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

How to throw a Christmas Craft Party

I love this time of the year, and while some people cringe when the carols come on the department store radios, I relish it. I still get caught up in the magic of the season and I love nestling into the sofa watching favourites like the Grinch and Home Alone once December arrives.

Simple paper-cut ornaments

Christmas crafting

But my favourite part of all, is Christmas crafting. Every year I make handmade ornaments as gifts, and try to make as many of my family's gifts by hand, if possible. I make my own cards and gift tags too. Not because I have to, but because I love to.

Throwing a crafty party at Christmastime is a fabulous way to spend time with friends, make some personalised gifts or ornaments for your tree and catch up before the bustle of the holidays takes over. Want to throw your own crafty party this Christmas? Here are a few tips.

Gold-leafed baubles

Modern pom-pom stockings

Top tips for a successful crafty party:

  1. Choose an appropriate venue. If you don't want to clean up the mess at home, try using a pub instead! I've hosted lots of craft sessions at pubs, either in their private event rooms or just in the main room, at a reserved table. It's a good idea to give them a heads up that you'll be crafting (and promise to sweep up after), and they usually don't charge a fee if you order food and drinks.
  2. Make sure there's food and drinks. Mince pies, mulled wine... whatever festive treats you like best! Enjoy a little pub grub before you start your crafting too.
  3. Gather lots of supplies. Choose 2-3 projects to make that evening, and divide the materials list between everyone. Flying Tiger is my top shop for getting crafty supplies for relatively cheap in London. Hema is also good!
  4. Jump in! Learn a new craft technique, catch up with your friends, spend time together, get a little tipsy and go home with some unique and lovely handmade Christmas crafts. 

Block-printed Christmas Cards

Scandi-Inspired ornaments

Swedish dala horse ornaments

What kind of crafts work best for parties?

Here are a few ideas to inspire in case you're stuck for ideas on what you could make at your crafty Christmas party:

  • Paper-cut or collage Christmas cards
  • Felt ornaments for the tree, perhaps with some embroidered details
  • Decorated baubles (think gems, glitter pens, stickers...)
  • Pom-pom tree garlands
  • Crackers for Christmas dinner
  • Advent calendars
  • Gift tags
  • Block-printed wrapping paper
  • Origami ornaments / table decorations 

If you don't want to organise it, but really want to do some Christmas crafting, get some friends together and get in touch. I'd love to come and coordinate your Christmas crafting event for you! I'll bring all the projects and materials, plus show you how to make them.

The Japanese art of furoshiki

Four days to go.

If your roll of Christmas paper runs out before you intend it to, turn to furoshiki. I'm loving the simpleness of this Japanese-styles gift wrap. The best part, it's painstakingly simple. What more could you ask for at this time of the year?

furoshiki.jpg

SUPPLIES:

  • a generous supply of silk scarves or squares of pretty fabric
  • furoshiki instructions

The word furoshiki refers to the actual cloth used to wrap gifts and parcels, more traditionally bento boxes. You can buy these at most Japanese import stores but if you have a wealth of silk scarves or handkerchiefs then these work just as well. 

Prepared to be amazed?

furoshiki-howto

I love the simple aesthetic of this because the wrapping suddenly becomes part of the gift, a lot like the Bento Bags we're a bit crazy about.

Beaufoy Christmas Market

It's that time of the year. Every weekend in London seems to be filled up with holiday markets, events and design fairs. Renegade has been and gone and now it's full-speed ahead to December. After finally getting my act together, I will finally be showing off my hand-sewn things at two Christmas events this year.

I will be at Artyard Handmade with a table during the December 4th and 5th MAKE, DRINK, SHOP event. December 4th is sold out but there is still space available on the 5th to join in with a cup of mulled wine and a crafty evening making ornaments and of course, shopping handmade.

And second, the Beaufoy Christmas Market! I am most excited about this one on December 7th because it's in the great hall of the most amazing old school at 39 Black Prince Road (near Vauxhall). An amazing space and I'll not only have a big table full of wonderful things but will also be running two workshops throughout the day: painting clay ornaments and block-printed christmas cards.

Bring on the mulled wine and shortbread biscuits!