Lady magz and newspapers are currently full of articles and tutorials about hand-making just really lahvley, crafty Christmas presents for friends and family, instead of bulk-buying whatever is on offer on Amazon like any sensible person.
Because really, unless you are already the sort of person that whips up organic-silk hand-embroidered baby blankets the rest of the year, why on earth would you try and learn to do it in the run up to Christmas?
Making sure you have enough Christmas presents for everyone is hectic enough without a) trying to learn a new skill and b) producing something of a high enough standard that you can actually give them to someone once they're done. And most of the time, it doesn’t actually end up being any cheaper.
So, with that in mind, I thought I'd make my own Christmas craft presents, with skills that I learned at primary school and without spending a million billion pounds on ingredients like Peruvian al paca hair collected under the full moon.
Salt-dough Key HolderMy current beau is forever losing his keys (I dunno, men eh? Eh ladies?), so I decided the most thoughtful and useful crafty gift I could make for him would be a key ring hanger thingamy..... I don't really know what they're called, but you know, one of those things you hang your keys on so you don't lose them. That.
And what more crafty of craft substances could I use to make this delight, but salt dough?
Ah salt dough. The hours of fun I had as a young ‘un making salt dough creatures must add up to literally one. But I was confident I could do it. After all, salt dough is incredibly easy to make, and it is super cheap, yo. You just need flour, water and salt.
First of all, gather the important ingredients together thusly:
Mix together half a cup of salt, half a cup of water and a cup of flour. Make sure you are not enough of an idiot to muddle up the very easy-to-remember quantities, or like me you will find yourself screaming into a bowl full of cement, covering everything in the kitchen in said cement, smashing a glass, and having a little cry before starting again.
When that's done and you've managed to mix it all into a nice soft dough, you can start to mould it into whatever shape you are making. I went for a HEART, because it's for my BOYFRIEND, URRR.
That there in the middle is a key hole, GEDDIT COS IT'S FOR KEYS? Those two little holes will make sense later. Once you've made your shapes, pop them in the microwave for a few minutes until the liquid has dried out and the dough has gone rock hard, and then leave them to cool for a bit.
Have a bit more wine and feel smug at how well the salt dough has turned out. Forget that your kitchen is covered in shards of glass and cement.
Once it's all cool, paint it up with whatever paints you happen to have. I've cheated on the cheap front here, (I HATE it when they put that in magazines, “I cheated on the cheap front because I already own a pack of bees” WHAT HAVE I BECOME?!) because I already have a set of acrylic paints.
To make mine into a key-ring hanger doobry-whatsit, I hung a key underneath it through those little holes I made before drying it out (see above) using some string, and a string bow at the top to hang it from.
Et voila! When it's all finished, your grateful recipient will display nothing less than delight, awe and wonderment:
There now. Look how delighted he is. He'd better get me something good. (Side note: literally 5 seconds after this photo was taken he broke the thing.)
Pasta face PortraitIt's always nice to try and give your friends something really lovely and personal at Christmas, a gift that shows you really care about them and you know, just really, like, get them.
Like a ticket to a secret gig that their favourite band is putting on in a pop-up Tibetan restaurant in shoreditch, with free booze and a hug from the lead singer. Or something. Well, what better way to arts and crafts that same feeling, than to make them a pasta portrait of themselves?
First off, make sure you have pasta, glue, paper and paint. Then, sketch a rough outline of their face onto your paper:
This is a sketch of Stuart Heritage, xoJane UK Token Male, and my friend In Real Life. A chilling resemblance, I'm sure you'll agree.
Then arrange the pasta onto the picture until you get a pattern you're happy with, before sticking it down using PVA glue. Once it has all dried, paint up the whole thing to a shockingly life-like and realistic final portrait:
Positively cackle with delight at the monstrosity you have created. For a long time. Possibly too long. Text your friend menacingly with promises of the best present EVER.
Stuff it in a padded envelope, to make sure the pasta doesn't crack, and then deliver the thoughtful and beautifully realistic picture.
Look at the genuine pride and happiness in his face. Nothing that anyone else buys him for Christmas is going to top that.
So there you have it! Some affordable, easy and fun crafts to delight your friends and loved ones this year. I should actually say at this point that when I decided to do this, I had no idea how much I would genuinely enjoy myself. Crafts really are fun.
Send Kirsty a sketch of you on Twitter @kirkycheep and she'll do you a pasta face. Probably. We haven't actually asked her...