Who doesn’t love Christmas? And I know it’s only November!
‘Tis (nearly) the season to be jolly, and I can’t wait to start putting up my Christmas decorations. The shops already have theirs up (so has mine), with Boney M playing all over the place (never in my shop). I’ve searched my Christmas archives to find bits and pieces on how to make your own decorations, and save yourself a fortune. I remember when my daughter, Natalie, was a baby (31 years ago) and money was very, very, very short. I wrapped matchboxes (matches still inside) in Christmas paper tied with ribbon, for the Christmas tree. A couple of years ago I gave them to Natalie, a bit faded and still ratting with the matches (and me wondering how dangerous it actually was!). They had been on my tree every year since her first Christmas (it keeps you humble to remember those broke years), and I hope they’ll be on hers for years to come.
The Baobab tree above was found at our local market, and I simply strung some tiny battery operated LED lights over it. Excuse the photo, it was taken in the darkest corner I could find in the Mellowood Furniture Design shop! But it makes a stunning decor statement, simple.
Here’s tips using pine cones, collected in your neighbourhood – FREE
Roll a clean pine cone in white glue, and then in glitter. The glitter will adhere to the glue along the edges, giving the cone a frosty look.
Spray paint the entire cone gold or silver. Spread newspaper over the work surface to keep the mess to a minimum, or do it on grass like I do.
Spray paint a pine cone white. When it dries, roll it in white glue and then glitter. This cone has a snowy look.
Glue beads between the open scales. A dab of white glue or a hot glue gun will hold the beads in place.
Wire several small cones together into a natural cluster. Dress the top with a sprig of holly and a red bow.
To make a glitter pine cone tree
Gather some pine cones from the garden or the park. Look for medium to large pine cones that are even, well-formed and intact. Make sure that the scales are open and that there is plenty of space in-between them. Also ensure that its scales are tight and secure. Chuck out pine cones that are wet, sticky or discolored. Place the pine cones on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and cook at 200 degrees F for 20 minutes. This will kill any insects and seal the sap into a glaze. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Protect your work surface with newspaper. Use a brush to apply glue to the surface of the pine cone. Carefully coat all of the scales and work the glue into the interior of the pine cone. Hold the pine cone over a paper plate and sprinkle it with green glitter.
Find a metallic chenille stem in silver, gold, red or blue. Wrap it around the top end of the pine cone, then work it downward in a spiral. Push the chenille stem in between the scales like a Christmas tree garland.
Allow a hot glue gun to preheat for 5 minutes. Select several small, round sequins in different colors (but don’t use green sequins). Hold the very outer edge of a sequin with a pair of tweezers. Place a small drop of hot glue on the end of one of the pine cone scales. Wait a few seconds, then place the sequin on the glue. Use a metal tool such as a screwdriver to gently push the sequin onto the hot glue. Place one sequin on every accessible scale. Stagger the colors so that they are varied around the ornament. Avoid placing two identically colored sequins next to one another. Use the tweezers to remove any strands of hot glue once it has cooled.
Bend a metallic chenille stem into five segments about 2 centimeters long. Make a five-pointed star, then cut the point where the first and last segment overlap. Place a drop of hot glue at this point and hold the star tightly between your fingers until the glue has cooled completely.
Hot glue the star to the top of the tree, then cover any excess hot glue with craft glue and glitter.
To make this Advent Calendar Tree you will need : Selection of different coloured felt squares (normal or self-adhesive), measuring 22 x 30 cm. Green and brown water-based paint. All-purpose or fabric glue (preferably with a narrow nozzle). A selection of coloured sequins. Gold or silver cord or ribbon. Double-sided Velcro™. Scissors. Craft knife. Cardboard, 3mm thick and measuring at least 27 x 37cm. 24 small toys or sweets. Tissue paper.
To make the felt bags:
Cut a selection of different coloured felt into 8 x 6cm pieces. For a complete advent calendar you will need 24 bags (you can make these bigger or smaller). Take each piece of felt and glue along one of the long edges and the two short sides, using all-purpose or fabric glue. Fold the felt in half and press glued edges together. Leave to dry.
Note: You can also use self-adhesive felt. Lift the backing paper up a little and trim a narrow strip of the backing paper along the three sides, leaving the rest of the paper on the felt to serve as a bag lining. Press the edges together and the felt will stick tightly together.
To decorate the bags:
Using a tube of glue with a narrow nozzle, draw each number (date) on to the bags and stick on sequins. Leave to dry. Attach self-adhesive Velcro™ (approx 3cm x 3cm) to the back of each bag, keeping both pieces of Velcro™ together. Wrap small gifts, such as costume jewellery, marbles, plastic dinosaurs, toy soldiers, single sweets, chocolates or coins, in tissue paper and slip into the bags. Cut gold and silver cord or pieces of ribbon into 20cm strips and tie tightly around the bags.
To make the tree:
Draw the shape of a Christmas tree on a piece of sturdy cardboard. Using a craft knife or sharp scissors, cut out the shape of the tree. Paint the tree on both sides and leave to dry.
To attach the bags:
Evenly space bags numbered 1-12 on one side of the tree. When you are happy with their position, peel the backing off the Velcro™ already attached to the bags and press into position. Repeat on the other side with bags 13-24.
To make the tree pot:
On a piece of 3mm-thick card, draw two identical pot shapes, measuring 16.5cm at the top and 8.5cm at the base, and cut them out. Using the card pot as a template, cut out two pot shapes in felt. Glue the cardboard to the felt and leave to dry. Glue the two shortest sides and bottom of the card together, to form an ‘envelope’. Draw the number 25 with glue and attach sequins. Put the tree into its pot ‘envelope’ and slip in a card or a special Christmas Day message.
This one’s so easy, but very effective
Try a modern take on the traditional Christmas tropes of fairy lights and baubles. Instead of sticking with the tree make Christmas lanterns of fairy lights and baubles in glass vases. The type of fairy lights that have their own in-built battery are good for this, as they won’t leave a flex trailing from the pot. And shiny plain colour baubles that will bounce all the light around are the best choice too. Try using Kilner jars too, and you can create a stack of lanterns. Great on side tables, window sills and in empty hearths, the colourful glow will add an instant Christmasy feel.
The next one is my personal favourite, and also very easy.
Take your favourite bowl, fill with sand. Position candles of different heights randomly in the sand. Fill between the gaps with baubles and strings of ornaments to fill all the gaps. Stand back and admire.
More coming soon. Ellie