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

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?

Valentine's Day cards

Tis the season to celebrate all things heart-shaped, red and sweet. I've always been one to make my own cards so here are a few ideas I've put together to inspire your own homemade Valentine's Day card making session.

You can do a lot with a few blank cards, red paper, scissors, thread and glue! I treated myself to a box of chocolates to help the making process along...

Experimenting with paper cutting

Some paper cutting tips? Grab a self-healing rubber mat for this project, believe me, kitchen cutting boards do not work. A sharp blade is much easier to work with than a dull one. Take it easy, take it slow and your design will come out beautifully.

Getting your stitch on

This may feel a little elementary, but I think there's something so charming about a hand-embroidered card! Stitch a heart, your initials and an arrow through it for some school-day romance when people still used to carve their initials into a tree.

Collage for your soul

I will never get sick of cut and paste. It's good for your soul. Pull out an old magazine, pull out some pretty papers from past issues of Mollie Makes and get snipping! Tissue paper and glitter go a long way! Work up some textures with different layers and then glue them all down for an alternative card.

Don't forget your envelope, spruce it up with a little crafting too!

Crafty inspiration: suminagashi

What in the world is suminagashi you're wondering? It's the fancy Japanese word for "the art of paper marbling." It's the method of aqueous surface design (an even fancier way to explain it!) using paints and inks to produce patterns similar to smooth marble and other stone.

This technique has been around for centuries. The oldest examples of suminagashi in Japan, meaning literally "floating ink," are from the 12th century. The trend hit Europe in the 17th century, and the pretty papers were used to line the insides of drawers and bookshelves. Europeans took it a step further by marblings the edges of books.

These images are from the L'Encyclodedie of Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert from 1768. Such fancy rake-tools for creating the patterns!

Whatever you want to call it, it seems to be very in this season with lots of tutorials and inspiration popping up, from pretty stationary to marbled scarves and art work to hang on the wall. Seems like you can marble everything under the sun. This is definitely something I'd like to try.

The VALLARTA scarf by  Scout & Catalogue

The VALLARTA scarf by Scout & Catalogue