decorate

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!

A golliwog Christmas tree

A week or so ago, I was surprised to see a Christmas tree decorated with golliwogs.

A Christmas tree decorated with golliwogs in 2017

A Christmas tree decorated with golliwogs in 2017

It was different to see soft toys as the key decoration of a Christmas tree, but it still was colourful and cheery. And all the children I was with enjoyed looking at it.

However, it was the use of golliwogs that really surprised me.

For one thing, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many golliwogs in one place – they are certainly not a common toy these days.

But mostly it was a surprise because so many people see that as racist and denigrating certain people. I certainly wouldn’t want to offend someone with my Christmas tree decorating (they don’t have to like what I do, but I wouldn’t want to actually upset anyone) and I wondered if it was particularly wise for a Christmas shop to have this display.

What do you think – are you offended by the use of golliwogs on a Christmas tree?

Thinking about golliwogs

I grew up with golliwogs being a soft toy like any other – yes it was black but I didn’t see it at any different to a rag doll or teddy bear. And I never heard anyone use them or speak of them in anyway that was racist. So in that sense they are innocuous toys to me, and I actually like that there were some toys with coloured skin rather than all being white.

However, I can see that they have been used inappropriately and appear as an unkind caricature of black people. Things like Nazis banning them as ‘German children should only see Aryan appearances as desirable’, and Enid Blyton’s books showing golliwogs as car thieves and villains. And people being called ‘golliwog’ in offensive and derogatory ways is not acceptable.

I would never give one to a child or praise them now.

Interestingly, the name golliwog came from a book by Florence Upton where the character was called golliwog (and was drawn like the toys appeared). Golliwog was based on a blackface minstrel, which is often classed a racist tradition itself. He was called ‘a horrid sight’ at first but given a nice character, and later described with a ‘kind face’.

One toy manufacturer has given a history of golliwogs (or golly dolls as they call them) originating in Egypt as ghuliwogs that acknowledged Egyptian labourers for the British army at the end of the 19th century. The name is a combination of WOGS (working on government service) and Ghoul (Arabic for desert ghost).

Florence used an old black doll as a model but said “without intention of naming him, without the idea of a name passing through my mind, I called him ‘Golliwogg’.”

Having become less and less popular in the 1970s and 80s, golliwogs somewhat disappeared but have reappeared in the last few years. I personally don’t see why they should be back – yes, there is some nostalgic attachment for some people, but they are associated with racism. I agree with having more toys showing diversity, but that can be done without using dolls with clown mouths, servant costumes and racist connotations.

In the words of Suzanne Moore, “This is exactly how these wretched things ended up back in the shops. Two things have been going on: the ongoing lie that political correctness (basically, manners) has gone so mad that an open display of racism brands itself somehow as an exercise of freedom. Such people always hark back to a time of “innocence”. That innocence is now called white privilege.

The other is the lie that we live in a “post-racist” society. This is a view that is often expressed in Australia, where golliwogs are extremely popular. Yet if you go to any of the Australian websites selling them, you will see the vendors go with the word “gollies”, leaving out the obviously offensive bit.”

Making paper lanterns

Three child-made paper lanterns lit by candles Paper lanterns can be a beautiful decoration, indoors or out, but they’re also very easy to make.

Making lanterns with kids

For preschoolers, you will need to help with the cutting but otherwise kids can pretty much do this themselves.

  1. decorate a piece of A4 paper children decorating a red paper lantern
  2. fold the paper in half length wise
  3. cut 1cm strips across the paper – start cutting at the fold and stop about 2cm before the edge of the page  Cutting paper to create a paper lantern
  4. open the page out
  5. spread glue along one short edge  Adding glue to hold a paper lantern
  6. roll the paper to overlap the short edges, sticking them together
  7. cut a strip of paper and glue it on as a handle  Four paper lanterns made by children
  8. use your lanterns as you will – you can hang them or stand them on a table or window sill

handy lantern tips

  1. you can use other sized paper, just be sure it is rectangular, not square. A4 is a good size for little fingers to work with
  2. decorating the paper with crayons, stickers and textas is more effective than pencils!
  3. colour paper is a good basis
  4. remember they are made out of paper – you can put a tea light candle inside but the fire risk is high. Don’t leave them unattended or near kids, and be sure the paper is firm enough to stand first (cheaper printer paper isn’t!) A good compromise is to use a candle inside a glass jar or a battery operated tea light candle.

 

Who decorates your Christmas tree?

It may seem like an obvious or irrelevant question, but who decorates your Christmas tree?Three chidlren decroating a Christmas tree

I discussed this with some Mums at kinder yesterday as we watched the kids decorate their kinder tree – a real Christmas tree sits in their group area with baskets of tinsel and ornaments so they can decorate and redecorate it as they wish. It’s a simple and fun activity for them.

Allowing children to decorate a Christmas tree

One Mum doesn’t let her kids near the tree and decorates it all herself so it is done properly and looks perfect. And Dhrynio commented last week that her mother-in-law had always decorated their tree so Dhrynio’s husband didn’t know how to do it!

Other Mums let their kids decorate the lower parts of the tree however they want. The upper part is either done by the parents or is directed by the kids but with parental assistance.Yong boy and Dad hang an ornament on a Christmas tree

A blog post I  read recently mixed both these traditions (I can’t remember where I read it – I’ll add the link when I find it!). She let the kids go wild and decorate the tree in the evening. Once they had gone to bed, she pulled everything off the tree and started again, doing it her ‘control freak’ way! She gave the kids the fun of decorating and herself the reward of having a perfect tree she could enjoy. I’m just not sure how the kids would feel when seeing their creativity was replaced by Mum’s perfection.

Protecting special decorations

Most of us keep certain ornaments – fragile and particularly sentimental ones – out of the kids’ reach and put them on the tree ourselves.

One Mum said she kept nothing from her daughter to provide the lesson of caring for things and being careful. I love that principle and her courage (she even lets her touch glass balls imported from Europe!), but I just don’t want to risk some of my more precious decorations to a curious and lively two-year old!

Many of my more precious ornaments are actually precious because they were made by my daughters when younger – they are fragile at the joins, etc rather than because they are glass, and precious because they are not replaceable.

Child participation and perfection

Can you have it both ways – let everyone put decorations on the tree for fun and have a tree that is stylish and perhaps artistic?

It may be a bit hard to manage both on one tree (although I have this image in my head now of a tree done perfectly on one side and chaotically on the other, and just rotating it as suits the time or audience!)

To me, a solution is to have two trees or two rooms/areas and treat each differently.

For example, have a stylish tree in a formal lounge room and let the kids be creative with the family room tree.

Or maybe it can be a time share thing – let the kids decorate the tree on 1 December but redecorate it on the 19th or so so it is ‘perfect’ for Christmas Day photos and any gatherings you have in the house in the last few days.

So who decorates your Christmas tree?

Did you set your own decorating tradition or have you copied what you did as a child?

Easy chocolate shortbread

Like most other people, our family is pretty busy. I love the idea of my kids leaving something for Santa (I think it shows respect and hospitality – not to mention gratitude for all those presents he leaves!)

But with school finishing so close to Christmas and my work commitments, we have limited cooking time. So I buy some shortbread – just plain basic stuff form the supermarket – and we decorate it. I melt some chocolate (white and brown) and put out 100s & 1000s, coconut and crushed nuts, and let the kids decorate shortbread biscuits.

We do enough for Santa and for gifts from the kids to their grandparents – and for us to eat all the broken ones 🙂

It’s easy, fun, messy and a family tradition for us now. Maybe this year we’ll bake the shortbread first – nah, probably not!

Christmas Trees

What sort of Christmas tree do you have?

There is nothing like the smell of a real tree in the house – it is fresh and very Christmassy. I think the Christmas tree smell is so related to Christmas for us in Australia as it isn’t a common smell for us – and it is very different to the smells of our bush and gum trees!

Not everyone likes the pine needles across the floor or having a bucket of water in the lounge room, so some people prefer an articifical tree. Over a period of years, the artifical tree is the cheaper option, too.

Personally, I love the real tree – the smell, the sense of Christmas – but have an issue with killing a tree just for my pleasure so we use an artificial tree in our house. However, we also decorate trees in our garden for the real tree affect.

I just saw a collection of Christmas tree stories in this blog, too. But I would love to hear about your Christmas tree preferences and memories – maybe an Australian collection will be very different from a northern hemisphere one?

Christmas Decorations

Christmas tree with golden decorationsChristmas decorations have been in the shops for ages, but many traditions say they the tree and decorations shouldn’t be out until December.

Putting up decorations too early takes away some of the magic of Christmas, I feel. They are there so long they have less impact when Santa arrives – they become part of the backgorund.

I also think it is confusing for young children – they see decorations and trees and Santas so assume it is Christmas tomorrow – how hard it is to explain “no, Santa isn’t coming for another 2 or 3 months yet”. Frustrating for parents, too.

When do you put up a tree at home? Do you decorate the rest of the house as well?

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