In need of inspiration? Fear not: Expats.cz has put together a round-up of craft tutorials from all over the web, complete with tips on where to track down the necessary materials. We’ve also thrown in our very own guide to making your own Christmas cards. Miss out on the Christmas craft fun and yule be sorry (pun intended…)
DIY Christmas cards for craft virgins
If you ended up with an F in art class and can barely hold a pair of scissors the right way up, don’t worry: we’ve created a foolproof guide to producing your own Christmas cards.
As craft materials don’t come cheap, making your own doesn’t necessarily mean saving money. Why bother with all this DIY – especially when it can so easily turn out as WTF?
One reason is practical: as few Czechs bother sending cards at Christmas, the choice can be limited compared with what you’re used to back home. A personalized card also has more meaning than a mass-produced one.
Last year, we showcased some Mucha-inspired art nouveau cards in our Christmas craft feature. However, not everyone is an aspiring artist, so here I’ve tried to show how you can make something simple which will still look good on the lucky recipient’s mantelpiece.
Here’s a pic with everything you’ll need (cup of tea optional!):
- A4 coloured card (I’ve opted for red as being the most festive) – 40 CZK for a pack of ten sheets
- A5 coloured envelopes – you can make your own, but I bought mine for 15 CZK each
- Gold and silver shiny self-adhesive paper – 40 CZK a sheet
- Origami paper – 120 CZK for a pack of 20 sheets
- Gold and silver gel pens – 40 CZK each
- Seed beads (optional)
- Festive rubber stamps – 120 CZK for a container of 10
Step 1: To avoid a craftastrophe, print and cut out simple templates from the internet which you can use as the basis for the motifs which will decorate your cards. I downloaded mine from Christmas Projects and Activity Village, but a quick Google search will come up with tons of options.
Step 2: Fold a piece of your A4 card in half. Your basic Christmas card is ready but before you can pop it in an envelope it needs decorating.
Now take either a piece of origami paper or a self-adhesive shiny sheet, place a template on it and trace around it in pencil. Cut out a variety of shapes and then play around until you come up with a design you’re happy with.Once you’re satisfied, stick your motifs in place and add a festive message using one of your silver or gold gel pens. Easy!
Here’s some we made earlier:
Step 3: ADVANCED!
If you feel like taking your Christmas craftathon to the next level, you could add some seed beads onto your motif, as we did with the card displayed on the right in the photo above, applying the glue with a needle and then carefully adding the beads.
If making your own cards seems too daunting, why not try gift tags instead?
You will need:
- coloured A4 card
- ribbon (scraps will do)
- hole punch
- festive rubber stamps
- gold and silver gel pens
Make your basic tags out of a sheet of A4 card by folding 5cm in from the long edge then cutting lengthways.
Once you have your individual tags, decorate them with the festive stamps – no cutting, printing or drawing required. Trace around or over the stamped motifs with the gold and silver gel pens to jazz things up.
Finally, attack the tags with a hole punch and thread through a scrap of ribbon for that decadent touch.
Never mind the packaging: what about making your own Christmas presents? The internet is full of excellent tutorials for those of you who are keen to create your own gift to go under the tree this year and even if it doesn’t turn out quite as planned, at least it will be a talking point.
Here’s a round-up of some D.I.Y gift ideas, along with some tips on where to track down suitable materials.
Knit a scarf
Revive those rusty knitting skills and help create something to keep your loved one warm this winter. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube, such as this one, to remind you of the basics: all you need to whip up something impressive is to cast on, cast off, and do a bit of basic garter stitch in between.
You might think getting a scarf finished in time for delivery by Santa’s elves is mission impossible, but if you super size your needles and yarn then you’ll easily have your wooly wonder complete in time for that crucial date in December. Head to MarLen if you want bulky skeins of real wool; haberdashery store Filium in Palladium have a range of chunky yarns in out-there colours.
If you don’t fancy something super bulky but are pressed for time, why not try a neck warmer instead? This one from Knitty.com combines the trend for handmade corsages with the cowl concept but does require intermediate level knitting skills.
Upcycle an old sweater
When it comes to knitwear, Czechs tend to prefer practical moth-proof acrylic. This means that the thrift store bargain bins and anglická móda second hand stores are often full of 100% wool sweaters which have seen better days but could be transformed into a unique Christmas gift. Simply felt them — in other words, shrink them on purpose in your washing machine — then follow one of these fantastic tutorials to upcycle them into a cosy pair of slippers. Thrifty and environmentally friendly: it’s a win-win situation.
Tracking down felting-friendly sweaters can be a bit hit and miss but the Sue Ryder chain of charity shops are a good starting point. Prague Thrift Store has a bargain bin which is worth having a rummage through, and the Texile House chain of second hand clothing stores often have discount days too.
Make a statement necklace
The Czech Republic is renowned worldwide for its glass beads, so why not take inspiration your adopted homeland and create your own jewellery? Stoklasa has a decent range of findings and components along with ready to wear necklaces and earrings if you really can’t cope with the prospect of trying to produce your own. Koralky.cz, a retail chain stocking every kind of bead imaginable, has branches across Prague as well as in Brno and Ostrava.
Paint your own teapot (or piggy bank, or butter dish…)
Getting to grips — literally — with the art of making a useful object from a lump of clay this side of Christmas might seem ambitious, but you can still give personalised pottery as a gift. Just head to one of Prague’s ceramic painting cafes — Kavarna Maluj or Vypálené koťátko — and then pick out the piece of earthenware you’d like to decorate. Ask the staff for tips on creating something simple but striking, such as applying tape to create a Clarice Cliff style geometric pattern.
Have any tips for crafty Christmas gift ideas with a Czech theme? Know any great places to get your hands on the right materials? Share them in the comments section!