as a kid my mum would put together the BEST advent calendars for me – counting down to christmas was almost more fun than christmas day itself! when i was really small she bought fabulous cardboard calendars from europe – the ones with tiny doors you open, and there’s a little picture inside. these made a big impression on me; i was only about 2 or 3 but i can still remember some of the illustrations. each year i’d have a different kind of calendar: one year each day was a tiny book telling part of the sort of the nutcracker (to hang on the christmas tree). some years i’d get a little chocolate each day, and so on…
when i turned 7 mama stepped up her game – she made me a fabric advent calendar, with little pockets. each day of december she would tuck a little tiny present in there, or a slip of paper with an activity written on it. she did this for me every year until i turned 18 and moved to england. even then, she’d email me funny or cute things every day of december. so when i had my son i was thrilled to have the chance to pass on this tradition that had brought me SO much happiness through the years. its really only been a couple of christmases so far, but he totally gets it. we say the advent fairies come and leave little surprises for him and he rushes out every morning to see what’s arrived. i’ve been using the old fabric calendar my mum made, but this year i felt like something new and so, inspired by those fabulous vintage european matchbox labels, i created a printable kit of matchboxes to countdown to christmas with!
how to make them
first you need to purchase, download and save my advent matchbox kit:
the kit contains:
- 24 individually designed matchbox labels by draw! pilgrim, all vintage style with an aged color tint, fake ‘off register’ color overlaps and a variety of european christmas greetings
- 24 templates to fold up the matchbox bases/drawers
- a template for slips of paper to write notes for treats or activities etc
what you will need
aside from the kit mentioned above, you’ll need to print the templates on heavy-ish paper: regular printer paper is quite flimsy – it’d be ok for using JUST this year, but if you want to use these matchboxes again i recommend something a little heavier, around 300gsm (i believe thats equivalent to 200lbs weight). printing at home is convenient but for paper advice you might want to splurge and take this project to the print shop where you can see what range of papers they have and decide what will fold best for your needs.
you will also need:
- glue or double sided tape,
- scissors and/or a guillotine paper cutter (it makes cutting down the sheets of labels a bit faster and neater)
- a bone folder or scoring tool will really give you great crisp edges when folding.
what to fill the boxes with?
you know your own people best, but some ideas are:
- tiny candies: jellybeans, m&ms etc
- individual chocolates
- hair accessories
- teensy toys
or put in slips of paper hinting at where to find treats that are just a bit too big for the matchbox, e.g.: “look behind the dictionary!” and there will be hidden a new matchbox car or a little bottle of nail polish.
or write a list of treat experiences: “let’s put up the christmas tree!” “let’s go out for egg nog!” “gingerbread decorating day!” etc
how to display your calendar?
- thread them on a string and hang them as a garland across a mantlepiece or door frame
- add a strip of magnetic tape and put them up on your fridge
- leave one each day on their bedside table
- put one in their lunchbox
- hang them all vertically on a length of string
- …or just stick them all to a plain colored poster sheet!
so go ahead! its so much fun and a project that the whole family can get involved in.
did you have christmas countdown traditions too?
i finally got my hands on a copy of print and pattern 2 by bowie style today and hoo boy was there some excited squealing in the bookshop. its not the first time i’ve squealed over a good design book, but for once there was genuinely good reason…
… because i’m in it! i am in the book. see the book? see my alphabet series designs? i know, i know.. but i’m so. so. SO excited to be included amongst some of my idols (uh, marimekko, jonathan adler, call me!) there are so many more fab people in here: byGraziela, ellen giggenbach, beci orpin, ingela arrhenius, lab partners, and on and on and on it goes.
those of you who follow me on twitter might have seen this chewbacca cuddly toy i made for a gift. you were all so desperate to get your hands on one that i felt obliged to share the pattern i made up.
so go forth and sew! please let me know of any issues with the pattern – its my first try so be gentle.
this chewie is about 50cm tall and made of durable pinwale corduroy, guaranteed to last for at least twelve parsecs. Wait a minute … a parsec is a unit of distance, not time! you lied to me, lucas! lied to me!
please note: i do not offer tech support, or customization on printables.
each year, around june i ask my son what he wants for his september birthday party. i love parties, so i get excited early and i’m eager to start planning! the rest of the year we’re busy and we have to say “no” to a lot of stuff, but birthday time is SACRED! so far we’ve had “alice in wonderland”, “space” and this year he asked me for a “willy wonka/charlie and the chocolate factory” themed party. i thought that was pretty neat considering he share’s his birthday with roald dahl and we’ve read the book multiple times and watched both movies many multiples of times.
this theme is a blessing and a curse, though. you have so much inspiring material to begin with that its not like you need to brainstorm too hard, but then both the book and the movies provide such awe inspiring descriptions of the factory that that’s a BIG job to try and live up to!
i started off “small” with the invitations. the obvious choice was to send out bars of chocolate with golden tickets! and who am i to question the obvious choice?! however i’m neither made of postage money or chocolate so i opted for 2D double-sided paper wonka bars that were cheaper and simpler to post.
i made you a special printable version to use for your own wonka party! and don’t forget to ask your print shop to print them double sided – just fill in the party host, the location, time and date, your phone number and “RSVP by” date.
please note: i do not offer tech support, or customization on printables.
pinterest came through big time with decor ideas, and the rest was just some creative thinking. above are some of the inspiring bits and pieces that pinterest delivered. i didn’t use them all, but maybe you’ll find them useful.
the big issues i had to solve with making this party all that it could be were:
a) making a big impact, on a small budget and scale
b) not wasting too much stuff (food, money, materials)
a tight color palette is the answer to all of life’s problems, but it helps parties look well put together with minimal effort and expense. turns out there’s not much chocolate brown party supply out there so i happily used the groovy pink/orange/yellow color scheme of the wonka bar packaging.
you can make a big impact with a knock-out buffet display – let the food display be part of the decor: decorative AND delicious! i really lucked out finding a groovy striped plastic table cloth in those colors which served as the backdrop to the table AND the table cloth (it was long).
we had pink and orange plates and cups from our birthday shindig, so i mixed in some new yellow ones, and some orange striped napkins. some of the plates even made their way into the decor as cellophane wrapped candies (see down a little further).
in my intensive, focused, scientific, party research phase i loved the jars of candy i was seeing at other people’s parties – but we will never eat three full jars of candy in 1000 years so that was just wasteful in our situation. my solution was to whip up some graphic faux candy! i printed out paper inserts for the jars and some paper lollipops too. these would be fun to do with your kiddo – get them involved in the preparation by stamping, drawing or painting some candy jar fillings!
~ Menu ~
fizzy lifting lemonade
everlasting bubblegum cordial
(if you’re in australia, cottee’s make “gubble bum” flavor cordial)
pretzels, chips, popcorn
mini candy bars
lots and lots of candies!
and i was instructed to make a “chocolate birthday cake, with chocolate frosting, and chocolate” to follow. i made just that! and i decorated it with smarties (candy covered chocolates like flatter m&ms) in the shape of a 5. this cake is kind of an homage to my own 5th birthday cake which my clever mama and grandmama made in the SHAPE of a FIVE, covered in smarties. it blew my tiny mind and i’ve never quite recovered.
i had every intention of also making a rainbow platter of fruits with honey yoghurt to dip, and vegetable crudité with hummus but a) i’m a chronic over-caterer and always feel wasteful after parties and b) what kid is going to eat veggies when there is a table full of candy?! we all know candy is a sometimes food, but parties are only sometimes events so i saved the fruit and veg for us to enjoy during the week. and i skipped the fairy bread too. i know, i’ll just give up my australian citizenship right now, huh? shame on me.
so there was candy for all, and sugar highs on the horizon. the only solution was to burn off some energy and distract the kids from grazing on the sugar by playing lots of fun games! here’s what we did, how we did it and what you need to do it yourself!
mike teevee’s tv quiz
think up 5-10 tv related questions your kid’s will be able to answer. give chocolate money prizes.
for example, we asked the 5 year olds:
“what color is oscar the grouch?”
“on the wiggles, what color shirt does jeff wear?”
“what type of animal is pingu?”
“on yo gabba gabba, who said they had a party in their tummy?”
“who can tell me the name of the island that thomas the tank engine lives on?”
charlie bucket’s bucket basketball
a large bucket or tub
a lot of breath or a balloon pump
put the bucket up high; participants take turns shooting balloons into the bucket. whoever can dunk the most balloons wins.
veruca salt’s bad egg and spoon race
eggs; real, plastic or chocolate depending on the age of participants
silver spoons or dumpling spoons (easier for little kids)
each participant gets a spoon balanced on an egg and they must make it around a race course without dropping their egg. no holding the eggs with your hands, though!
augusts gloop’s donut race
mini donuts for each guest
a long stick, or broom handle
using the kitchen twine, tie the mini donuts to the string, then tie the length of string attatched to the donut to the long stick. make sure they’re equally spaced leaving enough room for everyone to stand/eat comfortably.
to play, hold up the stick with the donuts hanging down and have the children put their hands behind their back. the first to eat all of the donut without using their hands wins!
violet beauregarde’s blueberry baloon bonanza
blueberry colored balloons
small prizes you’ll be able to fit into un-inflated balloons eg: mini candy bars, small puzzles, whistles
fill blueberry colored balloons with small prizes then inflate them. get the kids to pop (squeeze, sit on) the blueberry bubbles to win their prize. have a push pin on standby for you to use in case your kiddos are too light to pop the balloons on their own.
to finish up with, i REALLY like party favor bags. its like having a little extra party after the party, so i tend to make a bit of extra effort to send home some fun treats. this year i got organized early and it paid off! i found handmade soaps (by sailormouth soaps on etsy) in the shape of frog candies, and i redeemed myself with the guest’s parents by finding a bunch of cute animal toothbrushes. packed up in gold bags with some bubble mix, and a couple of extra candies the favors made leaving the party a little less upsetting.
sure there are people who will say i’m probably spoiling my kid, but we ALL had fun – both father and son asked for the same party next year) and there’s only a few years you can be spoiled for. my mum threw fun parties for me so i like passing on those special memories to my son as its a way of keeping her fun spirit alive, but i think whatever effort you make for your children will be happily received and treasured.
maybe its the sugar talking, but i think i’d quite like to make parties happen for a living, so y’know… call me! who knows maybe we can have a pilgrim party blog.
let us start with a cute project i just worked on, a logo for the retro readers book club! for details on joining in on the retro readers fun visit meet me at mikes, and if YOU have a project you’d like me to work on email me to chat.
there is NOTHING better than some coloring in. go forth and color your heart out from a choice of a BILLION coloring sheets at patterns for coloring.
having visited kyoto a few months ago, and having spent a few days in the ‘geisha district’ of kyoto i found this video so interesting. a day in the life of a kyoto geiko.
good GRIEF would you look at those cookies. i think i want to tile my kitchen with them. as seen on sugar & meringue.
and in other cool foodie finds, this yellow submarine cake blew. my. mind. we love yellow submarine and watch it at least once a month. there was fierce debate about wether to have a yellow submarine birthday party or a willy wonka birthday party. wonka won (stay tuned)… this year. i think next year we might have to attempt an homage to this cake! via neatorama.
book shopping in tokyo: take that concept in. yes, it was very good and by day one of our trip i was well on my way to a potential excess baggage fee. the bookstore in the basement of the parco department store was heaven, and all of the books i want to show you today came from there. i could have come away with many, many more because the range, and the quality was amazing. but i’m not at all disappointed by what i brought home…
the book provides one tip per day for a 3 and a half month path to cheerfulness. and how could you not be cheerful at suggestions like inventing your own toilet choreography, jumping in a bouncy castle, and my #1 tip – “be your favorite piece of pie”.
was this for my son? no. no it wasn’t. i’ll just put it on the shelf next to my “worst mother ever” trophy.
…i mean, sure, he can look at it – while wearing cotton gloves. when he’s 19.
inside the back of the book is a collection of stickers to be used in the various activities through the book. and if you know of a kiddo who would definitely appreciate this book, then you should get it for them because its filled with fabulous alain grée illustrations. and probably a fun way to learn french!
so, i have NO idea what this is all about. but its PACKED with adorableness. anyone? leave a comment and enlighten me. it seems to be the inspiration files of a couple of designers – but i could be way off. its full of deers, and pandas so lets all look at some pandas!!
i recently had some new house shots done by the fab fi mims, and i’m going to show them to you room by room. i’ve been emailed a few times about where i got various things from, so this should be a fun way of sharing some secret sources and talking you through my space!
in the case of my desk area its also a bit of a time capsule! its not going to look like this for very much longer now that my desk is movin’ on out and up to my studio: lil desky’s leaving home! and do i need to tell you how excited i am about working AWAY FROM HOME. like a grown up!
the actual desk is from ikea, and that frosted glass panel is very useful! the chair is from ikea too, but i made a fancy cover for it using a pattern by yvestown.
bottom: vintage shelf papers in search of the perfect project
beatles yellow submarine album cover notebook by vinylux
the fabulous chair fabric, found via ebay
butterfly mobile from shine gallery, LA
top left: paumes interior books, pop ink books, and kaboom: explosive animation from america and japan top right: vintage mugs
bottom: postcards, gum balls, ‘let’s hang’ zipper pull blind box, decole toys from the middle of bath fizzies, puchi puchi babie deers. my terrarium, and a luggage tag from the beatles’ 1964 tour of australia.
fuji instax gallery on the shelves behind my desk.
bottom: the pigeon holes of the yellow bookshelf (a salvaged office pigeonhole shelf)
stay tuned for more fresh house photos and eventually, photos of my NEW studio space (yay!)
exciting developments have taken place, friends! you can now find me behind the counter (on tuesdays and thursdays) at one of my favorite local stores little sparrow! you might remember i gave a little shop love to little sparrow a while back. since then the store has moved to a bigger, brighter location – but everything else is just as perfect as it was before! here’s a few of my favorite things you will find in little sparrow…
super groovy vintage linen bags!! ah love those colors.
…fabulous felts in a million colors and sizes. there are some incredible hand painted rainbow felts that make me swoon.
…special friends waldorf doll made to order by shelley. check out that tiny handmade cape!
… charming clothes for the kiddos.
…amazing notebooks, letter sets, stickers, lyra pencils, crayons and modeling waxes
don’t forget the pop up sale starts thursday… that’s TODAY! it runs until saturday 6th 3pm.
you’ll find classic cute kid’s threads by crumb, fab art by dawn tan and madeleine stamer, gorgeous jewellery and accessories by shara lambeth, emily green and betty jo, exceptionally well made dresses by peta pledger, and of course the pin up photobooth helen mclean is hosting!
unfortunately being sick put me behind, and under a lot of strain, so i have regretfully pulled out, but i can’t wait to visit and shop. see you there?
in amongst all the shopping and eating we found ourselves with a ‘spare’ day towards the end of our trip – and disneyland just a short train ride away. what to do? we went to disneyland of course!! we got rained on, we queued for ages, we walked our feet to the bone (no seriously, i got the worst mega-blister ever – i think i could see bone).
i was interested to compare tokyo disneyland to the original disneyland in california, and it was largely the same – but different. it was bizarro world disneyland, where just about everything has a slight twist (the haunted mansion takes on a whole new threatening tone when the voice over is in intelligible japanese)! one of the best ‘twists’ though was the ‘small world’ ride. the ride itself was the same, but the exterior and the ‘load in’ were different – might i go so far as to say… better? take a virtual tour through the queuing area and admire the mary blair-inspired murals that set the tone for ‘the happiest cruise’ that ever sailed…