Our Kindness Challenge Advent Calendar to Countdown to ChristmasWe’ve never done chocolate advent calendars here, and our elf on the shelf experience was an absolute nightmare. Seriously, it was so bad that she got sold on eBay last week. This year we’re giving something completely different a go, and the children will have kindness challenges to complete each day.   

I’ve already decided that my word for 2017 is going to be kindness. For a multitude of reasons, but ultimately because we need more of it in the world, and especially so in my little family.

It will be great for the kids to consciously think about doing nice things for other people. I’m hoping that all the extra kindness will lead to gratitude, happiness and a jollier family in general going into the new year. We’ve wasted far too much time of late being stressed out, and life’s too short to be living like this.

Our kindness challenge list

1st: I’ve signed us up for the Met Police Christmas Tree Project, which means buying a gift for a local child who might not receive one otherwise. We have been assigned two girls aged 12 and 16, and a boy aged 14. Our first challenge will be sourcing their presents, which need to be wrapped and taken to our local police station by the 9th.

2nd: Make cards for faraway friends, and take to the post office.

Our Kindness Challenge Advent Calendar to Countdown to Christmas3rd: Be super quiet first thing, to make sure Daddy gets some extra sleep.

4th: Be super quiet first thing, to make sure Mummy gets some extra sleep.

5th: Make salt dough tree decorations, and extras for friends we are seeing before Xmas for their trees.

6th: Make a nice card and some drawings to send to Nana in her care home.

7th: Have a clear out and donate all the stuff that doesn’t get worn or played with anymore.

8th: Sit for ten minutes in a circle, and tell each other the things we are grateful for.

9th: Make cards and wrapping paper for gifts for friends that we’re seeing for lunch on Saturday.

10th: Be super quiet first thing, to make sure Daddy gets some extra sleep.  

11th: Be super quiet first thing, to make sure Mummy gets some extra sleep. 

12th: Help mummy put the photos she’s had printed into albums.

13th: Think of three reasons why we love each member of the family.  

14th: Freddy gets to choose a Xmas movie to watch, without any fuss from his sisters. 

Our Kindness Challenge Advent Calendar to Countdown to Christmas15th: Clara gets to choose a Xmas movie to watch.

16th: Polly gets to choose a Xmas movie to watch.

17th: Be super quiet first thing, to make sure Mummy gets some extra sleep.  

18th: Be super quiet first thing, to make sure Daddy gets some extra sleep. 

19th: Write a story or draw a picture of a happy memory from the year, and give it to another member of the family.

20th: Make cards and gifts for Clara’s teachers at school. 

21st: Make a video to send to Grandad George. 

22nd: Make gingerbread cookies for our neighbours.  

23rd: Wrap gifts for the family to give to them on Boxing Day.

24th: Go through the 2016 memory jar, and relive our happiest experiences from the year.

kindness challenge advent calendar

Merry Christmas

Xmas Cookies 081215These little beauts are the perfect pick me up with a cuppa, and are sweetened with just one tablespoon of honey per batch (of 12). 

Using ground almonds and spices, these moreish treats are so easy to make that my 6yo daughter can pretty much knock them up all by herself.

There really is no excuse to not get yourself in the kitchen, and whip up some healthier indulgences over the holidays. Even if it’s just to have a change from celebrations and quality street!

Ingredients for 12 cookies

150g ground almonds 
2 tbsp coconut oil 
1 tbsp honey 
1-2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon  
1 tsp vanilla
small free range egg

GF, DF, RSF gingerbread cookies ready for the ovenMethod

– whisk together the coconut oil, honey, egg and vanilla in a bowl 

– add the ground almonds and spices, and combine well with a spoon 

– once a dough starts to form bring it together into a ball with your hands

– wrap it in greaseproof paper, and refrigerate for 30 mins

GF, DF, RSF gingerbread man Christmas cookies – when you are ready to take the dough out of the fridge, preheat your oven to 170C

– carefully roll out the dough on a baking sheet or the greaseproof paper, and make your shapes with cookie cutters

– once they are all cut out bake in the oven for 10 mins

– serve immediately or store in a biscuit tin

Enjoy!      

Incredible Value for Money at The WorksFor those of you unfamiliar with The Works Stores, they are like stepping inside an Aladdin’s cave of bargains. Be it books, CDs, DVDs, toys, games, calendars, diaries, stationery or arts and crafts supplies, The Works is a one stop shop for gifts that won’t break the bank.

I pride myself on my thrift radar, and have picked up many a great value present from The Works in the past. Far from being pound shop junk, they always have a fab selection of unique items, as well as being well stocked with whatever the latest kids craze is.

For the (still) Frozen mad they have a vast array of Elsa & Anna themed bits and bobs. My eldest spied a chapter book of the film, and is very excited about reading it (wonder what will happen!) They also have tons of Minion goodies, which is fantastic news for our 5yo nephew who is crazy about the little yellow dudes. Whatever your kids are into, I can almost guarantee they will have something suitable for them. 

They currently have 2 for £10 on a huge range of children’s sets and games, and books starting from just £1. In one shopping trip I managed to cross six people off the Christmas pressie list, and added an extra token gift to another four. In addition to this I stocked up on our card making supplies, and bought a 500ml bottle of pva glue for the same price that a 150ml bottle cost last time.

The Works Haul CollageMy Haul (all this for £50!)

  • Pretty ladies sudoku book
  • The Top Ten of Everything 2015, some absolutely fascinating stuff in here
  • 50 Magic Tricks set x2
  • Stencil Art set x2
  • Gorgeous art deco playing cards in a beautiful tin
  • Minions clay moulding set
  • Frozen chapter book
  • Wooden game balancing dinosaurs
    • Usborne colour your own party invitations
  • Bumper pack of 50 plain cards and envelopes
  • 500ml PVA glue
  • Pack of polka dot tissue paper
  • Butterfly shaped paint palate x3

Amazing value I’m sure you’ll agree! Why not head down to a Works Store near you, or check out their website, and grab some bargains of your own 😉

**Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post. See here for my full disclosure policy**

Father Christmas ReviewHubby and I used to love going to the theatre, and we’ve been taking the children to shows since our eldest was two. I was delighted to be offered the chance to review the production of the classic Raymond Briggs book Father Christmas at the Lyric, Hammersmith, and it felt rather apt to be seeing it on the 1st December. A fab way to kick start the silly season.  

Then it dawned on me the morning of the show, that I would have to take all three kids into London on my own, then deal with a 21mo who only managed the first ten minutes of our last cinema trip when we attempted to see Inside Out in the summer. Never one to be put off by minor details we set off bright and early, and headed to Hammersmith. 

The Lyric has changed a lot since the last time I went (possibly fifteen years ago) and the first thing you notice as you get to the entrance is the delicious aroma wafting from the Peyton & Bryne café on the ground floor. The theatre is wheelchair (therefore buggy) friendly, and everything is made super easy to find with funky signposts. The restaurant on the second floor is very spacious, and the food looked fab. We were also lucky to get a clear sunny day, and enjoyed our lunch on the roof terrace – it’s a real must if you find yourself at The Lyric. 

We managed to nab front row seats, and the girls asked a couple of times whether it was actually him. I think they were a little disappointed with my answer to be honest.    

“The Lyric’s beloved production for young children returns for the fourth year. Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas has become a must-see Christmas show for families, especially as a great introductory theatre experience for young children.

Follow Santa as he awakes from a dream of sun, sea and sand only to find it is the busiest day of the year: Christmas Eve. This timeless festive story bursts into life with live music, playful puppets and a magical set.”

They really got inside the head of the big fella, and made us see what he goes through to deliver all those pressies on Christmas eve. The set was beautiful, and I was super impressed with how few actors were in the show. The music and sound effects that were being performed to accompany the acting elevated it, and all in all it was a truly magical way to spend an hour.     

The show completely captivated all three of my children. Even the boy sat on my lap as still as a post throughout, which I wasn’t expecting and was pleasantly surprised about! We all gave it the thumbs up, and the girls made a little video clip to tell you about their favourite bits. 

You have until the 24th December to see the show, and tickets will set you back £10 each – see the full details here.

**Disclosure: we were given free tickets to see the show; all thoughts and opinions are my own. See here for my full disclosure policy**