaves. I had a bag of green bits from something we did a few years ago and using a holly leaf biscuit cutter as a frame, we made various leaves in different tones, wired them together with berries on wire (no idea why I had those) and then glue gunned them into place. The bells and some pine cones also needed fixing with the glue gun.

I have to say, I’ve very proud of the result. It will definitely come back out again next year.

Bene’s Christmas Stocking.

 

Last year I made Bene his very own Christmas stocking; as a January baby he was just old enough to enjoy unpacking one with some help and I wanted it to be special to him, not just bought off a peg. I have a vivid memory of the girls wanting to buy Freddie a stocking ‘ready for next year’ and looking at all the ‘First Christmas’ ones and I hated the idea of going out an negotiating all of that; I just knew it would be too painful. Besides, I had an urge to make one – the girls are all deeply attached to theirs and won’t let me replace them with home makes so Bene was my last chance. And I had plenty of felt fabric!

iPhone March 2013 340First I drew round one of the girls stockings on red felt and then I cut out the appropriate dark green add ons to make it look authentic. (I actually can’t think if I did those for both sides or if I was shockingly lazy and only did one side). I stitched the inner edges of the green bits with a decorative line of red stitches to make it look pretty before gluing them into place. Then I did blanket stitch all around the edge. Top TIP: start by going across one side of the top of the stocking first, then go round the stocking and finish off by doing the second side of the opening at the top. If you are clever, you’ll get it done all in one piece of thread. Maddy designed the train pattern to match the ‘Bene Express she woodworked for him when he was born. She glued it all on to the cloud shape, stitched around the outside edges of the main shape to give it some definition and we stuck it in place. Just perfect.

The Bene Express made by Maddy & his favourite @bigjigstoys train.

Considering hew is now totally and utterly obsessed with trains – and in particular all his lovely BigJigsRail, I think he is going to be very pleased to see it back out again.

Last year it was filled with toys like these.

iPhone March 2013 545We love our Haba Baby Toys; they feel wonderful, look gorgeous and keep little people happy for absolutely ages. I didn’t wrap most of his (I think I folded some in tissue paper) and he enjoyed just diving in and helping himself. This year I think he will be in full mental present opening mode pretty quickly. It’s going to be good to have a toddler in the house for Christmas again this year. It’s been a long time. Too long.

It’s December and the crafts (might) come out.

Something tells me that I’m not going to see nearly enough of my children this December to pepper the blog with Christmas Crafts. I’m sorry about that; it used to be the highlight of my year to call a halt to maths and english and science on December 1st and crack open the great box of Christmas Crafts I’d bought and hoarded ready. We had such a lovely time in December 2009; snow on the ground, my brother here, me heavily pregnant with Freddie and loving the enforced quiet and togetherness while work ticked along without me.

But they are all big and at school now and Bene is just a bit too small for me to have patience for that stuff yet but too busy wanting to try everything for me to be able to craft with him doing something alongside. Next year, next year I will get back to being a crafty blogger. Simple Crafts misses me and I miss it but I just haven’t had time to do it justice this year.

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However, this year I will get one last chance to enjoy a few days of home ed alongside all my nearest and dearest friends as two of the girls, Bene and I head off on an HE camp that was booked before they started school. Last year I took felt and fabric and the adults crafted together while the kids played (not sure that was totally the plan but it worked); I made a snowman (Bene wasn’t going to let me do much else!) and various friends made very beautiful things too. I don’t know when I’ll get another chance at a camp, so I really hope I get to enjoy this one.

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If all else fails though, my trusty Christmas Crafts Pinterest board is still there. It’s a popular one and it is stuffed full over a good few years worth of great ideas from around the web. Enjoy.

Where was I?

You may have noticed I was away last week, on our annual trip to a youth hostel with friends. I went away intending to do some work in quiet moments but the youth hostel had poor signal and Bene and I were enjoying each others company, plus I had the company of all my very good friends, so I let rather a lot slide. The week deserves more blogging than that, which it will get, but that's my apology for evaporating.

Before we went away there was a fair bit of frantic activity, which I can now barely remember. It definitely included a WedEd day, where we tested our blood and discovered what blood groups the kids are. I did a variety of poems with them that focused on describing emotions and we did some making too. The next day Amelie's friend Lulah arrived and that was the last I really saw of them and Josie till it was time to go away.

One thing they did do was test out these lovely Christmas Card Making Kits which we were sent to review. (Lulah was very excited to 'inspect' a product with us).

I shall do a proper review of them on the Simple Crafts blog but the kids were very positive about them. The designs are simple but effective and all of them did something different with the designs they had, they were easy to peel and good quality, so a definite hit. I like the idea of something that can be created and constructed from an easy to access set of designs, with no mess and a clear goal but still leaves room for designing yourself.

Since starting to write this entry, Bene and I have spent a night in hospital. He got a cold and cough while away which turned rapidly into vomiting up all his dinner and then huffing when breathing. Last night he had two trips to the out of hours doctor and the second saw us being escorted by a gp to the children's ward for a night of inhalers, nebulisers and steroids. I had to take him on my own, since Max needed to be well slept enough to cope with the big Monday before Xmas parcel day and it was a difficult night. Sitting with him in a room watching his oxygen levels suddenly drop was very frightening, very triggery :( in reality, he was never in danger and I knew that really, but the parallels were impossible to avoid.

Still, we spent much of today waiting for drugs so we could go home and enjoying the sensory room. I love this picture.

Lucily Uncle Rich arrived a hour before he got worse (he also seems to be allergic to another antibiotic, which is annoying :( ) and he stayed with the girls today, so everyone had a fun, distracting day :) Hopefuly I wil get to enjoy my brother a bit more tomorrow. I've not seen him for 3 years, since I was pregnant with Freddie. Goodness :/

Now to get through the next couple of weeks. Maddy has an appointment shortly to discuss why her thyroid is underactive. I hardly know where to start worrying on all this, so I think I'm going to give up. 2012 is not really ending as I hoped it would :/

 

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Seems a good time to remind you of some of the Christmas resources I have floating about. There is the Christmas Crafts section on here but I am slowly moving some of those on to Simple Crafts so they are easier to find. There are also lots of new crafts on there too including this little set of decorations we made yesterday.

The ever popular Christmas Hama Beads section on BeadMerrily is getting lots of attention at the moment. Got new content coming soon there but Mr and Mrs Christmas are very popular :)

Over on Fimo Ideas, I’ve started using the site as a magazine to showcase other people a little more – I just don’t have time to create the content. You can see the Christmas section as it stacks up :) Ignore my awful angels. I might archive them!

And finally, if you liked my Pinterest inspired Christmas Crafts post last year, you’ll be pleased to know my board now has even more ideas on it.

Happy crafting :)

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I’m hosting this widget for a few weeks… and why not? It amuses me and will pay a few bills :) Go and try it! It won’t fit in the sidebar at the moment, so here it is instead.

Christmas PomPom Delight

A while ago I wrote about these fabulous pompom makers which I bought as a slight indulgence for a bit of Xmas crafty silliness. They’ve been worth their weight in £1 coins though and we’ve had masses of fun with them already, as have a quantity of people who have visited. Pom pom making is very therapeutic when it is easy and these really ARE easy.

I ended up being most pleased with this pompom garland swag that I made to go up in the window. It was really cheap, made from £1 balls of Robin DK yarn from our local cheapy shop, in an assortment of rich colours. I think there are about 40 pompoms and it can’t have cost more than £12 in all. It felt stupidly lovely too – Max and I ended up with it sat on our lap like a pet snake! It would make a good draft excluder too :lol:

There has also been much fun with a pompom Christmas tree (4 of varying sizes, in two wools wrapped simultaneously and covered in tiny fluff balls from Tesco) and snowman display. They look gorgeous and are largely due to the brilliant and patient Maddy for patience in putting it all together. Buttons and felt made all the accessories.

Seriously, if you aren’t impressed by our pompom Nativity scene, you are reading the wrong blog :lol:
Nativity in pompoms

With the addition of some silly eyes and foam sheets, one of our Christmas craft sessions produced pompom robins, reindeer, penguins and erm.. puffles :)

I would say these pom pom makers deserve full on purchasing, they are a great craft cupboard addition. The Large blue, green, medium blue, yellow and light pink ones are the best value and work the best (extra large, large and small here) and the dark pink and purple, which are extra small and the same size, don’t work quite so well. We’ve had so much fun and I’m definitely inspired to try more with them.

Christmas Camp 2011

I’ve got a group of friends who I met online when Maddy was tiny, using now wildly outdated ways of connecting with like-minded souls such as yahoo groups (before Facebook and Twitter, imagine!). They became real life friends remarkably quickly. We did our first camp together, some of us, when Amelie was 4 months old by which time I’d already met several others of them in person. Since then we’ve stayed at each others houses, shared holidays, become godparents to each others children and much more. We’ve seen each other through tragedy and triumph and waxing and waning fortunes and friendships. In some respects I feel I’ve grown up with them; they are my family of choice and rank up there close to my brother and sister in terms of the people I turn to in a crisis or tell news to first.

I’m incredibly blessed to have them; some of them are the only people who met Freddie, some of them are the only people who came to his funeral, they are people who chose the music and helped write the poem and know my darkest secrets. Among us, this group of people, are women who have been exactly where I am and because of them I am the parent and person I am. I was a very different emerging parent when I first met them and I’m so grateful and glad of the influence they have been on me. And they’ve championed our business, packed and carried boxes on visits in the olden days, bought from me when cash was tight. I’ve tried to do the same in return, though I am not sure I’ve had the opportunity to return all the favours :lol:

For the last few years we’ve done a Christmas camp together, getting together to share a few nights of fun and frivolity and friendship before the festivities start. There are always people who can’t go, through work, or school commitments or health, money or distance and this year, I was one of them :( I was fully paid up and intending to go, but the girls did the panto audition without me fully realising them implications and, because camp was in our busiest business week (so Max couldn’t ferry girls back and forward) and we only have one car, I was then in the position of having to let one pair or another of children down. I was gutted too as last year was a camp I barely made it through, it being filled with happiness when I was desperate and overrun with the latest batch of toddlers and babies who I could barely face. I’d been really looking forward to going this time, even if Fran might have had to stay behind for school.

Thankfully these friends offered (I may have hinted a bit!) to take Maddy and Josie with them and mum and dad them for the week. To my surprise Josie went for this idea without hesitation, not bad for a child who is only just 7 and was a real home bird till recently. Maddy, who basically needs no one but herself, was delighted by the idea, so everyone got to do what they wanted (except me, but I guess that’s a mum’s role at times!)


Josie decided quickly that any temporary mum with in car DVD players was okay by her ;)

In the entire week, I spoke to her and Maddy once; they were just having too much fun to bother with tedium like speaking to their parents. According to my friends, they were mostly seen as a passing blur as they whirled between friends. Josie was supposed to come home with one or other temporary head mum on Thursday but didn’t, preferring to stay to the very end – 5 whole nights away from home! She had so much to tell me; long walks, geocaching, dinners, who she played with, what they played – but not a single “I missed you!” I think that’s a good sign :lol:

Christmas Camp is characterised (apart from late nights and drinking!) by the Christmas dinner and Secret Santa which is done each year. We had originally had places, so we had pairs to make for (and receive from, thank you!) The girls are all pretty good at making their own now (they have to be handmade or charity shop or under £3) and here are our offerings.


From Fran. (Her best ever model, she was so proud!)


From Maddy. (Classy as ever!)


From Amelie (She has a matching bracelet as hers was for her BFF!)



From Josie. (Loved her models, she is getting good!)

I was charged with making one for the Secret Santa organiser who has just had a very exciting year!

No pressure then! I was very proud of it so you can see more photos and all about it over at my Fimo-Ideas blog if you wish.

I may have missed out this time, but I’m so grateful to my friends for giving my girls a great week, for including me and sending me updates and photos of them and for being people I could absolutely trust to keep them safe and well and happy. Love you all. Can’t be long now till the children are booking these weeks themselves and asking us if we’d like to be parked in the annexe while they stay up late and drink wine without us. I hope so anyway. I’ve got a lot of Christmas camping left in me yet :lol:

Christmas Beaded Elves

Next up on the Christmas Crafts list was these Beaded Elves. I bought some wooden beads from another eBay seller (trying very hard to support small businesses this year where I can). I had planned to make Fimo faces but the beads were cute and easy. The girls made the hats though.

These are the first goes and I think they are lovely. We’ve got plans to add scarves (Maddy made the fairy one) and try a few different hat designs. The Fimo hats have a hole through the top and are blued to the head – there will be a photo of them all displayed at some point ;)

We found the old style thin pipecleaner (bought from a tobacco seller) worked best but big beads and chenille stems from a craft seller would work too.

Here are some step by step photos of the elf’s insides!

The beads are glossy and easy but could also be made with Fimo, especially those left over bits and blobs :)

Fimo Christmas Penguin Tutorial

Josie had a belated birthday party this week with her friend BB. I’m a bit of a party failure and Josie was always going to be upstaged by BB’s amazing playable Angry Birds cake, but I made her some Fimo penguins to go on a (oh the shame) bought cake and she was very delighted with them.

It inspired me to have a go at making a Christmas penguin and creating a tutorial. I’m really pleased with it and I hope it will inspire you to have a go with this amazing craft material.

Fimo Christmas Penguin

Christmas Fimo Penguin

The girls have also been having a go with some tester snowglobe ideas, using tiny jars from Hobbycraft. Here is a taster of what they made – we’ve got more plans for these later!

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Christmas crafting coming around again.

Last year Christmas was such an effort; after the joy of enjoying the run up to it in 2009 so much (heavily pregnant but finally free of the desperate rush to pack parcels and run the business all on my own) last year was a major kick in the teeth. Making Christmas festive while you mourn a child and try to smile for the other children is no mean feat. But we did it, albeit with a fair amount of tears and less inspiration than I would have liked. We made it through and we all had a nice time, in what turned out to be our last fully home educating December.

I’ve spent the weekend going through 2 years worth of Christmas Craft blog posts and , although there is lots in there I like and I hope will inspire people, I feel the urge to do more tradition, pretty, proper crafting and stretch all our skills a bit. I’ve still got aspirations left from last years list to go but this year Pinterest is giving me masses of inspiration too. Plus the lovely new ‘basket’ feature on eBay which means I can collect supply ideas together and think a bit, then pay for a wodge of crafty stuff with blog earnings :D

So I’ve got some ideas coming together gradually….

1. Purchase some cheap metal bangles. Cover with festive colour wools and glittery beads in a dream catcher style.

2. Using the bangles again, try something like these granny square decorations. There is a pattern in the recent MollieMakes for something I can adapt.

3. Using the bangles again, try out filling them with polymer clay (Fimo & Sculpey) designs. I adore this etsy artist and think something inspired by her in Sculpey Premo Accents would be nice.

4. Simple yarn wreaths. I found these on a blog and they look very effective I think.

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5. Last year I made a few of these glass bead snowflakes with glass beads at the last minute after using plastic pony beads to make them with the kids. I’ve ordered silver florist wires this year to have another go and make a few more.

6. Circular glass bead ornaments look like fun too.

7. I’ve cheated a bought a few very cheap Christmas cross stitch kits from Hobbycraft. Lots of ideas on the internet though.

8. Love this idea for a yarn snowman.

9. Since I currently have a bit of a thing for pom poms, these decorations in a frame from old t-shirts look like fun to try.

10. After having so much fun with buttons earlier in the year, some permanent festive patterns really appeal and this is gorgeous. There are LOADS of packs of mixed buttons really cheaply on eBay.

11. Polystyrene balls and some pretty yarn should make some nice baubles. I might try a wreath or swag out of these.

12. I think I have a thing about snowmen this year (I bet we won’t get snow this year now!) but these are just lovely. Tempted to try them in Fimo as I don’t have the pateince for the stitching!

13. Crochet pine cones like these ones. There is a free pattern here but I also wondered if twisting up random style ‘coral’ crochet might work, as a way of getting kids into crochet.

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14. I fell in love with the little bird style of Christmas decoration last year. Simple felt ones would be a beautiful naive art in for stitching practise.

15. Use cookie cutters or print Xmas templates to make felt shaped decorations. As easy or complicated as you like.

16. Need to do lots of Fimo things this year; very taken with this polymer clay garland of Xmas trees.

17. Another button decoration craft, but I like the idea of maybe doing this with Fimo disks threaded together.

18. Use flower pots to make little characters; this is snowmen but I would imagine it would work well for FC figures and trees too.

19. These beaded elves look lovely – again, I think they could be a lot of fun done with some Fimo for faces and hats.

20. Every year I swear I’m going to make a 3D gingerbread Hama Bead house. These edible ones look so nice; I’d be thrilled to even manage a Fimo one though!

21. This page has several nice easy ideas for small hands, from decorated cups and toilet rolls to the fake snow globe. We are expecting a delivery of snow globe making kits in a few days – I think I’ll have to try one!

22. There are so many bauble wreath ideas, though I also love a framed bauble idea I found on Pinterest. Definitely need to find a way to combine pom poms and baubles in something new.

23. Nativity scene. I’ve had a Hama and Fimo one in my mind for years. Enough with the thinking, it’s time to do!

24. These paper geometic designs (now forever referred to as Orbals, thanks to Maggie) were the first Christmas craft I remember doing at school. I’ve still never made them with my children. I really need to.

25. Oh how I wish I had it in me to bake like this!

So there you go. 25 inspirations for Christmas crafting the way i always mean to do it with my children. Maybe this is the year. I LOVE Pinterest for the way it allows ideas to gather. I hope you’ll suggest some more, leave me links to anything you like or try out and maybe even join Pinterest (I can send invites if you ask!) and make your own ideas boards.