tree

Introducing a Christmas elf

In the last couple of years, the idea of Santa sending an elf to visit in December has become widely known across Australia.

And leading up to Christmas 2017, a number of friends were visited by an elf and thus my children were keen to have an elf in our home, too.

When to welcome an elf to your house?

Apart from anything else, I didn’t think it would work very well to have an elf arrive part way through December. I guess it could have been too busy helping Santa at the North Pole to get here for the first of December, but it felt strange to me.

If you have a visiting elf in your house, when did it arrive? Do you think it matters when he or she arrives?

However, it also seems a long time until next Christmas, especially for young children, so when I came across an elf the other day I thought of having him pop in now to say hello in preparation for next December.

box set of The Christmas Elf

Tinkles was acrobatic before she even left the box!

Introducing an elf to the family

How do most people have the elf appear?

At our house, we take down the Christmas tree and decorations on the 6th of January – based on the tradition of 12 days of Christmas.

As we worked on removing the tree decorations, we discovered an elf hiding amongst the branches!

Soft elf, Tinkles, hiding in the Christ,as tree

Tinkles hiding in our tree!

My children were very excited to discover we had a visiting Christmas elf! And even more so when they discovered the elf had a letter from Santa with her to introduce her as Tinkles the Elf. After a brief visit today, the letter explained, Tinkles will return on the first of December to watch over our family and report to Santa.

Elf lying on a letter from Santa

Tinkles lying with the letter she delivered from Santa

We finished packing up the tree and have left the elf sitting on our mantelpiece to be close to the chimney for his return to Santa at the North Pole. It also gave them a timeframe to write their thank you letters to Santa so the elf could deliver them directly for us.

Elf in front of a colourful letter to Santa

Tinkles on the mantelpiece with a thank you letter for Santa

 

Continuing review of 2017 Lego advent calendars

While Christmas and animals are the concepts for these three days in the Friends calendar, the City calendar has moved away from vehicles …

Day 20…

Behind the 20th flap in the Lego Friends advent calendar was a Christmas tree – and as per previous years, the tree itself is different to the Lego City version.

Lego Friends Christmas tree beside Stephanie

Day 20 of the Lego City calendar, however, produced a man with chain saw – I’m not quite sure why, unless you think he was cutting down trees to be used as living Christmas trees?

Lego man with a chainsaaw

Day 21…

My daughter was happy to find two presents (including a jewel inside the larger box) to put under her Friends Christmas tree.

Christmas presents underneath a Lego Christmas tree

The City calendar addition for day 21 was, ah, interesting and took a little thought to identify what is was meant to be. We have decided it is an ice sculpture of a snow angel! What do you think it is?

Lego angel with wings

Day 22…

Well, there wasn’t much surprise to know that the Friends calendar had a black horse for day 22 , given we found it on day 16!

Black Lego horse with Stephanie and a dog

In the City calendar, however, my son found what he insists is a sleigh as “I haven’t got a sleigh for Santa yet”, rather than just a form of snow mobile/sled.

Lego sleigh from advent calendar

Themed Christmas designed with style

Red, orange and beige Christmas wreath on a door

Sophie’s Christmas wreath from 2016

Christmas tree day!

Years ago, my flatmate and I gave the first of December the unofficial title of “Christmas Tree Day” and the name has stuck.  It’s the day I give myself permission to decorate my home for the Christmas season, although I have been planning my tree and decorations for a while beforehand.

I like to purchase additional ornaments every year to build on my collection of decorations that are laden with memories (is there anything more precious than your baby’s first Christmas bauble?), but as an interior designer, I like to have a general idea of what my tree will look with the expectation that my children will add their home made flourishes for which I’m lucky I don’t suffer from *P.O.P.D.!  This year my tree is planned to be in peacock tones.

Apart from the decorated tree, I also like to bring in some Christmas cheer by decorating my entry table and dining table with an arrangement that ties in to the theme of the tree.

While the Christmas tree is beautiful, nothing is more welcoming than decorating the front door with a homemade garland.

close up of red and orange Christmas tree decorations

A close up of Sophie’s 2016 Christmas tree decorations

Decorating tips…

My best tip for decorating your home for Christmas is to choose a colour combination for your decorations and carry the colours from front door, entry, dining table and tree. The steady colour palette makes for a comfortable transition from room to room.

Personally, I like the rule of 3. This means you use three colours – a main colour that is about 60% of the decoration, a secondary colour for 30% and a final colour to make up the balance as a sharp contrast.

Australian flowers as a Christmas table centrepiece

A beautiful Aussie-themed Christmas table decoration from Sophie’s home in 2016

 

This article and associated photos were kindly provided by Sophie Kost, lead designer at My Beautiful Abode.

*Perfect Ornament Placement Disorder

A scouting Christmas tree

I came across this unusual Christmas tree and fell I love with the idea of it 🙂

Christmas tree formed from a green canvas tent

There’s so much to enjoy about a tent-based Christmas tree!

Basically, for Christmas 2016, a scout group hung up a green Auto tent to form a flowing tree shape and then decorated it! And used decorations hand made by the children in the scout group 🙂

Rebecca Goodson, Group Leader for that scout troop, explained their tree:

paper decorations on a scout tent Christmas tree

Personalised decorations with meaning to the scouts are part of this tree’s charm.

 

Very proud of our ‘tree’ for our local Church Christmas tree festival. Our tree was titled “Oh what a year” and depicted the main events and activities the Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers took part in during 2016. We used a traditional (and very old) Canvas patrol tent – visitors to the week’s events were impressed with the authentic Scout Hut fragrance!!! We have a wooden Scout Hut that is in its 92nd year so it’s a little cold and damp. The idea for this year’s Tree was my husband’s idea and we are already planning next year’s.

I love this tree because

  • it totally suits the group assembling the tree (ie a tent is ideal for scouts!)
  • it makes use of something they already had (ie no need to buy a tree)
  • it can be used for other purposes (in this case, camping!) throughout the year so it is not just taking up storage space for 11 months of  the year
  • it is unique and completely personalised
  • it is very environmentally friendly
  • it is unexpected and lots of fun!
 
* Images and idea used with permission of Rebecca Goodson (UK Scout Group Leader)

Christmas in Melbourne

Earlier this week, we had a beautiful day in the city of Melbourne just walking around and viewing the Christmas decorations and displays.

I wish I could visit all the Aussie cities for Christmas, but I’ll have to make do with Melbourne! At least I can share some of the beautiful sites here, though.

Collage of photos of Lego Christmas display - tree, sleigh, star, Santa

First, we wen to Fed Square and saw the largest Lego Christmas tree in the southern hemisphere – it’s nearly 10 m tall! It is a very Aussie tree with koalas and kookaburras in the tree and obvious gifts underneath (like a cricket bat, footy and surfboard).

Then, we looked at the City Square which has a whole Christmas feel. As well as a tree and signposts, we saw plant reindeer, Santa’s seat and red flowers everywhere. The kids also enjoyed interactive aspects such as having their faces in an elf picture and hearing Santa laugh.

Collage of Myer windows, Christmas 2015

Next were the Myer windows, of course, with the story of the Little Dog and the Christmas wish. This is the 6oth year of the Myer windows which is quite something!

Collage of gingerbread village 2015

And we finished with epicure’s Gingerbread village. This was amazing and a fun way to see Melbourne. The village includes landmarks like Flemington racecourse (with Santa and his sleigh on the roof of the grandstand!), the MCG, St Kilda beach, Melbourne zoo (although I’ve never seen the animals stand in snow before!), the arts centre and the Grand Prix. It’s fun spotting the places and the little details throughout, and amazing to realise it is all made out of gingerbread and icing!

Merry Christmas Melbourne!

Christmas Memories

Santa hat on Christmas tree of green lollipops

The perfect Christmas tree for a sweet tooth – it’s made of lollipops!

My momma always used to make Christmas for me and my brother special.

The Christmas tree…

We would get a Christmas tree as tall as possible without touching the ceiling.  I remember the struggles we all had trying to get the trunk into the base so it would stand straight.

Decorating the tree was always a special occasion.

Although my mom stopped putting candy canes on the tree until Christmas Eve arrived because my brother and I would sneak and eat one or two or five a day.

The future…

I loved Christmas and now 20 years later as my wife and I prepare to have kids I will give them the same memories of Christmas my mom gave to my brother and me.

 

* Image courtesy of 123 rf

Putting up the tree

On the first of December, my 3 siblings, mum and dad and I put up the Christmas tree, we spent about an hour together, watching the kids’ laugh and feel the magic of Christmas.

Each decoration that Mum handed the little 2 they would ask her “Is this mine”?

three children decorating a Christmas tree at home

They are taking Christmas tree decorating seriously – it’s lovely to see children working together.

After the tree was up, my oldest younger sister and I were mucking about, and joked that the kids were the same size as their stocking’ so we put the little two ones into them and they were walking around the place in theses big red stockings nearly their height.

Probably the most fun we have all had in a while 🙂 Can’t wait for next year!!

December and summer have arrived!

The first of December – that means summer is here and Christmas is not too far away now (unless you’re an excited three year old anyway!)

What do you do to celebrate the start of December?

We put our tree up as a family, while listening to carols of course. And being such a beautiful evening today in Melbourne, we went outside and looked at Christmas lights in our street before the kids went to bed (a bit late!)

Christmas lights on an Ashwood house

Some local Christmas lights that we enjoy watching each year

A Christmas Movie With a Message

    watching TV at Christmas time with bowls of foodWith all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, sometimes it’s hard to find a moment or two to sit down, let alone time to relax. Watching anything on tv sometimes needs to be scheduled into our holiday to do list, much less the time for a favorite holiday show or movie. Frosty, Charlie Brown, Rudolph just to name a few, all filled our children with magic, delight and reinforced that Santa would be coming to town soon. They all had their favorite and if you were lucky they would not air at the same time, because everyone wanted to see their favorite Christmas show.

As a child I also had a favourite, but I also remember one particular movie that aired time and time again. No matter the channel or time you were sure to see it airing. I remembering thinking to myself, a Christmas movie with old people, in black and white and with no Santa or reindeer in sight. How could this be a Christmas movie? Never giving it a second thought or chance, I turned the channel on to what I called a Christmas show, one with lights that flash, one with Santas and elves and one with snowmen being decorated.

Seeing the ultimate Christmas move for the first time

That all changed when I met my husband. Our first Christmas together was magic, and with one small suggestion a new Christmas memory and tradition was born.

Christmas was just a few days away, and my husband and I were out running last minute errands. We stopped at the local video store, being tired I decided to wait as he choose the latest release – or at least I thought he was. We get home put away our packages and got comfy to settle down to watch the movie.  

I was surprised by the black and white picture that panned into view; ‘maybe it’s one of those movies that start black and white and flash forward turning into color,’ I thought. Then suddenly there it was, the movie I never paid attention to, the movie with old people and the movie with no Santa , It’s A  Wonderful Life  flashed before my eyes. Complaining a little , but finally caving in, I gave it a try.
             
             What a truly wonderful movie. Life not always being fair, pulling together when times are tough, giving, loving and being a family. The message is priceless.

people helping eahc other, elves making gifts and Santa giving a present

Helping and giving are the real Christmas message

I honestly sat completely involved in every twist and turn George Bailey had to endure to find the true meaning of not only Christmas but life. As the credits rolled up on the tv screen I thanked my husband, for not only choosing this movie  but for urging me to watch it.

The Christmas message

 Since that first Christmas, every Christmas no matter what we have on our to do list, a few days before Christmas we get all comfy, settle down and snuggle up to watch It’s A Wonderful Life. Now, I’m the first person to say yes, a movie with old people, yes a black and white movie, yes a movie without Santas and reindeer is absolutely a Christmas movie, it isn’t about the images that represents Christmas , it’s all about the message.

Chocolate Christmas Trees

Takes about 50 miniutes ot make, but they look so cool!

Ingrediants:

250 g plain sweet biscuits
2 tbsp cocoa
1 cup desicated coconut
150 – 200g white chocolate for decoration.
150g dark chocolate pieces, hundreds & thousands, or choc sprinkles for decoration as well.

Method:

combine buicuit crumbs with cocoa!

 Now add your cocoanut and sweet condensed milk.

Put cling wrap on them and put in fridge for 20-25 minutes

than shape them into fir tree shapes (cones really)

Now drissle melted white choclate  all  over(as your tinsel) and decorate with your delicous hundreads and thousands or choclate sprinkles (as your other decorations on your tree).

if you have some star stickers or icing shapes, put one on each tree to finish it off.

Ummmmmmmmmm,a quick,yummy and fun activity to do with your kids – maybe give as presents, too.  The trees, not the kids!)

Christmas Trees to eat!

These are a yummy snack for Santa but can also be wrapped to make a nice gift 🙂

ingredients

250g butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cornflour or custard powder
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tablespoon milk
200 g milk chocolate
100g white chocolate
round lollies (e.g. mini marshmallows, mini smarties)
icypole sticks (at least 12)

instructions

  1. cream butter, sugar & vanilla
  2. add egg
  3. mix well
  4. add cocoa, flours & milk
  5. mix well
  6. wrap mix in plastic and cool for at least 30 minutes
  7. cut out 24 Christmas tree (or other biscuit cutter shapes always even number of each shape)
  8. put in 180 C over for 15 minutes
  9. cool on tray
  10. spread melted milk chocolate on biscuits
  11. press icy pole stick in chocolate
  12. place matching shape biscuit on top
  13. let chocolate set in fridge
  14. melt white chocolate
  15. use piping bag or paint brush to create chocolate ‘garlands’ on trees
  16. use lollies to create Christmas balls on trees
  17. allow chocolate to set before storing or wrapping

* Makes about a dozen trees if you have a 12cm long biscuit cutter. Will make more or less depending on your biscuit cutter.

* It’s fun to make different Christmas shapes and give a couple together as a gift…

Christmas Traditions

Christmas is celebrated differently between families; each family having different rituals and traditions that are passed down over the years.

Some people open presents on Christmas Eve, some on Christmas Day and others after Christmas.Little girl in a Santa hat opening a Christmas gift

And others dance around their tree and sing songs as part of their celebrations.

My family doesn’t even have a tree at Christmas, we decorate the fireplace and chimney!

Though it is for the same thing, each family celebrates this day (well month really) in slightly different ways.

I’m curious as to what other people do – are we the only ones without a tree?

* Image courtesy of 123rf
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