Meet Jingle: our elf on the shelf

Elf on the Shelf collage

Jingle arrives in December (sometimes not quite on the 1st because he occasionally gets lost flying in) and watches the kids behaviour through December. He flies home to the North Pole every night to report to Father Christmas and back to us each dawn. So, yes, he is essentially a whistle-blowing behavioural motivation coach.

He likes to change positions every morning. Sometimes it can be tricky to find him. Turns out he’s partial to using the kids underpants as a flying fox. Should I be worried?

He’s a cheeky elf, our Jingle, and he would be even cheekier if the voice of reason (i.e.handsome husband) didn’t step in from time to time and point out the children may be traumatised rather than delighted if Jingle tapes himself to the the wall with gaffer tape hostage-style.

A quick search on “naughty elf on the shelf” on Pinterest is an edifying activity. I think he’ll only get naughtier as the girls get older.

Elf on the shelf snow flour angel

Whaddya think: cute Christmas tradition or creepy peeping tom tale-teller?

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Christmases past

First living wreath

Every year I do it. Get over-excited. Plan too much. End up feeling a bit less jolly and a bit more postal.

Edge of fabric cracker

Not doing it this year.

Gingerbread house - front view

I do have a few things planned – I mean a girl can’t just go cold Christmas turkey now can she?

Christmas drinks invitations and Christmasy polar bear

But mainly I’m just trying to be present. In each moment. And yes, I know how trite that sounds but I am still committed to doing it because I think it is worthwhile.

Cream velvet bow on golden Christmas tree decoration

And my window of opportunity to have little girls looking at the Elf on the Shelf in wonder is swiftly closing.

Christmas Tea light, vintage bauble and shelf elf

In fact, the older one already maintains that she’s sure the elf comes from Ebay and not the North Pole.

Close-up of jingle bells on Olive's stocking

You have to believe to receive, I say. And that puts paid to her scepticism. Out loud, at least.

Cracker

In the meantime I’ve been looking back through some of my posts from past Christmases. I’m re-posting some of my favourite projects and hope they might give you some festive inspiration…or just provide a bit of xmas eye-candy at the very least.

Christmas Card - bunting

Click on the “Christmas ” in the righthand sidebar to see all these and many more Christmas posts. There aren’t really tutorials for most of these but if you want any details , drop me an email (on the contacts page above) and I’ll be very happy to oblige you with  a quick set of instructions.

Christmas candy cane lollipps

I love the wintery-ness of a Northern hemisphere Christmas. Which is completely at odds with the searing heat of antipodean celebrations.

Tolkien's Father Christmas Letters - Polar Bear's Accident

Don’t get me wrong, I relish everything about an Australian Christmas but I simply cannot help but emblazon things with snowflakes. Feels so wrong and yet I can’t stop.  Christmas crack.

Jube wreath close up with description

This cosy Christmas in July was a natural progression for one so taken with the thought of roaring fires and snow-trimmed windows.

Christmas table by candlelight

There’s a white Christmas in our near future. I feel it in me waters.

Starlight mint bauble with description

What about you, my darlings. Grand Christmas project plans? I love to live vicariously so let me know in the comments if you feel inclined. Oh go on, do.

Starlight mint LED lights

Christmas 2012 wrap up.

Close up wreath on blue door

So what happens when you have your floors re-done in mid December, throw a drinks party on the 23rd and host a full Christmas lunch at home on the 25th is that plans for everything else –  other than preparation for those things and making sure there are presents under the tree for the kids – goes completely awry.

The edible Christmas thing started well. Ended with a whimper. I didn’t do half the projects I had planned. So they’re consigned to next year.

The advent calendar thing started well. It ended with not so much a whimper as the collective, daily groan of two little girls who, after about the 11th of December did not get another advent package.  I often feel the phrase “first world problems” can be used too dismissively, but in this case, I felt it did neatly sum up what the kids were experiencing. That’s right, it’s not shoddy follow-through on my part, it’s excessive first world expectations that are to blame.

My story.

Sticking to it.

Just for the sake of completeness, and Gaga knows I loves me my completeness, here is a little round-up of some other Christmas bits and bobs that went on this year.

In the edible Christmas stakes,  I did also make a beautiful, starlight mint wreath.

Starlight wreath mint - bright white

It took a long time to unwrap each mint. And even longer to hot glue each one to the wreath form. But by golly it is pretty.

Starlight mint wreath close up = bright white

Heavy, too. And now also melting  a bit as it is hung over our stove top.

Starlight mint wreath - melting

It is not my original idea, but something I saw on Pinterest. It’s on my Pinterest Christmas board if you’d like to check out the original.

I also put out these cute starlight mint LED candles that I found on Ebay.

Starlight mint LED lights

The native floral wreaths were one of my favourite things this year. I had to replace the flowers every 4 or 5 days or so but that gave great scope for new blooms, new colours and a bit of  creativity.

This one is about number 5 I think.

Native wreath on blue door

Oh yeah, and we had our front door painted. And the whole front of our house – just the door blue though. As you do. In December. When things are really calm and not busy at all.

Christmas wreath on blue door close up

I’m kind of loving the colour. Only kind of. Not sure how long it will last. I’m heading into a fuchsia and forest green stage I think. You can imagine how enamoured with the idea of a fuchsia front door my handsome husband is. He’s a good man. A patient man.

This year a wee elf arrived on 1st December and stayed with us, keeping a close (if somewhat cheeky and sidelong) watch on the girls.

Elf on Shelf with bauble

As the book that arrives with him explains, the Elf on the Shelf keeps watch during the day and flies home each night to the North Pole to report to Father Christmas on the levels of naughty and/or nice he’s observed during the day.

Sadly, I think  Sophia is already reaching the sceptical stage and she took some convincing (well, just general threats that you have to believe to receive actually) that the elf had indeed arrived from aforementioned pole and that I had not just “bought him on ebay”. Where does she get this stuff? I only buy stuff on ebay like once a day. Sheesh.

Anyway, the elf moves to a different observational spot each day. I had grand plans for our elf to get up to some very funny tricks indeed (some potentially involving inappropriate behaviour with Barbies and a bottle of Tequila that would be photographed for posterity but obviously cleaned up by the morning for general viewing) but again, we were so busy and exhausted that we were lucky to remember to move the elf at all, let alone have the kids discover him in a bubble bath made of marshmallows.

Next year there will be cheeky and hilarious elven carryings-on. If you google Elf on the Shelf ideas you get everything from elves taking aforementioned marshmallow bubble baths to elves photocopying their bums. So many hilarious and vaguely inappropriate things to look forward to manipulating our elf into doing.

On our bookcase, I strung up some beautiful vintage baubles.

Christmas Tea light, vintage bauble and shelf elf

I also completely stripped the tree around the 18th December as the edible decorations  had been slowly but surely depleted. I went for traditional read and white bows instead. Although I did leave the starlight mint baubles on as they didn’t get eaten quite as regularly.

As is tradition here, Christmas Eve saw the girls excitedly jump into their new nighties and have a few photos in front of the tree before reading a chapter or two of Tolkien’s Father Christmas Letters.

Girls in pjs Christmas Eve

My handsome husband and I then spent 4 hours wrapping presents.

I am hopeless at wrapping presents. Hopeless. Although, this year I did find a sweet way to wrap the one gift of cashola that we gave our darling God-daughter who is saving for a trip to Italy.

Cracker wrapping

Handmade Christmas crackers. That was another thing I was going to do. I made them a year back or so for Christmas in July but again, just ran out of time this year. Next year.

Edge of fabric cracker

We just managed to squeeze in sibling gifts as well. Sophia made Olive some beautiful Christmas decorations, and a Christmas puzzle while Olive decorated a little wooden box – inside and out, mind- with Sharpies and glitter for her big sister to keep treasures in. The sweetness breaks my heart.

Christmas Day was spectacular. The weather was the best we have had for as long as I can remember. A perfect, sunny day, gentle  breeze, around 25 degrees (celsius) I suppose.

We set up a huge square table in our courtyard and had lots of fun with my husband’s side of the family plus some Swedish friends who we celebrate with every year as well.

I did the usual suspects: a 6kg turkey and a 3 kg ham. I glazed the ham with a plum and mustard glaze this year after studding it with cloves. Served it with whole honeyed plums. It was delish. But it was the turkey that made me really excited.

I got a beautiful new oven just before Christmas (what? find a plumber and an electrician 2 days before Christmas to install it? You better bloody believe I did – although I must confess there were tears involved) and so I was determined to cook a moist turkey. I eschewed brining – although I’m keen to try that another time – and instead used an ice pack to cool down just the turkey’s breast for about 30 minutes before cooking. That meant the breast and legs were ready at the same time.

Now look, I know I’m prone to hyperbole, but I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that was THE moistest turkey breast I’ve ever eaten. And I’ve seen a few breasts. Many of them on turkeys.

So my beasts were good, but the dish that received a spontaneous round of applause was the SPECTACULAR prawn and salmon cake that our Swedes brought.

Swedish prawn cake

My goodness, you have not lived until you’ve tasted this. Words aren’t adequate to describe the deliciousness but it is a traditional smorgasbord dish consisting of layers of fresh white bread, sour cream, egg, mayonnaise, smoked salmon, fresh, sweet prawns, caviar, dill and lemon.

So it’s been a lovely Christmas but I SWEAR next year I will have all presents bought and wrapped by mid December. I will not do major things to the house in December, I will not try to entertain 2 nights before Christmas and host Christmas Day  and I will sit down with a festive drink (martinis are festive, yes?) on Christmas Eve and watch Miracle on 34th Street. By the power of all that is festive, next year,  I WILL DO THIS!

Yeah, right.

I hope you all, my beautiful, beloved  readers, had a wonderful festive period and are just about to embark on a cracking new year. I wanted to take this opportunity to say another HUGE  thank you to everyone who has followed me along again this year and for all your lovely, supportive comments. I loves ya. Deeply.