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I love Christmas, and it’s not just because I get so much time off from work. If I’m honest, the day itself can be a bit anti-climatic. Once the imaginary bearded man has been and gone (having deemed us worthy beneficiaries of course), all presents opened, and turkey consumed, most people just lie there in a booze-induced stupor, nursing a food baby. It’s really the prep that builds up excitement – shopping in the (hopefully) snow at markets, putting up the tree and decorations, carol-singing, gift-wrapping etc. That last bit is what gets me into the spirit, and I try to come up with new ideas every year.

We’re on a bit of a tight budget this Christmas, but I had loads of pipe cleaners leftover from earlier projects so they came in handy when making the gift-bags for colleagues…and coloured paper as well, so kirigami (yet again) ended up being a prominent feature when making my gift-topper bows.

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As I have a tendency to spoil my daughter over the festive season, she usually gets a hamper or gift basket from me. It’s a more attractive solution than putting everything in one huge box if someone’s getting multiple gifts. I’ve made a few bespoke gift baskets and hampers over the years…

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…But putting one of these together can be quite a challenge, especially when you want some items to be a surprise so they cannot be visible through the clear cellophane. The best way to get round that is to wrap them in matching paper beforehand.

I cut it quite fine this year by buying almost everything online, and was still awaiting deliveries on the 23rd. Thankfully, all my orders arrived on time, but it did mean a pretty late night for me Christmas eve.

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I remember a time when it used to be plush toys and girly stuff, now it’s skull candles and gothic-type paraphernalia. What a difference six years can make! She still likes pink and purple though. I guess my daughter isn’t quite ready to completely give up being a girly girl at 16.

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Keeping costs down during this yearly ritual of frenzied commercialisation is no easy task when you’ve got kids, and it’s also the time of year when most of us are guilt-tripped into supporting a charitable cause. I’ll admit Christmas Jumper Day did catch me by surprise…Most schools got involved so Zhouyi was all set, but as work suddenly decided to join in, I had to make a bit of a last minute decision to temporarily modify a pre-existing non-festive jumper with felt and yarn. My fox’s little santa hat cost me less than £1, leaving me in a better position to donate, so I was overall pleased with the result.

2016 has not been kind to many of us…I’ll always see it as the year that took from us Starman, Snape, Chekov, Princess Leia, Harper Lee, Vera Rubin, and our right to be a part of the EU, whilst giving Trump/Putin and the far-right greater power, but perhaps it might end on a happier note.

Much love and joy to everyone this festive season.