Sometimes when you have young children it can be hard to find Halloween decor that’s not too gory or scary. So I’ve done the hard work for you and picked out the best costume ideas, props, decorations and activities suitable for all ages. You’ll find lots this Halloween on Etsy, and quite a few treats for yourself too. They have their own suggestions on their Halloween page but here are my favourites.
Monsters for your Mantlepiece
When it comes to Halloween decor you can go cute or gory. Maybe it’s because we have small people in our house that I like Halloween to be fun and decorations to be tasteful but not too ghoulish. These mantlepiece decorations are so simply spooky but stylish too.
If you want to have a go at making your own, or need to choose your colours to fit with your theme then these craft shapes would be a good place to start.
There are three really great things about photo booths. First they don’t cost much to do. Second they can be enjoyed by all ages and lastly they mean lots of photos and fun memories of your party or get together.
These props will provide plenty of opportunity to be creative with your snaps. And if someone comes to your party and has ‘forgotten’ to dress up (you know there’s always someone) then you can oblige. After all we wouldn’t want them to feel left out would we?!
Sometimes the simplest decorations are the best and these pompoms were too cute to ignore as well as being very reasonably priced.
If you’re more of a fabric person than a yarn lover then you will love this Halloween banner.
I hope you’ve found this useful in your Halloween preparations. Please let me know in the comments if you did and if you see something on Etsy that you think I should include here please let me know in the comments.
I am always being asked for Nativity crafts for Sunday Schools, preschools and in the home so I’ve put together a list of some ideas.
Nativity Crafts for all ages
1 Make your own Nativity Scene
Younger children can have fun cutting out and colouring in their own Nativity Scene.
Or why not draw some Nativity characters together, cut out and stick some lollipop sticks to make some puppets. This lollipop craft set has lots of other ideas too. Then you can act out and talk about the Nativity story.
Alternatively use oven drying clay to make a lasting Nativity set. I found a great clip on Youtube to give you a start.
Do a Nativity related jigsaw. This one is good value with 4 x 500 jigsaws in it. Four jigsaws titled, Window Shopping, Letter to Santa, The Nativity Play and The Queen’s Speech provide an opportunity to talk about lots of aspects of Christmas. Jigsaws are great for developing little minds and doing them together is a great social opportunity too. Plus it will give you some downtime in the run up to Christmas.
3 Nativity picture
Make your own framed nativity scene. Cut out old Christmas cards, or draw your own background and characters and turn it in to a framed Nativity scene. Use a deep box frame to build a 3d picture of the Christmas story and then give as a gift.
You don’t have to use newspaper but it can make jigsaw puzzles a bit more stable if you build it on a good hard flat surface. Once you’ve built your jigsaw slide it on to some old newspaper.
Then depending on what fixative you use you either simply spray the jigsaw fixative on the front of your jigsaw, following the directions on the can, or apply glue as per the directions. Leave to harden and there you have it. Yep it’s as simple as that.
From personal experience the fixative lasts for years. So even if you don’t hang the puzzle immediately you can store it by laying it flat until later. Under a bed is an ideal location!
You’ll need to choose how to hang your jigsaw. You could either glue some strapping to the back then attach some string or hooks, or slide poster holders along the top (and bottom to add weight) and thread string through these. Or frame your jigsaw.
Some of the most eye catching jigsaw puzzles I’ve seen are children’s ones that were originally posters. Like the one shown above, an illustration by Amanda Loverseed. Now as a jigsaw you can have the pleasure of the puzzle and the satisfaction of displaying your finished handiwork.
My favourite jigsaw puzzles have to be wooden ones. I remember getting them as a child, they seemed to be more common then, and more recently from Wentworth with their famous whimsies. Like this one:
This Christmas bunting makes an impressive addition to your Christmas decorations. With 20 pieces and 4 m ribbon you can decide where to put the stockings, Santa and snowman. You can choose whether to hang in a single line, or split as shown above.
Elf on the shelf has been making up some new arrangements
If you’re stuck for Elf on the Shelf ideas than you these anagrams will help you to fill a few days of mischief. You can find many more anagrams of Merry Christmas online, a simple search will bring up a range of pages with ideas. These were my elf on the shelf’s favourite ones.
And if you like my elf you can find more like him at Daisyfelts. I think he’s rather cheeky but friendly looking.
Here are a few simple steps to make sure your gift wrapping looks good and doesn’t take hours to do.
1 Buy Quality Gift Wrapping Paper
If you want your gift to look neat then you need wrapping paper that won’t crumple or rip when you start to cut it or fold it. A decent grade of paper (100gsm or more) will make your job easier and make the end result look better.
2 Use Matching or Complimenting Tag
I have 4 children so I’ve been to a few children’s parties and how often have I seen presents with no tag and no card attached. There probably was a card when it was handed over but in the excitement it’s all been put to one side and the card and gift have become separated. It’s really nice to say thank you afterwards but if you don’t know who the present is from then you can’t. A good idea is to stock up on plain tags that will go with anything, like manilla ones, or a multi pack.
3 Use Ribbon
It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to add ribbon to a present. The most elaborate is probably organza ribbon but for a special occasion it really does the business. However baker’s twine is a really good buy and has lots of other uses too, or raffia is very cheap and a multi-coloured one looks fab.
If using organza, try adding an extra complimentary colour to the bow.
4 Cut straight lines
This is very hard to do with poor grade wrapping paper (see point 1) as most likely the paper will rip as you cut. Especially that foil stuff that looked so good on the roll and seemed really good value but when you open it you realise why it was so cheap as it falls apart in your hands.
Buy wrapping paper that has gridlines on the back, it makes your job easier and we’re all for that.
5 Keep it Simple
Don’t try and overcomplicate things. Sure you can find some great ideas for Japanese wrapping with fancy folds and origami on Pinterest and maybe for the odd occasion it’s great to give that a go. But when it comes to children’s parties, or Christmas where there’s a lot to do, keep it simple and make your life easier.
You can find lots of other great ideas and inspiration on Youtube.
If you found this useful and want another simple wrapping idea try The Gift Bag
Thought I would ask my three older children (10, 7 and 5) what goodies they would like in a Christmas Eve Box and here’s what they suggested.
First find a box, add a few sweets and maybe some hot chocolate and you will keep the whole family entertained. Start the Christmas festivities off the night before. This one is ideal and not too pricey either.
Even if it’s a beautiful sunny day outside, you can still have snow inside with this safe, non toxic instant snow – just add water. For a couple of quid you can’t go wrong with this in a Christmas Eve box.
This huge paper tablecloth will keep everyone busy at Christmas. Either use it just as something to do or for maximum value put it on the table for Christmas dinner with a few pens, crayons or coloured pencils and watch all ages get stuck in. Also makes a great poster.
It’s Christmas after all, there probably need to be some sweets and what better way to add to a Christmas Eve box than in a cracker. Cadbury have lots of Christmas confectionary ideas as you would imagine. If you don’t do chocolate, e.g. if you’re dairy free then Hampergifts have some fabulous retro sweet hampers and packs.
If you need some ideas of books for Christmas Eve then we traditionally read Twas the Night Before Christmas before they go to bed on Christmas Eve but they also love Illustrated Stories for Christmas. A Christmas Carol is also a great read for older children. Christmas Day will be so busy that bedtime stories probably won’t happen. I believe no Christmas Eve Box is complete without a story. Settle them down for bed and take the chance to stop for a minute and remember what Christmas is all about amidst the preparations. If you are true bookworms then plan ahead with some Christmas advent books.
All my family, from ages 1 to 80+ love jigsaws. So I always get a couple of Christmas jigsaws in for the holiday. It’s just perfect for those ‘I’m bored’ moments when the weather is too bad to send them outside. When I get a chance to sit down for 5 minutes it’s great relaxation for me too.
Of course there is always the option of a DVD. Why not schedule in an hour or two to put your feet up, get out the popcorn and watch a DVD together. Our Christmas favourites are Muppet Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and Elf. What’s your favourite? Share with us in the comments below, it might give someone else who’s stuck an idea for their Christmas Eve box.
Remember these? We called them fortune tellers I think. This pack from Flamingo Paperie has 6 sheets, with jokes, forfeits, fortunes and more. Great fun for Christmas Eve and could be used for Christmas Dinner entertainments too. For just a couple of quid it provides lasting fun for all.
I haven’t tried myself but I did think if you are making your own Christmas crackers that you could include one of these in each cracker if you do some of the initial folding.
You can see a video I did of a Christmas Eve Box full of activities here.
You know Christmas isn’t far away when it’s time to start opening your advent calendar. I remember every advent calendar I had when I was little. They were all traditional advent calendars with 24 little doors to open. Even if I got a new one the next year I would still reuse the old one pushing the doors shut as tightly as I could so I could reopen them again. My children love chocolate but when it comes to advent calendars the delight and wonder of the traditional advent calendar is what they ask for.
If you’re looking for something more traditional this Christmas season then here are some of the best traditional advent calendars you will find. Flamingo Paperie (from the people who brought you Phoenix Trading) have been producing well-known, beautifully illustrated, traditional advent calendars for over 20 years now. With either 24 doors to open or 24 pieces to press out and slot in or stand up, these calendars will stay in the memories for years to come. All printed in the UK and beautifully illustrated.
Whether you love Nativity themed, Santa or just Christmassy there are traditional advent calendars for everyone.
The Nativity Stable, with both slot in and stand up pieces, illustrated by Kate Garrett is our current bestseller. This is a perfect advent for classrooms, Sunday School or at home.
Ski Resort, with slot in pieces and illustrated by Julia Rigby. Christmas Ark, with 24 slot in pieces, illustrated by Julia Rigby. Tower of London, with a mixture of slot in pieces and doors to open, illustrated by Amanda Loverseed. Winter Village, with 24 slot in pieces, illustrated by Sue James.
The Reindeer Stables, with 24 slot in pieces and illustrated by Amanda Loverseed is our second bestselling advent calendar. Of course you’ll know all the reindeer names but in case you forget one, they’re on each of the stable doors!
If you’d like to see the Winter Village unfold day by day then take a look at my video of the advent calendar being built.
The latest designs are available online in my Flamingo Shop now. Click here or click on an image to go straight to that calendar. Alternatively keep reading to see some well loved old favourites, available while stocks last here, at Cards and Gift Wrap.
Snowy Village, 24 houses to build and place round the village. Elegantly illustrated by Sally Swannell. Christmas Tree, 24 slot in decorations, Illustrated by Amanda Loverseed.
Bethlehem, with 24 slot in pieces and illustrated by Sarah Summers and Nativity with 24 doors to open in a 3D display, illustrated by Anna Cattermole are both exquisitely illustrated advent calendars depicting the story of Jesus’ birth.
If you want something with a Santa theme then the following advent calendars all have some aspect of Santa’s part in the big day.
Yes, you know the panic – little Johnny is coming and he’ll never sit still for 5 seconds, nevermind the speeches! Well don’t worry here are some great ideas to keep children entertained and happy and their parents over the moon that you’ve taken time to think of them.
It doesn’t matter what the parents might bring to keep their own children occupied, kids will always be more interested in something ‘new’.
1 Colour in Tablecloth
You can’t go wrong with a colour-in tablecloth. Even better if the children are sitting amongst all the adults, this will keep all ages entertained with the adults having a great excuse to doodle, colour and create.
Having children at your wedding need not be a headache. With these ideas they will remember the occasion for years to come, enjoy every minute without disrupting the event and happy children means happy parents and happy guests…plus, trust me, the adults will love colouring in too!!!
OK, so this is a long way from what I hope to be doing when our Hattersley Loom is up and running (and I’ve worked out what to do with it…don’t hold your breath here!)…but I do think this would look really effective on top of plain kraft wrapping paper. I think I’d try it with our gold sparkle twine mixed with the red/white. Or maybe the blue and gold metallic?