COULD IT BE TIME TO SIMPLIFY YOUR CELEBRATIONS? HANNAH CARR FINDS OUT HOW TO ENJOY A CREATIVE FESTIVE SEASON AT A MUCH SLOWER PACE
How to savour the season
Christmas – there’s just so much to do. Shopping and maybe making gifts, and gearing up to travel or host. We start out the season full of good intentions but often end up feeling the overwhelm. If only we could press pause and take some much needed time to rest and regroup... Luckily, it’s easier than you think to pare back that huge to-do list and have a relaxed, more sustainable Christmas that’s still filled with creativity and joy.
MADE WITH LOVE
As crafters, there’s always the temptation to make, make, make, and never more so than at Christmas – a season practically designed for crafting. Instead, streamline your plans from the start, so you can add your creative stamp to Christmas while approaching it slowly and calmly.
“Before festivities begin I like to look at the season as a whole and see what and where I can simplify,” says maker Charlotte Smith ( www.lottsandlots.com). Presents are a great place to begin – blogger Amanda Dales ( www.rhymeand ribbons.com) and her husband limit themselves to four gifts each. “Something we want, something we need, something to wear and something to read.” Amanda gifts family and friends the same home-baked goods that she’s batch cooked, still keeping it personal but saving time.
When it comes to making gifts, it’s as much about keeping it low-key and enjoying the process as it is the end result. And how better to do this than in the company of other creatives? Join a festive craft workshop to help you savour the spirit of the season. You’ll often leave with a finished gift, plus the skills to make more. Christmas is the ideal excuse to hold a crafternoon too – not that we needed one! Choose a project everyone can try, so you can enjoy the process together. Charlotte recommends making air dry clay stars: “Use cookie cutters for the shape, paint them white and then hang on beautiful lengths of coloured ribbon.”
Writer and crafter Victoria Haynes (@ ohwilduk) says one of her favourite festive activities is to turn old glass jars into candle holders, as gifts for family and friends. This year, she’s also going to try printing fabric to wrap gifts in, as a sustainable alternative to shop-bought paper.
Whatever you craft, avoid the pressure to make it perfect – you’ve created it yourself with love and that’s more than enough. “I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so if I sense I’m getting a bit twitchy about something not being right, I just have to step away and remind myself this is real life, not Pinterest or Instagram,” shares Victoria. Charlotte agrees, pointing out the magic of the season can easily be lost in the pressure to create perfection.
BACK TO NATURE
When it comes to Christmas décor, it doesn’t need to be slick or overly complicated – Victoria recommends looking to nature for inspiration. “I’m massively into nature and plants, so Christmas for me is a brilliant excuse to bring half the woods back into the house!” Why not go for a mindful walk outside and see what you can find? It’s a lovely family activity too, and the flora you come across will delight different senses when back in your home. Victoria creates vases full of greenery such as Christmas tree offcuts and eucalyptus for their “wonderful” smell. She also uses dried fruit for seasonal décor. “We use dried orange slices and cranberries to make tree decorations and garlands as well – string them onto twine and add some wooden beads to create natural and sweet-smelling ornaments.”
For Rebecca Sullivan, an author and sustainable living advocate ( www.rebeccasullivan.com.au), there’s a simple joy in creating sustainable table décor. She makes edible flower posies for her Christmas table that guests can take away and cook with, but points out “it can be as simple as tying your cutlery up with some twine and a twig or two of rosemary and sage”. The important thing is to slow down and take in all the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of the season to appreciate all the joy that it brings.
Remember to make time to rest and regroup, too. After all, that’s what Christmas is all about. “I like to do a few gentle festive activities that make me feel calm and centred, like making a wreath, doing some Christmas baking with my little ones, or even going for a walk at dusk to see all the Christmas tree lights,” says Charlotte. Rebecca suggests booking out a day in your diary that’s just for you and to spend it on activities that bring you a sense of calm.
We all need to press pause once in a while, particularly during the festive season. Then we’ll feel ready to press play again and enjoy everything the new year has to bring.