Christmas 2023 is coming, and Melbourne is excited to see Bluey the heeler in the Myer Christmas windows!
The windows show Bluey and the heelers in a series of Christmas scenes such as opening presents under a pretty tree, sitting around a family table for Christmas lunch and playing some beach cricket (exactly how I sent my childhood Christmas Days!) Plus I recognised some scenes from Bluey verandah Santa and Bluey – Christmas Swim.
Visiting the Myer windows is a lot of fun and as always, the windows include a lot of details. I loved the colourful bonbon crowns, the pav, someone doing handstands, and even a cheesy grin for photos!
I am so glad that I went to see the Myer windows a week ago and mid-week, though! The queue today (a Sunday) as I went past went along the Burke St mall and up Swanston St – it nearly reached Little Burke St!! Always popular, I think Bluey has added to the interest this year!
Hooray it’s Christmas
Bluey and family open Christmas presents in front of the Christmas tree.
The kitchen becomes a hive of activity as final preparations are underway for Christmas lunch. Hopefully, the first aid is only needed for play!
I seriously think that Professor Inkling has dropped in from the Octopod for a visit! Does that Octopus toy make you think of the Octonauts, too?
A feature of any Aussie Christmas Day is sitting around a table, kids at one end, adults the other, and having a the table groaning under the food. And paper crowns are obligatory once bonbons are ripped apart!
As the young heelers take a swim, I love the presence (and mention in the voice over) of the Creepy Crawly trying to tangle around legs!
While Dad bowls to Bluey, other heelers are building sandcastles, relaxing on a chair or practicing handstands! Time on the beach is a great way to let lunch settle and just be together.
At the end of a busy day, Bluey and her family relax outside and look at Christmas lights. Merry Christmas Bluey and everyone!
I was very excited when I came across this idea – build a jigsaw day by day as an interactive advent calendar!
I love that a jigsaw advent is constructive, reusable and provides some mindfulness time each day. And, of course, I’d expect it to be a Christmas themed image!
Jigsaw advent calendar details
I cannot list the designer or manufacturer details because I can’t find them! There is nothing on the box or reference poster, nor on the original ad I purchased from – it’s very strange! So I can just say that I got this from Temu – ordering and delivery all worked well, see below for what I thought of the jigsaw advent calendar itself!
Final puzzle is 70 x 50cm and consists of 1,008 pieces.
The pieces are tight interlocking so you can pick up the completed puzzle without it falling apart – so says the promotional material anyway!
My jigsaw advent review
Inside the box is a set of 24 little boxes, numbered one to twenty-four. There is also a large fold out page – on one side is the image of the jigsaw and the other has numbers.
I assumed the numbers correlated to the days so you can figure out which section of the picture you need to complete each day. That is, I assumed each box would be a section of the puzzle to be done each day, then the sections will make the whole image.
However, I was very disappointed to discover that each little box includes a random collection of puzzle pieces. In day one, there were pieces from about 12 sections of the puzzle! So not only could I not complete one part of the puzzle as expected, I found many of the pieces from the same section were unconnected so very little could be joined. I opened day two hoping I was wrong, but it left me almost as frustrated. When I pack this away, I will be packing all the ‘one’ pieces into day one’s little box and so forth so next year I can create a small puzzle each day!
The picture on the paper and the puzzle pieces I’ve looked at so far show a low quality image, which is also disappointing. But maybe it will end up better than I think once the entire puzzle is put together…
As I progress through the puzzle, I will update this post but so far it isn’t too promising. For next year, I am thinking of using the 24 little boxes to divide up another puzzle to get the jigsaw advent experience!
Have you spent a Christmas in Auckland?
I haven’t, but our friend Jen is currently over there on a holiday and sent us back some photos and stories to give us a taste of an Auckland city Christmas!
Christmas in Auckland city
What about Santa?
If you had been to Auckland prior to 2020, you may have noticed Santa in Queen St. He was pretty hard to miss as he was 18 metres tall and weighted 5 tonne!
The huge Santa, with a winking eye and curling finger, welcomed Kiwi shoppers to the city for about 60 Years (minus a few years in the Manukau Shopping Centre during the 1990s). However, he was retired at the end of Christmas 2019. The fibreglass Santa and two reindeer was purchased for Wanaka’s National Transport and Toy Museum – at the princely sum of $1! But the cost and effort to transport him 1500km to the south of the South Island must have been huge.
Have you ever seen Auckland’s huge Santa? If so, did you think he was creepy?
Love Santa letter types
There are twelve different Love Santa letters each year, grouped into five letter types you can chose between. So, each child gets a letter to suit them – and that’s before the letters are edited and personalised.
All Love Santa letters include a laugh, positive messages and references to leaving Santa a snack and Christmas traditions (like elves, reindeer, boomers, and the North Pole). However, as different age groups have different perspectives so we write letter types accordingly.
|Who it will delight
|Aimed at new babies (ie under one year) and it has comments like ‘Merry first Christmas”
|This letter suits most children, even if they may suit another letter type!
|Aimed at 9-12 year olds, with comments about being a bit older and still enjoying Christmas
|Aimed at 13-18 year olds with slightly older content
|Aimed at those aged 18 or older, with references about it being a busy season
These are just guidelines, of course. For example, an nineteen year old with Downs Syndrome may be happy with a teen or tween letter and a mature 12 year could relate to a teen letter.
Note that each letter type has at least one alternative so that siblings will get different letters for the truly personalised delight. And Love Santa letters are written every year so they are different every time.
Every letter type is personalised with the same sort of data, although baby letters often include less (for example, a newborn doesn’t have a favourite colour!)
based on the ABC kids TV show
Penguin Random House, Australia, 2021
Age group: preschool
Format: 32 page hardback
It’s Christmas Day and the heelers want a swim to cool off. Bluey has a new toy, Bartlebee, to introduce to everyone.
My review of Bluey – Christmas swim
It’s an Aussie Christmas Day, and kids will love sharing those familiar activities and traditions with Bluey and her family.
I found the Christmas Day celebrations were relatable, with Aussie traditions like a roast pork (and discussions about the crackling!), having a swim, avoiding the creepy crawly in the pool, and having wrapping paper everywhere as presents are opened.
It is an okay read in general, but much more enjoyable if you know the Bluey characters to better understand their behaviours and gifts – and why an aunt and uncle were overseas for Christmas (I suspect a honeymoon!)
The pictures are true to the characters in the TV series, so the book will be an extension of the shows kids love.
Obviously this is cartoon where dogs have many human traits and actions. However, the anthropomorphism goes a bit far for my taste (Bartlebee is treated as a real character) – I think adults will cringe but young kids will appreciate the family accepting Bluey’s reality.
The book has a nice theme of welcoming, for instance Bluey’s new aunt is welcome as is Bluey’s toy, and the entire family accepts the child’s beliefs of Bartlebee as a living friend.
According to the back cover, there is also a Bluey – Hooray it’s Christmas book if you want more Christmas cheer for Bluey fans!
I really enjoyed this Australian Christmas movie – A Sunburnt Christmas.
Technical details of this Christmas movie:
An escaping criminal, Daryl (Daniel Henshall), ends up on a remote farm which is suffering through a long drought. The farm and family are managed by 15 year old Hazel (Tatiana Goode) as Mum is too grief stricken to do anything.
We first meet the family as the younger sister, Daisy (Lena Nankivel), fires a rifle into the air. She figures that clouds have water so shooting clouds will result in rain. It is cute and works well in the story, although such a younger child being unsupervised with a gun concerned me. When Daryl crashes in to their barn wearing a Santa suit, Daisy thinks she shot Santa out of the sky.
Review of a Sunburnt Christmas
Of course, there are emotional and financial issues to be resolved (and as it’s a Christmas movie, it’s pretty easy for you to guess if things are resolved!) and a bad guy to evade. However, it has an Australian character and lots of laughs.
There is some swearing (although Santa tries to stop himself in front of the kids), violence and sadness in the movie so it’s not suitable for kids. I wouldn’t really show it to kids under 13. Hazel tells Daryl her Dad suicided – later we see he was shot.
It is clear to adults that Daryl is not actually Santa, but Daisy and Tom remain convinced. Kids may therefore believe this is Santa, or understand the plot enough to know he is not Santa. The plot has Daryl provide the presents so little kids may question why Santa didn’t come if Daryl is not Santa.
For adults, though, it is a fun, Australian Christmas movie well worth watching. Even my husband who is not so into Christmas movies enjoyed this one!
Daniel Henshall and his young co-cast members do a great job in this movie, showing a range of emotions and reactions to the situation and memories evoked in the movie.
Do I recommend A Sunburnt Christmas? I found this to be a highly entertaining, funny Christmas movie that is very Australian – I thoroughly recommend this movie!
How amazing is this?
Melbourne in 1956
Trams. Olympic Games. TV launched. Burke St (not yet a mall). Milk bottle deliveries. Myer Christmas windows.
I recently spotted this video of Melbourne in 1956. I hadn’t seen this before and really enjoyed watching it. It showcases the era and a Melbourne Christmas.
— Melbourne, Australia (@Melbourne_vic1) August 31, 2023
1956 is before my time, but stories from my parents and grandparents made this video somewhat familiar. It is really interesting to watch, spotting things that are the same to my experiences and the things that are so different. Some things I noticed were
- trams! We have have more modern versions now, but trams have long been part of Melbournian life
- wide streets in neat grids with crowds of people – the clothing, shops and cars have changed, but it is unmistakably Melbourne. And compared to so many European cities which have (often much narrower) streets going in all directions, this is very home-like.
- a paddle steamer along the Yarra is something I have never seen!
- red letterboxes with curved tops along the street, just waiting for some letters to Santa – the actual boxes have changed but the overall look is the same
- newspaper boys and police directing traffic (except in special circumstances) are long gone
About a third of the way through the video, there is a giant man standing on top of Coles’ awning. This is totally new to me so I had to find out a bit more about him. It turns out to be John Batman looking out across Melbourne in the 1830s. Behind the figure were some mechanised pictures, one showing Melbourne in 1830 (ie open land) and the other showing Melbourne’s 1956 skyline. This was art of the decorations for the Olympic games, and I can’t find how long it was there for.
Note this is a screenshot from the video – you can see it better in the Museums Victoria Collection.
A Melbourne Christmas in 1956
Watching the video, I realised it was filmed in the lead up to Christmas. I’m guessing it was in mid to late November as it looks like a warm Spring day rather than summer. It may have been filmed over many days/weeks though, so I could be completely wrong!
What astounded me was the HUGE Santa at the corner of Burke and Swanston Streets.
Santa was standing on the roof at the front of Foy’s, looking west along Burke St and south along Swanston St. I was completely unaware that Melbourne ever had a huge Santa like that. To be fair, I also don’t recall the name Foy’s either!
Note the above images are either taken out of the video to show specific elements of the video, or are taken by Love Santa.
Six degrees of Santa
Movie length: 89 minutes
Directed by Michael Kennedy
A single mum helps in her family business and runs a Christmas gift program called Six Degrees of Santa. But should she keep Six degrees anonymous or not? And how will she keep the family business going?
My Christmas movie review
For starters, Six Degrees of Santa (the program) is a gift program where someone prepares a gift and gives it anonymously to a stranger or peripheral acquaintance (like your postie, the man you see on the train every day, the lollipop lady). That person enjoys the present for a day or two then also passes it on. This continues until the sixth person who gets to keep the present. Ideally, the present has special meaning to the original Santa, like a Christmas movie you love watching or favourite game or puzzle.
So the movie starts with Harper (Kathryn Davis) explaining this program on a video for her website. Then she and her daughter pack their six degree boxes.
Six degrees of Santa (the movie) is a romance, and the ending is not exactly a surprise! But how they get there is less obvious.
Local entrepreneur and internet guru, Jason Sparks (Steve Lund), runs a number of enterprises, including one Harper used to work for. Currently, is focus is the Sparkle tree – a ready decorated Christmas tree you can order online. Harper doesn’t like the Sparkle tree as it is too commercialised and interferes with the tradition of choosing a tree from a farm. While I understand her sentiment, I think the Sparkle trees are pretty and no more commercial than artificial trees from any department store.
Jason ends up being the recipient of Harper’s Santa gift, and is so touched by the gift that he wants to meet the Secret Santa. Not wanting to tell him, but wanting to make a business deal with Jason, Harper gets a friend to pretend to e the relevant Secret Santa.
From there, we move through confusions, developing friendships, Christmas cooking, respectful and caring friendships between Harper and her ex, a wrapping competition, and social media marketing. We also hear of such happy stories where the six degrees of Santa reaches many parts of the world. And Harper struggles between keeping Six Degrees pure and simple, and sharing it more widely.
The credits do refer to some incorrect names! Look out for Harper and Dani – or their alternative names, Steph and Shani!
Would I recommend watching Six Degrees of Santa? It’s a sweet little movie that involves a book about an elf, the magic of Christmas, Christmas trees, Santa in a wrapping presents competition, and a lovely mother, daughter and granddaughter family. So, yes it is worth watching as a feel good movie.
by Karen Kinsgbury
Simon & Schuster, London, 2017
Age group: late teens – adult
Format: 256 page softcover
The different twist of this Christmas book caught my attention – I thought it would be interesting and perhaps thought provoking to see how the Baxter family copes with family patriarch John inviting a woman who received his daughter’s heart to the family Christmas Eve gathering.
A close knit family are preparing for a huge family Christmas, but are confronted with a guest who brings old memories and pains to light. Add in a girl racked with guilt over her sister’s accident, and there is a drama of family and personal relationships to be explored.
My review of A Baxter family Christmas
Interestingly, this is actually the 24th book about the Baxter family! The book starts with a few pages filling you on the background of various family members, including lists of children and their ages (I found this list very handy a number of times!) This is done so you can read this book as it is without having touched any of the previous books. It helps to have that information in mind before reading the book as the author didn’t have to distract with explanations within the story. If, however, you have read some Baxter stories before and don’t like spoilers, I strongly suggest you continue reading the books in order before reading this book as I suspect there are some shockers.
I liked that the introduction to the book gives a very clear summary of the main characters- I referred back to it a few times for relationships and ages! The Baxter family is quite a clan, with John, his children and then their children all having a part in the story. I found myself drawn into their family as I read this book. And I wanted to know more about the heart donor – the sister/mother/daughter killed in a car accident some time before this book is set.
There were a couple of details that seemed unrealistic and detracted form the story – for instance, an hour long drive seemed to happen in about 20 minutes during a snow storm!
Kingsbury is obviously a Christian and enjoys her faith. Her main characters show their religious beliefs through frequent mentions of prayers, God’s plan, miracles, loving Jesus, and wanting others to experience the love and peace they find in their faith. I am not used to such open religion references in novels, especially with talk of wanting a sign of faith fro
m God during a first date! I know some people will appreciate that feature of this book, while others will roll their eyes and lose interest. I will just say that their faith is clearly there but doesn’t feel preachy to me as the reader so don’t give up on the book just for this factor.
Would I recommend A Baxter family Christmas? Not a simple answer for this one… If you dislike religious books and prefer adventurous books, then this is not a book for you! However, if you like a warm story about people who care (for each other and the world) enjoying Christmas, then yes I do recommend this book. It is nicely written, has a satisfying ending and leaves you feeling good.
The ride ~ a Christmas parable
Movie length: 30 minutes
Directed by Dallas Jenkins
A bored taxi driver is given an extra run on Christmas Eve and becomes concerned about his passenger.
My Christmas movie review
There is a simplicity to this movie. The cast has literally five people, of which only two are central to the plot. Very little of the movie is outside of the taxi. It is refreshing to not switch scenes so frequently and to have no extravagant homes or effects.
The taxi driver (Kirk B.R. Woller) is totally disengaged with his first passenger (a very annoying man!) but then tries to make conversation with his next passenger (Brad Heller). This change was a bit of a jerk to my thinking, although obviously necessary to continue the plot.
While I don’t know Chicago so had no idea there was a river or bridge at the requested intersection, the taxi driver became suspicious of the passenger much quicker than I did – he could have given terse answers because he was tired, had a bad day, been an introvert, or just didn’t like nosy taxi drivers! However, once he did get suspicious that his passenger was intending suicide, the driver worked hard to prolong the trip and engage the man.
I could understand the clunky way the driver prolongs the drive. He was not generally a chatty or personable person so he found it challenging to engage this man in his taxi. Again, it would have been annoying and unbelievable if he had been able to do this smoothly. I think this is why the movie works – it is simple and real.
So why it is sub-titled a Christmas Eve parable? I took it as there would be a moral or maybe a story that somehow parallelled another, well known story (like the tortoise and the hare or the boy who cried wolf). It was a moral of helping others and the love of parents superseding mistakes, and I guess it could be a version of the prodigal son. Yet it didn’t feel like a parable to me – which is not a bad thing in a movie!
Is it a Christmas movie? Not really. It was set on Christmas Eve while the taxi driver’s wife and daughters were at a church service. A few things they drove past were covered in Christmas lights. Otherwise, it was not really about Christmas (but no less so than Die Hard!)
I came across this movie in the movie section of a streaming channel and took it at face value. There was clearly a Christian element to the driver’s actions but I didn’t feel it was a religious movie. However, I discovered it is from Christiaan Movies – it mentions church and grace, but otherwise leaves the action to tell the message without preaching religion.
Would I recommend watching this Christmas movie? As a cheerful Christmas story with Santa and tinsel, this certainly fails! But it is more thought provoking and gives a meaningful story that is enjoyable. So, yes I recommend this for adults.
Jane’s Christmas devilled eggs
Living In Australia, I know it can be hot and humid around our Christmas time.
For me, Christmas is a celebration. A time to come together with family and celebrate one of the most important moments on the calendar. So I like my Christmas outfits to reflect on that.
It’s only when you spend your first Christmas away from home or you no longer have a loved one around you to share the special day. That’s when you realise how differently each family does things.
Wearing Christmas outfits
You rarely wear a Xmas outfit so why not embrace the one time of year when it’s ok to be that extra special without judgement!
I think that costumes are not just for the young, but the young at heart and making kids laugh each morning of December is a great way to start their day!
BROWSE BY CATEGORY
- About Love Santa
- Baby’s first Christmas
- Children’s craft
- Christmas activities
- Christmas books
- Christmas cooking
- Christmas crafts
- Christmas gifts
- Christmas humour
- Christmas Lights/Decorations
- Christmas Memories
- Christmas spirit
- Christmas today
- Green Christmas
- Happy kindness
- International Christmas
- Santa letters
- Santa Memories
- Santa’s snacks
- Christmas elf fun
Under no circumstances, not even under threat of having to fill in for Santa on Christmas Eve, will your details of any kind be given, sold or lent to any other party.