Christmas was a decidedly non-Blue Peter affair in my household, growing up; homemade was out: shop-bought, synthetic and garish were in. Each year, the same box of decorations, overflowing with tangled fairy lights, broken baubles and balding tinsel, would be retrieved from the attic. This tatty Pandora's box was topped up with cheap and cheerful decorations, stockpiled during our annual festive outing to Woolworths (chocolate baubles were banned from these sprees after my sister and I scoffed an entire tree's worth in one sitting).
Years later, my sister and I each take a different approach to Christmas; I ignore it until a week beforehand, whereby I panic-buy presents and drape the potted plants with scraps of tinsel. My sister, on the other hand, salutes Christmas with military precision; decoration preparation (or deck prep, as my family refers to it in terrified tones) begins in November. Pinterest boards are knocked up, colour-schemes coordinated and crafting activities collated. Each of my nieces is assigned their own tree branch to decorate, which my sister then rearranges without remorse while they are asleep.
If like me, your craft skills are more Edward Scissorhands than Konnie Huq, we've compiled this corner-cutting guide to Christmas crafts just for you...
fill your baubles
What could be more festive than hanging your own handmade Christmas crafts on the tree? Fillable baubles are easy to track down, simple to use and won’t break the bank. These clear baubles come in two halves and are usually accompanied by a selection of pre-prepared fillings. Alternatively, you and your little helper can hit the shops and choose your own: fill your basket with chocolate coins, confetti, bells and bows.
If you want your Christmas crafts to go with a bang, snap up a make it yourself cracker kit. These self-assembly crackers come with a selection of decorations, paper hats, novelty gifts and jokes. If you’re feeling totally crackers, you can even make your own: you'll find plenty of online tutorials to help you pull it off. Stock up on cardboard tubes, wrapping paper and snaps, scour the shops for tiny trinkets and dust off your best Santa jokes.
Fasten your apron strings and prepare for bake off! Christmas cookies are a scrumptious and cost-effective alternative to shop-bought decorations. Lavish your kitchen cupboards with festive-shaped cookie cutters and load the Tupperware with tasty toppings. While the cookies are still fresh out of the oven, make a hole for the hanging thread. Now for the fun part! Ask your mini-me to join in as you pipe the icing, sprinkle the hundreds and thousands and deploy the chocolate drops.
let it snow
Sharpen your scissors and cut costs with a canopy of handcrafted stars and snowflakes; simple and speedy to make, and bound to brighten up any room as they shoot around the Christmas tree or fall from the ceiling. You'll only need a few staples from the craft drawer, including card, glue and glitter; and if you're feeling flush, a spritz of snow spray. Wrap fake festive foliage around a fistful of twigs to hang your dazzling displays around the home.
hang up your stockings
Every fireplace and foot of the bed deserves its own stocking at Christmas. Why not encourage your child to pull their socks up and craft their own? Unadorned stockings in cotton or linen are ten a penny on the internet. Line up the glitter, glue, ribbons, bows and beads, lay down the newspaper and get adorning! Don't forget to spell out the hopeful recipient's name in sequins so that Santa knows who's been naughty or nice.
the holly and the ivy
Get down to your local garden centre and pick up a plain wreath to decorate. While you’re there, pile your trolley high with snow spray, fake berries, holly leaves and pine cones. If you prefer a less traditional wreath, deck the frame out with baubles, pom poms, sweet wrappers or fairy lights. And if you're looking for the perfect excuse to crack open a festive bottle of bubbly, you'll be pleased to hear cork wreaths are all the rage!
Whether your Christmas is homemade or click and collect, what better way to spend it than with family and friends? Getting crafty together allows you to share the joy of Christmas with your children while rediscovering it for yourself; with every bauble filled, ribbon tied and stocking sewn, you are making memories that will carry the magic of Christmas down through the generations, from one twinkling tree to the next.