Festive Pizza, Drive-In Pantos & Elf Trails

We started the Christmas holidays with a leisurely walk home. I’ve decided bypassing the traffic does wonders for my mood šŸ™‚ On the way, we stopped at Pizza Express. I had clubcard vouchers so we had an almost-free lunch while the girls unwrapped presents they’d got from their teachers šŸ™‚ I tried the new honey and spicy pepperoni pizza and the girls had something far less adventurous, but they ate it šŸ™‚ I’d expected it to be packed but it was strangely quiet and felt like such a relaxed start to the holidays.

When we got home, we used a Ā£1 craft pack to make a foam wreath šŸ™‚ I love the packs from the pound shop for a quick craft without any set-up involved šŸ™‚ The girls decorated it with pom poms, stickers and ribbon and we added it to the collection of many handmade Christmas decorations that currently adorn our kitchen walls and cupboards šŸ™‚

On Saturday, we went to Let’s Go Hydro to the panto. It was more interactive than I’d expected it to be for a drive-in panto, and it was a good alternative this year to the cancelled Christmas events we would have gone to šŸ™‚ We got popcorn, coke and a selection box when we arrived and I made sure to bring a good supply of coffee to keep me awake for the show šŸ™‚

I made some more of my candy cane fudge. It’s very rich and almost tastes like a ganache, but it’s much less complicated to make. I made my own truffles one year for Christmas presents and was surprised by how much is involved in making such a small piece of chocolate šŸ™‚

This weekend, the girls made the gingerbread houses from their Toucan boxes. They are made of cardboard but included bulbs so they can light up and lots of little decorations for them to add. The girls were particularly happy about the glitter glue šŸ™‚ I feel like working on constructing the girls’ Toucan box projects is a bit of an intro to DIY for me. I always start off overwhelmed by it and end with a small sense of achievement when I manage to piece it together šŸ™‚ The houses have a little gingerbread man that exits the door on a platform to check if Santa is in the chimney. They make pretty decorations as well as providing entertainment for the girls.

The other craft their boxes contained was a walrus with a mechanism that makes it look like the walrus is moving along an iceberg šŸ™‚ The girls did some colour-mixing to get the colour they wanted for their walruses and then painted them. While they were occupied with that, I put together the icebergs. The bodies are attached in separate parts to little poles that move them up and down with a handle. It was time-consuming but produced a toy the girls could use afterwards too šŸ™‚

Today, I took the girls to the Elf Trail at Hillsborough Castle. We had never been there before but I liked the idea of going to a slower-moving Christmas event where we could get some fresh air too. When we arrived, the staff gave us a map for the trail. We had to find little outhouses along the way that were set up like elves’ workshops, Santa’s fireplace, etc. Along the trail, there were little elves and fairies suspended from the trees for kids to count. If you scan the code at the end, it directs you to a page with Christmas crafts on it to complete at home. The girls loved stopping to admire the scenes and to try to see if their names were on the nice list šŸ™‚ I love traditional Christmas decorations made from natural materials. There is something about looking at them that calms and grounds me. It’s like stepping outside a consumers’ Christmas for a while and it acts as a reminder of what it’s meant to be like. The girls loved the workshop with all the old-fashioned toys laid out inside šŸ™‚ There was a little elves’ village that was hard to capture on camera. It contained lots of little houses with fairy lights surrounding them.

After we finished the trail, we queued up to meet Santa and get a photo taken. It was like a Christmas tradition without the materialism, as no gifts were being given out and no demands were being made šŸ™‚ We just stopped and had a chat and got a socially-distanced photo šŸ™‚ We found a bench sheltered from the rain and had a picnic of Christmassy cheese, crackers and chutney šŸ™‚

The girls were given a lovely present from a friend that they decided to work on when we got home. They made sand art decorations by filling different shaped bottles with bright-coloured sand and creating designs by shifting the layers of colours. At the end, they put stoppers on them and added string so they can be hung up (and probably forced upon people we know as presents :))

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