Summer’s over, the kids are back at school, X Factor’s back on the TV and the C word is starting to come up in the conversations all around me more and more.
Which can only mean one thing!
It’s time to dust down the long abandoned Christmas blog and start getting prepared for my favourite time of year.
I’m trying to get organised enough that everything is done by the 1st December so I can enjoy the run up to Christmas with one less thing to think about.
Are you with me?
If you are (and I hope you are) then consider this to be your two week warning and if you haven’t already sorted out your Christmas spending budget and got your mini Christmas organisation book done, then you need to read this post before you do anything else.
If you read my other blog, you might already know that my daughter collects shiny things and stones – quite a vague description of her collection I know but she literally has a box filled with everything from sparkly stones to interesting pebbles she’s found when we’re out and about!
She used to keep them in random boxes / drawers / piles in her bedroom until I made her a special box to put them all in last year.
To be fair, I didn’t actually make the box myself, it was just a plain wooden box that I decorated with some paints I had in the house but every time she shows someone (which is often as she LOVES it and really does treasure it) she tells them that I made it for her
A year later and it’s still one of her favourite things – she’s filled it with her special rock and sparkly collections, added in some buttons that she used to play with at my Mam’s house and she still has my Mam’s old mobile phone which I gave her just after she died. As a toddler she used to use it to talk to my Mam in heaven and even though she doesn’t do that anymore, it still gets a place in her special box.
I think it’s a lovely idea for a gift for someone and I’m thinking about making my son one for Christmas to keep his Lego mini figures in – I’m sure I could do some sort of Lego brick design. I could even do a bit of decoupage by using some PVA glue to cover it in Lego stickers or pictures and then a quick coat of varnish to seal it.
You can probably buy wooden boxes all over the place but I know that eBay is a great place to get one – if you do a search for plain wooden boxes you get a massive choice in size and shapes, all of which are quite reasonably priced. You could buy a smaller one toget the kids to decorate as a trinket box for their grandparents, a treasure chest shaped one for you to decorate and fill with gold coins and other pirate related presents or even one with a lock to decorate as a jewellery box.
I’m not against homemade presents in any way but I do like them to look well presented and not look too homemade if you know what I mean. Snowman soup is my favourite homemade present because it’s not only easy to make, it’s easy to make it look good!
To make your own make Snowman Soup gifts you’ll need enough hot chocolate powder to make two mugs, a bag of mini marshmallows, some chocolate sweets (buttons or caramel nibbles are perfect), a candy-cane, two cellophane cone bags per gift (try ebay or Hobbycraft) and some curling ribbon to make it all look pretty.
Tip the hot chocolate into the base of one of the cones and use a little bit of the ribbon to tie the bag up.
Cut the cellophane just above where you’ve tied the bag as in the picture below.
Slot the hot chocolate filled bag into the larger cellophane bag and top with a good handful of the marshmallows – try and arrange them so you completely cover the knot at the top of the hot chocolate bag.
Next add a layer of chocolate buttons to the bag – not too many but enough that they make a clear layer in your bag.
Use some of the curling ribbon to tie the bag up just above the chocolate buttons – I like to use a couple of different Christmassy colours just to make it look nice.
Use some more of the ribbon to hook a candy cane on to the top of the bag.
You can then print out a gift tag or get the kids to make one themselves – I use something like the one below just so people know what the gift is and how to make it
This is a great gift for grandparents, teachers and friends and I know of someone who makes them to sell at craft fairs at this time of year! You could even add a special mug to drink it out of to make it more of a special gift if you want to but it really is lovely exactly as it is!
It’s a whole new world of inspiration and ideas and you could probably lose hours of your life on there if you’re not careful (I’m not speaking from experience at all ;-)) but if you’re willing to take the risk, I’ve set up a new Pinterest board to go alongside this blog that will feature not only the posts from on here but also inspiration from across the internet.
If you want to follow, you’re more than welcome….
I’ll be adding more and more to it as the big day get’s nearer!
Christmas comes at the same time every year – it’s not like they just spring it on us at the last minute and we all have to run around like headless chickens trying to get everything organised at the last minute.
Not only will you end up spending more on Christmas because the later you leave it, the more chance there is that you’ll miss out on all the good deals and run out of time to make your own lovely presents, you’ll also have less time to spend on the having fun side of Christmas because you’ll still be stressing about what to buy and how you’re going to afford it.
(I *may* be speaking from experience when I say that you may be too busy stressing about money and other non-important Christmas related things to actually step back and enjoy it all.)
So, let’s start with a bit of present organisation….
First of all, write a list of people you need to buy for and work out what your budget is for each person on your list. I find it helps to have a special notebook to keep track of everything but not just any notebook – a homemade one that’s small enough to fit in even your smallest handbag so you can keep it with you wherever you go in case you see a bargain while you’re out and about.
Where can you get such a perfect notebook I hear you say.
Well, just watch this and you can make one yourself….
Now you can write each person on your list down in the book along with the amount you want to spend on them – just make sure that you set an affordable amount and that you don’t go over the top.
Next you need to decide what sort of present you want to buy everyone. I sometimes make people themed hampers as presents which is great if you’re on a budget as you can buy small things each week with your shopping and you can look out for some cheap baskets or boxes to make the hampers in. You can do a spa style hamper with some beauty products, candles and a face mask or a girly night in hamper with a DVD, a wine glass, a mini bottle of wine and some popcorn or chocolates – anything like that makes a lovely well thought out present and makes it really easy to budget for.
Don’t forget to keep your book updated every time you buy something so you don’t overspend or buy for the same person twice.
That’s probably enough to get you started on a lovely sunny day in August but I’ll be back (said in my best Arnie voice)….