What is it about Christmas that brings out the Martha Stewart in us all? It’s the time of the year when we want to make handmade gifts, festive recipes and beautiful decorations. In October, while still in the midst of pumpkins and leaves, it’s so easy to have all these great ideas for Christmas. By the time December comes, the reality is that life has gotten busy and all that glorious time has been gobbled up.
The most important thing I’ve learned about creating a handmade Christmas, is that it doesn’t have to be to Martha’s standards. There will be no grades assigned, and effort is everything. My kids have taught me that a little goes a long way. For them, it’s more about the process, the fun and the memories. When the kids were young, I used to put a little 4′ tree up in the kitchen. The kids would make all the decorations for this tree. We’d have everything from beaded ornaments to scrapes of paper hanging from paper clips, depending on the age of the child. They were always so proud of their handiwork.
We love making little handmade evergreen pots. It begins with a trip into the yard to clip a few branches off our big spruce and cedar trees. These are brought in and then we assemble our little clay pots that have been filled with oasis foam that was soaked thoroughly the night before.
For colour, sometimes we’ll add a few pinecones, berries and ribbon. When the kids were little, this craft was foolproof. Stick in evergreen, put in red berries. Mom tied a big bow and they looked great. So good in fact that we made many for gifts.
Making crafts from natural found objects is not only inexpensive, but it gives that organic feel that’s so nice at Christmas. It’s surprising what pretty things can be made with twigs, snips of greenery and garden twine.
Another stress-free, fail-proof craft for all ages is rubber-stamping. As long as the little hand can clutch a rubber stamp and press, they are old enough to create cards, wrapping paper and gift tags. I used to buy card stock paper (my favourite was black), have the kids randomly stamp in silver or gold and then paste a small photo of them in the middle. Older kids can sign the back with a metallic pen and add a ribbon, and the card really turns out gorgeous. As kids get older, the designs get more and more creative.
Sometimes it’s important to think about the end goal and figure out a way to time save without sacrificing that. I had my ah ha moment a few years ago when we wanted to make a gingerbread house and decorate gingerbread men. There was only so much time, and since the real fun is the decorating, I bought the kits. Yes I did – does anyone eat the gingerbread anyways? I think it’s more about the candy.
My sister has always been the baker of the family. From her I learned that presentation of baked goods makes a huge difference. It doesn’t take any more time to wrap a handmade loaf in cellophane than tinfoil, but it looks a whole lot nicer. Add a bow (garden twine works well in a pinch) and suddenly it all looks gourmet.
There’s nothing that says handmade has to be made from your hands. With all the craft fairs and Christmas Markets every weekend in November and December, it’s easy to pick up some gorgeous one-of-a-kind items.
We love the Spruce Meadow Christmas Market and make that a yearly tradition. Not only are there pretty things to buy, there’s music, food and lots of Christmas lights.
Sometimes it’s not an item that’s handcrafted, but a moment. Debbie decided a long time ago that she wanted to enjoy Christmas Eve with her family, but cooking for that day and cooking for Christmas was just a bit too much. Smart woman that she is, she started the tradition of Christmas Eve Chinese take-out. Every year they set the table, plate the food when it arrives, and all enjoy a relaxing time. Adding to this special evening, was her son Daniel. He decided that a great table decoration would be a blow up turkey…to go with the Chinese food, of course! And that’s how a sweet Christmas tradition gets even better, year after year.
Happy December to everyone. Next Sunday, we’ll talk about some quick decorating ideas for Christmas. Some things that we think every home should have at this time of the year.
Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It's not about how much you have, it's about using what you have to create beauty.