it’s beginning to feel a lot like christmas …

You know how sometimes you just have little rules that you live by …  well, I have a rule about Christmas. That we put the tree up on 1 December. And not a day earlier.

I nearly compromised and did it on Sunday. But then I decided that November was a slippery slope, and I just didn’t want to go there.

So I waited one more day, and I dragged out the plastic tree ($5 at the op shop) yesterday. We used to have a real one.  It lasted about 5 years. It had a couple of years of looking small but quite good, and a couple of years of looking a bit wonky.  And then I repotted it and it died. The plastic one is indestructible and at least for the short term is perfect for us.  And it reminds me of my childhood.

I put the tree up while the girls were at school. And I went shopping for wrapping paper, and started wrapping all the second hand presents I had stored under the bed.  Hooray! I was super glad to get them out. It was getting pretty full under there.


This year I chose minty green wrapping paper. And my home made gift tags which feature washi tape for colour are matching nicely. Lovely.

When the girls got home they decorated the tree.

Every Christmas tree needs a theme right? Our theme doesn’t really revolve around colour. I stick to lights and an eclectic mix of individual decorations. That’s it. I try and add in a couple of new ones each year. And chuck out any that are looking a bit tired or trashy.


The big red and white striped balls are my new addition this year. They’ve got a bell in them and I really bought them because I thought Lolly our cat would like them (she loves chasing christmas decorations – they end up all over the house).

But mostly our tree reflects crafty projects and creative fun. There was the year we painted glass balls.  And the year Elise made felt with Tahlia’s kinder class and then cut out bells and trees and stars. And the year I sewed felt Christmas trees and added sequins to them.  And the year the girls threaded buttons at kinder.  And then last year India made a photo frame star at school …  And more.  Lots more.

Everyone at our house likes to add their own creations to the tree and talk about where they made them.  So it is definitely a group effort to decorate.  And a great way to celebrate crafty fun.

Do you have lots of home made things on your tree?

10 ideas for a second hand christmas

In our family we have a second hand or home made Christmas.  You might think second hand shopping for others would be hard, but in fact it is pretty easy to find great things for the people you love.  I usually see something and I think, yes, Dad would love that, or great, that’d be perfect for Elise, or wow, that green is Merryn’s favourite, she’d like that.

Here are some ideas (beyond clothes) that might inspire you to contemplate a second hand Christmas (which I can highly recommend, not just for the environmental cred. that goes with reusing and recycling).

NOTE TO PEOPLE IN MY FAMILY – if you prefer present surprises, maybe you shouldn’t read any more of this post … really!


1.  Toys

Toys are great. School fetes are the place to go!  For example some very lucky nephew aged either 3 or 4 (I haven’t decided yet) will be the recipient of this super fun but VERY ANNOYING crazy instrument toy. It only cost me $3 at North Fitzroy fete, so I can give it with the understanding that at some point in time, and probably sooner rather than later, the mother of the recipient will surely lose her cool with the incessant tooting and chuck it out.  And it won’t matter that much.


Or you could get a scooter.  That won’t annoy anyone.  Like this one I bought for $5, also at North Fitzroy fete.  My kids lost their first hand ones – I think they left them at school over the holidays.  I expect this one will meet a similar fate.


2. Bags

Back packs, kinder bags, lunch boxes, man bags, hand bags, travel bags, purses and wallets and toilet bags.  These are all great things to look out for second hand and give as a present for a second hand Christmas.  I couldn’t pass by this cute toilet bag recently, Mietta will like it don’t you think?

3. Jewellery or scarves

Necklaces are high on my list this year.  And scarves for my sister Merryn (she likes wearing them).  And brooches.  And cufflinks – someone I know wears cufflinks to court.

4. Garden accessories

Check out these garden tealight candle holders.  I got them from hard rubbish.  They’d make a great present for anyone with a garden, or a balcony with a big pot.


Or what about a teak outdoor setting. I got these two chairs on the side of the road.  Elise got 8 matching ones for $100 on Ebay.  They’d be a fab. present for the right person.

Or perhaps just a nice pot, with a plant in it.

5. Kitchen items

Salad bowls, salad servers, nice coffee cups or mugs, a teapot, a Bodum plunger (you sometimes see these at the op shop).  Wine glasses.  Serving platters. Funky salt and pepper shakers … interesting measuring cups.  These are all great.  Or you could venture into electrical ware.  Last year I bought Keely and Cade a ‘snow machine’ otherwise known as an ice crusher.

I bought these pots for Elise, to cook garlic mussels in – yum.


6. Books

Cookbooks, a pile of great novels, picture books, activity books.  These are all great for presents.  The year before last Elise bought India The Great Big Book of Tashi on Ebay.  And I was super impressed that even Clive’s Mum got into second hand shopping recently.  While in the UK she bought Scarlett a copy of  ‘Shadow The Sheepdog’ by Enid Blyton for her birthday because she couldn’t get it new.  It was out of print apparently. Scarlett’s loving it. We’re reading a chapter a night.


7.  Hobbies

My Dad likes golf.  I look out for golf things for him.  My Mum likes tennis.  I look out for tennis things for her.  Pricey likes yoga.  Last year I bought him a cool bag (well I thought so anyway, I am not sure he has used it) to carry his yoga mat around in.  Maybe I should suggest that he gives it back to me this Christmas – I could really do with a yoga mat bag myself …

The shirt above is for Dad.  It is a short sleeve Nike windbreaker type thing.  I think it will be super handy.


8. Holiday fun

We go to the beach for summer and so boogie boards, skiffle boards, blow up canoes and second hand wetsuits have all featured at Christmas.  Also beach tents and a variety of camping gear, including a hammock on it’s own stand for Clive one year.  And little torches for night walks.

The photo above shows a boogie board and a boogie board cover stored in the roof of the studio.  These both came from our second hand Christmas.


9. Board games and jigsaws

Boardgames are great to buy second hand.  Do take the time to check all the pieces are there though …  Same with jigsaws.

This Cluedo was a gift from someone last year – nice to see they took the time to take the $6 price sticker off!


10. Linen

What about a table cloth, some napkins, tea towels, beach towels or even a doona cover or sheet set.  A nice throw.  Some cushion covers.  These all make super presents.  I bought a couple of these towels above for the older girls for Christmas.  New but from the op shop.  And they are nice and thin (which is the criteria from a Mum who often has to carry all the towels home!)

So that’s it, 10 general second hand shopping ideas for great Christmas presents.  And I expect I will be able to add in some more ideas by next year!