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Handmade Christmas

Few of us enjoy the last-minute, late-night jostle with the crowds at the mall, trying to find that elusive present that says we care. Do your preparations for Christmas feel overly commercialised, or even a bit out of control? Add significance – and avoid the stress of Christmas gone crazy – with a few simple gifts and decorations handmade with love.

By Sarah Heeringa. Photography Amanda Reelick

Advent calendars 

Advent calendars 

Avoid cheap and nasty themed calendars and make your own handcrafted version for a gorgeous, meaningful way to count down the 24 days of December.

1. Collect fabric remnants, doilies and other bric-a-brac.

2. Cut out 24 pockets, hem and decorate before stitching onto a larger rectangle of fabric.

3. Fold a flap along the top and sew along before threading through with a branch or piece of bamboo.

4. Hang with a ribbon and fill with tiny treats, inspirational messages or family activities to do together.

Paper doves

Paper doves 

1. Choose some special papers – we used a mixture of embossed card, tracing paper and old books.

2. Trace, then cut out the shape of the dove’s body and wings.

3. Use a craft knife to make a slit along the top edge of the body and insert the wings. 

Paper wreath 

Use a large rectangular sheet of paper such as gift wrap, wallpaper or bright recycled papers. 

1. Starting with the short end, fold over by 5-10cm, backwards and forwards as you would to make a paper fan. If the last fold doesn’t complete an upside-down ‘V’, cut off the uneven piece.

2. Gather the concertina folds together and fold the entire wad in half. Using this middle fold line as a guide, either staple (for smaller sizes) or use a needle and thread to make two holes through all the folds, then stitch through and tie off.

3. Cut a point through all the folds at either end. Open out your folds into a star shape and join the edges together at the back with tape.

Other wreaths: 

Birch wreath

Birch branches make a wonderful natural arrangement. Cut long lengths and twist into a circular shape. Alternatively you can use wisteria or grapevine prunings before they dry out and stiffen. Decorate with fresh flowers or bright fabric.

Lichen stick wreath 

1. Gather plenty while out foraging and after making your wreath you can use leftovers in floral displays.

2. Using stiff cardboard, cut out a circular shape by tracing around a saucer.

3. Cut a smaller circle inside to create a ring. Wrap the cardboard ring with twine or ribbon. Use a hot glue gun to secure the sticks in a circular pattern. Use extra lichen to fill any gaps between the glued sticks.

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