Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I have been busy preparing for Christmas and one of my established traditions is making my own Christmas crackers for the table. Christmas crackers or bon bons are an English tradition and I just happen to be English! They are very much a part of my heritage and I began making my own Christmas crackers many years ago. Each year I try to come up with a new theme or colour for my crackers. The crackers are made using a kit that can be purchased from craft stores. I find mine at Spotlight and they cost just $3 for a pack of 6 which includes the snap needed to make the cracker go bang when you pull it! I then cover them with crepe paper and embellish them with ribbon, silk flowers, leaves and trims.Whatever takes my fancy to make them a little bit fancy and oh so different to the ones you find in the stores. You can find a tutorial here at my Christmas blog from 2009 with detailed instructions on how to make them.
This year I opted for an aqua blue shade of crepe paper, crocheted trim and recycled gift tags from last Christmas. A star anise hides the hole on the tag. All the trims I used for this years crackers came from my stash of ribbon and lace found at a garage sale a number of years ago. After the crackers have been pulled and the contents retrieved (this year it is just wrapped chocolates!) I gather up all the trims to reuse the following year - it has become a never ending supply! The maroon cracker has a felt star that was made for me by a friend last Christmas.
In the weeks before Christmas I like to incorporate my Christmas crackers into festive displays around my home. As this year's crackers have a vintage/country feel I chose to set out these on my Stanley stove in the dining room. It is summer in Australia and the stove is not used (we would melt!) so I can decorate it to my heart's content! This year I set out my most colourful cook books choosing to decorate with what I had. The cookie cutters are also set out ready for baking the gingerbread. Gardening friends in Australia please notice an early Christmas present to myself. I found Meredith Kirton's fabulous book on edible gardens 'Harvest' for $20 at 'The Book Warehouse.' Reduced from $70 and a fraction of the price at the online bookstores! I thought to let you know if you have that book on your wishlist or want to buy it for someone this Christmas!
My 'family' Christmas wreath has been set out again on the shelf of the Stanley. A few pinecones found at the park fill the gaps and the jam jars are ready for the chai tea mix I intend to make again this year - just need to get down to the wholefoods store to replenish my spices!
I almost forgot to show you the first set of crackers I made for this Christmas. They are my favourite and similar to ones I made in previous years. I just added more lace and crocheted trims this year for a vintage look. I know these are going to look beautiful on the table. They go so well with my white dinner plates and green wine goblets. Here is one at a place setting from last year when I used a vintage brooch to trim the cracker.
I wanted to concentrate my crafting on the crackers so didn't make our advent calendar this year. I found some chocolate money at Big W - notes and not coins which fitted perfectly into the fabric hearts on my quilted Advent Tree. I wish I could tell you that I made this myself but it was a garage sale find from a few years ago. At just $2 it was a better price than the tacky cardboard character ones they sell in the supermarket!
The 'notes' are even Australian ones! The children take it in turns each day to pull out a note and see who gets the $100! The twins can tell me exactly how many days are left to Christmas as they count down every day using this calendar even though it does not have numbers.
My tree is up and has been set out in the formal living room this year. I didn't buy any new decorations this year. I have plenty and all the tree decorations in the stores seemed to be very modern and not in keeping with my traditional tree. If I see something appropriate in the sales I may add to my collection but it has to be very special and at a bargain price!
The paper cones from last Christmas have been hung on the tree and will be filled with popcorn on Christmas Eve.
The gifts from family overseas have been arriving and are under the tree. I have also completed most of my Christmas shopping doing some online and some at the stores. As I found with my gardening book it is not always cheaper online and I'm just hoping some of the gifts I did buy online (mainly books) arrive in time for Christmas! I just love the bottlebrush gift tag attached to the bag of gifts for my oldest son (it's coordinating stationery and items for his home office) and gives a real Australian touch. The tags are from earth greetings - printed carbon neutral in Australia with vegetable based ink on 100% post consumer recycled paper. I will reuse these gorgeous tags for next years Christmas crackers!
I hope you have enjoyed the glimpses into my Christmas home and seeing my handcrafted Christmas crackers for 2011. I will not be adding to my Christmas blog this year but will have this post up there and will try to update the blog design so it is easier to navigate and find the various Christmas craft tutorials in the archives.
My twin girls are going to be angels once again in the church Nativity play this Sunday. I have a few more crackers to make, a few more presents to wrap and a whole heap of baking to do. I also plan to gather the greenery from the garden to set out around my existing Christmas displays in my home on Christmas Eve so it is fresh for Christmas day.
I hope to share another Christmas themed post before Christmas - maybe from my kitchen this time as the baking gets underway. I hope that all your preparations are going well and that you are rejoicing in this blessed season. To introduce my friends and visitors in the USA to the delights of Christmas crackers I have chosen to link this post to the Great Holiday Barn Hop over at Homestead Revival. Do go and visit the other homesteads and see how they decorate for Christmas. Who knows perhaps I will inspire someone to make their own handcrafted Christmas crackers!