Easter Gift Baskets #BostikBloggers

We used all the felt from our #Bostikbloggers kit last week to make Easter themed felts, but we still had loads of goodies left over in our box from CraftMerrily, including all the embellishments – eggs, buttons, flowers – that are as much Spring as they are Easter.Easter Gift Baskets

We received a miniature basket, some ‘hay’ as my children call it, but it’s not hay! It’s the stringy stuff though, and a supersonic glue. It’s called Bostik Blu-Tack Fast Tak and seriously, this glue is like Spiderman got it on with superglue. Get that stuff on your hands and you spend the rest of the day clinging to everything around you. It’s effective though.

For these gift jars or gift baskets we made egg shaped biscuits, which the children and I decorated. You could make anything though – Jellybean Fudge is pretty and looks kind of egg shaped too. Or if you don’t have time to make something, fill it with chocolate eggs.Easter Gift Baskets

We then stuffed the ‘hay’ into the baskets, leaving enough overlapping so the glue has something to cling to. You could glue the strips in, but I didn’t really find that necessary. It clings quite well on it’s own. These little baskets are only big enough for about 2 – 3 tiny eggs, so don’t over fill it. Easter Gift Baskets

Spray the glue (or use your regular glue) to the eggs, and lay them inside the basket.Easter Gift Baskets

Fill a jar with biscuits, fudge or other Easter treats.

Easter Gift Baskets

Thread a strand of the ‘hay’ through the basket handle and attach it to the jar. You could wrap it around the lid of the jar so that there’s easy access, or you can seal it by threading it through the clasp.

Give your friends and family their beautiful Easter gifts!

We receive a craft pack as part of the #BostikBlogger project once a month. This contains craft materials and Bostik glues to hold it all together.

Easter Felt Crafts- #BostikBloggers

When I was a child, my dad made us a big felt board on the back of a Carrom board and we spent hours playing with felt shapes, making up and telling stories using this board as our base. We had a huge bag of different felt ‘stories’, but now, 20 years and two continents later, I can’t begin to image what ever happened to all of that. Unfortunately I don’t really view myself as particularly crafty – I mean, I can’t make a lady bird out of felt, or a fish out of felt, for that matter… but a little bit of Pinterest and Google later, I realised I probably can make them out of hearts, and I can make hearts!

In our BostikBloggers box we seem to receive some felt sheets every month, so with last month’s box I made these heart-based-animals.

Bostik Bloggers February

This month the theme is Easter, and our box contained yellow and pink felt sheets, so I made some Easter eggs, spring flowers, bunnies, chickens and a duck. Easter Felts

I need to buy a nice large felt sheet for the girls to be able to use their felt shapes properly, but with any luck, and a bit of practice, I will be able to make them many more shapes in the weeks and months to come.

For these I didn’t really follow a pattern as such – I just free cut, which meant I made some mistakes, but in general you can see what they’re supposed to be. Easter Felts

My girls really loved their Easter shapes, despite Ameli thinking the bunny is a bit creepy looking, Aviya figured since it was pink it had to be fine. Perfect logic in my book! I know they’re not perfect, but they are fun, and that’s good enough for me.

Valentine’s Craft Ideas #BostikBloggers

I was really pleased to find out that we’d been selected to be Bostik Bloggers again this year, and our first box is Valentine’s themed. It may be about a month off the celebration of love, but it’s never too early to get started, so here are some Valentine’s Craft Ideas for you!

Valentine’s Heart-flakesHeart Flakes

These are as individual as snow flakes, but they’re fun to make.

You’ll need equally sized strips of paper, preferably of the double-sided variety. Fold them in half without squashing the middle, and glue the loose ends together. Once they are secure, glue the strips together – you may find it easier to glue them at opposite angles (so in a figure of eight) rather than all together like in the picture bottom left.

When they are all glued together you’ll have a circle of loops (bottom middle) and then push the middle of each loop to the centre, giving the middle a little squeeze to make a heart.

Add a loop or string to hang the heart-flake from. Read more: Valentine’s Craft Ideas #BostikBloggers

#BostikBloggers Christmas Crafts

The difference between crafting for the blog and crafting for the kids is pretty much in the output. If I’m crafting for the kids, I kind of let them go for it, whereas if I’m trying to make something specific for the blog I tend to micro manage their every step. That, of course, is no fun for them. I once went in search of my 6 year old mid craft – session to find her hiding in the bed, saying she was bored of watching me having fun. Parent-fail, right there.

The good thing about being a #BostikBlogger for me is that they send a box, and it’s a bit like a lucky dip of things to do. The first few months we were doing it I tried to dictate what we could do with it, and the kids were really only half hearted about it. This month, however, I decided to do something a little different, and just leave the kids to their own creative endeavours.

Our pack this month included Glitter Pens and a Fine & Wide Glu Pen, and a variety of paper craft items, including pompoms, papers, ribbons and pipe cleaners (these are awesome pipe cleaners though! They look like Christmas tree branches, and I can’t find them online!)

Bostik Bloggers

Read more: #BostikBloggers Christmas Crafts

Sweet Christmas Gift Ideas

With just two weeks to go till Christmas, it’s time to get the teacher gifts done, the little token presents for colleagues and those final stocking fillers for holiday guests too. While it’s all too easy to grab a couple of boxes of chocolate and give them out, there’s something to be said for personalising, even in the little gifts, so here are a few ‘sweet’ ideas that won’t take very long, but will be unique. Go to your local old fashioned sweet shop, or shop online for retro sweets and feed your sweet tooth.

Crackers

Make your own Christmas crackers by saving up toilet paper rolls, then filling small sandwich bags with a selection of sweets and stuffing them inside. Use fun Christmas paper to wrap the toilet rolls, leaving enough on either side to make it look like a cracker. You can even go professional and include cracker snaps to make sure they ‘bang’. 

Read more: Sweet Christmas Gift Ideas

Scooter Tips & Tricks Infographic

If your small people will be finding a scooter under the Christmas tree this festive season, Halfords have put together a fantastic tips and tricks infographic that would look great printed out and included with the gift (print it at 5 pages x 5 pages, trust me!)

The infographic has nine tricks that kids can learn and master, then there’s also a bit on what to wear and where to ride your scooter safely.

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Christmas Stories With Matching Activities For A Book Advent

Life gets away from me sometimes, so here we are on the first day of Advent and I’m only now posting the books we’ve put up for our advent calendar this year, which doesn’t really give anyone a chance to do the same, but never mind: you can still do a 12 Days of Christmas book calendar, which means next year you only have to get 12 books. Silver linings, eh?

The way I’ve done it this year is to attach a book to each day of our string advent. I’ve made a note on the wrapping so I know which book’s inside too so that I can swap it around if I need or want to.

DSCN4389Below is a list of the books we’re using, and a list of activities that we could ‘copy’ from each book. Most day’s we’ll probably only do one thing, which is good because it means we can use the books a few years in a row!

Some of these books are available as sets or collections from stores like The Works.

A Christmas Wish – Caroline Antsey & Libby Hamilton

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  • Make a silver dish craft
  • Decorate a Christmas tree
  • Go to your town’s Christmas event
  • Make acorn shaped biscuits
  • Take food to a food bank

Best Friends Or Not – Paeony Lewis & Gaby Hansenbest friends or not

  • Make ice crystals
  • Have a snow ball fight
  • Visit the penguins and polar bears at the zoo

Jack Frost – Kazuno Kohara

jack frost

  • Make snowflakes for the window
  • Go Ice skating
  • Build snowmen
  • Experiment with salt and hairdryers to see how fast water melts

Lucy and Tom’s Christmas – Shirley Hughes

lucy & tom

(We have this 1985 version. I’m assuming the content is the same)

  • Make (or stir) Christmas pudding
  • Make Christmas cards with pictures of Robins and trees
  • Make paper chains
  • Write letters to Father Christmas
  • Sing carols
  • Go to a Christmas market

The Jolly Christmas Postman- Janet & Allan Ahlberg

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  • Write Christmas cards
  • Hand deliver Christmas cards

The Night Before Christmas – CC Moore

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We have this 2013 version and this 2015 version

  • Make a snuggly Christmas bed in front of the Christmas tree
  • Make a reindeer craft
  • Make reindeer food

Russel’s Christmas Magic – Rob Scotton514WwCpBm3L._SX486_BO1,204,203,200_

  • Free printable colouring picture
  • Hang lanterns in trees
  • Make ice lanterns
  • Talk about how some children won’t have presents this Christmas, and donate to a toy drive to ‘save Christmas’ for someone else.

The Nutcracker  – Retold by Gaby Goldsack5159ptibtFL._SX392_BO1,204,203,200_

  • Tenuous link, but see a show, a pantomime, or an ‘on ice’ show
  • Decorate a gingerbread house in the Kingdom of Sweets

Sam’s Snowflake – Gillian Shields51VEld6ruZL._SX485_BO1,204,203,200_

  • Go tobogganing or on an indoor ski slope
  • Make honey cakes
  • Roast chestnuts
  • Make snowflakes from paper, glitter and cotton wool
  • Hang Christmas stockings

Jesus’ Christmas Party by Nicholas Allan

  • Jesus Christmas PartySet up a nativity scene
  • Listen to Christmas music

Alfie’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes

Alfie's Christmas

  •  Make Christmas decorations
  • Make Christmas cards
  • Make Christmas tree shaped cookies
  • Pick up a real Christmas tree
  • Decorate the Christmas tree
  • Wrap presents
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Sing Christmas carols
  • Go for a walk, spotting Christmas trees and lights

Little Duck’s First Christmas by Dawn Richards & Heidi D’hamers

  • 511TaruyXFL._SX441_BO1,204,203,200_ Make mince pies
  • Sing carols
  • Have a snowball fight
  • Go on a sledge ride
  • Bake angel biscuits
  • Play a game together and share lots of Christmas cuddles!

Is It Christmas? by John Prater

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  • Make Christmas cards
  • Make a garland from the Christmas cards you’ve received
  • Help with chores to get the house Christmas ready
  • Bake  Christmas cakes and cookies
  • Play in the snow. Make a snowbear
  • Collect & decorate a Christmas tree
  • Have a picnic by the twinkling Christmas lights

Baby Bear’s Christmas Kiss by John Prater

Baby Bear's Christmas Kiss

  • Go tobogganing or on a ski slope
  • Play Hide and Seek
  • Collect berries or pine cones in the woods and make Christmas crafts

The Nativity, The Story of Baby Jesus by May Eliot

The Nativity

  • Do a random act of kindness
  • Offer some time or gifts or food to a homeless shelter
  • Go stargazing
  • Make star shaped treats

The Sheep that Saved Christmas by Jason Page & Adrian Reynolds

The Sheep that Saved Christmas

  • Wrap Christmas presents
  • Write out some Christmas jokes

Mrs Pepperpot’s Christmas by Alf Proysen & Hilda Offen

Mrs Pepperpot's Christmas

  • Go to to a Christmas market
  • Make a bird feeder
  • Hang mistletoe

Mouse’s Christmas Wish by Judi Abbot

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  • Write Christmas lunch or Christmas party invitations
  • Do some Christmas baking like Duck
  • Go ice skating like Bear
  • Go on a train ride – Santa train if you can help it
  • Decorate the tree
  • Hang up stockings
  • Read Christmas stories
  • Play games together

More Precious Than Gold – Gillian Lobel & Julie Monks

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  • Make jewelled crowns for the wise men
  • Do a Random Act of Kindess
  • Go stargazing to find the brightest star in the sky

Saint Nicholas – Retold by Mary Joslin

  • 51kE2XgMwAL._SX387_BO1,204,203,200_Host a party and invite someone who may be new/lonely
  • Hang Christmas stockings
  • Drop anonymous gift parcels to neighbours (biscuits or chocolate coins)

The Christmas Angel –  Pirkko Vainio

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  • Bake Christmas cookies – hearts, stars, moons and angels
  • Put up Christmas decorations
  • Make paper star decorations
  • Donate food to the homeless/volunteer at a soup kitchen
  • Add string to cookies and decorate the tree
  • Sing carols

One Christmas Night – M. Christina Butler & Tina Macnaughton

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  • Make mince pies
  • Make Christmas Cake
  • Make a giant golden star for the tree
  • Go for a forest walk and collect holly, chestnuts and acorns to decorate a nature area of the house
  • Decorate holly twigs in red green and gold glitter
  • Make Christmas gifts for friends – bake a cake, paint a picture, make felt stockings full of  nuts

 


**

60+ Activity Advent Calendar Ideas

This year we are making a big deal out of Advent. I am totally overcompensating for the fact that there are no cousins, no nieces and nephews, no aunts, no uncles and no grandparents around, and on as tight a budget as possible, I’m trying to make every day of Advent special in one way or another.

In order to do this we are starting each day with a toy advent calendar, a book advent calendar and an activity advent calendar. We try to marry up the book advent with the activity advent, so if the characters in the book make biscuits, we make biscuits. If they decorate their tree, we decorate ours, and so on. Sometimes the link is only a tenuous one, but a link none the less. It’s more about the togetherness than the actual activity really.

To make our activity calendar as fun as possible, I start by making a list of everything that’s happening around us. Friends are having a Christmas party? There’s a community candlelight walk? There’s a community carols by candlelight? The cathedral in town has a Christingle ceremony? Christmas market? Santa cruises? All these things go on my list and in the calendar. That way I can pre-buy tickets to make December a little less costly. I can also look through the Christmas books and see which stories would marry up with what’s happening in the area, then I number those books with the date of the activity – A ‘Jack Frost’ matinee show at the theatre on 10 December would mean I label the Jack Frost book Number 10.

It’s a fair bit of work and planning and it’s a good idea to have backups like craft activities in case weather, sickness or just not feeling like it change the plans.

Advent Calendar

  • Act out the nativity story with a nativity scene
  • Attend “Carols by Candlelight”
  • Attend a Christmas concert
  • Attend a Christmas parade (or watch on TV/YouTube)
  • Attend a Christmas market

Book Advent Calendar

  • Attend Christmas Eve Mass at a beautiful cathedral
  • Build a snowman together
  • Bundle up and go on a sleigh ride
  • Buy bargain events and activities on websites like Wowcher, Groupon, Living Social, and Little Bird
  • Buy easy and ready made craft kits – for example Lidl and various Pound shops have small Christmas craft kits, and Baker Ross too
  • Clean out your toy boxes and donate good quality items to a charity shop
  • Colour a Christmas picture or make a Christmas craft
  • Create Christmas messages and videos using Portable North Pole – one for the day you post a letter to Santa, one for a few days before Christmas, one for Christmas eve… loads to choose from
  • Cut or pick up a Christmas tree
  • Deck the halls with boughs of holly
  • Decorate a gingerbread house
  • Decorate a wreath together
  • Decorate the tree
  • Donate tinned food to a food bank
  • Dress up for dinner one night
  • Drive around to look at the Christmas lights
  • Fill a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child or similar shoe box appeal
  • Go ice skating

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  • Go sledding
  • Go to a Christingle church service
  • Go to a tree-lighting ceremony
  • Hang some mistletoe and give out kisses
  • Have a candle lit bubble bath and pretend it’s snow!
  • Have a Christmas party
  • Have a snowball fight
  • Have hot chocolate with candy canes
  • Invite a few friends over for a cookie decorating party
  • Make (or draw inside) thank you cards that are ready to be filled out after Christmas
  • Make a magic elf door
  • Make a snow scene with fake snow and ice crystals
  • Make a family bed by the Christmas tree
  • Make a handmade Christmas ornament for someone else in the family
  • Make a paper garland to hang on the tree, over a door, or in the kids bedroom
  • Make a photo album of your year and look through it together
  • Make a silly Christmas message to send out on Christmas day
  • Make Christmas cookies
  • Make Christmas trees out of ice cream cones, green frosting, and sprinkles
  • Make eggnog
  • Make gingerbread cookies

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  • Make glitter snow globes out of baby food jars
  • Make hot apple cider
  • Make paper crowns and talk about the wise men and the gifts they brought Jesus
  • Make paper snowflakes to hang from the ceiling
  • Make play dough snowmen
  • Make sand angels
  • Make snow angel biscuits
  • Make sugar crystals on a stick
  • Make thumbprint snowmen
  • Make reindeer food
  • Participate in a local toy drive
  • Read the Christmas story in the Bible
  • Roast chestnuts
  • Roast marshmallows inside over a flame
  • Subscribe to Weekend Box (Code for free box: Luschka690) or Toucan Box (Code for free box: A1014) for the winter months. First box is free if you use those links and codes
  • Visit a local farm or donkey sanctuary and talk about Mary and Joseph in the stable
  • Visit Santa for photos
  • Visit NORAD to track Santa
  • Visit a Santa Grotto
  • Watch the Nutcracker Ballet
  • Write (or colour on) Christmas cards
  • Write letters to Santa

 

Our Disney Frozen Party

Everyone has a Frozen birthday party story these days. According to our local soft play ‘party hosts’, 9 out of every 10 parties they host these days are Frozen themed, and if you search for Frozen party on Pinterest you’ll have no end of Frozen party ideas, many of them versions on the same thing.

Well, my 2 year old has Frozen fever, and since we’ve just moved, I decided we’d not have a party for her this year, but she had other ideas and since mid-January has been going on about her ‘Elsa’ party. So, pretty last minute, I had to come up with a Disney Frozen party! Here are some of our ideas – hopefully you can use them to make your party as much fun for your Frozen fan as it was for my now 3 year old.

I always tend to plan a party in three parts – the decor, the food and the entertainment and try to make everything link, even tenuously, to the theme. Fortunately Frozen is so huge that you can get pretty much anything to fit any budget. (As compared to say, a Peter Pan party – there’s nothing commercially available for that!)

Frozen Party Decor

Frozen Party Decor

I haven’t seen this done by anyone else, but I liked the idea of ‘Family Portraits’ around the food table, and luckily found a bunch of blue photo frames at a jumble table. You can of course use any frames, but I was happy to find blue ones for free. The images in the frames were from a Frozen Activity Book and I found miacat7 among many others at Deviantart, and hope they didn’t mind me printing their images as ‘family portraits’. I thought the young Elsa doing ballet was particularly ‘family life’.

Frozen Decor

The beauty of a Disney Frozen party is that you can use a lot of your Christmas decorations – like my glass snowflakes mixed in with cotton wool balls for ‘snow’. My husband was sceptical at first, but would you believe it, it worked out quite well. I bought this bargain backdrop*, which makes a good photo prop, and we used the smaller images for party games.  I also have a snowflake table runner* that added a nice bit of detail, as does “Frozen” Snowflake confetti.

Frozen Party Food

Frozen Food

As for food, I went with a plain cake decorated with these cutouts* – not particularly original, but easy, and easy won the day! I used straight pretzel sticks* for ‘shipwreck driftwood’ – an homage to the parents, lost at sea. I bought jelly fish and labelled them as ‘Lutefisk’ from Oaken’s Trading Post and Sauna* (remember when Oaken offers some to Anna to forget about the unpleasantness with Kristof?) and of course, sandwiches, because – and I quote – “we finish each other’s sandwiches”.

I meant to have crown shaped sandwiches – I have three types of crown cutters after all, but I couldn’t find them on the day, so we went for love, and filled them with Coronation Chicken sandwiches. I like to play on words ;) I made this stained glass window jelly desert too, and called it ‘ice & snow’.

And then, for the masterpiece, really, we had a chocolate fondue, because we know from the movie that the sisters loved chocolate. And because of that we made some white hot chocolate to drink too.

Finally, since our party was also on Mothering Sunday here in the UK, I made a platter of afternoon tea sandwiches for the adults.

For the name cards for the food, I used these free printables which added perfectly to the theme.

Frozen Party Games

Frozen Party Games

Speaking of party games, the pics above are: a wall of activity sheets and paper based games from a Frozen magazine – I find having ‘quiet games’ really useful for those kids who don’t like the crazy sugar fuelled games, and it’s good to have a ‘breather’ corner where anyone who wants a rest can go, but still feel part of the activities.

We also used an Olaf bath sponge puzzle with pieces scattered across the room. The children ran around collecting these, and on the back a clue was written that led them to a treasure chest – a pot of Frozen themed rings*.

The children were invited to attend a “Royal Ball” where we played musical statues listening to a Frozen movie sound track. The winner won a bottle of Frozen Bubblebath*.

Pin the tail on the donkey became Pin the Brooch on Anna – with the brooches printed from an image on Google and laminated.

From the beginning Aviya wanted Pass the Parcel – honestly, we could probably have forgone the party and just played Pass the Parcel and she’d have been happy! But since we had plenty of sugary chocolate, I didn’t want to put extra candy in the pass the parcel, so instead we used Frozen heart shaped erasers as gifts, and a bottle of Frozen themed shampoo* as the main prize.

Finally, I printed a picture of cupcake toppers* onto Shrinkles paper*, then cut them out and shrunk them down to thumbnail size. I put those with hairclips and glue on a table for the kids to make their own hair clips. (Next time I’ll use a glue gun since the glue we used wasn’t overly effective.)

Oh, and not pictured here was a selection of Frozen ‘tattoos* – they were much smaller than I anticipated, but the children were happy enough.

Check Out The Creatures In A Rock Pool

When I told the kids we’d be going rock pooling, this is the kind of thing I had in mind:

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As it turns out, however, either rock pools are the UK’s best kept secret, or this display at Climping Beach is the best the South of England has to offer.

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I can’t say we saw a whole lot in the rock pools. A few darting life forms, some algae, and an anemone, but the girls had a blast in the water, digging in the sand, and spending an afternoon in wild abandon doing something they don’t normally get to do.

Wild Abandon

We’re completing  the National Trust’s #50Things campaign because, well, it’s great. This was number 37: Check Out The Creatures In A Rock Pool  on their list. You can see the full list here.