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Special Occasions

Arts & Crafts, Life & Style, Special Occasions

How to Make Homemade Clay Easily From Household Ingredients

Follow this easy recipe on how to make homemade clay, from just two common household ingredients – cornflour and bicarbonate of soda (also known as baking soda). You can then use this to make beautiful homemade clay Christmas decorations.

Making decorations from air-drying clay is always a really fun activity, especially with kids. However, the packs of air-drying clay always come wrapped in non-recyclable plastic. As such, I’ve been having a go at making my own homemade clay. It turns out this is easier and cheaper than you might think. In fact, it’s a really fun, plastic-free way of making clay, and for making beautiful zero-waste Christmas decorations.

If you’ve tried to make homemade clay from a cornflour and bicarbonate of soda recipe before, then you may have experienced some cracking. I have a clever tip below to help prevent this from happening, so keep reading!

Image of homemade clay stars strung up on Christmas garland

How To Make Homemade Clay

You Will Need

65 grams of cornflour (plus a little extra for dusting your work surface)

125 grams of bicarbonate of soda (this is also known as baking soda outside the UK)

180 ml water

Method

making homemade christmas decorations
  • In a saucepan, mix the cornflour, bicarbonate of soda, and the water.
  • Next, gently heat the mixture on your hob. The consistency will first be that of a soft paste. Keep mixing it until it takes on the consistency of mashed potato.
  • Once you’ve reached the desired consistency (if you’re unsure, the mixture will start to pull away from the pan), then remove the pan from the heat immediately and leave to cool. You now have homemade clay!
  • Use the clay on a cornflour dusted work surface to create the shapes you require. If you are using cookie cutters to cut out shapes, then less complex shapes work best.
  • If you’re planning on hanging your shapes on your tree, or to create a garland, then use a skewer to poke a hole at this stage too.
  • Once you’ve cut out your shapes, leave them to air dry for one to two days. After two days, you can then bake them in oven for around 20 minutes or so at 80°C The cooking time depends on the size of your shapes, so keep a close eye on your creations.
  • Remove the decorations from the oven. They should have dried to a white clay texture. This can be left as it is, or you can paint them paint or marker pens.

Why Do You Air Dry And Then Bake?

It’s important to air dry your homemade clay first, before baking, as this type of clay is prone to cracking. Especially so if you dry them out quickly in the oven. Slowly drying the clay creations in the air, away from the sun and direct heat, before baking helps prevent cracking.

How To Make Homemade Clay Christmas Decorations

  • Follow the above recipe to make homemade clay.
  • Once cool, dust your work surface with cornflour, and spoon your homemade clay on to the cornflour dusted surface. Next, using a rolling pin, roll out the clay until it is around 5 mm thick.
  • Using cookie cutters, cut out your desired shapes. Again, simple shapes work best. At this stage, take a skewer, or similar, to make a hole, to allow you to hang up the decorations either on your tree or as part of a Christmas garland.
  • Finally, leave the shapes to air dry for 1 to two days. Once air dried, bake the shapes in the oven for around 20 minutes, turning halfway so that the clay evenly cooks. Again, if 20 minutes isn’t long enough, keep the shapes in the oven until the clay is no longer soft.

If you would like to incorporate some texture into your decorations, use a textured rolling pin, or use a piece of lace to press on a pattern.

How To Store Your Homemade Clay Decorations

If you are using your homemade clay to make Christmas decorations then it’s important to store them correctly, so that you can enjoy them year after year. We had a disaster the first year, when ours were stored incorrectly and became soft and mouldy, so do learn from our experience!

I find it’s best to store your clay decorations in an airtight Tupperware tub or glass jar. If you have any silica gel bags lying around from any items you have bought then you can add a silica gel bag to help absorb moisture. However, some silica gel can be poisonous, so do bear in mind that the gel is in there when you come to decorate the following Christmas – particularly if you have pets and/or kids. Alternatively, a tablespoon or two of dried rice in the tub will also do the trick.

More Crafty Ideas!

For more homemade Christmas decorations ideas, then I’ve got loads of great eco-friendly ideas for you.

Firstly, here’s how to dry orange slices to make stunning natural garlands. And if you’ve caught the natural garland bug, then here’s how to make a popcorn garland. Finally, here are even more stunning plastic-free and zero-waste Christmas decorations to make.

If you’re busy getting ready for Christmas then you can also check out my guide to having an eco-friendly Christmas. It’s bursting with festive ideas that are kind to the planet! From choosing an eco-friendly Christmas tree, to help finding eco-friendly gifts and wrapping paper. From tips on plant-based Christmas dinner ideas to tips on reducing your festive food waste, it’s all in there.

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Image of homemade clay stars on festive branches, with a blue text box that says how to make homemade clay using common household ingredients
Life & Style, Special Occasions

The Best Ethical Christmas Jumpers This Festive Season

I’ve rounded up the best ethical Christmas jumpers and sweaters this festive season, so you can keep warm in festive sartorial style.

How do you feel about Christmas jumpers? Love them? Hate them? By the fact that you’ve landed on this article, I’m guessing it’s the former, rather than the latter.

For those of us of a certain age, Christmas jumpers were very much not a thing. That was until Mark Darcy, the love interest in the 2001 movie Bridget Jone’s Diary, donned a garish Christmas jumper. Suddenly people started wearing Christmas jumpers, unironically. And then in 2012, the Danish thriller, The Killing, really popularised the Christmas jumper. Some twenty years later since first being seen on screen, it seems Christmas jumpers are here to stay.

If that wasn’t enough to put Christmas jumpers on the map, then Save The Children also host an annual Christmas Jumper Day. This is a fun annual event, where people wear their best (re: most ostentatious) Christmas jumpers to work or to school and donate money to Save the Children.

Since it was launched in 2012, the event has raised millions of pounds for children in the UK, and across the world, who live in poverty. This year it’s on Friday 10th December, should you be looking to don your best festive garb.

Why Do We Need Ethical Christmas Jumpers?

Christmas Jumper Day is undoubtedly a really great way to raise money for charity. However, like many forces for good, the event has been hi-jacked by the fast fashion industry.

The Christmas jumper craze started ethically with people raiding their granny’s wardrobe, or rummaging in charity shops and vintage shops. However, fast-fashion retailers quickly got in on the act. Now every supermarket and fast-fashion retailer sells Christmas jumpers in the run-up to Christmas, often at bargain prices.

This low cost comes at a high environmental price. According to research by environmental charity Hubbub, one in four Christmas jumpers bought are thrown away or are unlikely to be worn more than once. In fact, one in three under-35s buys a new Christmas jumper every year.  When asked why, 24% say they do not want to be seen in the same jumper as previous years. Meanwhile, 29% say they are so cheap that they might as well get a new one every year.

Guide to Ethical Christmas Jumpers

Image of a folded red and white Christmas jumper with a blue text box that says where to buy the most ethical Christmas jumpers and sweaters

With the impacts of fast fashion so devastating to both people and the planet, it makes good sense to minimise our impact where we can.

I am all about spreading festive cheer, and raising money for charity. So, rather than go without a Christmas jumper, here are some ideas of where to buy more ethical Christmas jumpers.

Please note, in order to help support the running costs of Moral Fibres, this post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. Moral Fibres may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to readers, on items that have been purchased through those links. This income helps keep this site running.

Beyond Retro

Person against a red wall wearing a black Christmas jumper, featuring a gingerbread house

Beyond Retro* have an amazing selection of vintage Christmas jumpers and cardigans for both men and women. I’m talking amazing. From knitted Christmas vests to 80s winter scene sweatshirts, to Nordic jumpers, right through to jolly festive cardigans, it’s all right here, in sizes XS to XXL.

With prices coming in at under £20 on all Christmas jumpers, then you can pick up an ethical bargain comparable in price to the fast fashion retailers, without the environmental or social impact. 

Use the exclusive code MORALFIBRES at the checkout to receive 15% off your order at Beyond Retro.

eBay

eBay* is great for shopping for secondhand Christmas jumpers, on the proviso that in the filter you select jumpers that are in a used condition. You can find that option under the heading that says condition. If you don’t select that option, you will be flooded with brand new jumpers made cheaply under who knows what working conditions.

Etsy’s Ethical Christmas Jumpers

If you are specifically looking for vintage Christmas jumpers, then Etsy has a good selection. The best I have found is the Christmas jumper selection at a secondhand boutique called Marmalade Vintage*, based in Manchester. However, there are some real gems to be uncovered on Etsy if you are prepared to search.

Oxfam Online

Charity retailer Oxfam Online* is worth checking periodically for ethical secondhand Christmas jumpers. Owning to the nature of being donation dependant, their stock levels do vary. However, if you are persistent you can unearth some real festive sartorial finds.

Rokit

Vintage retailer Rokit* has a small selection of ethical pre-loved Christmas jumpers, all below £25. Most of it is at the more modern end of what I would consider vintage, but there are some gems in there.

The Spark Company

Person wearing The Spark Company's sleigh the patriarchy jumper.

The Spark Company* is a female-founded and female-run feminist ethical retailer. Here all of their products are manufactured in a WRAP Gold certified facility. This means that their products have been independently verified to be sweatshop-free, and there is no child labour involved.

What’s more, with every purchase, they donate sanitary supplies to shelters and drop-in centres for those who can’t afford to buy these essentials.

Each year The Spark Company produces a limited run of their ethically made feminist Christmas jumpers*, in sizes 6 – 20.

Other Ethical Christmas Jumper Tips

Of course, buying a new Christmas jumper should be your last resort. Here are some ideas for making your festive wardrobe more ethical and sustainable.

Keep It For Next Year (And The Year After That)

One of the most sustainable things we can do is to keep wearing the items we already have, and to look after them. So wear your jumper as many times as you can over the festive period, and then wash and dry it according to the care labels. Make any repairs to your jumper as you need to, and store it carefully for wear again next year.

Swap With a Friend

If you can’t bear to wear the same item twice, or if you have changed size, then why not organise a Christmas jumper swap with your friends? It’s a fun and sociable way to get a new-to-you item without buying anything new.

Buy Something You Can Wear All Year Round

Many Christmas jumper critics decree the ethics of buying a jumper that you only were once or twice a year. If you feel the same, then why not buy something like a Fair Isle or Nordic style patterned jumper? These types of jumpers are festive enough to wear over Christmas dinner. However, no one would question you if you were still wearing them come February! Try my guide to ethical jumpers to see if you can find something that fits the Christmas jumper bill, or try this Fairisle beauty from Thought Clothing* that’s made from all-natural fibres.

Upcycle It

If your best Christmas jumper is on its last legs, don’t bin it. Instead, you can get creative and upcycle it. Firstly, here’s how you can make a cute Christmas-themed cushion from your old jumper. And if your jumper is too far gone, you can try this eco-friendly gift wrap idea using parts of your jumper.

How to Make Your Own Ethical Christmas Jumper

Another way to spread ethical cheer is to make your own Christmas jumper. Simply take a jumper you already own and add some temporary festive embellishments. From festive brooches to pinning on festive decorations, it’s really easy to add a seasonal twist to your existing wardrobe.