I am credit crunching this Christmas. It is the new 'in' thing. Co-ordinated decorations bought ensemble from department stores' Christmas shops are sooooo last year. Home-made is the hot look for this year. Which is just fabulous news because frankly, that's about all I can afford!
In fact it was what I was planning anyway. Having kids is the perfect excuse for covering your home in stuff that's been cut up with scissors and pasted together with PVA glue. It is cheap, it helps occupy the kids during the build up to Christmas day itself and this year at least, it'll mean you're keeping up with the latest trend! Here's a little secret for you though and PLEASE keep it to yourselves. I love making all this tat but honestly I am so useless the end result looks like a child made it. So I can just pretend that the child did make it!
As we get closer to Christmas, keep an eye out in magazines and newspaper supplements/lifestyle pages. They'll be full of ideas for decorating, and as I've mentioned, the homemade look is in this year. The internet is of course full of fabby ideas.
"I make paper chains every year out of Christmas wrapping paper. I got the idea from a magazine, although it is a simple enough idea," Audrey, mum to four boys, told me. It is also her secret indulgence. "What I like to do is to splurge on a roll of really expensive wrapping paper from a posh shop. By expensive I mean, say, £5 for a roll. It is such gorgeous stuff and I'm never going to spend that much on wrapping up presents. But for a single roll it is OK, it makes wonderful paper chains, and you get to enjoy the lovely patterns for a lot longer than you would if you'd just used it for wrapping a pressie!"
Even though we're only half way through November, the time to start planning is now. You can look out for cheap deals on all the stuff you'll need like card, glitter, sparkly bits, paints, fake snow etc. I'm not covering homemade Chisrhristmas cards here as really there's not a lot to say! You get some card and then let your child's imagination roam free. It is surprising what they come up with. However, depending on how many cards you want to make for family and friends, it is a good idea to get the little ones started now. I know my son has the attention span to do about one card at a time!
Here's one for gift giving though, that's really lovely, easy to do and inexpensive. Something for the grandparents maybe, or god parent. Or you could help your children do for the other parent! I can't claim any ownership of this idea, it all belongs to PlayPennies mum Ellie. Pictured is a plaster cast of my son's hand that we made in her back garden. The idea is actually really simple.
Before you start, get some strips of firm but flexible cardboard. Cut a notch at each end and slot it together, so that it forms a circle. Next, choose a piece of ground in the garden that's been dug up, and is suitably wet but not too soggy. Get each child to press their hand into it firmly. Tag each hand with the child's name or write it on the cardboard circles.
The cardboard mould is placed around the handprint in the mud. Now pour in the plaster mix. Stick a ring in the back so you can hang it later, and let it dry.
When we got them out of the mud, they were, well, muddy! Very very muddy with a lot of it stuck in the plaster itself. A good scrub removed most of it. I used plaster paints from a set my son was given to let him decorate. In hindsight though, I think a nice bit of primer and some gloss paints would be better. We might still do that - have a few months to go!
"Cranberries and popcorn" recommends PlayPennies mum of one Sarah. "The perfect decoration for adding Victoriana to your home. Just need a thick, large needle and thread it through the popcorn and cranberries." But wouldn't the cranberries go a bit, well, mouldy? "Not at all" says Sarah. "They dry on the line. Probably wouldn't want to do it too far in advance of Christmas though."
Then there's the tree decorations. Salt dough has, apparantly, been around since the time of the Egyptians. It's kind of like play dough in the way it can be moulded. Then you bake it, and you've something hard enough to be painted and kept for years. I found this site on making dough ornaments for kids. Which is similar to the recipe I found on EarthWitch's website here. Plus she has what looks like a really fabulous recipe for making shiny sparkly decorations using cornflour, as pictured here. I think I 'll definitely be giving that one a try. Will update you on how it turns out! Don't expect any artistic masterpieces from me, although my son is showing a surprisngly good eye for design in the last few projects we've done!
The other really Christmassy things you can make for yourself are a wreath for the door and an Advent candle wreath. Using far safer fake candles or tealights, naturally. But we've run out of room here, so if it isn't too much craft for one month I'll take a look at that next week.
Untill then, what else can I make in the way of Christmas decorations/interior design? You tell me. This is the first year I've seriously got into this so please, any help you can give on the cheapest ways to make your house as festive as possible are more than welcome!