Thursday, 24 November 2011

Jennie's Hand Made Christmas . . .

This is not a spin-off from Kirstie's programme . . . this is absolute necessity in our house this year. Money isn't just tight here - it is earmarked to be spent before it arrives in my husband's account . . . In a normal year, when we weren't living quite so hand to mouth, I would squirrel things away when I came across just the right gift. This year I haven't been able to do that. I have picked up a couple of gifts (new or vintage) at the car boot sale or antique shop (the cheaper sort!), but apart from one proper boughten gift each, the rest of the presents under the tree will all be home made.

One gift I had a brainwave for earlier in the year was tarted-up pillowcases. The (white - but you can use any colour really) pillowcases were £2.34 a pair from a well known supermarket. The material - fat 1/4s of really stylish patchwork material - cost £2.75 each. One fat 1/4 does a pair of pillowcases. All you do is take a stitch ripper to the pillowcases and open up the seams back to the edge of the turnover. My fat 1/4 was already exactly the right length across the pillowcase, so I just cut the material in half, ironed a 1/2" seam, turned the pillowcase inside out, pinned the material so it covered the front open end of the pillowcase and machined across the bottom edge. I had left a little overhang on the open end which I folded over and machined. Then I pinned the seams, with the turnover back in and sewed those. I still have the ends to sew in, but the whole thing was done in under half an hour and the pillowcases look SO pretty. A variation on this would be a simple patchwork pattern border. I may get some plain white teatowels and give them pretty borders too - I'm sure aged aunties would appreciate these.

I am also knitting a scarf in Old Shale variation (3 rows plain/purl and one row of pattern) which looks really pretty. Also a much wider scarf/shawl in a soft grey wool which came from the car boot sale for next to nothing for 3 big balls. Oh, and I'm also sewing a x-stitch picture. My son has requested a jumper with a particular design on. Rather than knit the jumper, I will buy one and then stitch the pattern over the existing knitted stitches (intaglio is it called?)

If I get time I will make one or two new x-stitch decorations for the tree. We always make our own Christmas wreath - it is part of our Christmas tradition. A few days before Christmas we do a special wreath walk and collect the holly, ivy, greenery and willow wands for the base. It only takes an hour or so to make, and quite often we do two, one for the front door and one for inside the house.

I am going to severely prune my Christmas Card list this year as I simply CANNOT afford the postage. The Post Office has shot itself in the foot by just raising postal charges again and again. When I am sending e-bay packages, I often find that it only costs 5 or 10 pence more to post something to Australia, Air Mail, than it costs to send to an address in Britain!

Certain family members and friends will get home-made somethings, be it jam, jelly, chutney, biscuits, cake etc. They've blown it on the Sloe Gin/Damson Gin front though - that's staying in my drinks cupboard this year!!! The Damson Gin is GORGEOUS . . .

And the best bit about Christmas this year is we've just heard from our eldest daughter and she IS able to come home for Christmas after all, as they've changed her shifts at work (I think one of her work colleagues let on to the boss that T would be spending Christmas on her own). So it will be a full house and I can stop worrying!


  1. Love the hand made gifts ideas. We've spent so much on the house this year, I am doing the same. I made my Mum a lap quilt from gifted fabric.
    Like you I just got the news that my son is arriving on C eve and can stay until Boxing night.
    I agree about the postage, if only we had a choice of providers.

  2. Handmade gifts are always the best!

    Try not to worry and go with the flow for your Christmas gathering, everything 'will' work out.


  3. And isn't this really how Christmas was meant to be BB, before all that materialistic view took over.

  4. Well, I think so, but people are "led" to have such huge expectations these days, and I have heard of a couple of kids (when mine were in junior school) having £700+ spent on their presents!!!) Ridiculous. It's the love that went into making - or choosing - a gift, which is what counts.

  5. Such good news that T will be home with you for Christmas! I know they will all love and appreciate your home-made Christmas.

  6. going to be a very 'skinny' xmas here too, but a large part of me is actually quite happy with the pared down and more modest plans. Its how xmas should be I think- the focus more on whats really important.

    Leanne x

  7. Leanne - I think you have hit the nail on the head there. I will be much happier come January knowing that I have minimal outgoings - and not, as for some folks - a huge credit card bill . . .

    I think when people realize how satisfying it is to MAKE presents, they may just give it a try . . .

  8. Our Christmas spending has usually been modest--of neccesity. There have been the years when we could spend a bit, but even then gifts were practical--usually new warm clothes as we've lived where winters were long.
    I've always given baked goods--even that requires a stocking up of sugar, chocolate and such. I've made many gift quilts and pillowcases which the girls and women of the family appreciate. Its a bit harder to make gifts for the males of the family.
    I detest the commercialization of the season and have been heard to declare that I prefer not to enter the local Wal-Mart anytime between Thanksgiving and New Years!