The Oxfam Simplify Your Christmas blog carnival invited bloggers to share their favourite family Christmas activities – those things that make the festive season special, without costing a fortune.
I had planned to impress you with our amazing, foolproof 'make your own snowglobe' tutorial but unfortunately when making our snowglobe 10 minutes ago (What? Lastminute is festive) Flea dropped it, and broke it.
On the upside, the wooden floor in the dining room now has a very festive sheen of silver glitter. On the downside, it left us without a craft activity to tell you about. So in the grand tradition of Blue Peter, here's one I wrote earlier:
Ingredients for Vanilla Christmas Cookies:
- 140g icing sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 250g butter, cubed
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 375g plain flour, sifted
- Make spontaneous decision that baking Christmas cookies will be fun, festive activity, promoting mother/daughter bonding and creating magical memories. Find simple recipe on BBC website. Realise have none of the required ingredients. Drive to Morrisons.
- Purchase ingredients, drive home.
- Wash and dry hands. Put on aprons.
- Find Christmas play-list on iPod for optimal seasonal soundtrack to magical cookie baking experience.
- Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees. Find large mixing bowl, and lay out ingredients.
- Say, “Oh, ICING sugar? That’s not the same as regular sugar, right?”
- Put child into car, while saying, “Just keep the apron on, nobody’s going to see you. I don't care which coat you wear, just put a coat on.” Fight with garage door lock, which seems to have frozen shut, muttering, “Holy FUCK, it’s cold” through chattering teeth, while random man walking dog gives you dirty looks.
- Drive to local Co-op. Park on double yellow lines. Run into Co-Op, find icing sugar, pay, run back out to car.
- Say, “Was it icing sugar or caster sugar? I bet we need caster sugar.”
Rush back into Co-Op. Look for caster sugar. Ignore sneering expression of teenage shop assistant. Buy caster sugar. Drive back home. Park in garage too close to wall, requiring highly undignified clambering out of the car door, which will only open 8 inches.
Sift icing sugar (not caster sugar) into mixing bowl, with egg yolk, cubed butter, vanilla essence and flour.
- Read instructions, realise you’re actually supposed to mix together all the ingredients EXCEPT the flour first.
- Consider starting again. Check, and realise spare butter in the fridge went out of date in June. Decide to work with what you’ve got.
- Mix together ingredients to resemble a light dough using electric mixer. Remember electric mixer doesn't have a fuse since you borrowed it to try and fix a lamp about six months ago.
- Pause baking to look for screwdriver to remove fuse from microwave for electric mixer. Switch fuses, and mix ingredients into dough.
- Realise ingredients resemble dough in the same way a cat resembles a tree. Decide to add milk. It’s not in the recipe, but it makes it turn into dough, so how can it be wrong?
- Roll out the dough to a thickness of approximately half an inch.
- Use cutters to cut out festive shapes from the dough.
- Realise you don’t have any festive shapes. Decide that, actually, elephants and giraffes are an often overlooked element of the Christmas story, and go with those. Also, tell child that in the stable with Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus, everyone knows there was a Christmas crocodile.
- Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes. Unless you have made freakishly large Christmas giraffes and gingerbread men, in which case probably 14 minutes.
- Don’t pick up the cookies until they’re cool. Cause, like, their heads fall off. This tends not to go down well among any four year olds who might be watching.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack, then decorate tastefully with icing and sprinkles. Less is more, remember.
If you'd like to do something that will actually teach your children something useful this Christmas, may I humbly suggest checking out the Oxfam Unwrapped gift range?
Oxfam Unwrapped provides ethical gifts for people in genuine need around the world, and let's face it – it's not often we get to buy a gift that will truly mean the world to someone, is it? My best friend worked as a forest ranger in his youth, so I'll be buying him the Save Trees gift (£14), which helps train communities in forest management skills to protect their forests, while also funding lobbying and campaigns addressing climate change and environmental protection issues.