Last Minute Christmas Ideas

Decorations are in the shops from August in some places, carols are playing over the speakers in shopping centres, and Christmas comes earlier and becomes more commercialized every year.

Even kids are organized early, these days. When my children were younger, a lengthy Christmas wish list of various items ranging in price from in expensive to earth shattering out of my budget, expensive, would appear on my bedroom wall, about a month before Christmas Day. Just in case I was unsure of what exactly to buy for them for Xmas. 

Kids growing expectations of Christmas gifts

There is expectations around gift giving now. Mind you, can’t really blame the kids for trying, even if the follow through does not reach such dizzying heights.

Humbling was the child from a family, at school, who said, when asked what they got from Santa, “A new lunchbox for school.”  Did this pull at my heart strings?  Oh yes, indeed. Makes me think of many possible alternative options for low cost or free activities, as gifts, that one can request and give for Christmas.

(Write these up onto pretty gift cards, placed in a “surprise bag” and could be pulled out by each child/ adult, as a kind of lucky dip/Christmas game)
* A warm and cosy evening/day spent doing whatever each child wishes, one on one, without disturbances from computer, phone, mobile phone or Ipod, Ipad etc etc.  It might be a board game, cocoa and a chat, playing games, like hide n seek, or pictionary/ monopoly.

* A Christmas themed movie or power-point presentation for Grandparents and/or extended family

* Building a cubby house, go cart, or raft together. This can be as complex or as simple as you like: the full wooden hammer and nails bit, or a large cardboard box.

* Sewing or embroidering a calico/reusable plain shopping bags, with permanent markers or paint

*Make low cost decorations for the tree with pre-printed felt, ribbon and glue.

Embroidery star decoration
Simple – cut out printed felt or embroider and glue to make low cost decorations

* Making the Christmas cake/ lolly or cookie jars to give to others.

* Setting out tea light candles all along your street and letterbox dropping others on surrounding streets to do the same. We do this and call it ‘Santa’s highway’.

Tivoli

* Making a card or memory album for Grandma

* Constructing a year in my family chronicle to give out to family members at Xmas with recipes, funny stories, and photos.

* Challenge the kids to present a puppet show or play to family members on Christmas Day. Make a video to give to them when they are older

* A talent quest for family members with a Christmas theme

(Chocolate Prizes for all entrants)

* Swimming or running races or even Trampoline competitions if you have one

* A Forest hike

* A walk or play on the beach, perhaps with the promise of ice cream afterwards.

* If the kids are into books, a trip to the library or bookstore or book exchange

Lucerne christmas

There are plenty more ideas available on the net or in books, so these are just a few that came to me, off the top of my head. This kind of experience will stay in a child’s memory for longer than the short lived joy of getting a cheap plastic toy that may be broken/forgotten in a few months time.

Christmas need not be super expensive. Be creative and have fun, and still be giving a priceless gift that has the bonus of being environmentally friendly.

These activities will surely be something kids might ponder about when they reminisce about Christmas past.

Ways to save money this Christmas and still have fun with the family.

How do you manage Christmas spending?

Have you got a way to save money and still have fun with the children?

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Walking Around in Whitby

Named after British explorer, James Cook, this place is as far from its namesake town locality as it could possibly be, so what is there to see in Whitby?

Join me for a walk and see….

 

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A suburban street in Whitby

 

You may have read about my previous visits to New Zealand, but it is Whitby, a suburban area, located north of the capital, Wellington, that featured on our walk today.

There is strong evidence of middle income suburban New Zealand, here, but Whitby also offers some unique but lesser known features, which I was to discover on a family walk among its well manicured streets.

trees

Coniferous trees relish a cool, temperate climate, quite different to the sub-tropical flora my kin might see at home.

Seeing them along dotted along the littoral fringe and stream that bisects this town, our minds filled with thoughts of hobbits and elves and ‘Middle Earth.’

Well, we were after all, in New Zealand!

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The path, to the right, next to the tunnel of trees, along the littoral fringe.

 

 

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The flowers alone are worth walking miles for….

 

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Plants like the Protea, above, and this spectacular hydrangea bush, that I struggle to grow back home, relish the cooler, more wet humid climate and seem to grow like weeds!

 

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What is that definition of a weed?

Just a plant in the wrong place!

 

But it is not all trees and flowers we spotted on our walk.

 

The Kiwis are not at all overly formal in their manner, their sense of humour being evident in this unusual garden statue.

 

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Who wants a regular garden gnome, anyway?

 

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Pexels.com

 

Besides being named after the British birthplace of explorer, Captain James Cook, the attraction about Whitby for me, was found in the unique, natural beauty of the surrounding mountains.

Visible from practically any street in this locality, it is easy to be mesmerized by the distant mountains which remind me of convolutions of a green Giant’s velvet brain.

Our walk encompasses a stop at a flat-topped Spinnaker Summit Lookout, at which the mandatory photo stop was required.

 

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The mountains of green velour on the far side of the lake look as if a giant laid down a carpet and then slept on it, failing to smooth the grassy covers when he arose from his slumber.

One feels like you could rub your hand over them just to feel their soft, velour texture.

I have never seen hills like this anywhere else in the world.

It is said that New Zealand has some similarities to Norway, well, maybe not in this area…..

 

A backdrop of mountains and hills like the convolutions of a green velvet brain

 

A walk around a suburban area often gives one a feel for the personalities who live there.

The diversity of boutique letter box designs was a delightful recurring theme in Whitby.

 

letter box

 

I would like one of these letter boxes!

letter box

Walking further from the lake and Summit lookout, we spotted several Tui birds relishing the blossoms, hunting, as they were for some food.

This species of honey-eater is not under any threat, having adapted well to the urban environment in the North Island.

Wiki states that apparently the early European colonists called it the Parson Bird but, as with many New Zealand birds, the Maori name ‘Tui’ is now the common name.

[Source: Wikipedia]

TuiTui

 

 

 

After a good hour of strolling the suburban streets, Miss H and the young ‘uns were getting that glazed look in their eyes that said,” I’m soo bored” – you know the one that teens do so well, thus, a extension to our walk was quickly made to Adrenalin Forest, Porirua, on the outer edges of Whitby!!! Now it was the kid’s turn to dictate the direction of the “walk,” as the “Adrenaline forest” is an aerial obstacle course consisting of flying fox, high ropes, climbing through barrels, nets and steps, suspended above the ground, which makes for a fun and energetic few hours. The kids are harnessed with two dual locks, so it is impossible to remove both clamps from the harness at the one time, making it a perfectly safe activity, even for the most reckless individual. Furthermore, the attendants give full instructions and a good dose of practice on ground level before starting the course.

Adrenalin Forest

 

I venture to say it is a kids only activity, as I didn’t see any adults participating in the course.

Why?

The parents/carers were all down on terra firma, shouting encouraging thoughts above, who were hanging by the harness up to 60 feet above them in the tree tops.

The course becomes incrementally more difficult, and Miss 11 who was part of our group, piked out at Level 3, and had to be ‘rescued’ – which meant that an attendant had to climb a ladder and disengage you from the course.

Miss 13 and 16 kept going till Level 4, but were exhausted afterwards. A real endurance activity for some.

 

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The Adrenalin forest is loads of fun if you are ever in Wellington, or Whitby surrounds.

Kids have exercise, fun, learn new skills, conquer their fears and the bonus is they are sun safe (in the shade) and cannot check mobile devices whilst they are up there!! I noted there was limited seating, (and nowhere to purchase refreshments) for adults who are watching, and the constant looking upwards was a posture most adults are not used to.

Like me, I suspect most of them could use a neck brace of sorts afterwards.

Something the young 19 year old me would not have to Ponder About

New Zealand
Restless Jo
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