A Christmas Gift

December has been a busy month, and I can't believe I've not posted anything here since the 1st, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of Christmas preparation: meeting friends, writing and sending cards, wrapping presents and thinking about the festive feast that is almost upon is.

It's also the Season of Gifts in the Get Messy art journal group that I'm part of; the idea being to give yourself the 'gift of time' to invest in and on creativity at this busy and often stressful time of year.

I've managed a few pages but nothing more.

A Christmas GiftSo now the time is finally here to relax and nurture the self, and I'm going to commit to it wholly. It doesn't feel selfish, it feels well-deserved.

I'm giving myself the gift of time to create, draw, write, stitch, stick, glitter and gesso. There's a Christmas jigsaw waiting for me too; a Christmas tradition I always love between me and my Mum.

I read a quote a few weeks ago that really spoke to me: PRESENCE not PRESENTS. I think that sums up how I feel about 'the silly season'. There is no better gift than the finite resource of time.

What's your gift to yourself? Make time. Make it special.

Merry Christmas to one and all x

Christmas gifts in a woodland forest

(Visit my Christmas archive for previous festive inspiration and a story of hope!)

Holly Leaves Watercolour Sketch

I haven't drawn in years, but I loved art at school. A few months ago I bought some watercolour pencils in the sale. And today I finally got them out.

Holly Leaf Sketch

I was inspired by the holly leaves on so many Christmas cards and on tins and wrapping paper, so I quickly sketched out this holly leaf and it's lovely bright red berries.

I'd wanted to sketch the autumn leaves and twigs and toadstools, but time just seemed to slip away. Today I had 23 minutes left before the washing machine finished its cycle, and so I just thought I'd have a go. And that's how long it took.

It's not perfect and I'm out of practice, but I intend to do more.

Update- I've since used this single motif in a surface pattern repeat:

Ditzy Holly (White) Surface Pattern Design

Nothing is ever wasted when it comes to creative work!

Handmade Christmas Decorations

On Monday I wrote an article on my writing blog about 'heirloom Christmas baubles', and the types of decorations that are special to me. The comments I got mentioned handmade Christmas decorations, which of course make the most personal and special.

Amongst my own decorations I found this slightly battered Christmas tree, crafted in tartan and felt, that I made for my Mum when I was at primary school.

Handmade Christmas Tree Decoration

I remember queuing up to get the teacher to thread the needle for me when I couldn't, and I remember the weeks of sewing class it took to finish this homemade masterpiece. I remember it all so vividly, yet I was only about 6 or 7 years old.

The stitches are uneven and highly visible, and it could do with a bit more stuffing, but it was handmade with love and my Mum treasured it for all these years, until it has worked its way back to me.

Let's celebrate the wabi-sabi of visible stitches and be inspired to choose handmade over mass-produced.

Those stitches may be wonky, but they've lasted over 25 years!

What you making for Christmas? What similar 'masterpieces' are brought out each year and celebrated for their very imperfections?

Christmas Stocking Advent Bunting

On the first day of Advent my true love gave to me...

Christmas Stocking Advent Bunting

Each Christmas, as a bit of a family tradition that has continued into adulthood, my Mum and I always buy each other an advent calendar. Not chocolate advent calendars (though that did happen one year due to leaving it all a bit late), but advent calendars with beautiful Christmas scenes such as a festive woodland or an old fashioned Victorian house.

One year in a bid to be eco and ethical and to create an 'heirloom' experience, my Mum got me a beautiful wooden advent calendar. It's shaped like a Christmas tree with small wooden numbers to hang onto the tree, which are kept in Santa's sleigh wrapped up like presents until their date arrives.

I loved the idea and the thinking behind it, but I really missed the joy of opening the little doors each morning and trying to guess what might come next. (I know. I'm in my thirties now. I need to move on.)

But I think Christmas is a time when it's OK to regress a little to childhood. And despite my best efforts to declutter, I like to keep my advent calendar each year so that when I get out my box of Christmas decorations and wrappings, I rediscover each year in advent too. It's a bit like a ready-made journal of Christmas past - one was a fold-out book with a little inscription.

This year however I have made my own heirloom version with this Christmas Stocking Advent Bunting.

I bought the fabric as a pre-printed panel of little stockings, and then cut out each stocking shape and lining, and then sew each tiny stocking together.

Each process had to be done 5o times - 25 outer stockings and 25 linings - which all had to be sewn up separately and then ironed and turned and ironed again and snipped and then sewn together and ironed again.

It was a big job. In fact, I think if I had realised just how big a job it would be, I might not have done it. But I'm glad I did because now I have this beautiful gift to give to my Mum for Advent, crafted with love.

Christmas Stocking Advent BuntingChristmas Stocking Advent BuntingChristmas Stocking Advent Bunting

Some other great advent calendar makes from around the web:

Christmas Stocking Advent Bunting

I spotted a magnificent Advent calendar in a little religious shop in Helsinki earlier in the year, but unfortunately I don't have a picture of it. It was at least A2 in size, glittery, and featured an enchanting and detailed scene with a beautiful church.

I would have bought one but they were very expensive, (and it was July).

What Christmas and Advent traditions do you have?

Do you make/craft a unique Advent calendar, or love to choose a beautiful festive scene?

Christmas Stocking Advent Bunting