How to store your Christmas Decorations

Have you taken down your Christmas tree and decorations yet? 

I’m ashamed to say that our Christmas tree still has pride of place in our living room. I really admire my mother-in-law’s diligence of taking down her Christmas tree and decorations every year on New Year’s Day. Sadly, I don’t know if this is a ritual I could commit to. Firstly because I’m not usually feeling my brightest on New Year’s Day after a late night, and secondly because my brain can’t cope with finding a home for all our Christmas decorations. 

This is only the second year that we’ve had a “proper Christmas tree” and collection of decorations that need to be packed away, so I’m going to cut myself some slack as I’m still finding my feet. Rather than shoving everything in a box and hiding it in the cupboard, this year I’ve vowed to be more organised and find a “home” for everything so it’s not such a daunting task next year. Here are some of my favourite Christmas decoration storage ideas that I’m going to try out…


Baubles
These little devils will happily roll away in any direction if you let them. The glass ones are also pretty dangerous if they break with small children around. 

Egg cartons are a cheap and effective way of storing baubles so they don’t roll around and rub together 
Image from www.bobvila.com

You can use smaller egg cartons and store baubles by colour:



Zip lock bags are a great way of keeping different coloured baubles separated and organised. Large clear zip lock bags are also good for storing tinsel. 



If your baubles are too big to store in egg cartons, stash them in plastic cups, which are available in a variety of sizes. 


Wrapping tissue around really fragile ornaments will protect them by preventing them from moving around in their box. 

These metallic beads make lovely Christmas decorations, but get tangled easily and are hard to repair when they break. Storing them in plastic bottles will keep them untangled and easy to find


Plastic boxes are a great way of storing all your Christmas decorations as you can see exactly what’s in each box. They’re also pretty cheap to pick up these days, and are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. 


Christmas Tree
I love this idea of ‘shrink wrapping’ your tree with cling wrap. Not only does it protect the tree from dust and dirt, but it also dramatically reduces its size, giving you more options to store under a bed, etc. To release the tree, simply slice up the side of the plastic with sharp scissors. 


Wrapping paper
This padded wrapping paper case is the ultimate way to store your paper, ribbon, bows, etc. which could be used for birthdays, etc. all year round and not jut for Christmas. 


What’s your top tip on storing your Christmas decorations? We’d love your thoughts, please comment below…

Thursday thought…

A Visit from St. Nicholas
BY CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Six gorgeous ways to dress your Christmas table

Today I did a last minute dash to our local $2 shop to grab some accessories to dress our Christmas table. Before I set off, I did a quick internet search for Christmas table themes for some inspiration. Here are some of my favourites this year…

1. Red and white
This colour scheme is a classic. Use lots of ornaments and little details for a traditional look, or keep it clean to make a contemporary statement.



2. Candy Canes
Following on from the red and white theme, Candy Canes can be used in lots of creative ways on your Christmas table – as part of your centrepiece like the below vase, or as placecard holders. They’re fun, inexpensive, and edible!


Candy Cane placecard holder


3. Timeless white
White is a timeless choice for a Christmas table setting, and can be easily combined with silver and gold. 

Arranging your Christmas table decorations on a natural board like this gives them height and makes them stand out from the rest of the table. 

We love the white flowers and cute gingerbread house on this table – simple but very elegant!


4. Inspired by nature
There’s something magical about including traditional winter Christmas plants, such as pine, holly and pine cones on your Christmas table. Whilst it might be hard to get fresh holly in Australia, you can use any type of pine (sprigs of humble conifer work well), dried pine cones, or Poinsettia (which is readily available around Christmas time). You could also play around with beautiful Australian natives, such as Eucalyptus leaves, Christmas Bush, Grevillea, Waratah and Kangaroo Paw which often come in lovely shades of red.

We love the combination of different types of greenery mixed with hessian band and tie


You could easily wrap Eucalyptus leaves around these gorgeous large white candles, which would give your table an ‘Australian feel’ and smell gorgeous!



A miniature Christmas tree is a sweet addition to any Christmas table setting, especially if it is beautifully presented like this one. 



Logs, candles, and pinecones give this table a ‘woodland’ feel. 



5. Contemporary teal
Teal Christmas decorations are everywhere this year – this colour is really on-trend. Teal works really well with silver or white and is a refreshing choice for a summer Christmas.

Mix teal baubles and beads with silver accessories for a fresh table setting


6. Novelty

This super cute Christmas table place setting will have the kids rushing to the table for Christmas dinner! It also demonstrates that part of the fun in decorating the table lies on where you place your plates and cutlery. 

This cork Christmas tree is a great way to use up those left-over corks from the year, and it looks pretty cute too! You could also have fun decorating it with glittery tinsel and sequins. 
Image from www.etsy.com

How do you like to dress you Christmas table? 
We’d love your thoughts – please comment below…

Our ten favourite handmade Christmas decorations

Handmade Christmas decorations make a Christmas tree unique and give it personality. I’ve really enjoyed looking at the Christmas decorations in stores this year, as the handmade style is definitely on-trend. Unfortunately, they’re not cheap and often start around $10 per decoration. The great news is, many are easy and affordable to recreate yourself. They also make thoughtful Christmas gifts that will be treasured forever. Here are ten of our favourite handmade Christmas decorations for 2015…

1. Paper heart Christmas decoration
Imagine the fun you can have recreating this Christmas decoration using different types of paper
Image from www.notonthehighstreet.com


2. Popsicle stick nativity decoration
This is a sweet, simple way to use popsicle sticks to create a unique Christmas decoration. 


3. Message in a bottle Christmas decoration
Little bottles with cork stoppers are easy to source these days. We love that you can pop a personalised message in each one, and add the date for a unique memento that they will hopefully keep for years to come.  

4. Handsewn Christmas decorations
These simple shapes look great layered with hessian, buttons and smaller felt shapes. Great way of using up fabric scraps and they are small enough to sew by hand, so no sewing machine required. I’m going to trace around my Christmas cookie cutter shapes to create neat shapes. 

5. Pipe-cleaner Candy Cane Christmas decoration
One year, I thought it would be a great idea to hang candy canes on our Christmas tree. The ants liked that idea too! These pipe-cleaner candy canes are an ant-proof alternative and you could have lots of fun with the colours you choose. Silver and gold beads would also look beautiful and this is a great activity for the kids to do too. 

6. Handmade Christmas Owl decorations
These festival owls look great grouped together, and we particularly love their different facial expressions! Plus owls are very on-trend. 


7. Handmade fabric Christmas bauble
This is a great way of giving dagging old baubles a makeover (choose the ones that won’t shatter) with some fun fabric and ribbon. Gather a square of fabric around the ball and secure with an elastic band. Cover the elastic band with some ribbon or tinsel. 

8. Handmade fabric Christmas tree decoration
What a fun way to use up little scraps of fabric or ribbon (great for quilters!). Cutting the tree out with pinking shears gives the edge a lovely zig-zag look (and looks more like a Christmas tree), whilst ensuring the fabric doesn’t fray too much. We also love the stitching over the tree that looks like tinsel. These khaki green colours look great, but red, bright green and metallics would also look good too. 

Image from www.chickenscratchny.com

9. Scrabble Tile Christmas decoration
A great way to make use of a Scrabble set with missing pieces. 



10. Handmade paper bauble Christmas decoration
I’ve saved my favourite until last. This decoration is simply made from 12 circles that have been strategically glued – click on the image for instructions. I would love to try this one using left over scraps of Christmas wrapping paper, but also think plain paper or metallic paper would look great too. 



Ok, so which one’s your favourite? 
We’d love your thoughts – please comment below…



Ten cute Christmas Tree gift cards

Christmas trees are a great source of inspiration for handmade cards. Here are ten of our favourite ideas, which demonstrate how different you can make a Christmas tree look!

1. Folded Christmas tree
This simple idea just uses folded white paper in different sizes. You could play around with different types of paper for your tree or card base. Experiment with wrapping paper, metallic paper, handmade/textured paper and glue little decorations like sequins or stars on your tree. 



2. Triangle Christmas tree card
Wondering what to do with those little scraps of Christmas paper left over from wrapping all your gifts? Yes, they can be reused! You can also use any sort of paper or card, such as craft paper, newspaper, plain white paper, or even paper doilies, as this card demonstrates. Buttons and twine also add a third dimension to this card. This is a simple design you could make with your children. 



3. Hand-sewn Christmas tree card 
You don’t have to be a great sewer to create this card. The beauty lies in the type of thread you choose. You could opt for something colourful on a contrasting background, like this card. Or go for something natural and tonal, like twine on a kraft card base. Use a template or a ruler to mark your holes with a pencil for a neat finish. 



4. Card Strip Christmas tree card
This is also a great way to use up little strips of paper or ends of washi tape rolls. The spots on the card base also give it texture and interest. We also love the way the strips are placed unevenly – this gives the tree a more natural look. 

Image from www.nobiggie.net

5. Cork Christmas tree
Corks are probably too bulky to use on a standard sized Christmas card, but you could use any round object, such as bottle tops, buttons or sequins to create a similar effect. 
6. Ribbon Christmas tree
This is a great way of using up leftover pieces of ribbon. As with the hand-sewn Christmas tree card, measure and mark your card so you know exactly where to punch your holes and thread the ribbon through. Experiment with different types of ribbon – printed, plain, metallic, Christmas-themed, etc. 
Image from www.buzzfeed.com
7. Triangle Christmas tree card #2
This is a neater alternative to the layered triangle Christmas tree card above. We love the addition of the bow and diamontes used for stars on top of each tree. 
Image from www.pinterest.com

8. Organza Ribbon Christmas tree card
This card reminds me of a dancer’s twirling ribbon – it’s simple but very delicate and effective. It’s also a great way of using up leftover pieces of ribbon. Organza and metallic ribbon gives the card a light, festive look. 
Image from www.aweenest.com

9. Button Christmas tree
This beautiful button and sequin Christmas tree would also make a beautiful Christmas tree ornament. If you attach the tree to the card with Blue Tac or double-sided tape (so that it can easily be removed) and attach some twine at the top of tree so that it can be hung, your recipient will get years of use out of it and think of you everytime they look at their Christmas tree. 
10. Layered Christmas tree card
Christmas trees are a great motif to use on greeting card because they can be simplified as triangles. This card has a gorgeous patchwork effect and we love the red and white colour combination. You could of course, go crazy and layer lots of different coloured paper or fabric triangles for a bolder look. The large red ribbon is also a lovely way to finish off this card. 
Image from www.dailystampede.com
Which card do you like best? 
We’d love your thoughts – please comment below…

Ten Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas with Plain Paper

Christmas wrapping paper doesn’t need to be expensive. The below ideas all use plain paper as a base, but are then accessorised with different coloured trims, such as ribbon, metallic pen, gift tags, string and even leaves. You are only limited by time, and your imagination!

Christmas Gift Wrap #1: Kraft paper with red ribbon and metallic writing
No gift tags required here, and the text stands out thanks to the lovely metallic pen. You could also use other festive colours such as silver, red or green with printed ribbon to pick out any of these Christmas colours. 




Christmas Gift Wrap #2: Plain paper with candy stripes
This one’s my personal favourite. I love candy stripes and nothing says Christmas more than candy canes! The sky blue colour thrown in here also works well against the red and white. 


Christmas Gift Wrap #3: Kraft paper with black and white accessories
Black and white isn’t usually an obvious choice for Christmas, but how chic does this gift look! It also works well with red, gold and silver. 


Image from www.jonesdesigncompany.com


Gift Wrap #4: Kraft Paper with Christmas Bauble
Christmas gift wrapping doesn’t get much easier than this! If you get a matt bauble, you could also write your Christmas message on it with a black marker pen. 

Image from www.sallyjshim.com


Christmas Gift Wrap #5: Plain paper with paper baubles
These paper baubles could also be reused as Christmas decorations for your tree or around the home when the gift has been unwrapped. 

Image from www.coolmompicks.com


Christmas Gift Wrap #6: Kraft paper reindeer
How cute is this family of reindeers?! They also look great grouped together in different sizes. 


Christmas Gift Wrap #7: Kraft paper with leaves
Bright green leaves really lift this natural craft paper. You could use any pine foliage or fresh herbs, such as rosemary that your recipient could actually use. 



Christmas Gift Wrap #8: Kraft paper with stitching
Ok, so this one’s a little more time-consuming than the other options, and obviously you’d need to know how to thread a needle, but WOW it’s effective!


Christmas Gift Wrap #9: Black paper with black and white ribbon and metallic writing 
The blogger who designed this gift wrapping acknowledges that it’s time consuming, but she selected four family members who had simple presents in boxes and only drew on these gifts. All her other gifts were wrapped in black and white houndstooth paper (as seen behind) so they all co-ordinated. 

Image from www.13acresblog.com
Christmas Gift Wrap #10: Kraft paper with leaves and seeds
Objects from nature are often the most beautiful accessories to use with natural gift wrapping. Look for dried leaves, seed pods and pine cones. You could also spray paint these objects with metallic paint for a festive look. 

Image from www.zena.hr

Recipe of the week: Shortbread

If someone were to ask me to list the things that reminded me of Christmas, homemade Shortbread would be right up there. 

This traditional recipe has been a staple in our family for many years, and whilst it could be easily enjoyed all year round, we particularly enjoy making, eating and giving it as gifts at Christmas time. 

This year I have presented my shortbread in cellophane bags, decorated with tinsel and a candycane. You could also present in a metal tin, biscuit box, wrap in a tea towel or in a Christmas gift box. 



Ingredients:
250g butter
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup rice flour or ground rice

Method: 
1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Prepare baking tray with baking paper. 
2. Soften butter so that it’s at room temperature and easy to beat. 
3. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until it is combined. 
4. Sift flour in large spoonfuls into the butter/sugar mixture, mixing after each spoonful is added. 
5. Roll small spoonfuls of the mixture into biscuits shapes and press onto baking tray. 
6. Decorate the biscuits by pricking with a fork and adding a glace cherry to the centre of each one. 
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes (in a fan forced oven). 

Can be made ahead of time and stored in an air-tight container or the freezer. 

Tip: Experiment with different decorations instead of the traditional glace cherry, such as crystalised ginger, orange or other glace fruit. Blanched almonds also work well. 

Christmas Gift Wrapping: Bold Stripes

The great thing about stripes is that you can use them for anyone – at anytime of year. Striped paper or striped ribbon – this gift wrapping style works for Christmas, especially when teamed with red, green, gold or silver ribbon and accessories. 

Why we love it:
  • Striped wrapping paper (especially a bold stripe in a gender-neutral colour like this) should be a household-staple. It’s classy and great for any occasion. 
  • Paired with a green ribbon and Christmas gift tag, this wrapping has a Christmas feel, but without a hint of tacky glitter. 
  • Look for a slightly thicker, better quality wrapping paper. You’ll appreciate this if you’ve ever used cheap wrapping paper on Christmas Eve when you’re frantically trying to wrap last-minute gifts!


Why we love it:
  • Use whatever wrapping paper you like (plain kraft paper has a premium, organic look) and dress it up with these show-stopping striped ribbons. 
  • The addition of holly even makes the gift with black and white ribbon look Christmassy. You could also use a star, bauble, Christmas gift tag, or any other accessory that coordinates with your ribbon and wrapping.