• Sat. Apr 17th, 2021

Last minute Christmas ideas: Craft gifts, decorations and more

After so many months, the novelty of staying at home has well and truly worn off.

But with no major changes likely to the public health advice for the foreseeable future, why not put the extra time spent at home to good use?

There’s a plethora of crafts that you can take up over the next few days– creating your own festive decorations or even a truly meaningful Christmas gift for someone.

You will be learning a new skill, while best of all, saving money, so here’s some of our favourite festive crafts.

1. Breathe new life into old wine bottles

Let’s face it, we all have a lot of wine bottles lying around over Christmas. But with some councils requiring you to venture to a bottle bank to recycle them, it can be a bit of an inconvenience to have them lying around the house and taking up space.

The good news is that there’s lots of craft that you can employ to make these old bottles into a kitschy decoration. One of the most popular is to buy some tall candles, shave them around the base so they are thin enough to fit into the opening of the bottle, then simply let the candle burn down so that the wax drips down in a rustic fashion.

Alternatively, you can use old fabric to stitch together a Santa hat (or even a full suit) to sit over the bottle as a festive centrepiece. And, of course, you don’t have to use wine bottles – any bottle will do.

2. Make decoupage Christmas cards

Requiring much more effort than just picking up a multipack of Christmas cards, decoupage is a great way to show that you care.

There are plenty of designs that you can get online (or even print out for free), but you will need a steady hand and lots of patience to cut out and stack each individual layer.

It’s a great task to do with older kids, getting them to use their hand-eye coordination on something other than a games console, with a real sense of accomplishment when you see the finished version.

Just make sure to leave enough time to send them out before the final Christmas posting dates (Monday 21st for 1st class).

Christmas is just around the corner

3. Go foraging for rustic decorations

One of the best things to come out of lockdown is that most of us have gained a renewed sense of appreciation for the outdoors.

With rustic decorations firmly back in fashion, why not use your next woodland walk as an opportunity to pick up some greenery to add to your home? Holly and ivy can be found across the country, particularly in oak and beech woodland, with holly branches traditionally used to decorate homes while serving as a charm against witches.

You can also thread greenery through bannisters, or to dress your table for Christmas day, with eucalyptus and mistletoe (if you can find it) adding a delicate touch. Herbs like rosemary look great on top of Christmas cakes, while pinecones can be fun for kids to find and then paint before displaying in a jar or a basket.

4. Create a mini Christmas tree from plastic spoons

It might sound tacky, but a mini tree made from plastic spoons can look surprisingly classy if you do it right.

Simply pick up a multipack of disposable plastic spoons (or better yet, gather ones that you’ve got lying about) and then cut off the circular spoon heads and discard the handles.

From there, paint or decorate the spoon circles before gluing them in layers to a kitchen roll or similar base to create a fanned Christmas tree shape. You can even make a spoon trees of different sizes and display them together for a charming decoration.

Find out more here.

5. Decorate (or make your own) festive candle

Candle sales have soared in the UK in the last few months, as we seek to make the dark nights spent at home feel warmer, cosier and more ‘hygge’. And as demand rises so does the prices, with some branded scented candles costing hundreds of pounds.

But there’s no need to spend a fortune. Instead, you can pick up some plain inexpensive candles and then decorate them yourself- getting all of the visual impact for a fraction of the price.

The options are pretty much endless when it comes to decoration: you can paint the candle, add glue then sprinkle it with glitter, tie ribbons or seasonal herbs around the outside, stick on jewels or embellishments, use a template to trace on a design… we could go on.

You can also make the candle itself from scratch and add your own scents, but you will need to buy wax, wicks and fragrance oils to do so.

6. Distil your own Christmas gin

The craft gin boom of recent years has seen no shortage of gins vying for your attention in the alcohol aisle. But if you want to really impress this Christmas, why not distil your own?

There’s plenty of sets containing dried botanicals that you can buy online, or acquire independently, with some of the most popular being orange peel, peppercorn, cardamom, cinnamon, liquorice or rose petals.

You can add whatever combinations of botanicals you like but, to qualify as a gin, juniper must be the most dominant botanical and the spirit must be at least 37.5% ABV.

All you really need to do is get a glass bottle or jar, add your chosen combination of botanicals and then top with quality vodka. Leave your infusion in a dark cupboard for around a week, shaking it once a day, then sieve out the botanicals to leave you with your gin.

Experiment with some festive flavours for an extra bit of pizzazz.

7. Create some frosty branches

These are incredibly easy and cheap to make despite being sold for significantly more in most garden centres. Gather some branches or twigs from outside, prune them into the shape that you want and then spray paint them gold or silver. Then fill a plastic tub with glitter, add glue to your branches and dip them in the glitter before leaving to dry. It’s best to do this all outside to minimise mess- so make sure the weather is dry while you do so. Once your frosty branches are complete you can either display them outside or in a vase indoors- they look particularly good when illuminated by a candle or the twinkle of Christmas lights.

Get the tutorial here.

8. Make peppermint candy canes

Legend has it that candy canes were invented by a Cologne choirmaster in the 17th century who wanted to remind children of the role of shepherds in the story of the nativity.

From there they spread throughout Europe, now becoming one of the most popular decorations for our homes at Christmas. The good news is that they are reasonably easy to bake, meaning the whole family can get involved, while also requiring very few ingredients.

Simply mix peppermint extract with different colours of pre-bought icing (or make your own with an egg, icing sugar and food colouring) and then make two long sausages containing each colour.

Twist the sausages together, slice into smaller pieces, mould into the desired hook shape and then leave them to set on a baking tray for 24 hours. Then, either eat your candy canes or use them as decorations.

Get recipe inspiration here.

Central Fife Times: Make your own fake snow!Make your own fake snow!

9. Make fake snow

Despite listening to songs about it every year, a white Christmas is actually pretty rare, with the last widespread one in Britain coming back in 2010.

But with no snow guaranteed outside, you can still create your own with just a handful of ingredients that you are likely to have lying around the house.

Kids will love joining in and mixing the snow through their hands- so be sure to get them involved. Simply mix together equal measures of cornflour and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl, slowly adding water while mixing it together with your hands.

You’ll know you’ve got the right consistency when the ‘snow’ can hold its own shape while still being easily remodelled. Alternatively, you can mix the cornflour with hair conditioner or shaving cream for a similar effect.

10. Make your own e-card

Personalised cards are currently all the rage. But rather than shelling out for cards on personalisation websites, you can photoshop photos of your loved ones onto a range of festive backgrounds that are available online for free.

Most of these templates require only basic skills to use and once you’ve made them, you can either print them out or send in an email to avoid wasting paper- keeping your Christmas carbon footprint down.

Try here.