Old-fashioned, handmade, home-baked, and homespun are all words that describe Chris Myers’ perfect Christmas. In this modern, hectic but beautiful world of ours sometimes it is nice to take stock of what is important, especially at this special time of year. Setting a calm but magical scene for the festive season using a traditional palette of red and green will evoke memories of Christmases long ago…
Tomte or Little Nisse
It is very common to see these little characters dotted around homes in Scandinavia. They never fail to make you smile. You can just imagine them hiding in the woods…
You Will Need
Red acrylic paint
Felt in assorted colours (red, grey, black)
Stranded embroidery floss (thread)
Small silver bells
White wool roving
Template – download below
Hot glue gun
- Paint the wooden bobbins using red acrylic paint and leave to dry completely.
- Download the Hat Template here Fold a piece of felt in half and pin the hat template on the fold. Cut around the template (do not cut the folded part).
- Fold the hat in half and stitch along the long edge (leave the bottom open) using blanket stitch. When you get to the top of the hat, add a small silver bell. You can also blanket stitch around the rim, if you like.
- Using the hot glue gun, attach the wool roving to the bobbin along with the button (this will be the nose of the Tomte). Place some glue along the inner edge of the felt hat and press the hat firmly onto the bobbin. Make sure that the little nose is just peeping out from under his hat.
It is quite amazing how these little ones put everyone in a good mood. They are small enough to be concealed in obscure places and when discovered, a little chuckle can be heard from the person who found them.
I have been making these gingerbread decorations for years to liven up my little tree in the kitchen. I also use them to decorate gifts and often put several into old mason jars to be given as gifts themselves. Salt dough is a lovely way to make cinnamon-scented decorations that will last and last – even if you can’t eat them! They need to be stored in an airtight container and the lovely warm Christmassy scent will be released every time you open the jar.
You Will Need
225 g plain flour
180 g mix of ground cinnamon and cloves, plus extra for dusting
225 g table salt
240 ml water
1 tsp cream of tartar
- Preheat the oven to 225°F (110°C/gas mark 1⁄4). Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until the dough is smooth and not sticky. If it does feel sticky, add more ground spices not flour. The dough is ready to use when the rough feel of salt has gone.
- Lightly dust a board or surface with ground spices (not flour) and roll out the dough. Using spices will give the dough a “gingerbread” look.
- Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and lay them on the baking sheet (no need to grease). Remember to poke a hole in the top of the decorations BEFORE you bake them. Bake in the oven for about 3–4 minutes until they harden; don’t be tempted to bake on a higher heat or they will crack and break. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Cut a piece of twine (I like to use red and white baker’s twine), fold it in half and thread the loop through the hole in the top of the decoration. Thread the two tails through the loop and pull up to secure. Your decorations are now ready to hang!
Craft ideas from Scandi Christmas by Chris Myers, published by CICO Books (£12.99) Photography by Caroline Arber © CICO Books