Last year, Christmas almost killed me. I spent the run-up to the festive season upcycling a vintage wooden dolls cot, supervising the Husband giving a second-hand bike a makeover for Ben, trying desperately to make biscuits and cakes and treats because all my social media channels told me everybody else was, writing twelve different craft tutorials for the blog (there actually weren't twelve in the end - some of them were still languishing unfinished come Boxing Day) and trying to keep up with my usual workload, look after the kiddos and attend all the usual school and toddler-group activities. By the time Christmas Day rolled around, I was exhausted, the house was a tip and I had the right hump.
This year, we're taking a different approach. Adele over at Circus Queen did a great post on how she's simplifying Christmas this year, which I found really inspirational - I guess I was kind of looking for someone to tell me that it's OK not to make everything yourself, and cram the entire advent period with activities, events and trips. It's fine to relax, take stock of all the good things you have in your life, and just enjoy the season - so todays post is all about the things we will (and won't!) be doing to prepare for Christmas.
Bringing Nature Inside
One thing I really wanted to do last year was find and decorate some branches; I like the idea of mixing nature with brightly coloured craft materials, and had been hugely inspired by Hannah's fabulous branch in her kitchen (see the whole post here, it really is epic!); there's something really nice about spending the afternoon in the woods and then bringing some mementos home to decorate afterwards. I've got two so far, and they've been trimmed with beaded garlands, pompom trims, chunky wooden beads and DIY paper ornaments; it was really therapeutic, and I could probably have cheerfully carried on had it not been for the fact that one of them fell over due to the weight of the decorations.
I've also picked up some holly from a wooded area near our house, and I'm hoping to grab some beautiful leaves to do this with before they all turn to mush on the ground, but I definitely won't be panicking if I don't manage it - I'm more than happy with my cheery sticks!
Wrapping It Up
Last year, I decided that I was going to print my own wrapping paper - not only that, but was I happy with pre-made stamps? Of course not, because why make things easy when you can make them really stressful, right? I spent ages cutting out card templates, then transferring them to adhesive backed foam and making my own flaming stamps; admittedly, some of them looked really nice, but did the paper end up anywhere different to all the other wrapping paper? No, it did not. This year, I'm doing a mixture of brown paper (you can recycle this - ordinary wrapping paper isn't actually recyclable, grrr) and washi tape, felt bows (two rectangles, secured with wool in the middle and glued on with a glue gun) and good old bakers twine. Quick, effective and without the mess and fuss of ink pads and drying time. Boom.
The one bonus of making so much last year was that everything was packed away once Christmas was over, so I can just pull it all out again. I had some great pom pom garlands and paper chains above the sofa, some cross-stitch bunting which I actually made about four years ago and then lots of little bits and pieces that we've picked up over the last few Christmases, so they'll all be making an appearance again. This year I've cobbled together some simple felt-and-lace scallop bunting, a bead garland (which basically involved threading some beads onto illuminous pink bungee cord) and err, way too many pompoms to be useful. I'm definitely, definitely not going to be staying up until the small hours making FIMO shapes and cross-stitching Christmas cards, weeping into my embroidery silks and hollering, 'humbug!" every five minutes.
The Best of the Rest
We've also got a few fun activities planned, most of which involve sitting on the sofa and eating a lot, but we will be leaving the house occasionally. We're going to be:
- Reading some new Christmas books with the kiddos; we picked up a couple of bargains a few weeks back, and I'm really looking forward to cracking them open.
- Heading over to Winchester Christmas market to pick up some little treats for friends and family.
- Lighting plenty of tea lights and candles to make our lounge as cosy as possible in the evenings; I'm seriously in love with the great selection of recycled glassware tealight holders at Super A-Mart - beautiful colours AND they're recycled. Hurrah!
- Making some gingerbread (and possibly buying a gingerbread house kit - Ben is pretty desperate to make one this year!).
- Watching the school nativity.
- Visiting some nearby little villages to see their Christmas lights.
- Taking lots of pictures and making lots of memories.
- Burning lots and lots of winter scented candles (I'm literally addicted!).
What have you got planned this year? Are you making anything nice, or going anywhere special? Whatever you do, relax and enjoy it!
This is a collaborative post.
This is a collaborative post.