Podcast episode 19 – Preparing for a Handmade Christmas

The Craft Room Podcast, episode 19 - Preparing for a Handmade Christmas

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It may have snuck up on you or maybe you think it’s too early. Maybe you’re in denial, but if you’re listening when this goes live about nine weeks out from Christmas. This is the perfect time of year for us to talk about how we’re going to prepare to inject a little bit of handmade love into our Christmas celebrations, gift giving and festivities .

Just because I’m thinking about it now does not necessarily mean I’m acting on it now, but I do have some really hot tips for you. I also have some very important questions that you need to ask yourself. We’re going to cover Christmas cards, gifts, and home decor … all excellent places that you can put a little handmade love into Christmas. 

I think though, that we need to start by clarifying something very, very important. This is a question you need to ask yourself and really think about … who are the people in your life, who you’re going to give handmade too, because some people in your life are into handmade and other people in your life are not. Knowing the difference between them is very helpful. It’s going to save you a lot of time it’s going to save you a lot of money, and it’s going to save you a lot of heartache. What I mean by that … have you ever handmade a card or gift, put a lot of thought and love and effort and skill into this gift, then given it to somebody and they’ve just not been excited. Or worst case scenario said something really nasty, something very insensitive or maybe something that hurt your feelings. 

It’s happened to me … when I was really young probably around age eight or nine. We didn’t have a lot of money so when it came to gift giving, everything was handmade because back then, it was so much cheaper to make anything over buying it in the shops. I had a friend at school I wanted to give a gift to, and macrame was all the rage (yes, I know. It’s come back around again) and I made my friend a little macrame purse. I use stuff out of my mum’s stash. I think the color of the McCormick code was orange but it was era appropriate I swear. I hand made this macrame purse, put a lot of time and effort and thought into it. She just opened it, picked it up by corner and went “What is this?” and dropped it onto her seat, then just went on with her day. I was crushed. I was absolutely heartbroken. You think I would have learned the lesson then. But I didn’t. I carried on making things for people. And occasionally I would give things to people for whom handmade wasn’t a thing that made them really happy. So this is why I’m saying to you think really carefully do a little assessment. Who are the people you’re going to make for and who are the people you’re going to buy for? Now I’m going to say something, even though I’ve just said how heartbreaking that was. I’m going to say something that might might seem to some a little controversial. Not everybody loves hand-made. And that’s okay. We can’t force people to love handmade some people don’t like it now, but maybe they will in the future after they get to know you and see what you do and learn more about your thing and think “Hey, that’s actually really cool!”. So some people do change their mind from not wanting something handmade to loving it in the future, but some people … they’re just not into it. And there is nothing wrong with that. Imagine if we were all the same and all like the same stuff. Life would be very boring. Trying to make someone love handmade … well think about the time someone tried to make you love something or get into something that you’re just not interested … in and put yourself in their shoes. 

Here’s the thing about giving gifts and cards. The point is to give somebody something that they will be delighted by you think about what they like and what their interests are. And it’s a bit of a reflection really on how well you know people as well. And you’re just going to find that people on your card list and people on your gift list … some will be into handmade and some will be into shop bought … and there is nothing wrong with that.

By knowing this and figuring out who are your handmade people and who are your shop bought people, it is going to save you quite a lot of heartache. It took me a long time to figure that out. But I can put just as much thought and effort and care and love into a store bought present as I can into a handmade present, because I’m getting something that I know the recipient is going to be really excited by and very, very happy with. So it’s in moments like these that you do kind of have to put your want of making things handmade for people a little bit on the back burner and know who is who. 

Now, with that said, I think we’ll start with Christmas cards category. Okay, so Christmas cards. Look, it’s one of those things that some years I do it really well and some years I don’t do it at all. I went for probably more than a decade not sending any Christmas cards at all. There were years that I wanted to send them and I felt really sad that I couldn’t, and other times when I felt like I should be sending them but didn’t want to and I felt really guilty. And then there were those delightful years where I didn’t want to send any and I didn’t feel like I should have send any. And I was quite happy with that. But in the end, not sending Christmas cards, nothing bad happened. I received less Christmas cards in return. But I was okay with that. I was in a very chaotic period of my life and I just couldn’t manage it. I would want to send them, but it would get to Christmas Eve and all of a sudden I realized, well, it’s too late now … that’s not going to happen. 

A few years back, I found a way that I could actually get organized around my Christmas cards. And I’m going to share my method with you. Hopefully there’ll be a few tips in there that you’ll be able to tweak to use for yourself. But before we do that, I have another question that I would like you to ask yourself, and that is … Do you want to send Christmas cards? Do you feel like you should send Christmas cards?

If you feel like you should AND you want to, then fantastic … we will move forward and I’ll give you all my Hot Tips. If you want to, and you’re not sure if you’re going to be able to … listen through, maybe some of these things will be helpful and you’ll be able to get it done. But if this is one of these times when you’re thinking “I just don’t want to send cards this year, I just, I don’t have it in me.”, then it will be fine. Maybe there’ll be some tips that you can use for next year, or the next time that you feel you want to send Christmas cards. 

Christmas Cards

I used to send a lot of cards and then I sent not many cards, and then I sent no cards at all. And then I went back to a fairly small list of people that I would send Christmas cards to. 

My favorite way of being organized around this is to start with a notebook and this is what I did a few years ago. Now I have a Christmas planner. I’ll talk about that another time because if I unpack my entire Christmas planner, we will be here for an hour so maybe I’ll record another episode about my Christmas planet if you’re interested. So if you are, leave a comment on the blog to let me know. 

The Craft Room Podcast, episode 19 - Preparing for a Handmade Christmas

In the meantime, if you don’t have a dedicated Christmas planner, just grab a notebook, any notebook. You know those notebooks … those ones that you buy because they’re really pretty and then you don’t use them because they’re too good to use. Well, we are going to grab one of those and use it just for our Christmas planning just being organized around Christmas. 

Now in October, if you’re listening live, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about what we’re going to do. I’ll be honest, I expect Christmas things to start in November, which is really busy and December is absolute chaos. If you’re looking for something in a notebook that’s super Christmas and properly festive, I will link to some gorgeous long form ones that I have in my store. They’re really really sweet the pack of two and they just lovely. But any notebook is going to do for this. If you’ve got a travelers notebook, a planner (something small and not too huge and chunky), and we’re going to grab that planner or notebook and a pen and start getting organized. 

So the first thing I want you to do is turn to a clean page and off the top, you’re going to put a heading of ‘Christmas cards -sending’. This is where you’re going to make a list of all of the people that you want to send cards to, and get organized around that. The first thing we’re going to cover is Who … Who do you want to send cards to this year? Start writing down names of people or families or places that you want to send a Christmas card to this year, and I recommend as you’re writing them down in your notebook, leave one or two lines in between because we’re going to come back and fill those in in a moment. This is going to give you a really good idea of how many Christmas cards you need because you’ve got a list of people.

The next thing we are going to look at is Where. Where are we going to send these Christmas cards? Now is the time to start gathering all those snail mail addresses and pop them on the line underneath the name. As you’re working through your address book, phone or filing card system … whatever you do, wherever you keep all your snail mail addresses … start writing them down. This is where you’ll start to realize that maybe you don’t have someone’s address or remember that they’ve moved and you don’t have their new address. If that’s the case, just get in touch with them and say, “Hey, I just realized I don’t have your address. What is it?”. Start to gather those up … send people a text or an email, give them a call, drop them a message … however you communicate, and find out addresses. 

This is for the people of course that you’re going to post your cards to. And this brings me to the How. How are you going to deliver these cards? On the next line or next to the name or address, you can pop a little code in to let yourself know is this going to be posted or hand delivered. 

If you’re going to be posting the cards, you could add a column on the right hand side of the page with the word post above there and check it for the ones that you’re going to post and leave it blank for the ones that you’re going to hand deliver. This is going to let you know how many postage stamps you need, so as soon as Australia Post puts their Christmas card stamps on sale (remember, they’re cheaper than regular stamps), you can go and buy the exact number that you need for your Christmas cards, etc. 

The next thing is the What. What kind of Christmas card am I going to send or deliver to this person? There are a lot of different kinds of Christmas cards. You can get the super cheap ones from discount stores. You can get some really nice ones from post office and get super duper nice ones from the newsagents (the really fancy ones where you buy them individually). You can make your own Christmas cards. You could purchase a card from a friend family member, a colleague or someone you know who makes beautiful handmade cards. Or you could look into some of your favorite artists and see if they are offering art cards, because sometimes they put ones out with a Christmas theme. If you are sending cards overseas, look for artists who do specifically Australian work, or whatever your country of origin is. For example, a lovely lady that I know through the Artful Business Conference, Jenny, has really cool art cards with a New Zealand theme (see them HERE). So you can find an artist who creates art cards based on their country or your country of origin, and perhaps purchase some of those as your very special cards. So you can have another column on the right hand side of your page and take that if you are sending a special card or just a regular card. Sometimes I send really special ones. Sometimes I send ones I buy in a box of 50. It just depends what your needs are going to be this year. Now is the time to start thinking about that. 

The benefit of thinking about these things early means a couple of things. You can prepare so you can figure out how many cards you need to make. You may need to go shopping. Or maybe you’re a savvy shopper like me and you pick up Christmas cards, when they’re marked down after Christmas 50% or 75% off and you put them aside. Note … if you’re going to do that, make sure you make a note in your little Christmas planner of where you put those cards, because you know how it is … you put things in a safe place, and it’s such a safe place that you don’t know where to find them later. So make a little note in your Christmas planner where you stash the cards that you bought last year, you can do that if you buy cards after Christmas DC. 

You can also figure out if this is going to fit your Christmas budget. Some years, you can just do what you want, buy what you want, send what you like, and it’s not a problem. Other years, budgets can be tigher. So if your budget is tight, add up the cost of the kinds of cards you want to send and the postage and you may have to whittle your list down or instead of sending super special cards. Maybe you are just going to send box cards this year. So pay attention to your budget and figure out what your Christmas cards are going to cost you. 

So now that you’ve got this comprehensive list … you’ve got names, addresses and notes about being posted or hand delivered, is it a special card or a box card … all these little details that you need to know so you can get organized. 

The next thing I like to do after making my list is to gather everything I need together, I get my Christmas cards, envelopes address list, which is in my little book, a good pen and my postage stamps. I put all of these things in a plastic case or a bag or a little box, something so that it’s all together and I take it with me. So if I’m going to an appointment and I have a feeling I’m going to be sitting in that waiting room for a while, I’m going to take that bag with me. When I use a plastic case I have a hard surface so I can write on. If you don’t have a hard case and you’re not carrying it in a box, I recommend getting your hands on a small clipboard. I’ve picked one up at my local discount store. Otherwise, take a book with you, and you can use that to lean on to do your writing. 

The first thing you can do is start writing out envelopes. Because you have all the information in your little Christmas planner, you can start writing names and addresses on the front of envelopes, and your name and address on the back, unless you’re using return address labels. If you like to use those, and I’ve just reminded you that you’re out, you’ve got plenty of time to put your order in with Vistaprint or wherever you like to get your return labels from, and they’ll be here well and truly in time for you to send out your Christmas cards. 

From there, you can also start writing on your Christmas cards, pop them in the envelope, although I would wait to seal them until the last minute because you never know … something super exciting could happen to you or your family and you might want to include that exciting news in your Christmas card. As it gets closer to Christmas and you decide I’m done, I’m organized” that first week in December, you’ve got all of these cards, you just have to seal them up, pop the stamp on, drop them in the box, and you are the person who’s got the cards out that first week in December. I love that this is something you can do in bites. 

Now it’s time to talk about handmade Christmas cards. So if you’re a card maker it this part is for you. Or if you’ve been thinking for a while that you would like to make your own cards, even though maybe you’re not a big card maker, this might be helpful for you as well. There are quite a few ways that you can do this. Perhaps you’ve been making Christmas cards all year long and putting them in a special place. Gather them all together and you’ve got all your Christmas cards. If you haven’t even started yet. Don’t sweat it. It’s not too late at all and I’ve got some great tips to get hand made cards done quickly. 

One thing that you could do is join a Christmas card swap. I’m hosting a Christmas card front swap due end of November, and you can find information about that HERE. If you are unfamiliar with card swaps, you can listen to a previous episode where we talked about craft swap HERE. That way you are making a whole bunch of cards the same and receive a variety of different cards in return. So if you prefer to send a different card to everybody, that’s a great option for you. 

The Craft Room Podcast, episode 19 - Preparing for a Handmade Christmas

However, the easiest way to do your Christmas card is to pick one design and batch it. Even if you’re joining a card swap, that’s what you’re going to be doing anyway. A few years ago I received a shipment of Waffleflower stamps for the shop, and in there was a set called The SEAson … it was a merman Santa, coral Christmas tree and fish wearing Santa hats. I found it endlessly amusing. I loved it so much, I actually wanted to make Christmas cards, for the first time in a long time (we’re talking over a decade) … I really wanted to use the stamp set. So I bought one off myself. And I used it and I made about 30 Christmas cards. This was when I learned … write your list first, because I made way too many. So I’ve got quite a bunch left over. But I had an absolute ball, I designed my card and I just did the same design and varied up the patterned paper I used all patterned paper form a single collection so that I could do all my coloring of my stamped images exactly the same and it will coordinate on every single card. 

I had so much fun with that, that I actually stayed on top of sending Christmas cards and I sent some out last year. And I was so happy to do so. I did a clean out of all my design team cards and swaps that I’d received and I’ve got a nice little stack of Christmas cards ready to be used this year. 

The next suggestion I have for you is if you do want to have them kind of the same but kind of different, then I would recommend a template style system. I have a couple of templates. There is a freebie in my freebie section. It’s a one sheet wonder, and you can find it HERE and the video HERE. It’s sort of an experimental one which needs a little tweaking. There’s also a perfected version in the store HERE.

There is a video I made a few months ago … I created a template where you can take half a dozen six by six inch pieces of pattern paper and make 11 different cards. You can find the blog post with video and template HERE. You can go download the template and use some of your six by six patterned papers to create really fun Christmas cards. 

When it comes to decorating your cards, there are so many things you could do. You can do layered stamping, stamping and coloring, use pre printed die-cuts and often the people who make the patterned papers will bring out coordinating die cuts, so that’s a really easy way to decorate your card. You could use foam flowers, mulberry paper flowers, or make your own paper flowers by stamping stacking, curling. There are all sorts of ways you can decorate a card. 

One of my favorites, if you have little kids who create lots and lots of art is to cut down some of the artwork they bring home from school or preschool or daycare and use that on your Christmas card. Or give the kids some pre cut pieces of cardstock and have them create artwork on them. Just pop a merry Christmas greeting on there and that’s a fantastic card to send. The other one that I really enjoy … if you are a photographer and you’ve been taking gorgeous photos through the year of beautiful flowers or scenery, you can make photo Christmas cards. One year I took photos of my family and I sent a family photo card that’s also a fantastic way to do them. Regardless of whether you are making them, adding photos, buying them at the shops, getting a favorite art card … I hope these tips have been helpful to help you get on top of them. This week, I’m making my list and I would love it if you are making your list at the same time. It’s more fun when you do it with someone else. So let’s make a list together.

Christmas Gifts

For Christmas gifts, we’re going to turn to a new page of our notebook and title it ‘gift giving’. This is the place where you are going to jot down the names of people that you want to give a gift to, be it large or small, many or one. This is where you pop those names down. It’s very helpful just to straighten it out in your head and figure out who you need to buy or make gifts for this year. So jot down the names … and again, leave one or two lines in between the people so that you can make some notes for yourself. This is where I list my husband, my kids, my mum, my sister, all the people, the nieces, the nephews, everyone goes on the list, right down to teachers at school and I also factored in the kids friends when they were younger, because I was the one who is in charge of that. I also factor in a little gift for the staff at my local post office because they give me amazing customer service all year long. I love to make them gingerbread men and drop them in a week or two before Christmas for them to enjoy with their morning tea. 

The Craft Room Podcast, episode 19 - Preparing for a Handmade Christmas

If you have any great ideas, this is where you jot them down on the lines underneath the names. If you have a set budget for that person, pop that budget in brackets next to the name and have a column at the end or have a code like H for handmade or S for shop bought Just so you know, am I making a gift to this person or am I buying a gift for this person. Now that you have all your names, and this is a list that you can add to over  time. Remember, it’s still October, we still have plenty of time, everything is fine. This is just the planning stage. You can start to think about gift ideas. Some people are easy to buy (for my oldest daughter is so simple to buy for, it’s ridiculous, yet my youngest daughter is incredibly difficult to buy for). So when I think of a good idea or they mentioned something I like, I can grab the notebook and jot it down. This is the time you can get your detective hat on and start asking clever questions. Have a look at people’s Facebook profiles, Instagram and Pinterest … have conversations where you can draw information out of them to find out what they would really love for Christmas this year. 

We talked earlier about knowing who are your handmade people and who are your shop-bouht people. If you’re unsure, sometimes the best thing to do is just ask. Let’s say you’re catching up over coffee with someone or you’ve at a family event. You can say “I’m thinking of making quilts for the nieces and nephews this year. Do you think your kids would be into that?” and they will hopefully tell you honestly if that’s going to be a well received gift. Ask the question, because, honestly … if you’re planning on making quilts for seven nieces and nephews and it’s midway through October, this is a big task. And if you’re going to put that much effort in and they’re not going to like it, I personally, I would rather know up front. Sometimes the best way to know is to ask. Another way that I find is great detective work, especially now trying to figure out are you a handmade person or shop what person is I will give someone a card that’s handmade. And I find that people who love handmade really love handmade card. The response will usually be along the lines of “Oh my goodness, did you make this for me? This is so amazing. I can’t believe you made this!” and they show it to everyone. That’s your handmade people right there. Just because they don’t have that reaction doesn’t necessarily mean that don’t love handmade (you’ve got to read people well), but giving them a card, whether you’ve made it or a friend has made it or you’ve purchased it from somebody who makes cards … it’s a good test. So if you’re unsure, either ask or do a quick test you know, send a quick thank you card, check out and see. 

Do they own handmade things? Following makers on Instagram? Do they talk about handmade? So do your homework now in October when we’ve got plenty of time, it means there’s less last minute rushing and panic when it comes close to Christmas. 

Another thing to take into consideration when you’re thinking about what you’re going to make for Christmas this year, check your calendar. I just found out that we’re staring down the barrel of our first Christmas drinks this week in October. We haven’t even had Halloween yet. And we’re talking about Christmas drinks in October. It’s the first time this has ever happened. This is telling me that calendars are going to fill up fast. Think back to November last year. Were you out every Friday night and every Saturday with end of year parties, dance recitals, piano recitals or concerts, all those end of your activities. How busy did it get with kids at school? Do you have to be racing around doing is there an end of year performance? There are assemblies and award nights and graduations and formals and all those things that are creeping in and packing our calendar. They start in November. So when you’re planning to make things, you have to look at your calendar and realistically figure out how many hours do I actually have to dedicate to these. If you have kids in school, find out the last day of school. 

The other thing you need to do is refer to your budget. If you’re thinking about handmaking quilts for seven nieces and nephews, realistically look at what that is going to cost you. There’s fabric, wadding and the cost of quilting. There’s the time involved, really look at your calendar and really look at your budget. The other thing you would need to do is if you’re having them quilted by your long arm quilter, check in with them and see can they even fit in seven quilts before Christmas? I know my long arm quilter is almost completely booked up and you kind of need to think ahead with these things. So unless you’re doing quilt-as-you-go at home, and you’ve got oodles of time and no one demanding anything of you, then maybe you can get that done. 

By figuring out your list, you have time to do your online shopping for things to be delivered, which is marvellous. I don’t do any online shopping past the 15th of November. It allows five weeks for things to be delivered, especially if I’m ordering from overseas. And sometimes you find the perfect thing and you can only get it from overseas, you need to start thinking about your gift giving now so that you can make sure everything you need is going to arrive. However, sometimes we make that list, and still can’t find the right thing. Then we have these great ideas to fill the gap, but don’t have time to put them into action. We have two choices. We either settle for something not quite as good, or we rush it and get it done. And we have really late nights and early mornings, burning the candle at both ends. And I’ve done that for absolutely sure have I done that and I haven’t enjoyed Christmas quite as much when I’ve had done it that way.

Let me give you an example … one the I didn’t plan in advance my kids were kind of young. Again, it was that chaos time of life that we were having, and I hadn’t injected any handmade into Christmas. It wasn’t that I felt I should, it was more that I really wanted to and I felt sad that I hadn’t. I had family members who really enjoyed receiving handmade gifts (we’re a very make-it type of family) so I wanted to add a little handmade. So I thought, “What’s something simple I could do? I know, I’m going to give each family or each of the ladies in the family (because let’s face it, they’re the ones who deal with the card giving) a box of cards”. I was going to do them a pack of 10 handmade cards with envelopes a book of 10 stamps, which I presented in a DVD gift box. Yes, this was while ago when people still gave DVDs in gift boxes. It was a marvelous idea. It was a week out from Christmas. And it was about then that I realized there was seven families to make these full and that meant 70 handmade cards. I thought, “Oh, I can do this no problem at all”. After several fairly long card making sessions, I really hadn’t achieved very much, and I realised that probably bitten off a little bit more than I can chew. Unfortunately, I am a little bit stubborn about these things. I did find a way around it. I dug into my stash and found that through my time on design teams, and just making cards through the year, I actually had quite a few already made that I could use. So I pulled them all out of my stash, and added them to boxes. And as I was starting to put these boxes together, it occurred to me that each different person in my life was going to need different kinds of cards. So for example, my cousins were in their early 20s at the time, and they needed different cards to my grandmother. So for the cousins were going to a lot of 21st and graduations and engagements and weddings and stuff like that let people in the early 20s do, so they received birthday and congratulation cards. Then there was my sister, who had young kids, was going to a lot of children’s birthday party so she got a lot of birthday cards I think pretty much all birthday cards. Then there was my mum and her generation … not so many weddings and little kids birthday, so they got a mix of kids birthday adult birthday, get well and thinking of you and thank you cards (because they still like to send thank you cards). And then it was my grandmother who got a lot of sympathy cards, get well cards, thank you cards and thinking of you cards. Very different phases of life necessitated different types of cards. It got to a couple of days before Christmas and I was nowhere near finished yet. So I got really desperate and I went and printed a lot of photos. I’m very keen photographer. I had beautiful photos from the coast, going to Botanical Gardens, lots of florals. And so I started to use those I have a template that I use in Photoshop that I dropped them into, and then I sent them all off to be printed, pick them up the next day, and that was fantastic … an absolute lifesaver. For some of them, I put a stamped and matted sentiment on the front. And for others, I just incorporated the words right into the photo in Photoshop and printed them that way. So it was just a fully one layer front on that card. I finished the boxes, gifted them and everyone loved them. And I know that they love them because my mum framed two of them because she liked them so much she couldn’t give them away. And I received three of them for my birthday a couple of months later. When you’re giving a handmade gift to the right people, it’s often well received, but it nearly killed me to put them all together. I was not enjoying the lead up to Christmas. And I was exhausted come Christmas Day. I love that everyone loved their gifts, but I wish I had more time to enjoy Christmas. So that was kind of when I started to think well maybe I should be doing this a little bit.

Christmas Decorations

There was this year that my girls wanted to do some Christmas activities with me and I was incredibly busy shopping and wrapping for myself, and with my business, plus I was doing a lot of shopping and wrapping for my grandmother and for my mum. And I actually said to my girls, “I’m sorry I don’t have time.” and it was heartbreaking for them which was heartbreaking for me. And that was it … I decided I was done running around like a lunatic and fighting for a parking spot at the shopping centers leading up to Christmas. I was tired of not being able to do things I wanted to and inject the handmade that I wanted to in my Christmas, so I made some changes. I started planning in October, I set up my little Christmas planner. I got really lucky when I was thinking about this as I wandered through Officeworks, and stumbled across a clearance shelf full of old planners being cleared out to make space for new stock. I picked up a beautiful red leather personal size planner. I love it so much and I keep all of my Christmas things in there I now keep Halloween, Easter and birthday menus in there as well. And I think I’ll talk another time about how I have that setup. But I decided I had to get organized because I was sick of letting my kids down. 

So the following year I decided I’d be finished with my Christmas shopping by the end of November. I wasn’t … but I was by the end of the first week in December, and that left me three weeks where I didn’t have to run down to the shops, everything was wrapped because I wrapped it as I bought it this time and I was I was amazed I had all this spare time on my hands and I thought what am I going to do with all this spare time. We had an extra Christmas tree (Mum had downsized and given us a larger tree) and rather than dispose of or donate the smaller tree straight away, I asked the girls “Would you like to decorate this tree, which can go in the studio?”. Our home studio is where I have all my craft cupboards if you’ve never seen my craft cupboards, I have a tour of my paper crafting cupboard on my YouTube channel HERE. We also have our fold-out couch out there for overnight guests, and a lot of video gaming goes on on that couch. They wanted to decorate it with a video game theme. So I said yes, and we did hit the shops, but it was more of an adventure than an “Oh, I have to do this and I have to do this” and list checking. They picked a game called Portal 2 (which is a fantastic game fostering problem solving skills and strategic thinking). So we went and we bought plastic silver baubles, I got out the paints and had some fun. Then we went looking for orange and blue tinsel. I can just say orange tinsel was very hard to find once upon a time, but we had fun. We went on adventures trying to find things that we could use to decorate the tree. We made biscuits and we did baking and we made gingerbread men. We watched Christmas movies together and we made Christmas cards. I watched them play their portal game beside their portal tree. It was fun. It was great memories for me and I hope it was creating memories for them as well. 

The Craft Room Podcast, episode 19 - Preparing for a Handmade Christmas

This was the year I realised that being organized suited me very, very well. And it allowed me to enjoy Christmas. And while they were busy creating I was able to create and make gorgeous things as well. And we just had a lovely, calm, beautiful family Christmas that year. 

Now the last thing that we’re going to cover and I’ve kind of already launched into … it’s home decor. There are times that you are going to want to make something for your own home. It’s kind of something that you make for yourself. One of my favorite things is to get out the handmade decorations that I created for me. Things I made because I love to try new products or try a new crafting technique. I was doing a lot of folk art … I have a word JOY where each letter is cut out, and I cut it out myself. My dad taught me how to use a scrolling saw and I cut the letters out and I painted them. Getting them out brings back the memories of the times that I made them. Creating something for your home is creating something for your family and yourself. I also love the handmade decorations that other people have made for me. I have a piece that I won in a raffle at my painting Association. It’s stunning … I love it and it goes up every single year. 

Each year think about what to I want to make for myself, for my home, for my family this year. I was inspired at a sewing retreat a few weeks ago, where a couple of ladies were making tree skirts. I’ve never made a Christmas tree skirt. I hate the naked plastic legs on my Christmas tree so this is something I would really like to make for myself. I have two gorgeous themes of Christmas decorations (cream with red and gold, and teal and gold). So it occurred to me, I could make a double sided tree skirt … one with cream and red and gold and flip it and the other one could be teal &  gold. So that’s something that I would like to make for myself this year. So I’m starting to plan. What will I need? How will it look? What pattern Am I going to use? What fabric will I use? I can look through my stash. And if I don’t have them, I can start to shop for fabric and I’m not in a rush because we won’t start putting up Christmas decorations until probably the second week in December. I have plenty of time. 

Now is the time to think, look at your calendar, decide what you’re going to do. Does it fit into my budget? Does it fit into my schedule? How can I spend my time over the next nine weeks so that I have the Christmas that I would like to have. I really hope that you found something that might help you add a little handmade into your Christmas, and make it a Christmas that is relaxing, fun and creative. Thanks so much for joining me in the craft room today.


New Zealand themed Christmas cards by Jenny Latto
Art cards by Australian artist Jess Hutchison
Current card swap information
Episode 17 – Craft Swaps
Free One Sheet Wonder template
Perfected One Sheet Wonder template (shop)
6″ x 6″ template & video


  1. Debbie

    I’m half way through reading….but i’d like to hear more about your Christmas Planner – I need all the help I can get!

    1. Dawn Lewis

      I’m working on that this week, so stay tuned Debbie!


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