Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A cracking Christmas, and preparing for 2017...

This post could well end up being somewhat shorter than usual, given that I'm trying to create it whilst keeping the Girl and Boy amused, and working around the Husband needing to get on to the computer for all manner of bits and bobs.

So how was Christmas for you?  Did you have a good one?  Ours was great fun.  Father Christmas was very kind and the Girl and Boy got a fair amount (but not all) of what they requested.  The adults also fared well in the present front - I was especially pleased with my haul, which included a bed runner by Jane Foster from my Dad (which I think I will actually display on a wall) and a custom made paper cut family tree by Clare Waterfall Pictures from my sister.


How amazingly gorgeously fab is this dog fabric?!

More Jane Foster fantastic-ness

The Husband and I don't spend a huge amount on each other at Christmas, but I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a magazine subscription from him, both of which I was very happy with.

I absolutely love the run up to Christmas, but I always have a burning desire to take down the decorations as soon as Christmas Day is over.  Keeping them up somehow feels like leaving the banners and party streamers up after a party has finished…  I'm hoping to get the Christmas tree down and the decorations packed away before New Year's Eve - whether the kids and the Husband will agree is another matter!  Bah humbug and all that...

In preparation for 2017 (yes, really), I thought it might be worth sharing with you some tips and handy hints to help you prepare for next Christmas (which, of course, is less than 12 months off now, not long to go…!), and also a couple of ways that you can recycle some of this year's festiveness.

Firstly, if your kids (and your big kids) have enjoyed a chocolate advent calendar this year, remove the plastic tray from inside it before you bin it.  Wash it out to remove all the traces of this year's chocolate and carefully store it until next year.  You can then fill each one with melted chocolate, using it as a mould to create some fantastic festive treats.


Inside of chocolate advent calendar.  AKA chocolate mould for next year


I'm planning on making an advent calendar or two next year; each day I'll include a chocolate made using the mould, which I'll wrap in recycled chocolate wrappers or new sparkly paper.  Over the course of the year I'm also planning on stocking up on bits and bobs to include alongside the chocolates - the Girl especially loves little trinkets, lip balms and such like, which you can get buy very cheaply.  I'll stockpile them over the year and then hopefully, by around November, I'll have enough for a couple of advent calendars, at which point I'll show you how to make them!




We've received a good number of Christmas cards this year, for which we are truly grateful.  In addition to ones from friends and family, the Boy and Girl have received cards from their classmates and the Husband (who is self employed) has also received some lovely ones from his customers.  It always seems such a shame to bin them each year, even though we make sure that they go in the recyclable waste.


Some of my favourite cards from this year.
The one jelly bottom right is from FiveRedHens at Etsy,
a friend of mine who produces some amazing stuff (plug, plug!)

Before I bin them, I write down a list of all the cards we've received; if I can really be bothered I'll do them in alphabetical order.  It's a pain to do and is a bit time-consuming, but this checklist is invaluable the following year as I can make sure we haven't accidentally missed anyone off our Christmas card list.



Once I've completed this list, I put aside any cards featuring particularly attractive and/or quirky pictures, scenes or wording.  I cut around any small pictures and then use these as home-made gift tags for presents next year.


Some of this year's lovelies

They are charming, unique and cost-effective, and they save us a small amount of money on purchasing gift tags the following year (it all adds up, folks!).  In the past I've used pinking shears to cut around the cards but to be honest I prefer the simplicity of standard scissors.  I also use a hole punch to pop a single hole in the top of each card.

And here's another tip for you - you know when you buy a jumper and it has those annoying lengths of ribbon attached to the shoulders so you can hang them up (but never do in real life)?  You cut them out and throw them away, right?  Don't!  You can use these for all manner of crafty fun over the year, and one of the best uses I've found for them is as ribbon for gift tags.


Here's my own overflowing stash of ribbons

They're just about the right length and come in all manner of colours - keep them in a container and use them throughout the year to attach your birthday and Christmas gift tags.

If the pictures on the cards are too large for use as gift tags I usually reluctantly bin them.  This year, however, I'm going to keep them as I have an idea for them.  I'm going to raid my significant collection of picture frames and find a sizeable one, and then I'm going to make a collage of some of my favourite Christmas images.


Three crackers from this year


Be they funky or whimsical, I'm going to try and make them work together as a collage and then hopefully I'll be able to hang it in our hallway next year to welcome guests into the house.  I'll keep you posted on how successful I am when I start to make it, probably in late Autumn next year.

Something else to consider just now is how to pack away your decorations.  If, like us, your house positively groans under the weight of baubles and other festive decorations, it's a good idea to store your decorations in a way that makes them as easy as possible to access and sort out next year.  Here's a couple of tips for you:

- Christmas lights: always a nightmare to unravel each year, correct?  A simple tip is to get an old magazine, roll it up and secure with a couple of elastic bands.  Then, starting from the opposite end of the lights to the plug, wrap them around the magazine, popping the plug into the end of the magazine.  Use one magazine per set of lights.  Hopefully next year you should be able to easily unravel them; just pop the plug into it's socket and gently unroll them from around the magazine.  Simple but very effective, and a great way of stopping the decorating getting off to a frustrating start.

- Before I take our decorations down, I take photos of them 'in situe' and store the photos on the computer - this means I don't have to try and remember each year where things go and it makes putting them up a lot quicker.

- I store the decorations away 'per room' - I have a plastic bag for each room's decorations which I mark clearly with a cardboard luggage tag, and I store each rooms' decorations in those.  Again, it makes putting them up next year a quicker and easier process.

- When storing away your Christmas stuff, consider what you're going to need to access first.  For example: we tend to put up our decorations a couple of weeks into December, but I usually start to write our Christmas cards at the end of November.  For this reason, I always try and store our Christmas cards towards the front, so that I can get to them easily without having to disturb or root through the other decorations.

I hope these festive tips and creative and resourceful ideas have given you some food for thought!

As we head rapidly towards the end of the year, I'm starting to think about what my crafty resolutions might be for 2017.  You never know, by my next post I may have a list I can share with you - and of course, if I blog them it means I need to fulfil them, eek!

Seems like this post wasn't too short after all…!

Thank you for all your support this year, it's been a fantastic journey for me and I'm delighted you've been there to share it with me. Have a wonderful New Year and all the very best for 2017.

Bye for now xxx

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