In the Close household, we use the internet - A LOT. Our business is run online, we all love a bit of a catchup on Facebook and Instagram and like a lot of families we’re guilty of sitting down to watch a film together only to spend the time constantly checking our phones.
This Christmas, we got to thinking about the kinds of gifts and traditions that help us put down our phones and get in the present (pun intended). Here are a few of our ideas - feel free to add more in the comments!
1.) Adventures for advent.
There’s no shortage of quirky advent calendars out there (hello Greggs pasty calendar), but counting the days down to Christmas is a great way to make sure you take a little time out for each other this holiday.
Kindness advent calendars have been cropping up all over the web in the last few years, with each day offering a “kindness challenge” for children. Anything from “hang a bird feeder” to “write a thank you to the bin men” is up for grabs! Create your own by putting 24 slips in a mason jar, or download one for free. We love this one from blogger and illustrator Rosie Johnson http://rosiejohnsonillustrates.com/shed-life/2016/11/5/kindness-elves-a-tradition-i-can-be-bothered-to-uphold
If you’d like to give back to your community this Christmas, consider doing a reverse advent calendar. The idea is, instead of treating yourself each day, you give to a family in need. Each day of advent, put canned or dry goods into a box ready for donation to your local foodbank.
Why not shop together with the kids for the 24 items that will go in the box? They will love the feeling that they are helping out and the responsibility of choosing the most useful items.
To find a food bank near you, and get ideas for donations, visit https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/
There are plenty of options for an arty advent! Why not create a nature table where you can add pinecones and sprigs of seasonal greenery daily. For an advent activity that will bring some colour to your Christmas and get creative juices flowing, try our colour in advent calendar https://soclose.co.uk/collections/christmas/products/personalised-advent-tree-colouring-poster
2.) Gifts to use together
Every family needs it’s own traditions to keep you coming together year on year. Giving gifts that will come out again each Christmas will help you establish your own.
A few years ago, I gave my sister a set of Moomin cookie cutters. We had an amazing time on boxing day creating gingerbread Moomin scenes with the kids and now it’s part of our Christmas tradition to turn off our phones, turn up the Christmas tunes and fight over licking the syrup spoon. If you’d like to give a quirky baking gift, Etsy seller Unique Cookie Cutter can create a portrait cutter from any photograph of you or a fav celebhttps://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/448680924/custom-portrait-cookie-cutter-christmas?ref=shop_home_active_1.
Boardgames that everyone will play aren’t always easy to find. Smaller kids get turned off by complex rules, or frustrated if the game takes too long, and I know I’m not alone in not wanting to play anything that involves too much maths! Telestrations is a nice quick game with replay value and plenty of laughs. We have the 12 person version which is great for larger gatherings. It’s kind of Chinese whispers with drawing, but you don’t have to be an illustration whiz like Tarot to enjoy it and best of all there are no winners or losers! Find out more at https://www.johnadams.co.uk/product/telestrations/
If you don’t feel up to the mess and fuss of a baking session with the kids, how about creating some customised hot chocolates together? As we recently discovered when Tarot bought some chocolate cinnamon sugar tortilla roles into the studio (yes, really) not everyone likes their chocolate the same way! Vanilla essence, cinnamon sticks, whipped cream and peppermint stick stirrers all make fun editions to hot chocolate and for the vegans out there we can recommend using hazelnut milk for a drink that tastes like liquid nutella.
We’ve just launched our Christmas eve hot chocolate kits which include marshmallows and sachets of hot chocolate all tucked inside a personalised mug - great for creating a truly personal customised treat https://soclose.co.uk/collections/christmas/products/personalised-mug-hot-chocolate-set-the-perfect-gift-for-christmas-eve
3.) Gifts to experience
“Experiential gifting” has been everywhere in recent years, but you don’t have to fork out for a hot air balloon ride over a French vineyard to get in on the trend.
A popular gift in our house was a certificate for the Eden project zip wire - one of the longest in the country! Cornwall is on our doorstep and Eden offer a yearly pass if you gift-aid your entry fee so it was no trouble to pop along and use the voucher (though weight limits apply so it’s not a good choice for a smaller child). Find out more at http://www.edenproject.com/
National trust membership is no longer just for the over 60’s. With more and more family activities on the NT calendar (our local Killerton House has a wind in the willows trail this Christmas) it’s a great gift for families of any size with membership options for single parent families too
If you prefer staying closer to home, consider buying your loved ones a few gardening gifts. We’ve recently launched a range of witty plant pots that come with easy to grow seeds like mint or sweet-peas. With cute personalised designs featuring everything from llamas to avocados, even reluctant teens might be persuaded to get growing https://soclose.co.uk/collections/types?q=PLANT%20POTS