Posted in Christmas Activites

Making a Simple Advent Calendar…

A couple of weeks ago I decided to make an advent calendar this year for my son. He’s 10 years old and has just asked the dreaded ‘Santa’ question. Keen to still make the run up to Christmas a special time for him I started thinking of ideas.

I decided to go for a fairly simple design as it’s the first one I have attempted. The thing that appealed most to me was being able to fill it with his favourite treats. I considered little envelopes and then decided pillow boxes would be better to fit stuff in so opted for those. I thought the best way to do it was to fasten them to some kind of board.

Hobby Craft is my first stop when doing a project like this. Whilst in there I decided that a notice board would make a good base. It eliminated the need for decorating as it looked nice as it was. I picked up a glue gun for only £2 – essential for this project. Some little wooden numbers and decided to also add my sons name too. I went to the works (cheaper shop for craft supplies) to get ribbon, washi tape and embellishments.

Most the stuff I used can be seen above but here’s a list of what you need:

  • 40 x 60 cm notice board
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • Ribbon – at least 2m to do the edge
  • Wooden numbers
  • Christmas embellishments
  • Washi tape
  • Pillow boxes
  • Scissors
  • Name letters
  • PVA glue
  • Glitter
  • Treats or tiny toys

The glue gun is your friend in this project! I have to laugh because although I have always loved crafting a hot glue gun I was never allowed. Today at 35 years old I am nursing a blister on my finger from using it! Not a bad one but still my mum was right to not give me one ha ha!

Start by edging your advent calendar in ribbon. Use the glue gun to put blobs along the edge and stick the ribbon down and cut to size.

Next make up your pillow boxes by folding in the ends. Arrange them on your board so you can see how they look… you should have five rows of five. Once arranged on the board look at your embellishments. I chose a total of seven different ones. This gave me enough so none were next to each other in any direction.

Use your glue gun to attach your embellishments and ribbon. Make sure you think about where your numbers are going at this point. Then glue the bottom of the boxes too.

Once all your boxes are assembled check your happy with the order on the board. At this point you can switch them round if your not.

Once satisfied it’s time to attach your numbers. Using the glue gun I put mine in the top left corner.

Now you are ready to put in the treats. I thought when I came up with this idea that I would fit little toys in too but it was very difficult to find anything. The beauty of this project is you can fill it with your child’s favourite sweets and chocolate and of course some more Christmas themed treats.

Someone also suggested Lego men so I bought a set of 8 of these for £10 off eBay. I thought it would be nice to mix it up. They fit perfectly and came part unassembled in little packets which I liked.

So now it’s time to fill your boxes. Larger items like the freddo I only put one in but things like the maoms I put in four or five.

Once filled it’s time to attach the boxes. I did worry if they would hold but given the things in them are light they did. Just put a line of glue down the centre of the back of each one and press into place.

I then stuck on the numbers into the corner of each box alternating between red and white for effect.

Finally it was time to do the letters to finish off the top of the board. First I tried painting them but the paint wasn’t strong enough and the card showed through. I decided glitter was the way to go keeping with the sparkly theme of the ribbon. I used PVA glue to coat the letters and then just simply sprinkled the glitter all over.

Finally I attached the letters to the board – again with the glue gun and added some little bells in the top corners to fill the gaps. It’s important to leave your board flat for at least an hour whilst everything dries and sets properly.

So here is the finished product…

The only thing I don’t like is the ‘L’ is larger but I wanted a capital and it just came bigger! I’m made up with it and I’m sure my son will love it too, I can’t wait to give it to him. Start to finish it was probably a 2 hour project. It was easy and enjoyable!

Have you ever made an advent calendar? How did it turn out? Let me know if you give this one a go in the comments 🙂

Rachael x

Posted in Winning at Parenting

Harry Potter Potion Class!

When my dance school closes for the summer holidays or any other holidays for that matter… what am I to do with my time?! As much as I love the dance and it is nice to have a break the inner child in me just can’t resist putting on school holiday fun as well. So every time school breaks up I run Legends fun days or summer school and I love it!

Constantly racking my brains for new ways to entertain the children (and myself! ha ha!) I first thought of a Harry Potter potion class whilst lying in bed. I mean as a child myself there was something very satisfying about perfuming making… please tell me you can relate?! This was an activity which consisted of getting water, lots of petals off plants in the garden and stirring them in a bowl, swishing them into the sides and then putting them into jam jars to store. This would create hours of fun trying to create different smells.

So when potion making sprang to mind and was a similar concept I knew this would go down a storm at summer school. A quick google told me actually I wasn’t a genius and indeed other people had done similar before which basically made my job easier. I still thought it worth sharing my tips and experience of the doing it with a big group!

Firstly I realised I needed to collect bottles and jars of different shapes and sizes. Now my intention was to do this myself and ask other people but I kinda forgot and a trip to ikea came to my rescue. In there I managed to get all kinds of potion bottles much to my delight and I only spent around fifteen pounds.

I was ready to create labels when I checked on eBay and saw actually I could just buy those ready done too for a couple of pounds. I also came across a few links to print them yourself but as my printer is not great this was the best option for me. Once they arrived I thought carefully about which bottles to stick them on.

The labels gave little explanations under them so I was careful to put some on jars and others on bottles.

How did I decide what to put in each?! Well I just winged it. But the most important ingredients needed is washing up liquid (I used red as unicorn blood), white vinegar (which I added glitter too) and bicarbonate of soda. These three things react and foam when added together.

I added cut up feathers to one jar, lots of little leaves in one and glitter in another. I put water in all the other jars and added food colouring to change it to different colours.

I gathered a group of five children and started potion class by showing them my potion (that was with the three reactive ingredients I mention above) I did this in a jar so I used less ingredients and it would rise fast, I stood the jar in a bowl to save mess. The children were delighted when it bubbles over.

Then they sat at the table with a mini bowl each (sat in a larger one – again to catch the mess) and were left to mix there own potions. Some had obviously listened as they went straight for the same concoction as me. Some of the younger ones (I have children 3-11 years) relished in pouring in lots of glitter. I had given them all a wooden spoon each to mix their potion as well.

Now this activity was loved by all… a lot hadn’t seen Harry Potter but potion making was exciting none the less. Surprisingly this appealed as much to the older kids as it did to the younger ones. The trickiest part was after each group the bottles and jars needed refilling, table wiping etc and bowls washing and resetting up for the next lot. This was difficult to do quick enough with several children bursting with excitement for their turn!! We had other activities going on along side but none quite as exciting as this! We had to do this for five groups in total. That was a lot of cleaning up! But it was totally worth it… the children loved every second. I would do it again but I did think this would be lovely maybe as part of a smaller party.

Have you ever tried a potion making class? How did it go? I would love to hear!

Rachael 🙂 x