This year’s handmade teacher gifts

Yesterday after school, the girls and I made some mini terrariums to give to their school and kinder teachers as Christmas gifts.  Making a handmade gift for the children’s teachers has become a little tradition here at FGB.  I purchased the jars from ‘Provincial Living’ for a few dollars and got the succulents, succulent potting mix, activated charcoal and pebbles from my local nursery.*  You can find a full tutorial here in the FGB archives.
Bear decided that he didn’t want to give a terrarium to his teachers, so he and I made some of our cheat’s chocolate Christmas puddings today to package up for his teachers as well as quite a few more to bring along to Christmas parties and to give to neighbours/friends.


I know handmade gifts are not for all, but I also know there are many who read this blog who share my love of handmade who may be looking for ideas so, along with the terrariums and chocolate puddings, here is a collection of handmade gifts that we’ve made in the past that would be perfect for Christmas gifts for teachers, neighbours or friends.  They are all simple enough for the kids to help with, inexpensive, can be made in bulk and more importantly, can be made last minute!  



Clay Decorations with their name imprinted




this tutorial is for Easter chocolates, but just switch the mould to a Christmas one and it is perfectly transferrable!
Other cool handmade teacher gift ideas that I’ve seen around the traps are these clay necklaces or teacup candles or bookmarks and to be honest I also think that a hand written card from your child letting the teacher know how much they have been appreciated could possibly be one of the best handmade gifts of all.

From a slightly different angle, a fabulous gift that I know a few friends have done is to give a charity gift card like this one for $10 which goes toward teacher training in a developing country or this one for $5 for education supplies.

Do your children give gifts to their teachers?
Am I the only crazy one who does handmade?



* I now have lots of soil, charcoal, pebbles and succulents left, so for those of you who know me in the off-blog world, if you would like to make some of these – feel free to pop over!

Make your own Bon Bons

We have been making our own bon bons (aka Christmas crackers) for as long as I can remember.  It has become a firmly planted tradition which I have carried on with my children.  We put different things in every year.  You can have a squiz at what we did last year and the year before.  This year I made bon bons for a few different Christmas functions.  I’ve put different things in each lot to suit the occasion.

BON BONS # 1: For “Christmas with Dad” there were only 12 of us so it was easy enough to just purchase an individual gift to pop inside to suit each person.  That way you don’t need to find gifts that suit all ages and genders.  Mini lego figurine packs for the 5 kids, lip balm for the 3 ladies and fake moustaches & eyebrows for the 4 men along with a lindt choc ball, a conversation starter and a snap.  Of course, I had to name each one then which quite frankly is probably not worth the bother.


BON BONS #2: For “Christmas with Mum” I found a pack of plasticine at the supermarket for $1 that happened to have 12 sticks of different coloured plasticine.  I popped one in each, along with a tissue paper hat*, a hershey’s kiss**, a bad Christmas joke and a snap.



The kids (and adults) had lots of fun creating plasticine masterpieces at the table.

BON BONS #3: Then for Christmas Day, when we’ll be having a lovely traditional lunch with Mr FGB’s family, I purchased a mixture of small gifts (that I hope will suit all ages, but if not they can always swap!) along with the usual chocolate, hat and snap and some conversation starters.


This year I’m reusing some conversation starters that I used last year.  Sometimes you need a bit of help to get some life into the party and other times it’s just a great time to promote reflection and unity around the table. 

BON BON CONVERSATION STARTERS:
It’s not Christmas unless…..
In 10 years’ time, at Christmas…………………
The smell that reminds me of Christmas is………….
Christmas shopping is………….
Christmas carols make me……..
At Christmas I………….
My favourite Christmas tradition is………
The strangest Christmas gift I have ever received was………..
The best Christmas gift I have ever received was………
Since last Christmas I have………
My earliest Christmas memory……..
The day after Christmas I………….
The best place to buy Christmas gifts is…………….
My Mum always told me………..
In the coming year, I’d love to………
Christmas is………
Would you like a full tutorial (for next year) on how to make your own bonbons FGB style?  Or do you think it is self explanatory enough?  

Do you make your own bonbons?  What do you put inside?

*’coz there had been complaints the previous week that they had not been included! – apparently it’s “just not Christmas without them” ;)  xo

**leftover from the recent princess party where we gave chocolate kisses and lolly frogs for the party favours.  Speaking of Hershey’s kisses.  If you like to go the extra mile – I did see some Christmas printables that you can stick on the bottom of a hershey’s kiss… over here.

Snow Globes…

I love snow globes.  I find it mesmerising to sit and watch the flakes fall.  We usually make our snow globes with glitter, but this time we tried using eggshells for the snow.  If you’d like to make your own – head over to my tutorial over at Village Voices.  It’s much easier than you’d think!  Something I love to do at this time of year is to pop a credit card style gift card inside a handmade snow globe for a bit of fun to brighten up a potentially boring gift.  

Do you give gift cards at Christmas?  What do you think of them?  
Cop out or best present ever as you get to choose something that you actually want?

Reindeers & the Class Gift

In Prep, Goose made her own Christmas cards for her class mates at school and really enjoyed making them.  She loves that kind of thing.  But getting her to write ‘Merry Christmas love Goose’ 24 times was like drawing blood from a stone, so in the years since we have tried something different…that didn’t involve writing!  

In Grade 1 she made reindeer food for her friends, in Grade 2 she made reindeer noses and this year she made candy cane reindeers.  We may have a theme…

To make a candy cane reindeer you will need some mini red pom poms, some mini googly eyes, some brown pipecleaners and some candy canes.  Spotlight has red pom poms and googly eyes in a whole range of sizes as well as brown pipecleaners.  I’m sure they could be purchased at your craft supply store.

She glued on the eyes and nose with craft glue and then twisted the pipecleaners around a pencil to get the curly effect, before twisting them around the top of the candy cane.
 Bear, not to miss out, has been following suit and last year made reindeer food for his friends at kinder.  This year we made 50 bags of reindeer food, because now that she is a kinder kid too, Frog had to do the same!  

It is simply rolled oats, mixed with glitter, bagged with a free printable on the top.  
These gorgeous reindeer food printables came from Anders Ruff design.

I’d been planning on waiting to give out the reindeer food in the last week of kinder, but unfortunately one of her kinder friends pipped her at the post and handed out reindeer food on Monday.  I’m sure the reindeers will appreciate 2 lots of food right?!

And because I loved the reindeer noses so much last yearI had to make lots of them just to have on hand to give to friends over the Christmas period.  8 maltesers and a jaffa with a cool tag on the top.  

These ones were designed by my very clever friend Caroline, a fellow ‘kinder’ Mum,  who very kindly let me use her design.  They even have the names of the reindeers on the back – gorgeous – thanks Caroline Caroline is talented in many ways and also has her very own store on madeit where she sells beautiful dolls & accessories, called ‘Madebyme’.  She is also selling her reindeer nose printables at the moment.  I highly recommend a look!

While we’re on the topic of reindeers, how cute are these reindeer biscuits that someone brought to a Christmas party we were at last week?

Do your kids make a class gift, give a cards or candy canes?   or do you just think I am a little mad* and merely adding to the pressure at this already busy time?!



* I probably am, but this is the stuff that the kids and I love about Christmas time and we just want to share the fun!  

Christmas Cookies in a Jar

Cookies in a jar are very popular here at Frog Goose & Bear.  

We made Anna’s Emergency Cookies in a Jar earlier last year and they were such a hit and they were sooooo yummy that we made 25 of them as party favours for Ebony’s farm party in June.  

Frog and Bear are giving Christmas Cookies in a jar to their kinder teachers this year and we made a few more to give to some lovely friends & neighbours to show how very grateful we are for their friendship and support over the year. 

 This is a great activity to do in bulk and great for all ages to be involved. It’s also great to whip up really quickly if needed in a hurry as you probably have most of the ingredients on hand. 

I took the easy road and purchased the Christmas Cookies label pdf from Katrina at the Organised Housewife for only a couple of dollars.  I used Anna’s recipe because it’s tried and true here at FGB and fitted into my small jars and thankfully required the same instructions, but I’m sure Katrina’s recipe is just as delicious. 

I purchase my jars at a kitchen supply store, Costante Imports in Melbourne.  They have a fantastic supply of jars in bulk in all shapes and sizes and I purchase the 720ml jar and squish it in really hard when I put in the oats layer so it all fits.
The Christmas M&M’s can be purchased in the Christmas section (and not in the confectionary aisle) at most supermarkets.

We also made these for our last MOPS of the year last week and it was probably the most popular craft for the year!


 What are you giving your kids teachers this year?

Do you do a bulk run of something to give to neighbours and friends at Christmas?

Are you sorted for Christmas or flying by the seat of your pants like me?  

I may look organised, but it’s all smoke and mirrors.  The beauty of all the things we do here at FGB is that they are easy peasy and require little effort for a big effect!


For more Christmas crafts from Frog, Goose and Bear, you can click here.


Christmas Past

As last year I ran out of time to post our Christmas crafts and posted them far too late to be useful for anyone.  I’m not always the most organised of people despite the very best of intentions so all of these things can be done very quickly and very last minute.  That’s how we roll over at Frog Goose & Bear.  As last year’s Christmas posts have been getting a good viewing with almost a thousand hits a day on my blog at the moment (that’s double the usual!) I thought it might be handy to combine all of last year’s Christmas posts into one….
BON BONS (aka CHRISTMAS CRACKERS):



CHOCOLATE BARK:



the one on the left being the Christmas one with crushed candy canes.  
This post, although an Easter post, contains the link to the recipes for each of them or you can go 
straight here for the recipe we used 2 years ago for Christmas cocoa in a jar.





These are all fun activities to do with your kids.

Stay tuned for even more Christmas crafting this year!

What Christmas creativeness have you been up to?

Handmade Christmas Cards

This year’s Christmas cards are made.  I can’t seem to get away from the fabric covered card.  I love them.  Simple, yet stylish and I find them very addictive to make!  I have updated the instructions on how to make them here if you’d like to give them a go.

As well as the ‘Made ‘n’ Thornbury’ market on the Friday night just gone, I will be selling my cards, as well as my paper garlands and clay decorations at the Wale St Primary Christmas Market in Thornbury this coming Tuesday from 6.30 – 9pm.  Love to see you!

A per usual if I have any left over, they’ll be my Christmas cards for this year.

Do you make your own Christmas cards?  Do you bother with Christmas cards at all?  

The Advent Calendar

Every year I plan to write a post on advent calendars and each year, time runs out on me.  This year, however I managed to get in just before the beginning of December which means you’ll still have time to do this quick and easy, no time to get fancy, advent calendar if you feel so inclined.

Just some seed packet sized envelopes, some string and some small pegs, along with some stamps to decorate.  Fun for the kids to be involved in too.


For the last few years we’ve been reading a part of the Christmas story each day and then collating them on a piece of paper so that we can see the story evolve.  It gets longer each day until we have the whole Christmas story at the end. We use the following adaptation, paraphrased into language kids will understand, by my beautiful friend Jane: 

1. The angel Gabriel took a message to Mary: Don’t be afraid!  God is pleased with you, and you will have a son.  His name will be Jesus.

2. The angel visited Joseph in a dream.  He said: when the baby is born, name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

3. The angel told Mary that her son would be great, called the Son of the Most High.  God will make him a king and give him a throne and he will rule forever.

4. Mary & Joseph were engaged to be married and waiting for baby Jesus to be born.  The Roman Caesar said “everyone must be counted…”

5.  Everyone had to go to his own town, where he had been born to register.  So, Joseph took Mary on a long trip, from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be counted.

6.  When Mary & Joseph got to Bethlehem they looked & looked for somewhere  to stay.  All the houses were full so a kind man let them stay in his shed.

7.  In that shed, in Bethlehem , the time came for Mary to have her baby, & so there he was born: the Lord Jesus.  And his little cot was a manger.

8.  Just then, an angel came to visit the shepherds in a paddock near the shed where Jesus was born.

9.  The angels told the shepherds: “Don’t be scared.  I’ve got good news & it’s for everyone in the world…”

10.  The angels’ good news was: “Today in Bethlehem, the town of David, a saviour has been born; he is Christ the Lord”.

11.  Then the angel said: “You will find the baby wrapped in cloths & lying in a manger”.

12.  Suddenly, there were hundreds of angels in the sky praising God, above the shepherds & their sheep.

13.  The angels sang: “Glory to God in the Highest & Peace on Earth to People who Please God”.

14.  After the angels had gone back to heaven, the shepherds decided to go to Bethlehem & see the new baby.

15.  The shepherds went quickly & found Mary, Joseph & baby Jesus in the hay in Bethlehem.

16.  The shepherds told Mary & Joseph all about the angels & what they had said about the new baby Jesus.

17.  Everyone who heard the shepherds story were surprised and amazed!

18.  Mary kept thinking about everything the shepherds said and wondered what it meant.

19.  The shepherds went back to their sheep; praising God because of everything they’d heard and seen.

20.  Jesus also has the name “Immanuel” which means “God is with us”.

21.  Some wise men from the east saw a big star & knew it would lead them to the new baby Jesus.

22.  The wise men followed the star all the way to Bethlehem where it shone over the stable where Mary, Joseph & Jesus were.

23.  The wise men were excited to see the star because they knew that it pointed to the king of the Jews, baby Jesus, just like the prophets  had said.

24.  The wise men went into the stable to see Jesus and worship him.  They brought gifts for him of gold, frankincense & mhyrr.  Precious gifts for the new king.
There is a wonderful array of homemade advent calendar ideas across blogland.  I have made a collection of my favourites over here on pinterest if you are looking for ideas.

Do you have an advent calendar at your house?  Is it a special part of your own childhood memory of Christmas?  Or is just another thing to do at this craaaazy busy time of year?!

DIY CHRISTMAS WREATH

As Goose and I snuck down the street to pinch some pine leaves* to embelish our pressies, she asked if we could make a wreath for our door.


I had been secretly wanting one myself, and had never made one before, so we set to work and in about 5 mins we had ourselves a wreath.  


We grabbed a wire coat hanger from the cupboard and pulled it out to make a circle shape.  You can probably just make out the hook of the coat hanger in the photo above.  Then we tied some pine branches on with some string and covered the string with some little red baubles (which are attached to wire) leftover from last years bon bons.

We added a little clay bird decoration that we nabbed from the Christmas tree.

  

Then posed for photos!

Maybe a little late with Christmas only being 2 more sleeps away, but it’s pretty gorgeous (both the wreath and the child;) if I do say so myself!  In the above photo, Goose is holding some secret pressies that we made for her aunt’s and uncles today.  I will post them tomorrow afternoon, as they are great last minute gift ideas, as I know that my family all read my blog!

Linking this post with Skip to my Lou’s Made by you Mondays.

*  Just in case you were wondering… the trees are on the street, not in someone’s yard.

THIS YEAR’S CRACKERS

Homemade bon bons, or Christmas Crackers as they are known in other parts of the world, have been a tradition in our family for as long as I can remember.  I have enjoyed taking on the role of bon bon making for quite a few years now.  You can see last year’s bon bons here.

These bon bons were for a Christmas party that I attended last weekend.  Such a beautiful setting.  19 of us gathered outside on a long trestle table, covered in a white linen tablecloth, with branches of holly and red baubles, the ‘good glasses’ and the ‘good silver’, fabulous food and company…I digress…

I wrapped these bon bons with old sheet music for something different and this was what was inside…


Each year there is a snap and a hat* inside the bon bon, but everything else varies each year.  It depends on the group who I make them for really.


Instead of jokes this year, I used ‘conversation starters’ and after we’d opened the bon bons we went around the table completing sentences such as “my earliest Christmas memory is…”, “Christmas Carols make me…”, “My favourite Christmas tradition is…”, etc.


Along with some red & green m&m’s and some Christmas sequins (leftover from last year) I made up little ‘alfalfa sprout kits’ with some tulle, some alfalfa seeds, a rubber brand and printed instructions from here (with slight variation).  

There are thousands of things you could put inside, but to match the sheet music, these homemade paper decos would have gone well inside. Some other creative ideas, a little outside the box, that would work are these homemade ‘mini pick up sticks‘, fabric covered hairties or magnets, marshmallows & toothpick activity, Christmas themed activity sheet for people to complete then give out prize for winner, small puzzle pieces for everyone to combine & complete … 

Do you make your own bon bons?  What do you put inside?

* I make the hat using tissue paper, but you could use Christmas wrapping paper for something different.  
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