How to Make Your Own Christmas Crackers – BOSCH #showusyourmess Competition

How to Make Your Own Christmas Crackers – BOSCH #showusyourmess Competition

BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children

We were invited along with nine other blogs to make our own Christmas Crackers by BOSCH for the chance to win the new Athlet hoover. We of course were so excited and jumped at the chance. The challenge was to make the crackers with the beautiful craft package sent by BOSCH and #showusyourmess whilst we did it. We were to be as creative as possible. Obviously with my little performers they milked this for all it is worth and even came up with a story as to why we had to make these crackers.

BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children
the BOSCH Athlet in action

Before you watch the video just to make you aware of the characters in play :

Ogre King JimBob – has stolen the Ultimate Cracker and could potentially change Christmas forever

Queen Shayla the ‘Orrible – the Ogre King’s wife (only really interested in his power)

Old Father Evergreen – a talking Christmas Tree (apparently)

The Guardian of the Ultimate Cracker – who was asleep and allowed it to fall into the Ogre King’s evil hands

The Young Adventurers – who have to make more crackers of power to defeat the Ogre King

If you dare view continue by pressing play below –

We loved the beautiful craft package, all the packet said we needed was some scissors, sticky tape and 10 sweets or mini prizes to go inside the crackers, and a pen.  We tried to add our own things into the mix (felt tip pens, fancy edging scissors) but they honestly weren’t needed.  Everything was in the DIY package that we needed.

BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children

It took us a while to get into the packaging as you will have seen on the video and then Isis started to begin the first step which was sticking the card strips (the part that goes *BANG*) into the inside of the main body of the cracker.

BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children

Putting all the little cardboard pieces together was actually quite tricky, I was going to delegate it to Shayla-Rae but I found it quite fiddly myself and had to do the majority of the cracker making… however, the children thoroughly enjoyed decorating them all themselves.  We had 10 of the central barrels and the outside ones were just to retain the shape whilst you secured the string and were used for all 10 crackers.

BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children

We cello-taped all our inner barrels so that they would be more secure.  They were well made, but we had a little baby of destruction on the prowl who was trying to sabotage most of the creating, so we wanted them to be extra sturdy.  Once we had the basic shape, you secure one side before putting the christmas hat, joke and sweets we chose inside of the cracker barrel.

BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children

Once the insides were safely stuffed with cracker goodness we secured the top edge too.  This was when I would then pass the crackers over for decorating.  Although, Isis also got quite good at wrapping the hats, jokes and sweets really tight so they would fit inside the cracker barrels.

BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children

BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children

All the sticking and writing was a bit too difficult for Judah and obviously Eden, so Isis and Shayla took it in turns to decorate the crackers.  Out of the 10 they all had two each and Daddy and I were graced with one each.  We really enjoyed creating these Christmas Crackers and would definitely recommend the DIY packs from Meri Meri, a little too late now we’re aware but definitely something to keep in mind for next year…. you can order them by clicking here.

BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children

The challenge from BOSCH was to #showusyourmess so we took some snaps of some of the mess created whilst we spent an hour making crackers.  Here are some of the snaps of the players involved and the trails they left behind…

BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children

BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for childrenBOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children

BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children
Eden liked wearing the ribbon like a scarf
BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children
we made the crackers out of this crepe paper and you would never know Judah had his hand at the helm earlier

BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children

BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children BOSCH Christmas Crackers, showusyourmess, DIY Christmas crafts, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, crafts for children

To be honest we made nowhere near the usual scale of mess but as it was quite a specific craft with all the pieces to be used included in the pack and we had to confiscate the beautiful jingle bells as Eden kept trying to eat them, we had to highly supervise this crafting experience.

The truth is we had to tidy up a lot just to be able to dare get the camera out and film in the first place.  Haha, all I can say is BOSCH… I have four children, two of which are toddlers, I don’t think there’s much competition for how much I need the amazing new Athlet wireless hoover, check it out by clicking here.  We hoover our floor about six times daily and it would be amazing to not be constantly tripping on Henry’s cable, especially considering Daddy (as Isis mentions in the video) was always hoovering food with Henry and he now really stinks the house out every time he is used.  I don’t however want to beg for the hoover, I hope we have done a great challenge and I know the other bloggers you will have chosen will all be worthy causes too….. we just very much hope we win and of course will be happy to review it for you afterwards *coughs* *knudge, knudge* *wink, wink*.
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Carolling with Radio Lancashire

Carolling with Radio Lancashire

carolling, Christmas, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family

Last Thursday the church that I grew up in had been asked to sing in a new Supermarket that had been opened across from their building.  Radio Lancashire were doing a segment, ‘Lancashire sings Christmas’ and all over the county there would be different choirs singing along with the radio and carolling in various locations.  The people from ‘Living Waters Church‘ had turned out to sing together in the foyer of the new ASDA, and the supermarket was kind enough to provide drinks and mince pies for all the carollers.  The girls had heard it being advertised when we were visiting the church a couple of weeks prior so they really wanted to go.  So, we did.

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youngest little Carollers

It was lovely having the girls there as they drew some more attention with how cute they were, and also, Christmas is always so much more magical when there’s children involved.  Isis was fantastic singing along with all the carols, whether she knew them or not.  Obviously carols are very repetitive and usually once it had got to the second chorus she was familiar with the tune and singing along as well as the rest anyway.  Shayla was very cute as she only really knew a few and some had different words (we had all been given booklets), she is doing excellent with her reading, but even for a progressive 5 year old, it was a bit quick to sing along with.  She did however very much enjoy ‘Away in a Manger’ and ‘Silent Night’ she was so pleased with herself after those songs and was just flashing a beaming smile.

sparkly dresses, NEXT partywear, carolling, twirling, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family sparkly dresses, NEXT partywear, carolling, twirling, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family

We had just finished doing our family’s Christmas photoshoot for THAT festive photo before we had headed out so the girls still had on their sparkly dresses from Next.  We went to get a drink from the cafe before everyone else as their little throats couldn’t manage the whole hour without something to wet their throats.  They decided to show me how their dresses could spin around after they’d had some juice, and then we went back to carolling.

It was a very exciting night for them, they love singing, they love any kind of performing bless them, they see anywhere where there’s people as practice for their futures in stardom.  So funny.  Who knows if this will still be the pursuit of their hearts in a few years but for now I have to admire their little dedication to their craft haha.  I NEVER wanted to be the pushy Mother trying to get their children to be the stars but with the girls that just isn’t needed as they push themselves.  They want to be involved in EVERYTHING and obviously so long as we can see they aren’t overstretched we allow them.  This passion may fade in the coming years but I love how much they enjoy being involved in all things arty.

It was a privilege to able to join in with my home church and the girls had a great time.  It was lovely to bring some festive joy to the Christmas shoppers at ASDA too.  Maybe this will become a Christmas tradition, who knows?

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Dinner with Santa at Barton Grange

Dinner with Santa at Barton Grange
Christmas, Dinner with Santa, Barton Grange, Santa's Grotto, Father Christmas, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family

This afternoon after school had finished for the festive holidays, the Grandparents (my inlaws) had paid for us to all go to have Dinner with Father Christmas at Barton Grange, a garden centre near to where we live.   Barton Grange is just magical at Christmas they have won awards for their displays and if you ever have the pleasure of going one year you will see why.  It was just beautiful and Judah could not take it all in.   He was mesmerised, running around each display with so much glee and excitement I thought he was going to explode.  You could see all the onlookers delight in watching how amazing Christmas is when you’re a toddler.  I honestly think it is my favourite Christmas memory to date thinking back through all my Christmases past…. to watch him drinking in everything…. well, it’s one of the best Mum moments I’ve encountered.

excited toddler, christmas, christmas lights, Barton Grange, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
couldn’t keep up with him, so blurred image I’m afraid
Christmas toddlers, reindeer lights, christmas lights, excited toddlers, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
He was so sweet wanting to stroke all the animals on the various displays

Anyway, are you prepared for a LOT of photos.  Dinner with Santa was lovely the children were filled with such excitement whilst they were waiting for him to arrive and enjoying their sandwiches etc.  Barton Grange had provided them each with ham sandwiches – cheese was available also for the vegetarian – they had crisps, yoghurt, chocolate chip cookie, and colouring items for those that weren’t so excited, ours didn’t touch their crayons which is a first.

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Gorgeous Eden was super excited too
happy toddlers, the monkey prince, Christmas, uncle and nephew, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Judah loves hanging out with his Uncle John – so lovely to watch
unicorn party hats, Christmas, beautiful children, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
was hard to try and catch a picture of Shayla without Isis’ hat in the way, this was the best of the bunch – they were both unicorns *smiles*
unicorn party hats, beautiful children, Christmas, sparkle, silver, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Queen of the Unicorns – our eldest Isis Mae

Whilst the elves were serving out dinner, the head elf came and sat with us (he went round each table) and chatted to the children and made them each something with balloons.  He was very entertaining, my father-in-law was saying how the entertainment at the beginning was like being in our own pantomime…. he was right, the whole time everyone stayed in character and really incited the magic of Christmas, stirring up the excitement ready for Santa’s arrival.

balloon flowers, elves, Christmas, beautiful girl, Christmas dinner, Barton Grange, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Shayla-Rae her balloon flower and the elf
balloon animals, Christmas, Barton Grange, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Eden loved her little poodle
balloon flowers, beautiful girl, Christmas, Barton Grange, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Isis Mae and her flower
the Simpsons, Christmas, Bart & Homer, dontcallmestepmummy, Barton Grange, blended family
Judah had fun re-enacting the Simpsons with Uncle John

When the big man himself came out they were so excited.  I was too to be honest, they had built it up so well.  They each got to go up and collect a present from Father Christmas.  We had let them know the age of each child and their sex so they could prepare the gifts.  It was really quite lovely.

Barton Grange, Santa's Grotto, dinner with Santa, Christmas, Father Christmas, presents, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family

Judah collecting his gift

Barton Grange, Santa's Grotto, dinner with Santa, Christmas, Father Christmas, presents, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Eden took Daddy to help her collect her gift
Barton Grange, Santa's Grotto, dinner with Santa, Christmas, Father Christmas, presents, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Shayla-Rae collecting her present
Barton Grange, Santa's Grotto, dinner with Santa, Christmas, Father Christmas, presents, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Isis collecting her gift

They each received a beautiful age appropriate book, a creative toy, and a pack of chocolate gold coins.  They were all thrilled.  Barton Grange must have decided Judah was a girl though as his presents were pink…. he’s at an age where he’s not fussed and we’re not for making toys about gender but as all the others were so gender specific they must have lost the information of him being a boy.  He loved his little pink cars anyway and we didn’t make a fuss as it wasn’t like he’d been given a dress, this was still something he will use a lot.

gift from Santa, Christmas, presents, Barton Grange, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Shayla was thrilled
gift from Santa, Christmas, presents, Barton Grange, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Isis has entertained us with the joke book she received already
gift from Santa, Christmas, presents, Barton Grange, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Judah with his little cars
gift from Santa, Christmas, presents, Barton Grange, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Eden had more fun opening the paper

Finally at the end of the dinner everyone was able to go and have a photo taken on Father Christmas’ knee.

Santa's knee, Father Christmas, Santa's grotto, dinner with Father Christmas, Barton Grange, beautiful children, Christmas, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
took Isis a few attempts to sit on the arm of that chair
Santa's knee, Father Christmas, Santa's grotto, dinner with Father Christmas, Barton Grange, beautiful children, Christmas, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Judah was unimpressed haha
girl elves, Santa's knee, Father Christmas, Santa's grotto, dinner with Father Christmas, Barton Grange, beautiful children, Christmas, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
The girls wanted a photo with the elves
Santa's knee, Father Christmas, Santa's grotto, dinner with Father Christmas, Barton Grange, beautiful children, Christmas, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Eden was intrigued by him
Santa's knee, Father Christmas, Santa's grotto, dinner with Father Christmas, Barton Grange, beautiful children, Christmas, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Shayla-Rae with Santa

I would thoroughly recommend the whole experience, it is quite pricey at £20 per child and £7 per adult in attendance.  I’m not sure we would’ve paid it, but with the in-laws generously paying, it has definitely made me think about saving up for next year as the children enjoyed it so much.  There are so many wonderful Christmas experiences, as a newb really with this being the first Christmas my first born (about to be 2 and a half) has really understood, we’re just branching out into all the different things that can be done.  Maybe this will be one of our Christmas traditions… who knows?
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THAT festive photo

THAT festive photo

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So, it’s that time of year, and trying to find presents for Grandparents who have EVERYTHING is difficult. The children are at an age where almost every month the family portraits, or siblings posts look different.  So, they always appreciate an updated photograph of the children.  Eden will be walking soon and the possibilities will all change again of the places I’ll be able to take pictures of my littlies.  She is still in age 3-6 months clothes so their pictures don’t look too different month to month in terms of the height dynamics, but I can’t wait until she’s fully walking.  I’m going to love snapping them all playing together.

After the children were home from school last night, I knew it was now or never for getting THAT festive photo that I wanted, so I sat and did the girls hair.  We opted for a dutch flower braid, tutorial for how to if you click here.

dutch flower braid, cute girls hairstyles, braids, braids for girls, christmas, christmas tree, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
Dutch Flower Braid
dutch flower braid, cute girls hairstyles, braids, braids for girls, christmas, christmas tree, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family, siblings, sisters
sisters

I find it so hard trying to catch them all looking happy at the same time.  We get the really overposed pictures from Shayla-Rae who I’m becoming more and more convinced was born to be in the public eye, or them all looking really confused and bored about where to look which I guess says more about my direction as photographer, but hey, we’re all newbs here.

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our handsome little man

His hair grows so quick, he is definitely in need of a hair cut, but I quite like it, especially when we spike it all up and he looks like he belongs in One Direction.  I enjoyed being a bit trigger happy sorting out the children, the most time consuming part was getting them all dressed (thankyou Next) and hair done and then we quickly snapped what we could before I had to take the girls out carolling.  When we can afford we ALWAYS get our favourite family photographer in – Philip Bamber (you’ll find our pictures randomly crop up on his website as we’ve used him so much).

DSC_0745 DSC_0719

I like that our photos are more natural this year though, with hoovers spotted in the background, random bits on the floor.  This is an accurate portrayal of life in our home, although we’re not normally dressed so fancy *winks*.DSC_0860 DSC_0828

I know that the grandparents will love these snaps, as I posted one on my facebook page last night and this morning Nanny Georgina had already shared it on her page.

Hope you all have a lovely festive week ahead of you, swift recovery to all those who are unwell.  We have a crazy one, and I know that coffee and painkillers will be my best friend for the next few days, I am not going to stop it letting me have some seasonal fun.
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Siblings in December

Siblings in December

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This month I will be taking some pictures of the children all looking beautiful in front of the tree in their Christmas outfits that we picked out for them…. hold out for that blog post… but I wanted our Sibling post to capture the natural part of our Christmas.  The above photo was taken after they’d finished decorating the tree, early in the morning whilst in the middle of breakfast and before hair had even been brushed.

The Christmas tree delivery man had turned up later than expected the night before and with it being a school day the next day we just couldn’t keep them up to decorate the tree… so, we promised them we would get up early.  This in itself is a huge thing at the moment.   The hubby and I have not adjusted well to two babies/toddlers and him starting a full-time job again.  We love our sleep, and the babies who have always been great sleepers have now decided they don’t need as much as they used to.  When it needs to though the Mother instinct kicks in, when my alarm went off, instead of rolling over and trying to get some more snooze I was straight up and preparing everything ready for them waking to decorate the tree.

It was nice to all be able to do it together before the hubby set off for work.  They had really enjoyed choosing the tree the night before

choosing a Christmas tree, siblings, December, christmas, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
hmm… decisions, decisions
choosing a Christmas tree, siblings, December, Christmas, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
happy in the Winter Wonderland
choosing a Christmas tree, Christmas, siblings, December, dontcallmestepmummy, blended family
This one

Taking the children to choose the tree was so lovely, I had never done it before.  This was our first Christmas in this house so I sought advice from a friend in the area about where to go, and I was very pleasantly surprised.  I had previously always gone to the Morrisons carpark near where we used to live, and usually on my own with my brother as I couldn’t fit a tree in our car, or before that didn’t have a car.  This time, James was at work and we had been without a tree for long enough.  The girls had been crazy busy with various things, after school clubs, ballet exams, I had been singing at a few Charity events so we finally were all together (minus Daddy unfortunately) and had time to go and choose a tree.  I didn’t want to put up the tree without the girls with us…. part of the joys of being in a blended family… we have to time family memories around the days that we have them.

This Thursday worked perfectly so we had a tree and the next morning decorated it.  Loved it, loved the whole experience.  Loved watching them dance around and choose the one they wanted, (of course I was able to make sure it had good needle retention, a lovely smell, great shape, but to be honest we were spoilt for choice and the children made the final choice and I was happy with it) loved watching them help each other decorate.  Even Eden was involved passing baubles out of the decoration box to her siblings and they were hanging them on the tree.  Some of my favourite quotes included Judah saying ‘it’s nice having Christmas’ whilst hanging his baubles.

I love my little family so much and am so grateful for the little things at Christmas.  The little luxuries like having a tree and decorations and it always reminds me how fortunate we are to live in this country, have a roof over our head, have running water, and religious freedom to celebrate Christmas.

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trying to get a pic of them all sitting proved difficult haha

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dear beautiful