Category Archives: Christmas

Plaster of Paris Handprints

This is another Christmas 2012 gift we made to give to both my and Gordon’s parents. I think it makes a lovely gift for grandparents, but I really want to make more to hang in our house as well because the finished handprints are so lovely!

You will need:

  • playdough or similar (branded works better as the consistency of home made dough can be tricky to get right)
  • a mould (we used a round, shallow pyrex dish)
  • cling film
  • rolling pin
  • plaster of paris
  • paint

To begin, cover your mould with cling film.  Roll the playdough out to approx 1.5cm/2cm thick and place it in the mould, making sure the playdough rises at the edges to create a “bowl.” Ensure the surface of the playdough is as smooth as possible.

Press your child’s hand into the playdough, making sure you press down each finger and their palm firmly but evenly, so as to get a good impression.

Make up the plaster of paris according to the instructions and tap the container of mixed plaster on a hard surface a few times to get rid of as many bubbles as possible. Pour into your mould. Gently agitate the plaster in the mould to remove any remaining bubbles and create a smooth, even cast. Leave to dry for a few hours.

Remove the hardened plaster from the mould, using the cling film to assist. Rub away as much playdough from the plaster as possible, then use a small brush or similar (we used an old toothbrush) scrub off the remaining playdough under a little running water until you have a clean hand print.

Leave the print to dry and harden thoroughly for a few days before painting/decorating it. We first painted the whole cast with white paint, and then painted the hands in different colours.

The only problem with the prints we made is that there is no way of hanging them up! Since making these I have discovered that you can simply press the ends of some ribbon or string into the wet plaster in the mould and this will dry in place and become a hanger.

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Lemon Curd and Lavender Bags

I have been holding off writing about the hand-made Christmas Gifts we made this year because Granny (Gordon’s mum) was away for Christmas and in our usual disorganised way we hadn’t finished most of the gifts before she went! She is back home now and we are going to visit tomorrow so finally she will get her Christmas gifts and I can write the first post! 

Lavender Bags

One of the things I really started to enjoy last year was sewing. I have never really done any needlework in the past but my Hama Bead obsession led to me trying out Cross Stitch (they are both about counting patterns and colours!) and from there I gained confidence with a needle and began making some simple items. One of the first hand-made gifts I decided to make for Christmas was lavender bags and satchets.

I began by cutting 2 pieces of fabric 18cm x 15cm. With right sides of the fabric facing, pin together. The pattern I was following said this included a 1cm seam allowance so, being a beginner, I marked a 1cm border along 2 long sides and 1 short side and used this line as a guide for the stitching. For the first bags I made I hand stitched in backstitch but I have also machine sewn a few now.

Once the 3 sides are sewn turn the bag inside out and push the corners out with a blunt pencil or similar. Hem the top opening. The pattern said to either hemstitch or blindstitch. I had to google both and found a great tutorial on YouTube for blindstitch so used this. I was surprised by how easy it actually was once I knew how!

I then filled the bag approximately 2/3rds full of lavender (purchased from Ebay) and tied it tightly shut with a 30cm length of ribbon.

I also made some lavender drawer sachets using 15cm square pieces of fabric and leaving a 2cm hole in one side to turn out and fill. Once filled I sewed the hole up and completed the gift by tying 3 together with ribbon.Lavender Bags and Sachets

Lemon Curd

One of my favourite books of 2012 was The Complete Book of Preserves & Pickles by Catherine Atkinson and Maggie Mayhew. I used it a lot over the year and one of my very favourite recipes is Lemon Curd. It takes only 4 ingredients and can be made from start to finish in less then an hour. It is a perfect hand-made gift idea.

To make about 450g/1lb you need:

3 lemons
200g caster sugar
115g unsalted butter, diced
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

Wash the lemons, the finely grate the rind and place in a large heatproof bowl. Halve the lemons and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Set over a pan of gently simmering water and add the sugar and butter. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted.
Put the eggs and yolks in a bowl and beat together with a fork. Pour the eggs through a sieve into the lemon mixture and whisk well until thoroughly combined.
Stir the mixture constantly over the heat until the lemon curd thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove and pour into small warm sterilised jars. Cover, seal and label.
Store in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months. Once opened keep in the fridge.Lemon Curd


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Magic Reindeer Food

It is time to make Magic Reindeer Food to sprinkle on the lawn on Christmas Eve!

My (child friendly) Recipe:

3 big spoons Oats (any porridge oats will do)

2 small spoons Magic Sprinkles (edible sugar sprinkles/edible glitter – please use edible so the birds don’t eat anything that isn’t good for them)

2 small spoons Special Elf Flying Powder (desiccated coconut)

1 small spoon Reindeer Speedy Boost Powder (mix of spices)

I have placed the ingredients in separate bowls and left them out on the table with this Magic Reindeer Food guide for the kids to follow in the morning.

They also have this picture, printed wallet print sized on card, to stick to their finished bags of Reindeer Food.

Reindeer Food Label

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Marzipan Christmas Treats

The lurgy has hit the household. Thomas has been poorly for a couple of days and it looks like Ben might be going the same way. Gordon had to stay overnight at work last night so needed to sleep today, so I needed an activity that would keep all 3 kids (both poorly and well!) occupied and reasonably quiet.

Out came the Marzipan and we made “Christmas sweets”.

We used one block of natural marzipan and red, blue and green food dye.

Marzipan ModellingJasmine got stuck straight in, making some very detailed models of snowmen and a present. The boys played with the marzipan for a bit until I suggested they should be making something Christmassy! Thomas wasn’t really too sure what to do but suddenly decided to make some Christmas Wreaths and then candy canes and Ben added some details on to a snowman and Christmas Tree that I had made for him.

Marzipan Wreath

Making a Marzipan Snowman











Marzipan Christmas Tree


and our finished “sweets”

Marzipan Christmas Treats

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Felt Christmas Stockings

With my newly found ability and confidence with a needle and thread (more about that after Christmas!) I wanted to make Christmas Stockings with the kids this year. So I bought some felt and off we went..

I started off with this template, stuck it on thick card and cut it out. I used this to draw 6 Stockings onto felt, 2 each of 3 colours, and cut them out. Then I cut off the top section of the stocking template and drew round this 6 times on white felt. Once these were cut out I positioned them on top of the 6 stockings and, using a gluestick, stuck them in place.

I paired all the felt pieces up and sewed the stockings together using blanket stitch, obviously leaving the top open.

Felt StockingsThen I let the kids loose with glitter glue and shiny Christmassy things! Jasmine’s is the pink/purple one, Thomas chose Orange and Ben’s in blue/green.

Decorated StockingsWe have only decorated one side so far and we may or may not do the other side. Really it depends on how long it takes the glitter glue to dry (it was quite thickly splodged on in places!!). I also plan on sewing a ribbon loop to each one so we can hang them up.

Activity Village also have some smaller templates here and I think this size would look wonderful as a Tree decoration. My plan is for our Elf to make the kids a small stocking each just before he leaves and put a little “thank you” treat in it .. I hope he has time!


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Cotton Wool Snowman

Elf Pepper left us a fantastic activity to do this morning 😉

Cotton Wool SnowmanOn some black paper I (um, the elf!) drew 2 circles to make a snowman shape. I used a side plate and a bowl (I used A3 paper)  but you can do any size to suit. I also pre-cut all the shapes out of felt to make it easier and quicker for the kids in the morning.

They were very keen to get started!

First they covered the snowman shape in PVA glue and stuck cotton wool balls all over.

Snowman 1

Then they stuck on some googly eyes, the pre cut felt shapes (hat, scarf, nose and mouth), pompoms for buttons, and pipe cleaners for arms.

Snowman 2


And they finished off with a “little” glitter!!

Snowman 4

Snowman 3










The finished Snowmen

Snowman by Jasmine

Snowman by Jasmine

Snowman by Thomas

Snowman by Thomas




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Advent Santa

I saw this idea on a Home Ed Facebook group page and loved it. I knew it would be a perfect thing to do with my kids as the boys especially are very visual and after 10 days of “Is it Christmas yet?” I needed an idea to help them actually see how long was left until The Big Day!!!

So, start with a large piece of paper, some felt tips, paint, cotton wool and pom poms.

I drew round a plate for Santa’s face, then drew a hat and long beard. I drew lines across the beard to create 25 sections.

Santa OutlineThen the kids painted and glued

Decorate Santa

Decorate Santa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I added some cotton wool and wrote the number 1-25 up the beard and Santa was finished

Advent Santa

We cut a section of Santa’s beard off every day and as his beard gets shorter, Christmas gets closer! When Santa has no beard left…. THEN it is Christmas 🙂

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We had a very mischievous elf in the house again last night

Naughty Elf again!

But, as usual, to say sorry he brought us a present! Today he brought us some paper to make paperchains 🙂

Paperchains arriving


The kids loved making them 🙂

Making paperchains

Making paperchains












Thomas got really good at splitting the paper along the perforations 🙂 He had such amazing concentration when he was doing this.


then he put the last piece in place and…..

It is this long!I’ve just got to hang it up now! That can be done tomorrow when we put the Christmas Tree up 🙂

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A Messy Afternoon

I started writing our Christmas Cards this morning and discovered we didn’t have anywhere near enough. This provided me with just the excuse I needed to get the kids crafting!

So out came the cards, the paint and the Christmas themed sponges. I used plates for the paint so the kids could dip the sponges in easily, however after the first couple of cards I realised it would be more successful if they painted the sponge rather than just “splatting” it into the paint 😉

Sponge Painting Cards


We didn’t have many blank cards left (obviously a trip to the craft shop is needed!) and the kids were of the opinion that they hadn’t done enough painting, so they moved onto paper and they didn’t stop until we ran out of drying space!

A Messy AfternoonA Messy Afternoon 2

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Pomanders and a Sweet Treat

A few days ago a friend posted a link on Facebook showing how to make an Orange Pomander. I’ve not done these since I was at school so really wanted to give it a go with the kids. It is a brilliant, simple festive activity and they look and smell wonderful too!

All you need is an orange, whole cloves and ribbon.

I also used some plastic pins to hold the ribbon in place and for younger children you will need something to make holes in the orange for them to place the cloves in to. Even at 5 Thomas and Jasmine were getting frustrated at times as they couldn’t always push the cloves through the orange peel. I used one of the plastic pins to make holes for them but you could use a knitting needle or a toothpick.

Place the ribbon around the orange, using pins (or paper fasteners) to hold the ribbon in place. Leave enough ribbon at the top to make a hanging loop. Then fill the orange with the cloves.

Orange Pomanders

This evening I have been experimenting with boiled sweets and, after 3 failed attempts, made these

Boiled Sweet Decorations


For the small shapes I cut the sweets up but for the larger one I just used whole sweets. Place the sweets in a cookie cutter on a lined baking sheet and place in the oven until they have melted. You have to remove them from the oven as soon as they go soft or the sweet leaks out from underneath (as I discovered!) Once I had removed them from the oven I placed a drinking straw into the large one to make the hole. I had to hold it in place for a minute or 2, until the sweet had hardened enough to hold it in place. Once it has cooled thoroughly, remove from the cookie cutter and thread with ribbon (if required)

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