From the newest of newly arrived parcels, through to 12 months old, these ideas and suggestions should give you plenty of gift-giving options that are both out-of-the-box and kinder to our environment. Again, they’re one of the following:
If you have any suggestions, I’d love to add them to the guide!
In other news, we’re in teething hell over here, so forgive me if I’m MIA on the odd occasion. Plus non-Daylight-Savings is kicking my butt at the moment. The kids apparently feel that 5:00am is the perfect time to start the day. Yay!
A few months ago, I challenged myself to only give gifts that were either handmade, homemade, vintage or repurposed/recycled. I’ve had it fairly easy up until this point, with only Easter (homemade chocolates) and Mother’s Day (a bunch of handmade blooms as mentioned here) but we’re coming into prime birthday season here so I’ve had to put my creative thinking cap on and get cracking.
One of our nephews had his 6th birthday last week and I decided about two months ago that I would make him a gift that would help with his reading and sight words. He’s in kindergarten this year, so the challenge was to make it age-appropriate and fun enough to not look like a learning toy.
After thinking on the idea for a long time, I eventually came up with a magnetic storyboard. (You know the magnetic words you can buy in gift shops, where you use them to make up funny poems or crass stories on your fridge? Think a six-year-old’s version of that.)
large magnetic whiteboard OR large whiteboard AND magnetic paint (I had trouble finding it, but this would be a cheaper option)
primer (multisurface white undercoat is your best bet) tin of blackboard spraypaint (I use White Knight as outlined here) acrylic paint of your colour choice magnetic tape scissors paintbrush plain paper list of sight or Dolch words and nouns
1. Prime the frame and magnetic surface of your whiteboard. Allow to dry.
2. Paint the magnetic surface using your blackboard paint, being sure to follow instructions. I’ve outlined my tips here. A good rule of thumb with spray paint is to either recoat within one hour or wait at least six. I’m impatient so I’m sure to recoat within one hour.
3. Allow the blackboard paint to dry thoroughly. Using a paintbrush and an acrylic paint of your choice, paint the primed frame, being careful to not get paint on the blackboard. Allow to dry and recoat if necessary.
4. Once dry, prepare the chalkboard by rubbing a piece of chalk over the entire surface and then cleaning it off with a damp cloth. It’s now ready to use!
5. Print the Dolch word and noun lists as shown here and here. Print them in the tables, as is, this will make the assembly much easier.
6. Put on a good movie and, using the table as a guide, cut out each of the words. I tended to cut close to the first letter and then left a gap of two or three spaces after the last letter, so the words wouldn’t run into each other when put in a sentence.
7. Put on another good movie (or maybe season one of Arrested Development) and apply each word to the sticky side of the magnetic tape, pressing down firmly as you go.
8. Cut each word to size.
9. Stick to the board and you’re done!
Also be sure to include an amazeballs handmade birthday card (courtesy of Isla).
The birthday boy dug his gift a lot, and was really excited about having his very own blackboard. A few things I would do if I made a gift like this again though:
1. I would spray each of the words, once magnetised, with a gloss spray or a paper sealer. They just tended to get a little grubby with constant handling.
2. Include a couple of magnetic tins to store the words in while not in use. This would keep it much tidier and not as overwhelming for someone who is just learning to read.
3. Include 10 or 20 blank paper magnets, to allow additional words that aren’t on the list, as well as names and places that would make story writing more fun.
I’m really enjoying the challenge so far though, and have already started planning Christmas gifts. Between now and then though, I think we’ve got 8 kids birthdays, a handful of adults and Sparky’s 30th, so I’d better keep planning. (And not leave it to the last minute again.)
To be honest, I kind of hate myself for being that person, talking about Christmas – in September. And yet, here we are.
Last week I received a Christmas-themed question on the Facebook page, from a listener named Natalie (thanks, Natalie!) and wanted to spend some time digging in to the topic before the craziness of the season hits. Because honestly, the changes we talk about in this episode aren’t going to happen overnight, and it might help to start thinking about them now, before the season is upon us.
“I would love you to discuss how you manage Christmas and all of the commercialism that surrounds it. How do you manage the expectations of what your children expect for Christmas? And how do you manage what family/friends give your children for Christmas? Because, as parents, we sometimes don’t have control over what others get for our children.”
It’s not an easy question, and it’s one I’m asked a lot, because so many of us struggle to balance the commercial aspects of the holiday season with our simple, slow living philosophy. It’s also a time when our differences can become very apparent, particularly when we have friends and family who have different ideas on gift giving.
I have my own thoughts on this topic, naturally, but my ideas are just that – mine. There’s so many different ways to approach the holiday season, so I invited Bele Masterman back to chat about her views on giving and receiving, whether re-gifting is OK (yes), how to buy second-hand, and what to do if a gift is unwanted.
We also talk about how best to manage our kids expectations, how to deal with family and friends who love giving gifts and how to let go of the guilt that comes with a sentimental present.
PS. This episode is a bit longer than normal, and we’d love to know if the length is something you enjoy, or if you prefer the shorter episodes. Let me know in the comments below.
I’m taking a break over the holidays. I think you should too. After all, it’s an opportunity to reconnect – with family, friends, spirit, passions, hobbies and yourself. And, if I’m honest, I’ll also be reconnecting with test cricket, mojitos and afternoon siestas.
So often we lament the fact that we don’t have enough time to relax, to connect, to just be. So let’s not waste this time of year. Let’s make it count.
I’ll be taking a digital sabbatical from today through to mid-January. To be truthful, you may not even notice I am gone. Things will be quiet this week – I’ll be walking the simple-living-walk and taking the Christmas week to reconnect and recharge – so there will be no new post this Thursday.
Aside from that though, I’ve scheduled some great posts for the break and there will be something new to read every Monday and Thursday, as usual. The difference being I won’t be around to reply to comments, Tweets or emails. And being that I’m not the Leader of the Free World I think the earth will continue to turn in my absence.
If you’re anything like me, you will be looking forward to some reading time over the holidays. And while I am demolishing Hunger Games (I know, I know), you may be looking for some reading material that is slightly less… brutal. So, for you, I’ve put together the 10 most popular Slow Your Home posts of 2012:
Sit back, grab a coffee, Tweet it out and bookmark this page if need be. This post is going to give you a lot to think about.
I’ve been writing about creating a simpler life for just on two years. Over those two years, my writing has improved dramatically, my worldview has shifted and my life and the life of my family is infinitely better. Simpler, freer, happier.
Those two years have produced over 280 articles – that’s more than 160,000 words – on creating your simpler life.
I write them to share what I have learned, what I struggle with, what I want you to know. I write them to myself, I write them to people I love, I write them to strangers.
It’s a great deal of time that I spend on this site, and I do it because I believe 200% in the positive power of living a simpler life. I know it helps people, it improves lives, it brings about happiness and passion and purpose and joy.
That being said, I don’t expect you to wade through 160,000 words to find the nuggets of gold.
Now, if shiny, white boxes float your boat, then that’s fabulous. But me? I love a home that has warmth, personality and history. I simply don’t like clutter. This post shows you that creating a beautiful, simple, clutter-free home does not mean creating a boring, sterile, style-less home. Read more…
Get rid of your paper clutter and the stress that comes with it. This is Part One of a 3-part series taking you through the entire process of getting organised and getting rid of the paper clutter – once and for all. Read more…
An inescapable part of creating a simpler, slower home is decluttering. This post takes you through the Never-Fail decluttering technique – it’s the only thing you need to know before you dive in. Read more…
Be it Christmas, birthday or anniversary, there are dozens of gift-giving times throughout the year. This post gives you 28 clutter-free gift options for your loved ones. Give a gift of love and enjoyment, not clutter and guilt. Read more…
Sentimental items feel like more than stuff. There is emotion tied up in them and they are often the hardest things to let go of. These three questions will help dramatically with your sentimental stuff. Read more…