wreath

2018 advent calendar day thirteen

It’s not Friday so the 13th must be a lucky day after all! We all feel pretty lucky to have our advent calendars to open and Christmas Day to anticipate, anyway.

Enjoy day thirteen in our countdown!

Ornament calendar

I like tonight’s hidden picture of an elf painting a bauble for someone’s tree – our press out bauble was even easier to make though!

red babuble images from the advent calendar

Lego City

The Lego City advent calendar today produced a girl eating an ice-cream – something we can relate to doing at Christmas time!

Lego girl holding an ice-cream near the ice-cream machine

 

Lego Friends

My daughter enjoyed putting together a simple wreath from her advent calendar tonight.

Lego wreath, green leaves, red flowers

Christmas book

Heading back Down Under, our book tonight is Santa Koala… so I suspect there will be singing along with reading as we laugh at the antics of the bush animals while Santa snoozes!

Advent countdown reaches double digits!

Day ten – reaching double digits is important for kids so why not for a Christmas countdown!

Ornament calendar

As a white cat looks at the wreath on a door, we created our own Christmas wreath to hang on the tree. The bow is large so the wreath felt a little unbalanced, and like it is facing the wrong way, but it hangs nicely and adds more colour to the tree.

green wreath with red ribbon from the advent calendar

Lego City

I can’t say we’re sure what we found behind today’s calendar flap – a ball with two stands or two goal posts perhaps? What do you think it is meant to be?

Lego ball and stands

Lego Friends

In the  Friends ornament collection, we added a candle tonight. It felt very large as we made it – especially with the scale of Lego things we’re used to – but it was simple to create and would look ok on a Christmas tree.

Lego candle ornament

 

Christmas book

We are looking forward to some fun with he rhymes and pictures as we read A very pirate Christmas tonight. Let’s hope someone can rescue Santa in time to save Christmas!

Christmas wreaths

Growing up, we didn’t have a wreath at home and I didn’t see many, except sometimes in repeated street decorations.

But I now have wreaths around my house, and like seeing them around – especially seeing the variety of wreaths around!

A variety of wreaths…

Here are just a few wreaths that I have seen and like… which is your favourite?

A poinsettia wreath

Felt poinsettia wreath handing on a blue wall

Bec’s gum leaf and stick wreath

I love the simplicity and natural Aussie look of this wreath that Bec made.

Christmas wreath made from gum leaves and sticks

Jen’s food themed wreath

Christmas wreath with food themed attachments

A cheese wreath

Baked cheese Christmas wreath on a wooden board

Some gum leaf wreaths

Some gumnut wreaths made by kinder children (Excuse the background as they dried on a cars mat!)

gumnut wreaths drying - kids Christmas craft

A golden bauble wreath from Erica

Erica made this beautiful wreath “$40 worth of baubles, $7 hot glue and a pool noodle, plus 15 hours and multiple hot glue burns – Bauble wreath is complete! ”

a wreath of golden baubles

Tracy’s natural wreath

Tracy Davison attended a workshop and made this gorgeous wreath (her first ever), saying ” I used about 8 or more different elements to it and I was thrilled with how it turned out. It is all natural, so has that lovely smell of evergreen, very Christmasy?”

natural wreath

Sophie’s floral wreath

Last year, interior designer Sophie Kost shared with us her tips for Christmas decorating and an image of her lovely floral wreath.

Red, orange and beige Christmas wreath on a door

Fir tree and lights wreath

green Christmas wreath with fairy lights

A gingerbread wreath

brown wreath with gingerbread man and stars

A red berry wreath

I spotted this pretty wreath Westminster Christmas shop when we visited last year.

red berry wreath

A large wreath

This wreath (and a few matching ones) was hanging on the Melbourne Town Hall in 2015 – it was larger than most Christmas wreaths!

large green wreath decorated with coloured baubles

So what wreaths do you have at home? Are there other wreaths you love? Either way, share your wreath photos in the comments so we can all enjoy them!

A cheese Christmas wreath

So we went to a Christmas in July dinner last week and I wanted to take something special to add to the Christmas spirit. I think I ended up with a Christmas look and, as everyone kept coming back for more, a yummy treat all in one.

Baked cheese Christmas wreath on a wooden board

Making the cheese Christmas Wreath

 

In the simplest of terms, I prepared a baked cheese and surrounded it with green and some red ‘decorations’.

Ingredients

325 g ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped grilled red capsicum

decent handful of rocket leaves
bunch of basil
cherry tomatoes (or use stuffed bell capsicums)
couple of pieces of grilled capsicum, sliced into strips
some roughly chopped parsley leaves as a garnish

Method

The baked cheese is very easy and based on a recipe from Taste – I just adjusted it by using herbs we had growing at home and added the capsicum to give it more Christmas colour! Basically, you just mix the ingredients and bake it in a cake tin.

Baked cheese wreath before cooking

After 25 minutes baking, I turned the cheese onto the serving board facing up (ie don’t just turn the tin upside onto the serving dish! Facing up has a bit of colour showing and keeps a better shape as the top is firmer than the bottom of the cheese.) I decided to have a rustic look so used a wooden chopping board underneath the wreath.

Once it had cooled a little, I surrounded it with rocket and basil leaves.

I then added some Christmas baubles (being cherry tomatoes and stuffed baby capsicums).

baked cheese surrounded by green leaves to form a Christmas wreath

For fun, I draped capsicum strips over the baked cheese and greenery as ribbons of tinsel and then scattered chopped parsley leaves over it all for flavour and to break up the red decorations a little.

Baked cheese Christmas wreath on a wooden board

I was really pleased  with my Christmas cheese wreath – it looked festive and tasted delicious!

Do you think this would be a good snack to leave out for Santa (well maybe leave in the fridge for him to get if it’s a hot  night!)?

 

What’s cooking on day twelve in Lego calendars?

collection of images from teh Lego 2016 advent calendars

Oops – I’m a bit late with last night’s advent calendar review so apologies for that 🙂

Anyone hungry? The Friends calendar provided my daughter with an array of cooking utensils – plate, knives and forks, along with a hand mixer, frying pan and spatula. Emma was quickly whipping up dinner for Naomi and the two ice-hockey players from Lego City 🙂

Lego cooking utensils and people

Emma using Lego cooking utensils to provide dinner for friends

Over in Lego City, we’ve got a bit more Christmassy light to enjoy… An old fashioned lamp post (not the same as the one we got in last year’s calendar as this one has two lights and a circular wreath) decorated with a Christmas wreath is pretty and welcoming.

Lego Lamp post with a green wreath

Lamps and a Christmas wreath to decorate the Lego City

Which would you prefer to have discovered behind flap twelve – the cooking things or the lamp post and wreath?

If you missed days ten and eleven nine, they are still available – in fact, every day of our Lego Advent Calendar reviews from 2015 and 2016 are online for you to catch up on at any time!

We’re up to day seven of advent calendars!

Day seven and the kids had to open the calendars early today as we went to a Christmas celebration.

Do you tend to open the calendars at the same time each day, or just when you think of it? It feels right to us to do it a little before bed time so it is really counting down the sleeps until Santa arrives, but the principle applies whenever you open the flaps!

At first, my daughter was surprised to find a fireplace in the Lego Friends calendar, but then she realised you have to have a fireplace to have a chimney for Santa to come down, plus the calendar setting was cold so a fire would keep Emma and Naomi warm. The tiny instructions didn’t help with getting the fireplace together – it was beyond my six year old and I ended up making it for her.

A Lego fire under a wreath

A warm fire burning beneath and Christmas wreath

Lego City calendar, on the other hand, gave us a green wreath on a …fence? mantelpiece? building top? What do you think the wreath is attached to?

Lego City Christmas wreath

Lego City Christmas wreath

If you have missed them, you can start on day one of our advent calendar reviews, or go back to day six.

Poinsettia Christmas wreath

When I got the BHG Christmas magazine, one of the things I decided to try was the wreath made out of Poinsettias – the aim being to make it with my five year old as a fun Christmas activity.

So, I have made it and the five and seven year olds both helped a little, and I think it looks ok. Once I got it figured out, it wasn’t too hard to make but it did take some thinking as the instructions were lacking in some areas.

Making the wreath

Ok, to make this wreath, you need a few things. In the magazine, the instructions are actually divided into two as you can just make the poinsettia flowers to hang or you can use those flowers to make the wreath.

Putting the two lists together, you will need:Requireemtns to make a poinsettia Christmas wreath

  • red felt (about 12 cm by 90 cm in total – it can be in different dimensions)
  • a 23cm flat bottomed polystyrene wreath (it took me time to find a large one and mine is actually 29cm thus the extra felt and bells I used)
  • Christmas ribbon
  • string (I used Christmas coloured rope instead)
  • 21 small bells (I used 27)
  • a hot glue gun and glue

Making the flowers

This is the trickiest part of making the wreath and certainly is not child friendly because of the hot glue.

First step is to cut out eight tear-shaped petals and one circle for each of the seven (or nine in my case!) flowers. The pattern in the magazine needed to be made larger so I free handed it.

My hint is to cut out a few of the paper templates so you don’t have to pin the templates quite so often! I certainly folded the material in half so I could cut two at once – there are at least 56 petals to cut out!

The magazine told me to glue each petal like a cone. With some experimenting, I can tell you that you need to keep the pointed end of the petal outwards and fold the curved end over.

fingers folding red felt to make a petal

Then add some glue and fold over the other curved side.

fingers holding red felt petal

It is fiddly and I had my fingers in hot glue a number of times so please don’t give this to young children to do!

The next part if much easier – glue eight curled petals onto a circle of felt. You can lay them out perfectly around the circle by doing them in pairs on either side of the circle, but I found it much easier to add them side by side when the kids helped me as they had trouble getting the points centred otherwise.

Little hands gluing petals onto a felt circle

Add three dobs of hot glue in the entre of the flowers and stick a bell on each one. This my five and seven year olds did manage and enjoying.

small hand adding bells to a felt flower

By now, you can clearly see the flowers and my daughter called them amazing! The big advantage of the hot glue gun is how quickly the glue is set – no wasted time waiting for things to dry.

Putting the wreath together

The next part is easy – lay all the flowers on your wreath, adjusting the spacing until they all fit nicely and cover most of the wreath.

Foam wreath partially covered by red felt flowers

One by one, hot glue a flower onto the wreath until all are in place. Then, glue a bow of the ribbon into the gap between the last two flowers. You can tie a bow then just glue it on (or glue on the ribbon then tie a bow), but I glued it into place and to form a bow so I know it won’t come undone.

Ribbon glued onto wreath to form a bow

Turn the wreath over and hot glue a length of string onto the wreath to form a hanging loop.

View of the back of the wreath where handing loop is attached

Attaching the loop is simple

All that’s left to do now is hang it! Or wrap it to give as a gift I suppose.

Felt poinsettia wreath handing on a blue wall

The finished product is quite good I think

 

Gumnut wreaths – craft for kids

Red and gold glitter on gumnuts and gum leave wreath

Red and gold glitter on gumnuts and gum leaves – a beautiful Christmas display!

 

I just had to share this craft idea! Being so Australian I thought it would fit beautifully on this site, too!

 

I helped at my children’s kinder the other day and all the children were busily making some Christmas wreaths, and loving it. I was impressed with the great results but also that they were so very Aussie, well within the children’s abilities and also so much fun to make.

Although be warned if you try this at home because it took me ages to vacuum up all the glitter afterwards!

 

 

Making gumnut wreaths

I didn’t see this bit, but the kids were given cardboard rings which they stuck together, with a loop of ribbon sticking out one end. I think they are double to be stronger, and it makes attaching the ribbon neater.

They painted this double ring green and left it to dry.

I then was there to watch them stick on gum nuts of various sizes, along with gum leaves and even sticks if they wished.

They also had some red felt leaves (which does add colour on the green background) but I think I prefer just the gumnuts, leaves and glitter – or is that just me?

Once they were happy with their arrangement, they sprinkled glitter over the top – first letting it stick to the excess glue already on the wreaths, then adding dobs of glue where they felt more glitter was needed.

gumnut wreaths drying - kids Christmas craft

Some of the gumnut wreaths made by kinder children – aren’t they beautiful?

As they dried, I got some photos – I think they are beautiful Christmas wreathes, don’t you?

Once they come home from kinder, there will be one hanging with pride on our front door!

Making vanilla wreaths as teacher’s gifts

I like getting my children to give gifts to teachers, etc – and I prefer them to be involved in the gifts somehow. I’m also conscious that most teachers probably get too many candles and soaps as it is.

So last year, my kids make some vanilla wreaths and balls for their teachers – the recipe below made about 30 of each which we shared between 9 paper plates and wrapped in cellophane, tied with red ribbon and given as gifts the next day.

Before you assume 9 teachers is a lot, I included one for each of my children’s class and instrument teachers, plus the lollypop lady, school librarian and the school cleaner (an under appreciated man!)

Here’s what I did…

Ingredients

250g butter, softened

145g smart sugar (or 290g castor sugar)*

2 eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

1 teaspoon baking powder

600g plain flour

PLUS

About 320g smart icing sugar *

6 – 8 tablespoons fresh orange juice (the bottled stuff is too sweet for my liking)

15 mint leaves (the lolly variety!)

About 90 red smarties or equivalent lolly (useful if you’re used to eating the red ones last! Sorry, old ad jingles stick in my head!)

Packet of 100s and 1000s or mini lollies of some sort

Method

Cream butter and sugar

Add eggs and vanilla; combine well

Add flour and baking powder; mix into a dough

Roll out dough to about 5mm thick – it’s a bit sticky so I use sheets of baking paper on either side. I also do it in batches as there’s a lot of dough!

Cut out large circles – circle biscuit cutter or a mug will do the trick

Cut a smaller circle out of each biscuit – use a smaller circle cutter or a glass

Put the rings (wreaths) and circles (Christmas balls) ont greased or lined biscuit trays

Put full trays into the fridge while you continue rolling and cutting and all dough is used up (rework the scraps back in each time)

Place trays in pre-heated 180° oven for 8 – 10 minutes – biscuits should be a lightly golden-brown on the top

Cool for about 5 minutes before removing from the trays onto a wire rack

When completely cool, decorate as wreaths or Christmas balls.

Vanilla Wreaths

Slice the mint leaves through the middle (so they become thinner but have the same shape as they started with)

Mix the icing sugar and orange juice in batches

Ice the top of the wreaths – I let it drip down the sides but you could ice the sides properly if you wanted to

Stick two leaf halves onto the biscuit to form the holly leaves

Dab some left over icing onto 3 smarties and stick them onto the leaves as holly berries – repeat for the other biscuits!

Christmas balls

Mix the icing sugar with some orange juice and a drop or red or green food colouring. If you have time, it’s really nice to use two colours, but one or none will work fine!

Spread icing onto the smaller circle biscuits – making some half red and half green is fun

Sprinkle 100s and 1000s over the top

 

 

* I tend to use smart sugar for everything now – you need half as much so the food is lower GI and it’s made from Australian cane sugar. If you can’t get it, castor sugar or normal icing sugar works just as well.

Why do we have Christmas wreaths?

Recently, I was asked why we hang wreaths at Christmas time so here is some of the history and tradition behind wreaths…

  • wreaths symbolise the celebration and happiness of Christmas
  • Advent wreaths for Christians (particularly Catholics) are traditionally made of evergreen branches around four candles and represent everlasting life
  • ancient Persians had wreaths as a symbol of importance and success – they usually wore the wreaths on their heads
  • wreaths were a symbol of hope for spring when hung in pre-Christian Eastern Europe (especially Germany) – the green showed new life and candles gave light in dark months
  • Greeks used laurel wreaths for thir Olympic champions in 776BC or so. Some say one athlete hung his wreath on the wall as a memento and that is where hanging wreaths began
  • Romans gave wreaths to their military heroes and leaders
  • the circular shape would be linked with wreaths for heads but also represents the cycle of life (no beginning or end)
  • Americans in the 19th century used wreaths to honour deceased loved ones at Christmas – initially at the cemetery, the wreaths were brought home and hung

Now many people just hang wreaths because it is a Christmas tradition, or because they have a beautiful wreath they want to display (including wreaths made by chidlren or friends.)

Creating a Christmas Wreath

Having a wreath hanging on your door or veranda is a common tradition in many Australian homes. Have you thought of hanging a homemade wreath?

Here is how my daughter made one a few years ago (she was about 6 at the time and had help) …

  1.  bend a metal coathanger into a circle
  2. cut the hook part of the coathanger off (unless you prefer to use it for hanging) and make sure sharp edges are hidden/filed
  3. cut plastic shopping bags into long strips – the more strips you use, the better the final result but 3 bags would be the minimum
  4. tie the strips onto the circle (double the strip and pull the lengths through the loop is the easiest way)
  5. spray paint the wreath
  6. once dry, tie on some Christmas baubles (or plastic holly , etc)
  7. use some pretty ribbon to create a large bow at the top, with enough left over to use as a tie for the wreath
  8. hang it on your door – or give to someone else for their door

And Squiggle Mum has instructions for three lovely wreaths you and/or your young children can make.

Do you have another way to make a wreath you could share with us?

Christmas wreaths

Do you hang a Christmas wreath on your front door? Or somewhere else?

 A wreath is both pretty and cheerful, and I find them quite welcoming as well. There is such a variety of wreaths that see as you view homes – from the elaborate ones in shopping centres, to stylish ones, green traditional ones and colourful ones.

What type do you prefer?

If you are interested in hanging a wreath but don’t have one, why not make one yourself? Or get the kids to make one…

Share your Christmas story
Instagram