Christmas gifts

A grazing platter gift

A group gift can be so much easier than organising multiple individual gifts, especially if you don’t know the recipients that well. And it’s probably cheaper, too!

Today’s post is by Kate Moar, telling us about her lovely gift idea for a group (teachers, child carers, and so on).

A gift idea

Like most of us, I am very rushed and busy at the moment so I wanted to find a gift to give the office staff and support teachers at my boys’ school that was as simple as possible.

My sister had the idea of a grazing dessert platter in Christmassy colours, and I loved it..

Putting it together

It is done on a large wooden cheese board  – I got one from Kmart for $15. I shopped at various supermarkets and ended up spending  $71 – this filled two cheese boards with all the items so it worked out to be $35.50 per platter.

The platter is made from

  • Lindt balls
  • mint slice
  • cherry ripe slice
  • little pecan tarts
  • green licorice straps
  • red frogs
  • strawberry and cream lollies
  • strawberries
  • grapes
  • cherries
  • Christmas tree biscuits (I found this in Aldi or you could make your own!)
  • fruit cake
  • Maltesers
  • gingerbread stars
  • Darrel lea mint balls
  • Tim Tam bites
  • Ferrero Rochers
  • Raffaellos

Beautiful platter of food as Christmas gift

It looked really good.

It took less than 10 mins to put together and the teachers LOVED it!!!! So I achieved both goals of showing my appreciation for the teachers and not taking a lot of my time!

I took the other platter to a party last night and it was a hit too! I loved that I didn’t have to rush home and cook before going out, and it didn’t need refrigerating at the party either.

The board from the party came home, but I am happy to have made the board part of the gift so the staff room now has a chopping board or serving board the staff can use. A gift for immediate pleasure and longer term use as well!

I will definitely be doing them again next year!

Edible Christmas treats and gifts

Today, we have a guest post from Kerrie of Print, decorate & eat, maker of delicious and beautiful cakes (I know, I have tasted a few of them!)

Making edible Christmas treats

Kerrie King, Print, decorate & eat

The weeks leading into Christmas can be stressful with so many parties to plan for, food to prepare and gifts to purchase.

I like to give Christmas edible gifts wherever I can, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be time consuming or involve weeks of preparation or be expensive either.

If your child likes cupcakes, and let’s face it what child doesn’t like cake, and would like nothing more than to take Christmas cupcakes to the class party, there are a number of ways you can “cheat”.  It is perfectly OK to buy cupcakes from your local shop, but you could also have some fun with your kids baking your own cupcakes (from a packet is fine if you prefer or are really tight for time) and buy some Christmas toppers from the supermarket or cake decorating store (including online ones), to take them to the next level.  You’ll have fun, spend quality time with your kids, and have some lovely personalised cupcakes for the class party, Christmas picnic or family get together.

numerous cupcakes topped with a red or green Christmas topper

Another way to give beautifully wrapped edible Christmas gifts is to buy a few packets of fancy biscuits, fudge or even chocolates from your local supermarket, Aldi or Reject Shop and repackage them into Christmas boxes you can buy at the $2 shop along with some matching tissues paper, and you’ll have beautiful Christmas gifts with a personal touch.

If you are a baker, like me as I enjoy whipping up a large batch of gingerbread men, trees or stars, you can bake then package them up in Christmas boxes from the $2 shop along with a personalised card.  This is also a lovely way to say thank you to Teachers , volunteers, friends, the cleaner and perhaps even your neighbours.

So get baking, have fun, eat cake, say thanks and have a lovely Christmas!

Class Christmas gifts for 2018

We’re ahead of schedule this year and my children have already made their gifts to go their classmates!

This year, we have made Christmas bauble hair ties for the girls and Christmas tree ornaments for the boys. Next we just have to write out all the cards and attach the gifts…

Here are the final results…

Christmas bauble hair ties

A simple craft but hopefully something the girls will appreciate, we made some bauble hair ties. I had some boxes of little Christmas baubles, got some plain hair elastics and a glue gun.

Normally, the kids make these gifts but as they were busy with the ornaments and grandparent presents I started these – and given the hot glue, it was safer anyway.

baubles and hair elastics ready for craft

Using the hot glue gun, I added a dob of glue at the top of each bauble – choosing a point between the join mark on both sides of the bauble holder so there is no line showing in the final result.

adding glue to a Christmas bauble

It was then a simple act of popping the hair tie into the dob of glue and holding it briefly so the glue sets.

Christmas bauble glued to a hair elastic

It didn’t take very long to create the entire pile of hair ties, ready to give to the girls in my children’s class.

pile of Christmas bauble hair ties


Christmas tree ornaments

It is a little sexist, but assuming that the boys don’t want a hair tie for Christmas (none of them have long hair anyway!), we made something different for them. I found some simple plaster ornament sets in Kmart so the kids have a lovely afternoon painting the decorations for their teachers and classmates.

box of plaster ornaments, unpainted

The set came with paints and paintbrush so it was an easy set up activity, although we added some of our existing paints on a paint palette as well.

images of children painting ornaments

Here is the collection of complete ornaments. I ended up  painting some as my daughter lost interest – perhaps you can spot which had  my input!

painted Christmas ornaments on display

In case you want further ideas, here are some of the gifts we have made in previous years…

shiny Christmas baubles

Foam Christmas decorations

Christmas stars

Christmas magnets

Cardboard Christmas tree decorations

Christmas hair ties (similar idea to this year obviously, but they looked quite different)


Creating shiny Christmas baubles for kids

This year, I decided on some decorated glass baubles for my daughter to give to her classmates – we usually make something rather than just giving the kids another candy cane!

shiny glass bauble hanging in a bush in the sunshine

Shiny bauble materials

I got the idea by seeing some pretty glass baubles on a clearance table at Westminster Christmas shop.

materials required for the shiny Christmas baubles

In looking for some ribbon or tinsel to use for decorating the baubles, I discovered some shiny red and green cheerleader pompoms in a discount store! This made things really easy as we only needed to pull off a length of ribbon instead of having to cut anything up (and given there are 31 children in the class, it would have involved a lot of cutting!)

Making the baubles

Very simply, we took two green and two red ribbons and tied them onto the bauble’s string, resulting in shiny decorations!

collage of child making shiny Christmas baubles and the baubles in a tree

My tip is to use baubles that have a fixed string – the ones we had just had string tied in a loop so it moved around as we worked, making it a bit more challenging.

As it turned out, this activity required quite a lot of fine motor skills so I ended up helping the kids and then making many of them myself. So it was a simple idea but not so easy to implement, unfortunately.

Finished decorations

I think they look very pretty, though, especially when sparkling in the sunshine.

What do you think – pretty? shiny? Christmassy? Will you try making some?

Finished glass baubles, haning on a bush or placed in Christmas card envelopes

make gifts from memories

Giving gifts of meaning is always appreciated, and it makes me feel good to do it, too.

A $5 notepad bought because I’d love the picture is a much nicer gift than a $20 impersonal gift voucher in my eyes.

And home-made gifts show love and care as well, so why not make a meaningful gift for someone this Christmas?

Creating memory gifts

I’ve thought of a few ways to collate some memories to share as gifts…

  • frame a collection of old kitchen or workshops gadgets – or a photo of them!  Use a deep frame or a shadow box (best for reducing dust collection!) or skip the glass front and attach items onto the backboard of a frame.  It’s a great use of old things not used much but too treasured to throw away.
  • put a collection of treasured items inside a glass topped table

    Trinkets on display in a coffee table

    Display table {image courtesy of HousingWorksThriftShops (Flick’r)}

  • make a picture out of special cards or tickets – put a few on an interesting background (try scrapbooking paper for inspiration) or overlap a lot of items.
  • put some special photos into ornaments that hang on the Christmas tree
  • laminate a special or funny photo and put it into a clear containers to fill with soap  as a personal addition to a bathroom or kitchen
  • stick photos/collage onto kitchen canisters – it’s a very personalised kitchen, reuses old canisters and displays special memories in a creative way
  • use old mirrors (especially those hand held ones that could be a reminder of a grandmother or childhood) as alternative photo frames
  • make a picture or a collage of old house and car keys – a great  trip down memory lane! Alternatively, make them into a mobile or windchime.

    Display of old keys

    Mount some old keys to remember their secrets! {Image courtesy of TakiSteve (Flick’r)}

  • use an old window frame from a family home to create a shadow box or picture frame so the frame and the contents bring warmth and happiness
  • turn old wooden items into Christmas decorations
  • make a wreath (of Christmas or perhaps to hang outdoors all year round) out of old tools, garden implements or kitchen gadgets
  • make a patchwork quilt or throw rug out of some favourite fabric items like
    • baby clothes and blankets when the youngest child grows out of them
    • old tablecloths, runners and doyleys from your grandparents
    • a few favourite dresses or t-shirts

      colourful patchwork couch

      Is this a colour statement or a collection of memories? {image courtesy of Maleva Apaixonada (flick’r)}

    • tea-towels from various places you’ve visited
  • make a hanging rack by sticking objects on a length of wood – you can use cutlery and kitchen tools bent to shape, handles from various tools, door knobs, Lego or wooden blocks, and all sorts of things
  • use some old lace and some glue to create a lamp cover or even a decorative bowl

    Two bowls made form lace doilys and glue

    Two bowls made from lace and undiluted glue {image courtesy of Christine Majul (Flick’r)}

  • make a snow dome using a laminated photo or some small items, like a toy car, animal or person

Of course, the hard part may be giving up your work when it’s time to hand it over!

Have you ever been given a gift based on memories and treasured items?


* All Flick’r images are used under the creative commons licence.

Swap old or unwanted presents?

So how many unwanted presents did you get for Christmas?

Most of us try hard to give gifts someone wants to get, but not everyone gets it right so we sometimes (often?) get gifts that are not useful or not suitable for us.

Christmas presents under a tree, caption 'dealing with unwanted presents'

What do you do with unwanted presents?

Seriously, what do you do with those presents? Let us know in the comments as we all come across this issue from time to time!

I can’t say I’ve tried all of these, but here are some ideas for those presents when you can’t openly improve the situation…

  1. take them to a shop and exchange them – particularly useful for swapping clothing sizes/colours or book titles.
  2. regift them if someone else would truly appreciate the gift
  3. swap the item with someone who wants it – maybe they got a present you would like!
  4. go to a swap shop session where the community can exchange unwanted gifts, such as run in Stevenage, UK, for Christmas 2015
  5. put them in a cupboard to collect dust – not my preferred option and not really a good use of resources…

Christmas hair ties

My children enjoy making a small gift to put with a Christmas card for their classmates.

In the last couple of years, they have each made something different. But this year they are both making one gift for the girls and one for the boys.

Christmas hair ties

The girls will be getting a Christmas hair tie made by my children.

Four Christmas hair ties

Four Christmas hair ties

We started with a packet of hair ties and some rolls of Christmas ribbon. Actually, what I used was like a hollow string rather than a ribbon, but any Christmas ribbon will look pretty 🙂

green hair ties and Christmas ribbon cut into strips

Hair ties and ribbon are all you need!

I cut the ribbon into lengths of approximately 20 cm.

Then we simply tied a piece of ribbon onto each hair tie, making the two lengths equal.

child tying string onto a hair tie

Attaching the ribbon to the hair tie

We then tied the ends into a bow.

child's hands with a finished Christmas ribbon bow

A finished bow…

I say simple, but it was more challenging for my six year old than her brother or me – good fine motor skill practice though!

child adding finished CHristmas hair tie to a pile of hair ties

The resultant pile of Christmas hair ties is very pretty and festive! And hopefully will make  a number of young girls happy when they open their envelopes.

array of CHristmas cards and envelopes with hair ties included

Cards and Christmas hair ties ready to hand out at school

Other children’s craft

If you are looking for other ideas of things children can make as token gifts to classmates and the like, have a look at previous things I’ve made with my kids:

Christmas stars – a fun craft activity

My daughter and I made some Christmas stars for her to give as gifts to her kinder friends last year – like for my son, I wanted something other than candy canes and it is so much nicer to make something.

Making Christmas stars

I was inspired for these stars by Crafty morning’s snowflake ornaments. I prefer to make stars rather than snowflakes don’t mean Christmas to Aussie kids – and I think mine look more like stars anyway!Materials for making bud stars


cotton buds
coloured cardboard
ribbon or similar for hanging
scissors and hole punch

How to make the Christmas stars

cut cotton buds into two pieces – uneven sizes is the aim so don’t worry about making them equal or matching sizes!

Cotton buds cut into pieces

Add glue to a piece of cotton bud – I found the easiest way for my daughter was to have a blob of glue on a plate and put the pieces in the glue.

Child putting pieces of cotton buds into glue

Stick 5 or 6 pieces onto cardboard with the cut ends together and the other ends spreading out to for a star shape.

child sticking buds onto cardboard

Spread some glue roughly between the cotton bud pieces – close to the centre, reaching out to different lengths.

Glue between cotton bud peices stuck on cardboard in star shape

Sprinkle some glitter over the star.

Glittery cotton bud stars

This stage needs adult supervision or assistance for younger children. Cut out the cardboard around the stars – it is easier to cut roughly around each star and then neatening it up. Rounded edges look nicer, I think, but sharp corners could be effective, too.

pile of cut out cotton bud stars

Then simply put a hole in the cardboard of each star, thread through some ribbon or twine and you’re done! I made a little loop of the ribbon so it would be easy for the kid to hang the stars on a tree, and it also made it easy to hang a number of stars on a length of ribbon at home, too.

cotton bu stars hanging in a row

The stars are small and light enough that my daughter could pop them into an envelope with a Christmas card to hand out to her friends.

Child putting a cotton bud star and Crhsitmas card into an envelope

Scented sachets

kids filling fabric bags with scented leaves

It took concentration but the kids loved filling the bags for their Grandparents’ Christmas gifts.

As I’ve mentioned before, I usually get my kids to make presents for their grandparents each Christmas. It can be difficult finding things to make as I want it to be something the grandparents can keep and enjoy rather than just a scrap of paper with a scribble on it, and ideally it will be something at least a little bit useful!

So one year they made scented sachets as gifts.

Steps to scented sachets…

  1. I pulled out various bits of material I already had and let each child choose fabric to use.
  2. For the chosen fabrics, I cut a rectangle of about 18cm x 5cm# and used a sewing machine to create them into bags* – some with a lace trim
  3. we then walked around the garden together, collecting stuffing for the bags – we used home grown lavender, gum leaves, native mint leaves and miscellaneous leaves. Yes, you’d probably get better long term results from dried plant matter but I wanted the kids to be involved in the whole process and didn’t mind if these sachets didn’t last more than a few months.
  4. the children then had a lovely time filling their bags with the scented plant material
  5. I hand stitched the opening of the bags
  6. The kids lovingly wrapped their gifts and put them under the Christmas tree.

For older children, you could get them more involved in making the bags, too.


# Some I cut in 10cm x 9 cm pieces if that fitted my material better

* To make the bags, simply fold the fabric in half with the right sides touching and sew along most of the open edges, leaving a small opening to add the filling. To trim with lace, simply pin the lace between the two pieces of fabric (so the pretty part is hidden from view as you pin and sew) and sew as per the plain bags.

Time to recap on Christmas…

COlourful Christmas tree & gifts on a black background

What did you find under and around the Christmas Tree?

It’s Boxing Day and that’s a great time to look back at Christmas and remember how great it was and appreciate many things.

Your gifts…

As I asked a few years ago, what did you get for Christmas that …

  • showed the most thought and knowledge about you?
  • was the most fun?
  • was a complete surprise?
  • means the most to you?

And what present did you GIVE that gave the most joy?

Your day…

And I’d love to hear about your Christmas celebrations yesterday. Did you start any new traditions or try something different this year?

What made your day special?

Managing expectations

In business and in marketing discussions, ‘managing expectations’ is important and quite common.

The point is to let people know what to expect so they are content with things. For example, if people know it will take two weeks to have something delivered, they’ll be happy with to arriving in 12 days but 12 days would be irritating if you expected it in 3 days.

What about Christmas expectations?

Small Christmas gift sitting on a large present

The size of a gift can raise expectations…

Managing expectations is not a term I’ve really though about in relation to Christmas (or other gift times of year), but it makes sense to think about it.

Have you ever had expectations about Christmas that were not met or exceeded?

High expectations fail

I remember once that I was given some hints that I would get an iPad for Christmas, and I was quite pleased about the idea. And quite disappointed when I didn’t get one on Christmas Day. Had I not heard those hints, the lack of iPad wouldn’t have bothered me at all so it was false expectations that caused the disappointment.

It’s a bit like the child getting a huge gift, only to discover that there is a box inside a box inside a box… The child would be a mix of emotions – excitement over a large gift, disappointment over it not being so big, excitement over lots of layers to unwrap and the surprise of finding whatever was in the middle. My Dad did that to me once – the final gift was very small, but as it was a key to a car it was also a very big gift!

Low expectations succeed

Via jcc81’s comment in a recent post, I heard of a great way to set low expectations and thus provide excitement on Christmas Day. Imagine children watching you wrap some junk for them and seeing those gifts under the tree for days and weeks… Only to discover some other gifts were placed under the tree on Christmas morning!

 Managing Christmas gift expectations

So letting children know in advance that they may not get everything they want, not even everything they wrote to ask Santa for, is a good way to keep them happy with what they get on Christmas morning.

I think that is a good lesson for them anyway – there should be more to Christmas than the gifts and they need to learn that they can’t always get what they want.

Have you ever really thought about managing gift expectations?

Simple Christmas gift

small black magents with varius Christmas themed stickers

Plain magnets and stickers – an easy and cheap material list!

To solve the issue of what my son could give to his classmates for Christmas, we decided on a card and small gift for everyone rather than trying to choose who to give a personal present to.


Christmas magnets

I found some magnets and Christmas stickers so our gift idea was found!

Foam Christmas stickers and plain black magnets

Foam stickers give a better result than flat stickers, I think. They are bigger and will look better on the fridge!

If you manage to get stickers and magnets exactly the same size, then all you have to do is stick on the stickers! However, the odds are you won’t be quite so lucky.

Creating Christmas magnets

If the sticker is bigger tan the magnet, you can just take off the backing paper and attach the magnet. It will look great from the front and back but (and this is a big but!) the exposed glue surface will attract dirt and dust and soon will become messy.

CHristmas stickers with magnets attached, one with backing paper and one without backing paper

The red surface of the left Christmas magnet is sticky and will soon be messy – the Christmas tree will stay nicer.

The sticky surface will also make it difficult to put the Christmas magnet into an envelope or gift wrapping.

I traced around the magnet on the back of the sticker and then scored the outline. I actually prepared a pile of them before my son got involved, but older children could possibly score the paper themselves.

stickers with the backing paper scored around a magnet's outline

Trace around a magnet with the blade of a craft knife or pair of scissors

It was then easy for my son to peel off just that bit of backing paper and attach the magnet, leaving the rest of the backing paper in place.

Child's fingers peeling off backing paper then atatching a magnet to a sticker

Peeling off the relevant bit of backing paper and attaching the magnet was managed by four and six year olds.

That’s it – no drying time or finishing touches needed! And because they are small and light, it’s easy to just pop them into an envelope with a Christmas card and you’re done. In half a day, my son had a gift and card done for all his classmates (and writing the cards was definitely the most time consuming task!)


an array of Christmas magnets and a child's hand

My son proudly laid out his completed Christmas magnets

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