Monday, 6 December 2010

Kathy's Homemade Christmas



If you're a fan of homemade stuff in general Kirsty's TV series on how to make things yourself will come as no surprise to you, and pretty, homespun and folksy as it may be, lots of us have been doing things like this for years. But it is good to see these easy tideas brought to a wider audience. At least now you don't have to apologize for it, and since it's now vaguely fashionable to have home made stuff around the place, you can even give it to people as presents, and they might even be pleased to get your home produced jar or preserves, or hand knitted scarf, or whatever. The older ones among us may remember the wonderful  Joyce Grenfell's monologue "Useful and Acceptable Gifts" where a lady from the WI lectures on the acceptability of some truly terrible home made items. Crinoline ladies astride the spare loo roll, spring to mind. It was very funny,but it's probably a sign of the times nowadays when people are so time poor, and many of us just collapse on the sofa in front of the tv in the evenings when in times past we might have amused ourselves with a bit of knitting, sewing or craftwork.

All of which brings me to the point - salt dough. Many people think of this as cheap play dough for children but there's no need to relegate this cheap and cheerful stuff to the children's playgroup, although children will love doing it with you. Salt dough is quick and easy and can be made into durable and attractive decorations for Christmas.  Now I really do sound like Joyce Grenfell.

Just mix one cup of salt to each two cups of plain flour, and add about one cup of water to make a dough. Don't use expensive sea salt here, you want the cheapest bag on the supermarket shelf for this. Knead it to a smooth dough and roll out and cut using appropriately Christmassy cutters, remembering to make a small hanging hole at the top.

Bake the decorations in a very cool oven for several hours until dry and hard. The bottom oven of the Aga is ideal or around 200 degrees F.When completely dry allow to cool and paint and decorate as you wish. You can use any kind of paint you like, I happened to find an old tin of red gloss paint at the back of the garage which worked well, but it's a good idea to cover the finished item with a waterproof varnish of some kind, so that your ornaments will keep from year to year.

And remember you can always embarrass your children in years to come by lovingly bringiing out the creations they made when they were three.


Decorate your  items in seasonal colours, glitter, and tie with raffia or ribbons. A bit of gold or bronze paint rubbed on gives a suitably distressed effect if that's what you like. Or you can go for the neat and tidy like the one at the top of the page.




I've made a job lot this year, as we have the village hall to decorate, and can't afford to spend much money on it. So it's home made, homespun, and, to my eyes at least, even prettier.

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