Category Archives: Christmas

Fairy Light Advent Calendar

Advent garland main image

Things have been getting pretty festive in our house. And before you ask, no – I haven’t gone completely bonkers and put the Christmas tree up 2 months early.

I needed a Christmas-themed project for Ouse Valley Living, and had wanted to try this fairy light advent garland since I saw something similar on Pinterest. It certainly brightened up the fireplace for a few days. Until all the chocolate money got eaten, anyway. Then it just looked a bit, well, crap.

Advent calendar garland detail

It’s really easy to make – I used tissue paper to make the little paper packets (the idea is they can be easily pulled off and torn open each day), stamped them with numbers 1-24 and strung them from the fairy lights with cotton thread.

Advent garland detail 2

It came out very colour-coordinated (white must have been all the rage when we bought the tree decorations years ago), but I’d quite like to try it again with brightly coloured wrapping paper and multicoloured baubles. I’m all for mismatched colours and patterns these days.

Advent garland detail 3

Advent garland detail 4

If you’re after some more inspiration, have a read of these 5 handmade advent calendar ideas from last Christmas. Geez. How time flies when you’re having fun…


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These are a few of my favourite things…

Mum's bunting in action in our kitchen

Mum’s bunting in action in our kitchen

So here’s this week’s big news. I’ve finally signed up to Instagram.

I realise this admission proves just how far behind the times I am (incidentally, I still have a tellie that requires a corner, have not quite got my head around Twitter, and like to occasionally send letters. Through the post).

I have, though, recently upgraded my mobile phone to something a little more 2013, so I decided it was about time I jumped on the Instagram bandwagon. To test out the different filters I started snapping some bits and pieces in my little boy’s nursery, and realised how many lovely handmade gifts we’ve been given. As my own crafty pursuits have been somewhat slowed by his arrival, it’s nice to get a bit of inspiration from talented friends and family. I’ve included the name of the Instagram filter for each photo below, should anyone else out there be as far behind as I am.

My mum’s handmade bunting
My mum made this floral bunting to decorate the house for my birthday-slash-baby-shower-slash-summer-barbecue last year. I haven’t found anything in the shops that’s anywhere near as pretty – it looked gorgeous in the kitchen and I planned to put it up in the nursery if I had a little girl. Alas, it’s more likely to be a Liverpool FC poster if the husband has his way.

Mum's handmade bunting. Filter: Mayfair

Mum’s handmade bunting. Filter: Mayfair

My auntie’s Wonky Wilma
My auntie Linda makes and sells everything from cute knitted hats to beautiful patchwork quilts on her Plum Cottage blog. She got this particular project from Janet at Kitchen Table Sewing – a fellow Bedford-based craft blogger who designed the Wonky Wilma pattern to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hopsital. Thanks to this crafty pair, Wilma the elephant now has pride of place on my little boy’s toy shelf.

Auntie Linda's Wonky Wilma. Filter: Earlybird

Auntie Linda’s Wonky Wilma. Filter: Earlybird

My sister’s quilt
I made a patchwork quilt for my sister’s little boy a few years ago, and she returned the favour with a much more complicated and absolutely gorgeous hexagonal quilt. It’s beautiful, and the fact she hand-stitched the whole thing makes it even more special to me. Unfortunately the photo just doesn’t do it justice – it’s so pretty I’m saving it for best.

My sister's quilt. Filter: Toaster

My sister Zoe’s quilt. Filter: Toaster

My friend’s Scrabble frame
My friend Rachel is one of the craftiest people I know – her house is full of beautiful projects she’s made, not to mention bits of furniture she’s upcycled. She gave me this framed, personalised Scrabble picture – made with pieces from a vintage Scrabble set on eBay – just yesterday, and I’m already excited about getting it up on the nursery wall.

My friend Rachel's Scrabble picture. Filter: Amaro

My friend Rachel’s Scrabble picture. Filter: Amaro


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5 Handmade Advent Calendar Ideas

Once again I have to apologise for the massive delay since my last post. Everyone says when you’re pregnant the time can really drag, and you just want D-Day to arrive. Not so. When you’ve got a house that looks like a cross between a building site and a squat, every evening, weekend and spare minute is precious – the time is going by so quickly I can’t believe there’ll be 3 of us in just 13 weeks.

Which doesn’t really explain why, rather than filling the holes in the walls or sanding the woodwork upstairs, I’m sitting at my dining room table Googling ideas for handmade advent calendars. It’s the middle of the Great British Summer for goodness sake. Christmas is six months off. But for the first year ever, it’ll be me buying an advent calendar for my own little person, rather than my mum buying one for me (yes, I know this is ridiculous at 29 years old, but I do like a bit of cheapie advent calendar chocolate).

I’ve always wanted to have a go at making one that can be kept as a bit of a family heirloom, but I’m guessing having a 2-month-old child might hinder me somewhat this December, so I thought I’d get cracking early. Looking around, there are some lovely ideas for handmade advent calendars and free printables that have given me a bit of inspiration. I’ve not decided on the final design of mine yet (let’s face it, the baby’s not going to care what it looks like this year), but here’s the best of what I’ve found so far…


1. Retro advent sacks

Advent Sacks from Oh Happy Day

I love the retro feel of these little advent sacks from Oh Happy Day designed by Amanda Jane Jones (I’ve only just discovered both of these brilliant blogs and will be heading back to explore them sharpish). The little muslin bags are from Amazon, but you could make them yourself quite easily. Then just fill them with treats, hang them along a length of ribbon or dot them around your tree. Just head over to Oh Happy Day to download the free printable.

2. Felt advent calendar

Inchmark felt advent calendar

Felt isn’t something I’ve worked with much before, but the fact it doesn’t fray like cotton makes it a great option if you’re short on time or you’re making this with your kids. This one from inchmark is a really simple design with a lovely homespun look, although I’m not sure I’d have the patience to hand-stitch it (or that my hand-stitching would look anywhere near as neat as this creative lady’s…)

3. Toilet tube advent

Toilet tube advent from Maya*Made

Next time you’re about to recycle that ugly brown tube from inside your roll of toilet paper, remember this inspired design from Maya*Made. All it takes to jazz the tubes up is a bit of paint, some vintage ribbon or lace, and a handful of pretty snowflakes. Loo roll never looked so good.

4. Advent cones

Advent cones from Pickles

This idea from Pickles is particularly nice in that the cones are big enough to fit loads of goodies in, so the whole family can share the booty. It’s based on a triangle pattern that’s not a million miles away from making bunting, and has the same effect when hung. Head over to the site for a full how-to.

5. Grown-up advent calendar

Miss Gioia’s grown-up advent calendar

If the cutesy, kid-friendly options aren’t your cup of tea, take a look at this grown-up option from Miss Gioia. It’s made from heavy silk upholstery fabric and the number of buttons corresponds to the date. That’s 300 buttons sewn on by hand. If that’s not dedication to the Christmas cause, I don’t know what is…

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