11 weeks today it will be Christmas Eve…5 things to do now to avoid a festive fluster!

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Yes, I am a self-confessed Christmas lover.  I love Christmas and all that the season brings (well, most of it anyway)!  I know that there are many who also love it but NOT TOO EARLY…and that’s fine with me!  I totally understand and feel a little that way myself – simply because I don’t want to spoil the excitement for myself by dragging it out and creating an anti-climax.  So I’m not going to go on about it too much but I just wanted to share 5 things that you may want to consider now to make the most of the festive season…

1.  Book tickets for a Christmas Panto’…the best seats on keys dates sell out early so if you’d like to go on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day or the like, then you might want to book tickets sooner rather than later.

2. Start researching a special visit to see the main man himself – Santa!  Once again, depending on where and when you’d like to see Santa, tickets do get booked up early.  Many of the main attractions will already be selling tickets via their websites and the best time slots for young children tend to go first.

3. Think about a festive food delivery.  I am a regular internet food shopper and I now hate it when I have to face the supermarkets myself, and there is no worse time for this than in the lead-up to Christmas.  I’ve tried it all – even a midnight dash when the supermarkets extend their hours a few days before Christmas, but for me nothing beats sitting on the sofa in front of the fire to browse at leisure and order my Christmas food shop…then the tinkle of the doorbell by a lovely lady or gent baring my festive feast.  On-line supermarkets open their Christmas week delivery slots in October and November so if the food shop is one thing you dread, start planning now.

4. When you are out and about and see little bits and bobs that the kids will love in their stockings, pick them up and stash them away in the bottom of your wardrobe.  I already have a gorgeous little collection of special things and I know that when December rolls around I will be able to enjoy the best bits of the season knowing this job is sorted!  It also helps to spread the cost!

5. Thinking of cutting back on gifts this year?…Then now is the time to suggest it to friends and family.  Some people (like me) start their Christmas shopping early so seize the day and mention it sooner rather than later to make it happen this year.  If you have a group of friends that you usually buy individual gifts for, you could suggest a Secret Santa where you all put one nice gift in (spending an agreed amount) and all take one nice gift out – this can save a fortune.  Alternative ideas include giving hand-made gifts, switching from lavish gifts to token gifts or making a charity donation instead of personal gift-giving.  If cost-cutting is on your mind this year, then now is the time to get talking to your loved ones.

I do hope that you have enjoyed my 5 plan-ahead suggestions and they haven’t left you in a festive fluster already.  After all, as I said, Christmas is 11 weeks off so no need to panic!

Crafting at home – is it really worth the mess?…

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My daughter loves nothing more than crafting, it is her activity of choice every time.  She can (and regularly does) pass a happy hour with a role of tape on a dispenser, a couple of bits of paper and a pair of scissors, usually resulting in some very imaginative creations…and paper trimmings strewn all through the house, which lucky mummy gets to clear up behind her, as when Grace is finished, she’s inevitably ‘too tired’ to pick them all up.  I guess that being so creative is exhausting! This weekend we started our scarecrow building project…now this took crafting mess to a whole new level!  We made a paper mache head (which went surprisingly well, after she’d got the excitement of glue-spreading out of her system) and then we went out to the garden to ‘attack’ our bale of straw…oh boy, the mess of our garden is UNIMAGINABLE!  No, I hadn’t really thought this through – whilst my husband and I stuffed old clothes with handfuls of scratchy straw (ouch)!, Grace set about making our scarecrow (whom she has named ‘Lilly’) a home out of straw.  She was incredibly industrious – literally shredding the beautiful tidy bale, carrying it across the garden and piling it up again, until our garden resembled a farmyard – yes, I exaggerate not – a farmyard!  Time rolled on and teatime/bedtime/ironing etc. called, leaving no time for mummy to clear up the mess so as I sit and type now, I am peering out of the window onto my now wet ‘farmyard’, expecting a sheep to casually stroll by anywhen, and I ask myself; ‘Crafting at home – is it really worth the mess”? and I answer myself “Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes”! From unimaginable mess comes immeasurable joy.  Most things can be tidied/cleared away/washed down and the treasures we are left with represent the happiness we’ve found from embracing this chaos.  I hope that my post has inspired you to get the finger paints out this season – after all, there are sure to be a lot of rainy days to fill.  Happy crafting with your little ones!  P.S.  If you’d like to meet ‘Lilly’, be sure to check out my blog again later this week;-)

‘The Scarecrows’ Wedding’ – brilliant…I haven’t been invited to a Wedding in years!

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I do love a good wedding, and in all seriousness I haven’t been invited to one for several years!  I suppose I’m at the age where friends have moved on to having children – my time will come again when those children are grown, I suppose. There was a friends fabulous post-wedding dinner last year, but we missed the ‘main event’ as it was held in the U.S., where she now lives.  It was a wonderful evening but I feel that we missed the ‘Romance’ of the big day.

Never mind, we are all invited to ‘The Scarecrows’ Wedding’, the latest delightful book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Sheffler (a match made in heaven, for sure)!  It all started when I decided that it would be a great idea for my husband and daughter to enter a local scarecrow making competition (more of that to come over the next fortnight), it should be a nice way to embrace autumn I thought, and keep our chins up about the end of a wonderful summer.  Anyway, inspired by our forthcoming scarecrow making and harvest celebrations at school, I jumped at the excuse to buy the latest Donaldson/Scheffler book and what a delight it is!  Brilliant rhyming verse, as always, that unfolds into a lovely little story of romance.  Beautiful illustrations that I never get frustrated with when my daughter wants to pore over  them long after the ‘page needs turning’ and, all in all, a book I’d be happy to read every night for the next month if that was what Grace chose.  Yes, I did stir slightly when I first saw Reginald Rake smoking a cigar, but I used the opportunity to comment on this to my daughter, as we are a non-smoking household.  I urge you to embrace the season and accept your invitation to “The best wedding ever, the best wedding yet, The wedding that no one will ever forget”.