Kirstie Allsopp is on a mission to make this festive season the best yet.
In her new series of Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas 2021 the Location, Location, Location presenter showcases a new collection of decorations, food ideas and handmade gifts.
On Friday Dec. 3 Kirstie shares top tips in her annual prime-time special, Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas on C4.
From Monday 13 Dec. 2021 the show moves to the daytime schedules, where enthusiastic crafters compete against each other in a bid to win one of Kirstie’s trophies — handmade, naturally!
Here, in a What To Watch interview, Kirstie, 50, tells us more about her Christmas TV show, and reveals some exciting news about popular property show, Love It or List It…
Kirstie, you’re having a busy time of it!
Kirstie Allsopp: “Yes, just a bit! But I’m really happy to talk about these shows that I love making.
“Handmade Christmas daytime has the competitions, while this week’s prime show has more of a luxury feel.
“I’m thrilled to bits with everybody and everything.”
What can you tell us about the primetime show?
KA: “We have Sophie Darling, who is an amazing screen-printer, and The Hebridean Baker — Coinneach MacLeod — who shows us how to make a delicious Hebridean Hogmanay cocktail with marmalade and whisky. He also makes a trifle dish called Tipsy Laird using whisky, sponge fingers, and raspberry cream custardness!
“We have fantastic chef Shelina Permalloo [who won BBC1’s MasterChef in 2012], who cooks a Mauritian-inspired dish of lobster with delicious rice and mango salad.
“The team also invited my sister, Sofie, without telling me, which was super-cool. And Phil Spencer [Kirstie’s Love It or List It co-presenter] came in for good measure!”
Is Phil a big Christmas crafting fan too?
KA: “Phil’s basically seen the light! We can’t keep him away because the Christmas show is so much fun.
“He popped into daytime and primetime last year, but he’s never allowed back into the daytime one again! He doesn’t get the seriousness of the competition. He’d waft into the competition tent going ‘You don’t call that a cake!?’ and that sort of thing!”
Did you make anything fun together this year?
KA: [Laughing] “Yes, and we had to use the magic of television when we did!
“We did a wax craft, making stackable candles. Somewhere in the process we ended up with double the amount of wax in our trays so it didn’t dry. When we cut out the shapes with cookie cutters the whole thing just crumbled!
“We failed spectacularly!”
What other crafting projects standout this year?
KA: “I don’t know if you’ve seen those booze bottles with lights that flash underneath? It’s a fun thing to make at home.
“We found things called coaster lights. You stick them on and then you can hand paint, use stencils, or even glass etching equipment on your bottle. Sprinkle in a bit of silver and gold and it’s a really glitzy gift.”
What’s your most ambitious craft project this year?
KA: “Screen printing is probably the most ambitious thing we did. I absolutely love it.
“A lot of craft stores have screen printing kits these days. We never do anything which is totally beyond, because it’s not fun if you do that.”
What did you make with your sister Sofie?
KA: “We did wreath-making — she’s a very talented florist. To be honest, she’s better than me in all respects. My siblings constantly refer to her as ‘The real Kirstie Allsopp!’”
Where does your love of crafting come from?
KA: “My mother was a picture framer and an interior decorator. When I was a child, she sewed a lot and painted furniture. My father worked for Christie’s for many years, so he appreciates works of art, but would now describe himself as a painter.
“So there has always been a sense of doing stuff, mending stuff and appreciating all these British crafts that surrounded me in our home.”
Do you have any tips for aspiring crafters?
KA: “You don’t need a whole lot of equipment. You can go a long way with a glue gun, a cutting board with numbers, and a good scalpel. Then you’ve just got to discover what your forte is. Play is fantastic.
“We’ve tailored this show for both watchers and doers. If we’ve created something which makes both groups happy, then we’ve achieved something.”
We’ve heard ‘Love It or List It’ is returning. What can you reveal?
KA: “Yes! I’m not allowed to say what my favourite show is, but I really love Love It or List It. It’s a sensational show.
“It’s been really tough this year because building costs have gone up so much and availability of workers has been really hard. We go along, meet someone, know what they need to do with their house, and give them a ballpark figure. Then it turns out actually the ballpark figure is a lot more. It’s been difficult and we’re going to try and reflect that in the show.”
Has filming been affected by Covid-19 too?
KA: “A couple of times. We’ve been very lucky – touch wood – we haven’t had a major takedown. But we’ve had a couple of shoots that have had to be cancelled. We’re very careful and have incredibly strict protocols, which keeps everyone filming. So yes, we’ve had some, but we’ve been relatively lucky.”
And finally, are you looking forward to Christmas?
KA: “I’m beside myself with excitement for it. I already know where I’m going to be carol singing on Christmas Eve!
“I always try to persuade [radio DJ] Jo Whiley to play Driving Home for Christmas when we’re going to film this Christmas show but – because we film in advance – she always says ‘No, it’s too early!’ But it can’t come early enough!”