Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas: review

December 14, 2009

Now, I was a tad disappointed by Kirstie’s Homemade Home back in the summer, but let’s put all that behind us and give the re-invented Ms Allsopp another chance. Let’s also ignore the fact that Channel 4 decided to broadcast her trio of festive programmes a little bit late in the day (as The Guardian put it: “who’s got time to blow their own glass baubles in the next fortnight?” indeed…), and focus on the content instead.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised – kind of. I did think the bauble-blowing episode in programme one was a bit pointless and very expensive at £20 a bauble, considering this was supposed to be a homemade Christmas that DIDN’T involve spending loads of money. Also, I’m not sure how relevant her trip to Liberty was to be honest…similar to the visit she paid to her parents’ palatial but ghastly home in the first series, this was obviously intended to show Kirstie ‘finding inspiration’ but I couldn’t really put my finger on WHAT she gained specifically…apart from deciding the glaringly obvious: that she wanted her home to look Christmassy and lovely. These niggles aside, there were some good ideas in the first programme; salt dough decorations ARE cheap and fun to make with the kids; making Christmas cards with a lino-cut is cheap-ish and easy to do; and I thought the tips from VV Rouleaux‘s Annabel Lewis were simple and effective – particularly the pretty ribbon rose idea.

What bothered me (apart from the incessant introductions and conclusions, which take up half the programme…) was the wreath-making. It’s all very well for Kirstie to skip around her woodland ‘garden’ in the depths of Devon gathering free holly and festive greenery, but for the millions of us who live in cities, or country dwellers who don’t have big gardens or their own wood, this is NOT practical. I can’t see myself gathering baskets of fresh holly on Clapham Common without getting a stern ticking off from the Lambeth park warden. And, there were quite a few mentions of the name ‘Meadowgate’, which, incidentally, she rents out for £2000 a week as a holiday house. Hmmm. Here are some behind the scenes shots from food stylist Sharon Hearne-Smith’s blog:

I thought the second episode about homemade gifts was the best show yet – chutney, soaps (although they took 6 weeks to dry out so way too late for this year but HEY HO let’s not nit-pick), sewing stockings and teddy bears – all these are practical ideas. The third episode, focussing on Christmas cooking and entertaining, was OK, too. Yes, there was an interesting but pointless visit to Parable, where owner Nigel Parker makes amazing candles using moulds taken from wallpaper printing rollers – not easy to replicate at home – but at least we were shown how to make tealight candles in a silicone cupcake tray, instead. The cracker making instructions were good, and the cookery ideas were simple but achievable. All in all, I think Channel 4 has improved the show – Kirsty didn’t drive a 4×4 gas guzzling Land Rover while lecturing us about eco-chic recycling this time, and most of the ideas were thoroughly do-able, providing you have the time. But, one question remains: who was doing her make-up? Why was she plastered in it in some scenes and totally bare-faced in others? The vampy red lipstick and luxurious Russian fur hat combo was possibly a step too far for a ‘frugal’ series, but I’ll try not to let this bug me too much. After all, it IS Christmas. – Ellie

7 Responses to “Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas: review”

  1. Siany Says:

    Her make-up was shocking in the end of episode two. All lips AND eyes is a very big no-no, surely everyone knows that!

    I wanted to like this show, so much. But it misses the mark – in the same way Nigella does. It’s too chintzy perfect and it doesn’t ring true. I don’t for a second believe that Kirsty goes and picks holly and makes her own wreath.

    And as for the food writer who suggested pre-cooking and freezing roast potatoes, she needs a damn good telling off.

  2. Lynne Says:

    I liked it, but was scared by the red lipstick too – and I thought it was such a plug for VW Rouleaux which is so incredibly expensive. I think making those tassel things would be about £20 each!

  3. Bethan Says:

    This made me giggle so much. And I agree with Siany about the cooking ideas… the bit where we were helpfully told that the marvellous idea for Brussels sprouts would only take 20 minutes of blanching, dressing and oven re-heating did it for me. 20 minutes?! School dinners anyone? All in all though, a big improvement on the summer programme and loved the rose corsage from VV Rouleaux (ribbons make my world go around).

  4. I really wanted to like this too but it all seemed so forced (the banter with the sewing circle was pretty awful). The crackers were a nice idea but I’m not too sure about mince pies covered in red and green glitter (although the quick and easy recipe for mincemeat was good). All in all, it could have been a lot more crafty and it would have been nice to see a few more unusual ideas. I was especially uninterested in the visit to Covent Garden (which is what – a six hour drive from Devon?!) to pick up some mince pies. Bah humbug – Kirsty I expected more!

  5. Camilla Says:

    I did like it – sort of. It’s the kind of programme you could snuggle up and watch on a wet day whilst feeling rather Christmassy. But, so little of it was realistically achieveable (gold leaf pears? Those baubles!) which was a let down and it certainly wasn’t thrifty in my book.
    Kirstie does deserve a round of applause for some amazing advertising for Meadowgate (£3000 to me and you this week!). Still, she does seem to have good intentions and I’ll watch whatever she comes up with next.

  6. Rebecca Says:

    I like Kirsty. But I have to agree with the comments here. The gold-leaf pears looked wonderful but £30 for 24 sheets is a wee bit expensive. And while I would love hand-blown glass baubles, they’re not exactly hand-made. I didn’t mind the wreath-making bit – I don’t have a large garden myself but I’m lucky enough to live close to lots of open-ground so could collect ivy and holly to decorate with. My main quibble with the series is that it isn’t what it says on the tin. And the annoying intro/conclusion bits took far too much time. But good to enjoy on the couch with a glass of wine.

  7. I just thought she was a bit silly – spending £2 on a 2nd hand book and about £10 for the ribbons to tie it up with. And those pears….

    Most of us spend far less than that on home made gifts, but they still look good and are given and received with love. Which is what its all about really

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