kids

Yummy kids’ star biscuits

On Friday, I came across a recipe for Kids Sar Biscuits which looked tasty and easy.

So yesterday, I made the biscuits with my two and four year olds.

uncooked star and tree shaped biscuits on a tray

Ready to be cooked…

It was easy enough for them to manage – I had the butter very soft, almost melted, so it was easy for the kids to mix in the sugar.

The hardest part was containing their excitement to cut out even numbers of big/small shapes to be able to pair them later, so I just gave up and let them use whichever star and tree cutters they wanted to!

My four year old was a bit surprised when I put some biscuits on a plate to serve – “But we made them for Christmas!”

We will be making them again, and possibly to leave out for Santa

Star and Christmas tree biscutis cooling on a tray

All cooked and waiting to be eaten!

Driving presents all day for Santa

There’s a lady in my area who collects toys and drives them to another place where the kids aint got much.Cheerful pile of Christmas presents

I think it’s about 8 hours each time she drives up there to give those kids stuff, which is a pretty long way to go, y’know? I guess Santa goes further but many people wouldn’t.

My kids have helped get stuff at their school – that’s how she gets most of the gifts I think, through schools and preschools near here.

Just thought I’d share this Christmas nice story. She is doing a good thing so this is my little thank you ‘cos I don’t do much meself.

Oh, and I found a paper article on the net about her, too.

Christmas is for adults too…

Have you ever said ‘Christmas is less fun without little kids’? Have your ver put more effort into making Christmas special because there are kids involved?

Santa's adult smile behind Christmas treeChildren have the wonder and belief that makes Christmas so magical, and that awe can help us adults remember how special Christmas can be. So it is right that we make an effort to keep the magic alive for kids.

But is it all for the kids?

So many Christmas activities and arrangements revolve around the kids, such as

While it is great to make kids happy, I sometimes feel a bit sad that adults are left out of the planning for happiness. Why shouldn’t adults get presents to make them feel special, too?

It is often the case that adults run around preparing all the Christmas celebrations and find the whole thing tiring. I think a little more magic for the adults would make that work less tiring.

Christmas for adults

So this year, what special touches can we add to Christmas to ensure adults feel the magic, too? What would make your Christmas happier?

It doesn’t have to be more gifts or big ideas, just little things that make the day about everyone, not just the kids.

Providing positive Santa experiences for kids

Running a Christmas event involving a group of kids this year? If so, here’s an alternative way to do things to make it  truly positive and memorable for the kids – and the adults.

Whether it’s a school group, scouting group, sporting club or another type of children’s group, you can make Santa’s presence even more special – and this could solve some budget problems, too.

Sitting on Santa’s lap

Santa and boy giving gifts to girl

Santa & a boy giving gifts to a girl

Traditionally, each child will come and sit on Santa’s lap, tell him what they want for Christmas, possibly be given a gift and hop down so the next child has a turn. For bigger groups, each child may just be given something by Santa.

This year, why to try something a little different? It may take a bit longer but the rewards are much stronger (and maybe that means fewer other activities or games to organise!)

Let’s look at three children at this special Christmas event, Ashlea, Lachlan and Piper.

Santa sits beside the Christmas tree and invites Ashlea to sit on his lap. Lachlan follows her and stands beside Santa.

Lachlan then says something nice about Ashlea (see some examples below) before Santa gives her a small gift.

Lachlan now sits on Santa’s lap and Piper comes up to stand beside Santa and says something nice about Lachlan. Followed by Ashlea standing to say something nice about Piper when it is her turn.

You can call children randomly or try to put friends near each other, but the point is that each child hears positive things about themselves which is a valuable gift.

It is also good for the child speaking to think of and acknowledge positives about their friend/classmate/fellow scout/etc.

Saying nice things

Obviously, each child has different strengths and what each child sees in another will vary, too.

And we want that variety to come though as Santa loves all children with all their differences.

But here are some examples to get you thinking and to demonstrate to the children:

  • I love your big smile
  • You were nice to me when I fell down
  • You are very smart when the teacher asks you questions
  • I like your jokes and funny stories
  • you are a good friend
  • I like how you are kind to animals
  • you’re the best skipper in our school

Depending on the group of kids, you may want to explain what will happen before hand so they know some basic rules and are prepared to stand in front of everyone. Or you may start with some adults having a turn to set the mood and show how it works.

Or maybe you have a better suggestion on how to introduce this to the group?

Any suggestions on ways to make this a more lasting event, too?

Would this work for adults? I think everyone deserves to hear some genuine nice things about themselves. You could even do this for each member of your family – and have everyone say something nice about each person in turn.

For a bigger group, a tree of thanks may be a better option, or split kids into groups to sit on Santa’s lap – or have a few helpers there to hear the good things instead of Santa having all the kids on his lap.

 

* Photo courtesy of Big Stock Photos

Gifts from kids

Who do your kids specifically give gifts to?

I remember as a kid that we only gave gifts as a family, but I know that my kids give some gifts from them, not the family.

Why gifts from kids?

I like my children to learn that gifts, and Christmas, are about giving and not just receiving. I want them to be generous and learn the pleasure in giving to others.

It’s also important to teach kids gratitude and appreciation. Which can’t happen if they just get gifts and never return the gesture.

So my kids give presents to certain people. And by giving, I mean their name(s) is on the card and they physically hand the gift over.

cousins handing out xmas giftsFor instance, they give presents to their grandparents to show that gift giving goes two ways. Often this is a token gift* or something they have made themselves as the point is the giving.

Who kids give to

Obviously it varies between family situations, but to give you the idea, my kids give gifts to their:

  • grandparents and great-grandmothers
  • scouting leaders
  • family day carers
  • class teachers
  • siblings
  • parents (yes, we get Christmas and birthday gifts from our children)

Have I missed anyone your kids give gifts to? Do your kids enjoy the gift giving as well as getting gifts?

* We usually give something bigger to grandparents as a family, too.

Kids’ artwork = wrapping paper

Child made wrapping paperKids often make a lot of art pieces – often a lot in one art session!

I’ve often heard of people using some of the larger art pieces as wrapping paper. What do you think – is that a good idea?

Artistic wrapping paper is good

I like this idea because:

  • it is bright and cheerful – and stands out under the Christmas tree
  • I like the personal touch over the commercial shiny paper
  • it’s good for the environment to use artwork you already have rather than buy more paper that will just be thrown out. Especially given much of the paper children paint and draw on is recycled in the first place!
  • it’s positive to display their artwork this way, and  negative to just throw out artwork when it builds up
  • children can be very proud of the gift they carry to someone if they see their artwork is on view to all
  • kids learn that their efforts (ie painting in this case) is appreciated and probably given more attention than a shop bought gift

 Artistic paper is cheap

Using your  children’s art work is certainly cheaper than buying rolls of gift wrapping paper – I think that’s a positive as it makes your Christmas budget go further (I could spend $15 on a gift and $5 on wrappings and cards or $20 on a gift, or $15 on a gift and have $5 still in my pocket for necessities).

Yet some people think gifts must have pretty wrapping to pass some unknown standard, so would see ‘cheap’ wrappings as a negative.

Do you think kids artwork is a cheap cop-out for gifts or something good?

Are there other negatives of using artwork this way?

Have you ever received a gift wrapped this way – did you like it? How did others respond to it?

 

Feeling crafty this Christmas?

Inspired by Jess and Sam’s post about making Lego ornaments for Christmas, I looked up some sites I know offer patterns for other Christmas ornaments. If you want to make ornaments or are looking for a gift for a crafty person, try:

Needlework Boutique (based in Melbourne) Threads and scissors ready for Christmas crafts

A design by Krista Lynn (I like the Santa one!)

Modern Teaching Aids (mainly aimed at groups but you could just make heaps of them as gifts!)

Just stitching – kids and adults (check out their hints & tips, too)

Christmas crafting and other craft books from Double Day books

Paint Christmas balls (adjust the materials and do all sorts of balls)

Any other suggestions?

Unfortunately. none of the above really cater for a summer Christmas and there is a lot of snow featured. If you know of some crafty patterns that suit an Aussie Christmas, please let us know!

Types of advent calendars

In the past, my kids have had those commercial cardboard advent calendars with cheap and nasty chocolate inside. I’ve always wanted to do something better but it gets to 1 December and I haven’t set anything up so back we go to the easy but meaningless commercial stuff.

Advent calendar graphic

twenty-four surprises is the fun of an advent calendar!

There’s still a good chance I won’t do better this year but at least I’m thinking about it ahead of usual…

I know you can put chocolates in envelopes (one for each day) or stick little bags on a page instead, but I want a little more exciting than that. I’ve heard of good ideas in the past but nothing is coming back when I need it to. So what advent calendar ideas do you have? Which ones have worked well?

 

 *Image courtesy of iguanasbear, 123rf 

Encouraging active kids

Children dressed in CHristmas costumes running in a parkk

Encouraging children to run and play is a good aim

We’ve all heard that too many Aussie kids are becoming sedentary and over weight, even obese.

While Christmas is a time for fun and pleasure, it can also be used to encourage new values and lifestyles, such as helping kids be more active.

Active Christmas gifts

The choice of active-inspiring gifts will depend on the child’s age and current activity levels, but here are some gift suggestions that encourage doing rather than sitting.

  • wheeled transport – a bike, scooter, inline skates or skateboard are all popular and require kids to move and be in the fresh air
  • put a swing up in your yard or on the veranda
  • a skipping rope and set of elastics
  • toy or inflatable bowling pins and ball
  • a ball or bat and ball set
  • swimming pool toys
  • outdoor accessories (hat, sunscreen, water bottle) – good filler type gifts that can be effective if you choose well (e.g. a Toy Story hat and Cars branded sunscreen will be proudly used by my 3-year-old)
  • sand pit toys – if you don’t have a sand pit (which is itself a gift idea!) that’s a good excuse to head to a beach or park
  • gardening tools – toy ones or scaled real ones so they can help you
  • a bucket of chalk they can use outside on the concrete – and run chalk chases if they’re old enough
  • equipment for a kitchen – set it up in a cubby or a corner of the verandah. Their imaginations will get them moving more than you may think
  • a family pass to the zoo, local pool, a water park or even an indoor playground
  • a voucher for some classes – gymnastics, dance, circus, tennis, cricket, yoga, skating. etc
  • materials to build something like a billy cart, cubby, garden box or wagon
  • play dough, clay or other material that needs manipulation
  •  electronic games that go with a Wii board or XBox Kinetics (think Wii Fit, sports and dancing games)
  • a kite
  • things  for blowing bubbles

What else can you add to this list?

Books for kids

It isn’t always easy buying books for kids, especially if you don’t have kids in that age group yourself. Reading the cover of a book doesn’t always give a good indication of the appropriate age group – and I know I don’t always have time to read a book before I let my kids read it let alone for every kids I buy gifts for at Christmas.

I was very impressed by a Dymocks catalogue not long ago as they did list the age for books aimed at kids.

For anybody else after age appropriate ideas, I found an Australian site listing some good books at a couple of ages – and asking for more people to add to their list so it may be bigger by now with luck.

Books are such a great gift but only if it meets the requirements of the reader. Do you give many books as gifts?

No gifts for adults?

Adult with Christmas gifts under the treeI know a number of friends have a family arrangement where only the kids get Christmas presents now, but I don’t like it.

Yes, I get that it saves a lot of money and stress to cut down the list of people to buy for – and with a list of 35 or so, I am all for that concept! And kids are often easier to buy for than adults you don’t see very often.

But there are a number of downsides I think:
– adults deserve fun too – who says we grow out of presents?
– it teaches kids to expect a lot, and possibly at the exclusion of adults
– kids get so much it is overwhelming anyway

Why not let the kids watch adults get things for a change?

Or maybe make family gifts instead of for kids or adults – a board game all can play, tickets to the zoo or a movie, a recipe book they can use together, some vegetable seedlings to start a garden, a beach umbrella, and so on.

What do you think – if presents are being cut back, who should get them? Have you experienced this idea of kids only gifts – did it work well?

* Photo courtesy of 123rf

Gifts from my kids…

… are often home-made, especially for Grandparents and aunts.

children stuffing sachets as gifts

When kids make gifts, they come from the heart. Like these scented sachets being made at home.

It started partly to be cheaper but it isn’t always the case.

What’s more important is that the kids put their time and love into it so it means so much more than some $5 soap or chocolate we could buy.

It also teaches them the real value and pleasure in gift giving. Aside from the giving bits, making gifts also entertains them in a positive way, teaches them crafty skills and IS FUN!

I’m looking for some new ideas for this Christmas, although we’re thinking of pots of herbs that the kids grow from seeds and maybe decorate the pots.

My children have already made…

  • stepping stones
  • dyed tea towels
  • photo frames (thanks for that idea on a Love Santa letter!)
  • painted pots of citronella candles

Has anybody got some other ideas they could share please?

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