sleigh

A gingerbread sleigh and reindeer

Happy Gingerbread House Day!

To celebrate Gingerbread House day (yes, there really is a day celebrating gingerbread!), ChristmasJen and I made some gingerbread to give Santa a sleigh.

A gingerbread sleigh shown from different angles

We used a gingerbread recipe known to work well and a cutter set that I had grabbed from an op shop.

Cutter set

Using the cutters, we cut out two sleigh sides, two sleigh ends and four reindeer. My tip if you create a gingerbread sleigh – cut half the reindeer with the cutter upside down so some will face the other way for decorating.

gingerbread pieces and an empty piping bag

Baked gingerbread pieces

The set made this all very easy, but you could cut out cardboard templates instead – the ends are just squares and the sides were about 3 times longer with curved sections to look like a sleigh. Any other animal cutters may work if you don’t feel able to draw some reindeer templates!

Creating the sleigh

So you will need gingerbread and icing, plus a board to sit your sleigh on.

  • two sleigh sides
  • two sleigh ends
  • reindeer (as many as you want – I got four out of the recipe above)
  • egg whites
  • icing sugar

To make the icing, start by beating two egg whites until they are white and form stiff peaks.

Stiff peaks in the egg whites are important

Then add icing sugar, about half a cup at a time, to make a really thick icing. I used 3.5 cups in total, and probably could have used more. Remember that thinner (ie runnier) icing takes longer to set so you will end up holding pieces together for a while.

Spoon standing in icing to show how stiff the mixture is

Stiff enough to hold up a spoon!

Lay out your gingerbread pieces and pipe some icing to stick them together as a sleigh.

Sticking pieces of gingerbread together to form Santa's sleigh

Let the construction begin!

Decorating the sleigh

The reindeer were easier to decorate lying down, but the sleigh can be decorated once it is put together – especially if you want to decorate the back of the sleigh.

Some lollies ready to use in decorating the gingerbread

Some of the lollies used on our gingerbread sleigh

My son had a wonderful time using the remaining icing to stick on Smarties, candy canes and lolly cupcakes.

CHild's hand attaching lollies to a gingerbread sleigh

He was generous with the icing as he attached lollies!

To finish off our sleigh, we added a marshmallow Santa on top.

 

Decorating the reindeer was quick and simple – and we added a glacé cherry to one to be Rudolph!

Decorating gingerbread reindeer

They gained personality as added decorations!

Then we ran long streams of snow (also known as icing!) out in front of the sleigh and stood the decorated reindeer in the snow. This is where stiffer icing would have helped as I need supports for the reindeer for a little while as the icing fully set.

We used some sour pencils to form the reins between the sleigh and reindeer, and we were done!

Santa's gingerbread sleigh

Santa’s gingerbread sleigh

It was a lot of fun to make Santa’s sleigh. And the reaction at a local Christmas party when I presented the sleigh was priceless! There were compliments from adults, but more striking was the amazement and wonder on lots of little faces – I do love delighting young children! It didn’t take long for there to just be an empty board with bits of discarded icing…

Make Santa and his sleigh!

Last Christmas, my daughter’s grade 1 class made some Santa sleighs and reindeer in their art classes. I think they are very cute, and a clever idea on the part of their teacher.

COllage of kids craft work - Santa in his sleigh with a cotton reel reindeer

I love the Santa face and beard some of the children created! The reindeer are very cute but don’t really stand up very well unfortunately – you need something stronger than pipe cleaners really.

Two child-made Santa sleighs and reindeer, with Santa smiling

As this could also be a great craft activity for Christmas in July (and craft in the upcoming winter school holidays may be a good choice!), here is my break down of how to make Santa and his sleigh.

Making Santa and some reindeer is a fun kids' craft activity.

Materials

  • 1 cardboard box with lid (about 7cm long and 4cm wide)
  • sheet of plain paper (could be coloured or Christmas themed but that reduces decorating!)
  • scissors
  • textas, pencils, glitter, glue, etc for decorating
  • double sided tape (or glue)
  • two cotton reels (wooden preferably)
  • 1 brown pipe cleaner
  • 3 glittery red pipe cleaners
  • two googly eyes (you could draw them on if you wanted to)
  • gold elasticized thread or string
  • a golden bell (or a bead will do)
  • a couple of cotton wool balls
  • thick red paper

Instructions to make the sleigh

Cut out two sides for the sleigh, making them about as long as an A4 page.

One end needs to be about 15cm high and the other only 3 cm or so high. The shape in between is up to you – it can slope down quickly like a husky sled or stay high and then slope down like a sleigh (better for keeping Santa warm and his sack safe!)

CLose up images of Santa's sleigh made from paper and a cardboard box

Decorate the cut outs as you wish with colour and glitter.

Sit the box inside the lid.

Doing one side at a time, attach the sleigh sides onto the box with double sided tape (or glue). Leave 2 or 3 cm of the paper past the box.

 

Instructions to make SantaRed paper Santa face made by a child

Take the red paper – cut it into a circle of about 10 cm in diameter (ie 10 cm across the circle).

Cut a triangle wedge – about 1/5 of the circle.

Roll the piece of paper so that the two sides of the wedge overlap and can be taped or glued together.

Stick a cotton ball on the top of the cone and another near the base to be Santa’s beard.

Draw on some eyes and Santa is done!

 

Instructions to make the reindeer

Stick the googly eyes onto a cotton reel.

Fold the brown pipe cleaner in half and push the folded end into the top of the cotton reel with eyes. Depending in the size of the hole, you may want to add some glue to keep the pipe cleaner in place. Adjust the pipe cleaner to look like the reindeer’s antlers.

Cotton reel and pipe cleaner reindeer made by a child for Christmas

Push all three red pipe cleaners through the other cotton reel. Then, adjust them so that there are four ends are equal on each side of the cotton reel – these are the four legs and can be pulled into position.

One of the remaining ends can be shorter and bent upwards to form the tail. Take the remaining end of the pipe cleaner and put into the other cotton reel to join the two reels together, forming the reindeer’s neck.

Note you could make one pipe cleaner a different colour for the tail and neck – I just kept it simple!

Putting Santa with his sleigh

Stick one end of the gold thread onto the smaller end of the sleigh side with some sticky tape.

Thread the bell onto the thread and knot it in place about half way along the thread.

Loop the golden thread and bell around the red pipe cleaner neck.

Stick the other end of the thread onto the other side of the sleigh.

Sit Santa in the cardboard box.

Santa and his sleigh can now be put on a display as a hand crafted Christmas decoration or given as a gift.

Second last day of advent calendars…

Collage of 2016 lego Advent Calendars

Day 23! That means we’re almost finished our advent calendars and Christmas is almost here…

The Lego City calendar produced a sleigh tonight –  to which the husky from last night can be attached to pull it along.

Lego sleigh pulled by husky dog

We have Santa’s sleigh – now we just need Santa and his sack of presents!

My daughter discovered a snowman in her Lego Friends calendar – one that looks quite different to those already discovered in the City calendar this year or in the 2015 Friends calendar. Given it’s shape and size, I’m now wondering if last night’s table was meant for the Christmas pudding, or as a stand for the snowman! What do you think?

A Lego snowman holding a guitar in front of a CHristmas tree

A Friends snowman who can play guitar!

SO it is looking like Santa will arrive in Lego City on Christmas Eve – but will he also arrive for Naomi and Emma?

And if you are keenly following along with our advent calendars, you can do back to day one or sneak back to read what happened in 2015.

Reindeer names

Two boomers pulling Snata in his sleigh

Everyone knows Santa’s sleigh is predominantly pulled by his reindeer, but not everyone can remember their names!

As well as the 8 named in the ‘A Visit from St Nicholas’, there are other reindeer in stories about Santa:

 

  • Rudolph – the unusual red-nosed reindeer helps guide the sleigh on particularly dark and foggy nights
  • Olive – “olive the other reindeer shouted out with glee”
  • Chet – the reindeer in training in “The Santa Clause II”
  • Cupid – the reindeer who falls in love with Private (the penguin) in “Merry Madagascar”

Can you add any more?

And you may not know that the original story included Dunder (which became Donder then Donner) and Blixem (later Bliksem then the German Blitzen).

Santa just smiles when asked the names of his reindeer and lets us remember the poem…

Santa has told air control he’s coming…

Air Services Australia (who manage our airports) has confirmed that Santa has told them what sleigh he’s bringing this year! Watch out as they track his progress until Christmas morning…

Santa is preparing for his trip…

It is getting close now – one week to Christmas Eve and Santa’s arrival Down Under to help create some more Christmas memories.

As Santa is flying across Australia, our Air Control Towers will be keeping planes and other air traffic out of Santa’s way so there are no nasty surprises for anyone.

Apparently, Santa has a new sleigh with added safety features – you can see pictures ot Santa and diagrams of his sleigh (click on the labels below the diagram for a full explanation) on the Air Services website’s Santa pages.

Due to this being the most popular flight in Australia, Air Services will continue tracking Santa’s progress everyday until Christmas.

White boomers

Six white boomers, snow white boomers,
racing Santa Claus through the blazing sun…

(from Six White Boomers by R Harris & J Brown)

So what is a white boomer? It is a large, male Kangaroo that has white fur. When they move fast across the dry sands of Australia, they make a booming noise so they earned the name boomers. Most boomers are not white by the way 🙂

In Australia, Christmas Eve can be hot – and it certainly isn’t cold and snowy. Santa’s poor reindeer would find it very hard to pull a sleigh across the Australian skies so he gives them a rest while six large boomers pull the sleigh instead. The boomers can’t fly normally, but with Santa’s magic, anything is possible.

Rolf Harris made this story famous in the 1960s by releasing his version of six white boomers. You can see the lyrics on the all down under website* (it would be a copyright infringement if we copied the words here!) and find out the boomers’ names here.

If you are creative, you may like the instructions on painting some white boomers of your own. Or grab our boomer colouring in page before ordering a Love Santa letter.

Boomers pulling Santa's sleigh

* We used to link to the song composer’s personal site for the lyrics, but it has disappeared now.

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