My intentions are good each year: I will be ready for Christmas earlier! I will not smack into the brick wall of December 23rd like I usually do! I will be more effective about my baking lists! If I do crafty things I will not be doing them right up until midnight!
Like I usually do is the operative phrase here.
Then mid-December sets in and I'm in the same place I always am: vaguely late. Slightly behind. Scrambling even. I am starting to suspect that this state of being might actually be my Modus Operandi, much to my chagrin.
One thing I did try to organize more this year was the Activity Side of Things. Most of the time I leave the kids to their own crafty devices, but this year the bookstores had their shelves full of really intriguing craft books, and both FDPG and Dominic love making things out of paper. So in November, even though it seemed MUCH too early to be thinking about such things, I bought one or two and squirrelled them away in the closet for later.
One was this book. Christmas: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself. Do you know the Toymaker? We print a lot of toys from her website. They are old-fashioned kinds of toys: peep boxes, moving dioramas, pretty cards, and sweet boxes. There are holiday themes, storytime themes, games, and pictures, too. The colours are superlative, which makes printing them out highly addictive.
When I saw that she had a book out I couldn't resist it. I even bought two, so that I wouldn't be hearing things like "MUUUM! Dominic made the Nutcracker - I wanted to!"
When I brought them out last week both FDPG and Dominic were delighted. It was hard not to be, the artwork is fabulous, everything is perforated so there's no need for Serious Scissor Skills, and the card stock is glossy and stiff, perfect for paper toys you want to keep around. All of a sudden the mantle was covered with Nutcrackers, Happy Snowmen, Countdown To Christmas cards (with a little "thought for the day" on the back), Angel Elves, Snack For Santa boxes (with "I've been really good all year" on every side just in case)...
...Even a Santa and his sleigh (check out the gimlet eye on that reindeer).
Are they difficult to make? Well, you won't need any scissors, but you do need some dexterity with your fingers, as some of these projects require careful folding and gluing, but other than they aren't hard at all. And they are so charming.
The other book I bought was a Dover Stained Glass Activity book. I really like these stained glass books - they look amazing on a window. A while back FDPG did every single page of the Egyptian Stained Glass Activity book (the words Egypt and stained glass don't look right together, do they?) and stuck them up on her window. Now here's a Christmas Stained Glass book. It's been quite the hit.
Another thing the twins like to make are these: we call them Tinfoil Saran Wrap pictures. I know, I know, how imaginative of us. But it describes them perfectly.
You find a large drawing you like, here we chose a tree in a sort of stained glass tableau, you tape the picture to the table, then you tape a piece of saran wrap over top. Make sure both the saran and the paper are secure. Get out your Sharpies (other felt pens won't work) and colour the saran over top of the picture. Don't leave any blank bits, and if you like the stained glass effect use a black felt pen to outline everything. Remove the piece of paper and place the saran on top of a piece of foil (that you've crumpled gently then straightened), and sandwich the two items between some black paper.
Sharpies are also useful on those balloon-style pop bottles you might find yourself purchasing in moments of fond maternal madness (these hit me right about now, just when my kids really need more sugary junk). Here we've made some oversized ornaments. You can drill a hole in the lid and place some rick rack for a loop for the Faux Real Effect...
And then there's the Personalized Christmas Card For Favoured Relatives. FDPG made these this week. That giant pack of scrapbooking paper I bought half price at Walmart last year came in handy, as did some Martha Stewart snowflake punches and a ruler that makes circles (for the snowglobe card below).
Now all I have to do is get my own projects finished...