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ellen kelley

I think you have a perfectly acceptable excuse. For heaven's sake, you just got back from a huge trip. There is jet lag to get over as well.
I am not ready and I haven't been anywhere other than the laundry room, bathroom and to get a glass of wine from the kitchen. My house is a disaster, my 120lb Newfoundland dog ate one of my Christmas presents for my oldest son who loves to cook...the present being a VERY large bag of New Mexico HOT chili peppers, the aftermath of which has not been a pretty sight today.
Happy Christmas to you and your family. It will be great!

ellen kelley

I think you have a perfectly acceptable excuse. For heaven's sake, you just got back from a huge trip. There is jet lag to get over as well.
I am not ready and I haven't been anywhere other than the laundry room, bathroom and to get a glass of wine from the kitchen. My house is a disaster, my 120lb Newfoundland dog ate one of my Christmas presents for my oldest son who loves to cook...the present being a VERY large bag of New Mexico HOT chili peppers, the aftermath of which has not been a pretty sight today.
Happy Christmas to you and your family. It will be great!


I love all the wonderful projects and pictures in that magazine. Great ideas.

Happy holidays!


I'm not pretty sure of the name in english, but when I was a kid, I did love shacks (cabane in french). Why don't you make one with some fabrics or a big cardboard box? That's the only thing I can think of right now.

Oh, and thanks for the cotton & paint images, great!


If it's any consolation, I tried to be organised for a change, and I was getting a bit smug.

But it's Thursday, and Christmas is Tuesday, and the mail order present for my 2 year old nephew hasn't arrived yet. We're not seeing him on Christmas Day - we're seeing him SUNDAY! This is rather stressful, because I don't know if I should just cave and buy him something else, or if it will arrive on time, and I don't want to waste thirty bucks on another present if I don't have to. EEK.

Do your kids like Lego? My brother and I played with that for hours at a time.


For the kids I say books books books! My 7 year old has been captivated by 'Everybody's Activity Book: Cut, Stick, Colour! by Pascale Estellon'.

But in a good bookshop, there will be something for every child of any passion and I don't know about you, but I never begrudge spending money on books.

Mama Urchin

Okay, may I suggest puzzles, legos (plastic but still good, I think), a sewing kit, books. I have little shopping to do but LOTS of making left to do so I'm in the boat with you.


Okay how's this: we're two months behind on the move in date of our new house so we're house sitting. All of our winter/Christmas things are in storage. So we have no tree or decorations. I have dinner with my family on Sunday and I haven't gotten any presents so for once I'm sponging off my brother and adding my name to his card for all my nephews (I'm paying him back by wrapping them tonight!). My poor 3 year old daughter has no idea what a crazy mixed up Christmas she's going to have this year. Oh, I did make some snowflakes with her last night. That's about as far as I've got. Feel better?


I love it when you share magazine pictures! Moulin Roty does make cute things,great choice!


You don't make things for your children? I have been having a wonderful time making things for my daughter and nieces based on the fabulous ideas I found at your weblog, especially Mousey whom I adore.(Thank you, by the way!)

One idea I saw at Soule Mama last year that I thought was great - a tent which fitted over the dining table.

Board games, cricket set, construction kits (eg, build a 3D robot or car), embroidery kit, paint by numbers, roller skates, kite. I'd say books too - my dd asked for a "book Christmas" for the second year in a row, but she's weird - do normal kids really like getting them?

Nicky Fraser

OH THANK GOD. I don't know which way is up at the moment, and keep staring vacantly at other people all jollying along so organised and fluffy, and even the guy in the coffee shop told me I looked 'bedraggled' today. Fantastic. No shopping done yet, hoards still to make, bags to pack, children to find and then clean, meals to 'pre-cook and freeze', (yeah, right) and ooodles more on the list. What day is it? Wednesday? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO !!! xx


Yeah what about books? I'm thinking of getting Dangerous Book For Boys and Daring Book For Girls for, ahem, myself, but I might share them with my daughter when she gets to about 7 or so.

Lazy Cow

My 7 yo book-loving, doll-hating daughter gets a book stack every Christmas (around 8 books). She's also getting Lego (the wonderful house construction one), a gardening set with seeds, a CD player (from her grandma)and 'sharing'with her 5 yo brother the big ticket toy: a Fur Real Squawking MacCaw (fun for the grownups too, I suspect). Any craft kit goes down well, along with Hama beads, huge packs of textas, etc. Good luck!

Karen in Wichita

I'm with you: all the relatives have asked for ideas for our son, and I've given them all of them. (Mostly: "Lego," and "Lego," and "some more Lego;" let's hope the obsession doesn't suddenly stop.)

My mother-in-law got him the Dangerous Book last year (or maybe birthday, I forget) along with a whole kit of stuff to do various things from the book. Chiefly he's amused himself with the windup alarm clock, setting it and then stashing it places. Glad it ticks loudly.


Oh dear, I've never been organized in my life - and my friends hate visiting me just because they cannot stand my piles of everything, covered with dust, cat hair and something that I don't mind thinking of... Anyhow: Christmas feeling is NOT the red ribbon artistically tied into the stairs, it's the feeling of relaxation, new book(s), chocolate and games. Nobody going anywhere.
As others already said, give your children books and legos (basic blocks, tons of basic blocks, not those mindstorm-Legos). Play Monopoly with them, and let them eat chocolate till they crave pickles.

Lynn in Tucson

Oh no no no no! It's not just you! Do you SEE all these comments? In fact, why am I sitting here? I have knitting to finish and no weekends at home left to me.

Hang in there. This, too, shall pass.


I promised my sister-in-law a tutu for her little girl to match my two girls and haven't made any of them yet. Haven't bought my son anything, and to add to the tutu palaver, both my girls have asked for a pet which neither of them are getting so I have to find a surprise substitute that will please them just as much, only haven't done that yet either. Hope this makes you feel less lonely. It makes me feel a great deal more panicky.

Lynn in Tucson

p.s. This comes highly recommended:


I have a 10 year old son who loves LEGO. I love LEGO because he not only builds the item, but he then changes it a bazillion times into whatever he wants. Great toy. I also have a 7 year old daughter. She loves dolls, but she also loves to draw and color so anything crafty is always a hit. She is begging for a diary with a key lock. All the rage with her little girlyfriends right now. They also have kits for making your own jewelry. (beads or even friendship bracelets made with embroidery floss).


What about books like Treasure Island or Robinson Crueso? Legos are good but in our house it's a walking hazard. Or maybe a microscope, if you can find a simple one. They make pop up books that are really fancy and they have fairy pop up paperdoll books. Copy and paste this
If it doesn't work the author is Maggie Bateson.


If anyone in the southeastern US sees a woman impersonating that same bewildered chicken, that would be me. I'm in that boat with you, and I love you too!


Well, they must be perfectly happy children if they have no lists! That's a GOOD thing!

When my nieces and nephews were little, I was known as the "book auntie" because I loathed going into a toy store but I could (and can) happily spend hours in a bookstore. They weren't ever very excited upon opening the gift, as it "did" nothing. But the books far outlasted any of the toys.


My daughter is 7 this Christmas too. I feel the same way you do about the plastic crap. This year I am giving her a marble run set by Quadrilla. It's made of wood and has fantastic spirals. I'm pretty sure that my 16 year old son will play with it with her; it looks that cool.I don't know if your daughter is too old, but I also bought a horse and pony ranch from Playmobil. I love all Playmobil, it's plastic, but not the terrible kind. Last suggestion, how about Calico Critters? Not so dolly like since they are animals, but you can set them up in homes or shops. Good luck and by the way the carpenter and sewing set are to die for. I tried accessing the site from your link, but couldn't find any ordering information. Do you know of a site where I could order from U.S.?


I've bought my 6 year old Molly lots of craft kits, Badge Maker machine, Sticker Making Machine, Dig for Gems Set,Soap Making Kit......... is that any help?
Absolutely love your blog, good luck with the shopping.

Maggie Pie

Im waiting for some christmas mojo..this year it appears to be a little late.I plan to do my shopping on saturday!!! What about a small baking kit?


I am so not ready for Christmas it's not even funny! I hate all the plastic crap too, these comments have been really helpful!
I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who's a little late this year! Good luck!!!

Caroline B

Haha, there's nothing like playing Christmas Chicken to keep you on your toes!! Having just finished work yesterday (in a school) I now have four days to sort out the house, finish shopping (3 more main gifts, a stocking to fill, Christmas dinner) as well as two painting commissions to get on with - might as well just hit the Bailey's now and admit defeat! Do you have a Hawkins Bazaar near you - great gifts (scientific,messy,constructive) for boys in there, and girls too if they are not 'girly'. Other than that, you are on your own - I need help too!


I think I will immediately start embroidering that cute little table runner from the magazine - just kidding!
I love you, too!

the creatist

no worry, sweets, it happens.. so relax, take a deep breath...
for the girl - you can give her a lil purse/bag/basket filled with handmade notebook + colors +clay+stitching kit..and few illustrated books

for the boy - sth to do with carpentry... paper cutting n makinn lil toys..board games..n ofcourse books :)

all the best!!


Hi! You are not the only disorganised one! How about a toy sewing machine for your daughter if she's in to sewing and knitting? The pink toy singer is currently £10 (half price) in hobbycraft if you have one nearby.
Lovely pics - I have a growing wishlist of Japanese craft books!


Thursday 20th Dec - I still have to buy presents for my kids and husband, going shopping tonight. Don't have a tree yet have to do that at the weekend. And then there is food shopping - help!
As for present suggestions you could give in and buy the plastic crap you never know it might turn out to be a collectors item one day.
Good luck and Merry Christmas!


Yup, that'll be me then, comfused and bewildered and here in S.E. UK! x


My nearly 7 year old daughter asked for a camera of her own and we got a very good deal on a little Nikon at PCWorld (I think or it may have been Comet). Her brother asked for the entire contents of the Argos catalogue. We settled for a Lego Exoforce kit as he loves constructing anything and although it's plastic it could be worse.
I've got a house to find under piles of dirt and rubbish and need to pack people, clothes and presents as we're away from this Saturday for nine days!!
Good luck and Merry Christmas when it gets here xxxx


GAMES, GAMES, GAMES and more GAMES. My boy is getting a lot of board games this year. Since I am the one coerced into playing 24/7, we have just got to have some new games before I off myself from having to play yet another round of Thomas' tracks and trestles or some other such thing.
We just put up our tree last night or should I say I spend the entire day doing it with the kiddo helping for a little bit. What is it with boys and lack of enthusiasm for Christmas decor? When the tree is up, you're halfway there and the adrenilin starts pumping to get you to the finish line. Good Luck! I am way behind so you are not alone.
HA HA Good Old Molly, I wasn't into Dollies either much to my Momma's chagrin. She tried so hard too to bring me over to the dolly side. I prefered GI joe and often put him in nothing but a loin cloth so he resembled TARZAN. I like my Men wild.
Merry Christmas Love.


What about "ello"? ( My daughter (9 years old) love it.


Would it make you feel better if I told you that I still have things that need to go in the mail??? Yeah, I am so behind! So what do I do....get online to check blogs! :)


I was very happy to see that 'Lauren Childs' has done a version of 'Pippi Longstocking' (out of stock at Amazon but in Waterstones I think).
When my daughter was seven I got her a cd/tape player and lots of story tapes (mostly classics like 'The railway children' and 'The phoenix and the carpet'. She is a great reader but she loved listening to tapes while she played. Thats all I can think of at the minute.
I am not organised, I don't think I will ever be organised. I only relax when it is late Christmas Eve and far too late to do anything but relax.
Have a fun Christmas.


One idea is to spread the presents out a bit - hide a sweet per present around the house. Put another matching sweet in a bag/hat and get the kids to pull out a sweet. They have to go and find the matching sweet around the house. The third matching sweet is sellotaped to their present. Jam jar with a lovely ribbon for them to put their stash of sweets - aim for toffees, fudge etc avoid colourings on Christmas day they will be hyper enough! Woolworths pick a mix is a good starting point.

Secondly, buy the kids some canvases and a really nice box of paints - water colours or acrylics . Some really cheap ones are available from Wilkinsons or The Works.

A brilliant game for boys and girls is Marble Run. A box of connecting parts that you can rearranged to post marbles down - go down different routes each time.

Hope this helps. If you want to reassure yourself about Christmas just think about all the lovely help the men give us at Christmas time. It always shocks my husband - yet Christmas is on the same date every year! Plonker!

Love and best wishes Emma


My son asked for almost all books that you have to buy used and I waited so long to order them that he might only have four used books for Christmas! The rest will mosey along later. My daughter also told me she'd let Santa decide and I haven't the foggiest idea what Santa will bring. About the only thing she really likes to do is hang out with other children and Santa is definitely not bringing her a few extra kids to keep around the house.

My family also celebrates Solstice, which is tomorrow. We usually make gifts. I haven't started making anything for the kids yet- and it's almost 7:30pm in the evening. There- I win!


Im sooo behind i cannot find the Christmas tree , the house is a tip and ive only just finished the last of my Christmas orders and now am on to gifts for family and friends !! My twin boys are 9 and are getting books and binoculars (we live in a pretty rural area and they love to bird watch)and the girls are getting lots of handmade stuff , sewing , cooking etc !!
To add a little bit of a challenge to it all my hubby broke his thumb on Monday :0)

Hope you have a great Christmas
Sara x


No gift yet (yes we are the 21th), no idea either. Just love me, a lot!


Might be a little late but the bok Tilda hus and Tilda Julehus might give you some inspiration ; )

Good Luck and Happy Holidays



My 9 year old boy asked for a baby brother - fed up with having a sister. His 6 year old sister wants a labrador - fed up with having a brother.
Neither child will get what they want but I'm hoping I'll find something to please (when I get to the shopping.) And me - I'm just happy they still believe in Father Christmas

Lil' d

That's how I feel about the toys on offer these days - that's why I ended up making my daughter a gift. I'll second (or third?) the recommendation of the Dangerous Book for Boys. Both my nephew and half-brother-in-law are getting one. My other idea was a penknife, but in California people can be a bit weird about that stuff, even for boy scouts.


I've got an idea (although it won't help w/the Christmas shopping). Let's all hop on a plane to Japan and try to get a job w/the Cotton & Paint magazine. I mean, really, where in the world do these people come up w/these beautiful ideas. Oh to be that creative, or even to be surrounded by it. Whew what a motivator. Ok, back to the real world. Blessings to you and yours.


Head to the hardware shop for your son. Buy lots of little pulleys and ropes and he'll have great fun rigging up things that go up and down. Things like little plastic bags of water that go up and up, and then comes down, down on some poor sod's head. The possibilities are endless.


Hey, don't be so hard on yourself... you pack so much in to your life and I'm sure you'll have a great Christmas despite your worries! Regards kids pressies.... how about putting together a 'make-things-box' with lots of paper, cloth, some glue, cardboard, buttons, sequins, lolloy sticks, beads, cut-out masks, car/truck , robot...etc shapes (from cereal packs- doesn't take long and they can paint, or stick things on to make a scene or story? May keep them busy, while you put your feet up on Boxing Day :)


I do hope you got everything sorted, as a fellow wanderer around various cities in Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire, you have my sympathy! Merry Christmas, Jennifer


My daughter is turning 9 tomorrow and wants a working manual typewriter. Maybe your son would like something like that.


I hope this late comment is not too late. But a present my 7 and 8 year olds loved the most was a headlamp.

Yes, get them headlamps, they´ll love it. Not expensive, and if they ever get bored to those lamps, you can have them. Great for crafting in a car (in case youre not driving yourself).

Happy christmas for you all! I enjoy reading this blog very much.

jemima bean

If it makes you feel any better, while blindly standing at the checkout counter today in the middle of a swarm of last minute shoppers...a girl I know stepped up to pat me on the shoulder and ask..."Are you all right?" I must have looked as befuddled as I felt. I'm done now, but I have no idea what I bought. Which doesn't matter because its all wrapped up tight with pretty paper & ribbon and that's what counts. Right?


Ok - I'm absolutely less organized than you! Here it is, Christmas Eve, and the house is in shambles. We're having new floors installed the day after Christmas, and still have a million things to do to get ready for that. It's starting to look like we might not be going to see family tonight, even. Shopping is done, but not one single thing is wrapped. 4-year old daughter is getting lots of art supplies, musical chimes, books, legos, Playmobil people. I like this site for ideas:


I barely finished gifts for my family last night, was at Target thismorning at 7 a.m. (Christmas Eve) to get presents for a refugee family we help, and still have three socks, two mittens and one hat to knit for my husband's family (whom we'll see on the 27th). I feel your pain!

melissa Halfpenny

I am sadder than you I did not put up the Christmas tree until Christmas eve and than I had to wrap the huge amount of presents that they got. I worked for 9 hours that day and the day before and I am stuffed.My husband had to put the swing set up on the eve also.....thank good for inlaws-to help with the kids!
Sorry to sound so pathetic!!
Melissa xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


I know this is a really late comment but for the future it might be useful. This toyshop based in Sussex has great wooden toys and things that are built to last:


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