Category Archives: christmas

Busy busy busy

I was shopping last week and saw a catalogue called LAST MINUTE CHRISTMAS BARGAINS – which horrified me, as December had only barely begun.

I saw it again today and it horrified me again, but this time it was because I have not made any much progress on the (admittedly very small) amount of shopping I still have to do.

I changed any to much because I did get “teacher gifts” for the various adults who teach and/or care for our kids. A couple of years ago, I discovered that the local sheet outlet store has absolutely gorgeous Christmas decorations for sale, which they discount heavily after Christmas. I figured that a lovely tree ornament is a MUCH better gift than the ubiquitous bottle of wine or box of chockies, and bought a stack after Christmas at 75% off, for next year.

Then, I lost the box.

I think it is in the roof.

Each year since then, I have feebly mumbled “I know it’s here somewhere” – and then raced back to the shop to buy more ornaments. This year’s are lovely big glass balls that it almost hurt to give away, they looked so lovely when I was holding them all in the shop.

Meanwhile, today I picked up a copy of Dominion: Seaside, which made both my girls cheer. Fraser groaned, because I have succumbed (in principle) to the Need to Sleeve, so I spent 50% of the cost of the game again on card sleeves. Now I just need to Do The Deed.

Tomorrow, mum and dad’s dining table will be delivered. This is good, except that it means that we have to get our old table out of the house – preferably through the back door, as it’s going to go under the carport for a little while. We also get 6 very ugly green vinyl chairs. This table is somewhat wider than our current one and, most importantly, it extends to be a 14-seater or so. This will be good for Christmas and also for game nights, when we sometimes have to run 2 games – we will be able to extend the table and stay in place.

It is also more attractive. On the downside, Fraser will not be able to put a chair on top of it and then stand on the chair to change a lightbulb.


Now that I think about it?

That may not be such a bad thing.

Ladders seem infinitely safer.

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Posted by on December 10, 2009 in christmas, house, shopping


That was SO not the question I just asked you …

Me, by email, to inbound duty free shop:

If I pre-order (large item X) for collection next Monday morning, are you able to wrap it up so my kids don’t immediately see what it is, given that it is their Christmas gift and all?

Inbound duty free shop to me:

Hi Melissa, if you can just send us your flight details and credit card number, we can put one of those aside for you.

Me, to Inbound duty free shop:

Um, I kind of need to know whether you can wrap it up pls? Cos  otherwise, no sale.

Betcha they still don’t get it.

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Posted by on November 25, 2009 in christmas, shopping, travel


A holiday week of gaming

Looking through my game journal at the last week’s gaming … Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on January 1, 2009 in christmas, essen, games


Bah Humbug?

I love Christmas.

I mean, I really love Christmas. I love the carols, I love the decorations, I love the smell of mince pies in the oven.

But so far, I am not loving this Christmas. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on December 24, 2008 in christmas, rant


hot hot hot

Happy New Year, my darlings!

It was a hot one for us – still 35 degrees (C) at 10pm. The overnight minimum was 28, around 7am.  By 10, it was back up to 35.

We have a cooler in the living room but not in the bedrooms. When we installed central heating, we considered the option of central air conditioning as well, but it didn’t feel justified for the very few days a year when you really (desperately) need it.

The kids’ room was almost unbearable last night, but I don’t really want to put a fan in there (little fingers, etc). Ceiling fans would be good but I am not sure that it would be possible to fit one around the existing light fittings.

We have a portable fan in our room, though – which led to my breakthrough discovery: A cold, wet towel.

Yep, that’s how I slept last night. Cold, wet spit rug (errm, cloth nappy) over my legs, fan going all night. I was my own air conditioner.

I realised how effective it was when Otto woke up and I had to go back into her room to soothe her.


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Posted by on January 1, 2008 in christmas, house



I hope all my friends had a wonderful Christmas and/or a quiet and relaxing day at home (take your pick).

After getting to bed around 2:30am, our day began at 7:30 when my alarm went off (oops – I had forgotten to deactivate it). Murmurings from the girls’ room suggested that stockings were being explored, and we dozed back off – until they ran into our room at 8:06.

“Santa’s been! Santa’s been!” Otto called in excitement – a far cry from the shyness and anxiety that we’ve seen in the past, even when she enjoyed her gifts.

Ten minutes or so later, we managed to drag ourselves out of bed. First stop was Otto’s bed, to see the vast array of stocking stuffers spread across the bed. “Biggie got more than me,” she commented – not in a sad way, just observing it as a fact. Two things contributed to this – first, some of Biggie’s items were bigger, and second – well, loyal readers will know that there was a problem 😦 We are still thinking about how best to deal with this.

Our family rule is one present only before everyone is dressed and breakfasted. Once the carols on my iPod had been turned back on, we set to it. For Otto, that was a set of coloured pencils and electric pencil sharpener from Smiggle – which is like crack for children. Biggie chose the parcel with a new swimsuit and pack of 6 pairs of ankle socks (it doesn’t sound very exciting, but she was delighted).

My children have rarely dressed so quickly.

Breakfast was pancakes with lemon and sugar, cinnamon sugar, strawberries and/or blueberries. Yum yum yum. I could have that again 🙂

After all that, it would have been close to 11 before we went back to gift-opening. We tried to be low-key this year, choosing things to keep the kids occupied during the holidays and things that they need, but of course there was extra stuff too. Not to mention the Santa stuff (craft supplies, hair trinkets and a couple more books each)

Gift summary:


  • Smiggle coloured pencils & electric sharpener
  • Swimsuit and rain anorak (Biggie got one from her grandparents for her birthday, and when it was on sale at 50% off it was hard to resist another good one from kathmandu)
  • Books – Princess Tales from around the World and (how could I resist?) The Pop-Up Book of Manners (it was really REALLY cheap)
  • A soft, cuddly toy Fairy and a 3 cm thick colouring book
  • A Charlie and Lola DVD
  • as well as a range of gifts from her very generous auntie, including Smiggle gel pens, a Dora the Explorer dressing gown and beach towel, stickers and a calendar.


  • Smiggle electric eraser with refills, chameleon pens and highlighters and a pack of writing paper
  • Swimsuit and pack of 6 pairs of socks
  • Books – Magic in the Weaving (Tamora Pierce) and Sparkly things to make and do
  • a “Mystic Mummy Tomb Dig and Play” set
  • The Wisdom of Nancy Drew – quiz book and fridge magnets
  • as well as gifts from Auntie – more Smiggle (including a diary), a bracelet and a hairband.

Family gifts:

  • Trötofant
  • Beppo der Bock
  • Uno
  • Chicken Cha Cha Cha


  • Books, a DVD (The Devil wears Prada) and a 1.2m tall inflatable Dalek


  • Books, a DVD (Life on Mars Season 1) and a t-shirt with this cartoon strip on it (there is more en route for Fraser)

Apologies for the lengthy list. I always enjoy reading what other people get for Christmas 🙂

We played a couple of games, then it was time to make brandy butter and salad and head for my brother’s by 3pm (we were late). My theory of brandy butter is that it is essentially a science experiment to see how much brandy you can suspend in 250g of unsalted butter. My food processor got an A+ this year.

Christmas dinner was outside, which was OK until about 5pm when it started to get pretty chilly. Apparently it will be back to high 30s by the end of the week but yesterday hovered around the 20 mark which was a little too cool. The barbecue was good, although I kind of missed having turkey – next year, I’ll make sure I roast one.

The girls loved spending the afternoon with their baby cousin, who seemed to enjoy spending time with them too. She certainly enjoyed pulling the wrapping off her gifts!

We came home around 7.30 and managed to get the girls into bed in reasonable time before watching a DVD and turning in ourselves.

Today, I skipped the sales (we’re broke, and I really don’t need anything anyway) which is a big change for me. Usually I am there by 7 or even earlier. I was sorry not to go, but if I went I would shop. We’ve played Agricola, joined friends on BSW for other games, cleared up some of the Christmas chaos, and generally relaxed. Not such a bad day at all.

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Posted by on December 26, 2007 in christmas, family


Reasons to love your spouse

Quote of the season.

Fraser, to me: “Sometimes I love you because you are so evil.”

The Backstory:

Ever since the DVD set of Dr Who and the Key to Time was released here, Biggie has been jonesing for it. It’s not quite up to pestering, but it is well into begging and beyond. Ask her what she wants for Christmas, this is what she says. Tell her we are going shopping, she asks whether we can get it. Etc etc etc.

Fraser and I saw it on special a few days ago, and caved.  Well, sort of.

Last night, we were wrapping Christmas gifts. Fraser picked it up and asked what we should do with it.

My theory – and the thought which won me the eternal devotion of my husband – was simple.

Put it on the shelf where we keep the other DVDs and see how long it takes her to notice it.

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Posted by on December 25, 2007 in christmas, parenting


Christmas problem

Memo to self: Next year, Santa leaves an itemised list.

At least two items (hair clips, hair band) appear to have migrated from Otto’s stocking to Biggie’s. A further (small) item has gone “missing” from Otto’s stocking. I have not counted chocolates.

Fortunately, she is so excited about Christmas that she’s not complaining, although she did comment that, “Biggie got more stuff than me.”

Gaahhh. There can be no discipline without destroying a myth that is apparently – against all odds – still firmly believed in.

Edit: The missing pencil eraser (in Australia we call them “rubbers”) turned up in Otto’s otherwise empty stocking – albeit after Biggie had been down to that room.

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Posted by on December 25, 2007 in children, christmas, parenting



Of all the dumb things I have ever bought on the internet in the middle of the night, a 2-pack of electronic mosquito bite relief is quite possibly the dumbest.

My excuses are:

  • My foot is itchy. Some bastard of a mozzie got me a beauty.
  • I don’t really care whether they work or not.
  • Honest, don’t care.
  • I can give them to the kids and they will *believe* they work.
  • Or else they will learn a valuable lesson about the kids of things that you can buy online for less than 20 bucks including postage.
  • Either way, we are winners.


I forgot that Biggie has a music teacher as well. Also, we have a cleaner.

I am drowning in little gift bags with Chrissy deccos inside.

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Posted by on December 14, 2007 in christmas, shopping


Christmas preparations

I’m always interested to read, in posts about Christmas, the little clues that suggest that Christmas is not celebrated the same way everywhere, even when the names of the traditions are the same.

Here’s a quick overview of how we celebrate.

  • Christmas is the end of the year, so we have little “thankyou” gifts for teachers and friends. This year, I’m buying little Christmas ornaments for everyone because even if they don’t like them they can put them at the back of the tree. We’re also making special fridge magnets for the creche staff and will bake biscuits to go with the rest of the package.
    When I say “everyone” – there are (at last count) Guides leaders (6), Swimming teacher (1 each), Kindergarten teachers (3), Creche teachers (around 20), Classroom teachers (2), Specialist teachers (5?), Dancing teacher (1), Before/After-school program leaders (um, 5?). Of course we don’t have to have a gift for each one, but I want to bring my kids up “right” – which means that I expect them to have gifts for these people. I’m trusting that the weather will cool down a little before I go on my gingerbread-baking binge.
  • Christmas parties – Santa makes an appearance at most Christmas parties, which means that we need small and appropriately-wrapped gifts for each of the girls for each party. Small being the operative word.
  • Over the next week, while we finish the Christmas shopping, I’ll also take each of the girls shopping to choose her gift for Daddy and for her sister. I try to encourage them to make something, but time usually gets in the way. Fraser usually just chooses 3 things for me and lets the kids pick which one they want to give.
  • Christmas Eve is, typically, when we put up the tree. I like to say it’s because it’s traditional, but the real reason is that I am never organised enough to get it up any sooner.
  • In the night of Christmas Eve, Santa comes. At our house, Santa only brings small gifts – typically books, small toys or puzzles, colouring books, fancy pens or crayons, hair accessories, sweets that mum and dad don’t approve of, etc. These aren’t wrapped, but are somehow stuffed into the children’s christmas stockings in that special way that only Santa knows. In return, we leave brandy balls, gingerbread and the good whisky out for Santa, as well as carrots for the reindeer.
  • On Christmas Day in the morning, the kids wake up at crack of dawn and spend some time checking out their stockings and comparing/swapping items. We usually leave one wrapped gift from mum & dad out for them, as well.
  • When we get up, we cook breakfast (often pancakes) and try to make sure we’re all at least partially dressed before we open gifts. This can be a challenge, with two children eager to see what they have got. We open gifts one at a time, so everyone can ooh and aah over them.
    We try not to go overboard with gifts. They get clothes and books, maybe a toy of some kind, or something really special. This year there are a few games on order. I prefer to buy things as they need them and give small gifts during the year, rather than buy one huge item at Christmas. (Of course, last year they got the cubby house, which was a truly huge gift).
  • I try to go for a walk on Christmas Day, mostly to make room for our Christmas Dinner but also to say Merry Christmas to neighbours we meet. This seems to be more a European custom than an Australian one (which is ironic, given the weather in both regions).
  • We have a big lunch with family, usually around 2 although it may be a bit later this year (my brother plays golf in the morning). This year we’re going for a barbecue but I think I’ll roast a turkey anyway. Gifts again, for everyone from each family. Plum Pudding with brandy butter and custard for dad – the rest of us will have something nicer like pavlova.
  • Leftovers in the evening, if we have room to eat anything.

On Boxing day, I get up even earlier than the children did on Christmas Day, to hit the sales. I have a routine all worked out which even covers which order I do which shop in. This year, there’s not much I need, but I am sure to go in anyway just for the experience.

Now if only I could finish my gift shopping!

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Posted by on December 14, 2007 in christmas