Challenge, Corona, and Christmas

Challenge, Corona, and Christmas

All the ‘Cs’….

Challenge and Corona have been best bed buddies since the end of February, but I will ignore that pairing and concentrate on Challenge and Christmas.

Christmas has always been my best time of year. As a child I was surrounded by the twinkle of white lights, the smell of pine trees everywhere, the wondrous spectacle of the original Christmas markets and the delicious variety of Christmas baking, particularly my favourites – Stollen and Lebkuchen (gingerbread), ohh and not to forget – Printen. I’m so pleased Albert married Victoria and brought many of the traditions with him.

Over the years I too have continued the traditions….Christmas lights must be warm white, presents are kept secret until Christmas eve and then opened in sparkling candlelight, with each person having a special Weihnacht’s teller – a ‘Christmas plate’ filled with nuts, fruit, special biscuits and fine/fun chocolates.  So you see the Christmas magic has never left me….although some might say that now has something to do with the glühwein! 😇 😊

It used to be when the children were younger and at home that every November, we created cards, ornaments, and goodies such as sweets, biscuits, jam or chutney, as giveaways to our friends and neighbours. I miss those special hours and look forward to a time when the world shrinks a little more so that I’m close enough to my grandchildren to repeat similar fun creative activities.

Made by my daughter 20 years ago, aged 12, and still a treasured ornament.

Left to my own devices over recent years, each November I set to ‘making’, being creative in a variety of mediums and I present a few of them below. Although this Christmas has been more difficult I have managed to meet two set challenges….our village Advent calendar window and the Fourth Quarter challenge which you will have read about already. Getting this post written has been another – albeit skidding in at the last moment!

Currently awaiting the opening.

The Frӧbel stars (left) are made with 45cm long paper ribbons and I used these as my theme for one November village craft group meeting. Fingers and thumbs somehow didn’t co-ordinate with the brain for some of our group – resulting in so much hilarity we had to contend with a pile of wet tissues too. Too be fair they are fiddly!

Wire beaded snowflakes and angels. The skirt of the angels is created using quilting pins and are great fun to make.

Fabric fir cones – another craft group activity and one which I’ve also taught at a conference workshop – uses pieces of fabric, or lengths of ribbon, folded and pinned (using short 12mm pins) to polystyrene eggs. They don’t have to be seasonal and can be made with fun colourful, or muted sophisticated, fabrics/ribbons on other polystyrene shapes such as balls.

The 3 tiny ones (finished 2.5 x 1.5cm) were extremely fiddly!

Each point of the paper stars was made using a sheet of square tracing paper and then interlocked into the next point – the translucence of the paper is very effective hung in a window.

Just simple folding of square paper and a few cuts are needed to make these trees. A few years ago I made a forest of different sizes which combined with lights made a lovely table decoration. I love the design looking down onto them.

Yesterday evening I actually managed to run a workshop on these trees as part of a Zoom meeting with a non-craft group….heads were bowed, comments were continuously made (some = ***!!!***), laughter was shared, all I could do was listen and repeat my stage demos. I couldn’t see what anyone’s fingers were doing to help, although I did see some wine glasses being raised! Taadaa, despite several misplaced misgivings everyone produced a duplicate of the original.

(An aside….I still prefer in-person workshops both for learning and teaching.)

Last year I was super productive making many sock snowmen, gnomes and Ferrero Rocher ‘hats’. I only have 2 figures remaining in my possession (the 3rd is borrowed from my mum), the others I managed to sell at a craft fair.

In addition to these I also experimented with tinsel and felt.

Tinsel was de-constructed and ironed before being incorporated into coloured or white felt.

Once dry, I used a variety of decorative machine stitches to finish the felt. I enjoyed creating these cards and at some point hope to make more.

As I sent one of these for the Holiday card exchange this year, I’m feeling extremely guilty – I have forgotten to let my exchange partner know that I received her beautiful card with her warm greeting inside….so Ann in Canada here it is, for all to see! Thank you.

This November I decided to make tiny elf boot ornaments, with my grandchildren in mind, to meet the Fourth Quarter challenge….a challenge it certainly was!

They are tiny (as you can see against the coin) so getting my fingers in and around the point was oh so very fiddly! (Karen – now you know why I made my comment and have sympathy!). Each pair took quite a while to make including the embroidery. One poor elf was in need of a new pair of boots, but I did darn the holes in his old pair (centre) 😂

Over the decades there have been many cards made in our family, and this post has given me the opportunity to dig out a few and reminisce.

They have become more sophisticated over time and no longer use the red corrugated paper that wrapped around biscuits, complete with lick and stick stars – ooh so many memories. For close family and friends, EPH too continues his cartoon renditions of our 4 year old Raffles.

As I write this post the 13th has not yet arrived, but here is a sneak peek of the window display (complete with a ‘spot the difference puzzle for you!’). It will look more distinctive as day turns to night.

As this year comes to a close, I wish everyone – a creative, adventurous, and importantly, a healthy 2021 to come.


20 thoughts on “Challenge, Corona, and Christmas

  1. So many beautiful festive creations, Antje, it’s difficult to know where to start. They are each lovely in themselves, but obviously the whole is greater than the sum of the parts in that the memories are the most special thing. Your workshops sound hilarious – it’s great that you’re creating joy for others too.

    Karen really started something with the elf / fairy / pixie boots. They are clearly 2020s ‘must make’. I will post mine on the forum when I take some photos. Thanks for sharing your lovely makes and memories with us. I’m almost starting to feel festive…..

    1. Thank you Lindsay.
      The memories have certainly come flooding back with this post.
      I don’t know what triggered Karen or I with ‘elf/fairy’ boots this year but I’m amazed that we both went down that path. In fact yesterday I actually learned about ‘elf on the shelf’ which is sending my thoughts further especially with my grandchildren in mind.

  2. I love all the things you’ve made over the years.
    I’m afraid that I haven’t risen to the challenge – unless baking sugar free treats for my diabetic husband counts (Christmas and Easter are very difficult time for those who can’t – or shouldn’t – eat sugar). Your mention of the German goodies at the beginning of this post made me want to ask – when did traditional Stollen start to be made with marzipan inside? Having looked up sugar free marzipan I then tried to find a stollen dough recipe that I could use in my bread maker – and all of them in my cookery books (including Mrs Beaton) had no mention of marzipan or almond paste or even almond flavouring.
    Any chance of a post on your tinsel christmas cards?

    1. Ann, thank you.
      Re the Stollen, I don’t know when the marzipan was added, probably the same question can be asked re our British traditional Christmas or wedding cakes. I do know that the stollen are originally from Dresden. I used to make 3 stollen every year and as we liked marzipan it was added….in fact no one, even to this day, wanted the end piece because it didn’t have any! Certainly the homemade variety is much less sweet and more airy than the commercial variety, but laziness has prevailed on my part.

      Tinsel post – that is a thought!

  3. I forgot to add that I think I spotted your window change – the reindeer has changed colour!? It looks great from both sides.

  4. There is definitely something that stirs inside when Christmas comes around – all those happy childhood memories of making stuff and being in awe of Santa in his grotto.

    What a great idea to have a village window advent calendar! Your window looks fab.

    The Zoom workshop sounds hilarious – my imagination went into overdrive.

    It’s not just me that keeps all the handmade Christmas cards then (I also keep handmade birthday cards).

    The elf shoes and other decorations look beautiful on the white trees.

    I can imagine how effective lights would be with the tracing paper trees. They look very icy and what a clever idea.

    There is so much to look at in this post – I found myself scrolling back and forth to look again!

    Ann’s card is just so ‘Christmassy’ – I couldn’t think of a better adjective to use.

    Thank you for sharing all your lovely photos Antje.

    1. You have a new moniker!
      I hope I haven’t made you too giddy going back & forth🤪
      Yes I loved Ann’s card too.
      At some point I will pass on some elf shoes to the grandchildren as this year’s ornament – needless to say some will remain in my box for future reminisce.

  5. Thank you for sharing this…I have really tried getting into the spirit. This did help. I always think about starting sooner and barely get things accomplished. This year I didn’t even try. Your post is very inspirational. Maybe I can sit and play this week. Have a wonderful holiday. Oh, I have been baking..and trying not to eat too much..

    1. Baking – sounds like you have been busy!
      If you have a spare moment try the paper trees – all you need is paper, scissors & your digits (oh and if you do them whilst chilling in the armchair…a tray). They are very effective & quite Christmassy. Method is available on the web. The trick is to do each fold twice once forwards & then once backwards and crease well.
      Have fun.

  6. Wow, another set of beautiful boots and so much more! If this post doesn’t put folk into the Christmas mood, nothing will. Nice to see that the pudding decoration your daughter made is still being used and I love the idea of a village advent calendar. Your display is looking lovely and if I lived in a village I would be suggesting this for next year! Have a great Christmas and stay safe.

    1. Now you can see why I mentioned we had so many parallels and all independently imagined! When I have some free time I will try your fairy boots they look fun although equally fiddly!
      The Christmas pud ornament gets put up somewhere in the house every year….it just has to be found.
      I’m glad you like the window idea. We still have more advent windows to open but participants & spectators have enjoyed the experience, and it’s particularly great for those walking their dogs as it is making folk change their routine.

  7. This post should put everyone into the holiday spirit. What wonderful memories for you and I love seeing all the decorations from over the years. The advent calendar idea is great and your window is quite festive. The elf boots do look very fiddly but it seems all the elves/fairies/gnomes will be very fashionable this year. Happy Holidays to you and yours! P.S. I love Raffles Christmas cards 🙂

    1. As you say the elves will be skipping & tripping from house to house & country with the wealth of choice on offer this year.

      I’ve passed your message on re Raffles cards – he is chuffed.

  8. What a lot of Christmas joy in one post. It does put you in the Christmas mood. where ever did you get all the little hats for the snowmen and chocolates. You didn’t knit them all did you? I have a couple of those bead and pin angels in my box of ornaments. Adding to the ornament collection every year is so much fun.

    1. Thanks Ann.
      Hats for the snowmen are socks (new – someone did ask me if they were old ones!) cut & curled as appropriate. The hats for the chocolates are all handmade….either knotted wool, or fabric.
      I’d love to see your bead angels….maybe sneak a photo in on your next post please.

      I have enjoyed creating new ornaments each year but the most fun is sharing the experience with family and friends.

  9. This is lovely, Antje! You’ve definitely been busy these holiday seasons 🙂 I love the window decoration, and only wish you lived closer so I could bully, I mean, cajole you into decorating one of ours 😀

    Your grandchildren are lucky to have a grandmother who will imbue them with the Christmas Craft Spirit!

    (Also, hooray for your opening presents on the 24th, we do the same – well, technically it’s at midnight so it’s the 25th, but you get it)

    Happy Christmas, MG!

  10. Thank you EH.
    Just wish they were closer. 24th by candlelight is magical and very practical too as it means the 25th is relaxed with time for a walk, the cook not missing out on seeing pressies opened etc etc.
    To blend traditions the kids used to have a sock on their bed though with little things in that they could delve into on waking up.

    feliz Natal

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