handmade christmas challenge – wk 1

handmade christmas challenge - myfrenchtwist.com

Welcome to the 3rd annual Handmade Christmas Challenge with My French Twist I’m so happy you joined me. Not because I have a magic formula for transforming your holiday into a stress-free, no-work venture. (Sorry. There will still be trees to trim and packages to wrap.) But I do have suggestions on how to approach the season with a different perspective and fresh attitude. We’ll take it one week at a time, for 6 short weeks. 

christmas challenge - myfrenchtwist.com

Yep, it’s a haiku (nerdy English major here). But it’s OUR haiku for this Handmade Christmas challenge. We may still dash out to Walgreens on Christmas eve for one final gift. We may overcook the rolls, and we might even make a wreath that’s an epic Pinterest fail. But that’s okay. Because all that we do this season, we’ll do with AWESOME INTENTIONS. We’ll pour our hearts into that specially handmade gift. We’ll keep extra baked goods on hand, just in case we run into someone lonely. We’ll trim the tree and probably dig out that creepy Elf on the Shelf. But mostly, we’ll just love the people in our lives.

Ready to get started? Grab your cup of Joe and get comfy. We have 2 tasks to consider this week. 

task one: select a theme

This step is purely optional. If your theme is “do the necessities and don’t worry about the rest,” that’s fine. But if you prefer an artsy twist – even for a bare-bones holiday, keep reading. Coordinating all your holiday efforts into a particular theme is fun, and it gives you a bit of direction. Need ideas? Let’s take a quick stroll through my past 2 Christmas challenges and see how themes made a difference.

My theme for the 2015 Christmas Challenge was mercury glass, and here’s the idea board I used.

handmade christmas challenge 2017 - myfrenchtwist.com

I was drawn to vintage ornaments in brass and silver hues, and the worn look of distressed metals. I was also in need of a new tree skirt and envisioned one made in a deep charcoal color. Here’s how it actually turned out:

handmade christmas challenge 2017 - myfrenchtwist.com
A flocked tree, looking glass pinecone wreath, bohemian felt tree skirt, and tiny vintage-style ornaments.

See how selecting a theme can be fun? For the 2016 Christmas Challenge, my theme was snowbirds (we spent our first winter in our Florida condo.) I wanted to use a bird motif coupled with a few coastal touches. Here’s my idea board:

handmade christmas challenge 2017 - myfrenchtwist.com

And here’s what actually panned out:

handmade christmas challenge 2017 - myfrenchtwist.com
A copper moose theme emerged, woodsy place setting, snowbird tree, coastal stocking.

Your theme doesn’t have to involve changing your ornaments and decorations. It can be centered around a charity, a color scheme (check out these ideas), or even a mantra (handmade gifts, for example). Get the idea?

I really love adopting a theme each year,  even if I don’t get around to making all the DIYs on my wish list. So this year, aside from CONNECTING, I’m going to add a modern Danish feel to my decorating. At least, that’s my intention (my AWESOME intention.)  And here’s my idea board:

handmade christmas challenge 2017 - myfrenchtwist.com

Before moving on to the next task, if you found this helpful, share it on Pinterest!

handmade christmas challenge - myfrenchtwist.com

task two: put a wreath upon the door

Nothing says “welcome” more than a beautiful wreath on the front door. I wouldn’t suggest adopting the wisdom of Fraser’s dad on the TV sitcom (“of course my wreath is plastic – how the hell do you think it’s lasted 35 years?”) But neither do you have to spend big bucks on a new one. If you’re using a different color scheme this year, it may be as simple as changing out the ribbon on last year’s wreath. 

However, if you’re feeling up to a crafty challenge, join me in making this sweet but funky macrame wreath. 

macrame wreath

supplies needed:
  • 14″ diameter embroidery hoop
  • decorative garland
  • 3/16″ cotton rope – 10 pieces measuring 11 feet each
  • silver floral spray or other decorative embellishments
  • strand of bells
  • floral wire
step 1 – macrame

After cutting 10 pieces of cotton cord, each measuring 11′ each, tape the ends to prevent fraying. Tie the pieces onto the embroidery hoop, using Lark’s Head Knots.

handmade christmas macrame wreath

Starting with the first individual cord on the left, tie a row of 5 Square Knots

handmade christmas macrame wreath

Next, starting with the 3rd individual cord on the left, tie a row of 4 Alternating Square Knots

handmade christmas macrame wreath

Beginning with the 5th cord on the left, make another horizontal row of 3 Alternating Square Knots

handmade christmas macrame

Easy peezy, right? Next, starting with the 7th cord on the left, make a row of 2 Alternating Square Knots

handmade christmas macrame wreath

Starting with the 9th cord from the left, make a final Alternating Square Knot

handmade christmas wreath

Now, beginning with the 3rd individual cord from the left, make a vertical row of Half Square Spiral Knots. This is the same as tying a Square Knot but you are always starting from the same side. This causes the strand of knots to twist. Continue weaving this vertical row of spiral knots until it is about 5″ long. Skip the next 2 individual cords, then make another vertical row of Half Square Spiral Knots at the peak of the triangle shape. Make this vertical row about 5″ long also. Skip 2 more individual cords, then tie a third vertical row of Half Square Spiral Knots, also about 5″ long.

 

handmade christmas wreath

At this point, I decided to add a strand of silver bells. I attached the strand with florist wire to the embroidery hoop on the back side of the macrame design. 

handmade christmas attaching bells to wreath
(1) strand of bells; (2) bells attached to back side of macrame; (3) view from the front

As shown in the photo below, tie random knots in the loose strands of rope. Then lay the wreath flat; tape off a triangle shape to use as a guide for cutting the rope ends; and once cut, untwist the ends to create a frayed tassel effect.