Activity Advent Calendar

I made this video seven years ago and it marks my very first activity advent calendar. I don’t even remember why I switched from chocolate to this but I had just moved to London and the city is magic at Christmastime: the lights, markets, concerts and the ballet… I decided David and I could do a different activity each and every day of December to really feel the magic of the season in a new city.

The first version of this included simple pleasures like drinking a hot cup of cocoa or going ice skating, visiting Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland, trimming the tree and staying in for a Home Along movie marathon.

As we had children, we included more and more activities centred around them, and sharing some of our favourite holiday traditions with them. These days, our activity calendars include a chocolate coin every now and then, and also include simple small gifts as well.

This is just one idea on how to make your calendar, and a good way to use up old magazines I might add! One year I made lots of brown paper envelopes with activity cards inside and hung them up in our kitchen.

Activity Advent Calendar ideas

I think it’s a lovely idea to make time to do activities together, whether it takes 10 minutes to do or it’s a whole day out. When I put together our calendars now, I make a note in my diary which days have which activities so I can plan ahead (the secret to everything when you have a 1 and 3 year old!).

Here’s the list of all the activities I use and others I’d love to do as my kids grow older.

  • Home Alone Marathon

  • Bake gingerbread

  • Christmas colouring activity

  • Trim the tree

  • Read a Christmas book

  • Drink hot cocoa

  • Make a holiday craft

  • Go ice skating

  • Fill a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child (we always did this as kids)

  • Clean out your toy boxes and donate good quality items to an opportunity store

  • Invite a few friends over for a cookie decorating party

  • Attend a Christmas market

  • Bake a festive treat

  • Make a popcorn garland

  • Roast a marshmallow

  • Watch the Nutcracker

  • Do a favour for someone not expecting it

  • Make a stocking

  • Visit a reindeer

  • Make or write holiday cards

  • Watch Love Actually

  • Watch classics by the tree

  • Attend a Christmas concert

  • Write letters to Santa

  • Pull out mattresses and have a family slumber party under the tree

activity advent calendar

Simple Christmas Bauble Gift Tags

Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year for me, with the shop and workshops, on top of trying to make it a special time of the year for my two little children. So, finding simple ideas that make a gift POP that don’t take any effort (shh don’t tell!), like this one, are right up my alley.

simple christmas handmade gift tags

These handmade Christmas gift tags are a really simple way to dress up a gift. Here’s a quick tutorial how to make them.

You’ll need:

  • blank gift tags (or make your own with sturdy card that’s 11 x 5.5cm and a hole punch)

  • glue stick

  • scraps of decorative paper

  • black pen

  • scissors

I used the circle die for my Sizzix Big Shot machine to cut out the circles but you do not have to have one of these to make these tags. Use a compass, or any small round object and trace around. My circles are 4cm in diameter.

  1. First draw the top of the bauble and the line down the centre of the tag.

  2. Glue your circle and place it on the tag so it slightly overlaps the black lines.

  3. Attach some ribbon or baker’s twine to the top of the tag and write a personal message on the other side.

christmas gift tag diy

Pom-Pom Gift Wrap

The Christmas holidays may seem ages away still but now that Bonfire Night has come and gone, it’s definitely time to start thinking about Christmas and the gifts that will be underneath the tree.

Let’s chat wrapping, shall we?

Did you know that most wrapping paper isn’t recyclable? Especially the beautiful glittery ones with gold foil. I love these papers but the reality is, they all end up in the landfill at the end of the season. So in an effort to save my pocket (gorgeous wrapping paper is also so pricey!) and the environment, I’m going to share a few ideas on how to do up your gifts to look superb with my favourite thing ever: POM-POMS!

Use up your yarn scraps, grab a Loome tool, and make a bunch of pom-poms. Lots of people are wrapping their gifts now with brown kraft paper. And sure, it’s pretty plain jane but spruce it up with some foliage and a pom and you can a very Instagrammable pressie! (It’s all about the gram!)

Enough chit chat, let’s go!

pompom gift wrap

Pom-Pom & Tassels

Grab a glue gun and some pom-poms from the craft store and stick them on in a polka-dot pattern. Tie with metallic string and add a few tassels.

Swish! (image via @honestlywtf)

 Here’s a simple idea from  Cox & Cox : wrap in plain white paper and add a pom-pom bobble trim, available at most craft and haberdashery shops.

Here’s a simple idea from Cox & Cox: wrap in plain white paper and add a pom-pom bobble trim, available at most craft and haberdashery shops.

 Hobbycraft is so on-point with this wrapping! Make a red pom-pom, glue it on and add Rudolph’s features with a sharpie. Here’s  the full how-to .

Hobbycraft is so on-point with this wrapping! Make a red pom-pom, glue it on and add Rudolph’s features with a sharpie. Here’s the full how-to.

monochrome pompom gift wrapping

Monochrome

I love the look of these packages with black & white pom-poms. These are a cinch to make with a Loome tool and some stripey baker’s twine. (Image from @ateliepompom)

Make your tape part of the wrapping.

Or a handy staple to secure your tag and pom.

felted ball wrapping

Felted Ball Garlands

These felt pom-poms are threaded with a strong string, which can be used later as a decorative garland! A lovely idea from Oh Happy Day.

simple wrapping with pom-poms

Which ideas do you love the most? Which idea will you be trying?

How To Make A Pom-Pom Bat

Halloween is coming! I walked through the seasonal aisle at my local Sainsbury’s this afternoon. It was half ghoulish costumes for 4-foot zombies, witches, skeletons and monsters and half collectible Christmas shortbread tins. If you’d rather forego the plastic decorations for Halloween this year, I’ll show you how to create fun little bat pom-poms, which you can hang up in doorways, on your doorknobs and in the windows to greet your trick-or-treaters.

pom pom bat

What you’ll need:

  • Loome tool

  • Black yarn, any weight

  • Felt scraps in black and white

  • String for hanging

  • PVA glue or fabric glue

Make a pom-pom with your Loome tool

Use your black yarn to create a pom-pom with your Loome tool. If you’re using DK-weight yarn, you’ll need to wrap it around 140 times. If you’re using Aran-weight yarn, around 90 revolutions will do the trick. If you need more in-depth instructions on making a pom-pom with a Loome tool, just check out our previous post, How To Make A Pom-Pom.

Trim your pom.

How to make a pom pom bat
how to make a pom pom bat

Cut out the eyes and wings

Use your felt scraps to cut out two white circles, and two smaller black ones to go inside. Go ahead and glue those black circles down, before they get lost! Cut a small smiley mouth for your bat, but a row of jagged teeth also look great!

Cut two bat-shaped wings next, and you’re all done with the tricky cutting bits.

String it up

Before you glue on the bat’s face and wings, attach the string you’re going to use to hang it up. This way, you’ll know which way is up for your bat.

tie the string onto your pom pom bat to hang it up

Glue it all together

Using a hot glue gun or fabric glue, attach the eyes, teeth and wings onto your pom-pom. Separate the yarn a bit to nestle the pieces into your pom-pom, so that they’re nice and secure.

Ready, set, SPOOK!

Give it a moment to dry. This is really quick is you’ve used a glue gun. If you’ve used another kind of glue then you might want to wait a bit longer for it to dry. Hang up your bat and get ready to spook away all those ghosts and ghouls on Halloween night with your crew of pom-pom bats.

pom pom bat how to
pom pom bat with pumpkins

How To Make A Pom-Pom

One of the best things about making pom-poms is that you really don't need many tools, but if you have the right ones, then it's easy.

What you'll need to get started:

Making a pom-pom is a lot easier than it looks,

just start winding!

1. Secure the end of the yarn to any notch on either arm of any Loome tool model. Wind yarn around arms, make sure tension is not too tight or too loose. 

Note: Mix it up! You can use more than one colour. 

2. Wind 140 revolutions. When done, secure end to any notch, then cut. Note: Generally, with worsted weight yarn 90 revolutions will give you a 2.5cm* trimmed, dense pom-pom, 120=3cm, 175=4.5cm, 200+=5cm. (*approx.) 

3. Cut 30cm strong string. While yarn is on Loome tool, take strong string and tie a tight double knot around the centre of yarn bundle.

4. Gently wedge yarn bundle off the Loome tool. Flip yarn bundle and make another even tighter double knot on the other side.

5. Flip yarn bundle for a third time and make another even tighter double knot.

Note: Tight double knots hold the pom-pom together. 

6. Take scissors and cut loops on both sides in half. Make sure you cut all loops, some may be hiding.

7. Next, it's time to trim. Take the pom-pom trim guide, match it centre to centre. Start the haircut by snipping around the trim guide. Flip and repeat. Then, cut like a real haircut to finish shaping.

If you want more details on how to trim your pom-pom down, check out our post, How To Use The Pom-Pom Trim Guide. Don't have time to source all the materials separately? Grab one of our Pom-Pom Starter Kits; they come in different colourways and include a book of instructions, tips and projects to make with your pom-poms!

Happy pom-poming!