Today’s November 30, which means come morning I’ll be digging out the Christmas boxes and opening up the first window on the Advent Calendar. It will also be the first day of summer (here in the southern hemisphere), and it looks like we’ll be welcoming it with sub-tropical Sydney showers.
I have such strong memories of Advent calendars from my childhood. My mum did Christmas in a big way, and she built up an incredible collection of European calendars from her travels. A lot of them were fairly traditional with a nativity scene, a scattering of vintage-y silver glitter, and teeny-tiny windows that opened up to reveal a darling Christmas-themed illustration. How I anticipated opening up each window every morning! There were no such things as chocolates waiting to be popped open, although I do remember having one in the late ’80s.
1. Eric Carle’s Dream Snow Pop-Up Advent Calendar, $8.79.
We also had a wreath of Advent candles on our dining table, which was filled with walnuts or summer’s first cherries. And flowers! Just-cut Australian Christmassy flowers, which were always a variation of blue agapanthus, crimson Christmas Bush and – if we were lucky – red and golden Christmas bells. Aaah. It’s been a long time since I’ve spied some Christmas bells. I’ll have to keep an eye out for some this season.
2. Olive, the Other Reindeer Pop-Up Advent Calendar, $9.95.
I wanted Harry to have an Advent calendar to open each morning this year, so Mum was obviously my go-to lady. I’ve borrowed one of her vintage European calendars with a Christmas nursery theme (see top).
3. Winter’s Night Pop-Up Advent Calendar, $8.79 or £5.77 from my UK Amazon shop.
If you’ve left it til the last minute, there’s still time to get your Advent calendar. I’ve picked out three great Advent calendars from my US Amazon shop (see above) inspired by children’s book characters with a pop-up twist (weirdly, only the Winter’s Night calendar is available from my UK Amazon shop).
Otherwise, make your own Advent calendar right now with a clever downloadable and printable design. I’m a wee bit in love with Australian designer Draw Pilgrim’s Vintage-style Matchbox Advent Calendar, AUD$3.50.
Each downloadable kit contains 24 individually-designed matchbox labels by Draw!Pilgrim, which are all vintage-style with an aged colour tint, fake ‘off-register’ colour overlaps and a variety of European Christmas Greetings. You also get 24 templates to fold up the matchbox bases as well as a template for slips of paper to write notes for treats or activites. Fun, right?
Check back on December 1 on Wee Birdy for my festive makeover.
After some good crafty ideas for Christmas? So far I’ve managed to make a few pom-poms for decorations, but I wouldn’t mind having a go at some of the rather lovely projects on my Pinterest boards.
Here, I’ve picked out my top 10 DIY projects for Christmas presents. They’re all gorgeous and more than a wee bit GENIUS – and so will you be if you make them! Just click through the links to the original tutorials and how-tos. Let me know how you go?
1. DYI Friendship necklace (top) by Honestly…WTF.
2. Painted pastel glass jars by Kootut Murut.
3. Fabric-wrapped bangles (wouldn’t they look lovely in Liberty print?) by Corrieberry Pie.
4. Plant a Terrarium in a jar by Apartment Therapy (left).
5. DIY Garden Markers by Wit and Whistle (right).
6. Dip-dye cups by Design*Sponge.
7. Star Wars Chewie softie by Draw!Pilgrim.
8. Painted jars and bottles by A Creative Mint.
9. DIY hair comb by Lemon Jitters.
10. How to crochet a larksfoot blanket or an arcade blanket by Meet me at Mike’s.
All photography courtesy of the original blogger/designer/maker. Thank you to all the very clever people behind these projects.
Tell me: are you making any presents for Christmas this year?
Today marks the first Sunday in Advent, so I’m finally allowing myself to unleash the Christmas decorations – on Wee Birdy, that is (the real decos don’t come out til December 1). So my birdy pick this week comes from the ever-delightful Cath Kidston, who manages to pull out the festive goods year in and year out with a new vintage-y design. And this year, bless her polka-dot cotton socks, she’s gone with birds. (How good do those baubles look on top of the bowl of Quality Street?) Tweet tweet, merrily on high!
Clockwise from top:
Christmas Birds Set of 6 Baubles,£20. Click here to buy now.
Felt Bird Decorations Set of 3, £15. Click here to buy now.
Christmas Bird Set of 3 Tea Light Holders, £8. Click here to buy now.
(Support Wee Birdy and buy from one of my affiliate links above.)
Remember that blog post I wrote about Christmas crackers a few days ago? Where I jumped up and down and swore that I had collated the ultimate top 20 list? Well, I just found one more. It only arrived yesterday. It’s a real little beauty. And it’s got my name all over it (OK, not literally). Introducing the exquisite Ben Pentreath Limited Christmas Crackers.
Disenchanted with what he found in London’s department stores last year, Ben decided there was nothing else for it but to create his own range. Made by hand in Dorset, these magnificent crackers are the Christmas incarnation of Ben Pentreath himself, handsomely wrapped with unique Judd Street and Pollock’s Toy Museum papers. Inspired (and oh-so-London)!
Novelties were hand-picked by Ben and include traditional favourites like wooden dice, pencils, marbles in a paper bag, pastry cutters and nutmeg graters. There is also a “terrible joke” (tick!), paper hat (tick) and it goes bang (tick! tick! tick!). Crackers are £40 for a tray of six, and they’re worth every single pretty penny.
Ben Pentreath (crackers are available on the online shop and can be shipped overseas)
17 Rugby Street
London WC1N 3QT
Tel. 020 7430 2526
Nearest tubes: Russell Square and Holborn
Click here for a Wee Birdy map.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 11am-6pm
Read my review of the Ben Pentreath shop here.
Read my 20 Best Crackers 2011 story here.
I was asked by the lovely girls over at Finders Keepers to compile my top Christmas decor picks by independent designers. You can read the full round-up over on the brilliant Finders Keepers blog, which also includes Christmas picks by Uponafold, Adore Magazine and Hello Polly.
See anything you fancy?
I really wish I lived on a street that went nuts with their Christmas lights. In fact, that just might have to be my number one criteria for future homes. We drove over to Second Street in Ashbury on Saturday night to watch them switch on the lights. Look at the amazing scenes that greeted us there. Twinkle twinkle!
It was being filmed for the Lifestyle Channel, so there were loads of people out on the street enjoying the beautiful balmy night and festive atmosphere. It was one of those Sydney nights that just begs to be spent outdoors, and the air was heavy with the scent of jasmine and some kind of lemony, peppery eucalyptus. Most of the owners had set up tables on the footpaths and were getting stuck into the chardy and chip ‘n’ dip. Loved it! Enjoy the photos by my awesome brother-in-law, Lucas Boyd (and me)!