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Have yourself a Merry DIY Christmas!

Whether it's because of the economy or a yearning for nostalgia, more people are making their own decorations this year.

Perhaps weary of the annual trolley dash that is Christmas shopping, it seems we want to make things a little less disposable and just that bit more personal. Retailers report a surge in people making their own Christmas cards, crackers and decorations.

Consumers keen to personalise their celebrations are snapping up kits for DIY festive projects and signing up for craft workshops to learn how to make everything from Santa stockings to festive wreaths.

John Lewis has expanded its selection of make-your-own Christmas products this year, as well as introducing an own-brand range for the first time. The department store's sales of sets for making crackers have risen by 105 per cent on last year, with advent calendar kits up 54 per cent. Sales of make-your-own card sets have grown 47 per cent over the same period, while Christmas ribbons are up 80 per cent.

Kirsty Roper-Hall, assistant buyer for haberdashery at John Lewis, said customers wanted "something different" this year. She added there had been a buzz around Kirstie Allsopp's latest Channel 4 series, Kirstie's Handmade Britain, in which she tries different crafts. The first of two Christmas specials airs on Wednesday.

Marks & Spencer, which has had a 30 per cent rise in sales of cracker-making kits on last year, has added 10 new make-your-own Christmas lines this year because of the trend for families "returning to traditional, more modest celebrations at home".

Arts and craft specialist Hobbycraft, whose sales of make-your-own products have risen by more than 50 per cent year on year, expects to sell more than 40,000 packs of make-your-own crackers. Kids' activity ranges, including Christmas decorations, is the area of fastest growth for the company. Catriona Marshall, its chief executive, said it was a good-value family activity, and that while the make-your-own trend was not about saving money, the recession might be making people more family oriented.

"It gives you a very positive feeling if you make something yourself," said Kate Smith, 34, who runs The Makery sewing café in Bath. "That feeling of fulfilment is special. And it's a little bit addictive: once people get the bug, they want to make more things." In addition to running workshops making Christmas stockings and decorations, the café's shop is doing a roaring trade in embellishments for homemade cards.

Jessica Slater, 28, a PA from Frome in Somerset, learnt to sew earlier this year while on maternity leave. She has already made festive bunting for hosting her first family Christmas. "I know I can get decorations fairly cheaply but, having everything that has my touch, my taste, that no one else has, I feel really proud."

Source : Kate Youde – The Independent

04 December 2011
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