Christmas gifts: How to make pressed flower bookmarks

Pressed flowers are a wonderful way of making gifts from the heart. They are also a wonderfully creative way for children to make personalised Christmas, birthday, or thank you gifts for friends, families, and teachers.


  • Flower Press
  • Fresh flowers to press
  • Coloured card
  • Glue stick
  • Laminator and laminating pouch
  • Hole punch, ribbons, beads

Tip: For extra fun, think about making your own beautiful marbled paper for the bookmarks!


  1. Gather a variety of flowers on a sunny dry morning. Check flowers for dewdrops (moisture will impact the drying process). Avoid flowers that are very bulky i.e. cut the tips from lavender or choose rose petals rather than a whole rose. Remember that wild flowers, like oxalis, can be as beautiful dried as garden grown.
  2. Follow the instructions with your flower press to layer flowers between the drying sheets and screw the press tightly shut. I like to store mine in the hot water cupboard to help the drying process (which can up to two weeks).
  3. Gently take the layers of the flower press apart and carefully remove the dried flowers. I like to lay them on a flat wooden tray. We use gentle hands but you may want to use tweezers.
  4. Cut coloured carboard or cardstock to your desired size; we like to have a variety of colours to choose from.
  5. Enjoy the creative process of arranging the flowers!
  6. Once you have decided on your arrangement, you will need to fix the flowers in place. If you are going to use a laminator (as we did) then all you need is a glue stick – a gentle glue is all that’s needed as it’s simply to keep the flowers in place while the laminator pouch feeds through the laminator. Alternatively, use a strong fast-drying craft glue that will dry clear.
  7. We arranged several bookmarks in each laminating pouch and then fed each A4 pouch through the laminator. This helps to protect the delicate dried flowers (and preserve them from future moisture).
  8. We then cut the completed laminated sheets to size. We liked some of the bookmarks plain; with others, we cut holes with the holepunch, threaded through ribbons, and tied beads to the end.

Christmas Gifts: Growing Seedlings

‘Tis the season for thinking about Christmas gifts and parents often ask about personalised gifts for teachers and family. Why not tie in the ‘season for giving’ with talking about the seasons of nature! Different plants grow at different times of the year so there are fun options for kids to grow anywhere in the world.

Seeds are easy and cheap to grow; we’ve done everything from windowsill growing, to pots, to scatter sowing wildflowers in a specially prepared patch of ground. They’re a wonderful way to teach children about plant life cycles and the rhythms of nature. Kids love to watch seeds slowly germinate and sprout into seedlings; it’s also a very apt way to teach children about the value of patience and that some things simply cannot be rushed! If you’re growing a vegetable, it also provides them an opportunity to harvest, prepare, and eat something that they’ve grown themselves.

When choosing plants to grow with children, you may want to select those with larger seeds for easier handling. These include vegetables like pumpkin, sugar snap peas, watermelon, sweetcorn; and flowers like sunflowers, sweet pea flowers, and nasturtiums. There are also many wonderful plants with smaller seeds. You may want to include vegetables like lettuce, spinach, silverbeet, and tomatoes; flowers like alyssum, pansies, poppies, and borage.

If you’re growing as a gift, why not plant the seedling in a terracotta pot decorated with paint or permanent marker. If you’re growing in the garden, remember that you will need to attract pollinators to help plants like tomatoes bear fruit. How bees see colour differs to human so yellow, blue, and purple flowers will work best for helping bring bees to your garden. Many garden stores will also sell wildflower mixes that will bring both bees and butterflies to your garden – as well as creating a gorgeous array of colour!

Easy Christmas Gifts for Kids to make

Upcycled tin cans can make all kinds of things!

Upcycling tin cans is a great way to get kids involved in Christmas gift giving (and it’s cheap!). They can be filled with craft projects, candy canes, coins, colouring pencils or pens, or seeds for the spring!

Whether you’re homeschooling, or just enjoy learning with the kids, it’s easy to integrate S.T.E.A.M. into this project. Skip to the end for ideas!


  • 420g tin can (15oz), empty, washed, and dried.
  • Scrapbooking paper
  • Measuring tape (dressmakers)
    • OR string.
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • PVA glue (white glue)
  • Scissors


  1. Prepare your tin can. Tip: Choose one where your can opener left smooth edges! Remove the old label (warm water can help).
  2. Select your scrapbooking paper.
  3. Use a flexible dressmakers tape to measure the circumference and height of your can (or a piece of string which you can lie against a ruler).
  4. Once you have your measurements, mark out a rectangle on your paper. I like to add several centimetres (an inch) to the length and height of what I’m going to cut out as this allows a margin of error and means you can do a pretty fold at the top.
  5. Wrap the paper around the tin can and make sure the pattern will align correctly with how you plan to orient the tin. When you’re ready do a vertical line of PVA glue (the residue of the old glue will give you an idea of how wide you want to spread your glue). Wrap the paper around and smooth it down. Add more glue where the end of the paper meets and overlaps the start of the paper.
  6. If you’ve allowed an overlap at the top, cut a vertical slit (to the metal edging) at the four compass points. Apply glue to the inside of the paper and then fold down smoothly into the can.
  7. Once the glue is dry, you can fill it with all kinds of things!

Learning through play


  • 3D Shapes: Cylinders can both stack and roll. Compare this with other 3D shapes like a sphere (ball) or a cube (dice).
  • Measurement: Curved surfaces can be more challenging to measure – we can use a flexible piece of string to wrap around the cylinder and then lie it flat against a ruler or piece of paper. The curved face of the cylinder will transform into a rectangle when it’s drawn.

Fine Motor Skills

School skills are being practised with cutting and gluing. A fun way to practice fine motor skills is to fill the finished can with pom-poms and then fish them out with mini-tongs.


As well as choosing pretty scrapbooking paper, you could use a hot glue gun to add ribbons, lace, colourful buttons, and all kinds of things to your creation! Googly eyes and a marker pen make an easy face and then stand pipe cleaners / chenille sticks in the tin as hair.

Making Christmas Crackers (Bonbons)

How to make Christmas Crackers (Bonbons)

Have a Ka Pai Kiwi Christmas!

I posted last year about how easy it is to make your own Christmas Crackers (bonbons). I love that personalizing them means that you have full creative license to create different themes each year. Last year, we did a Christmas theme for the visual aesthetic and I hand decorated wooden beads (my daughter still has them!). This year I thought I would celebrate New Zealand’s summer with an ocean theme as well as changing the gifts inside to match Miss 3’s interests (she has autism and adores things in miniature).


  • Cracker snaps
  • Cardboard tubes (inner tubes from paper towels are perfect,  just cut in half).
  • Your choice of cracker filling.
  • Blue crepe paper
  • Shells
  • Twine
  • Sellotape
  • Scissors
  • Super glue (or glue gun)

Note: Davids Emporium  sells cracker snaps for 30 cents each just ask at the sales counter.

For the inside, I did little plastic bags containing: Christmas joke, stickers, and a miniature Christmas cookie / Christmas pudding etc. These will inevitably get gifted to Miss 3 for her dollhouse 🙂  They are adorable and were a wonderful find in the button / crafts section, again at  Davids Emporium.


  1. Take a cracker snap and place it inside in your tube (it should stick out each end with a comfortable amount to pull on). Lightly sellotape it at each end to hold in place.
  2. Assemble your cracker filling and slide it into the tube. I put mine in a tiny sealed plastic bag.
  3. Roll the tube in crepe paper and tie at each end with twine;  make sure that you have enough paper at each end to cover the cracker snap that is sticking out & to comfortably pull it.  Super glue (or glue gun) on the sea shells.

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Make your own rainbow crayons!

Making rainbow crayons.jpg

Making rainbow crayons

Have you ever seen those PinInterest posts where they talk about how easy it is to make your own crayons? They tell the truth! These are a great idea for a special & personalized gift, or as favours in homemade christmas crackers (bonbons), or just because it’s a rainy day!


  • Silicon mould tray
    • Be careful to choose one that can go in the oven.
  • Crayons
    • This can be a great way to use up spare crayons or crayon ends.
  • Optional: glitter & sparkles!


  1. Break your crayons into small pieces (i.e. adult thumb nail); you may need to use a knife.
  2. Pop them into the silicon mould. Have a think about what kind of colours you want (i.e. rainbow? ocean theme with various shades of blue & green?)
  3. Add sparkles & glitter shapes if you want.
  4. Bake in the oven at 200’C. Keep a close eye on them as you only need it in there until the crayon has melted into a thick liquid (i.e. you’re not trying to get it to bubble & boil).
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  6. Pop out of the moulds and have fun!

Rainbow heart crayons.jpg

Rainbow heart crayons

Hint: Wondering what to use the silicon mould tray for afterwards? It’ll probably need to get relegated to your arts & crafts box (rather than cooking in the kitchen). The good news is that it’s great for paint!

Silicon moulds as artists easel.jpg

Silicon moulds as artists easel

Great gift ideas for Baby Showers and expectant mothers

I promised a friend of mine (weeks ago – sorry!) that I would send her the links to some things I’d purchased off AliExpress and musing on that led to this expanded list. They’re numbered for sake of ease but not in order of importance 🙂

  1. Washable bamboo wipes
  2. Washable maternity pads
  3. Washable breast pads
  4. Wet/dry bags
  5. Bibs
  6. Soft toy
  7. Muslin Cloths
  8. Soft blanket
  9. Diapers
  10. Clothes

Note: A number of items on this list are available on AliExpress. I’ve written previously about how AliExpress is awesome. You can find some great bargains for a fraction of retail price, and free international shipping!, if you take the time to search. Keep in mind that delivery can take 2-6 weeks so if you’re ordering them as a gift (or to have before baby arrives) then order in advance.

Scroll down for details and links 🙂

Washable bamboo wipes


I adore my double layer bamboo wipes. They are soft, durable, and have lasted over two years! These are much better quality than the really thin cotton cloths that often sold in shops (and fray easily).

These can be used from baby right up to toddler and beyond. They’re great for wiping up baby spit, baby food, snotty noses, grubby hands, and toddler faces. All you need is a little water to damp them and throw them into the soak bucket afterwards.

These could also be used as washable bottom wipes – just make sure that you choose an area of the body and stick with it!

These sell for around US$1.30 / item (with free shipping). Click here to see one supplier but there are plenty more to choose from.

Washable Maternity Pads


One of the less glamorous aspects of childbirth is six weeks or so of post-partum bleeding after a vaginal birth. There are disposable pads that you can buy from the store but the costs mounts up as you run through them and bamboo pads are so much softer on one’s bruised and battered nether regions (especially if stitches have been required!). If you want to use these exclusively then you probably want six to nine (the reality is that you’ll probably be doing daily washing anyway once the baby is born) with some disposables as back up.

The other nice thing about these is being able to choose pretty patterns! They sell for around US$6.29 / item (with free shipping). Click here to see one supplier but there are plenty more to choose from.

Washable Breast Pads


Not everyone leaks but an unexpected let-down of milk can definitely soak through a shirt. A nice and colourful gift can be washable breast pads. The other advantage of natural fibres is that they can be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Bamboo, again, makes for a soft and durable option. There are lots of options for colours/pattern and they sell for around US$0.67 / item (with free shipping); just keep an eye when looking on minimum numbers for the order. For example, you might pay a little more to get just one pair sent to you, or click here to see an example of a 24 piece lot (so 12 pairs).

Wet/Dry Bags


These are often sold as double zippered (two compartment) bags with a decorated outer and a water-resistant inner coating. The default size is around 30 x 40cm but smaller ones are available as well (at point I was able to find the perfect size small ones for a single formula bottle).

These have so many uses! They are ideal for nappies. For instance, use the front compartment for a plastic case of wet wipes, a tube of nappy cream, and a couple of disposable diapers (or 1 cloth nappy); a used wet nappy can then be rolled up and put in the back pocket till you can dispose of it at home. They’re also great for baby/toddler clothes that have become wet/dirty while out, or for snacks, or for the (mostly) empty formula bottle. They also make really handy bags for jigsaw puzzles!

These simply get thrown in the washing machine and hung out to dry. They’re good for about a year or two before zips start to break or they aren’t as water resistant anymore.

(Note: these are water resistant, not water proof. They’re great for damp clothing or a formula bottle that might leak a little bit but aren’t designed for an upside-down open water bottle!).

There are lots of options for colours/pattern and they sell for around US$3.95 / item (with free shipping); just keep an eye when looking on minimum numbers for the order. For example, you might pay a little more to get just one pair sent to you, or click here to see an example of a 3 piece lot.



Babies go through so many of these! Even before they’re eating, there’s drool. There are lots of options for bibs in stores. My preference ended up being for ones that have a cotton front/back but a waterproof layer in the middle – that way the drool isn’t soaking into the clothes underneath.

The fun thing with bibs is that you can choose some super cute designs. If you decide to go with AliExpress then you’re looking at around US$1.49 / bib  (with free shipping). Click here to see an example with lots of patterns to choose from.

Soft Toy


As they get older, their soft toy collection will grow and these may no longer be a welcome gift; as babies you can get in right at the start! Aim for something in the 20-30cm range (rather than a 1m tall giant bear) as bubs isn’t going to be too big to start with! Soft and cuddly is also important.

As a parent, when the later winnowing of soft toys may need to occur it’s the ones they’ve had since they were a baby that you often find yourself wanting to nostalgically hold onto.

Muslin Cloth


Although these are often still referred to as muslin cloths, you’re more likely to find ones made out of cotton now rather than actual muslin.

These are great for babies. They can be used for swaddling, to lie on, as a shade cloth over the pram, and even as an emergency diaper if you get desperate.

Soft Blanket


A soft fluffy blanket can be a great gift – especially since it’s often to find them in gender neutral colours and patterns. They can last much longer than you’d think. I still have a fluffy baby blanket that was a baby shower gift. My toddler is far too big to sleep under it but she still loves to cuddle it and it makes a great car blanket for her.



Look for disposable diapers (or nappies) that are Newborn size. Aim to buy the smallest (quantity) pack available of a couple of different brands rather than a jumbo box. It’s not just that diapers differ across brands in terms of cost and absorbency, it’s also that they’re all slightly different in terms of cut and size. Some diapers are ideal for chubby thighs, some are ideal for super skinny legs. Every baby is different and it’s a nightmare to come from the hospital only to find out that you’ve stocked up exclusively on a single brand and your baby leaks out the side every single time! I went through several brands with my daughter before working out which brand fitted her best.

Clothing (or clothing vouchers)


Baby clothes are super cute and so much fun to shop for! Sizing can be tricky though; (here’s a handy sizing chart). The default size for a newborn is: NB / Newborn / 0000. Some babies, like my daughter, will be smaller babies and start off wearing Prem (premature) sizes and others will be bigger babies and start off wearing 0-3 months.

Babies can vary a lot as to how quickly they move sizes (and they do go through a lot of different sized clothes in the first year!) and brands will also vary with their sizing. Sometimes a Size 1 will mean that it will only fit until the child is (approx.) 1 year old and for other brands a Size 1 means that they will only fit after they turn 1 year. Because babies often change a clothing size every 2-3 months it means that their clothes are also very season specific .

If you want to buy clothes then you may want to wait until the baby is born (so you know gender and weight) or buy something that they’ll grow into (just keep seasons in mind). For instance, you might want to buy something super cute that’s size 1 (i.e. like pyjamas) because they’ll be able to wear them approaching their first birthday.

Gift cards for baby clothing stores are also a great idea because that way the parents can pick out something they really need in a suitable size.

Keep in mind that babies will go through a lot of clothes,very quickly, and don’t recognise designer brands. For example, you might get a single item of clothing for $20 at one store and four items of clothing for $20 at another store. If you’re in New Zealand, Baby Factory and T&T have lovely clothes for much cheaper than places like Farmers, Pumpkin Patch, and Cotton On.


How to make your own Christmas Crackers 

Making your own Christmas Crackers (or Bonbons) can be a lot of fun, cost effective,  and a nice way to really personalise them. It can also be a relief as a parent with a young toddler because you can tailor them to be age appropriate (i.e. avoiding choking hazards).


  • Cracker snaps
  • Cardboard tubes (inner tubes from paper towels are perfect,  just cut in half).
  • Your choice of cracker filling.
  • Wrapping paper
  • Ribbon
  • Sellotape
  • Scissors

Note: Davids Emporium  sells cracker snaps for 30 cents each just ask at the sales counter.

You can have a lot of fun choosing what you want to put inside your crackers depending on your budget, ages, and family interests. You might love silly kids jokes (like: What does a duck eat at Christmas? Quackers!), or love Minties, or want to do a toy car each. Party / variety shops can be useful, so can buying stuff from the supermarket when it’s on sale.

I decided to include in each cracker a little note, balloon, a wooden animal (from the button section of the craft store) and a chocolate. My toddler loves balloons and the chocolates are my mum’s favourite flavour. I also decided to add little wooden beads as decorations that I knew my toddler would enjoy playing with afterwards.


  1. Take a cracker snap and place it inside in your tube (it should stick out each end with a comfortable amount to pull on). Lightly sellotape it at each end to hold in place.
  2. Assemble your cracker filling and slide it into the tube. I wrapped mine in the note & then used an elastic band to hold it together.
  3. Roll the tube in paper and tie at each end;  make sure that you have enough paper at each end to cover the cracker snap that is sticking out & to comfortably pull it.  I found Christmas paper & ribbon to be ideal. You could also try something like crepe paper, twine, and hot glue on sea shells. You can be as creative as you like!