An Extraordinary Adventure!

Usually at this point in December, our home would be festively adorned, bedecked with wintery tableaux and with the fir lady preparing to make her annual seasonal entrance.  Instead, suitcases are down from the loft and checklists being drawn up and steadily ticked off as we prepare

…to go to Australia!

This year, for the first time ever we will be away for Christmas, going down under to Sydney to stay with my brother and his family, and taking the opportunity for a grand adventure and extended roadtrip whilst we’re there.  We are beside ourselves with excitement and anticipation.

We are also slightly despairing about the growing size of our luggage, which includes; a) a portrait of my bother, painted by my father (beautiful, fragile, large); b) a huge papier mache giraffe ordered by my brother (‘you can’t find them anywhere in Australia, sis’), and c) a football, bought for my nephews by another well-meaning relative.  We do not lean towards practicality in my family.  I am hoping that Customs officials will look kindly on us; I suspect we will make their day.

Given all this, our usual creativity and crafting has tapered a little in the frenzied rush and my presence here will be a little less until January. In the meantime please do have a rummage through some of our favourite projects from the last few years, like…


Homemade Gift Ideas from Kates Creative Space

  1. Wintery pinecone firelighters, for everyone you know with an open fire or wood-burning stove
  2. A homemade leather travel journal, for those with wanderlust…
  3. Together with a concertina mini photobook to store all their photos and memories afterwards
  4. If you’re choosing gifts for a book-lover, why not add in some of these whale-tail bookmarks to keep their place each night
  5. DIY bird-feeders, for the animal-lover in your life
  6. secret book jewellery box
  7. Or a personalised bowl for cereal-lovers
  8. cafe apron for the man in your life, which will encourage him into the kitchen this Christmas
  9. The gift of breakfast, for all those hosting this holiday season, to relax with the morning after

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Holiday baking ideas

  1. Three christmas cookies to box up and share
  2. Or Bake-at-home cookies for the students in your life who eat you out of house and home but wouldn’t dream of making their own
  3. Mitten-shaped ginger cookies, perfect to go with hot chocolate
  4. Or monogram cupcakes (I’d use a snowflake monogram for Christmas)

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Holiday decor ideas

  1. These fun ways to use kraft paper to wrap presents with a twist
  2. Handmade origami stars and folded stars
  3. Nutcracker peg dolls to hang from the tree
  4. You could make these personalised sacks for the most special people in your life
  5. The longest journey; a winter animal parade to meander along your table top or mantel
  6. And three years of our holiday decor here, here and here

And finally don’t forget to clear the playroom in advance by sending outgrown toys off to the North Pole Repair Shop for re-gifting, arrange a North Pole telegram for Christmas Eve, and magic reindeer food to sprinkle outdoors before bedtime.

North Pole Telegram

After that, may I boldly suggest a glass of mulled wine and a deep, comfy armchair?

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Starstruck at Christmas

Regular followers will know of my obsession with all things paper, and with projects which take very little time or specialist skill.  As Christmas draws ever closer, I’ve been experimenting with different types of festive stars and bring you some simple projects to try today.  My usual reassuring criteria apply; these had to be things I could a) get right the first time – or very occasionally the second; b) could do in front of the TV, merlot in hand, and c) look far more elegant and skilled than the actual labour would suggest.  I hope you’ll agree!

Below you’ll find my instructions on how to make each of these stars; the classic 5-point Amish barn stars, 6-point folding stars and concertina or snowflake stars, which look beautiful hung in windows.  Once you’ve got the hang of it, each of these are really simple to make and look beautiful when clustered together on a tree, or hung on a staircase  - or even just gathered in a large bowl on the table.

Five-point stars are in some ways the most striking and simple stars; reminiscent of Amish barn stars and New England folk decorations, they are the kind of stars that children draw in their first pictures.  They make beautiful garlands or tree decorations, and once you’ve made one you can knock up a whole galaxy very simply.

I love layering these stars once I’ve made them, and propping them on mantels and against walls. I’ll also be hanging them on bedroom doors this Christmas with monograms or name tags on, so that all our visitors can still find their room after an evening of eggnog and mulled wine.. Just overlay your stars and use glue dots or hot glue to secure them.  I added a Christmas bell and a pearl bead to these below;

They make gorgeous gift-toppers too….

Here’s my step-by-step guide to creating 5-point stars.  You can use any thickness of paper or lightweight card; paper is perfect for stars you want to thread into garlands or hang from the tree; card stock is best when you want to prop them up on their own ‘points’ – the greater thickness will give strength and avoid them bending or curling after a few days.  You’ll need a compass and a protractor.  I’ve marked my star in black pen for simplicity, but use a pencil to avoid it showing through.

Finally, fold!  If you’re working on the ‘wrong’ side – with your markings facing you like in the picture above – you want to fold the dotted lines towards you  (mountain folds), and the solid lines away from you (valley folds), so that when you flip it over your star looks like this finished one below.  The good news is that the stars are quite forgiving and can take a bit of refolding before they collapse.  Make one out of newspaper or a tax bill first, then use your prettiest paper when you’ve got the technique nailed.

If you’re making a garland or a set of same-sized tree decorations, I’d suggest that you draw your one star onto card stock and then use it as a template for all of the others by just tracing around it; very gratifying, and it means that you can throw your compass and protractor out of the window with glee.

You can find my original tutorial on how to make 6 point stars here, so I won’t repeat all the steps below; suffice to say I find these even quicker than the 5 point stars to make, and they look beautiful when strung together round a wreath frame, threaded by their points into a garland or hung in clusters like these on Harry’s playroom staircase.

If you are stringing them into a decorative garland (looks beautiful over a fireplace or along shelves), poke a needle threaded with invisible thread through two of the  tips of the stars as shown below.  If you thread them through the opposing, centre tips they’re more likely to spin in the air and you will spend a lot of time gazing at the backs… not ideal.

Again, if you’re mass-producing these, draw one out onto stiff card and use it as a template for all of the others; it’ll save you hours.

Which brings us finally to the easiest of all (and arguably the prettiest); concertina or snowflake stars.  I’ve made mine using 12″ square polkadot paper, but try using a large sheet of tissue paper or thin white paper to get far more folds/points and a large, ethereal white snowflake.  Again, newspaper is great to practice on here; the paper thickness and size is perfect for these kind of stars.

The visual steps are set out below, and here’s the lowdown:

  • Take a large sheet of paper and fold over an inch – you can measure this but I always do it by sight; these stars can cope with a bit of innacuracy!  Flip the paper over and fold it back again by the same measurement to create a concertina fold.  Repeat this until you run out of paper or have at least 4 full folds.
  • The more folds you have, the fuller and more ornate your star will be.  I’d practice on newspaper making one with lots of folds and one with fewer (like mine), to decide which style you prefer.
  • Trim off any leftover paper, making sure that your raw edges are both pointing down (like the first pic below), and you haven’t been left with a half-fold; if you have, just trim it off.
  • Fold your concertina in half to find the middle point, and then draw freehand a pattern which looks symmetrical on both sides (fig 3).  Make sure that you are keeping most of the folded side intact – I’ve just made a couple of circular patterns as you see – and cutting mostly on the side with the raw edges.
  • Cut out your pattern, holding the concertina tightly together, and then add a stitch in the centre (fig 4)
  • Fan out your concertina and spread and flatten the points out to form your star
  • Flip it over and staple the raw edges together on each side to form the star
  • Tada! Congratulate yourself and hang it in the window for all to admire…

Experiment with drawing different designs and seeing the effect that they have; my curvy drawing produced these fat, cheery stars.  Creating more folds and drawing a pattern with straighter lines and more geometric angles makes for a more icicle-like, frosty snowflake which would look beautiful when made on pure white or sparkly paper.

FInally, if after all of this you’ve caught the star-crafting habit, here are a couple of other ideas to try;

Let me know how you get on if you try these, and have a great weekend when it arrives.  We have Harry’s actual birthday tomorrow, and of course the first day of Advent so will be starting our advent tree which has now been laden with tiny boxes in the playroom.  The first snowfall of the season is rumoured, so we are waiting with slightly bated breath; it would be just too perfect for it to arrive on a birthday Saturday, but we’re hopeful nonetheless!