Christmas crafting with children.

Christmas is such a great time of year as there are so many opportunities to do things with your family. Crafting at Christmas is so much fun and children are really good at being creative and having a go. Some people find it hard to play with their children when it comes to make believe games as they feel silly, so doing a craft project with your child could be a great way to spend some quality time together as it is more structured then running through the house wearing wings and waving a wooden spoon around for a magic wand (I speak from experience!) However, when doing craft activities with your child be careful to not be too regimental or self critical as what ever you make does not have to be a masterpiece or perfect, it should be fun!
 
I thought that I would share a few photos of simple craft activities that I have done with my children over the years to help give you some ideas.

 
Paper chains.
You can buy packs of these from most pound shops or you can make your own with some pretty paper and glue.
 
 
 
 

 
 


Beaded Christmas string decorations.
These are so easy to make and so much fun for young children. You simply wrap a plastic straw in Christmas paper and then cut the straw into pieces so that you now have Christmas ‘beads’. Then you get your child to thread them onto some string and you can use it to decorate your Christmas tree like you would tinsel.
 
 

Christmas pictures.
These can either be done with store brought items such as the photo on the right or a free way to do it is to cut out the pictures from any Christmas cards that you received last year that you do not want to keep like we did in the photo on the left.

 

Dad’s point of view on Christmas.

Dad’s point of view is a new feature that I am having on my blog and I would love to hear your thoughts on it? Also if you have an idea for an upcoming topic then please get in touch and let me know.

Dad’s point of view on Christmas.

My name is DJ and I am the husband of mum on a mission. I have been asked to write a post once a month on different topic’s to give a dads point of view and this months topic is Christmas.

I do like Christmas but I am not obsessed with it like my wife. I find that it is far too commercialised and I also think that there is far too much pressure put on parents to buy the latest of everything and for most, it simply is not financially possible. I have found these pressures get worse as your children get older as when they are small they do not know the difference between value and branded, but as they get older they are influenced by their peers and advertising companies and the pressure to give them what they want increases tenfold. My two older girls are always coming home from school and telling us what all their friends have and it is hard to hear as I know that we can not possibly compete even if we wanted to. I say if we wanted to as I do not believe in spoiling children and it does seem to me that a lot of children nowadays get showered in money and gifts as both parents are at work and rather then spend quality time with the children they compensate with money. If I could sum up Christmas in one word it would have to be stress (closely followed by fun) as I see how stressed out Denise gets if something goes wrong. I think that money can be quite a problem at this time of year and in the past Denise and I would argue about how much was being spent or the lack of money coming in. We are now older and a bit wiser so we have learned to see things from each other’s point of view and to work together to get to a point at which we are both happy so luckily there are no more Christmas related arguments between us anymore.
I am not really a Christmas planner so I tend to take a back seat in the planning of our Christmas. Denise likes to plan and shop and so on, so I am happy to be assigned tasks and let her get on with it. I am lucky that she enjoys all the Christmas preparation as if it was left to me it would be a very sorry affair! When it comes to Christmas preparation I think that one of the problems for me is that it seems like a lot of work for just one day.
If I had to pick one word to sum up what Christmas means to me, that would be family. We are not religious so we use Christmas as a time to celebrate our love for our family, as being a close family unit is something that both myself and Denise have always strived for. I like to spend Christmas day at home and we have quite a traditional Christmas playing board games and watching films and it is nice as both Denise and myself do share the same values so we never clash on things like how we will spend the day.
My three favourite things about Christmas are watching the children open their presents, helping to cook the Christmas dinner and watching the festive television programmes as a family. I also really enjoy doing the big Christmas food and drink shop as it is the only time each year that we can get all those luxuries that we normally go without so that is always fun for me.
My advice to anyone that is Christmas mad and the main organiser of their families Christmas is to chill out. Try not to put so much pressure on yourself and make sure that you actually enjoy yourself, after all it is only one day!
Even though I am not a Christmas fanatic I do enjoy Christmas every year and I thank my wife for all that she does to make each and every Christmas fantastic for us all.

Christmas first aid kit.

Every year I make up a Christmas first aid kit which is basically a box containing everything I think that we will need in case of any minor illness or injury over the Christmas period so that I do not have to be running around to buy things should we fall unwell.
The contents of this box need to be tailored to your family, but to give you an idea I have listed the contents of our Christmas first aid kit below.
  • Plasters, bandages and antiseptic wipes.
  • General painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.
  • Heartburn or indigestion medication.
  • Period pain medication.
  • Cold and flu medication.
  • Children’s cough medicine.
  • Children’s pain medication.
It is also important to check on any medication that you take regularly which you need a prescription to make sure that you will have enough to cover the festive season. If yours is going to run out, make sure you make an appointment to see your GP now so that you can tell your doctor and then they can make sure that you will have enough.
Once you have gathered all your supplies make sure that you put the kit somewhere safe that small children will not be able to get to and also somewhere that is easy for you to get to in case of a minor emergency.

Christmas baking.

I absolutely love to cook and bake and my favourite type of baking is Christmas baking. There is so much fun that you can have when you are baking for Christmas and it really gives you an excuse to step it up a gear which I love.
It is also a great activity to do with your children as they love cooking and then getting to eat what they have made! Now some people say that they can not cook but I do not believe them. Anyone can cook! Now I understand that some people may be better at it than others but that is mainly down to a persons personality and how much they practice. To cook well you simply need to be able to follow instructions and have patience and persistence. If you try to make a cake and it sinks in the middle and then you never again try to cook anything, then the fact is not that you can not cook, it is that you choose not to cook. Some people say they can make the food taste nice but lack presentation skills. I do not think that it is important how your food looks if it is made with love for you and your family to enjoy then that is the most important thing.
All three of my kids love to bake and I believe that is because it is something that I have done with them since they were old enough to hold a spoon. It’s a great bonding activity as you get a lot of time to chat while you mix and whisk together and at the end, you have something to feel proud of. I would also like to point out that I am no master chef myself, I just enjoy what I do and my family always like what I make and that is good enough for me.
There are so many great decorations available in shops and even in supermarkets which make cooking so much easier than before. All you need to do if you are a novice is make a basic sponge recipe to make some buns and then buy some Christmas themed edible decorations and let the kids go wild. Here are some photos of past Christmas bakes that I have done with my children to hopefully inspire you to have a go this Christmas.
These were made with store brought decorations. When I was in Asda the other day I noticed that they were selling Santa sugar paper decorations for just 50p which I think is very good value.
This is my mince pie recipe that I make every year with the kids as they are a big hit with my family and friends. I make the pastry from scratch but use a store brought jar of mincemeat.
This was a failed attempt at a Christmas tree! I found a silicone tree shaped tin in a pound store so we made a vanilla sponge and then made green buttercream icing and little-coloured chocolates to decorate. It might not look very professional but my little one loved making this last year and it tasted great so I was still very pleased with the results.
These are snow-capped fairy cakes which are orange sponge cakes and iced with meringue. Very yummy!


These are snowmen buns and they are decorated with marshmallows, strawberry laces and writing icing.

Gingerbread cookies cut into Christmas shapes and then decorated with writing icing pens.

I hope that I have given you some Christmas baking inspiration!

Christmas traditions.

Establishing family traditions is, in my opinion, a very important and worthwhile activity which can really bond a family together as they are unique to your family. A tradition is simply an activity that you always repeat at the same time each year. The recurring nature of the activity is set in stone so that every member of the family knows without a doubt that at a specific time each year the activity will be happening. For example, you may have a family party every summer or even if it was not every year but in fact every 5 years, the fact that you know it will happen and when it will happen is what makes it a tradition for you and your family.
Christmas is a wonderful time to create some fun family traditions as there are so many opportunities available to you. Do you already have Christmas traditions? I would love to hear from you and find out what they are. Maybe this is something new to you, that you have never thought of before. Well now is the perfect time to get your thinking cap on and start some new traditions this year that you and your family can carry on doing year after year.
Over the years we have accumulated quite a few traditions and they are all very special to us. As my older two children are now 15 and 14 I can really see the benefit of those family Christmas traditions as anyone with teenagers will know that teens do not often get excited about things as they are too ‘cool’ or ‘grown up’ but my two teens actually get excited about our traditions and they often talk about them in the run-up to Christmas and that really does warm my heart.
Here is a list of our Christmas traditions.
  • Each of my children has a little Christmas tree of their own and every year they pick a new decoration to add to their collection. My older two can actually tell me which decoration was brought in which year which is amazing as my memory is not that good! The idea is that when they reach 18 they will have a little tree containing 18 special decorations that they have picked out over the years. Something really lovely to treasure forever.
  • Once we have decorated the main tree we all gather around the tree and sing a Christmas carol while hubby puts the star on top of the tree. We then do a countdown from ten and when we get to zero hubby switches on the lights and we all clap and cheer. This may sound silly to some people, but it is something that we have always done and so if we were to stop it would feel really strange.
  • Every year I plan a different Christmas related activity from December 1st to Christmas eve and we call it our Christmas countdown. The idea is that we are counting down to Christmas by celebrating each and every day in the run-up to Christmas. We do many different activities such as cooking, games, arts and crafts, visiting Santa and the list goes on.
  • Every Christmas eve we have a ‘Christmas eve hamper’ which I’m sure many of you also do as it is a very popular idea. I will do a post about our hamper later this month for any of you that have not heard of this.
  • Every year we go into our town centre on a late night shopping night to just walk around and view the lights and soak up the atmosphere of Christmas.
  • Every Christmas eve we all sleep in the same room (hubby, children and myself) so that the first thing we all see when we wake up on Christmas morning is each other.

Where to stash the presents!

During the run-up to Christmas, we have a lot of pressies to hide from prying eyes and I wondered where everyone keeps theirs. Over the years I have had to become quite inventive as we have three girls, two of which are teens, to hide presents from. We have also lived in a flat and a very small house in the past which meant a total lack of space in general let alone at Christmas time when things needed to be kept secret.
I thought that I would share some of my ideas that I have used over the years for hiding presents when you are short of space.
  • In empty cereal boxes in the breakfast cupboard – making sure it is a cereal that none of the children like!
  • In empty suitcases.
  • In the garden shed.
  • Under the stairs (most of my homes have had a cupboard under the stairs and they always had a dark gap right at the back, perfect for hiding things!)
  • In the airing cupboard under sheets and towels.
  • Under the bed or inside your bed if you have a divan.
  • In sealed boxes labelled charity shop or car boot (just make sure that your partner knows what you’re doing or you may lose them!)
  • Very small gifts can be hidden in washed out jars or tins and hidden in the back of the food cupboard.
  • Small gifts can be hidden behind your books on your book shelve.
  • Under the kitchen sink at the back.
  • In a box on top of your wardrobe.
  • Wrapped in a few plastic bags at the bottom of the wash bin.
  • In the loft.
  • In the garage.
  • If you have a unit with drawers, such as a chest of drawers and you remove the bottom drawer, there will be a space at the base where you can hide things and then put the drawer back in.
If you are having to hide things in multiple locations then make sure that you write down exactly what you have hidden and where you have hidden it so that you do not end up losing anything.
I hope that I have given you some good ideas to get you started if you have been wondering where to hide your presents this year. Where do you hide yours? Do you have places that I have not listed? I would love to hear them.
This post is an entry into the Hudl Christmas cheer competition.

    Plan, plan and plan some more.

    Christmas is fast approaching and some people have not given any thought to the big day or started any type of preparation and it really bugs me. Now don’t get me wrong if people like to leave things to the last minute then that is entirely up to them, but what makes me mad is when they moan about it. I am forever hearing things like ‘Hasn’t December come round quick this year?’, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to pay for Christmas this year as I only have one payday left before Christmas.’ and ‘I have so much to do and no time to do it all, I really don’t know how I’m going to get everything done. Where did the time go?’
    Well, forgive me if I’m being harsh but Christmas is on the same date each year and we all know that it is coming. The date doesn’t get withheld from us and then the government suddenly announces the date only giving us a couple of weeks to prepare. We all have the same time in a day and we all have busy lives, that is the way of the world now, but still, people seem to be surprised that Christmas is nearly here.
    My advice to those readers that have not yet thought about the holiday is to plan, plan and plan some more. Personally I think that you should start your planning in September as that gives you time to budget your paychecks and plan in a few tasks each week so that come December you know exactly what you are doing and everything is budgeted and you can now relax and know that you have put the hard work in and now you just follow your plan and relax and enjoy the season.
    However we are now in December and that means that you have less than a month to get organised, so here is my advice for getting it all done in time. This is a simple plan as of course, you are lacking the time and possibly funds so I thought it best to make this plan as basic as possible.
    You need to start by working out how much money you can afford to spend between now and Christmas and then write a list of what you need to buy. If you find that you are not going to have enough money to cover the cost of your Christmas then you have three options. The first option, which under the circumstances is the most sensible option, is to cut some of the things that you were going to buy, reduce the amount you are spending on people and take the cost of this Christmas down to what you have already worked out you can afford to spend. The second option is to write down the difference of what you need and then sell things that you no longer want or need, take a second job or find a way to get the extra money that you need, although, given the time frame, this will be hard to achieve. The final option is to borrow the extra money that you need by using credit cards or catalogues or a loan. This is really not a very good idea as you will be starting the new year in debt which is not a great start to the year.
    Once you have sorted your budget, you then need to make several lists. You need your gift list, your activities list, your food and drink list, your decoration list and your other things to do and buy list which covers cards to buy, cards to write, presents to wrap, crackers to buy and so on.
    Once you have all of this information you then need your planner or if you do not have one you need to get a note pad or some paper, so that you can write the dates between now and Christmas leaving space to plan your days, so that you can then add tasks to each day so that eventually you will get it all done and of course you can also delegate to family members to help you get everything done in time.
    If you are one of those that have left things to the last minute, I hope that this has helped you in some way. You may have to compromise on some of the things that you had been wanting to do or buy in order to get everything done, but it is better to have a Christmas filled with love and family time and within your means then for you to be so stressed and panicked that you do not get a chance to enjoy it or spend time with your family.
    If I could offer you one piece of important advice on how to have a stress free organised Christmas, it would have to be, to plan earlier next year!

    My Christmas wish

    Smiles.
    My Christmas wish is the same every year and that is to see my family smile.
     
    I adore seeing smiles as when you see your loved ones smiling you know that they are happy. You know that all the stress, rushing around and expense of the last few months has been worth it.
     
    I love to see the excited smiles on the children’s faces when they check to see if Santa has been. I love to see my children smile when they open their gifts.

    Loving smiles are exchanged between myself and my husband when we sit at our dinner table ready to eat the wonderful Christmas meal that we have worked together to create.

    I love the Smiles and the laughter when we are all playing board games or Wii games together in the afternoon.


    The smiles and giggles when we cuddle up and watch Christmas movies or festive TV.

    The smiles of full tummy’s after our Christmas tea and the final smiles of the day as I tuck my little one into bed and say goodnight.
     
    I must be one of the luckiest people in the world as every year my Christmas wish comes true and I get to spend my Christmas day with the people I love and see their smiles and hear their laughter.

    Smiles that light up beautiful faces and make my heart smile.
     
     
    Merry Christmas! This post is my entry into the Tots100/Argos 12 Days of Christmas competition.
     

    December’s idea list.

    Welcome to the first of my monthly idea lists. There is a different idea for every day of the month and then at the end of each month, a new list will be posted. You are welcome to follow the list to the letter, or you can just pick and choose the ideas that you like and find useful. This month focuses on Christmas, but if you celebrate something different you can always apply the idea’s to your own holiday and adjust them accordingly. I would love to hear what you think of this and if you find it helpful so please let me know.

    December.

      

    December 1st – Go for a family walk and take some time out together before the madness of Christmas begins.
    December 2nd – Clean all your remote controls today as these are often forgotten when cleaning and can get quite messy!
    December 3rd – Plan your Christmas menu and shopping lists if you haven’t already as the more you prepare in advance the smoother your Christmas will be.
    December 4th – More list making today! Write a list of everything you still need to do or buy before the big day and then start adding them to your ‘to do’ lists as there are only 3 weeks left until Christmas day.
    December 5th – Treat yourself to a nice long soak in the bath with a face pack and some candles to reflect and unwind – go on, you deserve it!
    December 6th – Treat the kids to a hot chocolate or warm milk and some cookies when they get home from school today. No children? Treat yourself instead!
    December 7th – Run around the house with a cloth to clean all your light switches today, you will be amazed how dirty they can get, but please be very careful as water and electric DO NOT mix!
    December 8th – Watch a Christmas movie today to get your household feeling festive.
    December 9th – Take a look at your garden and do a quick tidy up removing any leaves that have made there way to your garden along with any rubbish that may have blown in and give your paths a sweep.
    December 10th – Do something nice for a neighbour or someone less fortunate than you to spread some holiday cheer.
    December 11th – Decide on what you and your family will be wearing on Christmas day and make sure that you know where everything is and that everything is clean, ironed etc. so that there will be no stress or tears on Christmas morning. If you have brought or will be buying new clothing for Christmas day make sure that you try it on ahead of time as there is nothing worse then finding out on the day that your dress is too small or your trousers are too long!
    December 12thLess than 2 weeks until Christmas – how are you doing? Spend some time today going through your lists and seeing where you are in your preparations for Christmas.
    December 13th – Make a Christmas first aid kit and add any needed items to this weeks shopping list. Not sure what to put in your kit? I will be posting a suggestion list in time for this task. 
    December 14th – Check your candle, incense or air freshener supplies to see if you have any festive scents and if you do not, make sure and add them to your shopping list. In my opinion, there is nothing nicer than walking into a home that smells like Christmas.
    December 15th – Do some Christmas baking today and get the whole household involved.
    December 16th – Give yourself a treat today like soaking your feet in warm water and doing a home pedicure to soothe tired feet and get them looking good for strappy sandals at Christmas parties.
    December 17th – Check that you have all your Christmas essentials in and that you know where they are, such as tin foil and batteries.
    December 18thOne week until Christmas!!!
    *Today is the last day to post letters and cards to UK addresses 2nd class.*
    Check your lists and evaluate where you are in your preparations for the big day. If you are finding you have way too many items on your to-do list and not enough time to get them done, try making things easier on yourself and reducing your list as much as possible. Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect Christmas and it is far more important to your family and loved ones that you are happy and healthy and able to enjoy the festivities then if you make every meal from scratch or the house is sparkling clean to the point that no one dares to breathe in case they mess something up!
    December 19th – Give your entryway and front door a quick clean to make sure that it is clean and welcoming for any Christmas guests.
    December 20th – Go for a family walk or drive at night to view the Christmas decorations in your area.
    *Today is the last day to post letters and cards to UK addresses 1st class*
    December 21st – How are you doing with your present buying and gift wrapping? If you can, spend some time today to try and get most of it done if you haven’t already. Just think how nice it would be to not have to stay up until the early hours of Christmas morning wrapping pressies so that you can start Christmas day well rested.
    December 22nd – Have a board game afternoon with your family to take some time out from technology and enjoy being together.
    December 23rd – Spend some time doing any last minute tasks that still need to be done and any last minute cleaning jobs while listening to some festive music.
    December 24th – Hopefully you have everything organised and you are free to enjoy today with your family, setting the mood for a relaxed, stress-free Christmas. Let go of any worries of things that you had wanted to do but did not have the time or money to actually do, as it is too late now so no use worrying. Instead, spend 30 minutes at most writing down some notes of those things that you didn’t get to do and then put the list in a file for late summer next year. That way you will have plenty of time to plan in and budget etc. for Christmas 2014. Once you have filed that paper away, forget about it and enjoy the lovely Christmas that you have worked so hard for.
    December 25th – Happy Christmas! Big hugs and kisses from me to you and your family and I hope that you enjoy the day.
    December 26th – If you have not already done so, make a note of what was given to you and your family and who it was from so that you can write thank you notes later before you forget who gave you what.
    December 27th – Take a few moments today to reflect on the past few days and make some notes of what was special, anything that you would want to change etc. and any new traditions that you would like to continue and file it with your previous notes for late summer next year.
    December 28th – Have you made plans for new years eve and new years day? If you are having a party make a few lists of what is still needed to buy and do and make sure that you plan your time over the next few days to get prepared. If you are staying home but not having a party, you could still plan a small tea party just for the household with some games and music and welcome the new year in together as a family.
    December 29th – Give the house a quick clean as if you are anything like me and my family the house could really do with a tidy up after all the festivities. Set your timer on your phone or clock for 20 minutes in each room downstairs and your family bathroom and go mad for 20 minutes. Once that 20 minutes is up, you go to the next room and so on until you have done all of those areas. Will it be completely spotless? Of course not, but it will be enough to get you through to the new year as who wants to spend hours cleaning right now?
    December 30th – Prepare for your new year celebrations.
    December 31st – However you plan to spend today, enjoy it!

    5 very low cost Christmas activities to do with your children this Christmas.

    We all know how stressful the Christmas season can get when it comes to our finances so it can be difficult to think of things that you can do with your children that are not going to cost you a fortune. What people sometimes forget is that Christmas activities can in actual fact be very inexpensive if you use your imagination. Here are five ideas to get you started.
    1. Christmas carolling.
    you could do a search on the internet to find a local group that you could go with or if there are none in your area then why not start your own group and pick a charity to donate any money given to you. If you’re not feeling so adventurous to sing in public then why not print off some lyrics and get the music online so that you and your family can have a carolling session at home. Children especially love to sing so you could have a fun afternoon together for the cost of some ink.
    2. Put on a show.
    You could either make up a dance to some Christmas music or you could go the whole hog and do a made-up play with singing and dancing depending on the ages of your children and how many you have. You can then perform for daddy or grandparents and get someone to film it for lasting memories.
    3. A Christmas sweet hunt.
    Buy a bag of Christmas shaped chocolates such as chocolate Santa’s or snowmen which are normally sold for £1 a bag, but quite often you can get 2 bags for £1 so very inexpensive. You then hide the chocolates all over the house (but make sure you count how many you have hidden so that you know when the game is over!) You then get your children to find them. I love this game as it is so simple to do but such good fun for the kids. If you have more then one child you could assign each child a shape so if they see any that are not meant for them they leave them where they are and carry on looking for their own. It’s a great game as you can adjust the difficultness according to the age and ability of the child so that all ages can play.
    4. Christmas crafting session.
    Raid your arts and crafts stash and have a family crafting session. You could make pictures, collages, models or Christmas cards.
    5. A nighttime walk.
    Wrap up warm and go for a walk one night around your neighbourhood to see all the decorations that have been put up on the houses. You can even make it a game by seeing who can spot the most Santa lights or reindeer’s and so on. Young children especially love going for walks in the dark as everything seems so much more exciting when it’s dark and they should be in bed!