It’ll be homely this Christmas

FAMrc''Rachael Clegg's home-made Christmas
FAMrc''Rachael Clegg's home-made Christmas
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We’re told that doing it yourself is the cheapest option when it comes to Christmas, so we decided to road test the ‘home-made’ Christmas - with amusing results

THIS Christmas is going to be a tight one.

FAMrc''Rachael Clegg's home-made Christmas

FAMrc''Rachael Clegg's home-made Christmas

Petrol costs a fortune. Food breaks the bank. A basic existence in South Yorkshire is - for most of us - sapping the money that would otherwise be spent on Christmas treats and presents.

It is quite a depressing reality.

But it’s not all bad.

There is a solution: a do-it-yourself Christmas. Or so they say.

FAMrc''Rachael Clegg's home-made Christmas

FAMrc''Rachael Clegg's home-made Christmas

This year, I decided that the home-made option is the only way to do the festive season cheaply, so I’m going to try to make presents myself.

The poor recipients of these cack-handed treats will either cry with disappointment or laugh at my terrible efforts. Either way, I reckon it’s a good way to test how much your family really love you.

But I need to start off with something simple, like Christmas decorations, before I launch myself onto the gift market.

My mission is to decorate my house for Christmas on the cheap, creating, among many items, a wreath and some baubles.

FAMrc''Rachael Clegg's home-made Christmas

FAMrc''Rachael Clegg's home-made Christmas

So, I ventured down to Witchcraft on John Street and bought a selection of polystyrene balls to use as the base for home-made baubles, as well as some gold and red fabric, florist’s wire, PVA glue, decorative piping, small Christmas charms, luxurious ribbons and Mother of Pearl sparkly dust - a bargain at 25p a sachet.

But the hard part is resisting buying craft treats you don’t really need. Sadly, I failed on this front.

Once armed with my craft supplies it’s a quick stop-off on the way home with a pair of scissors and my thick leather gloves to snip a bit of holly and ivy - essentials for DIY wreath-making.

As I already have the basic structure of a wreath, now it’s just a case of wrapping the holly and ivy around a circle. Easy, right? Not quite. Holly is more painful than you think.

I weave the ivy and holly around the base, securing it with wire. It takes a while to build up a thick layer of foliage, but once it’s on, you can start the fun bit - adding on the decorations.

I decided to stick to a colour scheme of creams, reds and white, adding baubles, pine cones and some roses to the wreath. Then, as I was fastening on the snowball glass baubles, it occurred to me that I needn’t limit myself to Christmas decorations and decided to include some glass light bulbs. The bulbs add something a bit quirky to the otherwise conventional wreath. But I did get a bit carried away - running around the house pinching every bulb I could. As far as sticking to the cheap Christmas brief went, I was failing miserably.

‘But why stop at light bulbs?’ I thought to myself, ‘Surely anything goes?’ I rummaged through the kitchen junk drawer to see what other objects could be attached to the wreath. Then, as I caught myself tying a telephone adapter to masses of bound holly I realised I was getting carried away.

As far as non-Christmas objects went, I restricted myself only to light bulbs.

Following the success of the light bulb discovery I was on a roll. Surely, nothing can stop me now?

Well it can actually - a bauble. The task I thought would be easiest to do turned out to be the hardest.

I cut the gold fabric into small leaf-shapes and stuck them onto the polystyrene ball using PVA glue. This actually looked pretty good.

But then I got cocky.

I coated the gold-covered ball in a light organza-like fabric and gathered it at the top, securing it with elaborate gold piping. Then, to doll it up a bit I tied string to small Christmassy charms of bells and boots and attached them to the bauble, sprinkled some Mother of Pearl dust over it and hey presto - a very expensive, do-it-yourself bauble. But quite attractive, nonetheless.

So, while making my own Christmas decorations was incredibly good fun, it’s not as cheap as you think, once you’ve factored in the cost of light bulbs, the resulting darkness and cost of posh ribbon, it might be cheaper to buy them.

But that said, wrestling with holly all night does keep you out of trouble and possibly saves money on going to the pub.

And while I’m yet to become an industry leader in bauble-making, I think there’s a real calling in the wreath market for light bulbs.