santa

Last day of advent calendars!

Yes, it is Christmas Eve, Santa is almost here and our Christmas count downs are just about done!

Ornament calendar

Given it is Christmas Eve, finding Santa behind the flap is perfect! This is one of my favourite ornaments from this set – it just works really well with the two pieces giving the impression of Santa’s rotund body and cheeriness!

The cute image underneath of Santa racing down a hill on a sled is fun, too.

Press out decoration Santa on the Christmas tree

 

Lego City

Like the press-out calendar, the Lego City calendar left Santa until Christmas Eve! It was not unexpected (Santa was also on day 24 in 2015, 2016 and 2017) but still fun to find and build Santa carrying his sack!

This is what Santa looked like before we put him together.

Santa and his sack, with the Christmas tree and presents behind.

 

Lego Friends

Unlike the other two advent calendars, Lego Friends did not finish with Santa or even a Christmas tree. Instead we made a lovely little train pulling a trailer carrying a letter (to Santa perhaps?)

Lego Friends train

Christmas book

Of course, we had to save The night before Christmas to read tonight in anticipation of Santa’s arrival. Hopefully it will help put everyone to sleep nice and early…

Tinkles found some new playmates…

So yesterday we put together our collectables and I said the kids could decide where to put them. However, it appears that Tinkles has decided for them and our collectables are in an empty cupboard with Tinkles this morning!

Christmas elf with supermarket Christmas Collectables

Christmas countdown day twelve

Day twelve seems it should have some significance, given the 12 days of Christmas song and traditions!

Ornament calendar

Behind tonight’s ornament, we found that Merrit has a green elf friend! The two elves are ringing the Christmas bells, and we got to make a bell to hang on the ornament tree.

Press out ornament advent calendar day two

Lego City

More suitable in an Aussie summer than a northern winter, today my son made an ice-cream stand from behind flap 14. It does look a little strange near the woman with a snow shovel, but it is a cute little stand and has tempted us all to grab an ice-cream…

Lego ice-cream stand

Lego Friends

This is another of those advent calendar items you just have to ask why? Tonight, my daughter found the pieces to make a large, blue trophy – although my husband was reminded of the Star of David and a Hanukkah candelabra. I’m wondering it this is again a representation of one of the Friends, but surely we could have a symbol of her sport instead of the winning cup?

Anyway, it is colourful and took a bit more skill to construct so my daughter is happily adding this to her collection of decorations.

A Lego trophy cup decoration

Christmas book

Tonight we are going to enjoy reading Santa’s busy night and look for the details in the illustrations (given the plot is a little simple for us non-toddlers!)

Tinkles playing Monopoly!

We were amused to find Tinkles playing Monopoly this morning! She was sitting under the Christmas tree with Santa and my daughter’s two inherited porcelain dolls.

They were playing Junior Monopoly – I’m not sure if it’s because it is a new game for them all or if it was just easier to grab from my son’s room – what a pity we don’t have Christmas Monopoly here for them.

If you look closely, you ca also see that the tokens being used in this game are actually Lego pieces from the Lego City advent calendar my son is progressing through this month! Tinkles has grabbed the woman with a shovel, the boy (I called him a thief, my kids call him a boy!), the huskie and the snowman.

Tinkles calling Santa?

My daughter was very excited to find Tinkles in her bedroom this morning, and we think we have discovered how she reports back to Santa as she was holding a mobile phone…

Wrapping up for Christmas – Christmas book review


Wrapping up for Christmas the two story pages of the advent calendar

illustrated by Livia Coloji
models & design by Picnic
Hinkler Books, Heatherton, 2018

Age group: 4 to 10 year olds
Format: 2 pages in an advent calendar

 

This is an unusual way to access a Christmas book, but perfectly sensible! Our press out decoration advent calendar is a fold out booklet of eight pages – two pages become the covers of the book and four pages hold the advent calendar itself, while the other two pages tell a story.Press out decoration advent calendar covers

The story

A helpful elf, Merrit, adds a last minute gift to the sleigh but soon afterwards wonders why Santa is back so soon…

My review

I think the story is cute – Merrit wants a new born baby to get a rattle but the workshop is out of paper and she uses some pretty paper with swirly writing on it. Sure, it seems unlikely that Santa’s workshop would be out of wrapping paper, but we all have those Christmas Eve rushes!

Luckily, Merrit wakes when she hears Santa come back early and is able to help solve his problem of a missing nice girls and boys list.

The story has four images – which is a lot given it it a two page book – and they are all colourful and related to the story. If you look at the advent press outs, you can also see that the decorations work with Wrapping up for Christmas.

Yes, as a book it seems very short having only two pages, but there is plenty of content (this is not a two or three sentences a page picture book after all) and I didn’t feel the story was too short or rushed. And remember that this is part of a set – story, advent calendar and decorations all rolled into one package.

Would I recommend it? I enjoyed the story and illustrations so yes I think it is worth reading, but it is not much of a book – remember it is part of an advent calendar (and I thoroughly recommend the entire set) rather than a stand alone book!

 

Welcome back elves!


Tinkles the elf arrived in our house this morning, fresh from the North Pole and Santa.

Tinkles the elf sitting in red tinsel

 

I know some elves have arrived during the week in preparation for today – I guess it is too hard for Santa to magic them all in the same day! – but they are now all on duty. I wonder if kids’ behaviour will suddenly improve 🙂

Anyway, Tinkles arrived, sitting under our newly decorated tree with Santa and a special letter from Santa…

Tinkles the elf sitting by Santa under the Christmas tree

She also seems to have brought some balls with her for the kids to play with! Has an elf arrived in your house, with or without a gift?

Santa arrived at Knox today!


Some will just say “but it’s only November!” but Santa arrived at Knox Shopping Centre in Wantirna (Melbourne) this morning.

Santa arrived with Mrs Claus in a golf buggy (remember the reindeer are resting for the big Christmas Eve trip!)

Santa and Mary Claus arriving in a tinsel cover buggy

There was also a parade, including a band, elves, Rudolph and some golden bells.

The sun was out, the skies were blue and it was a lovely day for greeting Santa and his Christmassy friends!

Collage of elves, rudolph, bells and Mrs Claus at the Know 2018 Christmas parade

And as for those saying Santa shouldn’t arrive in November, bah humbug! Seriously, it makes sense to me as Santa must be so busy in December that parades and crowd visits like this must be much easier for him to fit into November!

Santa’s Place


Over the long weekend I got to visit Santa’s Place and it was lovely!

collage of photos fo Santa's Palce Christmas tree farm and shop

Santa’s Place is a Christmas tree farm and shop in Moorooduc, south east of Melbourne.

There are a number of rooms, each of which is full of Christmas decorations and delights. One room has a Christmas village display, too.

Santa's Place images - Christmas village, fairy, Santa in workshop

I was very excited to see a huge sleigh pulled by two boomers!

And the neighbouring room has numerous Aussie themed Christmas items. I couldn’t resist coming home with a cute platypus decoration to join my other Aussie Christmas tree ornaments.

Collage of Aussie themed decorations at Santa's Place

The playground and cafe were also enjoyed by the children I was with, so we spent a fair bit of time happily visiting Santa’s Place! The staff were friendly and appreciated my eight year old helping them restock a display!

So I daresay we will be returning…

 

Follow me Santa – Christmas book review


Follow me Santa

by Roger Priddy
illustrated by Steven Wood
This book was made by Nicola Friggens, Robyn Newton, Penny Worms and Kylie Hamley

Priddy books, New York, 11 September 2018

Age group: toddler to pre-school

Book cover of Follow me Santa

The fun starts on the front cover!

Format: 14 page thick pages

This is exciting – a new release Christmas book that is colourful and fun! I think this should be under many Christmas trees this year!

The story

A quick overview of Santa’s activities on Christmas Eve, from leaving his workshop to arriving back home ready for a nap.

The story as such is short and simple but you get to follow along by finding the way for Santa through a finger maze.

My review

This book is a delight! I discovered Roger Priddy’s work earlier this year when I reviewed Let’s Pretend Christmas and was happy to find this book was going to be released in September (and I may have ordered it on the spot as a pre-release!)

Let’s start with the mazes – I like that they are cut outs so that little (and not so little) fingers can trace their way through the maze. Much more fun and easier to use again and again than a maze you draw on. The pattern is not the same on every page so there is challenge to it, even more so if you get distracted and look at the pictures rather than focussing on the maze from above. My favourite is the maze up and down chimneys so the correct path is all over the double page spread.

Inner pages of Follow me Santa showing the ocean

Steven Wood has done some lovely illustrations, too. Each image is cute and colourful, and there are fun details to notice (like the bike covered in Christmas paper and the air traffic controller elf).

As well as the maze, there is a search activity on each page. And I like that it has a little twist on some pages – for instance there are five polar bears but only four are wearing jumpers as listed to find.

Santa does travel the world but is only shown in cold, icy places unfortunately, but it great to see elves male and female, and different skin colours. Maybe one day Priddy can do a second book to include those of us with warm Christmas celebrations!

I also love the details of Mrs Claus having a present for Santa at the end, although it must wait until he has finished his well deserved nap with his teddy!inside pages of Follow me Santa

 

So do I recommend it? Absolutely! It will entertain young children for ages while helping them observe, count and gain fine motor skills. Older children may solve the mazes faster, but can still enjoy the illustrations and feel of the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Elf – Christmas book review


The Christmas Elf

Book cover of The Christmas Elf

by Hsiu Peng Wong
illustrated by Sami Lewis
IG Design Group, Clayton South, Victoria*

Age group: primary school (5 – 10 years)
Format: soft cover picture book, 14 pages

This book came as part of a box set with a plush elf who can stay in the house each December to help Santa.

The story

A short story to build the message of an elf who watches children’s behaviour to help Santa keep his naughty and nice lists current.

My review

I love the illustrations in this book – it is colourful and cheery, and fun to read. There is not a lot of text so the book will suit very young children as well as those able to read it themselves as part of their Christmas excitement.

Map of Australia and New Zealand Aussie kids dreaming inside The Christmas Elf book

I also like that there is a variety of children in the story – different genders and skin colours – and that dreams of gifts are not genderised (for instance, one child wants a boat and a doll while another wants a tennis racket, a nutcracker and a doll).

It is an Australian book and shows the elf crossing Australia and New Zealand in Santa’s sleigh. So I would have preferred the use of ‘jobs’ instead of ‘chores’ and perhaps some reference to the boomers instead of just reindeer.

It is a positive that the book gives some constructive ideas for getting onto Santa’s nice list – keeping a bedroom tidy, doing your jobs, finishing your homework and being good to one another.

Unfortunately, by the end of the second read, pages were starting to come loose so the construction quality is not great and I’d be wary of letting toddlers read it alone…

Map of Australia and New Zealand inside The Christmas Elf book

* Unfortunately, the publication date is not printed on the book nor can I find it elsewhere…

 

 

We’re at the end of advent calendars…


So the big day is almost here, and Santa will be visiting lots of good girls and boys over the next few hours.

To help us finish off our countdown and build the anticipation of Christmas Day, our Lego calendars provided another two days of fun for us…

23 December

My son was delighted for find Santa’s sleigh behind flap 23 of the Lego Friends calendar (meaning the earlier one is now just a sled!)

Lego City Snata sleigh

Likewise, my daughter was excited to find a ‘one horse open sleigh‘ to attach to the horse from day 22.

Lego horse pulling a one horse open sleigh

Christmas Eve, day 24

And so we have reached the final flaps in our advent calendars – is the excitement at fever pitch in your family yet? There was speculation from my children – would it be Santa, or maybe a reindeer, some presents or Santa’s chair? But there was no doubt it would be something Christmas…

My daughter was very happy to find a Santa snowman – that is, a snowman with a red top and a Santa hat. So the Friends advent calendar had some disappointments early on but the rest was up to expectations and my daughter seems to have forgotten her sadness, which is good. It does have me wondering whether or not to bother next year, so I guess I will be looking at other options for 2018.

Lego snowman dressed as Santa

While I think it is just a sad anomaly, we found nothing behind the final flap of the 2017 City advent calendar 🙁 We can see it was meant to be Santa – and we searched the box and everywhere around where we have kept the calendar, but Santa was not to be found unfortunately.

Lego advent calendar Santa flap

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