Category: Christmas

Christmas 2015

Part of the reason I blog is to record the moments, to be able to look back on them and to cherish every single moment. This Christmas has been a quiet one for The Mad House, but wonderful and very family centric. The older I get the more I realise that the joy I experience more »

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Christmas, it is all about the presence not the presents

The older I get the more I realise that Christmas is not all about what you give or get, but about being there with your family. This was compounded with a health scare and even more when my mum died at Christmas four years ago.  So now MadDad and I focus on our presence rather more »

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Cornflour dough tealight holders for Solstice

We live in Northern England and during this time of year it is dark and we love to light up our home with candles and decided to make some cornflour dough tealight holders for Solstice.  Maxi decided to make them in the shape of the sun to celebrate the shortest day and welcome the lengthening more »

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White clay dough. Corn Flour dough, a fab alternative to salt dough

We have made corn flour dough before, but using salt, however, I was keen to find a different recipe with more of a smooth texture that was a bit more malleable for the boys to use. We have tried Nurturestore’s 2 ingredient white dough  and love it, but we also tried the following white clay more »

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Be inspired to cook with your kids and win an eBay voucher

I hope that my previous post about crafting with your kids this Christmas inspired you to get creative with your kids.  Now for part two! So what else I am inspired by at this time of year, well if you are a regular reader then it will come as no surprise to you that it is more »

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Holidays are coming – Give a little happiness

Holidays are coming, holidays are coming, holidays are coming, its always the real thing…………… You know when the Coke advert comes on that Christmas is on it’s way and now even the Coke lorry tours the country.  We have never seen it, but Cass from Diary of a Frugal Family has. This year however, I more »

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Robin Thumbprint Mugs

Every year we make fingerprint mugs for the teachers for Christmas.  In the past we have made Reindeer mugs and flower mugs, pigs, caterpillars and bees.  This year we decided to do Robin’s like last years Robin cards.  These Robin thumbprint mugs are so simple to make and really effective for kids of all ages. more »

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Great gifts for Bloggers

Bloggers we are a fickle bunch and we seem to have a gift list as long as your arms, well the ones I ask do, so here is our great gifts for bloggers list curated by Mum in the Mad House.

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Great gifts for Dad’s

Men can be difficult to buy for, so I thought I would share with you some of the things that Husbeast has had and loved.  Some of these recommendations are of things we have received to review, some of them, things that we have bought and he has loved. So here are the Mad House’s more »

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Great gifts for Mums

When I was younger I would have got really upset at receiving something for the house as a present, but no it thrills me to get something that I want! I also have found that the older I have got the more expensive my tastes have become!  Below are The Mad House’s guide to great more »

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Putting together a Christmas Eve Hamper and other Christmas Eve Tradition

One of our Mad House traditions carried over from my own childhood is new night wear on Christmas Eve so that we always look smart in the photo’s on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve is a magical time, full of excitement and awe and we have a Christmas Eve party each year with my best Friend more »

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How to make cake case Christmas trees

Christmas is a great time for encouraging kids to get creative and a great way to do this is to present them with an #invitation to create.  These Christmas trees decorated with cak cases are so easy to make and can be adapted for kids of all ages. How to make Cake case Christmas trees

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Making the most of the magic

One of the highlights of having children is getting to re-live the excitement of Christmas. That magic and mystery that gets lost somewhere around the dawn of our teenage years is suddenly back and it’s so much fun to experience it again, this time as a parent. It feels imperative to make the most of more »

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Movies, Festive Popcorn and Festive Popcorn boxes -#Spon

One of our favorite family tradition is all snuggling up together and enjoying a family film and to celebrate this we are working with Sky Movies this Christmas and sharing their personalised Sky Movies #MovieMe Christmas Cards, along with our festive sugar and spice seasoning and free popcorn box printables.

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Animal Safe Magic Reindeer food and free printable labels

Reindeer food is one of our Christmas Eve traditions and we love to make it as much as the boys love sprinkling it outside for the reindeer.    We have great fun each year making it for family and friends and this year I am excited to share with you 7 great free printable labels more »

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Christmas Memories Book and Christmas reflections printable

Can you remember what you got for Christmas last year or the year before?  I know that I can’t.  In fact as I get older these things seem more and more important to me, so this year I am going to create a Christmas memories book for us to use. Sort of like a scrapbook where more »

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Tree decorations inspired by The Fir Tree

We love making decorations as a family for our Christmas tree and this year we are joining in again with 10 days of kid made ornaments and this year they are inspired by a book.  So ours are tree decorations inspired by The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Anderson. Each year we buy new christmas more »

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Make your own Christmas Crackers

One of our family traditions is homemade christmas crackers.  Since as long as I can remember we had small cracker presents on the dining table usually made by my mum.  They were precious things that were small and once I got older we each took a turn year on year to make the crackers and more »

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Make an Advent Candle or wreath

We love advent and one of the ways we celebrate is to have an advent wreath or ring that we light each sunday to help celebrate the lead up to Christmas.  The first Sunday of advent for 2014 in November 30th.  Me and the boys have spend the last few days making this years advent more »

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Our ultimate advent activity list 2014

Our ultimate advent activity list was such a success last year, so we have updated it for this year and it now has 75 activities on it.

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Santa Hat Christmas Cards – 5 minute craft

We are all about the Christmas cards at the moment and today I want to share with you a really simple Santa Hat Christmas card that is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers to make.  It is also the perfect 5 minute craft. How to make Santa Hat Christmas Cards

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Our #PaypalMoments on The Polar Express UK

We are working with PayPal this Christmas on their Magical Christmas Moment #PayPalMoments campaign.  It is an ace competition where they are giving people the chance to win some great prizes (find out more on the PayPal Facebook Page). They challenged me to shop for Christmas using PayPal and then share with you our Magical Moments that more »

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Easy Ribbon Christmas for kids to make

There is nothing nicer than receiving a homemade Christmas card and these simple ribbon Christmas cards are so easy for you to make with kids of all ages.

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Ways to use your free advent acts of kindness printables

So you saw my recent post with the 50 advent acts of kindness with the two free printable sets designed by the lovely Purple Pumpkin blog. Well I wanted to share with you ways to display them or use them. We tried to make it easy for you all by offering them in two different more »

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An Alternative Advent Calendar – Acts of Kindness by kids

Advent, we love it.  It is a BIG thing here in The Mad House.  We use advent as a way to celebrate the build up to Christmas and to take the commercialism out of it.   The MiniMads have not yet had a chocolate advent calendar, although I might bend to their wishes this year! more »

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Putting Christmas in to perspective

It has been something of a challenging couple of weeks here in The Mad House.  I was not very well up on returning from our fantastic holiday in Florida (more on that to follow) and have had to spend some time in hospital.  Christmas and my 40th Birthday have really had to take a back more »

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Our favorite Christmas Movies

We are an eclectic bunch in the Mad House, but one thing we all love is Christmas Movies and snuggling up on the couch watching them together.  Now thanks to Laura Ashley we have a new throw to snuggle under and watch our movies and the Tartan Cranberry Check Cotton Mix Throw is perfect in colour to more »

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Kid Made Christmas Decoration’s – Cotton Reels

I love this time of year, It makes me feel all crafty so the boys and I decided to make some vintage spool christmas decorations to combine my love of sewing and their of making things for Christmas.  They love looking back at the decorations they have made in previous years. Materials Vintage spools or empty cotton reels Ribbon more »

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2013 Gingerbread House

One of our advent traditions is to make  and decorate a gingerbread house.  With being out of the country this year we accepted a pre cooked one from Sykes Cottages to build and decorate.  Unfortunately ours came a little damaged (hence the silver foil bottom), but I managed to get it stuck together and then provided more »

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Festive Jam Jar candle holders

  I love candle light, especially during the Autumn and winter months when the dark nights are upon us.  There is something warming and comforting and these festive jam jar candle holders are so easy to make. All you need is a selection of jam jars, things to decorated them with and some glue or more »

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Great Kids books for Advent and Christmas

Now that we have got down the Advent box, I thought it was time to share with you some of our favorite books about Advent and Christmas. My boys are 7 and 8 now and some of these are long time favorites such as Dear Santa, which although they have outgrown they still love. <A more »

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Beauty buys to put on your Christmas list

I used to be something of a beautyaholic.  I adore potions and lotions  and BC (before Children) I would spend my hard earned cash on lots of new and exciting cosmetics that promised the world.  I loved the packaging, the anticipation and the whole buying something for me. Now my life is different.  The only more »

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Reindeer Food Tutorial and Free tag roundup

We love Reindeer food.  It is a tradition in The Mad House to go out and sprinkle it on Christmas Eve and to track Santa on Norad.  There are endless recipes for Reindeer food on the internet and mine is no different or special, but it is much loved and used over the years. Reindeer more »

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Christmas Eve Gifts and Making Christmas Eve Magical

Once of my favorite tradition over the festive period is the Christmas Eve Gifts which are left from our Christmas Eve Elves.  I adore Christmas Eve, there is something really special about the anticipation of Christmas Day and we spend it as a family as MadDad always tried to get it off.  We make sure more »

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Easy child friendly Fabric Christmas Cards

Making christmas cards is tradition in The Mad House.  We love making them for people that we love and we don’t buy many cards at all. This card is fantastic for encouraging cutting skills and you can use any off cuts of fabric and felt that you have. Mini loved making these cards and as more »

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Do not let the thought of Christmas make you panic

I read a really thoughtful and insightful post over at Tales from a Happy Home, where Gillian noted that she noted the Christmas countdowns as they tended to make her feel panicked about Christmas looming ever closer. The thing is Christmas is not supposed to be a time of stress and strain or panic, but more »

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Air drying clay ornements

Every year we make salt dough or corn flour ornaments and unfortunately they got damp in storage and they were ruined, so this got me thinking about using air drying clay for a more permanent christmas decoration.

Initially I made three from some left over clay we had and decorated them myself with out the boys involvement and was really pleased with the way they turned out. So I decided to have a go with the boys.

Materials:

Air drying clay
Cookie cutters
Plastic roller (i used the boys old playdough one!
Silicon cooking mat
straw
Clear sealant or modge podge
decorations (we used buttons and felt)
Nailfile
ribbon
Glue (we used a craft glue gun)
Method:

I would recommend that you make your ornaments a couple of days in advance to decorating them.

Firstly work the air drying clay well in your hands until it becomes more supple and easier to roil.
Roll out an amount on the silicone mat (4mm) is an idea depth.
Using a cookie cutter cut out your decoration shapes.
Remove the decorations from the mat on to a board to dry.
Using a straw make a hole in the top to thread your ribbon.
Also smooth the sides of your ornaments to make for smoother edges.
Allow to dry (do not dry over a heat source or they will crack.
Once dry take the nail file and smooth any rough edges.
Then apply a clear sealant or modge podge (PVA). I did this with my first set of ornaments.
Decorate and attach the ribbon.
The second set I did with the boys are a lot more rough and ready, but then they do like to take over and so they should. They decided to decorate them before we even sealed them. However, they look great and I am really pleased with them

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Reindeer cookies using gingerbread men cutters

  We first made these back in December 2010 and I still use my not so ginery gingerbread recipe.  I think I first saw this on Martha Stewart’s web site a long time ago and we have been making them every year since and they have become part of our Christmas and Advent tradition. Ingredients more »

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24 homemade advent calenders

Mini stocking advent calender – The Mad House No numbers advent calender – Two of everything Salt dough advent calender – The fairy and the frog Baby sock advent calender – The crazy kitchen Advent candy wreath – J Daniels 4’s mom Kids art advent calender – Red Ted Art Fabric advent calender – A place more »

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#CreativeTable and #AfterschoolFun Decorating snowflakes

The amazing Rachelle at Tinkerlab has a regular Creative Table Inspiration hashtag on Instagram that I love and it has really helped me in the way that I plan for my  After School Fun Activities with the boys.  This week we have been decorating some snowflakes that we have been sent from Yellow Moon. I more »

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The ultimate advent activity list

Advent for me is part of the way of getting away from the whole consumerism of Christmas Day.  As a family we have our own advent calendar that I made and we do an activity each day throughout advent, which helps us focus on the true meaning of christmas for us.  Plus I have to more »

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#ElfCam – Share your Elf Pictures

Do you have a christmas Elf or an Elf on the Shelf? We got our Elf last year and he keeps an eye on the comings and goings in the Mad House and we grew to love him.  Elfs are very popular at the moment and some Elf’s are remarkable active and have such an more »

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Getting organised for Christmas

How do you get organised for Christmas?  I have to admit that I revert back to my type A personality when planning Christmas.  We focus a lot on advent and the lead up to Christmas in The Mad House.  I feel that by doing an activity each day we are concentrating on the mean of more »

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Make an Advent Box

For the last three years we have made sure that when we pack up the Christmas decorations that we pack an Advent Box.  This box contains things we might need before we actually get all the decorations down and decorate the house. It includes: A selection of Christmas and Advent books.  I add to our more »

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Homemade Christmas

Homemade Christmas

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What does christmas mean to me?

Christmas, it is a bit of a bittersweet time for me. It is filled with the joy and excitement of two innocent boys, but also the memory of my mum’s unexpected and sudden death two years ago. Christmas Day will forever be associated with seeing my Mum dead in her kitchen on Christmas morning, but I can not let the past shape the future.

So my Memories are split in two. There is the memory of Christmas past, of tissue thin sheets of wrapping paper, eye shut tight of christmas eve listening for the sleigh bells, pillowcases instead of stockings, coming down on Christmas Eve to find my Dad standing at the door with a longed for Petite Typewriter. It is Christmas days long ago of a Sindy House rapped in a candy coloured stripped sheet. It is delicious family filled Christmas dinners after Dad and Granddad returned from a swift one at the Pub. Boxing days spent with cousins, parkin and corned beef pie. Board games and cocktails. Sisters living and loving each other.

Of carefree and joyfilled Christmas spent with family. Once the boys graced us with our presence we experienced the excitement though their eyes and Christmas became about crafting, cooking, making and creating memories. We made advent a time of activities. We cemented memories with our traditions. We went to my Mum’s to help wrap her presents. She helped me to cook Christmas dinner.

And then she was no more………………

So now I try to make Christmas a time of making, creating, cooking and crafting. I think of my Mum and the time we spend doing the same as I was growing up and in my actions I honor her memory. I allow the pain and grief to be there, but do not make it mark my days and nights. More than ever Christmas is about making memories, so that when my children grow they look back at this time with both wonder and joy and they come to realise that Christmas is all about family.

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Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas is not about how much money you spend, but how much time you spend with the people you love. I love Christmas and I love spending time with my family. I like Christmas Eve to be a day of joy. Since the boys were small we introduced Christmas Eve Elves. Basically they delivered each year a bag for each of the boys with things to keep them busy and entertained on this exciting day.

This year the bags include:

New Pyjamas (so they look their best on Christmas Morning in pictures)
A How to draw book each
New Gel Pens
A new family Movie – Brave
A family Game for the XBox
Reindeer food
Snowman Soup
A new book for bedtime
On Christmas Eve I will visit Mum’s grave and take a basket of flowers. We then spend the rest of the day at home. MadDad prepared all the veg etc for the next day, then we settle down to family time. We make cranberry and popcorn chains for our tree outside for the birds whilst we watch a movie. We make our snowman soup, play board games and generally have quality family time together. We try to keep the day as relaxed as possible.

As the daylight fades we wrap up warm and go for a walk round the neigbourhood to take a peek at everyone’s christmas decorations and lights and to try and tire the boys out so they sleep.

We end the evening with a bath to carols, then we sprinkle our reindeer food and leave a special key outside so Father Christmas can open our door. The last thing the boys do before bed is to leave Father Christmas a mince pie and a drink on the plate that I made them

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With this chocolate (and wine) you are really spoiling me!

Raffaello
Matched with Martini Asti NV from the Piedmont region of Italy.I had never had Raffaello before, but they are now my favorite Ferraro chocolate. They are like little christmas snow morsels wrapped in a coconut waver and are very moreish. In fact me and Cass struggled to put these away and loved this combination. Martini Asti is my MIL’s favorite tipple and is perfectly matched to these delicate and delicious chocolates.

Ferrero Rond Noir
Matched with Dows Finest Reserve Port. I really wanted to love this combination, but couldn’t. Normally I am a dark chocolate person, but for some reason I wasn’t as keen. Now this may have been due to the fact that I really loved the Raffaello and nothing would match that perfect combination. However, MadDad loved the richness of both the chocolate and port and said if was the perfect indulgence for an evening in front of the fire (If we had a fire)!
Classic Gold Ferrero Rocher
Matched with Croix Milhas Rivesaltes Ambre‘ (Languedoc-Roussillon, France). Christmas isn’t Christmas without these delicious balls of heavenly crisp and soft chocolates. No one in my tasting team liked the wine on it’s own, but when paired with the chocolates it made a real difference. They really brought out the best in each other. This combination really testing me and I found that once I had a couple it really was appealing. MadDad did not like the wine at all.

I was firstly amazed at just how big the Ferrero range was and secondly just how delicious chocolate can be when paired with the right wine. It takes the whole chocolate experience up a notch and also makes it a really enjoyable experience.

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How to film Nativity plays

http://www.panasonic.co.uk/html/en_GB/289750/module/general/compare/productsCategory.html

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A Frugal Christmas and a Debt Free New Year

Are you cutting back this Christmas? Research by the Co-Operative Bank shows that a third of us are spending less this year than last year and nearly two thirds of us keeping our budget the same.

I am a great believer that in order to have a good christmas, you need to take a step back and realise that it isn’t about what you get it is about spending time with the ones you love and really enjoying spending time together. We have had a fantastic advent, making, baking and just generally having fun together and I am so looking forward to spending some time with all my family over the next couple of weeks.

Looking at the infographic below as was shocked to find that I live in the region spending the most and just how much less we have spent. This just goes to reinforce with me that you do not have to spend to find happiness.

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