Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Most Magical Time of the Year...

So we (a large percentage of us in the Western World and those of us who live by Western trends) are all preparing for that event that comes once a year. Christmas! 

Here's how things are done around here:

It starts with a tree...

Add some candy canes...

Some trimmings...

And let's not forget one thing: THE PRESENTS!

And we're all set for the arrival of Santa Claus! 

On the tree:

We weren't planning on buying a tree this year. We don't have a lot of space in our place and so we were limited for storage space. Our options were thin on the ground and having a tree seemed more hassle than it was worth - we couldn't find one that was under a certain size that was decent (and didn't look like a toilet brush with tinsel on). I'd sold into the idea of buying a pop-up tree (at least then it folded down into one compact size) and that was when Bryan spotted Christmas in a bag. This is the perfect solution as the tree comes apart - with the branches folding up into compact sizes, perfect for storing. Everything then fits back into the bag once it's been used. It's about the same size as a woman's weekend bag. 

On the candy canes:

When I was growing up, this is something we had on our tree every year. My Mum would buy a box of candy canes from BHS (for about £10 for a box of 20 and I have just bought a box of 12 for £1) in which to decorate the tree. I know this is a very Americanised Christmas tradition, but it is also a Kirk Christmas tradition, too! And so, it has become a Quinn Christmas tradition ;). It didn't feel quite like Christmas until the candy canes were bought and hung on the tree - they're also very tempting to munch but I'm restraining myself and keeping them for decorative purposes have nibbled a few.

On the trimmings:

I really, really didn't want to overdo the Christmas decorations this year. I think Christmas can be understated, restrained and still look gorgeous. I dedicated the biggest table in our flat to the tree and slowly but surely it has become the "Christmas Corner." We have one Santa decoration hanging above our radiator and some Christmas cards up on our shelf, but I think that'll do this year. However, there were obvious little trinkets, added extras and the matter of stockings to consider ;). Roman's stocking hasn't arrived yet (sadly), but I have hung mine. Bryan want's a sock, so that's why you only see one stocking hanging up. 

I also added under the tree Roman's name train. I stole this idea from my Christmas crazy friend Lauren - who is like the opposite of the Grinch at Christmas time. I can't believe how much has changed from this time last year to now: pretty much everything!

I've included a few little reminders of last year's Christmas under our tree. My Mum gave me a cute little Christmas tree trinket box last year and it wasn't until a few days ago that I found it in Roman's room. I thought it would look perfect under our tree, along with an empty (but pretty) box which contained some presents Bryan's Mum got me last year. I kept the box because it was one of those things that was too pretty to be thrown away and I'm glad I did as it looks brilliant with all the presents under our tree.

Ah yes, and lest I forget my After Eight Santa! I have not seen these anywhere ever before, so when I spotted them in the Poundshop (of all places!) in October I told Bryan I would really like one in my stocking this year as it's impossible to find anything like this that's dairy free. I decided to buy one in for myself as it seemed like the sort of thing that might sell like hot cakes - and I was right! I didn't see them in any of the Poundshops we visited and I was convinced I'd missed my opportunity - until I saw them yesterday!

 I don't actually know what it will taste like, but I'm just so excited of finding a Santa chocolate like this - I feel like I've found Narnia in a wardrobe.

On the presents:

As I read more and more stories about toxic chemicals in plastic toys (and how our government recently put a ban on how certain products were made) I was slightly worried about the heavy plasticised toy market out there - nearly everything is made from plastic! I don't blame the manufacturers (well, actually, I do) as these products are cheap, pliable and affordable for their customers (although in saying that we scored Roman's presents for cheaper than any of the plastic things I've seen).

Of course, there are "safe plastics" out there and while he still has some plastic based toys in his toy box, it's also bearing in mind the production mess that these toys make (the factory pumping out harmful toxins into the atmosphere, into the rivers and oceans and back into the soil and landfill sites) - and the recycling mess on a domestic level. As we all know, plastic is very hard wearing, and with this it can take about a gazillion years to break down in recycling (not literally a gazillion years.)

So, with this in mind I was quite adamant that a bulk of his presents (if not all) that came from us were wood-based toys. I'm not sure what we'll do when he Bryan wants Lego in the coming years - but I suppose the argument for Lego is that it's awesome (please note the sarcasm...kind of.) 

One of the "big presents" is this wooden activity cube. It has a shape sorter on top, clock face and hands on one side, a wooden maze/wooden block thingy on side, a hippo and lion style abacus on one side and a magnetic board on another side. It's charming - but it weighs a tonne!

It's gorgeous and reminds me of childhood for some strange reason. 

Other things we've got him: a wooden lift and place jigsaw puzzle, a huge box of wooden blocks and little animals, a T-shirt saying "My Daddy Rocks" and an alien hooded dressing gown - there is also the matter of a wooden stacking owl from Brio which we're still humming and hawing over. He will also have his little stocking which will be filled with baby-appropriate lovelies. We're simply not over-doing it this year with him and enjoying the fact he's here and outside the womb this year! 

*Although I'm tempted to buy him more - but it's not appropriate. We don't have the space. And we want to move. And his First birthday is in February. I need to keep the Greedy Guts inside me and ignore all the Baby Toy related emails that keep popping up in my Inbox. Babies don't remember their First Christmases! Plus, when he's a teenager I'm sure he'll have all kinds of unreasonable and expensive gift requests.

I say that as though I've bought him a lump of coal and a mouldy orange. I think what we've got him is a perfect amount and I really feel as though we've struck the right balance between "too little" and "too much."