Every year we do a book advent calendar to get us in the mood for Christmas. While we might have a chocolate calendar too – immediate gratification and all that – and sometimes a Lego, Duplo or anyone of a number of no-chocolate advent calendar options, the book advent is the big thing.Read more: Book Advent Calendar With Activities #Bookmas
With just two weeks to go till Christmas, it’s time to get the teacher gifts done, the little token presents for colleagues and those final stocking fillers for holiday guests too. While it’s all too easy to grab a couple of boxes of chocolate and give them out, there’s something to be said for personalising, even in the little gifts, so here are a few ‘sweet’ ideas that won’t take very long, but will be unique. Go to your local old fashioned sweet shop, or shop online for retro sweets and feed your sweet tooth.
Make your own Christmas crackers by saving up toilet paper rolls, then filling small sandwich bags with a selection of sweets and stuffing them inside. Use fun Christmas paper to wrap the toilet rolls, leaving enough on either side to make it look like a cracker. You can even go professional and include cracker snaps to make sure they ‘bang’.
With all that’s been going on here, I have not had much time to be or feel Christmassy, or get far in the whole Christmas gift making endevour. One of the things I have managed to do, however, was prepare mulled wine spices and the tea-total version, Russian Tea spices, for our December food swap.
It made quite nice gift parcels, and even if you just make a batch for yourself, it fills the house with a beautiful aroma and makes a most delicious wine or tea. The tea is a wonderful alternative to mulled wine if you can’t drink or want an alcohol free alternative. It’s worth making, totally.
‘Twas the night before Christmas…
Well, actually it wasn’t. It was one of the 24 Days of Christmas story books that we read together and turned into a craft.
We’re Parragon book buddies and every month they send us a book to review and tell you about. The November book was this one, although it only arrived a few days ago – just in time to go into the advent calendar.
The Night Before Christmas by Clement.C. Moore is a longer version, I think, of the traditional story (although it’s possible that the other version we have of it is just shorter, I’m not sure!) It makes for a nice bed time story length, however, if you’re not used to chapter books.
One of my favourite things about the book though, is the cover. See those white hills in the top left? That’s all sparkly glitter, adding a real sensory feeling to the book. It’s lovely. Sadly the sensory bit isn’t carried into the story, but the illustration – done by Henry Fisher – is just lovely. It’s bold and colourful and rich. Really pretty. And we loved Santa in his drawings too – rotund, rosy cheeked and so very jovial looking.
The glossy pages are lovely to look at and touch, and it’s definite a favourite in our Christmas book pile.
One of the things I really like about this story is that the teller – the dad – ‘meets’ Santa. He sees him, and Santa winks at him and he ‘Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread’. I’ve heard of so many children that are scared of Santa, and I figure if daddy‘s not scared of him, that’s a good start – in a little person’s mind at least.
For our craft I photocopied one of the pages with St Nick on in black and white, and we used the story teller’s physical description to decorate Santa. He says:
“His eyes – how they twinkled!
His dimples – how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow. “
We used silver and pink stamping ink for the ‘sparkly’ eyes and rosy cheeks, and red glitter for the nose. Finally, we tore up cotton wool for his white fluffy beard, and the girls had great fun glueing and decorating Father Christmas – so much so, I now have two copies of him hanging on the living room wall.
The advent calendar book for day three was The Snowman, a much loved classic I always hear people saying they remember from their own childhoods. The first time I ever heard of it was when I was sent the book for review earlier in the year. Apparently there are two versions – one with no text, just images, and this one, a written story. I don’t know the original, but this one was kind of sweet, although I’m not sure about the message that it’s a good thing to sneak out and go to a dance with a random snowman! But my paranoia aside, the children love the story. This particular version came with a CD so there’s a song we got to listen and dance to a few times over too.
Our craft of the day was to make meringue snowmen. You can find our recipes for making it the traditional meringues here, or for using the Thermomix here. I made three different styles of snowmen too – the first were piped as snowmen, the second as meringues and then stuck together in the icing phase and the third as flat figure of eight style snowmen. I preferred the ones we had to stick together in the end. They were the most manageable.
And it may just be me, but I think it would make a fun gift too! A copy of the book, with a jar of snowmen, right?
I bought the book Chilly the Snowman a few years ago when it was just a Pound in a local shop. I kept it in the bookshelf because I realised that Ameli was too young for it, but this year she’s just right for it! Chilly the Snowman is an activity book with mazes, spot the difference, match the shadow, colouring bits, and most important to a 4 year old, stickers! I particularly loved the press out snow scene, which now decorates our faux-mantle-place.
I was really surprised by the fact that not only did the activity book engage Ameli from the front cover to the last page, but it kept her busy solidly for 3 hours! Absolutely worth every penny, if you ask me!
One of the activities in the book is to make a snowman paper chain, which we did. Another is to decorate a snowman. Finally, there’s a ‘board game’ page as the final activity, giving you chance to play together. It’s such a fun book. We’ve since cut out pictures from the now completed book to use in other crafts and card making too!