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Craftiness

Christmas Decorations to Make – 22 unique festive crafts to do at home

3 December, 2015

Christmas in the UK happens to you whether you like it or not. Here in NZ, it’s up to you. On your own shoulders. Sure, you might see the odd surfing Santa in the corner of shop somewhere, but mostly you just think “Where are his reindeers?” not “Woo! Christmas!”

If you want to feel festive you have to step it up.

Which perhaps explains why for the last week or so I have been playing Christmas carols and crafting up decorations in every spare moment, while my kiwi husband bashes his head on the baubles and mutters about having to bash his head on baubles for a whole twelfth of a year.

(To be fair, I didn’t mean it to be forehead-height. I think my bauble garland drooped a little.)

One of my most festive childhood memories is of getting out the plaster of paris and pouring it into the nativity scene moulds and then dying them with tea bags to creative a beautiful antique style decoration. Why we made them so often, I’ll never know – did we break them, every single Christmas? Or did my mum just revel in this one crafty thing she did every year? Did we have boxes and boxes of plaster of paris Marys and Josephs hiding away in the corners of our house?

Who knows, but the legacy is that I love making Christmas decorations. Some have lasted years already and others disappear altogether… sometimes discovered in the Toy Chest a few months later. Halos askew.

(Toy Chest is a grand name for that huge basket into which I shovel everything that looks messy when I hear a car pulling up. I always leave the bright kids xylophone on the top as a disguise. Now you know my secrets.)

Christmas decorations tend to be hugely expensive (unless you buy them in the January sales, which is a winner of an idea, but GOOD LUCK finding them again once the next Christmas comes round!!) which is a huge motivator for us thrifty peeps to get the glue gun out.

But sometimes it isn’t quite as easy as Pinterest makes it look. Hey, we’ve all cried at the Pinterest Fails Buzzfeed, and some of us have even made it on there. *blushes*

One of my most popular Pinterest boards is my “Handmade Christmas” one – featuring hundreds of ideas for handmade presents and decorations, with a huge focus on upcycling or thrifty materials. I’ve been through my board this week and have chosen what I think are the best Christmas Decorations to make.

I wanted to choose some of the easiest ones for you, but ones that are super beaut. These are alternative Christmas decorations; thrifty, simple and sustainable.Alternative and sustainable Christmas Decorations

Gold Dipped Nature

Nature is so in folks, truly. Christmas 2015 looks like it is being done by fairy folk in the local woods. And why not, I say? Mega cheapo, isn’t it, pulling in the twigs and leaves and things? Hehehe.

Dipping leaves, shells, bark, anything you can find and then threading it through with cotton must be the easiest natural Christmas decoration you can make. Christmas Decorations to make

Decorated Branch

The Owl and the Accordion here show how to do Christmas in a bright, modern way with not a bit of gold or maroon in sight! I love the simple idea of decorating a branch with beads and thread and then hanging homemade paper shapes on them. Serious inspo.Christmas Decorations to make

Homemade Clay Birds

I first dabbled with homemade china-like clay several years ago, and it continues to be one of my most favourite homemade substances to work with. It can be left plain, because it has such a delicate, beautiful look, or it can be decoupaged using old books or pretty paper. See the How To here. Handmade-DIY-ClayOrnaments-682x1024

DIY Arrow Christmas Decorations

If I had to pick my number one favourite christmas decoration from Pinterest it would be these arrows, originally from the lovely Thoughts From Alice but featured on the equally delish blog Yellow Bliss Road. Our yurt is pretty much going to be Arrow Central this Christmas, no doubt about it. Head over to yellow Bliss road for the How to. Christmas Decorations to make - the simplest and best!

Christmas Paper Cuts

I looooove the look of paper cuts and love HPMQ’s super simple tealight paper house. She shows off some other paper cut inspo too – like this mega winter scene.

Handmade Christmas Decorations to make

Christmas Stained Glass Biscuits

I was so inspired by Actually Mummy’s stained glass window biscuits. Such an incredible idea – they look amazing and can double up as Christmas eats or Christmas gifts. A triple whammy of homemade goodness! See her how to and recipe here. Alternatively you can keep them unwrapped, like this picture, but HAVE A GREAT TIME MAKING THEM LAST MORE THAN AN HOUR harrhahahaha. Christmas Decorations to make

Christmas Sun Catcher

I love how magical this Christmas sun catcher would be for children to create and watch. Such a simple idea with loads of potential.
Handmade Christmas Crafts
Paper Christmas Tree

I made a couple of these hand made Christmas trees last year, using old sexist books I had bought with this specific craft in mind. (Yes, I am clearly making sure you don’t tell me off for crafting with a book!) There is a super detailed (and funny) how to here on Wills Casa. Recyled and Handmade Christmas Decorations to make

Here Mummy Barrow pulls it off with just a simple mag AND managed to get a star on top? It is the perfect, quick, recycled craft.

Cinnamon Sticks Christmas Decoration

These Cinnamon Sticks tree decs are, like, basically the easiest thing to make – but they look so effective and make Christmas happen through your nostrils.

25 Christmas Decorations to makePlus, when made into a table decoration it becomes my most pinned image from my Handmade Christmas Decorations to Make board….

Christmas Wreaths

Gosh, if you think you have understood the potential of a Christmas Wreath in your life so far, you have not typed in homemade Christmas Wreath into Pinterest. By Golly.

So here’s your super awesome traditional Christmas Wreath, with dried orange slices. It’s a beauty. Simple and lush.

But then, hello? What’s this? A rag rug version from Missie Lizzie – feel like Ramona could really get behind the concept.

And this? A Christmas wreath made out of old books? What in the blazes? Christmas is really here folks. (Do check out Betty’s lovely blog, from whence this photo cameth.)Simple unique Christmas Decorations to make

Or a heart style one, made of TWIGS. Oh yeah! Now we’re cooking with gas!

And a, a, a CROCHET ONE? Yeah! I said it! A Crochet Christmas Wreath. It’s legendary. I can’t even crochet but I’m so excited.

And then, just to get back to practical, because I’m clearly dreaming about ever being able to make a crochet wreath, here is a really excellent tutorial here using an official Christmas Wreath frame thingy (no wrangling with coathangers here. I’ve only just got my eyes still in my head as a result of my own dodgy DIY wreath making…

Speaking of which…. here is my own wreath – made of clay hearts stamped with a doily. Um. And a very vicious coat hanger. Heaps of Christmas Decorations to make

Peg Doll Nativity

I spied this Peg Doll Nativity Christmas Decoration on Pinterest and was super inspired by it. I love the simplicity of it. This photo is from an Etsy maker, but I also loved the child focused peg doll nativity from my friend Becky and her little girl – read how they went about it here.
So many amazing Christmas decorations to make here!

Homemade Dough Christmas Decorations

Love these salt dough decorations from Joy – it is a real pleasure when a child can make something from scratch, without the parent feeling the need to step in constantly to make sure it looks Pinterest worthy, harhahahaha.

I made a cinnamon version a couple of years ago and, sweet Star of Bethlehem, they were the business. I used my handy bird cookie stamper and made a garland. But it is the smell, rather than the look, which makes them Last Level. The most simple and beautiful Christmas Decorations to make

Walnut Reindeers

Nature is also easily turned into Christmas characters! Hark! A walnut reindeer decoration! Red Ted Art is such a genius at making things out of nuts and stuff like that. Heaps of amazing Christmas Decorations to make!

Gold Dipped Twig Stars

As a little extra bonus here is a video of my latest simple Christmas Craft for Channel Mum – featuring Ramona and Juno obvs, because they are glitter ADDICTS I tell you.

That’s it for now. It is, after all, only the 4th of December! I wouldn’t want to go overboard with Christmas or anything…

*wanders off in a glitter coma*

PS- Check out more sustainable Christmas decorations to make on my Pinterest Board.

Craftiness, Thrifty

DIY Jar Lids with Straws – for parties, or just your fun life

9 March, 2015

What on earth do you call these things? Huh? DIY Jars with Lids and Holes that you Drink Milkshake out of with Straws Container Things.DIY Jar Lids with Straws - chalkboard paint makes them a fun party accessory

All I know is that I saw them in the swanky gift shop for actual real money and I thought WHAT? I’ll Just push a screwdriver through my own jar lid, thanks very much! Trends, eh?

So I went home and did just that. Because I’m not going to lie to you, sometimes I do get over run with a deep need to MAKE IT ALL! (I was crying with laughter at this Shake It Off Parody– y’seen it?)

But then I thought I’d go Next Level and make some homemade chalkboard paint with my cool neon colours so that then you can write a message about your cocktail or smoothie, or just your initial so no one else slobbers on your mojito’s straw, and EEK LOOK HA! THEY ARE FU-HUNKKKKY. (Hey, I know people don’t really say funky that much but sometimes, when faced with your homemade neon pink straw and lid on your jar thing, it just pops out.)DIY Jar Lids with Straws - chalkboard paint makes them a fun party accessory

They’d make such a fun party extra, but they are also clearly brilliant for everyday with the kiddos… they stop the berry-smoothie-with-sneaky-kale-goodness slopping all over. Plus, when your life is just one big party, these accessories just seem to fit, y’know?

*massively tired face only parents of small children are really capable of* DIY Jar Lids with Straws - chalkboard paint makes them a fun party accessory

HOW TO:

Take a selection of jars and lids – those posh jam ones are nice to look at
Choose a drill bit the same size as your straws
Put your lid on a block of old wood and make a hole
Either leave them gold/ plaid or paint them with homemade chalkboard paint
(I actually didn’t have tile grout so used a spoon of plaster of paris and it works just as well.)
You will need two coats and you need to wait a day for it to be completely set.
Hold a milkshake party.DIY Jar Lids with Straws - chalkboard paint makes them a fun party accessory

Super easy to make, and a fun quick DIY you can bust out when you have the Make It All itch. Those paper straws are a bit of a have though- they go soggy after a while in the drink. Because WHO MAKES STRAWS OUT OF PAPER?! So just use your usual, ideally re-usable straws, but doll them up with a swatch of washi tape.

Lucy, singing loudly, and proudly handing out milkshakes, and also sort of trying to pop and lock at the same time: My milkshakes bring all the kids to the yard! *song fades as the realisation that its probably a bit inappropriate dawns*

Craftiness, Featured, Thrifty

DIY Paint Dipped Utensils (reclaiming Wooden Spoons)

10 October, 2014

I have experimented with painting the handles of cutlery in the past, it was fun, if a little time consuming. When I saw paint-dipped wooden spoons in a fancy shop last week selling for £10 EACH I felt it was time for another batch. This time I thought harder about the pallette I wanted, used large wooden implements instead of cutlery, and, crucially, dipped, instead of brushed.

This idea is ever so slightly old now. But, whatevs, I LOVE IT! Such a cool way of reclaiming those millions of wooden utensils in charity shops and they make a brilliant gift. (Eh, Jo? *stares at sister* Oh, yeah, I didn’t mention that they were second hand spoons eh. I REALLY cleaned them- read on…)Paint Dipped Wooden Spoons

Picking up wooden spoons from a charity shop in order to use them in your own kitchen isn’t just for the brave of heart. There is no need to be cowed by someone else’s bolognaise sauce stains. Let me hold your hand while we deal to someone elses food remnants.

For this you will need:
Old wooden spoons/ spatulas
Fine Sandpaper
Paints
Test tube or something a similar size you can dip into.
Pegs and rope for hanging
Oil

Steps:
Start by giving all the spoons a soak and a wash. If only for your state of mind.
When they are dry again giving them a good sanding. You should be able to get down to a fresh layer of wooden. You can also rub out any digs and splinters. After a rub down they will look almost new!

Smear some olive oil over them – this oil will just stain them enough to bring out their natural colours. Don’t they look beauty?!

Now mix up your colours and fill a test tube with your paint. (I used one of those thin plastic tubes that an orchid stem came in.) Dip your handle in then peg it on a line to dry. Once it is mostly dry dip again. I did three dips and was really happy with it.

The dipping makes a massive difference compared to just brushing the paint on as I did last time. I didn’t want to dip as I felt it was a waste of paint and as you know, I’m a cheapskate. But by the time I had poured the paint back into their pots after dipping, I’d only used a small bit.  *high fives all the penny pinchers out there*

Extra Tip: I got tiny pots of paint from the hardware shop that had been marked down to £1 each, just odds and ends. Rummaging through them, although it looked like a weird selection of colours altogether, actually revealed some wicked combinations. This paint was so cheap and so vibrant. And I am just all about the grey, bright yellow and mustard combo. (Remember the DIY floor of our bus? Same palette! What a bore… )

Taping the cut off point: You can also add tape around where you want your paint to stop. I did this on some, but be really careful about taking your tape off. The paint will be so thick that it might peel off a little bit with your paint. I kind of like the diagonal edge of not using tape.

Yeah, so anyway, family and friends. You’ll be getting some spoons for Christmas. Oh yeah!

Secondhand wooden utensils craft

Craftiness, Green things, Thrifty

DIY Eco and Thrifty Resuseable Snack Packs/ Cling Film

11 March, 2014

You know what I hate? Cling Film. I partly hate it because it hates me – cling film started it when it refused to ever stick to itself so all my sandwiches look as if they are wrapped in scraggly, flappy bits of plastic. Oh wait! That *is* what cling film is!

It is the stuff that our great – great – great – great – great- grandchildren will discover on their archeological digs and think, with baffled expressions on their faces, scanning the barren, scorched land around them, “THIS was the reason for the demise of our beautiful earth! My great – great- great- great- great- Nana was a total plonker!” They will write articles in the National Geographic about how we used up the world’s most precious resource on wrapping up old bits of cheese.

Crumbs, didn’t know I was such a hater. Feel much better for that.

You’ll be pleased (because I was sounding like it was giving me high blood pressure, eh?) to know I discovered an alternative to Cling Film. It is an eco, recycled, reuseable version made with bees wax and fabric. Eco Alternative cling film

All you need is some scraps of fabric and bees wax.  I did six different sizes ranging from 30cm x 30cm to 15cm x 15 cm. I wanted some large enough to go over baking dishes to then go in the fridge and I wanted some I could sew into little snack packs.

Cut your fabric (ideally with pinking shears so it doesn’t fray)

Shave on a small amount of bees wax – sprinkle this as evenly as possible over the whole thing. Work sparingly as a little goes a long way.DIY resuable food wrap

Place on to some tin foil in a hot oven for 3 or so minutes, until wax has melted.

Bring it out and look at it in the light. You should be able to see any patches without wax on- sprinkle a bit on those areas and pop back in oven.

TADA! Done! You can use this in replace of cling film and you can wash and dry it and use it again!

I took two of my sheets and folded them in half and sewed a seam down the side. I left one side open so snacks could be popped in. It can then be folded over and secured with a band or a clip. PERFECT.

I am in love with this easy, peasy alternative to cling film and will never again wrangle with that nasty stuff and the great-grandkids won’t be calling ME the plonker.

Craftiness

Transforming Old Cutlery- Painted Wooden Handles

20 January, 2014

We’ve spent the last few days in a place called Thames- we think this could be a nice spot to settle eventually so we thought we’d check it out. We are working on Bert the bus- getting it ship shape for proper living, trying to do it all using second hand shops and MAN ALIVE we are having fun diving in amongst all the retro kiwi jumble.

We found a cool cutlery set- wooden handles, just like the ones my Nana had.

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But I thought they could do with a bit of funning up so whipped out the paint to do a Pinterest job on them- you know the one.

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Gosh, if only I wasn’t so slapdash and cheapskate. Instead of dipping the handles in the bottles for a nice thick, smooth finish, I just bought the primary colours and mixed my own so had to apply three layers with a sponge. (Well boring.) I lacquered them once I was all done with some lacquer I found in a rusty tin at the back of a junk store and it sort of took one of the layers of paint off with it.
Oh well, it looks alright and is at least a bit shiny.

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So, some tips from all of this:

If you can afford it, make up small bottles of the colours you want so you can just dip the handle in.
Use tape to cover up the bit you don’t want painted- this crisp finish looks brilliant.
Use proper polyurethane to give a final finish over the whole thing.
Choose the colours you actually want, yeah? (I just sort of rolled with it and really regret that ice cream pink – ugh.)
Use pegs to dry them.

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Who knows how long they will last- should be a little while because of the varnish, but we’ll see. Meanwhile they are looking TERRIFIC sitting amongst all these other crazy bits and bobs slowly filling up the bus.

Here he is again, this time with the awning out. We’re hoping that soon his inners will look as charming as his outers.

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Linking up with the wonders over at Magpie Monday and Opshop Show off!

Craftiness

DIY glitter figure decorations

18 December, 2013

Quick! It’s Christmas! COVER EVERYTHING IN GLITTER.Glitter Figures Tutorial

I am always picking up small plastic figures from charity shops and car boots sales- sometimes whole plastic bags of them for 50p. I rummage through it saying to Ramona “One for you, one for me” until they are all dished out. She plays quite imaginatively with them and I craft them up. (These Cowboy and Indian pots were probably my favourite. Until now.)

I also like putting glitter on stuff. Really, who doesn’t? Anything goes. (See: shoes)

Glitter on tiny plastic toys is a WINNER!

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Grab some glue- a nice toxic shoe glue is a goody, something that dries quickly but is really strong.

Grab some glitter.

Apply glue to your figure in centimetre patches, dabbing it in the glitter before you do the next centimetre.

Don’t get your fingers involved. (I was Goldfinger for about 3 days.)

Apply a string to hang on the tree or a name tag for a placeholder.

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Merry glittery Christmas everybody.

(HARHAHAHAHA *evil laugh* Your guests will have glitter in all their nooks and crannies for MONTHS.)

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