How to have a Very Merry Digital Christmas this year: Craft ideas to bring us all closer together
Building on ideas borrowed from the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 1800s, these craft ideas will help stave off alienation and bring family and friends closer together, even at a distance.
William Morris design for "Trellis" wallpaper, 1862
The Arts and Crafts movement, and its resurgence in the digital age
The Arts and Crafts movement at its inception was very different from what it is now. Originating in defiance against the industrialisation of Victorian Britain, it is deeply rooted in a critique of labour and social infrastructure as much as it aimed to reconcile the rapid loss of traditional crafts. One of the movement’s most influential members was William Morris, a polymath whose talents expanded to poetry, painting, textile design, business, literature and more. He was also an outspoken advocate for socialism, recognising the erosion of craft, beauty and art in the surge of capital-driven industry. His concern was the alienation of maker from their craft, where pride was no longer taken in the act of creation. Crafting was reframed for the sake of the market rather than for the sake of making something beautiful.
The movement died out in the early 20th Century with the breakout of WWI, but its core philosophy still resonates with us 150 years later in the midst of the digital age, just as Morris’s legacy remains throughout the contemporary world of design. In fact, this new reliance on the virtual makes it all the more vital to reconnect with material creativity. Revisiting the Arts and Crafts movement by making something with your hands means mindful activities for the colder months when park picnics and neighbourhood strolls are out of season. It’s something to keep us connected in the run-up to Christmas and to keep us inspired.
Christmas during COVID-19: how to make your digital Christmas cosy and creative
Make A Rolled Beeswax Candle in Five Super Easy Steps, photography by Debbie Patterson © CICO Books.
For many, Christmas has an atmosphere of cosiness, thick blankets and warming drinks with friends and family. With the outbreak of Covid-19 and yet another lockdown upon us, getting ready for Christmas is unlike any year before. The possibility of being unable to see family during the holidays looms heavy over us, but with the magic of the internet and a sprinkling of creativity, Christmas might just be a shining, brightly LED-lit light at the end of the year.
Hot toddies and Christmas tunes might get you in a cosy mood, but we have it on good authority that this festive feeling can be amped up with some collective crafting. If you can’t go home to see family this year, make a craft date, get together over video call and create something with your hands together. Whilst we know it’s simply fun to do, experts confirm its contribution to wellbeing.
“The combination of art or craft making and social interaction that is used both in educational and therapeutic settings affects the psychosocial well-being of individuals and communities in many ways. Arts, crafts and creative activities can have a healing or protective effect on mental, social and physical well-being.” – Huotilainen, Minna & Rankanen, Mimmu & Groth, Camilla & Seitamaa-hakkarainen, Pirita & Mäkelä, Maarit. ‘Why our brains love Arts and Crafts.’ (2018) pg. 2.
Other reasons why we’re such a big advocate of crafting is that there are so few age limits. Whether you’re a teenager taking a break from TikTok or a grandparent who just put a fruitcake on the bake, using your hands to create something beautiful can benefit all. For project ideas, see our Free Creative Christmas Projects, including these orange pomanders or this willow wreath to fill your home with DIY Christmas decor. Or use your skills to create thoughtful gifts if you’re low on funds this year.
If you're looking to organise a fun festive craft video date but aren't sure where to start, here's a way to help you get set up: Send one of our popular kits to everyone on your invite list and yourself and set a date for when everyone's free. When the day comes, make some hot cocoa, gather your kit, turn on your webcam and get making together. Some of our most popular choices includes Heather Orr's Macramé Wreath, or her Macramé Christmas Bauble. For hanging decor with even more flash, opt for Emma Mapp from Mapp of London's disco-ball-inspired leather bauble or Carréducker's leather tassel, perfect for hanging from a tree or your key fob.
It’s been a rough year for many, but that doesn’t mean this Christmas has to be any less enjoyable. Make yourself a glass of mulled wine, encourage your loved ones in other households do the same, turn on that video call and get making.