No, I didn’t make a mistake. I really did mean Twelve Months of Christmas and not Twelve Days of Christmas. You might be forgiven for thinking that I am one of those Christmas obsessives who has their tree and decorations up on or before 1st December and would like to keep them up all year. I’m actually not. I wouldn’t quite go as far as to say I’m a ‘Bah-Humbug’ sort, but I do think there is a time and a place for the Christmas excess and that definitely isn’t in June! So what possessed me to get involved in a challenge entitled ‘Twelve Months of Christmas’? Quite simply, necessity…
The Twelve Months of Christmas Challenge
It turns out ‘Twelve Months of Christmas’ is a more popular term than you might think (I googled it to see!). So I should start by explaining that my ‘Twelve Months of Christmas‘ was a fun challenge started on Facebook by an Australian beading friend, Christina. Looking back, I think she set the page up on Christmas Eve 2015 and invited friends to join the event and take part in a challenge to make twelve Christmas decorations throughout the course of 2016. Apart from the obvious associations of the number twelve with the festive season, this translated into making one decoration each month. Why would anyone want to do that? Simple really – and this is the reason I accepted the challenge – time. Every year I start with the good intention of creating some new Christmas designs and every year I put this off because beading Christmas decorations in April just feels wrong. So I always end up getting to November and panicking: no new Christmas designs and no time to make them. As you can imagine, every year I swear that I won’t make the same mistake again next year…and I always do!
So, 2016 has been different. Now, I’m not going to lie to you, I still didn’t necessarily make a decoration each month. I started out with good intentions and managed January and February. Then I hit a couple of stumbling blocks: I made two decorations in March, but couldn’t show them online immediately. My health also deteriorated, so all my beading plans for the year went awry.
Now, by some miracle, having just published my latest Holly Bauble, I find that I have ended up making twelve new decorations this year. There were several points over the summer where this seemed like an impossibility, but as I’ve started to gradually regain some energy over the past couple of months, I managed to catch up! I’m not going to claim twelve new designs – as you are about to find out, I visited some old favourites as well – but I did manage quite a few new ideas and I did have fun in the process. I have also enjoyed seeing the beautiful creations made by other people in the challenge and it has been a real privilege to see some of them using patterns that I had created in previous years.
As with any Facebook challenge or group, this also gave me the chance to get to know a few new people online. It has been such a relaxed, fun challenge, with no emphasis on competing and no pressure to make anything amazing…or even anything beaded – any craft will do! So, if you fancy trying something similar, why not try this with a few friends. The group atmosphere gave us all the moral support to carry on, even at the height of summer when Christmas should be a million miles away!
So, I will just leave you (and me for future reference) with a brief catalogue of my Twelve Months of Christmas. I’m afraid I can’t remember which decoration I allocated to which month, but no matter! If any of these take your fancy, you can also follow the links to get the patterns to try them for yourself.
I remember I began the year with a beaded Santa that was designed to be taught in a workshop that sadly had to be postponed. I also found myself teaching my existing Christmas tree design, so I used it as an excuse to make another Christmas Tree which I will be giving to someone special (but shhh, that’s a secret!). Playing with Kheops beads resulted in a totally unexpected decoration which I really rather love. I also had it in mind to create a snowflake and I ended up with not one, but two: Elsa’s Snowflake and the Crystal Snowflake that appeared in Bead and Jewellery Magazine. The beaded motif I made for that issue led me to make my Bow Decoration as well. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some new baubles, so I have the Red and Gold Bauble as well as the Holly Bauble. In case you haven’t spotted it, my Christmas tree has a red and gold colour scheme. Out of all the designs I have created over the years, the Candy Canes that featured in my Beaded Christmas Decorations book, have to be some of my favourites. Last year I discovered that I’ve given away most of the samples I’d made, so this seemed like a great excuse to make some more. As I got to the Autumn and panic set in, I found myself starting to sort out Christmas promotion stuff and, as if I don’t already have enough, I made another wirework snowflake and super-quick wreath so I could film a video! So, I’ve just been counting up and wondering which decoration I forgot…well, I think it might have been a holly sprig, again for the video!
Well, I make that 6 new designs, which isn’t bad for one year! So, when can I get the decorations up? And, more to the point, what am I going to do next year?…As it happens, I have an idea and I think it’s going to take me all Twelve Months to make it, so I’ll let you know how it goes.