DIY: Countdown to Christmas

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Count down to Dec. 25 with a homemade 12 days of Christmas calendar. Forget the partridge in a pear tree — this DIY craft idea is filled with fun activities to spend quality time together as a family leading up to the main event.

What you need:

1 medium-to-large corkboard
12 small gift bags or envelopes
1 package of thumbtacks
12 gift tags
Wrapping paper
Ribbon or garland
Numbered stickers (1 to 12) or stencils and ink to create your own numbers
An assortment of 12 chocolates or candies
Tape

Instructions

1) Set aside 12 small gift bags or envelopes (or a combination of both). Alternatively, brown paperbags, baby socks, boxes or burlap sacks can also be used.
2) Select 12 (or make up your own) of the following activities to complete as a family:

Decorate the tree
Take a Christmas card photo (ugly sweaters are encouraged)
Go skating
Watch a holiday movie
Have hot chocolate
Write a letter to Santa
Tour the best decorated houses in the area
Go see a Christmas play
Bake cookies (or reindeer cupcakes) for Santa
Make and decorate a gingerbread house
Read a Christmas story
Play board games
Get a picture taken with Santa
Open a gift on Christmas Eve
Wear new pajamas to bed
Open presents!

3) Write your chosen 12 selected activities on the back of 12 gift tags.
4) Fill small gift bags or envelopes with chocolate or candy.
5) Place each of the 12 gift tags with activities inside every envelope or attach one to each bag.
DSC_4951IMG_1775 6) Cover a corkboard in wrapping paper of your choice.
7) Attach two strips of ribbon or garland on to the corkboard. One should be near the top and the other near the centre. Tape excess pieces on the back of the corkboard.
8) Lay out the small gift bags or envelopes on the corkboard to make sure it looks pleasing before attaching each piece with a thumbtack along the ribbon or garland line.
9) Using the numbered stickers, stick the numbers 1 through 12 on each bag, envelope or gift tag. They can be placed in order counting up or down to 12 or out of order so it takes people in your household a few seconds to find the next number.
10) Place the corkboard on display and you’re ready to start counting down the days to Christmas.
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DIY: Rudolph and Reindeer

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Dress up your favourite homemade cupcakes as Rudolph and his reindeer pals. The end result is cute, seasonal and, best of all, edible.

What you need:

12 cupcakes
2 boxes of Smarties
2 packages of M&M’S (or 1 bag of chocolate chips)
1 package of frosting
1 bag of chocolate or yogurt-covered pretzels
1 box of Mr. Christie’s Nilla vanilla-flavoured wafers
1 package of mints or mini marshmallows

Instructions:

1) Apply a thin layer of frosting to already cooled-off cupcakes. (No one will know if you opt for a box of cupcake or brownie mix instead of doing it from scratch.)

2) Place one Mr. Christie’s Nilla vanilla flavoured wafer* near the bottom middle edge of each cupcake.

3) It’s time for the antlers. Place two chocolate or yogurt-covered pretzels above each wafer, with the round edge facing downwards. Parts of the pretzels should extend off of the cupcakes.

4) Dip two mints or mini marshmallows in frosting and place in centre of each cupcake, above the wafers and on top of the pretzels. The frosting holds the reindeer’s eyes in place.

5) Sort M&M’S into matching colours. Using two blue or brown M&M’S per cupcake, cover one side in frosting and place matching M&M’S onto every mint or mini marshmallow. (Using two packages of M&M’S should ensure enough blue and brown chocolates are available. If not, incorporate any colours aside from red.) The M&M’S can also be substituted with chocolate chips.

5) Sort Smarties and select only the brown Smarties and one red candy for the reindeer’s noses. Dip Smarties into frosting on one side and place in centre of each wafer. The cupcake with the red nose is Rudolph.

6) Enjoy and serve to guests.

*Mr. Christie’s Nilla vanilla-flavoured wafers can be substituted with any small cookie of choice (shortbread, anyone?) but I find larger cookies take up too much space on the cupcakes.

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