Once upon a time, I’d still be wrapping on Christmas Eve, feeling stressed, with three children buzzing about . No matter how old my children became the still insisted they believed in Santa. My daughter is now 30 years old and still ‘believes’! This came about because many years ago I happened to say you only got Christmas stockings if you believed in Father Christmas!
So things had to change. One year I deliberately invited all our neighbours for drinks on Christmas Eve, 6-8pm.
This was such a good plan because I made sure everything was wrapped and ready, the house was clean and tidy and the mulled wine was in the slow cooker (oh YES! Slow cooker is perfect for mulling wine). When the neighbours went home I still had a considerable part of the evening to actually relax, watch a film etc. It worked so well we’ve done it ever since.
So, I can’t tell you how happy I was when WHSmith contacted me at the end of October. They’re really chuffed with their Christmas range and asked me to review it. The range is extensive and has coordinating ribbon and tags with which you can mix and match. I’ve picked out some of my favourites to work with and may well be tweeting other examples too. Follow me on Twitter @GiftFrippery so you don’t miss out!
I only ever review products occasionally, and I’m make sure they’re relevant to my business and therefore probably of interest to my readers. And here’s the thing……I only tell the truth! My pet hate is paper which isn’t strong, which you end up putting your fingers through as you wrap. (This did not happen…Yay!) Also, stick on shiny bows that aren’t sticky enough! (These are…Yay!)
So hopefully, between WHSmith and myself we’ll inspire you before the main event!
1. I love the shape of noodle boxes so bought some new ones (on line) and decided to treat it splendidly! Carefully remove the handles and you’ll find the whole box unfolds.
2. Select some paper. I chose the mistletoe paper from the range. It needs to be large enough to fit the flattened box on to.
3. Using a glue stick I stuck the outer side of the box to the wrong side of the paper and then carefully trimmed all the way around the box.
4. Gently remake the box, encouraging the folds in all the original places. Replace the handles with care. I had to use a skewer to redo the holes. I also added some gold ribbons which match the paper. The beauty of the noodle box wrap is that you can make them in advance and then just stick down the lid at the time you put your gift inside.
Tetrapacks (for want of a better word!)
1. The underside of all the WHSmith wrapping paper is helpfully marked with a grid. I don’t usually measure anything but this paper is perfect for the tetrapacks because you need a square.
2. Fold two opposite sides of your square into the middle, overlapping them slightly. Glue stick them down. You should have created a flattened tube.
3. Fold the end up. Snip off each side of the end so it’s angled inwards. Trim the inner layer and glue the outer end layer down. It should lay nice and flat on the main body of the tube.
4. Now for the other end. Open your tube/bag the other way to create an interesting shape. I have no idea what this is mathematically speaking so I call it a tetrapack. Please leave a comment if you know. Remember to slip your gift inside at this point and then repeat step 3 with this end of the package.
5. Once you have the hang of this…….it’s addictive! You can vary the size but should know that the very big ones don’t hold their shape quite as well, and this is more suitable for light weight gifts (such as money or vouchers) I picked out all the retro looking paper from the WHSmiths selection for these.
1. I called this wrap Milly because this is an actual gift for an actual little girl called Milly! The toy packaging has a indentation on the front so to make it easier to wrap I simply laid a piece of card over the front which gives it some body and firmness.
2.I went BRIGHT with my choice of paper and OVER THE TOP with the embellishments. I’m not keen on twirling ribbon in general but there is a time and a place. Children love it and it can look exciting. Trust me when I say it will never look exciting with two sad wisps that you’ve run your kitchen scissors down!!!!! Don’t do two…..do twenty-two! You need it to look abundant not sad.
1. This is called Jess’ presents because they really are for a young lady called Jess! She apparently loves macaroons or at least she loves the colour of them! I couldn’t keep my hands off WHSmiths lovely natural range any longer. I wrapped the two boxes then chose the saddle-stitch ribbon because it’s perfect. Real ribbon whilst lovely can be a bit pricey so a good tip is to take it only one way around the parcel. I used the shiny Christmas tree paper to create a little fan. Just pleat the paper and the punch a hole through one end and securing it.
2. The other present for Jess is tied with the rather gorgeous paper raffia. I used natural and red raffia together. The bow was a revelation. Those who know me well, know I hate shop bought shiny bows. These were lovely and papery and matt. I really loved them and what’s more, they stuck well too.
1. I usually make my own crackers at Christmas. You could use the same technique to create a gift package though. Put three identical cardboard tubes end to end across the paper. (I know! I know! Yes they are loo rolls!) Only glue down the centre one as you will eventually remove the other two. I used some matt red plain paper I already had. (This is great for using up small pieces of paper.) Cut your paper to size and stick all along the length. Pop your gift into the centre cardboard tube. Edge the outer tubes out slightly, not all the way. Twist gently in the gap you’ve just created between the tubes.
2. I used the lovely cream ribbon (honestly, even the spools are lovely!)WHSmiths had sneaked a few embellishments into my selection pack and I loved these holly leaves. They are self adhesive (no seriously….VERY self adhesive) so using them is as easy as pie.
3. The result? Gorgeous! Don’t just think of crackers as crackers. They are great for small presents too.
1. If you have a really awkward shape a whoosh of cellophane is easy and looks splendid! I dressed this up in stunning spotty ribbon .
2. Take a moment to drool over the rest of the selection too.
1. A lovely crate (from gadsby.co.uk) was the base for my hamper. I put straw in the bottom of it to keep the gifts stable. This is actually a present for my Mum , who always says she doesn’t want anything! So I’ve got her lots of little treats but want to wrap them up individually so she has plenty to open.
2. She will adore this paper……such a gorgeous colour. So, wrap your presents but position them weight-wise (to keep a balance) and make sure if you’re using different papers they are mixed up.
3. Once full (actually, I couldn’t fit the honey in, don’t tell my Mum but I’m keeping it!)Tug at the straw to pull it up a bit between the gifts. This will protect them but look nice too.
4.Nothing like a swoosh of cellophane to catch the light and make someone feel special!
Find out more using the links below!
It was a huge honour that Sarah squeezed a moment into her busy schedule to have a chat. We’ve all seen her on the television and many of us have read her gorgeous books but I wanted to find out a little bit more about her. Sarah is the first of a mini series of interviews. Here we go!
1 Tea or coffee?
One big bucket of organic coffee made with about a pint of frothy organic milk. Caroline Zoob beautiful large cup. Anything else and I get a bit stress!
2 You were crowned winner of BBC2’s The Great Interior Design Challenge. In the challenges, you were pushed quite far from your vintage comfort zone. Were you surprised at your own ability?
I used to design kit and service equipment for a big London Event company. Lovely glossy stuff made out of perspex or spray painted sheets of metal. Big white banquettes topped with funky cushions. Hanging installations and galvanised ducting: so floral and old fashioned was not always my style. What was really surprising was how much easier it was to do stuff when you didn’t have to run a house, look after three children, do the school pick ups and everything else that comes with running your own business. The whole process was really inspiring and it was great to dig deep and find out that i had ideas and solutions to cope with most things.
3 What did you do when you first left school?
I trained as a chef and set up my own business in London, cooking for companies and in peoples homes. I then did ten very busy years running a big team of chefs cooking in London’s leading venues and big party places. Lots of fun, great team work. 16 hour shifts day after day and night after night. It really helped me when I was filming back to back for five weeks doing the GIDC. I was used to being on location, used to running a team and not tired out be a long days work. I didn’t really want to win, but I didn’t want to go home before the series ended filming.
4 You’ve just moved house! I love every picture I’ve seen of your new place. Do you intend to hold more workshops now you have all that space?
Lots of potential projects: I just can’t decide what to do first: We have space for workshops and masterclasses. I love the idea of having a winter market with a stall in every stable. First priorities are making it safe and sound as it is a bit of a wreck and there are holes in the roof in a couple of places and it just needs about a weeks worth of dusting just to remove all of the cobwebs from the barns.
5 Fabric is clearly a real favourite with you. What’s the story? When did this love affair with fabric start?
It has been such a gradual process and it stills comes as quite a surprise that I have quite so many folded up little pieces of floral fabric. My first purchase was a lot in the local auction where I grew up. I was about 20 and bought a country houses’s linen collection. We still use the tablecloths and sheets and i have cut up the doilies for projects and pieces over the years. The big blowsy floral stuff is like an addiction. I like lots of colour and lots of pattern and more always seems better. I am a third generation hoarder along with my late grandmother and uncle; We like the things we like and we like to have LOTS of them.
6 Be honest! What does your table/ desk look like? Are you in the messy camp or the tidy camp?
Super tidy please: I can put off really working for a whole day or week if the studio needs to be tidy. Nothing pleases me more than pots of scissors, boxes of ready made stock and piles of very neatly colour matched fabric.
7 Marmite! Love it or hate it?
Big love for marmite. The children ask for a normal amount of marmite so they don’t get a thick brown slick on their toast.
8 What’s is the first thing you ever remember sewing as a child?
I made my teddies some clothes and I had lots of binka that I used to make into bookmarks and tiny purses for presents for my family. They were not sophisticated and my mother still laughs at my self taught methods.
9 You’re a busy lady. What’s your favourite way to unwind at the end of a busy day? Mojito?
I love a cocktail, but rarely drink if i have a tomorrow that involves children, work or having to do anything. I have only two speeds: full on or asleep. I love a quick nap though, and often get sent to bed at the weekend for half an hour if i am looking like I won’t make it through the night if we are going out late. I still really love cooking so having friends over is a great way to unwind. And as I used to cook professionally i feel that there is no pressure to cook impressively. I can cook dinner for several thousand if I need to, but people tend to get the best Bolognese I can make or a really good chicken casserole unless it is a special occasion. I have a few TV programs that I really like too: Mad Men, salvage Hunters, Grand designs and a few others and one chilled beer end most days.
10 Please share your links (website etc)
www.sarahmoorehome.co.uk or you can find us on twitter @SMvintage or instagram sarahmoorevintage or Facebook at Sarah Moore Vintage.
I kept seeing beautiful photos on Twitter from a company called @blossomsugarart. They were pictures of the most beautiful cakes, big show-off cakes! It became apparent that they didn’t make the cakes but supplied all the necessary equipment.
Now a quick aside before you start thinking I’m going to start a new business……don’t be ridiculous! Have you tried my cooking?
1.Blossom Sugar Art make ingenious little moulds for making the roses etc for the cakes. I asked them if they thought it might work with paper and they sent me some moulds to try my idea out. I was beyond excited about this experiment and I tell you folks, IT DOES WORK!
2. I made a mixture of PVE glue and water.I cut up tissue paper so the pieces were larger than the mould itself. I always started with a dry piece of tissue then worked it into the mould with a small paintbrush dipped in the glue mix. I then added another piece, same again. When I’d done three layers I put a final piece of tissue on but didn’t work it with the brush. You want this top layer to be dry too.
3 &4 Press the lid of the mould down slowly and carefully. Apply firmish pressure. Gently ease the mould out. I found if I was careful enough I could do this without waiting for it to dry fully. Leave it to dry completely and then trim around the flower shape.
5. I was wrapping a present for my sister-in-law so I wrapped in brown paper and folded the final flap so it looked a bit like a clutch bag.
6. Then, my favourite bit, all the embellishing! I used my glue gun to stick the flowers on.
So, thank you, Blossom Sugar Art for letting me try this idea out. The moulds are even packed to take on holiday in case of crafting time. They should really come with a warning……incredibly addictive!!
I use cellophane. By the mile!
It features in every workshop I teach, every demonstration I give and it is a wonderfully flexible wrapping material. It twinkles, catches the light and looks pretty……..what’s not to love?
A few years ago I was asked to deliver an eco-friendly gift wrapping workshop. I already use brown kraft paper and recyclable brown boxes so I started researching cellophane. It comes from the word ‘cellulose’ which is from plants and therefore organic and eco-friendly I hoped. Of course ,nothing so pretty is as simple as that! I found the information rather confusing and, in the end, just avoided using it altogether in that workshop.
Recently, I started thinking about it again and continued my research. I feel the eco message is growing (Bristol is hot on it!) especially in the craft world.
Here’s what I learned.
It seems the majority of ordinary cellophane (BOPP)comes in huge quantities from China, USA, Turkey and Italy. It has a low manufacturing cost and is essentially a plastic. It is actually biodegradable when exposed to heat or UV radiation from sunlight, eventually.
Now, let me introduce you to the new cello on the block!! TRUE cellophane (cellulose/ natural) is made from wood pulp and cotton. It’s 100% biodegradable and is more eco-friendly. Frankly, this is what I feel I should be striving to use.
I’ve been speaking with an incredibly helpful company called ‘Film Products Ltd.’ (No, not in the Brad Pitt way!!) I’ve been checking the prices and ,yes, it is a bit more expensive but all their woodpulp is from the UK. They have a great environmental policy statement which really reassures you they are a company with ‘heart’.
So, is there any difference when I use it in wrapping? I put it to the test.
1. The texture is a dream. It feels very slightly thicker which I love.
2.The colours seem to have a depth to them.
3.It’s breathable, which would be good if I was wrapping eg. plants.
4.It has an amazing ability to fold. When you fold ordinary BOPP cellophane it springs apart. When you fold true cellophane it has a dead fold characteristic. This also makes for neater wrapping.
5.It has to be said that BOPP cello has more (plasticky) shine and true cello has what I would call subtle gloss.
Can I just say this?
If BOPP is lemonade then true cellophane is champagne!
I want to thank Film Products Ltd because without them I wouldn’t have understood the difference. They’ve been very patient with all my questions. They have a sister company called Orchid Krafts which I’m now interested in because of the brown kraft paper but that might be a whole new post.
I’ve been contacted via Twitter about Greeniversity. It’s an exciting new project which is countrywide. They’ve asked me to run some workshops / demonstrations in the Bristol area. The emphasis on being green!
This rather suits me, as people who have attended my workshops will know. I often use brown paper or plain white so it can be recycled. I only put twinkly bits on the embellishments which can be lifted off and put on someone else’s gift. We’re exploring possibilities at the moment….watch this space!
The lovely Halima Jafari and I are offering a combined workshop this year where you decorate a beautiful Christmas cake (trust me it will be GORGEOUS!) and then have lunch and do some beautiful wrapping. What a lovely way to spend a day! All the details are on the workshop page of the website.