It's that time of the year when brightly coloured reindeer, angel and Santa themed decorations are starting to appear in shops throughout the UK, jostling alongside pumpkin displays and Halloween paraphernalia. There's plenty of cheap Christmas ornaments to choose from, but they're often plastic, easily broken and definitely lacking the personal touch.
Making more sustainable homemade decorations doesn't need to be expensive and it's a great way to relax, use your creative side, and have fun with the kids as well. There's still twelve weeks to go so you've got plenty of time to plan some decoration downtime with the kids before December. Here are five easy peasy, fun DIY Christmas craft projects that all ages can enjoy!
1. Go paper chain crazy
Making paper chains is so simple and the real fun comes in deciding what colours and patterns to use - instead of simply buying sheets of coloured paper - to cut into equal sized strips for gluing and looping together. Encourage children to draw and colour their own designs on plain strips of paper. Or repurpose pages from their favourite magazines or old wrapping paper - it doesn't necessarily have to be Christmas themed so anything goes!
And you don't need to stick to simple looped chains - why not make small chains of Christmas trees (above) or other patterns, and either stick them together with sticky tape or pierce a hole in the top of each tree and thread them on string? Again, the choice of colours and designs is completely up to you.
2. Potato print your own bunting
All kids will enjoy making potato stamps and here's a very simple CBeebies information sheet to show them what you need to do. The most important items are a humble potato, a sharp knife, and paint. As with all these craft ideas, the idea is to keep it as easy as possible so stick to simple designs such as stars and block images rather than anything more intricate.
To make the bunting, get cheap plain cotton fabric for printing on, or use any left over scraps of fabric you may have. Cut the fabric into triangles, squares or any other shape you prefer and then sew one side of each piece onto a length of bias binding tape. To prevent the fabric from fraying easily, can use pinking shears. Stores like Fabricland stock all the items you need.
And if sewing's not your thing, here's an even easier way to make paper bunting, which your children can also print on with their potato stamps.
3. Get berry crafty with cards and centrepieces
Head outside and gather lots of differently shaped, coloured and sized twigs and leaves, berries (taking care curious children don't eat anything harmful, of course) and pebbles, pine cones and sprigs of holly if you want a traditional Christmas theme. Then let little artists have free range with paint, glue, paper and cardboard!
Leaves can be stencilled around or glued to homemade cards. Pebbles can be painted with cute animal faces, angels or stars. Pine cones are perfect for use as decorations, either painted or left for a more natural look, and easily transform into little Christmas trees with their own berry ornaments. And twigs can be dotted with white paint or left plain, again with added berries or mixed with holly, and placed in small vases or cups as seasonal table displays.
You could also make larger table displays, recycling and painting an old plate (or cutting out a large piece of cardboard) and then creating a display using all of the above natural elements, plus adding a couple of small candles or table lights, or maybe a string or two of fairy lights. A personalised, unique centrepiece to complete your Christmas table!
4. Make a zero waste wreath
Add that final touch to your front door with a welcoming wreath but try to avoid using too much plastic if possible. This year the focus is on natural, sustainable materials and a simple, pared back style - perfect for beginners! Everything you've collected from your nature trail (above) could be used to create a design similar to the one below.
Again, the only limit is your imagination but it's worth checking out these crafty ideas from Pebble to help you make a zero waste wreath. There's no styrofoam or glitter here but some super practical tips such as repurposing an old wire coat hanger to make your wreath circle. Our favourite is the first (and easiest!) DIY Deconstructed Christmas Wreath.
5. Add seasonal scent-sations
Lastly, we love the citrus smell of oranges, especially combined with the intense spiciness of cloves - the perfect festive fragrance! And it's so easy to make a Christmas Pomander decoration that looks as good as it smells - all you need to do is stud an orange with cloves and hang it on the tree with a ribbon.
Alternatively, you can create Dried Orange and Cinnamon decorations by baking some thinly sliced oranges for about 45 minutes - 1 hour (at 140C), and then hanging the pierced slices (studded with cloves) on ribbons with small bunches of cinnamon sticks below.
We hope we've given you food for thought with our DIY Christmas decorations! These fun craft activities will give you and the kids hours of entertainment and we'd love to know which ones you're planning to try - please comment below.
And if you're looking for more gift inspiration for Christmas decorations and/or Christmas craft kits (which you can make up yourself and then give to a loved one as a personalised present), you'll find lots of ideas in our online store. Below is a beautiful, eco friendly Tangerine Dream Papier Mache Bauble from Kashmir (from our Ornaments Collection). Also below is a fabulous Felt Penguin Mini Craft Kit by Corinne Lapierre (from our Craft Shop).