My Material Life

Bright and Shiny Christmas Things

A very happy new year to you. I hope that you are well and feeling hopeful. I do wish I’d been able to share a few Christmas ideas before the actual holiday started, but that was not to be. It’s only the eleventh day of Christmas, however, so rather than eleven pipers piping I’ll share these with you now anyway. You’ll find purveyors of fine craft supplies for one thing. And it’s not too early to start thinking about how you’ll celebrate next winter’s holidays, right? Maybe you’ll have a party and make your own Christmas crackers. Let me tell you where to get the goods …

The first two projects shown in the images above, salt dough/Dresden ornaments and painted paper mache ball ornaments, were inspired by magazine images I found through the News+ feature on my phone. Here’s the link to the salt dough project (scroll down to number 10). I’m afraid I’ve forgotten which home magazine the original image that inspired my Christmas balls came from. It was from the UK, but there were so many of them! The catalog of this news feature’s magazines (and newspapers) is amazingly extensive. You have to pay a monthly fee for it, but I decided to do it for the time being because it’s hard to find current paper magazines now.

Have you made salt dough before? The recipe in the link I shared includes white paint. It’s a rough dough, but the more I worked it, the more I rolled it, the smoother it became. Of course the star of these is the Dresden trims. I love these embossed, metallic die cuts from Germany. My favorite source for them is D. Blümchen & Company and that’s where mine came from. You can find additional sources by searching for Dresden trims and Victorian scraps online. These ornaments look so smart tied onto a gift.

As for the paper mache ornaments, I found a beautiful selection of balls, stars and more at Craft Supply House. Michaels used to carry a nice selection of brown paper mache items ready for decoration, but I don’t see it there lately. Thank goodness for these smaller suppliers who will ship these special goodies. I copied the pattern for the ball I saw in the magazine, using the same set of colors on each ball, placed in different areas of the design. I was surprised how pretty they turned out! The paint is Target’s Hand Made Modern acrylic paint from their craft aisle. It has such a lovely sheen. There was another ball in the magazine where they left the brown background visible and simply made short brushstrokes of pink, orange and gold all around it. I was going to try that too, but decided I was done painting Christmas balls after the first three. You could, of course, use any design you like, any colors.

And yes, I was pretty excited to make my own Christmas crackers this year – something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I found out about this company in Washington state that supplied me with snaps for the crackers and more called Olde English Christmas Crackers. The crackers are not something I grew up with, but my husband’s oldest brother and his wife usually have crackers at their Christmas Eve party and I have found that there is something to be said for wearing a paper crown at these kinds of extended family gatherings. The only problem is, the gifts/prizes in even the nicest kind of crackers you can buy are usually cheap plastic throw-aways. Making your own allows you to fill them and decorate them as you wish. We didn’t gather with extended family this year, but we did indeed have crackers filled with Danforth pewter ornaments and decorated with beautiful Caspari giftwrap. Note that the wrap the link connects to is not the one I used (must have sold out), but it would make a gorgeous cracker too.

In addition to the snaps I purchased cardboard tubes from Olde English along with paper crowns and the slips of paper with jokes on them. The tubes are much sturdier than a toilet paper roll (would make nice spool knitters too); I’m planning to use the tubes we already used this year again and again. Olde English has a video that shows how to put the crackers together. Since my giftwrap was fairly heavy, I scored it where it is cinched and tied off. Otherwise it could be hard for someone to pull it apart. Not as difficult as it sounds. If you have any questions about it let me know in the comments.

Happy eleventh day of Christmas!


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