5 tips for stress-free wrapping this Holiday

Around this time of year some of us just see an endless to do list. But did you know there can be a secret pleasure in wrapping things?

After all, you've done the hard work finding the right gifts, now it’s time to get hands on.

Learning a few of these techniques can help make things easier, spark your creativity and turn a task into a pleasure.

1 Sharpen your scissors

No one likes those jagged edges on wrapping paper. So before you get started, make you sharpen your scissors.

A handy way to do this is to just cut through a folded piece of aluminium foil a few times.

Once they're sharp enough you should just be able to just glide throughgiving that satisfying smooth finish. Ahhhh

2 Design your own wrapping paper

DIY stamp made from a bottle cap + @sugru! 🍋💕 More fun #Sugru projects at bit.ly/SugruDIY (link in bio!) #sponsored
A photo posted by Jennifer Bates | Sea Lemon (@sealemon) on

This crafty idea came from HGTV Handmade presenter SeaLemon. She created her own unique stamp using Sugru and a bottle cap and used it to design her own wrapping paper.

Sugru is easy to mould with your hands and is great at sticking to awkward surfaces, so you can design your own DIY stamps using pretty much anything you want.

This idea also works great if you're using fabrics to wrap your presents (check out no 4 for more on this).

3 Wrapping like the pros

One piece of tape is all you need, seriously. Learn this handy paper folding technique and you'll feel like a festive ninja.

Wrap your gifts in under 12 seconds just like the staff at Takashimaya (Japan's famous department store).

4 Learn some Japanese Furoshiki wrapping

Learn the art of Furoshiki — a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth technique, once used by merchants to transport goods and decorate gifts. Check out all of the different techniques you can learn online.

Teach yourself some handy new skills this holiday.

5 Make your own LEGO gift boxes

Who knew wrapping awkwardly shaped presents could be so much fun? These LEGO gift boxes look amazing and are super easy to make yourself.

It's all thanks to a handy set of free printable templates from Lines Across. Each template was scaled up from the exact dimensions of real LEGO bricks, so they look just like the real thing!

Step 1: Choose a LEGO brick design and print out on coloured card

Step 2: Get folding!

Step 3: Thank Rachel over at Lines Across for this super useful and, let's face it, totally awesome idea.

You're handier than you think...

From ladders to LEGO: The inventor of the world's building block

LEGO is one of the most familiar brands in the world today. A toy with the potential to unlock the magic and creativity within kids of all ages. But few of us will know the name Ole Kirk Christiansen — LEGO’s visionary inventor and founder. This is his story of invention, failure, false starts and eventual global success.

Discover how a tiny company that began making wooden ladders and stools, grew into a creativity engine for generations of kids (and adults) around the world.

Ole Kirk Christiansen founded his company in the city of Billund in Denmark in 1932. Starting out with a small team they produced basic everyday wooden items like ladders, milking stools and ironing boards. But, soon after they began trading, demand for these products collapsed as The Great Depression swept across the world. Ole Kirk was determined to find a new niche to save his young business.

Coming from a family of ten children, it didn’t take long for Ole Kirk to realise the demand for toys was increasing despite the tough economic times. He had found the answer to his business problems with a series of simple handcrafted wooden toys. Throughout the bleak 1930s, Ole Kirk sold them door to door in the small farming community of Billund.

Play Well

As production of his first line of toys was underway Ole Kirk decided his a company needed a name. He chose LEGO — a contraction of the Danish words leg and godt, meaning “play well.”

Ole Kirk built a small team of 7 enthusiastic carpenters, insisting that everyone who joined the company took great pride in crafting high quality products by hand. His central idea for the company was born — “Only the best is worthy”. He had the words carved into a sign and nailed on the wall above his team.

In the mid 1930s the yo-yo craze swept the world and LEGO started its first large-scale production, creating thousands of the popular new toys. But they soon discovered that, like most toy fads, the yo-yo boom died as suddenly as it had started. Ole Kirk was left with storerooms filled with thousands of unwanted wooden discs.

But Ole Kirk turned this crisis into an opportunity, converting the yo-yo halves into wheels for a new series of toys. The toys became a big hit with Danish children, and over the next few years the LEGO production line grew to 42 different wooden toys.

Time to aim higher

When a fire destroyed the LEGO factory, Ole Kirk took the time to rethink everything. He built a new factory fit for the modern age and renamed the company Legetojsfabrikken LEGO Billund A/S — The LEGO Billund Toy Factory.

The 1950s saw Plastic widely introduced to Denmark and Ole Kirk immediately saw the potential in this bright modern material. He bought a plastic injection moulding machine immediately to start experimenting — no one knew it yet, but the LEGO company had just changed forever.

By now the big retailers were demanding modern toys that inspired creativity in both boys and girls of all ages. Ole Kirk dedicated himself to the challenge, eventually finding the answer right in front of him, in one of LEGO's most unpopular toys to date — Automatic Binding Bricks (look familiar?)

These little bricks had the recognisable stud design on top, but the pieces didn't fit together yet. Ole Kirk focused the team's attention and creativity on redesigning the toy, challenging everyone to help make them 'more fun to play with'.

Then everything just... 'clicked'

By 1958 the redesign had been perfected, adding a simple interlocking tubular connecting system. The LEGO brick was born.

The new design could now be clicked together in an almost endless variety of combinations — using just six of these newly eight-studded LEGO bricks there were now 915,103,765 different possible combinations! Kids were free to build their playful imaginations.

The brightly coloured bricks were renamed the 'Lego System of Play' reflecting the company's name and ethos. It went on to become a huge success in Denmark and later across the world. And they have been helping to unlock all of our imaginations ever since.

Today there are 86 LEGO bricks for every single person on Earth! Not bad for a company that started out making wooden ladders.

Play well.

You're handier that you think

Technology is finally catching up with our hands

It’s hard to know how we will be interacting with technology in the future, but it looks like we will be tapping and swiping glass less.

Our hands have 27 bones, 16 muscles and over 2,500 nerve receptors per sq. centimetre — so if the future of technology is really in our hands, it's exciting to see it catching up with them.

Here are seven exciting technology companies that are taking us to a more hands-on future.

Here's to more haptic feedback!
(Haptics is quite literally the science of touch. Here's a little fact for you, the origin of the word 'haptics' is the Greek 'haptikos', meaning able to grasp or perceive.)

1. Leap: reach into the digital world

The LEAP Controller senses how we naturally move our hands, allowing us to reach into the world beyond the screen, turning what used to be a 2D screen into a 3D space to explore and interact with.

At the moment nearly 200,000 developers around the world are exploring applications that could soon be helping design for virtual reality, 3D design and modelling, making learning more interactive, even helping us explore outer space!

Who wants to use a mouse anyway?

2. E-nabled: giving the world a helping hand with 3D printing

Technology should make life easier and improve our lives.

So what better way to show this than with the amazing work of e-NABLE — a global network of volunteers who are using their 3D printers, design skills, and personal time to create free 3D printed prosthetic hands for those in need. Their goal is to provide them to underserved populations around the world. Here is the newest e-NABLE device recipient, Ryan Victor, from Brazil. He is now able to do simple things with his left hand, like use scissors or sharpen a pencil.

And more importantly, he has a reason to smile. Go Ryan!

A photo posted by E-nable (@enablethefuture) on

3. MaKey MaKey: a kit that lets you touch the internet

Ever played Mario on Play-Doh? Or played music with bananas? Well now you can. MaKey MaKey is an easy to use hands-on invention kit made for the Internet age. It lets you transform everyday objects into touchpads that you can combine with the online world.

It works with any material that can conduct at least a tiny bit of electricity — from plants, coins, your Grandma, silverware, anything that is wet, most food, cats and dogs, aluminium foil and hundreds more. So the whole world becomes a construction kit!

Everyone of us is creative, inventive, and imaginative (even if some of us don't realise it). Check out the video to discover how artists, kids, teachers, engineers, designers, inventors and makers all over the world are using it make the internet tangible.

Discover how handy you are...

4. Myo: control technology with the flick of a wrist

Myo is a gesture controlled armband that reads forearm muscle movement and lets you wirelessly control technology with gestures and motion. Yes, you take control of your digital world from a distance.

Developers are now exploring and testing potential future uses, from controlling immersive VR environments, through to flying drones and helping people who are less-abled have greater control over their environment.

5. Technology Will Save Us: inspiring future hands-on inventors

Everyone learns more when they care about what they are making. And nothing beats the satisfaction of making things with your own two hands. It helps us gain a deeper understanding of the skills we are learning and lets face it, it's more fun!

But as technology keeps advancing, fewer of us get the chance to get hands-on with our gadgets. Technology Will Save Us make a range of DIY gadget kits based around real-life hobbies like music, gardening, cycling and gaming. They are a super fun way to learn, create and get to grips with technology.

6. Qleek: make your digital life more tactile

The tactile revolution is back! Qleek are physical bookmarks that turn your digital life into a physical library that you can play, display or share. It'a a new way to interact with art, media and your life online,

Yes, the rise of digital has given us endless benefits and we've realised the dream of having our music collection in our pocket. But there is something important that we have lost, something deeply ingrained in our biology as humans — a sense of touch.

You can't hold a digital file, personalise it, hand it to a friend in the real world or put it where everyone can see it.

And we were super excited when we found out their team used Sugru to help create their original prototypes!

7. And one day soon MIT could make all computing tangible!

The Tangible Media Group are 'designing human interfaces that use physical objects, surfaces and spaces as tangible embodiments of digital information and processes'. Essentially, the brilliant minds over at MIT are working hard to shape a future where we can all be able to grab, grasp, grip, grapple and clutch the digital world.

We can't wait.

You're handier than you think

5 free websites to learn craft skills

Isn't the internet amazing? Thanks to the wonderful online world it's never been easier to pick up a new skill.

There are literally millions of passionate people sharing their ideas and now they are just a click away waiting to inspire and guide you. Whether you’re five or ninety-five, there’s something out there for everyone (and it’s free!)

So get hands-on and discover what you’re really capable of. (Careful, though, learning is addictive!)

1. YouTube: DIY how-to videos and inspiration

We love making videos here at Sugru, especially ones that help us share ideas with the world. And what is the best places to do that... already guessed?

Check out our YouTube DIY Projects playlist and discover how Sugru makes it fun and easy way for anyone to adapt and improve your home.

And while you're there, check out some other crafty Sugru-ers to get ideas for your next project.

Organised ClutterBug

Loads of creative DIY and organising projects on a budget. We love Clutterbug's DIY Superhero Lamp. Just awesome.

Red Ted Art

You'll find loads of how-to videos that will inspire your kids to get hands on. Check out this easy Sugru Snow Globe idea!

2. Creative Live: free online classes and advice

Creative Live is an amazing resource of free online classes. It's perfect for anyone you know who loves to learn new skills.

Spark your creativity and get hands-on with hundreds of free online craft and making courses — classes range from scrapbooking, jewellery, papercrafting, as well as lessons to learn the skills you need to grow your own handmade business!

Top Tip: Keep an eye out on their calendar of upcoming classes!

3. Instructables: share your ideas with other hands-on makers

Great ideas belong to everyone and, thanks to Instructables, we can find them!

Instructables is an inspiring online community where millions of makers, creators and innovators from around the world go to share their ideas. If you can think of something you want to make, or just browsing, chances are you'll probably find a step-by-step guide for your next project.

Jump in. Explore. Get inspired. And don't forget to share your crafty creations.

4. Video Jug: get good at life

From drawing to sculpture, sewing to jewellery making, Videojug is such a huge resource of do-it-yourself videos it's easy to get lost! So here are some good places to start.

Check out the creative crafts section for ideas to re-use, recycle, re-invent or projects you can make it from scratch. Maybe you want to learn the basics to get started on a knitting project? Or head over the paper crafts section - for easy step-by-step instructions to make paper aeroplanes, paper flowers or paper snowflakes, this has all you need to get started. Now get cutting and folding!

5. Twitch.tv: Tune in live and learn!

Yep this one surprised us too! So it turns out that Twitch is not longer just for streaming video games.

Twitch have recently launched a new 'Creative' platform that lets people to broadcast videos to help teach each other crafty hands-on skills. From more traditional crafts like drawing, painting through to photoshop, digital art, 3D illustration and loads more. Keep an eye on this one. We have a feeling it could go places :)

We are all handier than we think...

A guide to the most important tool in the kitchen

One of the great things about cooking is that it’s something creative that everyone can do — the kitchen is a place for new recipes, flavour combinations and experimentation. So it's important that you choose the right tools and know how to use them.

There's a reason why knives are considered the most important tool in any kitchen. Professional chefs often describe them as if they were natural extensions of their own hands.

This article will show you the basics that can help turn what used to be a bit of a chore into an absolute pleasure — discover what you're capable of in the kitchen.

You're handier than you think.

1. Choosing the right knife

It's essential to find a knife that suits you — be sure to test out a range of them until you find one that has good balance and feels comfortable in your hand.

The 4 knives most of us will ever need:

- Chef's knife: the go-to tool for more than 90% of daily kitchen tasks, including most slicing and dicing of fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish.

- Pairing knife: for slicing and mincing up things like garlic, shallots, or small pieces of fruit.

- Serrated knife: no it's not just a 'bread knife', the professionals will tell you that this is especially useful for cutting up foods with waxy surfaces, like tomatoes, citrus and peppers.

- Boning knife: used for cutting up or boning fish, meat, or poultry of any size. While most knives are designed to cut in straight lines, this one is for when you need a blade that can move and flex.

Looking for another type of knife? Check out this handy infographic.

2. Maintaining your knives

Rule #1: always use a sharp knife. Rule #2: always use a sharp knife. Rule #3: yep, you guessed it.

The professionals are clear, always sharpen your knife before using it. A blunt knife is not only dangerous, but can make your time in the kitchen frustrating.

Treat your knives right and they are tools that can last you a lifetime. Here's Chef Ramsey to show you the correct techniques. (SFW!)

3. Use the right cutting surface

Choose your chopping board wisely... wooden or plastic cutting boards won't damage your knife. But while ceramic, marble and glass chopping boards might look nice, they will dull and damage your knife over time.

Handy Tip: After using your cutting board, remember to use the 'back of your knife' to scrape the ingredients off the board and avoid damaging the blade.

4. Learn all the basics

With a little (careful!) practice anyone can master the most common knife skills, until they become second nature. Thanks to the magic of muscle memory, once your hands learn to slice, dice and chop like this, your hands won't need to think they will just...do!

This handy video playlist is worth bookmarking and will guide you through 16 everyday kitchen knife skills. Or if you're looking for some more detail, sit back and let chef Jamie Oliver explain it all to you.

5. Keep your knife drawer organised

Like any tools you use a lot, life is easier when you always know where to find them. Adapt your kitchen drawer with Sugru and keep all your kitchen knives organised, ready for the next time you need them. How satisfying.

Sugru is a hand mouldable glue that feels like play dough out of the pack, it sticks to most materials and in 24 hours it cures into a tough durable rubber. It makes it easy for anyone to fix, adapt and improve things around your home. Find out loads more ways to use Sugru in the kitchen.

We are all handier than we think...

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