Somehow, the most wonderful time of the year is set to become even more precious.
I saw a post on Instagram from Nicole de Leiburne, founder of soy candle brand Self Care Company that really resonated with me:
"There is something so precious during this time of year and a secret lining of pure love and homeliness that I can't quite put into words. The smell of pine, fresh vegetables, warmth from a log fire, bright reds and dazzling silvers and a euphoric gratitude for the things that matter in life most to us."
I have always been a firm believer that time and consideration more worthwhile in a gift than a price tag, so have always tried to ensure a fair few homemade goodies under the tree for my loved ones. With a bit of extra time on my hands waiting for the madam to arrive in the run-up to Christmas, I’ve tried to raise the bar on the homemade front for this magical time ahead…
I will never forget, growing up, my family teasing me about one day meeting someone that would be a cricket fan, or a golf whizz – neither of which I can feign interest in unfortunately. But I don’t think anyone could have prepared for what we would discover; Ed’s allergy to Christmas trees. The realisation, combined with seeing that last, beautiful Christmas tree sat outside our flat in the pouring rain… It was as tragic as it sounds.
I can’t take credit for this in any way, other than I insisted on it. One of my prized festive possessions, our Christmas tree was the masterful creation of the mister. With Ed’s past life as a carpenter in a past life, combined with our mutual appreciation for the sustainable things in life, we spent a weekend in Lincolnshire setting about creating a reusable tree with bits of wood from around the house… Followed y this new and improved version made a couple of years ago with the help of a magical Mr Hopewell-Smith... The masterpiece was created and I’ve honestly not missed a green tree since (although it’s hard not to appreciate when the real deal’s about).
Next to the tree sits the Liberty advent calendar that has been a spoiling ground for the mister. This was one of the first range of beauty advent calendars Liberty created, and it was beyond appreciated. Since then I have used it for treats for the mister in the festive countdown. A mixture of sweet treats, stocking fillers, vouchers and a few of his favourites, the spoils behind the doors have admittedly become increasingly extravagant over the years. This year I’m reining things back and saving the real spoils for the big day itself.
Deck the halls
Given that there's somewhat of a waiting game going on in our house, these have been a brilliant way to keep busy whilst making something so hugely satisfying...
Copies of the FT are always appreciated in our house - they make for great wrapping paper and have always made for such lovely decoration material. These are made from around 20 circular bits of the perfectly pink paper each, ruffled and attached to jute string with a simple bit of thread... Perfect for garlands or hangings like these, whatever takes your festive fancy.
Knit one, purl one… Sew one?
I have been known to knit presents in the past (brilliant for doing something productive whilst trying to stop smoking), although my hands are slightly full now, so my dear brothers won’t have to worry about any lovingly made scarves this year. That being said, the cardigans my great aunt June has made for D will be treasured this Christmas, as the blanket she made me over 10 years ago still is…
I’ve also been known to create pillows and stockings from old jumpers and scarves. Perfect for giving a new life to knits that shouldn’t be worn but are too treasured to part with, or scarves that may have one too many bobbles or cigarette burns (how times have changed) - not to mention the perks of having a big squidgy present under the tree.
Potentially the ultimate in first world problems, I had a treasured charcoal Mulberry scarf that was enjoyed by mice a few years ago, who managed to almost nibble it in half... At least they have good taste. So the wool was used to make what looks like bags of coal that I mix in with the presents under the tree... Always helps to keep people on their toes and to remember to stay festive!
Last year I had a sheath of lavender from our honeymoon that I had been drying for over a year, so used it to create satin heat packs with some satin I had stashed away for a special occasion. No better occasion than Christmas in my opinion, both seem to have passed the test of time and remain in use for a special little warm up. Winning.
I initially made candles for our wedding as favours and as the years go on, I like to think the quality of these have improved, along with the scent combinations as well. Last year I decided to try making soaps as well, using a bit of leftover lavender as well. These weren’t necessarily the best looking smellies in the world, but I’ve been working on this and think things might be on a different level now, I hope!
These have been increasingly handy over the years for us… Tea, coffee, get out of jail, babysitting vouchers for those keen to have a coo… Or skills?? I’m still to cash my voucher for Backgammon lessons from my magical brother and need to get the kettle on and the sewing machine out for sewing lessons I owe too.
We’re taking freezable meals, just as an FYI for the relatives…
Best left to the little ones…
I created giant colouring books for children of dear, dear family friends, which have gone down a treat and (SPOILER) will be getting sequels this year. The bigger, the easier to mess up, the more personalised, the better; works for me.
One thing I did last year which I have to confess was not the success I was after; paintings. I went with the idea that the time put into them was the gift… Only problem is, artwork is so very personal, too much of a risk unfortunately, as they were subsequently left around the house for the following week, some sneaking back into my room. Awkward.
Maybe I could get away with drawings, but I will be leaving artwork like that to the little one for future gifts and stick to the fool-proof formula that goes with the different people around the tree.
Whilst we wait for the little lady to appear, we are coming around to the need to stay put this year, so fully appreciate just how important it is to share the festive spirit and all the goodwill possible with loved ones near. One thing that is for sure; the thought really does count.