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Planning Retirement Online

Handicrafts in later life                     November 2006


Search Press Christmas Craft Project and special offer

Christmas tree present-holders 

Top designer Judy Balchin shows you how to make your Christmas tree special this year with these personal Labels of Love decorations.

Search Press gives Laterlife customers the chance to buy Judy’s latest book at ?1.00 off post free in the UK.

Ah, Christmas... It is my favourite time of year, so you can imagine what fun I’ve had making Christmas tree decorations. Christmas is a very special time spent with family and friends, and preparations are usually in full swing well before the big day. Decorating the house is wonderful, but perhaps the crowning glory to any Christmas scene is the Christmas tree, twinkling away. Be it a grand tree from floor to ceiling or a small one nestling in a corner, it just has to be decorated.

It was the husband of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, who introduced the Christmas tree to this country in 1841, when he decorated the first tree at Windsor Castle with sweets, candles, gingerbread and fruit.

In the 1850s, Charles Dickens describes a Christmas tree decorated with costume jewellery, toy guns, miniature furniture, musical instruments, fruits and sweets. It must have been magnificent to behold!

By 1890, Christmas decorations were being imported from Germany. Nowadays, inexpensive shop-bought decorations are available everywhere. They are so much part of our Christmas experience that we can hardly imagine the time when they all had to be home-made.

So this gives you the perfect opportunity to enjoy those cosy nights indoors. Gather your family and a few friends, settle round the kitchen table and have some fun creating decorations for your own Christmas tree this year.

Judy Balchin


Labels of Love


This decorative label is ideal as it provides you with a small pocket to hold the gift. The pocket is decorated with an embossed initial to personalise the label and make it something to treasure.

The templates for the Labels of Love project, reproduced at three-quarters of the actual size. Enlarge them to 133% on a photocopier.

You will need:

A5 sheet of red card; Music-themed backing paper 6 x 6 cm (2? x 2?in); Floral backing paper 6 x 6cm (2? x 2?in); Gold embossing foil; Ballpoint pen; Paintbrush; Old notepad; Gold star and line craft stickers; Eyelet kit; Gold eyelet; Gold cord; Clear glue; Spray glue; Pencil; Scissors; Ruler; Scalpel;
Cutting mat; Masking tape.


1. Cut out a label and pocket shape from card using the templates to help you.


2. Score the lines on the pocket with the back of the scalpel.



3. Tear a 5mm (?in) strip from the left-hand side of the music backing paper and spray glue it to the label.


4. Turn the label over and trim off the excess paper.




5. Tear a 5mm (?in) strip from the right-hand edge of the floral backing and glue it in place.




6. Photocopy the required letter from the alphabet (see pages 46–47 for further templates). Cut round it and tape it to the back of the gold embossing foil.



7. Lay the foil on a padded surface. Trace over the design with a ballpoint pen.



8. Remove the pattern and trace over it once more to deepen the embossed line.





9. Use the rounded end of a paintbrush to emboss the letter.




10. Fold the pocket flaps back. Spread the flaps with clear glue and press the pocket on to the label.





11. Cut out the letter square and glue it to the front of the pocket.




12. Decorate the label with star and line craft stickers.



13. Punch a hole in the top of the label with the hole punch and hammer.




14. Insert an eyelet and hammer the back with the eyelet setter to secure.





15. Thread the hole with cord, creating a half-hitch as shown.




16. Tie the cord in a knot at the top to create the hanger.





17. Wrap a small gift in festive paper and slip it into the pocket.




The embossed gold foil and craft stickers add an extra sparkle to this festive label.

Use bells, craft jewels, craft stickers and assorted backing papers to create labels for all your family and friends.

Visit our new online catalogue at



Previous editions in this series:

Edition 1 Tea Bag Folding

Edition 2 Celtic knots

Edition 3 Crochet this fabulous colourful bag

Edition 4 Paint this fabulous Clematis

Edition 5 Making Christmas Cards






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