I have been SO excited about sharing this post with you! Please welcome the AMAZINGLY beautiful and talented Tahnee from 'Milk Please Mum', one of the most stunning blogs on the interwebz. Tahnee is a Photographer and Mumma by day and a Blogger by night. She is also really attractive, just sayin'.
MERRY CHRISTMAS FOLKS! The festive cheer is in full swing at our place, not hard when the tree went up in November as per the kids' request.. everything is as it should be - 24 hour carols are driving the husband nuts, I will only drink out of St Nick or Rudolph clad cups, I'm on a roll with the Christmas shopping,the school grind is over- holidays are here- YESS!
Em asked me to drop in and share some Christmassy craft stuff with you, thinking perhaps you'd like to clean glue off your table every day between now and the BIG day or sweep up wayward glitter for the next three months, maybe get your bake on? She's nice like that. All in the name of some good festive cheer. I've got lots to share - almost all of it old and rehashed (complete with some very ordinary photograph quality - wow what a difference twelve months can make!). But I won't apologise! The good stuff is worth repeating. Classic really.
Okay, this is going to be short and sharp. O-kaaay, scrap the short bit but I'm gonna be sharp - bark my ideas at you like orders. Cause I know you're busy. You've got lists to write, menus to plan, online shopping to do, gifts to think of for those annoying people who are so bloody hard to buy for. I get it.
So here we go.
Reindeer stamped wrapping paper! Got kids? Yes! Several? Even better. Put them to work. Get them going on some stamping which you can convert into little reindeer heads. Easy, colourful and most importantly - fun!
If you're a painting-with-smalls-drives-
me-insane kinda person, then use the mountains of artwork they brought home from the mess they made at kindy/playgroup/childcare all year that you kept so lovingly, for this very moment. When giving a gift wrapped in my child's artwork, the recipient has always commented on how fantastic it is, and also lingers a little longer to enjoy the outside of the gift before finding out what's on the inside!
Cards and gift tags - make your own! Another one for the smalls. That old classic, the potato stamp, just keeps giving. You don't even need fancy paper or card, though please, do splash out if you feel the desire! Cut your spud in half and use cookie cutters to make a shape in the bottom of each half. Press down about 5mm and then use a sharp knife to trim the excess away from the outside of your shape. Blot on some kitchen towel to get rid of the starch. Remember anything goes here. If your kids are too little to take direction, let them be. If they stamp a sheet of paper all higgledy piggledy you can chop it up into pieces, punch a hole, tie some string and use as gift tags.
Anything-goes-garland! If you're an avid crafter then you'll have plenty of supplies lying around. And if not, head to your local $2/reject shop where you can find plenty of cheapo supplies. We used buttons, large sequins, cut up pieces of coloured felt, recycled christmas decorations, old lantern cases, coloured wooden beads, broken necklaces.
Make yourself a cuppa and put the carols on. Thread your needle onto some twine/embroidery thread/thick cotton and start threading. Make a pattern if you like, or if that feels too hard, just reach for whatever is closest and see what you come up with at the end (our preferred method). My eldest did this happily for about an hour, while my four year old was more interested in playing with and finding matching buttons amongst the hundreds spread all over the table, but he still sat still and gave me his input into what I was to thread onto his garland.
Hang on the wall or turn into a little mobile with some sticks and fishing line, then hang from your ducted heating vent!
Advent calendar! We've had a few different ones over the years - a fairly traditional one, filling numbered pockets with treats, stickers, activities etc. Last year we made an advent tree (idea loosely based on something seen on Pinterest) which was a big hit. It was both decorative and useful!
This year we're trying something different again. Late November I hit up Pinterest again for some calendar ideas only to feel a little lack lustre. Beautiful, of course, but nothing seemed to do it for me and then a little idea popped into my head. Why don't we try adding this year, instead of subtracting? It's a bit back to front, given the whole idea of advent is to count DOWN, but it was an idea the kids showed genuine excitement for when I suggested it, and the excitement is still going strong.
We're making a progressive Christmas artwork across the twenty four days, taking the time to sit down together each day to draw something to add to our big picture, either working alone or collaborating. Unsurprisingly, our smallest isn't overly interested but our biggest two have jumped right in. We have even seen bedtime slip by over an hour some nights because I couldn't bear to disturb the creative SILENCE produced by the concentration needed to make their beautiful creations they were so genuinely enveloped in. This one has been a winner! We're still in the early stages, but I think it's going to be a cracker when it's done. We have visitors arriving a week before Christmas who will be required to contribute to our artwork in exchange for a bed. This is the stuff to pack away (probably laminate first) and bring out in ten years so the kids can laugh at their funny - and BRILLIANT - drawings, and we parents can cry and wonder WHERE DID THE YEARS GO?!!
Christmas pillowcase! Raid your basket of fabric scraps and stitch until you've got enough to make a pillowcase. If the tricky inside out foldy thing on the inside at the end freaks you out, leave it out (but really, it is much easier than it looks). Just sew your two rectangles together, or one long rectangle folded in half, and you'll have your very own festive pillowcase, sure to encourage dreams of dancing sugarplums and all that.
Of course, you can always adapt the personalised pillow with a Christmas theme, or leave out the festive cheer and use your child's beautiful drawing as a unique gift for the grandparents or teacher.
Nativity scene! We made these last year which the kids played with for all of December. Super clever Joel has one ready for you this year too, so take your pick.
Edible crafts! I don't know about you, but I totally count baking as a craft. If you have to draw on or glue something together - even if you're using icing - then it's craft. And here's where you can incorporate your potato stamped cards and gift tags and reindeer stamped wrapping paper.
Some of our favourites for kindy/school gifts for little friends are rudolph biscuits and reindeer food.
My go-to edible gift this time of year is peppermint bark. Don't waste your time trying other recipes. I've tried them. They're not a PATCH on this one. Make it. You can thank me later. Or send hate mail because you will have eaten your own body weight in bark.
Honeycomb! Brilliant, delicious and perhaps most importantly - CHEAP! I try my hardest to keep a lid on spending this time of year, both because we have to and because we want to. Excess for the sake of excess is just plain crazy. In my book, spending more doesn't equate to caring more. While handmade, edible gifts may seem cheap on the hip pocket, they are definitely time consuming. And many of us are seriously time poor at this end of the year, which for me, makes these gifts mean more than if I were to go and buy a fancy box of chocolates or shortbread to package as a gift. Many a late night is spent in my kitchen throughout December, carols on, cup of tea within reach. Packing treats into little bags and baskets to give special people in our lives is a very enjoyable craft for me.
This honeycomb recipe is the only one I have ever tried because it always works so I have never looked elsewhere (as long as you don't burn your sugar, that is). It's from Lisa McCune's (with Di Thomas) Hopscotch and Honey Joys.
Di Thomas' Honeycomb
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 cup caster sugar
3 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup milk or dark chocolate, melted
// Mix together the golden syrup and sugar in a large saucepan and simmer over low heat for approximately 7 minutes.
// Remove from the heat and add the bicarb soda, stirring through, very quickly. Pour into a lined slice tin to set (the mixture begins to set VERY quickly, so you must work fast!).
// Allow to set and cool in tin.
// If you'd like a little added indulgence, break your honeycomb into rough chunks and spread out a bit on baking paper. Drizzle melted chocolate over honeycomb and allow to set.
// Be sure to collect all the tiny leftover shards - they are perfect for a delicious ice cream topper!
Gingerbread house! Perhaps you prefer a stable? Or a little (licorice street) neighbourhood, complete with gingerbread lamp posts, cars and park bench seats? Or an itty bitty cottage on the side of your coffee? (Yes, I made those fiddly f*@#ers AND enjoyed every minute. Clearly there is something very wrong with me.)
Our little neighbourhood street prompted a Christmas Day fit out competition between the family. Everyone got involved (bar two, who slept through it all in a food coma) and we laughed and laughed. There was some serious competition and a little tradition was born. Apparently we are making the Polar Express this year (and by 'we' they mean me..) and there will be a decorate-off between carriages. Whatever you choose to make, do it as a family. While the baking and construction can include your smalls, it is mostly a job for mum or dad. But decoration of your gingerbread creation is a job for one and all - even the grandparents!
So that's about it. I do hope there's something new in there for you to enjoy with your smalls. Thanks so much for having me, Em. Merry Christmas to your beautiful, crazy crew at The Beetleshack!
Much love to all - be safe and merry! xx
Thank you SO much Tahnee, you are amazing, obviously.
FIND TAHNEE OVER AT MILK PLEASE MUM