Give your winter veg a whole new purpose with our guide to making your own gorgeous wrapping paper. Sarah Tildesley, head of Jamie's art department, explains how.
You can’t beat a homemade Christmas. I’m a big fan of any activity that gives me a reason to sit at home in my PJs, put Harry Potter on, eat a few mince pies and generally get into the festive spirit.
Making your own wrapping paper is no exception – it’s fun, it’s cheap and it gives your gift the ultimate personal touch. If you have children, they’ll love it, too. The wilder they go, the better the results: think hand prints, random brush strokes and crazy stamp printing.
Let everyone’s imaginations run free!
You don’t need any special equipment for this. First up are some veggies you probably already have lying around. I went for sprouts, potatoes and carrots, but you could use anything you like – clementine halves and bay leaves work nicely, too.
You’ll also need a small sharp knife, a pencil with a rubber tip, poster paints in colours of your choice, and some matt brown parcel paper (or newspaper).
PUT YOUR STAMP ON
Find a flat surface to work on and make a lot of space. Cut your veggies into various shapes. Don’t worry about being neat and perfect: the wonkier they are, the more adorable your wrapping paper will look. A potato makes a great snowflake: cut it in half, then place the flat side on your work surface as you carve into it. Cut out wedges, keeping the core intact to hold the whole thing together – think of a Trivial Pursuit game piece. You should be left with a rough snowflake shape.
Unroll your parcel paper and lay it out flat. Pour a little paint onto a saucer, dip the cut face of your potato into it, then stamp the paper in a random pattern. When you have covered the surface, dip the rubber end of your pencil into the paint and stamp a little circle at the end of each arm. Hey presto, a snowflake!
Leave the paint to dry for a few hours, then roll up the paper and set aside until you’re ready to wrap your presents. Get creative with your other veg – a halved sprout works as a perfect snowball, while you can carve a cute star from a carrot. And, if you’re partial to some sparkle, pop some glue onto your paper instead of paint, sprinkle with glitter and leave to dry before shaking off the excess.
THAT’S A WRAP
Use mixed twines and ribbons to wrap around your parcels. The paper is earthy and simple, so you can go to town with colours, metallics and sparkle. Bright pinks, reds and greens look beautiful together. Alternatively, scale it back and go with classy neutrals and gold.
I love to tie woody herbs to my pressies: long-lasting rosemary looks beautiful and, as a bonus, smells amazing, too. Tie it on using the stalk, or make a mini garland by fastening two sprigs together, end to end. You can easily find your finishing touches for free – go foraging and pick up beautiful dried leaves, flower heads and evergreens. For a real sweet treat, you could also attach candy canes or bags of chocolate coins.