Wednesday 29 November 2023

How I use Amazon wishlists to plan my Christmas shopping

I am currently in the middle of my Christmas gift shopping, and I try to keep things as simple as I can. Luckily all the people that I buy for are of the same mindset, and so I don't have too much stress when it comes to thinking about what to buy! But I do like to make sure that I'm finding the things that people want at the best price possible, and so I make great use of the Amazon wish list facility to keep me organised.

All of my family members have their own Amazon wish list which they keep updated. Well, apart from one who has migrated over to a website called Things To Get Me, which lets you add things that can't be bought on Amazon. I have several lists of my own - I have a main public wish list, a shopping list which contains things that I am tracking but would hope not to receive as gifts (boring things like laundry tablets) and a private wish list for things that I'd like but that are a bit personal.

I have a public list for each of the children to share with others, and a private list which only I can see. If I'm browsing on Amazon and spot something that I think they might like I'll add it to this list so that they get some surprises. I can also view and shop from the lists of my family and friends.

Amazon shopping box under the Christmas tree
Photo credit Wicked Monday via Unsplash

I find all these lists really useful in many ways. They keep me organised, and help keep track of things I've spotted that I am interested in, either for myself or for others. If anyone asks me what I'd like for birthday or Christmas I don't have to worry about trying to come up with something because I already have a list of things ready to go.

But the main way that I use my lists is to track prices. I know that Amazon can be very sneaky with their prices and you do need to be a bit careful, but it will say next to an item if it has reduced in price since you added it (not if it has increased of course!) and there's also a red flag if it's on any kind of deal. I always check the price history on CamelCamelCamel because sometimes the special offer price is higher than the usual price, but it's a good way of spotting something that might be a bargain.

Over the last Black Friday week I went through my lists several times a day to see if anything was reduced and was pleased to save a few pounds here and there on items that I had been tracking. Although some did increase in price, so I'm holding off to see if they go down again before I buy!

I don't do all my Christmas shopping on Amazon of course, but my system has definitely been a big help to me over the last few years!

Monday 27 November 2023

My currently incomplete cross stitch projects

I've recently picked up some cross stitch again after a generous gift from a friend (see below!) and I'm really enjoying stitching away. Unfortunately it's not the only long term cross stitch project on my hoops, I also have a few others on the go. I thought I'd share the cross stitch projects that I'm currently working on, in the hope that it might inspire me to get a couple finished!

My cross stitch travel map will probably never be finished, as I won't even want to think that I won't be doing any more travelling! In fact I've just realised that I need to update it after visiting Sweden over the summer, and there is plenty of work that I can do to fill in all those white gaps. 

Cross stitch travel map in progress

Another map that I'm working on is the Olde World Map from Janlynn. This is a very large piece, and as I've discovered it is very challenging. There are lots of similar colours to work with, and it can be very difficult to distinguish between them when stitching busy areas. So I've not worked on it for a while, which is a shame because it's a lovely kit. I need to come up with some kind of system to help me, possibly making a copy of the pattern and using a highlighter to mark off areas as I complete them. 

Vintage world map cross stitch in progress

A couple of weeks ago I unpacked this Christmas Be a Light kit from Dimensions which I bought on our most recent trip to the US. It's a lovely design worked on navy blue Aida and I thought that it would be a nice Christmas project. 

Christmas cross stitch kit with lantern jars

But then! I met a friend a couple of weeks ago and she very kindly passed on this cross stitch kit - The Christmas Nutcracker from Bothy Threads. I was going to put it aside for future Christmas crafting but I couldn't stop myself from making a start, and now I think this will be my Christmas project instead. It's a very easy kit, there are a limited number of colours and the Nutcracker at least is symmetrical and formed of large blocks of colour, so you don't need to follow the pattern too closely. It's a great design for working on in front of the television or when you only have a few minutes before you need to put it down.

I won't be finishing it by this Christmas, but there's a chance that it might be complete before the next one!

Bothy Threads Christmas Nutcracker cross stitch kit in progress

In my stash I also have one other cross stitch kit which I've not even taken out of the pack yet. It's quite a small one, a sort of cross stitch cat, which I'm saving to take away on the sort of holiday which will give me some stitching time. 

I'm thinking that I need some kind of challenge to help me make some good progress on all these projects. Maybe I can incorporate something into my New Year's resolutions!

Thursday 23 November 2023

Six savings tips for navigating the cost of living crisis

This is a collaborative post

With the cost of living continuing to rise, there is no wonder why people are struggling to make ends meet. Households are experiencing a rise in high energy bills and inflation of food and rent prices that are soaring. 

Finding ways to save on expenses will relieve people in a financial bind. The cost of living crisis has led to people dipping into their savings far sooner than expected and using whatever money they have to cover the rising costs. 

To save on utility expenses, you can find a better domestic energy deal by using this online comparison tool that allows you to compare prices of energy deals from their suppliers. 

This article offers practical tips on how to strategically cut daily expenses, providing a roadmap for individuals to weather inflation and build a more secure financial future. From budgeting and selling unused items to debt management, savings strategies, and energy efficiency, these actionable suggestions empower readers to make informed financial decisions, ensuring their hard-earned money works for them even in uncertain times.

Putting money in a piggy bank
Photo credit Sasun Bughdaryan via Unsplash

Rise in Cost of Living 

The current economic climate has led to people paying the highest interest rates the UK has seen. 

The majority of people have no safety nets and cannot afford to start one as they just aren't able to meet their daily expenses and save money for a later stage. 

For UK consumers and parents, who are concerned over the financial implications of raising children, who at least see the worth of their money, they need to start looking for alternative ways they can save money and still afford to cover all their expenses. 

Tips to Save on Daily Expenses 

Having a concrete plan to cut expenses and use your money for the essentials while saving for an emergency is the only way you can beat inflation. 

Here are some tips for you to start saving on your daily expenses and cut out unnecessary costs. 

Have a budget

Creating a budget will help you with overspending or spending money on unnecessary items. A budget will show you exactly how much you are spending and how much you can save. 

Using a budget can help you plan for things that are not needed immediately but could be saved for and added into the budget over several months until you have enough money or included in another budget where you can afford it without putting yourself in debt. 

Sell items you no longer need or use

Look around your home for items you have that are no longer in use. If they are just taking up space, you can make money from them. 

The money you make from selling these items can be included in your next monthly budget or be put away for a rainy day. 

Spend wisely 

It can be tempting to spend money when you have it. However, spending wisely will get you through those tough times should they arise. 

Use the rewards from your credit cards or other programs to pay for the things that you would take money out for. 

Cancel unused subscriptions to magazines, clubs or streaming services you are no longer using but still paying for. 

You also need to be mindful of when you are out shopping. Spending out of habit can turn into regular purchases, such as getting a coffee or buying a pastry, which can add up to a lot of spending at the end of the month. 

Clear debt

Owning different stores and paying large amounts of debt every month can cut your budget and give you less spending money for essential things such as food and utilities.

Try to clear your debt by getting a debt consolidation loan to pay off your debt, and then you only own the loan back, which will give you peace of mind and help you start saving for a rainy day. 

Start a savings fund 

Having money saved up in case there are emergencies is important. When tough times arise, it is good to know you have some money to fall back on. 

You can automate your savings through your bank app or start investing money where you can get some returns to add to your emergency fund. 

Become Energy Efficient

Being more energy efficient means you can save money on electricity. Turn off lights that are not needed and switch to energy-efficient products to help save. 

Ensure all appliances are switched off when not in use, and plugs are switched off at the wall socket to prevent energy usage when the appliance is not in use. 

Fix any leaks or cracks in your home to prevent heating and cooling systems from working over time. 


Not being able to enjoy your money or afford the necessities can frustrate those working hard. 

To summarise, having a budget, selling unused/unwanted items, spending wisely, clearing debt, starting a savings fund and becoming energy efficient can help save your money. These tips can help you cut expenses and start saving more. 

This article highlighted practical strategies for consumers to safeguard their finances and find avenues for savings amid daily expenses. From the fundamental discipline of budgeting to the resourceful practice of selling unused items, prudent spending habits, and debt consolidation, each tip serves as a building block toward financial resilience. Encouraging the establishment of a savings fund and promoting energy efficiency further fortify one's ability to weather economic uncertainties. By implementing these tips, readers can not only survive but thrive in the face of rising costs, emerging more financially empowered and prepared for whatever challenges lie ahead.

Visit to discover further useful tips to help you navigate the cost of living crisis. 

Thursday 16 November 2023

Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, Islamorada, Florida

I've shared a couple of posts recently about places that we visited on our recent stay in the Florida Keys, and today I wanted to write about Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park in Islamorada, a perfect place to stop and stretch your legs as you drive through the keys.

The park is really easy to find - it's on your right as you drive down the Overseas Highway and it's well signposted. There's a large car park, and on the day we visited there were only a couple of other visitors. Do check the opening times as it's currently only open Thursday-Monday. It costs just $2.50 per person to visit, there are toilets, a water fountain, a museum, and several short self-guided trails. There are also some guided tours available, check the website for details. 

Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, Islamorada, Florida map

We spent about an hour and a half here. We would have spent a little longer, but it started to rain quite heavily so we headed for the museum! We had plenty of time to walk all the trails at a leisurely pace and to spend time in the museum afterwards. There are picnic benches dotted all around, so it's a great place to stop for a packed lunch.

We started with the Hammock Trail which takes you through a tropical hardwood hammock. There are all sorts of interesting trees and plants to see, as well as various wildlife, like these huge spiders that greeted us at several corners!
Spider seen at Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park

You can borrow a guide book to take around with you if you are looking for detailed information, or else there are plenty of informational signs to explain the things that you are seeing. The trails were well marked and pretty easy to follow, the area covered by the park isn't that large so you are unlikely to get very lost.

Twisted tree at Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park

As you walk along the paths you notice that they are lined with small rocks filled with fossils. This area was used as a quarry which was still active into the 1960s. The trains running through the Keys were used to transport the fossil covered stone back to the mainland. There are remnants of the quarrying equipment remaining across the site, and plenty of information to help you understand the quarrying process.

Vines hanging from trees at Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park

A couple of trails take you through the old quarry itself where you can see the vast walls of rocks, marked with lines from the drilling equipment. It's fascinating to wander past these rock faces which are covered in beautiful fossils. You can see stand among the fossil corals and realise that once all this was underwater.

Fossils in the wall at Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park

After a quick rush through the downpour to the Visitor Center we spent some time in the museum. It's a mixture of the geological history about fossils found in the park, and the industrial history of the area including the quarry and the railway. Although small it's really well done with plenty of information.

Small museum at Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park

If you are driving down through the keys then Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park is a great place to stop for a break, and also a really good introduction to the history of the area.

If you are looking for other activities to do in the Florida Keys then you may also be interested in these posts:

Monday 13 November 2023

The Turtle Hospital, Marathon Key, Florida

Recently I wrote about our trip to the Florida Keys, and our attempts to spot sea turtles from the Old Seven Mile Bridge. Unfortunately our efforts were unsuccessful, but luckily as an alternative we were also able to visit the wonderful Turtle Hospital just down the road!

The Turtle Hospital, Marathon Key, Florida

We visited on the final day of our holiday before driving to Miami for our flight that evening. It's recommended to book tickets in advance, but there seemed to be plenty of availability. We booked the evening before, and lots of people were accommodated without booking. You must visit as part of a guided tour, which lasts around 90 minutes. 

Our visit began with a short presentation in the education centre. We were shown pictures of the different species of marine turtle, and learned to identify them. We were also told about the problems that the turtles face in the ocean, both locally and worldwide, and all about the work of the Turtle Hospital in treatment and rehabilitation. It was really interesting! 

The Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys

Then we were able to watch a turtle having an operation, which was fascinating to see. Many turtles rescued suffer from FP (fibropapillomatosis), benign tumours that can cause problems with vision, feeding and movement. It can either be the reason for the initial rescue or discovered when they are admitted for something else, like a boat injury. It seems to be caused by toxins ingested by eating weeds in the sea and is very common. These tumours can be removed gradually using laser surgery leaving just a small scar, and that is what they are doing in the photograph below.

Sea turtle having surgery to remove tumours

In total at the centre we saw forty-three turtles. The turtles which are being treated before release are kept in large tanks. This one has a flipper missing after an injury, but is still able to be released.

Sea turtle with missing flipper ready for release

There are however some turtles which need to remain at the centre. For example there was a turtle at  that is blind, and many of the turtles suffer from a condition called 'bubble butt'. This is caused when the turtle suffers an injury which traps gases inside the shell and causes it to float. Weights can be attached to help the turtle to swim, but as the turtle grows it's not a practical long term solution for a released turtle. So there is a large outdoor tank at the hospital which houses these turtles and is filled with sea water (and smaller fish that have made their way in through the pipes!)

Sea turtles that can't be released in large outdoor tank

At the end of the tour you have the opportunity to feed these turtles which was a lot of fun.

Feeding turtles at the Turtle Hospital

I was interested to learn that any turtles that you see in captivity, for example in an aquarium, are all turtles that can't be released back into the wild for whatever reason. The places hosting the turtle are usually proud, and happy to share more information. For example I looked up OD who now lives at Shark Reef Aquarium in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, who was rescued by the turtle hospital, and Miko at the Frost Museum in Miami that we saw in the museum the previous week.

As you can probably tell I learned a huge amount from our visit to the Turtle Hospital, and we were all really glad that we made the effort to visit. There was such a lot to see and it was so interesting. I would definitely recommend a visit if you are in the area!

Friday 10 November 2023

Christmas diamond painting kits inspiration

This post contains Amazon affiliate links

I love diamond painting, I find it a relaxing and mindful craft and I enjoy admiring my finished pieces, like my Starry Night diamond painting which always gets a comment from visitors. Diamond painting is a brilliant craft for Christmas, it's a fun way to get in the festive mood in the run up to Christmas and produces some lovely sparkly Christmas decorations. A larger piece is also something that you can work on over the festive period ready for display next year.

I've hunted out some different Christmas diamond painting kits, both traditional and a some that are a  bit different, for some festive diamond painting inspiration.

Smaller kits for beginners or groups

A set of small diamond painting kits (affiliate link) is a great way to get started with the craft. They work really well for a Christmas crafting party as they are easy to divide up, quick to complete, and everyone gets to go home with at least one finished project. If you are working as a group it's a good idea to buy some extra pens, wax and trays so that everyone can craft at the same time. As well as being turned into ornaments, they can also be used to decorate Christmas cards or you can also make diamond painted Christmas gift tags (affiliate link).  

Large full drill Christmas diamond painting kits

These large diamond painting pieces (affiliate link) can be complicated and take a long time to complete, but they are very satisfying once finished as the entire piece is filled with the sparking diamonds. You need to be very organised when it comes to sorting out the different coloured pieces, I recommend a storage container with small, labelled compartments that you can decant the bags of drills into. It's also best to work on the piece in small sections so that you don't expose any more of sticky background than necessary to avoid it drying out.

Partial drill Christmas diamond painting kits

Partial drill kits are kits with a coloured background that are embellished by the diamond dots. They are often quicker and easier to complete and don't use such a large selection of colours. The background may be sparkly or shaped for extra interest, and allows for finer detail when printed rather than composed with the diamond drills. This partial drill Christmas diamond painting kit (affiliate link) has a painted background with diamond dots for extra sparkles.

Something a bit different

There are also some diamond painting kits that let you make something a bit different than the usual flat piece. For example this Santa diamond painting nightlight (affiliate link) which would make a brilliant Christmas decorations! There are also kits for diamond painting Christmas wreaths and other hanging decorations.

I hope that I've given you some inspiration for your Christmas crafting!

The best day trips from Turin

This is a collaborative post

Located in Italy's industrial heartland, Turin is a city synonymous with great food, culture, and design. While it may not be as well-known as other Italian cities like Rome or Florence, Turin is definitely worth a visit – especially if you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

Turin, Italy
Photo credit Massimiliano Morosinotto via Unsplash

Turin and the wider Piedmont region of which it is a part have long been the economic powerhouse of the Italian peninsula. And, okay, that may not exactly persuade you to visit unless you're a serious gearhead who wants to see the city where Alfa Romeo, Fiat, and Lancia were born. But like most Italian cities, Turin has a wealth of historical and cultural treasures that make the city worth a visit.

And because Turin is located in the wealthier northern part of Italy, and thanks in part to its industrial heritage, the city is blessed with some of the best public transport connections in the entire country. That makes it very easy to get out of the city and see more of what Piedmont offers.

So what are you waiting for? Drop off your bags at a luggage storage in Turin and get ready to explore this sometimes underrated city.

The Royal Palace of Venaria Reale

A visit to the Royal Palace of Venaria Reale is like taking a step back in time. This massive palace was built in the 17th century for the House of Savoy, who ruled over the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia at the time. The palace is absolutely massive, and it's surrounded by beautiful gardens that are perfect for a summer stroll.
When it was built all those centuries ago, the palace was well outside the city, but nowadays, it lies in a suburb not far from the city center. A couple of buses will bring you to this stunning location that will make you feel like you've stepped back in time, but you'll still be close enough to the city to easily get back to central Turin and explore all the great food and culture it has to offer.

The Sacra di San Michele

The Sacra di San Michele is a monastery that sits atop a mountain in the Valle d'Aosta region of Italy, just a short drive from Turin. The monastery has been standing since the 10th century, and it offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. If you want to get away from the city and enjoy some of the beautiful Italian countryside, this is definitely the place to go.
A single train line will bring you to the Monastery, but you'll be facing an almost two-mile walk from the station. Still, that just means you get more time to enjoy the tranquil nature and stunning natural surroundings of the monastery itself. And since the monastery was once on a major 1,250-mile pilgrimage route from Mont Saint Michel in the north of France, you may feel a little silly complaining about a short walk.
Guided tours are available to explain the history and significance of the monastery, including its role as the inspiration for Umberto Eco's book The Name of the Rose and the film of the same name. But whether you take a tour or not, it's an atmospheric place to visit that will give you a deeper insight into the history and culture of the region.

Sant'Ambrogio di Torino, Italy
Photo credit Fabio Montello via Unsplash

The Lake District

The Lake District is a stunning region of Italy that is home to some of the country's most beautiful lakes. Located just a short drive from Turin, the Lake District is the perfect place to enjoy a day of hiking, swimming, or simply relaxing by the water. There are also plenty of great restaurants and cafes in the area, so you can refuel after a day of exploring.

This is how residents of Turin spend their free time, and when you see the scenic riches that Piedmont has to offer, you'll see why. The Lake District is a perfect place to get out of the city and beat the summer heat during the height of tourist season. With dozens of lakes to visit, including the majestic Lake Como, along with seemingly endless quaint villages, you won't run out of things to do here. If you're a lover of the outdoors, the Lake District is a good reason to visit Turin all by itself.

Lake Como, Italy
Photo credit Lewis J Goetz via Unsplash

The Town of Asti

Asti is a small town located in the Piedmont region of Italy, about an hour's drive from Turin. This town is best known for its wine, and it's the perfect place to go if you want to learn more about the world-famous Nebbiolo grape.

The town itself is quite small, but it's packed with character. There are plenty of great restaurants and cafes to enjoy, as well as a number of historic churches and other buildings. Asti is also home to one of the largest annual medieval festivals in all of Europe, which takes place in September. If you're visiting Turin at that time, a day trip to Asti is a must.


On a short trip, Turin has more than enough to keep you occupied all by itself. But if you're staying in the area for longer, consider getting rid of your heavy bags and exploring more of Piedmont on these day trips from Turin. The truth is, there's much more to the area than just the city itself, and the scenery of Northern Italy is every bit as spectacular as you'll find anywhere else in Europe.
Get yourself a train ticket and a map, and get ready to see what makes Piedmont so special!

Wednesday 8 November 2023

The Old Seven Mile Bridge, Marathon Key, Florida

We recently spent a few days in Marathon, part of the Florida Keys. The Florida Keys are the string of small islands which stretch from the south eastern tip of mainland Florida to Key West. It takes about two hours to drive from Miami to Marathon Key, which is located in the Middle Keys. We stayed at the Isla Bella Beach Resort which is a fantastic resort in a beautiful location, and is situated just opposite the entrance to the Seven Mile Bridge.

The Seven Mile Bridge connects Knight's Key, part of Marathon, to Little Duck Key. There are two bridges here, the modern road bridge and an older bridge. The older bridge was originally a railway bridge and was then converted to a road bridge before the new bridge was completed in 1982.

Although most of the older bridge is still standing, it has fallen into disrepair and only the 2 mile section which connects Marathon to Pigeon Key has been restored. Reserved for pedestrians and cyclists, it can be used to access Pigeon Key and is also a lovely walk with great views and the opportunity to look for sea life in the water below.

Entrance to Old Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key

There is a good sized car park at the entrance to the bridge. There were always spaces when we visited (late October) and I would imagine that turnover is pretty quick as many people just hop out for a quick look. There are also some informational boards so that you can find out more about the history of the bridge.

Old Seven Mile Bridge informational sign

The walk across the bridge to Pigeon Key is 2 miles, however entrance to Pigeon Key is only possible with paid admission (see details here - Pigeon Key. Paid admission to Pigeon Key also includes transport across the bridge via tram. If you just want to walk across the bridge like we did (or run, or cycle!) then be warned that it can be a hot walk with no shade (although there may be a breeze), and because it's just a bridge there are no toilets or other facilities along the way or in the car park.

Old Seven Mile Bridge, Marathon Key

There are distance markers painted along the bridge so you can see how far you have left to go if you are walking to Pigeon Key. Initially we set out to walk the entire distance, but we quickly realised that there was no benefit if you aren't planning to visit it! In fact you only really need to walk a few hundred metres across the bridge to really appreciate it.

If you want to look for sea life in the water below, a good tip that we were given is to stand at the part of the bridge which is over a pillar. You can identify this by looking for where two parts of the outer railing have a smaller gap in them, like in the photo below (there is an inner railing in front of this one):

Looking for sea life at Old Seven Mile Bridge

The water below here was often smoother and so it was easier to see underneath the surface. We were also told that this is where the larger sea creatures lie in wait for the smaller fish. 

We spent quite a lot of time looking for sea life over the bridge! It took several visits, but we saw jellyfish, lots of really large rays just under the surface, some creatures that looked like huge sharks with their fins above the water, and lots of things jumping and splashing before we could see clearly what they were! We also saw lots of birds. People on the bridge at the same time saw turtles, but we kept missing them!

The Seven Mile Bridge is also a lovely place to watch the sunset, either from on the bridge itself or from just to the side. In the photo below you can see the new road bridge in the foreground, and the restored old bridge is the blue one just behind to the right.

Sunset at Old Seven Mile Bridge, Marathon Key

If you are visiting the Keys then the Old Seven Mile Bridge is a must stop. It's a great way to break up the long journey from Miami down to Key West, it's easy to find, and if you are staying in Marathon then you have a great opportunity to pop back at different times of the day to see what you can spot!

Monday 6 November 2023

How are Hama beads made?

I've been crafting with Hama beads for many years now, and every time I pick one up I wonder how they are made, and what the Hama bead factory looks like! So I thought I'd do a little bit of research into the history of the beads, how they are manufactured, and see if I could find some videos of the process!

There is lots of information about Hama beads on the official Hama Beads About Us page, so that's the best place to start. I learned that the beads are made from polyethylene and the boards are made from polystyrene. Interestingly, according to the website, both the beads and the pegboards can be recycled with normal household plastic waste. The fact that Hama beads are made from single use plastic has been bothering me for some time, so it's really good to know that they can be recycled. I'm almost certain that I couldn't put the individual beads into my own recycling bin, but it definitely sounds like it's possible to recycle any unwanted fused projects.

Hama beads were first produced in 1971 by Maalte Haaning Plastics A/S, with the Hama brand name being registered in 1984. The name comes from the first two letters of the surname of the company's founder (HA) and the first two letters of his first name (MA). Originally the beads were glued onto pieces of cardboard or plastic trays, and at the end of the 1970s the ironing technique was developed.

The Hama bead factory is located in Nykøbing, Denmark and products are sold to more than 50 countries worldwide. You can watch a fascinating video tour of the factory here:

I love those massive buckets full of beads, imagine being able to run your hands through them! I also enjoyed seeing the enormous creations that have been made using Hama beads. In front of the factory there is a safari park made with life size Hama bead animal creations which you can go and visit. Maybe I need to arrange myself a trip!

Information sourced from the Hama beads official website.

Friday 3 November 2023

Hama bead Christmas crafts and projects

I love crafting for Christmas, and over the years I've shared many Christmas craft ideas on my blog. Today I thought I'd share some of my favourite Christmas crafts and projects using one of my most used craft materials - Hama beads. All of these craft ideas are perfect for keeping children busy in the run up to Christmas, can be used to create some individual and unique Christmas décor, and are perfect crafts for both children and adults.

Make sure to click the links for each project to find a more detailed tutorial and patterns.

I love Scandi red and white theming and so I used just these colours to make some simple Scandi inspired Hama bead baubles, finished off with a narrow loop of red ribbon.

Scandi themed Christmas baubles using Hama beads

These Hama bead Christmas wreath ornaments are so easy to make, and perfect for using up any odds and ends of green beads that you might have leftover from previous projects or kits.

Hama bead simple wreath ornaments

These wreath designs can also be used to make some Hama bead wreath magnets, perfect as a small gift for relatives, as place names for the Christmas table or as gift tags.

Simple Hama bead Christmas wreath magnets

My Hama bead Christmas fairy light bunting uses transparent beads, although they could easily be made using solid colours for some cheerful, bright Christmas bunting.

Hama bead Christmas fairy light bunting

These Hama bead and ribbon bauble ornaments use festive Christmas ribbon for some extra embellishment.

Hama bead and ribbon Christmas bauble decorations

Some more Scandi inspired design with this Scandi style Hama bead Christmas mat which is a great place to put your Christmas cuppa.

Hama bead Scandi inspired Christmas mat

This Hama bead snowflake bunting was one of my very first Hama bead craft posts! I used the hexagonal and circular pegboards to make six different Hama bead snowflake designs which I strung up as bunting but which could also be used as festive coasters.

Hama bead snowflake designs and patterns

More recently I designed some more Hama bead snowflakes patterns which I used with mini Hama beads to make tiny Mini Hama bead snowflakes.

Mini Hama bead snowflake embellishments

I used these tiny snowflake embellishments to decorate a winter snowflake lantern

Mini Hama bead snowflake lantern

I recently designed these free mini Christmas cross stitch designs which can be used for all sorts of pixel crafts, including of course Hama beads. I used them to make some Mini Hama bead Christmas embellishments which are perfect to decorate Christmas cards, to add extra interest to your Christmas decorations, to decorate place cards or gift cards...the possibilities are endless!

I used some to make mini Hama bead pin badges for some sweet little Christmas accessories!

Mini Hama bead Christmas embellishments

Another red and white craft, these Scandi inspired Christmas battery tea light holders are perfect for some festive decoration when they are filled with a battery tea light.

Christmas Scandi inspired Hama bead tea light covers

Finally if you have a Minecraft fan in the house why not keep them busy making some Minecraft Hama bead Christmas baubles.

Minecraft Christmas Hama bead crafts

I hope that you enjoyed this roundup of some of my favourite Hama bead Christmas themed crafts! I've published many different Hama bead crafts over the years, and you can find them all here - Hama bead crafts and projects.

Wednesday 1 November 2023

Hama bead Christmas fairy light bunting craft

Recently I wrote about how I had been sorting out my Hama beads, and that seeing all my beads gave me some new craft ideas. I discovered that I had acquired quite a few transparent beads in different colours, and so I came up with a Christmas Hama bead craft! I designed a simple Hama bead fairy light pattern which can be made in lots of different colours and strung up to make fairy light bunting.

Hama bead fairy light bunting for Christmas

Below are my beads laid out on the board, and underneath you can find the printable image which you can use to work on your own designs. I used a solid colour for the outline and a transparent colour for the inside. If you don't have any transparent beads you could use beads in a lighter shade, or otherwise simply make them all in one solid colour. For the top I used some gold beads from my stash but many colours would also work, for example yellow, light brown or black.

Hama bead fairy light design template

Hama bead fairy light pattern to print

I made twelve lights in total, in six different colours. The Hama beads need to be ironed to fuse the beads together. It's a simple process, but if you need some help with ironing the Hama beads then take a look here - Ironing tips for Hama beads.

Hama bead Christmas fairy lights

Finally I used some gold sparkly thread to string the Hama fairy lights together. I don't over iron my designs, so I was able to use a large needle to thread the string directly through the beads in the corner of the gold top part. They stay in place along the string pretty well, but you might want to make a knot on either side of the light to make sure that it stays firmly in place. 

Hama bead Christmas fairy light diy tutorial

The bunting is light, so it can easily be strung up wherever you'd like. I have some small suction hooks which I use to hang decorations. The transparent beads mean that this bunting string would look really good on a window so that the light can shine through during the day!

Hama bead fairy light bunting craft tutorial

If you are looking for more ideas for Hama bead Christmas crafting then you might like these posts: