Christmas Traditions III – Stockings and Presents

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I love planning for Christmas, and that involves many lists and ideas and thoughts that go into gifting. On the other hand, I am trying not to invite too much stuff into the house. I really don’t like clutter, and Christmas seems a time when it can easily creep in.
What I love is making the ordinary special, and rather than choose random ‘stocking stuffers’ that end up as clutter, I am a big fan of using practical little presents.

We didn’t have Christmas stockings until last year when I made some for the boys. Now I actually wouldn’t mind some for the grown ups too, I’m having too much fun with them. I have some ideas what I would put in the Mr’s stocking, but I’m not too sure who would fill mine?? Ha!

So here are some stocking filler ideas:

  • an orange and a coin (got to love tradition)
  • new socks, gloves or a hat
  • toiletries: a bar of soap, a nice shampoo or bath bubbles
  • their own towel or face cloth
  • a magazine or a new book (also great to keep early risers entertained for a little longer on Christmas morning)
  • an audio book (as above)
  • bookmark (at least in our house, you can never find a proper one)
  • a new toothbrush/ tooth paste
  • last year, each of my boys got a cuddly penguin in their stocking as well that is still loved today. I’m not sure about this year, I might need to survey the stuffed animal situation first!

 

With all the excitement leading up to Christmas, the Advent elves and calendar, Christmas Eve bag and Christmas Stocking, there are still the presents under the tree in the end.
It is easy to see how it can all get a bit much!
But I find that if I keep the majority of calendars and stocking presents practical and useful, with plenty of things to do or munch up, we don’t end up with excessive amounts of clutter.

For actual presents, I once came across this rule of thumb: one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, one thing to read.
I have f0und this so very useful. In our family, we often stick to the first one or two things for presents for the kids, and outsource the others to grandparents.

Very inspirational are Nourishing Minimalism‘s Clutter Free Gift Guides.
Here are a few more ideas:

  • a magazine subscription
  • wall calendar
  • cinema or theatre voucher
  • book shop/ iTunes gift card
  • voucher for a meal out or a cafe visit
  • board games or puzzles
  • art materials
  • music/ instruments
  • cook book/ utensils
  • membership for a museum or the zoo
  • dress up clothes
  • photo album
  • supplies for outdoors: gardening, den building or pond dipping
  • books (always my favourite thing to give)

 

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Christmas Traditions II – Advent Calendar

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A few years ago, I showed you the little cotton bags I made for an Advent calendar. I made them using cotton fabric and little bits of offcuts, back in… um… some eight years ago now. And they are still going strong. I hang them on a piece of string above our living room window, so they are a nice decoration but out of reach so we really only open one bag a day!

Finding little things to fill the pockets that are not chocolate or clutter can be a bit of a challenge, so I’ve made this little list as a reminder and for inspiration:

  • a trip to the library to get a pile of Christmas books for a cosy evening of stories
  • outings: find advent activities in your local community and put a little note or voucher in your calendar. For example craft activities in the library, the switching on of the Christmas lights in town, carol singing in the church, visiting a Christmas market… choosing the Christmas tree is a good one, too.
  • a voucher for movie and popcorn night
  • tickets for a Christmas play or concert
  • stationery: pens, pencils, erasers, glue sticks, stamps, stickers – great for Christmas crafts and always needed in our house.
  • edible treats: it doesn’t have to be chocolate. There are healthier options of shop bought or homemade foods, and a nice packaging makes them extra special
  • Christmas cookie cutters for an afternoon baking session
  • a book of stamps for sending out Christmas cards
  • decorations to put on the winter nature table, or a winter walk to collect treasures to display
  • a small pouch of crystals – these also make a great winter nature table decoration
  • ornaments to put on the Christmas tree

If you, like us, are having Advent elves as well, they can overlap at times. The elves might suggest an afternoon of Christmas card crafting, and in the calendar the children find some new glitter glue. Or the elves will recognise a special act of kindness and a treat can be found in the calendar bag as a reward.

Do you have advent calendars? What do you put in yours?

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Yarn Along

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Reading: I finished The Wolf Wilder a while ago, but it is still sitting here next to me, because I loved it so much. A beautiful story (technically a children’s novel, but one of those that’s just for everyone, I believe. The big boy started reading it now) – and, a tiny detail, but wonderful little illustration woven into the pages that made me love it more.

Knitting: Apart from a fair bit of very secret gift knitting, a Dynamo Vest for the little guy. Two balls of sock yarn from the stash, and a happy little bunny. Ravelry notes here.

 

 

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Christmas Traditions I – Advent Elves

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Only two weeks until Advent starts, can you believe it? I thought I’d share a few of our traditions for this time of year.
(I’d love to hear yours, if you have family or childhood traditions you’d like to share, please do leave a comment.)

Last year, we had three little elves visit us for the time leading up to Christmas.
The boys loved them, and months ago they started asking if they will come and visit us again.
Why yes, of course they will!
I got the idea at the time from the Kindness Elves, although ours are a little more general “advent elves”. Our little elf figures came from Tiger, and their little door on our skirting board is a wall sticker from Lola’s Etsy shop .
You can see pictures from last year’s elf antics on the Stitch and Purl Facebook page where I posted a picture every day last December.

Last December, I caved in and the boys got a bought advent calendar each. This year we will go back to the little bags I sewed so many years ago. I think the elves are probably going to help me fill them. A couple of years ago I wrote about what I put in the advent calendar, you can read that post here.

I am still planning on doing a separate post on Advent calendar and Stocking fillers, but for now I’ll leave you with a list of some of the things the advent elves are going to be up to.
Last year, I had a bunch of little notes from the elves written out and prepared, so I could whip an appropriate one out in the evening once the kids were in bed, and set the scene for the next day’s elf message.

This is what the elves did, and encouraged the boys to do, last year:

  • Welcome, introduce themselves and present Advent Calendars
  • write a wish list for Christmas, and a ‘give list’ – what do the children want to give others?
  • wrapping paper and materials to wrap presents
  • bake treats to share
  • send christmas cards (writing them, sticking on stamps, posting them – all important steps!)
  • send a reminder to be kind today
  • donate food to the local food bank
  • make a ‘jar of joy’ and write or draw on little pieces of paper what makes us happy today
  • thank the children for helping/ doing x, y and z
  • write cards to school friends and teachers
  • cheer someone up by telling them a joke today, like: Why are Christmas trees so bad at knitting? (Because they always drop their needles)
  • make bird feeders to hang outside for hungry birds
  • sort toys and donate unwanted ones to charity
  • make homemade biscuits for the teachers to say thank you
  • help mum to take parcels to the post office
  • brush teeth extra well and give out big smiles today
  • praise children for doing something kind, have a little treat
  • write secret notes to surprise someone
  • leave a homemade treat for the postman and/or neighbours
  • secretly post a card or a treat through a friend’s/neighbour’s door
  • decorate a gingerbread house; maybe invite a friend to help?
  • celebrate the beginning of the school holidays with a special outing
  • make thank you cards ready for after Christmas
  • give a book you’ve grown out of to a younger friend

You can find more inspiration at The Imagination Tree, including this great list of 25 acts of kindness for children.

On the last day, December 24th, our elves say goodbye and leave a Christmas bag to be opened that afternoon. I made a very simple bag out of a big piece of hessian cloth for this.
In the bag were new pyjamas for the kids, marshmallows for hot chocolate, our special Christmas mugs, a new story book, and a DVD – all great for a cosy evening.
In Germany, where I am from, the 24th is the main Christmas day where we open our presents, so I really liked having the Christmas bag to open on Christmas Eve.

I will have a few more posts to tell you about our Christmas traditions. Next is our Advent Calendar, once I’ve properly planned it though. Not much time left!

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Week(end)ing

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We had a few busy weeks – birthdays, holidays, so many things to prepare, do and enjoy. We were given a lovely pumpkin, which this year we turned into a gnome home, inspired by pinterest (more autumn inspiration here).
Pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie – and a whole lot of pumpkin puree in the freezer. In the kitchen, I am now back to working through a last box of apples we picked at a local orchard a few weeks ago.
We’re all settling back into normal routine now slowly. This past weekend was a first one in a long time where we had nothing on. It is so good to just do nothing for a while. Although I did knit a tea cosy (I’ll show you that one soon. Not that I thought I’d ever feel inclined to knit a tea cosy).
Happy autumn days to you all.

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Yarn Along

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Reading: The Wolf Wilder. I saw it in the window of our local bookshop and it looked like just the thing for autumn evenings, now that the colder weather and dark evenings seem to have arrived here as well.

Knitting: I finished this little gift set for a friend’s baby: A Garter Earflap Hat, a pair of Little Footies, and a Milo vest. Next: more gift knitting!

 

 

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This moment

IMG_1298A little flashback today – this is the first hat I listed in the Stitch & Purl Etsy shop six years ago. Thank you so much for your support these past few years!
It feels like a good time to take a bit of a break now however, and I feel a bit excited about the space opening up.
I will take the remaining stock offline this weekend (not much left, but if you fancy a last peek: click here to get to the shop, and use coupon code HIBERNATE for 50% off your purchase.)

 

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