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COULD IT BE TIME TO SIM­PLIFY YOUR CEL­E­BRA­TIONS? HAN­NAH CARR FINDS OUT HOW TO EN­JOY A CREATIVE FES­TIVE SEA­SON AT A MUCH SLOWER PACE

Mollie Makes - - Contents - Words: HAN­NAH CARR Il­lus­tra­tion: ROSIE HAR­BOT­TLE

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.

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