The summer holidays are upon us! I’m trying to be organised this year and plan lots of activities and get-togethers. But there’s always going to be some slack time when everyone gets a little bored.
For these moments, make a boredom jar. All you need to do is write down lots of activities on bits of paper and fill a jar with them!
Paint a picture….go on a scooter ride…write someone a letter…bake biscuits…read a book…post a postcard…make a dinosaur world…
Get your children to write down some ideas too (although maybe tell them not to write down go to Legoland).
I’m keeping mine really simple and cheap. Oh, and if you suggest a craft activity, remember to have all the things ready in the cupboard.
If you need any other inspiration how about checking out my posts on making a miniature garden and magic potions?
I’ve just finished putting together a big batch of gingerbread for the children to give to their teachers this Christmas. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, simple homemade gift then it doesn’t get much better than this!
Bake your gingerbread (I used my usual recipe) and then ice with royal icing and an assortment of festive sprinkles. This year we made snowflakes and wreaths, decorated with holly sprinkles and glimmering dust from Waitrose.
Once the icing is dry (leave overnight), you can wrap these up prettily with cellophane, ribbons and labels. I bought a large sheet of cellophane from Wilkinson’s and cut it to size, but you could buy bags.
Halloween doesn’t have to be tacky or frightening. For us, it’s all part of the darkening evenings and cosiness of autumn. We like to have lots of candles and switch on the fairy lights.
Orange pumpkins and glowing lights appeal to me in the same way as autumn leaves. I used to be a bit huffy about Halloween, and I’ll never approve of ‘trick or treating’. We do, however, enjoy indulging in a few little family traditions – some handmade decorations, iced biscuits and – most importantly – pumpkin carving.
Here are a few simple ideas for a cosy evening of fun:
Enjoy some Spooky biscuits. Make a batch of Nigella’s butter biscuits and have fun with the icing!
Try some Mummies in bandages! I got this idea from an American friend. Wrap frankfurters in puff pastry and cook for about 20 minutes in the oven. You can add some little eyes with mustard or ketchup if you like.
Decorate your table with some LED candles, glittery stickers and miniature pumpkins…
Light lots and lots of candles… making sure they’re out of reach of little hands. We have a tradition of always eating our Halloween tea by candlelight.
Last of all: put some silly music on (Ghostbusters is particularly popular in this house…) and do some monster dancing in the kitchen!
What do you like to do for Halloween?
My boys love an excuse to decorate the house. We’re not heavily into Halloween, but we do like a few simple spooky decorations. I really hate buying all the cheap plastic stuff, so most years we make a few things. Here are some seriously simple and thrifty ideas for you and your children.
Buy some suitably neon wool and make a medium sized pom-pom. Cut out some little triangles of black felt and some scraps of green, and let your children loose with the PVA glue. I left a long hanging thread so we can hang them up.
You can tell by now that we love our pom-pom makers. Make lots of little ones in spooky colours (we used black and orange) and thread them onto a long piece of wool. This takes a while, but looks so good!
This is slightly trickier – one for grown-ups or older children. Make some simple templates and cut out one piece of felt. Pin this onto another, larger, piece of felt and sew round the design in running stitch. Add a few details with your stitching.
Now cut round your design. This is so much simpler than trying to sew together two shapes!
Once you’ve finished all your designs, sew (or glue) them onto a piece of matching ribbon.
If you want to make a simpler version with no sewing involved, you could just cut and out different shapes and use glue to decorate them. My son made this simple no-sew ghost…
The boys both enjoy playing with coloured water at school, so we thought we’d have some summer-holiday fun making magic potions. It’s really fun and not too messy if you do it outside in the garden!
You will need plastic bottles of various sizes. Jam jars look wonderful, but glass plus children is not for the faint hearted, so is best avoided. Best to stick to old travel size shampoo bottles or drinks bottles. If you have any plastic cauldrons left over from Halloween, even better! Fill the bottles with water then dye it with a few drops of paint. We used some watercolours – you don’t need much.
Have fun naming all your different ingredients and writing out a magic spell. We had (left to right) sea water, unicorn juice, sloth’s spit (my six-year-old came with that one!), jaguar juice, mineral crystals and precious nectar!
We took everything out onto the grass with some plastic measuring jugs and created some magic…
We also found lots of special ingredients for the potions in the garden – such as fairy hats (red and white petunias) and green caterpillars (grass). The finishing touch was a good sprinkling of glitter!
This was such fun and the boys really got into it. While we were making them it suddenly got incredibly windy and dark and we realised we’d accidentally made a storm spell. Magic!
Do you remember making these as a child? It’s a little world in miniature – made from things gathered from your garden or a park.
You will need:
- A big tray – ones with high sides from garden centres are ideal, although a kitchen one works fine.
- Some cardboard, glue, scissors, sellotape and paints – and any other crafty bits you fancy
- Blue-tak, or modelling clay
- A sponge
- Lots of things gathered from your garden – stones, grass, petals, twigs, branches, moss etc
1. First decide what kind of little world you want to create. We went for a pony paddock, complete with stable. We started by creating a simple little cardboard building by cutting a door in a box, sticking on a simple roof with tape and painting it. A little sponge did a good job at making brick and roof-tile patterns. Doing this on a hot day is lovely as everything dries really quickly!
2. Arrange your little model on the tray – be it a stable, house, cave – whatever. Start adding some larger details to your scene. We went for large pebbles, painted blue to look like little ponds. You could also create a pond with a mirror, or a circle covered in tin foil.
3. Start gathering your bits of grass, leaves, petals and twigs. Get creative – we started with some bits of conifer to look like little trees. Blue tac is invaluable here for sticking them down and keeping them reasonably upright. Grass clippings work particularly well too.
And there you have it – an adorable little garden to keep them amused for the rest of the day! It’s a great way to get their imagination flowing. You don’t even have to do the messy painted part – just stick to natural things from the garden and see what you can create.
Later on I went out and bought Tom some wood shavings for his stable. The game then developed into this…
I think you can see how much fun he had!
If you fancy some other ideas for a miniature world, how about a dinosaur world with a volcano? Or perhaps a replica of an ancient Welsh burial chamber…?
I love garlands and I’ve seen some beautiful ones in the shops lately. Here’s a simple and thrifty way to make your own pretty ones with the kids this Easter.