The heat outside was oppressive, so the cooling blast of the shopping centre's air-conditioning was welcome relief as I walked through the automated doors. Ahhh... Christmas in Australia. Fake snow swirled around shopfront displays. Familiar Christmas carols trilled and huge garlands of Christmas decorations hung from the high vaulted ceilings. Yes, Christmas was just around the corner.
But by the time I reached the escalators, I was regretting my decision to visit the centre. Large flocks of shoppers fluttered around the gift displays. Tired, upset children trailed behind their parents or grabbed at their arms demanding to be carried. There were long queues at the checkouts. And, shock and horror, all the seating was taken at the small coffee shops. Despite the coolness of the air-conditioned centre, I bought what I needed and hurried home.
Thankfully, I don't need to return and join the hordes of Christmas shoppers at the local shopping centre. Most of my purchases have been made online and..... I've found the perfect gift for my family! (This post contains affiliate links.)
Yes, finding the perfect gift for your family or grandparents can be done from home. And, it won't take long.
So, what is it?
I spent a bit of time online at Sticky9 creating a family photobook.
Yes, I know... all your photos are easily accessible on your device. But how often do you sit down together and look at them?
And these memories make a lovely coffee table book. It's easy for visitors to flip thorough the year's highlights. Everyone will enjoy looking at the photos.
And, it's a great way to remember those special moments.
Memories are timeless treasures of the heart."
How do you create one?
Well, it's very simple.
1. Just choose 20 of your favourite photos to include. I think that's the most difficult part.
2. Upload them to Sticky9. Your first 9 photos will be used in the collage on the front cover.
3. You'll have one square photo per page. (You can crop them online.)
The finished books look lovely- glossy, black, 20x20cm hardcover books!
I've created one book for each family and one for my parents. This is one gift that will be enjoyed long past Christmas Day. And it's unique- a collection of family memories to be cherished.
Shippping is free and the books arrived speedily- great! You receive plenty of updates via email regarding the progress of your order.
Check it out here....
Key takeaways from this article
*Disclosure: Some links in this email are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support in this way!
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....... begin with your own DIY Advent Calendar
Let's face it. Christmas can be a crazy time of year: countless parties, frenetic shopping, wrapping presents, decorating home and Christmas tree.... crazy busy.
Ease up a little, this year. Start a new family tradition. Explore the Christmas story a little each day as you prepare to welcome the Saviour. Share together the excitement of counting down the days to Christmas with a handcrafted Advent Calendar. Use this as an opportunity to retell the real Christmas story of the hope, peace, joy and love to be found in the Saviour in the manger.
Open a box each day
This Advent Calendar uses small numbered boxes to measure the countdown to Christmas. And you know how much kids love opening boxes and peeking inside! The calendar has a Christmas cooking theme so pop a small wrapped biscuit/cookie in each box plus a piece of your nativity scene. ( I used bought cookies but you can make your own if you wish.)
Set the scene with some Christmas music and read part of the Christmas story each day as one more box is opened.
Please note if you have small children...
If you have small children, pop the wrapped biscuits & nativity scene figures into the appropriate box just before you're ready to open it. Otherwise, you'll find all the boxes opened and the contents consumed as soon as your back is turned.
Each day, build anticipation of Christmas Day and the birth of Christ. As the box is opened, ask if the baby Jesus is inside. Build you nativity scene piece by piece as another figure is found in the box and added to your scene.
So.... what will you need to make your Advent Calendar?
You'll need a wooden craft kit. I picked mine up at Kmart but you can find them at most craft shops. Kaiser Crafts have some lovely options. While the outer frame is wood, the small boxes are heavy-weight card.
I painted all my pieces white but you can use any colour or even cover them with Christmas paper or scrapbook pages. (Brush watered-down PVA glue onto the surfaces if you want to use paper. Smooth the paper to ensure the paper is sticking without any air bubbles.)
Your kit should come with assembly instructions but you'll find it's straight forward to make.
Download and print the file below for the square images for the front of the boxes. You may need to resize the images depending on your boxes. I've created the file in A4 or A3. Just download which you need and print.
Cut out the squares and glue to the front of each small box. I used a glue stick for this.
Finally, decorate the top of your Advent Calendar with Christmas ribbons and decorative picks. Use low-temp glue gun to anchor these accents to the top of your Advent Calendar.
Make the Advent Calendar and experience together the wonder of the Christmas season; or make a calendar for your grandkids.
Key takeaways from this article
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It happens every year. I tell myself that next year will be different. Next year, I'll start buying my Christmas gifts early. Next year, I won't leave the Christmas decorating to the last minute. Next year, I'll put more time and energy into our family Christmas dinner celebrations.
Mmmm..... I feel tired and discouraged just thinking about it, because 'next year' is now 'this year!'
But this year.... I'm doing something about it!
This year, I've downloaded a FREE Christmas planner filled with lists and planning pages to help me stay on track with my Christmas to-do activities. Even more than that, it's helping me to focus on the important aspect of Christmas; its real meaning.
I've been provided with ideas and suggestions for changing my 'Martha-style' Christmas of tasks and jobs and things to complete to a 'Mary-style' celebration with room for the important things- developing meaningful family traditions, Christmas joy, and peace and even, relaxing.
FREE Christmas planners
Now if, like me, you'd like a little help with your Christmas planning and organisation you may be interested in the Christmas planners available. There are many planners that you can purchase but you'll be pleased to know that there are some wonderful FREE planners, too.
* A Holiday Gift Guide... an intentional Christmas gift planning guide for the whole family. You'll also find a set of free gift tags to download and use.
* Organized Christmas- Simplify your holidays and celebrate the season!
You'll find so many helpful resources here: a Christmas calendar and countdown, weekly checklists, an organising plan. There are even some ideas for decor and gifts to make yourself. You can find and download the free printables here.
* Holiday Grand Plan -week by week planner for an organised Christmas
Weekly activity planner and checklists make it easy to prepare for the festive season, a holiday grand plan. You'll find all the planning printables here.
* Free printable Christmas planner from Crazy Little Projects
You'll find here weekly calendars, gifts checklist, Christmas planning sheet, baking list, family activities and so much more.
* Family Traditions Christmas Edition. This downloadable book by Andy Andrews is filled with ideas and prompts to help you focus on a Christmas that is meaningful and unforgettable. It doesn't have to cost much money or involve huge amounts of time, but it does require you to be intentional. You can find it here. Remember, 'you have the power to make this holiday season one to remember.'
* Printable Holiday Planner _- How to plan the best family Christmas you've ever had.
This planner is quite beautiful and is available from LifeTree family. It includes printable planners as well as idea sheets, activities and checklists to encourage you to focus on ways to focus on the real meaning of Christmas and creating a holiday tradition for your family that is full of wonder and delight. You'll find a holiday gift checklist, holiday budget, deal tracker, menu and shopping list, chores list and more.
You will need to sign up for their emails but these are really helpful, too, so I'm sure you'll enjoy their content.
Enjoy this Christmas Holiday Season!
On the days that you're blessed by your grandchildren, having a foolproof itinerary is vital. I always try to plan ahead so that I know exactly which activities my beautiful grandkids and I will be getting up to when they come to stay.
In the school holidays, children can find themselves short of fun places to visit. With so much time on their hands, there's just not enough to get out and see. That's why I try to take them on trips that they don't usually get the chance to experience during term time. Here are some of my favourite ideas.
I dare you to find me a child that doesn't love to visit the theme park. I'm not sure one exists. It's almost like a little haven especially designed for children to have fun. Perhaps the biggest upside is that you'll never be short of things to do. Between the endless rides, arcades and amusements, your entire day will be action packed. The theme park is arguably one of the most fun days out for kids. Watch with envy as they joyfully fill themselves with candyfloss. I may not be able to accompany them on many of the rides, but there are options for those of us with a more nervous disposition, too.
The simple truth is that kids love to learn. In their early stages of development, their little brains are like sponges. Every day is about discovery for children. The most important thing you can do for them at that age is introduce them to new concepts. I wholeheartedly believe that a child's early experiences are what ultimately shapes them as people. Letting them learn about all manner of different subjects might just stay with them for life. Unwittingly, you could be realizing their futures. An even better upside is that museums are fun. Taking a tour and learning about extinct animals can be fascinating. The kids will love it, and so will you.
If you're seeking a solution that never gets boring, the zoo could be just the answer you're looking for. I don't think I've ever met anybody that didn't fill up with glee at the mere suggestion of visiting the zoo. It's just such an extraordinary experience. Getting up close and personal with an array of animals that you're not likely to encounter in any other environment is spectacular. Some of my fondest memories have come from the sights and sounds of the zoo - and it just never seems to lose its magic. Whatever age you are, you're never too old or young to appreciate exotic animals. Some wildlife centres even put on shows to keep the whole family entertained! There are plenty of souvenirs to be bought to ensure the trip lives long in the memory.
No matter your age, I'm sure you can appreciate all three of the above ideas. Next time you're struggling for inspiration to keep your grandchildren entertained, give one of them a try! I promise you, you'll have endless fun together.
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Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.