05 December 2023

Dragons’ Den star Sara Davies offers tips and tricks on Christmas crafting

05 December 2023

Crafting queen Sara Davies has a staggering five Christmas trees in her home during the festive season – with home-made decorations to adorn them all.

“I have a really nice big tree in the hallway, another in the kitchen and another in the living room that has all of the baubles that the kids have made. It’s mismatched but it’s heartfelt,” the bubbly Dragons’ Den star and former Strictly contestant enthuses.

“The kids also have their own brightly coloured Christmas tree in the playroom, and a rainbow-themed tree in their bedroom.”

She’s also put a large real tree up outside the front gates of her home in Teesside, with a deer in front of it, “so that all my neighbours know that I’m a big Christmas fan”.

The 39-year-old businesswoman, who became the youngest ever female dragon on Dragons’ Den in 2019, has made her fortune largely from her global craft business, Crafter’s Companion, which she started while she was studying business at the University of York, later launching The Enveloper, a bespoke envelope-making tool for handmade cards, which set her on the road to millions.

She is now sharing some of her crafting tips and tricks for the festive season in her latest book, Craft Your Year With Sara Davies, which offers more than 70 craft ideas to make throughout the year.

The entrepreneur, who grew up in County Durham, began crafting the year her sister Helen went to university and their mother suggested that she made Christmas presents, rather than buying them on a tight student budget.

“With two competitive daughters, she started something,” recalls Davies, who lives with her husband, Simon, managing director of her crafting business, and two sons, Oliver, nine, and Charlie, seven. “I was not going to be outdone, and I was going to make everything for Christmas.

“It became our thing every Christmas, how we could come up with the latest and greatest thing that we could learn how to make and craft, to ‘one-up’ the other one.”

When Helen bought a sewing machine, she created handmade cushions for their father’s campervan; another year Sara learned chocolate crafting and made boxes of chocolates for everyone, and macrame so she could create a wall hanging.

The crafting craze has filtered down to her two boys as well, says the entrepreneur.

“Whatever I buy for the grandparents pales into insignificance compared to whatever it is I’ve made with their grandchildren for them to keep that year.”

She’s asked to do a lot of TV and competed in Strictly Come Dancing in 2021 with professional dance partner Aljaž Škorjanec, with whom she remains great friends, and has a new BBC series, Making It With Sara Davies, out next year, in which Sara and a team of experts help eager would-be inventors develop their ideas.

But her crafting business remains her big love.

On the run-up to Christmas, Davies and her sister have crafting days when she trawls Pinterest for inspiration and puts up a board of Christmas ideas, and they make their own crackers and decorations. She has a houseful of family and friends every year and makes sure all the home-made decorations are made well in advance.

She also tries to personalise the gifts she gives, recalling the best present she ever received.

“I was dating my husband – we’ve been together since I was 15 – and I feel like he waited forever and a day to propose. I was only 21 when we got engaged, but that’s a long time when you’ve been waiting since you were 15.

“I was convinced he was going to propose on my 21st birthday, but he didn’t. We had a big holiday in the summer and he didn’t propose, so by the time Christmas came I’d all but given up hope that he was going to – which I think is what he was waiting for.

“Then he made me a Christmas stocking that year and right at the front of the stocking was the little box with the engagement ring in it. Mind you, it’s the only romantic gesture I’ve had in about 25 years!” she says, joking.

In her book, she offers a step-by-step guide to crafts she has made for the festive season, including decorated ceramic baubles and Christmas gonks, cinnamon stick candles and bobble-hat bunting.

“If I ever do a one-off, it goes on my Christmas tree. I personalise the ceramic baubles and tie them on to the gift wrapping of presents for friends.”

She is a firm believer that crafting helps your mental health.

“I did a lot of research into this, worked with the charity Mind in lockdown and their ‘Crafternoon’ programme. They explained to me that the great thing about crafting is that you are focusing on something, whether it’s following a pattern or instructions or whatever, and you get lost in what you’re doing.

“When I was making crocheted rainbows during lockdown, I was following a pattern and focusing on it, and I would do that instead of watching that news announcement every night, which was stressing me out. I would get wrapped up in the crocheting instead of getting wrapped up in something else that I’m worried about.

“It’s about keeping your brain engaged and keeping your fingers moving.”

For now, the crafting queen is focusing on Christmas preparations. Here, she illustrates one of her favourite festive crafts featured in the book, which are easy to make and won’t cost a fortune.

1. Snow-effect jars

“They take pride of place as you come into my house, on a little table under the mirror, with some little twinkling lights.”

What you’ll need:

Glue gun; glue sticks; scrap paper to protect your work surface; a few handfuls of Epsom salts; permanent spray adhesive; 2 glass jars of different sizes; twine; two faux Christmas picks (such as holly berries); 2 sets of battery-operated fairy lights.

Step-by-step guide

1. Plug in your glue gun to heat up and scatter the Epsom salts over the paper on your work surface.

2. Cover your first jar in spray adhesive and roll it across the layer of Epsom salt, making sure the surface is fully covered. Set it aside to dry for 30 minutes.

3. Once the jar is dry, take a length of twine and wrap it around the jar neck. Tie it up in a bow and glue the twine in place.

4. Take a faux Christmas pick and use the glue gun to fix it to the front of the jar. Set aside to dry, then repeat the process with the second jar.

Craft Your Year With Sara Davies by Sara Davies is published by Bantam, priced £22. Available now.

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