How To Cope With Christmas And Other Crafty Things

Helen Colebrook xMas Cards

Come on - let's face it - Christmas can be pretty stressful. Yes, there are all those fluffy, feel-good adverts with cute curly-haired kids and eccentric grandparents all gathered round the festive table with a whole, uncarved turkey in the middle of it (who, really, has room for a WHOLE turkey? I mean, where would you put the Brussels sprouts? Not that the absence of sprouts would really damage my Christmas… Anyway, I digress). Adverts are powerful things: they really want you to believe that Christmas is easy. It's not. Unless you're a child, that is, or perhaps an eccentric grandparent.

I mean, who PUTS that turkey on the table in all its golden gloriousness? Someone has to cook it; it doesn't shoehorn itself into the oven at midnight or first thing Christmas morning to roast itself. And who peels all the potatoes? What about the annual 'something to sit on' hunt, if you're entertaining fourteen people or so? Who has to rifle through the attic and the garage in search of orange crates and space hoppers and other things vaguely suitable for sitting on? Most of us don't have more than six dining chairs, after all. Or are tall enough to sit on the floor and still reach the sprouts.

See - Christmas doesn't just happen, does it? So what do you do? Plan it, of course, and the best way of doing this is by journaling. Your journal is a fantastic tool, not only in terms of planning your Christmas, but making it relaxing as well, and this is where journaling queen Helen of @journalwithpurpose enters this scenario.

She came to visit us recently, determined to ensure that none of us started running round like headless chickens (or should that be turkeys, at this time of year? Maybe even geese. I digress again - sorry). Anyway, we mustered the troops, which included (apart from me) Calligraphy Girl Louise, Boss Girl Amanda, New Boy Nathan, Numbers Boy Martin, and special guests Charlie and Leo. Leo is a small person, and - to be honest - wasn't really taken with the journaling lark. He's the sort of person for whom Christmas really does 'just happen'.

Helen Colebrook xMas Cards

Keeping track of everything in a journal means the kitchen table is kept clear for important things like present-wrapping and food preparation instead of disappearing beneath a pile of lists on different bits of paper, which are very likely to make you scream with frustration. So, firstly, Helen presented us with a Christmas Planning leaflet, to give us plenty of ideas for how to set about approaching the festive season in a calm and controlled manner. She suggested starting off by drawing a Christmas tree to keep track of how much time you have left, and colouring in a bauble each day. A bit like an advent calendar, she said, but with fewer calories! Staedtler Pigment Liners are great for the outline, and the Gelly Roll range are, of course, perfect for colouring in the baubles. Or try Pentel's Dual Metallics - two metallic colours in each pen! Nothing like starting as you mean to go on - with a bit of sparkle!

Next - what do you usually associate with Christmas, especially if you're Leo? Hands up, don't shout. Well done, you at the back there, yes - presents. Don't let it get on top of you, and don't get reduced to scribbling the list on a scrappy piece of paper that ends up getting left your jeans pocket and eventually put through the washing machine so it's useless. Put the list in your journal! List everybody you're responsible for, with what you'd like to get them, and then track when you've bought them and wrapped them. How chuffed will you feel when that list is completed? To bits, I'd say. And if you really want to make your list stand out, try using STABILO Pen 68 Metallics to embellish the pages.

Helen Colebrook xMas Cards

Now apply that same principle to cards, but add a 'posting dates' column to take into account any rellies down under - you know, the ones who apparently spend Christmas Day on the beach and are faced with the problem of tree chocolates that melt before you can eat them. And no Brussels sprouts because it's the wrong time of year. Not a problem where I'm concerned.

Right - food! Can't have Christmas without some food but it's all in the planning. List everything that needs to be bought (and by whom, if you're sharing the love), and split it into perishables and non-perishables, so that the double cream isn't bought on 1st December by an over-enthusiastic great aunt. Decide who's on food prep and who can be trusted with the oven, then you can use your journal to direct operations on the day. And a Rhodia Goalbook is so much less militant than a clipboard, too.

One of Helen's most useful pointers was the importance of meeting all your workplace deadlines in plenty of time. If you list all the tasks that need doing, and track when you've finished them, it will free you up to really look forward to the festive season. I mean, who wants to be fretting over an unfinished article for the company newsletter when you could be worrying over the state of your waistline instead?

Helen Colebrook xMas Cards

Now that you've filled your journal with this multitude of lists and charts, you may be wondering how to keep on top of whereabouts in the journal they are! Japanese washi - mt tape - is the perfect way of marking pertinent pages and there are many, many different designs. You can either create little page markers, or you could stick a length of tape along the edge of a page so you can see at a glance which section of your journal you need.

Finally, why not use your journal to record the good, the bad and the ugly? When you laughed so hard your cheeks hurt, or when you had to blink very hard and pretend you weren't crying: 'sorry, something in my eye…', and - of course - the 'we'll look back on this and laugh' bits (usually involving nibbled turkeys and dogs with guilty looks on their faces).

We ended the workshop with a Christmas card making session, which involved glitter. Quite a lot of it. Some of it is still brightening up the staffroom carpet. And Nathan's beard, but we won't go into that.

The glitter comes in handy tubs in two sizes. It's super fine, so it's fine (!) to use with smaller areas such as Christmas tree baubles and snowflakes, and very easy to sprinkle extravagantly for those larger creations because the tubs are fitted (fortunately, in our case) with a perforated cap, a bit like a jar of herbs. There are 12 colours, including Christmassy colours like green and red, white, gold and silver. And as they're 3 for 2 right now, you can stock up on a rainbow range.

We also experimented with a range of glues, with varying rates of success (note: glue, glasses and glitter don't go together, not unless you're happy to spend the rest of the day looking like Elton John). Tombow do a great range of liquid glues, all of which are good for covering large areas, and their glue pen is perfect for tiny areas (like stars on top of Christmas trees!)

Helen Colebrook xMas Cards

Merpy Christmas! (And no, that's not a spelling mistake - this is Anna writing this, after all - have a close look at the photos of our efforts to see what I mean).

30 November 2018

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