Tag: Christmas

Christmas gift ideas…for me. OK, so it’s basically my wish list. Shut up.

OK, so I don’t actually expect anyone to buy me this stuff (friends and family who are reading this with incredulous looks on your faces – it’s all good – you’re off the hook haha). It’s more of an aspirational wish list and hopefully something that will help any of you who are looking for ideas of what to buy a 32 year old chick who is like, totally exactly the same as me. Yeah. So that’s kind of specific. Ha!

See, I have always loved the idea of writing a list of great gift ideas for Christmas (or Father’s Day or Mother’s Day) but often I realise I’d just be giving up my secrets and the recipients of my gifts would know exactly what was up. We can’t have that!

But if I write a list of stuff I would not be mad at receiving, then no secret squirrel business will be betrayed!

I did write a little guide full of affordable, feel good options a couple of years ago though,  so that’s probably worth checking out.

Anyhow, here’s stuff that I would (hypothetically) be really stoked to receive. Hope it helps! If you like this stuff too, feel free to ‘accidentally on purpose’ leave this post somewhere your partner/kids/parents/rich uncle will see it!

Subscription for Marie Claire Magazine

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I don’t tend to buy many magazines these days, because I have so many things at my fingertips, electronically (ahem and I have a kid who doesn’t know about adults’ me time). But there’s something really relaxing and indulgent about flicking through a big, fat magazine full of thought provoking articles and amazeballs fashion and lifestyle stuff. It’s usually my ‘treat’ magazine. For those times when I am lucky enough to be child free or we go on holiday. Or even when I had my surgery earlier this year and I knew I’d need a pick me up during recovery.

You can purchase it here

Kylie Cosmetics

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I am obsessed with make up. OBSESSED. Especially with creamy, matte lip products. I keep seeing Kylie Jenner’s lip collections and fantasising over them being on my face, wishing I could have one of each colour. Don’t even get me started on how she’s doing the eye shadow palette thing now too. But I know I will never get around to treating myself. It’s the kind of thing that seems too indulgent for me to buy throughout the year (not to mention it’s shipped from the US). It’s the kind of thing I will always say no to, because other priorities get in the way. I can never justify it. So basically, these cosmetics are the perfect treat for a loved one (perhaps one who loves make up and watches a bit more of KUWTK than they’d like to admit). Something a bit special!

You can buy them here

A good quality bluetooth speaker

I love my music. It recharges me when I feel like crap. It makes housework bearable. It makes exercise really enjoyable. It’s also something that reminds me of who I am when I’m not just being ‘mum’. I’m that bad ass chick (OK so maybe that’s a bit of a stretch) who still listens to punk rock and ridiculous hip hop. I like it loud too.

I’ve had a crappy little speaker for a while which I take around the house with me, but I’d love to invest in something a bit more reliable and solid.

I love this one from Bose:

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I love that it comes with a charging cradle and that it can be plugged into the wall. Sticking USBs into stupid ports on computers or a travel adaptor charger gets old after a while.

It’s a bit pricey but hey, this is my fantasy list. Maybe you could go in on it with some other friends/family members. Or buy it as a joint present for yourself and your partner.

You can buy it here

iTunes gift card (with a nice big amount on it)

You know. So I won’t feel guilty all year buying the music to play on my imaginary BOSE bluetooth speaker. Or in my car. Or those TV shows/movies I never ever get to see at the cinema anymore. It’s those little things that add up when you’re watching your budget throughout the year, but that make a weekend evening in seem a little bit more exciting (yes – I know – how did my life become this).

I know some people feel like they’re slack for buying vouchers, but I honestly would not be mad if I was given this. If thought is put into something, then it still has meaning. This would be so useful to me and would feed my TV and music obsessions quite nicely.

You can purchase them online or you can get them at some supermarkets (I’ve seen them in Woolies) and other retailers.

My Life Story 100 Year Journal

 

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I have been lusting over this for a few years now, but I’ve never bitten the bullet and purchased one. I think there’s something really romantic and lovely about the idea of recording your life for future generations to keep and have that insight into what your life was like. Or you can fill it in for a child and they can continue it when they’re old enough! I know that if I could have things like this to read about my parents’ lives or my grandparents, these sorts of precious memories would live on forever in writing. That’s pretty cool.

You can buy it here


So, there you have it. Stuff to buy the awkward music loving/make up obsessed/me time starved/sentimental idiot in your life.

I could have continued my wish list forever, but I hope this gets your creativity flowing.

I also recommend supporting small businesses – think handmade gifts, personalised prints, unique t-shirt prints etc. I bet it wouldn’t take much searching to source some great local traders online and offline. I wish I’d been able to get to all of this in one post. Definitely something I should revisit!

What is on your wishlist this Christmas? 

(please note that none of these products have sponsored me in any way – I just genuinely like the look of them – also, please check individual websites etc for online order cut offs in order to ensure you get your deliveries by Christmas or you can try to source some of these things in stores if you’re pushed for time)

The Happy List #29

My Happy List is a day later than usual. Patchy internet and a busy schedule had a lot to do with it! I know I could have taken a break over the festive season, but I really didn’t want to because there’s been so much to be happy about.

Here are some of the things that have made me happy…

A relaxing Christmas/Boxing Day

For the first time in the 13 years Mr Unprepared and I have been together, we managed to finally realise the dream of only attending one location per day. We had our first Christmas on the 25th at my parents’ house and then a second Christmas on the 26th with the inlaws. So nice. We were able to have slow starts each day (which were much needed!) and a couple of times Mr Unprepared and I even had an accidental nap/food coma on the couch. There were great, thoughtful gifts, huge pavlovas and lots of quality family time at both.

The Little Mister’s excitement about Santa

I absolutely loved helping the Little Mister to prepare for Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve. We put out a carrot for the reindeer (something pulled from the bottom of the veggie drawer in the fridge), some cookies, rocky road and choc truffles – Santa was so freakin’ spoilt! We also put out a special key for Santa so he could get in our house, even though we don’t have a chimney. I had tried the whole ‘he can magic his way into anywhere’ thing but the Little Mister had been so worried about it that I’d caved and ordered a special key ahead of time this year!

On Christmas morning it was so awesome to see the Little Mister’s awestruck face when I told him Santa had come. I seriously love doing Christmas with a kid. So special. I hope we’re giving him some awesome memories.

Catch ups with one of my besties (and co)

I get so excited when my friend comes out from the US. It’s one of those drop everything – whatever it is – and catch up scenarios. So much fun is had. Yesterday we were able to celebrate her marriage to her great dude. They’d got married in Hawaii much earlier this year, but had a lot of loved people from home to share it with. We got to watch the ceremony video and I was all, “OH MY GOSH – THIS IS WHY I WANT TO GO TO HAWAII” and TRYING NOT TO BAWL. Even though it was only a video, it was just gorgeous and when my lady love got all choked up saying her vows and I saw the absolute grin on her husband’s face I became a ball of mush. They truly are good peeps.

Of course, afterwards things went a little nuts. We hit the town. Hard. I don’t want to alarm you, but there were mojitos and there was dance floor action. We are too old for that shit. But oh my goodness, it could only happen with them. Arguments were had over who is the worst influence (I am most certainly not interested in telling you what the majority consensus was) and I don’t think I’d laughed so hard in forever.

Let’s just say that this morning was not kind to me. Props go to Mr Unprepared – a great support in times of need!

Also, if anything about this post seems a bit off, like my brain has malfunctioned – it probably did.

LEGO

This year, the Little Mister graduated from the larger Duplo to the real deal. I love it for so many reasons (not sponsored haha). It gets him really creative and I get such a kick out of seeing the things he makes. I also love that he can literally sit there for hours playing with it quietly. It’s been so great when he’s needed some down time and when I was baking like a crazy woman before Christmas, he would sit at the breakfast bar and make some so he could be close to me. He was so well behaved and I was able to get so much done! It’s eclipsed the TV for babysitting rights, which is awesome haha.

A well earnt lazy day at home with the fam

I am so stoked to be able to chill all day at home with my little family. It’s been a crazy week month! It’s nice sometimes to just drop your social mask (and bra and make up and nice clothes and the belly you’ve been sucking in) and laze about a bit in your own space. Nothing like it.

Other stuff that has made me happy:

  • Air conditioning. It’s really a modern wonder in the hot summer.
  • That feeling of victory when you realise you’ve survived another busy Christmas and you can breathe out a bit again.
  • Seeing old pictures from my Gran’s family and learning a bit more about their history.
  • FaceTiming with my brother on Christmas Day. We missed him heaps but it was so great to have that stupid banter and feel like he was a part of our day.
  • Seeing everyone’s great Facebook posts for Christmas – so much love everywhere. I hope it was all real and that everyone had as much fun with their loved ones as it looked like.
  • Buying hangover food. Not the scientifically proven, healthy stuff that is actually good for your hangover cure, but the gross stuff that does nothing for you but just hits the spot.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas or that you survived it if you did not.

What would you put on your happy list this week? 

Don’t freak out! Easy last minute Christmas gift ideas.

Despite our best intentions, sometimes we can be a bit shit at getting all of our Christmas shopping done on time, or circumstances can change and suddenly we’re a few gifts down. Also, there’s also nothing more annoying than realising you missed a bunch of online Christmas shopping deadlines and you’re gonna have to do this in real shops! I thought I’d put together a little list of gifts you can get at the last minute, without having to go too far out of your way or do anything that is too logistically/financially difficult as time gets away from us. I hope this helps!

Shop your pharmacy

There’s always some pretty cool stuff if you browse through your local pharmacy. Cosmetics, pamper items, specialised gift packs, fragrances (like the gorgeous Cosmopolitan* that I’m lucky enough to be wearing right now that can be found at Priceline/Terry White/Nova)! You can make themed care packages: mani/pedi, skin care, shaving kits etc.

Just run around like a headless chook and stop when you meet your budgetary limits!

Shop your supermarket

While you’re stuck fighting for the last minute Christmas feast stuff with the masses, might as well also grab some gifts to stick in the trolley! The supermarket often sells DVDs, a limited selection of children’s toys, books, beauty products, etc. You can also create a foodie’s hamper. Think some good quality chocolates, some boxes of the good tea/coffee, some fancy biscuits. Or think savoury: fancy crackers, cheeses, quince paste, fancy relishes etc.

The key is to not let it look like all you did was raid the supermarket – style things up a little. Put things together in a way that shows you still put some thought in. You’ve got this!

A lot of supermarkets now also stock great gift vouchers for lots of outlets/experiences. If you know your intended recipient would rather choose their own gift/experience, this can be a really easy option!

Bake in bulk

It might be last minute and you are probably pushed for time, but if you can get your hands on a couple of nice recipes and you don’t mind hanging out in the kitchen for half a day (and you’re pretty confident with this stuff), this can be quite achievable.

Here are some of the recipes I’ve loved…

Gourmet Rocky Road – It looks festive and decadent, is really really easy to put together (we’re talking microwave and fridge – ingredients you’ve heard of – no oven).

Chocolate truffles – I’ve used these as a non alcoholic alternative for rum balls (which are also awesome). Again. No oven – minimal stove top time. Only 4 ingredients that you have heard of. Yippee.

Choc chip cookies – A classic that never seems to disappoint!

And look, I’m so not going to judge if you buy some Betty Crocker or one of those cute gingerbread man box mixes. Go nuts! Splurge on some of those Christmas coloured M+Ms. Bling things up!

People love a nice sweet treat and when something has been home made (even with the help of a box mix), it’s extra special. It means someone put their precious time into it.

If you don’t want to cook, you can even just raid the baking aisle at the supermarket (see above for tips on shopping your supermarket) and put together some cute patty pans, sprinkles, etc to make a little cupcake decorating kit! Even easier!

Shop your bottle shop

Obviously one just for the over 18s (21 if you’re in the US). You can get something for every budget. I’ve personally never turned down a nice bottle of vodka or a beautiful bubbly. I know Mr Unprepared just loves receiving a selection of obscure craft beers that he can try out.

Also, you can do this if you’ve got some craft supplies lying around (or that you managed to scrounge from the supermarket)!

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Most importantly, you might be pushed for time or you might be feeling stressed at this time of year, but just remember that it’s all about showing we care about our people. There are so many little ways to dress things up a bit and make a person feel special or thought of, without killing ourselves to achieve it.

I hope this list has helped to inspire you and I wish you well! Good luck!

Do you have any other tips/hacks to add?

 

*Cosmopolitan fragrance was gifted to me for my bloggy consideration. I really really like it, which is good because I am shit at buying that stuff for myself and I never know where to start 🙂

The Happy List #28

I can hardly believe it’s the last happy list before Christmas. I mean, it’s the 20th of December. We’re in the 20s. That’s when you know shit is getting serious. I’m a little overwhelmed about some last minute decisions, but I am going to try to take it all one bite at a time and remember my Christmas spirit when certain situations test me!

I hope that wherever you are, and whoever you are with, that you have a lovely Christmas to look forward to. If you are struggling at this time of year, I am thinking of you.

I am so glad I get to write this list, because it’s so nice to get back to basics and celebrate the good things that have happened in the past week. It seems like a good way to centre myself and move into the next busy week with a positive frame of mind.

I love this time of year, but it does get intense!

Here are the weird and/or wonderful things that have made me happy…

Coleslaw

Seriously. This was the first thing I wanted to write down haha. The summer weather has had me obsessed with the humble salad that is coleslaw! Not the pre-packaged, heavily dressed, overly chopped crap from the deli section at the supermarket (or from takeaway outlets) but the stuff that comes ‘dry’ in bags, fresh, pre-shredded and ready to serve however you like. I cannot get enough of the stuff. I’ve eaten it for lunch with a little bit of tuna (don’t know if that’s a weird combination – I can feel you judging me) or with a minimal amount of dressing or just on its own. Cannot get enough. Pretty sure it’s helping me to lose weight (a surprising but probably logical outcome), but I will admit things get a little more windy at night time if you know what I mean. OMG I can’t believe I just admitted that.

It’s just so fresh and light (at least the way I eat it) and easy!

I sometimes call it ‘slaw, because that’s what all the cool people are doing these days. It drives Mr Unprepared mad haha.

Finishing the Christmas shopping

That’s a big deal, right? What an achievement! Where’s my medal? I was lucky because Mr Unprepared was free to help with this task yesterday and it was so much easier with a (grown up) buddy! Yay for team work, as we navigated the busy shops and drove from place to place in what seemed like circles!

We rewarded ourselves with a pub lunch and some cider and beer. Did I mention we were child free? Amazing! A Christmas miracle!

The Little Mister’s adventure with his Nanna

For months, my mum was really excited about taking the Little Mister to the airport to pick up my dad (known to the Little Mister as Poppy). She wanted to show him the planes and do some special things with him. So cute. It was fantastic, because it coincided with Mr Unprepared and I needing to finish the Christmas shopping (see above) too!

They had a pretty awesome time, by all accounts. A lot of the time, the Little Mister wore a Santa hat and cuddled a Christmas teddy bear and it was pretty adorable stuff (judging from the photos my mum sent). They visited his beloved great uncle (the Little Mister had never been to his house). They visited the shops. They sang Christmas songs in the car. The Little Mister ran at his Poppy filled with so much excitement when he arrived. He shared the cookies he made the day before. He then slept all the way home haha.

I love when he gets to do stuff like that. It’s what memories are made of, don’t you think?

Remembering to buy paper towel

Ever have that one item that you keep forgetting to pick up when you’re at the supermarket and it gets really frustrating, but you’re a slow learner so it happens over and over again?

For me, in the past week it was paper towel. The day I remembered to buy it was a joyous day. I even bought the stuff that has festive Christmas tree patterns on it, for good measure. There was so much satisfaction in bringing it home and putting it on the holder. The first time I needed paper towel to wipe up a spill, I could not contain my joy – yes. I did it. I remembered to buy it. Winning at life. I was my own hero.

Realising that one of my favourite people is on her way home for Christmas/a wedding celebration from the US

I woke up on the 18th and suddenly realised my friend would be getting ready to get on a plane and come home for the holidays with her husband. Yay! I miss her all the time and distance never stops us from getting along like a house on fire. I can’t wait to catch up with her, celebrate her wedding again and see her family (who always make me feel like a part of the family).

 

Other stuff that has made me happy:

  • Admitting to friends that I like watching interviews on TV that feature Justin Bieber. I don’t know why, but I do. It’s so…interesting? Oh, gosh it shouldn’t be. It really shouldn’t. I’m not even into him or his music really (although it pains me to admit his latest singles aren’t so bad). I just like reading gossip about him. Anyway, admitting it is the first step to recovery, right? Gosh, it made me laugh so hard when they all admitted to being secret Beliebers 😂
  • The Little Mister’s happy face first thing in the morning (what is wrong with me – in theory this should really annoy me haha).
  • The bittersweetness that came with the Little Mister finishing his time at day care. It’s 4 year old kindy next year!!! I also felt so glad I could express my gratitude (in a Christmas card that was attached to some chocolates) to the carers for being a big part in why I think the Little Mister is so ready for the next chapter. When I read their email (sent out to everyone) that the cards and pressies they’d received last week had made them so happy and teary (in a good way haha), I knew I’d done the right thing – I had debated over whether to do the gift thing or the heartfelt card thing and settled on both because I figured that everyone wants to know they’re appreciated. I can’t thank them enough.
  • Running into a couple of really good friends at the shops and being able to wish them a merry Christmas in person (and give squeezy hugs), as we weren’t likely to see them beforehand.
  • Having mature conversations on really touchy topics, without everything turning to crap.
  • Throwing myself an end of year ‘staff’ party at home (being a SAHM I figured I deserved recognition for my hard work all year). It involved wine, was catered by Dominos pizza delivery, entertainment by the Little Mister (my esteemed underling), music from the 90s, and I swanned about a bit without having to do anything I didn’t feel like. Props to Mr Unprepared who truly humoured me (smart man) haha.
  • Hearing from readers who are inspired by my happy lists. I cannot thank you enough for sharing with me.

What is on your happy list this week? 

The Happy List #26

I had a choice between having a nap, working out or writing this week’s happy list. If you’re reading this, you know which one I picked. Honestly, I probably should have chosen the nap, right? I think this time of the year has caught up with me! It might be tiring, but it is fun.

Here are the things that have made me happy this past week…

November turning into December

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It’s not magazine perfect but it was decorated with love (and the help of a very enthusiastic 4 year old).

I have this big self imposed rule where I quite often refuse to do anything Christmas related until it is December (other than some early Christmas gift buying if I am feeling super organised). I’m stubborn about it. I feel like I want my Christmas celebrations to be about quality time, not quantity (i.e. starting in September). It also helps me to compartmentalise all that is involved with this time of year. I can put it in the ‘don’t worry about it yet’ basket for 11 months of the year!

But when December 1st rolls around, I am crazy for all things Christmas related. It’s so much fun when you have a little one. We’ve got the advent calendar (this time it’s a felt one that you can reuse every year which makes me feel very out of my parenting league). The tree is up. I put ‘Christmas’ in the Pinterest search bar. You know it’s serious, when you crack out your Pinterest account haha.

There will be so many more fun things to do in the lead up to Christmas. Yay!

Anniversary date night with that guy I married 8 years ago

I am not kidding when I tell you that we were excited about it for months. Our date nights out are often very few and far between, with us often settling for an ‘after the Little Mister has gone to bed’ date night in. We headed into Fremantle for a delicious and simple dinner at Little Creatures, before going for a nice walk and reliving the good times we’d shared when we’d lived very close by. We weren’t really out very late (we were a little sheepish about how tired we were haha) but it was just so bloody relaxing! Just the two of us, finishing conversations without being interrupted, holding hands. Making things up as we went along. Bliss.

We grabbed some takeaway dessert and came home to watch a movie. We slept in. Not much. But a lot by our standards.

It was so nice to connect as a couple – alone! I’m still bloody tired (you know when you get one OK night of sleep and then instead of being grateful your body decides that it wasn’t enough so you end up feeling more tired?), but I feel loved up and all that spew-in-a-bucket cheesy stuff.

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The best selfie we managed to get. You know when you’re weirdly self conscious about being seen taking a selfie by strangers? And then the wind was…windy and we were laughing at each other half the time.

Hearing the Little Mister singing Christmas songs

It’s just so darn cute. Especially when he’s learnt something new at day care and comes home and performs it for us with pride, using his little kid voice. Seriously. You’ll have to take my word for it. It’s frickin’ adorable.

Maintaining a small weight loss

I’ve been stoked to have lost about half a kilo in the last week or two. I’ve managed to maintain that loss (it is usually a really annoying plateau/hump for me) and even though it’s not much, it’s been really encouraging. I must keep motivated in the next few weeks though. As soon as I conquer a bit of my fatigue, I’ll be hitting it hard again this week coming. Yay. I never thought running would be my thing, but seeing how it’s been changing my body has been so amazing.

Being so proud of the Little Mister when he got his immunisations (and knowing they’re the last ones until he’s much much older)!

I was a bit nervous. The Little Mister had no recollection of getting his last immunisations (he was only 18 months old) so he had no idea what to expect, but all of the awareness of a 4 year old. I had explained to him that he was getting some needles to make him really healthy and strong. I warned him in a clear but gentle way that they would hurt for a second or two but that it would all be over really quickly. It helped that I have been getting lots of blood tests myself lately (my usual disclaimer: nothing to worry about by the way and no I am not pregnant – that’s the point). He was so excited to be such a big boy.

He came with me and he brought his precious stuffed hippo. He was adorable when he asked me if I would stay with him while he had his needles – as if I would be anywhere else. I had to have him in my lap, holding his arms down in a tight hug while two nurses gave him his two needles (one in each arm) at the exact same time – good tactical move for sure. He tried so hard to be brave. One of the needles hurt more than the other and he said a little surprised “Ow!”

Then the needle started to really sting him and he couldn’t hold it in anymore. He cried and looked so sad and bewildered. Oh, my heart!

We had to stick around for 15 minutes afterwards to make sure he wouldn’t have any adverse reactions and that was where the problems started. He was suddenly tired, overwhelmed and becoming irritable (a side effect). He screamed and cried when we had to leave. Like heartbreaking, volume 11 stuff – I am lucky enough to say that it was not like him at all. I had to scoop him up, carry him to the car and lever him into his car seat. He was almost inconsolable.

Later, I told him how he had been so brave and that I admired his courage and he was my super hero. He seemed to not believe he’d done a good job at being brave, but seeing him instantly calm when I told him that he was not in trouble for crying, that I understood that it is hard and even most grown ups don’t like needles, was just a really moving moment.

It might have been a tough day for him to begin with, but it was a lovely day full of cuddles and love and tenderness from then on. I am still so proud of him. I don’t want to raise a boy who thinks it’s bad to cry or feel pain. I want to raise a son who understands that it’s OK to and that true courage doesn’t mean you’re not scared. It means you do something even though you’re scared. I just felt like he learned to believe in himself a little more that day, you know?

Gosh, it’s hard work raising a human, but so rewarding.

Other stuff that has made me happy: 

  • Watching Elf with the Little Mister – our annual tradition.
  • Hearing about all the fun stuff the Little Mister did with my parents when he slept over for our date night.
  • Realising that the people who stick needles in my arm all the time are so nice and I am so grateful because it can be stressful for me.
  • Seeing the Little Mister in his ‘big school’ (he starts kindy next year) uniform for the first time, all proud of himself.
  • Master of None on Netflix.
  • Cider.
  • Wine.
  • I might have a problem.
  • OOPS.

Haha.

What is on your happy list? 

A Christmas message from (someone who is not) the Queen.

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OK, so I’m not the queen. Unless you’re talking about the queen of procrastination. Because I’m supposed to wrap the Little Mister’s presents from Santa and it’s halfway through Christmas Eve and I haven’t done it and I’m kind of mad because I thought he had elves to do that kind of annoying stuff? What kind of show are you running here, Santa? WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?

I am also in no way regal or ‘proper’. I don’t think ‘the people’ would really appreciate my swearing, burping or crapness at sending a thank you note (although I do always show my appreciation somehow I just find it difficult to put that into writing that goes in the snail mail). Truly.

So here are the things I’d like to say to you all, my motley crew of amazing readers…just read the bits that apply (I have sorted my message into categories for your convenience because I’m awesome like that – you’re welcome):

If you do not celebrate Christmas…

I don’t care. I love you, man/woman. I hope you enjoy the holiday and whichever customs/traditions you most value. Have a great day off and spend it with loved ones! Woohoo! 🙂

PS Sorry about all the Christmas stuff – probably bored the pants off you. Thanks for hanging in there. Back to regular programming soon!

If you have children in your life…

Hug them really tight at this special time of year. As 2014’s news headlines have shown us, we are so lucky to have them and they are so lucky to have us. I hope you find joy in all the little traditions and create some very special memories. I know I am out-of-my-head excited to see the Little Mister enjoying all the Christmas wonder this year. He is starting to understand what Santa does and has helped with everything from baking to decorating the Christmas tree, to making gifts for loved ones.

May Santa deliver the presents safely (with no interruptions from excited sleepless children) and may you get some rest before The Big Day. May your children remain lovely, despite the sugar and the probable inability to nap properly.

I hope your day is magical. It really is so awesome to celebrate with children around.

If you are having a tough time…

Maybe you are grieving the loss of loved ones. Maybe you have just had the mother load of bad luck land on your doorstep and it feels like you can never catch a break. Maybe your family drives you f*cking insane at this time of year. Perhaps you struggle with mental illness or you feel lonely for whatever the reason. Just know that I am thinking of you. Do Christmas your way this year. Find small joys. Let love in. You deserve happiness, even if you’re not feeling it – just know you’re worthy of it. Let difficult people know you’re not interested in unnecessary drama or hurtful things. This should be a time of peace, but I get that it rarely is for many people. I still hope for you that you will have a peaceful Christmas somehow. I hope 2015 brings you better things.

If you saw my Little Mister have a mini meltdown at Woolies the other day…

You. Are. Wonderful. Human. Beings. Your kindness and your empathy were just so refreshing. What fantastic people. A little love shared by the baking aisle and then the fridges where they keep the quiches. Oh, you – I have all the time in the world for you. Let’s all be those lovely people at Christmas time. We’re all tired, we all have stress of varying degrees. A lot of us have tired children too. Let’s show a little kindness. We’re all in the same boat. Let’s survive it together! 🙂

A message for all of you…

Often Christmas time is a time of reflection for me. In amongst the chaos, I think about what family means to me. About the memories of my own childhood I’d like to recreate for my Little Mister. I think about how to do it better next year – how to give more freely and creatively, avoid negative stresses and to keep improving on the positives. It’s no wonder so many of us think about our new year’s resolutions at this time!

I hope that wherever you are, however you celebrate Christmas, that you have a wonderful day and a great holiday period. I hope you and your families stay safe and have plenty to eat. I hope there is laughter. Joy. Closeness. A nanna nap (lucky for those who can get it). Loose pants. Comfort. That you are lucky enough to feel the generosity of those around you. That you feel great because you gave too. May your Christmas most importantly, bring you the things that money can’t buy.

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Scary Santa.

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When the Little Mister was one (2012), we trotted down to the shopping centre, thinking how nice it would be for our bubbly, very sociable dude to have a photo with Santa. We imagined him sitting there, looking so excited and happy (his facial expressions are ridiculous and fantastic – he’ll never win a poker game), cameras capturing every magical moment. We would be able to send it out to all the grandparents and we’d have something to stick on our fridge and admire. We got there and he freaked out. There was this jolly guy wearing a MASSIVE curly beard, nothing but his eyes just visible behind a pair of glasses. It was all too much. The Little Mister got a cute soft toy and we made as graceful an exit as we could. Never mind, we thought. He’ll be OK next year maybe?

Fast forward to 2013 and we’d decided not to bother too much. There was a Santa that sat in our little local shopping centre. No fuss. No fanfare. No photographers. If he was there, we’d give it a go. If he wasn’t, no biggie. Plenty of time. As luck had it, the lack of pressure and the fact that this Santa did not have such a big beard worked in our favour. The Little Mister sat on Santa’s lap and all I had was my iPhone (I was unprepared of course) so I took a couple of snaps. Better than nothing! Boy, I treasured those pics! It gave me hope for some professional photography for 2014.

This year rolled around and we thought it was going to be AWESOME. At three, the Little Mister is learning more and more about Christmas and Santa. We told him we would go to see Santa at the shops for a few days in advance (to build the excitement and let him be mentally prepared) and it seemed perfect that Mr Unprepared had a week day off work, so he could share in the moment. It wouldn’t be too busy at the big shopping centre and the Little Mister seemed excited. We got in line and he was happy, wearing his Christmas themed T-shirt and all. We talked about how we’d get some photos and to say “Hello Santa” and tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas (Wiggles DVDs were at the top of his wish list…that day anyway). The people in front of us had their photos taken and the Little Mister seemed really eager to get to the front and greet the jolly fellow in red (we had to hold him back). When his turn finally came…

…he got so shy and he froze and looked on the verge of a freak out! He was given a little toy and we bowed out yet again! Nothing to see here!

It was a little bit of a bummer, but we didn’t force it. Poor kid looked mortified with himself all the way home (we’d told him it was OK if he didn’t want to sit with Santa but he still looked disappointed in himself, bless him). When you think about it, we’re asking our kids (the wary ones anyhow) to go against their instincts! We’re telling them to sit in the lap of a strange man whose identity is quite concealed and have the event photographed! Not to mention, he stalks you all year, then breaks and enters every Christmas Eve, eats our treats and he can be a little on the judgemental side – naughty or nice lists anyone? It’s a little odd, when you really think about it haha. Of course, it’s all innocent fun in the spirit of Christmas (such magical memories to be made) and we know that as adults, but I guess some children aren’t so sure and I can live with that.

I guess we’ll try for 2015, then? 😉

Do your kids like visiting Santa at the shopping centre? Any funny/crazy stories to tell?

Feel good Christmas gift ideas that won’t break the bank.

Sponsored by GroupTogether

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When I think of Christmas, I think of the act of giving. I think of the ways in which we can show the people in our lives that we care about them and that we have appreciated them throughout the whole year. Christmas to me is about togetherness. In the ever increasingly commercialised world that we live in, we could almost be forgiven for thinking that it’s about ‘stuff’ and ‘money’ and ‘more is better’, but we don’t have to remortgage the house each year to please those we care about. Truly. A little imagination and a lot of love can go a long way (which is what really counts don’t you think)!

Here are some great ideas (if I do say so myself) that won’t break the bank. They are not only fantastic if your budget is a little tight, but for anyone who has a lot of people to share the love with. And? The coolest part? They aren’t tacky, generic crap. They mean something and they’ll bring a genuine smile!

Group gifts.

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I think if I was given the choice between several itty bitty gifts and one thing that I really wanted, it would be a no-brainer. Just think, if your family/friendship group/sporting team etc all put in just a few dollars (whatever they chose to give), it would add up pretty quickly! You could give a loved one a much needed spa appointment, an experience (hot laps in a race car or sky diving anyone?), or that thing they really want but have never been able to justify buying it for themselves, because they’re so wonderfully generous to everyone else in their lives.

There’s even this awesome website called GroupTogether.com which makes it ridiculously easy! It is pretty cool because the organiser doesn’t have to work so hard to make a group gift happen, which is nice because it can take up a lot of time we don’t have at this time of year. Basically, you set up a collection with GroupTogether, it sends around an email to the others in the group and if they want to contribute, they pay online and add to a gorgeous gift card (yes – you don’t even have to rush down to the shops for a massive card and then somehow arrange for everyone to physically sign it at the last minute)! Basically, this helpful website tracks payments and can even send reminders! When the time comes, it will transfer the money to the organiser who can purchase the gift! Yay! That is a lot of brain space saved for us to fill with other festive chaos 😉

I know that group presents aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but I find that not pressuring people to spend more than they can give (or judging those who choose not to) and setting realistic targets makes it a really positive experience! GroupTogether is perfect for managing that!

Also? For added feel-goodedness (not a word but I don’t care for your rules), GroupTogether even lets you nominate a portion of the gift amount to be donated to charity! Yes!

Which brings me to my next idea…

Charity donations.

The perfect thing for the person who has everything or needs nothing. At this time of year, I realise just how lucky I am and I try to remember those who may be less fortunate. Every year my mum purchases gift cards from World Vision for the family (isn’t she awesome?). They aren’t just any old Christmas cards, though. Each one can help World Vision to provide anything from school pencils, to immunisations or school books for children in need around the world (you can pick what you want to give). Each time I receive one of these cards, I feel genuine happiness inside – especially since I’ve become a mum. It brings me a warm feeling to know that someone has donated on my behalf to give children the things my child will be lucky enough to take for granted. Other organisations such as Oxfam provide a similar service.

If causes closer to home are more your thing, there are often present drives for charities in the bigger department stores. You can select a gift for a child, wrap it and place it under a tree there. It is sure to brighten somebody’s Christmas day.

You can also simply choose a charity close to your heart and make a donation on behalf of your loved one/s.

Let’s share the love around these holidays.

Home made gifts.

I know. It sounds like too much effort. Or it sounds lame. But, hear me out. I am a fairly average crafter, with very little experience AND I have a toddler. I have managed to somehow fool people into believing that I am actually OK at this home made gift caper and if I can, you can too!

Here are some ideas you can find online (or on Pinterest where I found them)…

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‘Cookies’ that can be baked later 🙂

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A Sundae kit

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Rein-beer!

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A naughty hot chocolate in a jar 😉

You can also put together great little (affordable) ‘care’ packages – mini manicures/pedicures in a jar (let’s just make peace with the fact that everything’s in a jar these days haha), little survival kits for anything from a frazzled parent to someone who is scared of zombies! Perhaps a uni student, a parent-to-be, or …well, just about anyone! Just get creative!

Oh, and if you do have a toddler like I do, SLAVE LABOUR. They think they’re enjoying some awesome new pre-school activity, but really you are teaching them about Christmas and the spirit of giving and then everyone receives something adorable (because it’s made with love by their favourite little person/people)! Yes. It’s a win/win situation, right there haha.

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Salt dough ornaments

I could seriously go on and on and on and on. But I won’t. Although, you can contact me if you ever want more ideas. I’ll be all over that sh…tuff (I found out on Twitter that I swear too much and I’m on the naughty list – oops)…

As long as you put a little bit of love in it, people will enjoy it x

Something meaningful.

Sometimes something straight from the heart can be the most valuable thing of all. These are one of a kind, very personalised things that no-one else will ever give that person.

I’ve been known to make photo books filled with special memories, and when the Little Mister was a baby, we ordered special little brag books for the grandparents and great grandparents. You can either print the photos out yourself, go to a printing place (for just a few cents per print) and then buy cheap little albums to put them in. OR you can order them as pre-made books online. A lot of websites will run amazing bargain priced Christmas specials and you can get them made at a very low cost.

Here are a couple of other ideas:

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“Open when…” letters to a loved one

These are great for when you need to spend time apart from your partner – perhaps one of you travels for work. Or it would even be great for your kids if you have to be apart for whatever reason.

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Pre-planned/pre-paid (if required) date nights for every month of the year

Oh my goodness. I would love this! Sure, it does cost something some of the time, but the time you would get with your partner (kid free) would be priceless and you deserve to treat yourselves all year round if you are lucky enough to get the child care (this kind of gift would be great motivation)! Perhaps the envelopes could include movie passes, reservations for a restaurant, baby sitting funds, something for a concert etc etc. However, there are a LOT of things you can do for free together too (and not just the bow chicka wow wow if you know what I mean haha), with a little imagination!

Your time/presence.

Last but definitely not least, give your time. Just be there. Show your loved ones how much you care all year round. It is the most important gift of all. You are very special to some people in your life and you can never be replaced. Find a way to be there in spirit, even if/when you can’t be there in person. Turn up when you can 🙂

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I hope these ideas help a little. The thing I like about them is that you can tailor just about all of them to your budget or your particular situation.

What great gift ideas do you have? Have you tried these things before? x

It’s Christmas month…I mean, December!!

You guys, I am so excited. Why (like you even have to ask)? Because it’s December! Which means Christmas! My favourite time of the year, because it’s kind of like it’s EVERYBODY’S birthday all at once! And birthdays are awesome, am I right, baby jeebus?

Unless of course your birthday IS on Christmas day, in which case it probably sucks a little bit because no-one cares and they wrap your presents in Christmas wrapping paper and don’t even get you separate gifts…I take my hat off to you guys…

I love seeing the decorations, eating calorific treats I wouldn’t normally indulge in throughout the year, the feeling of summer festivity in the air (nothing like an Aussie Christmas) and the giving spirit alive in so many of us.

I know. Some of you probably hate me for being so cheesy right now. But I love all of you adorable little grinches, anyway. Because CHRISTMAS!!!

Since the Little Mister came along just over 3 years ago, I’ve been getting more and more excited to share the Christmas spirit with him. This year was a great milestone year because it was the first time he could help Mr Unprepared and I with the decorating (yay for coordination)! I found myself just trying to soak in that moment and really appreciate it. I had to stop myself from making gooey, lovey dovey “nawwwwwwwww” noises every couple of seconds.

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He really liked putting ALL of the baubles (love that word – baubles – it’s ridiculous) on one tiny branch.

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At one point, he found two of our Christmas stockings, took the idea quite literally and strutted around with them on his feet, like he was the bees knees.

Kind of unrelated: What’s so awesome about bees’ knees? I never understood that saying…

So far, we’ve made some salt dough ornaments to paint and the Little Mister has painted some transparent Christmas stickers for the windows (you can’t really tell what they are anymore and all the colours are quite mixed together but ‘nawwww’). The Christmas tree went up yesterday (a day early), because it was the weekend and Mr Unprepared was off work, so we could do it together.

Christmas cookies were made and distributed to the grandparents (and the Little Mister’s belly and Mr Unprepared’s lunchbox and I might have sampled for *ahem* quality control) last week (OK so I cracked before December despite my best efforts haha).

It was so messy and fun letting the Little Mister take the lead (I was mostly just in charge of measuring and the hot oven).

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This cookie man (above) never fails to make me giggle. The dough was a little soft and stretchy, so some of our cookies were a little bit wonky. The Little Mister affectionately called this one “Daddy”. Very amusing. The longer I look at this photo, the more I laugh. I assure you that my husband doesn’t actually look like that…much…(this is just one of several little tests I include in my blog posts to see if he actually reads it as much as he says he does haha).

Who knows what other crazy crafting/baking ideas we’ll tackle next?! I’ve become a little deranged, but in a lovely enthusiastic way, at least (I hope)? I don’t know who I am anymore. I even bought some Christmas presents in OCTOBER. Are you shitting me??

I hope that this month, we can all share the Christmas spirit with our loved ones (whether they are our actual relatives or our various ‘chosen’ families). Let’s all be a little forgiving, very loving and look out for those who might not have as good a Christmas as we are fortunate enough to have.

Let’s drive considerately, keep our stress in check (especially in the supermarket or with those certain relatives) and remember to show the people in our lives that we care. It’s not all about giving extravagant material gifts to one another, but about giving of ourselves somehow.

Happy December, everybody!

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How are you planning to celebrate Christmas this year? If you do not celebrate Christmas, how will you spend your holidays? Do you go nuts like me or are you more restrained? What does a typical Christmas day look like for you? x

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

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Wishing all of my readers a most Merry Christmas for 2013. Thank you so much for stopping by here all year. It’s been so amazing sharing my stories and ridiculous thoughts with you. I really appreciate your support and love!

I hope that your Christmas is spent with loved ones and is full of joy.

Stay safe and I hope you are not too stressed because I want you to enjoy this. It’s important to remember the Christmas spirit – whatever that means to you!

If someone you care about has not had a great holiday season, see what you can do to help them out. A strong support network is always important and I am thinking of you if it is indeed you who has not had an easy time. Some years are definitely better than others. I do know this.

If you do not celebrate Christmas, I wish you a fantastic holiday season anyhow and the same goes – I wish you good health, quality time with loved ones and lots of joy and laughter.

Lots of love from the Awesomely Unprepared family.

xxx