Craft bloggers guide to a handmade ChristmasRex Features

The blogosphere is bulging like a Yuletide stocking with ideas for how to have a handmade Christmas. All you need is the inspiration (as well as some card, paper, scissors and sticky-backed plastic) to save yourself a fortune and show how much you care.

With the countdown to Christmas well under way, you can make your own cards, calendars, decorations and even gifts with just a little effort and without breaking the bank. You just need to be a bit crafty!

Here's our round-up of some of the most creative DIY online ideas out there.


ADVENT CALENDAR AND SELECTION BOXES

www.nurturestore.co.uk

"Even when budgets aren't so tight I love a homemade Christmas because I think getting the children involved in baking and making turns the focus of Christmas away from just being about them getting lots of stuff and instead lets them enjoy all the festivities and the company of family and friends," said blogger Cathy James.

"We start off by using an alternative advent calendar which, as well as giving a little chocolate each day, also includes an activity suggestion. We include lots of simple and free ideas, such as making our own selection boxes - they are creative, easy for children to make, inexpensive and a nice treat.

"And homemade decorations are lovely too, so much more personal than something shop bought. We make stained glass gingerbread cookies to go on our tree every year and a paper plate angel.


NATIVITY SCENES AND EDIBLE GIFTS

www.domesticgoddesque.com

"My world famous Cork Nativity is a good excuse to drink lots and something that my children really love getting out every winter," says blogger Kelly Innes.

"Something that is very easy to make and a brilliant home-made edible gift for teachers, family, anyone are my chocolate sparkles.

Just melt a 150g bar of chocolate, then spread teaspoonfuls out on a greased baking sheet to form circles. Whilst still wet, sprinkle on bits and pieces (I used shredded crystallised ginger and home-made honeycomb, but you could use raisins and crushed choc chip bisuits, cranberries and pistachios, anything you've got lurking in your pantry.) I also sprinkle them with edible glitter.

"I make homemade Christmas cards every year for family and godparents, and get very good reports back so assume that the personal touch is appreciated!"


DECORATIONS, BAUBLES AND GIFTS

www.RedTedArt.com

Maggy Woodley's RedTedArt blog was voted Best Craft Blog and Best Preschool Blog at the MADS awards, sponsored by Parentdish. She's also the Tots 100 Number 1 parent blogger.

Be inspired by Maggy's:

Decorative elves made from pine cones

No knit knitted Christmas stocking made out of an old jumper and needle and thread

Felt Christmas ornaments

Kids Art Christmas Baubles

DIY Jewellery

Hobby Horse

You can browse all of Maggy's Christmas crafts here.


SOAPS AND CANDLES

www.violetposy.co.uk


To make Christmas soaps for gift-giving:

"For one of our Christmas present projects this year my daughter Lily and I decided to make handmade soaps for her teachers and classroom assistants," said blogger Liz Grayson. "So I duly bought from Ebay a £10 soap making kit which came with soap, fragrance and moulds, but I think maybe it was a little expensive and you can probably source things cheaper from hobby shops or other online stores. I've worked out that we should be able to make 24 soaps from this kit and we are making 4 soaps per gift therefore about £1.66 a gift."

1. Cut the soap in half and then chop up one half into pieces and pop them into a jug and cover the jug with clingfilm. Adding the clingfilm is important so the soap doesn't lose moisture as it's being melted. Microwave for 1 minute and 20 seconds until the soap had melted

2. Mix in the colouring and scent, pour into the moulds and leave to harden for 24 hours

3. Pop the soaps out, put four in a cellophane bag and tie some Christmassy ribbon around them for presentation.


To make Christmas candles:

"I buy inexpensive pretty vintage teacups from my local charity shop and a soy candle making wax kit from eBay or craft store," said Liz.

1. Pop the appropriate amount of soy wax into a glass jug and microwave it for 2 minutes. However do keep an eye on it though because it can burn. Be careful when removing from microwave as it will be very hot.

2. Stir the wax to make sure it's all melted, leave for 5 minutes to cool slightly, have your cup washed and ready to use. Mix in the fragrance and pour the wax into the cup.

3. After a couple of minutes carefully and slowly put in the wicks in the centre of the cups.
4. Leave the wax to cool and fully set before you light the candle, about 24 hours.

For more crafty inspiration from the blogging community click here.