DIY Advent Calendar

 

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Hello my lovelies! It’s finally that time of year! The time when you can start to get Christmassy and nobody can get on your case about it, because it’s practically December, so it’s totally allowed! And we all know what that also means, it’s almost the start of advent!

I actually love the start of advent, it’s the time when I begin to get fully into the Christmas spirit and excited for the big day. And of course, who doesn’t love getting a chocolate every day for 24 days? Side note: Yes, I am 20, and yes, I still get an advent calendar. But besides the chocolate, that’s what I really love about advent. Having a daily countdown reminding me of how close we are to the 25th is something that still excites me now, and I never start to feel quite as festive as when I open that first door!

I’m super excited as I’m writing this because I’ll be travelling home from university on the 1st December to spend the weekend with my family and Jason. We’re going to put the Christmas decorations up, which normally involves lots of cheesy Christmas music. My parents, Hannah and I have always done this together for as long as I can remember; it’s really the start of the festive season in our household. This will also be the fifth time that Jason’s helped out with it- I love having us all together.

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So, with all that talk of advent, you’ve probably already guessed that this post may have something to do with it (or maybe you just read the title). This year I really wanted to make my own advent calendar. At first I’d considered sewing one, but I don’t have room for my sewing machine up at university, so it wouldn’t have been too practical. I’m also not exactly swimming in free time, so I wanted a project that would help me get in the Christmas mood without taking an age to create! I’m also broke, so cheap was a necessity!

Enter my toilet roll tube advent calendar! The definition of frugal. Inspired by my toilet roll tube bats, this advent calendar was completely free to make, seeing as I already had some Christmas craft paper in, and I’ve been saving up my left over loo roll tubes since returning to uni. Side note: For another free craft project, why not check out my previous post? DIY Conker Wreath.

I’m actually pretty happy with the result, I really love the homemade festive vibe it adds to my room. The best thing about this calendar is that you can fill it with whatever you want, be it a festive poem for each day or a small christmas trinket. Or, of course, chocolate. Adding a little christmassy tissue paper inside each of the ‘parcels’ makes it seem a bit more upmarket and less toilet roll-y. 🙂

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There’s not much to say about how to recreate this advent calendar; I’m sure you can suss that out for yourself! But I thought I’d post it more as an inspiration for yourselves if, like me, you’re wishing to create a frugal and alternative Christmas countdown for this festive season. (Or maybe as some inspiration for next year!) I’ll still include some basic instructions though for those of you wanting to recreate this craft project!

So what did I do?

You will need:

  • Toilet roll tubes.
  • Christmas paper.
  • Scissors or pinking shears.
  • Small advent numbers. I had these in my crafting collection, from Hobbycraft, but you can purchase similar from most craft stores at this time of year.
  • Some acrylic paints- optional!

Ok, so lets get started! I’ll forgo my usual numbered instructions here and resort to giving you a basic description of what I did.

Firstly, the more observant of you may have noticed that my advent calendar only actually has 15 days- shock horror! No, I did not get lazy and couldn’t be bothered finishing it- well, maybe a little… 😉 – this is actually because I’m only up at university until the 15th December, so I decided just to make parcels for those days.

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The first thing I did when making my advent calendar was put on my Christmas music and settle down to paint some Christmassy designs on a few of my cardboard tubes. I opted for holly berries and snowflakes. Obviously this step is completely optional, but I really enjoyed this process, and I love how these parcels turned out! They are definitely my favourite.

Now all that’s left for you to do is the super easy and quick part! Cut out strips of Christmas paper, I used pinking shears for this but you could also just use scissors. Glue a strip of paper on the front of each of your tubes. I also chose to cut a small square of paper to go on my painted tubes.

Add your advent numbers, before folding the bottom of your tube in to get the nice, pointed corner, parcel shape that I had. Fill each of your parcels with a little tissue paper and a small gift, before folding in the top of your tube in the same manner as the bottom.

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Ta da! It’s actually that easy. Blu tac your parcels up like me, or pin them to a cork board. Or why not tie some string around and hang them from a ribbon on your wall?

I love how this advent calendar turned out! I think it adds a really sweet, homemade and cozy vibe to my room. And it was super cheap and super easy! You really can’t complain at that!

Are you guys looking forward to the count down to Christmas? Have you been doing any festive crafting recently? You know I would love to see your own seasonal projects, why not link them in the comments?

Wishing you all the very best of days as we head into December,

Maddie xxx

DIY Love Heart Conker (Chestnut) Wreath!

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Hello you lovely people! Lil’ disclaimer- I got a tad carried away with the intro to this post. So if you would like to forgo my waffling and skip to the good stuff, you just scroll on down! 🙂

I don’t know about you guys, but I am just not feeling quite as festive as I’d like to be at this time of year. There’s something about being at university that really zaps the fun out of the Christmas season, or any season for that matter. All I want to be doing is shopping for Christmas decorations with my family, enjoying mulled wine at the Manchester Christmas markets with Jason, and making a start on my Christmas projects; but instead I’m overwhelmed with deadlines, coursework and the responsibilities of being a fully functioning adult living on my own.

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It’s not just a lack of free time that’s the issue though, when you live away from home it kind of feels like you’re missing out on…well, life. At least for me. Not having my car up here with me makes it difficult to get out and about, and I really miss the mundane things like Sunday afternoon trips to a garden centre with my parents.

But, with all that said and done, I am really trying to get in the Christmas spirit! I mean, really trying. My flatmates have been subjected to me blasting Christmas songs from my room, and I’m trying my damn well hardest to start a few Christmas craft projects!

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Which brings us to today’s post: my DIY conker wreath! Despite it being nearly December, this wreath would’ve been a super cute edition to your decor throughout the Autumn season (and it would’ve been, if I’d got my act together and made it sooner!). But this wreath is also a perfect way of adding some Christmas cheer to your home, which is EXACTLY what I am in need of right now! Plus, this was super cheap to make! I actually had all of the stuff in for this already, so it was actually free for me! And even if you don’t have some scrap fabric lying around, you would have more than enough if you purchased a quarter of a metre! 🙂

I collected most of the conkers for this wreath back when Jason and I were holidaying in France, in late September. I have always had magpie-like tendencies when it comes to things like conkers and acorns; I remember rummaging around for them back when I was a kid- I was a pretty weird kid. Collecting conkers is something I will always associate with my childhood and Autumn, but even though I am now twenty, I still enjoy filling my pockets with shiny brown chestnuts! Skip forward a week of conker collecting in France, and I had about thirty of the beauties, and no idea of how to use them.

Enter my DIY conker wreath:

You will need:

  • Conkers
  • Strong cardboard. I used the cardboard from a shoe box.
  • Hessian/ Burlap.
  • Assorted fabric scraps
  • Ribbon
  • A glue gun
  • Scissors/ Craft knife

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  1. Draw out a heart shape on your cardboard to whatever size you want your wreath to be. Mine was about 10″ high and 10″ wide at its widest point, but this is totally up to you. Take into consideration how much fabric you have to hand and how many conkers. You could also print off a template for this if you’re not too confident in your drawing ability! 🙂
  2. Draw a smaller heart shape inside your heart so that you have your desired wreath shape. Cut around your wreath using scissors or a craft knife. Cut out the centre of your wreath.
  3. Place a blob of glue at the top of your wreath, on the front and back of the cardboard, and attach a loop of ribbon here so that you can hang your wreath.
  4. Now that you have your desired wreath shape, begin to cut out strips of hessian/burlap. You will be wrapping these strips around your wreath, so ensure that they are at least twice as wide as the wreath itself (enough to go over the front and the back of the cardboard).
  5. Using your glue gun, glue a strip to your wreath by folding it in half and placing the fold on the inner edge of your wreath, so that one half of the strip is glued to top of the cardboard and the other half is glued to the back. You want it so the ends of the strip are on the outer edge of your wreath.
  6. Repeat this with as many strips as necessary, until all of the cardboard is covered. You should have some nice texture around the outer edge of your wreath thanks to the raw edges of the hessian.
  7. Now you can start to glue gun your conkers onto the wreath! This does require quite a lot of glue, but I love the finished effect. I must say though, this isn’t a foolproof method. Some of the conkers can become a bit loose when the glue dries. I’d recommend ensuring that they are securely stuck down with lots of glue, and of course being careful with your wreath when dry.
  8. Now that you have added your conkers, cut out some strips of assorted fabric. You want these strips to be about 3″ long.
  9. With one strip, twist it in the centre so that you have a little bow shape. Pop a blob of hot glue in the centre, and press it onto you wreath (use a pen or similar to press the fabric down, you don’t want to burn yourself!). This is how I added the texture to my wreath, as twisting the fabric strips and attaching them in this way gives a charming 3D effect.
  10. Repeat this with as many fabric strips as you like, until you are satisfied with the overall appearance of your wreath.

Ta da! Easy as that.

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There you have it guys! Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post! What’ve you been making in anticipation for Christmas? Let me know in the comments!

Best wishes to you all, filled with lots of festive cheer!

Maddie x

Get festive with this DIY chestnut wreath! A great craft project for Autumn and through into winter. Bring some Christmas cheer into your home, or why not use it as a table centre piece for Thanksgiving!

DIY Halloween candles!

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Hi guys! Now that it’s October it feels only right that I should post my first Halloween related blog post! Today’s post is a great spooky DIY for all you Halloween fanatics out there.

Say hello to my Halloween candles. My initial intent when making these candles was just to make pumpkins, but the striped Candycorn-esque candle was actually a great way of using up the excess wax that I had melted.

I love how these candles turned out! I hadn’t tried candle making in a good few years, it’s probably five years since I last tried my hand at the craft, but I loved the process of making these beauties! It was fun and really easy, and produced great results! Let’s be honest, making your own candles sounds a lot more sophisticated than it actually is… and that makes it a winner in my book! Anything that will impress my family and friends while requiring little effort on my part gets a big thumbs up from me.

If you’ve never tried candle making before, you don’t really require too much fancy equipment to get started; although I would definitely recommend purchasing a candle making kit to help get you up and running. This is usually a cheaper option than purchasing the equipment individually, and all kits come with detailed instructions and safety precautions. My first candle making kit was this Creative Candle Making kit from House of Crafts, which provided me with the moulds used in this project. I found it to be really good value for money, as you are given enough supplies to make up to 20 different fragranced and coloured candles! Plus it makes a great Christmas present for craft lovers.

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So let’s get started! 

You will need: 

  • Paraffin wax pellets, approx 500g. You can purchase 1kg of paraffin wax pellets here
  • Wick. I found a really cool article explaining how to make your own candle wick here! Great if you want to save some money.
  • A wick rod. A pencil or lolly pop stick would also work.
  • Red and yellow coloured candle dyes. I used these
  • A fragrance of your choice.
  • A mould sealer. This is just blutac or plasticine.
  • A round candle mould and a pillar mould. This is one of the main reasons I so strongly recommend purchasing a candle making kit, as you will be provided with several moulds to get you started. If however you do wish to purchase your own, I use these moulds for my candles.
  • One large and one smaller saucepan that fits comfortably inside the larger.

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Instructions:

The first thing to do when candle making is to ensure you’re working within close proximity to your cooker. Cover your work top in newspaper in order to protect it from any hot wax that may drip onto it. 

Safety tips:

  • Ensure your water level in your large saucepan is always at least as high as the wax pellets in the small saucepan. Add more water as you melt your wax if you need to.
  • Should you wax catch fire, smother with a damp tea towel. Do not add water.
  1. Prepare your moulds. You need to use a spherical mould for the pumpkin candle and a pillar mould for the Candycorn candle. Pass your wick through the small hole in the top of your mould and out the bottom, leaving around 4cm of wick poking out the top of your candle mould and 12cm of wick at the bottom of the mould to tie around your wick rod. Your wick rod is just something that you can tie your wick to.
  2. With your candle mould upside down (so you will have a large opening facing upwards where you can pour your wax in), balance your wick rod so that it is lying across the candle mould, there will usually be two little grooves on your mould here to help you do this. Tie the end of your wick around the wick rod. Pull your wick tight by the 4cm piece of wick sticking out the top of your candle and seal this end of the wick with a piece of blutac or plasticine, this is just to prevent hot wax dripping out of the mould.
  3. Your mould is now ready for your wax.
  4. Fill your large saucepan about three quarters of the way full with water. Place your small saucepan inside your large saucepan, so that it sits in the water. Begin by making the wax for one of your pumpkin candles. If you want your final pillar candle to look more Candycorn-like than mine, make your yellowy pumpkin first. Place your wax pellets in the small saucepan, you will require around 200g of wax for the mould I used, but don’t worry about melting too much. You will be pouring the excess into your pillar candle anyway.
  5. Heat your wax on a medium heat, stirring occasionally as it melts. Add your dye. You will only require a tiny amount of dye to colour this amount of wax, your dye packaging should give you some sort of guidelines for how much you need.
  6. Once your wax has melted, take it off the heat immediately and add your fragrance. A few drops of this will be sufficient, I’d say 3-5.
  7. Pour your wax into the mould and leave to cool. When you have filled your spherical mould, pour the excess wax into your pillar mould. Place your spherical mould in the fridge overnight to aid you with removing your candle rom the mould.
  8. After leaving your candle overnight in the fridge, you may remove it from the mould. To remove your spherical candle, untie your wick rod and run a blunt knife around the centre join of your mould. You should be able to ease the bottom off, followed by the top.
  9. Now make your orangey/red pumpkin using the same process. Pour your excess wax into the pillar candle on top of your yellow layer.
  10. Now make a white batch of wax by adding no dye this time. You will only need about 50g of wax. Pour this on top of the red layer of the pillar candle before placing this candle in the fridge overnight too.
  11. To remove the pillar candle, remove the wick rod and mould sealer before rapping the mould on a hard work surface firmly. Repeat this until the candle falls out.P1230793.jpg
  12. If you wish to make your candles look extra smooth and shiny like mine, you can carry out a process called glazing. Holding the wick of you candle before you cut it down to size, dip your candle in hot water from the kettle. Once the candle has cooled, polish the candle with an old pair of tights to make it extra shiny!
  13. Once you have done this, add your pumpkin’s face! I used a black permanent marker pen for this, though black acrylic paint would also work.

Ta da! There you have it, your homemade pumpkin candles. I know this post seems incredibly lengthy, but the candle making process really is simple, and great fun. Once you have mastered your basic candle making skills you can try all sorts of new colour and fragrance combinations, and maybe even try adding things like glitter into your hot wax to give your candle some extra sparkle.

That’s all from me today, I hope you’re all enjoying October and getting in the Autumnal mood! If you have any trouble with making your candles or would like to know anything more about the process, please let me know in the comments!

What have you been making for Halloween? Tell me all about it!

Best wishes to you all,

Maddie x

Note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will earn small commission if you choose to purchase certain items that I have linked. All items that have been linked in this post have been tried and tested by me and are my favourites, though not all have been bought from the same suppliers! 🙂