October 08, 2022
I'm a Mum of a nearly 16 year old boy (don't - I'm really not sure where those years went!) and like all parents I really wanted him to grow up and have some fun, creative, or just gentle memories of time spent together.
I'm also a little bit Christmas obsessed. If you're a long time reader this is not news to you. And my son's birthday is really near Christmas, like four days before.
Just to add extra into the mix, I also run a small business that has a HUGE peak at Christmas time, making and individually personalising about 15,000 Christmas decorations a year as well as a few thousand custom notebooks and personalised prints.
So, I admit, I have stressed before about the kinds of birthday and Christmas memories my child will carry into his adult years. I have actually sobbed tears INTO my wine glass one Christmas, blubbing that I was not doing enough for him and ruining his world. He was 8. He didn't care. He thought everything as magical.
My Christmas busy-ness is unlikely to change in the near future, and I'm okay with that. But over the years, I've really learned to PACE MYSELF and appreciate that I'm not Wonder Woman (technically) and my kiddo loves me anyway!
You know what else I realised? Most of my childhood, and indeed a lot of my adult, memories are centred around photos of activities and days out or just fun moments. I couldn't tell you what day that photo was taken, but like most of us I pick up clues from the weather, the props and the activity in the photo. If I'm wearing a jumper, and writing out Christmas cards in the photograph, then it's unlikely to be July (although as a small Christmas-focussed business run in the UK - you never know!)
In the approach to half term then, I have a couple of ideas for things you can do now with your small ones that ticks all the boxes for making family memories and also honouring how you feel about creating a wonderful Christmas. If you happen to take some photographs too that make it into the memory box, then all the better for future reminiscing.
The autumn half-term always sneaks up on me. The summer holidays are so long and need such meticulous planning, I totally forget that six weeks later there's another break.
With the sunny days being shorter in supply and energy levels being a little lower after the return to school hours, everyone relishes the opportunity to hunker down at home and get COSY. The perfect opportunity to get creative and plan out some Christmas magic!
Gingerbread has to be one of my most favourite bakes and the easiest to do with kids of all ages. Once the dough is made, you can just set them loose with cutters and cookie sheets and roll and cut again, again and again!
It's nice and quick in the oven and delicious to eat warm, with a mug of hot chocolate on the side. If you feel like extending the activity then they are the easiest biscuit to ice and cover with sprinkles.
Make life even easier by ordering this Gingerbread Biscuit Kit from Katie Bakes.
My absolutely top tip has to be that gingerbread, like most biscuits, can be frozen. So you can freeze a good batch of baked gingerbread shapes and take them out of the freezer nearer to Christmas to decorate. If you're a fan of dunking biscuits though, you might also want to know that a frozen gingerbread thin will dunk very nicely into a hot cup of tea STRAIGHT FROM THE FREEZER and is just delicious! Try it.
Get the kiddos making their own (and your) wrapping paper. Buy a large roll or two of Kraft paper. You can get white and brown rolls in Hobbycraft, and you can often get coloured Kraft paper too - I once bought some turquoise Kraft paper from john Lewis, so have a good shop around.
Order some festive stamps like these snowflakes from Skull and Cross Buns to create a repeat pattern, or keep it simple with this solid star stamp and let the kids go wild and random all over the paper. Buy some ink pads while you're at it too. (You will not get red, black or white ink pads from any Hobby Craft store in December FYI - from years of forgetting to buy it and trying to go and pick it up in person - THEY SELL OUT)
Our hand painted (by Betsy) watercolour penguins have been turned into these beautiful gift tags and bunting set. All ready for you to print at home, there are penguins and stars on the bunting and one very handsome Emperor penguin on the gift tags. Print as many as you like, cut them out and string with ribbon. I like navy ribbon for the gift tags and white ribbon for the bunting. We've created mirror versions for the bunting shapes so you can make it double sided - thoughtful like that we are. (Wait, where did Yoda come from?)
The bunting and gift tag set costs just £2 to download and for every purchase made, Betsy Benn will donate 50% to The Trussell Trust - a nationwide network of food banks and volunteers who provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.
Have you fallen in love with our Emperor penguins? After Betsy spent a good few days with her watercolours, the full range of penguin Christmas tree decorations are now available as gorgeous pop-out wooden cards.
Each penguin, or group of penguins, comes as part of a larger wooden Christmas card. There's space on the Christmas card for a personalised message, and space under the penguin for extra personalisation. The card is presented in a white gift box and comes with a golden ribbon, because ... (exciting pause) the penguin POPS OUT of the wooden card to become a free hanging Christmas tree decoration. A card and gift in one stunning solution.
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