The Advantage of Homemade is It Just Has to Suit You. (Advent is Coming)

I am a great fan of homemade items: blankets, pictures, clothes, food, whatever. If you can make it yourself, I love it. I love the skills that are showcased, the thought that goes into the creation and the fact that you get a completely unique product.

I also love craft classes, especially if one is a beginner at a craft. There’s something so comforting about giving a craft a go safe in the knowledge that hovering nearby is an expert ready to give you advice based on their own knowledge. If you’re learning to knit, sew, crochet or craft then having someone who knows the tricks and shortcuts can be so useful. I’ve hosted friends in small groups who wanted to learn crochet, and it’s a nice feeling to pass on knowledge and watch someone who was a beginner explore their skills and (often) overtake you in either skill or success. (Penny, I’m looking at you there!)

But classes aren’t just for beginners. I find classes are a great way to give myself permission to do something. In the summer, I attended art classes at a local social hub. It was two hours to myself to paint, draw, create and because they were run by a professional artist they also gave me a chance to try other techniques.

This weekend I gave myself permission to paint an advent calendar. I had hoped to go to Stoke with my husband and visit the Bridgewater Factory but they don’t do factory tours on a Saturday, and the painting classes were all booked up so I looked elsewhere. When I saw Class Bento had a workshop on offer at my local Hobbycraft, I jumped at the chance to book two places, one for me and one for my daughter. It’s good to have a crafting buddy.

Two hours is not long enough sensibly to be sure of finishing a big project like a painted advent calendar, but it is long enough to make a good start. We packed our aprons and a set of brushes in case (experience has taught me that it’s good to use brushes you are familiar with) and also a bottle of blue paint because Sarah had already decided that the red/white colour scheme of the planned item was not for her. The course leader, Nicola, was an experienced crafter and store assistant who had everything ready and laid out for us. Hobbycraft had also set everything up very nicely, with all the equipment and paints they had decided were useful already and packed in a cardboard box. With a pot of red paint, white paint and three Posca Paint pens as well as number stickers and a template to use as a guide, the box did contain everything needed to complete the project.

I’m not sure a beginner or a klutz would have enough time to get onto the interesting part of the task in the workshop. That’s a shame, because I think a less confident crafter would benefit from the reassurance of making their choices with a teacher present, not so much to do it for them as to add a positive encouragement about having a go. I’m a fast worker, and so is Sarah, but we struggled to have more than just the first coats of paint done on drawers and carcass. We carried the works in progress carefully back to the car and took them home to do more.

It took us an additional (approximately) four hours to complete the tasks, between second coats where necessary and a fair amount of careful thought about what to put on our calendars and where. It’s good to have a guide and instructions, and even better to ignore it because we know what we wanted to achieve. The Hobbycraft calendar would have been lovely, and we would have enjoyed making it their way as well, but adding personal touches, using our combined skills and creating our own calendars in our own way was even better.

This is my calendar: red, white and blue, because I love that combination. Yes, there are nisse there because I love nisse, gnomes, tomte however you name them.And the decorations on particular days mark off special occasions on the way to Christmas. The 6th is St Nicholas Day, the 13th is Taylor Swift’s Birthday (she lived on a Christmas Tree farm, hence the trees). The 14th is St Lucia’s Day, marked by a Scandinavian heart, while 21st is Midwinter with silver snowflakes as a reminder of winter. I’m going to fill the drawers with my little Catalan crib figures (you may have seen them in an exciting Instagram adventure the year before last) and a range of chocolates, small stockingfillers like lip balm and handcream and perhaps my advent self care cards from 2017.

This is Sarah’s calendar. She, also, chose all the decorations. Owls, robins, penguins, Tatty Ted and hedgehogs are all her favourite creatures, while the colour combination is 100% her choice. We had to buy new silver stickers, rather than the provided gold ones, because she would not countenance a clash. Her calendar will have to have Lindt chocolates in, and also a range of small cracker-filler sized gifts. I found a reasonable selection at The Cracker Company, along with B&M, Wilko and Superdrug. I can’t show you, because Sarah reads this blog, but it’s small but useful things like nail files, stickers or lipbalm.

We’ve enjoyed creating our own calendars. It was a useful relaxing activity, and another reminder for me (I need reminding regularly) that creativity is a good form of meditation and better than pills. I’m already looking out for another set of workshops or activities to go on and take Sarah with me, but in the meantime we have some more Christmas craft sessions planned: watch this space.

How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.

I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:

Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. Lent is a season of rituals and resets. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.

Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human. And it’s always the little things.

And if you, like me, like to plan ahead, then my Christmas books are always available: Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas is the basic, all round Christmas hygge book, Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas is about taking time to look after yourself at the busiest season of all and is only available in ebook, while Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was my answer to Christmas in Lockdowns in 2020 but might (sadly) prove useful for a few more years to come. I’m itching to write a new Christmas book, on simplicity, frugality, minimalism and making the meaning of your Christmas more significant, but time, time, time…

If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.

The photo between post and promotions is by Annie Spratt on Unsplash . I love the little car against a grey background. One of my plans for a Christmas table is based on a car like this, driving home for Christmas…… And the header is a photo of both advent calendars together. I have no idea whether they’ll spend Christmas together, but for now they sit on the floor in front of the TV ready to be filled and used.

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