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Lists, Unlikely mum makes

Father’s Day Gifts for Lockdown

Last year for Father’s Day I was looking for things my toddler (not quite 2 at the time) could help make, or be a part of. It turns out that some of those Homemade Father’s Day Gifts for Kids actually go quite well in lockdown. So for anyone struggling for a gift idea this year, whether it’s because you can’t get the gift or experience you would like to give, or you (or your kids) can’t see your father or grandad due to lockdown, I’ve come up with a few ideas that you should be able to recreate.

fathers-day-breakfast-in-bedBreakfast in bed
It’s a simple classic that might be more welcome than usual under the current circumstances. If your kids are old enough, they can obviously do the making, while I’ve found that younger children like our 2 year old are very good at carrying plates and helping deliver the breakfast. No matter what the breakfast preference is, hot or cold, vegan or full-English, this allows you to practise kitchen skills with your little one while giving dad a long lie and some time to himself – a rarity in quarantine!

Movie night hamper
So you cant go to the cinema or for a day out for fathers day but that doesn’t mean you cant bring the cinema to you. Why not fill a hamper (or decorate and fill a cardboard box) with great movie night treats. Some recent movies have already been released on DVD so you could include those, or a family/dad favourite. Top up with popcorn, snacks and drinks and all that’s left to do is turn out the lights for an at-home cinema experience.

fathers-day-painted-stonesGardeners gift – painted stones
If the dad or grandfather in question is a bit of a green fingers and takes pride in his garden, then some painted stones are a nice personal touch. All you need to do is collect some large stones from the nearest park or beach (don’t travel too far just for stones!) and let your kids paint them how they fancy, whether its a rainbow, spots or maybe a frog or something else befitting for their garden. For an extra special touch, why not match the theme of the garden for an ideal fathers day garden gift? They can be used as ornaments, plant markers or even a doorstop for the shed.

The gift of chores
What better fathers day gift to give than the gift of chores? Your little ones can help out around the house, doing daddy’s usual chores if feasible – a 2 year old may not be able to operate a lawnmower but they can help with the dishes! Why not make the gift last longer with the promise of doing the chorea for a whole week? If you’re thinking of a grandad, there’s a promise to help when you are able to see them again, or there’s the prospect of doing some gardening or car washing if able to maintain social distancing!

fathers-day-ticket-giftSports fan gift – ticket to a match
If your dad or grandad is football mad, or can’t get enough of the rugby, why not give them a coupon which promises to buy a ticket to a live match when live sports (and spectators!) are allowed again. An alternative is always to give sports merchandise in lieu of a game – nobody can ever have too many mugs, especially of their favourite team/player, in my opinion!

The gift of solace
This one is quite important in lockdown, as peace and quiet can be hard to come by when family is always around. Mums are given a lot of encouragement to practice self-care and to carve out ‘me-time’ but it’s just as important for dads. Why not give the gift of solace and ensure the kids (and mum and anyone else!) are out of the house for a couple of hours, giving dad a little bit of time to himself. Whether he chooses to have a nap, a bath, play PlayStation, or finally get round to that thing he was meaning to do, the choice is entirely his. There’s a lot to be said for some quiet time to gather your thoughts and having space to enjoy things to yourself.

Postable gifts

If your child won’t be able to see their dad on Father’s Day for whatever reason, but still want to make sure their father receives a gift then why not create something that will fit in the letterbox, and let the postman brighten their day? This is especially applicable to grandads whom most kids probably don’t live with or won’t have seen for weeks already.

Handmade cards
It’s cheap and cheerful but it contains all the love and thought and effort (and mess!) from your child. Your only limitation here is the contents of your craft drawer. Whether it’s a beautifully hand-drawn card, stencilled, coloured with crayon, paint or felt-tip, additions of glitter, pipe-cleaners or cotton wool, the handmade touch is sure to bring a smile to your dad or grandad.

Photo frame
If you’re like me and still keep an old-school collection of printed photographs around then why not create a lovely photo frame with your favourite picture of you and your dad or grandfather? Or why not let your child choose their favourite photo, or a cute group photo of your kids to send to their fathers or papas? The photo frame part is simple – either use a spare one you have in the house (Ikea multipacks sometimes come in handy!) or get creative with your kids and a cardboard box. We’ve all got so much more cardboard now the recycling hasn’t been collected in weeks, we might as well make use of it!

Tokens and coupons
I touched on this last year in my homemade father’s day gifts post, but it’s an easy and post-friendly option. If grandad loves sport, get him a coupon to watch a match at a later date. For a bonus create a whole book of coupons to be redeemed post-lockdown. Some great ideas include tokens for different chores, favourite meals or snacks, tokens for trips and adventures, “ask gran/ask mum” tokens and so on.

Unlikely mum makes

Unlikely Mum Makes: Easter Nest Cakes

I don’t know about you, but making Easter nest cakes was one of my favourite things to do (and eat!) as a child. Bringing back some of the nostalgia, I’m hoping to spread the joy to Travis and start a new Easter tradition for us.

I’m not much of a baker, however these sweet treats are super easy to make, with no need to even switch the oven on, so there’s pretty much no way you can go wrong! With no baking and a quick prep time, they are the ideal activity to involve your kiddos in too. Although I imagine at 18 months, Travis will only want to eat all of the chocolate or wear the mixing bowl as a hat!

 

What you need:

Ingredients

  1. Half box of Shredded Wheat (the big ones!)
  2. 200g Cooking chocolate
  3. 2x share bags of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs

Equipment

  • Glass bowl
  • Saucepan or microwave
  • Cupcake cases

 

Method

1.Break your chocolate into pieces and place into the glass bowl.

Microwave: cook in short bursts of 10 seconds at a time, ensuring the chocolate melts evenly and doesn’t burn. You’ll probably need about 6 or 7 goes at a 200g bar of chocolate all broken up. Be sure to stir in between microwave blasts too!

Hob: fill your saucepan halfway with water and place the large glass bowl on top. It’s worth noting you’ll need a larger bowl than pan for the bowl to sit properly and melt efficiently. Keep the water simmering to heat the chocolate evenly and stir as you go.

2. While the chocolate is melting, break up some shredded wheat with your hands. Usually about 5-6 will suffice.

3. Once chocolate has melted, add in the broken shredded wheat and mix well.

4. Spoon the mixture evenly into your cupcake cases, pressing the spoon into the centre of the cake to make a nest shape.

5. Place 3 mini eggs into each nest cake

6. Place all cakes in the fridge for a couple of hours to set

7. Enjoy!

mum life, Unlikely mum makes

Unlikely mum makes: gift boxes

I love Christmas so much, so there’s really any excuse to make something festive in this house. All the more so if I make it, and can recycle/upcycle at the same time.

A couple of years ago, I decided to try and make use of my Birchboxes, which were just lying around gathering dust after I’d removed all the fab products. I didn’t want to throw them away as lots of them had lovely cute patterns on, and I felt they could be used for something else, I just wasn’t sure what… until Christmas came around!

My bright idea was to turn them into festive gift boxes which would hopefully look better than the badly wrapped parcels I give out, which tend to look more like fish suppers than gifts!

What I use them for:

  • Gift boxes for smaller items like makeup and cosmetics
  • Alternative selection boxes
  • Christmas eve boxes

How I do it:

There’s literally 2 steps in this! Though there’s probably a fancier way of doing it that would look super professional but I’m a – not super professional and b – a novice craftsperson, so this is my max talent at the moment!

All you need is:

  1. Wrapping paper
  2. Sellotape
  3. Scissors
  4. Label/nametag or similar

Part 1 – Wrap the gift box

All you have to do is wrap the outside of each part of the box, taking care on the edges and the inside to ensure the paper doesn’t bunch, preventing you from closing the box!

Handmade-christmas-gift-boxes

Part 2 – decide how to label and decorate the gift box

The first year I did this, I opted to use regular gift tags for my boxes. Last year, I used a sheer paper and simply wrote on it with a silver pen. This year, I’m opting to paint some wooden letters and stick them on to some boxes, and use bows and string to decorate others.

The beauty of this is that you can decorate the boxes however you like. In fact, you don’t even need to go for a festive theme, meaning they are the gift box that keeps on giving!

mum life, Unlikely mum makes

Unlikely Mum Makes: Homemade Candles

This last week I’ve been particularly busy doing the big house clean in preparation for winter. You know, the big clean you do before the Christmas tree goes up?

So once the cleaning was done it was time to jump right into the Christmas spirit. This year I decided to start making some Christmas candles as I love nothing more than the smell of Christmas in the house! Plus they make great little stocking fillers (if made well!). After posting my attempts on Instagram, a few people were keen to see how I did it. Candles are surprisingly simple to make if you know how.

I chose to make some orange & cinnamon and mulled wine scented candles, but there are loads of Christmas and wintry scents you can make. Here’s how to make your own Christmas candles exactly like I did:

What you need

Homemade-candles-christmas

  • Soy wax
  • Tin can
  • A pot and some boiling water
  • Candle wicks
  • Blue tac
  • Coloured crayons
  • Glass jar, tumbler or similar

How to make your candles

1. The first thing to do is set up the pot and water to start heating. Then grab your tin can – I used a soup can, but I guess anything of a similar size and metal will do. Fill the can with wax as much as you can, then place into a water bath to start melting. I bought a big 2kg bag of soy wax, which does plenty. You can also use paraffin wax (I think this might be cheaper in some instances?) but soy wax is more natural. I found that a 1kg bag makes about 10 of the candles made below.

You’ll notice as the wax starts to melt that it evaporates slightly, and at this point it’s best to top up the tin a bit. I topped up my tin 2-3 times in order to get 3 candles from the one tin.

Important point: remember to keep stirring your wax!

2. Now it’s time to set up your candle(s). You can use a glass tumbler or dish from the likes of Ikea if you’d like, however I opted to recycle some dessert glasses. There’s a leading brand that makes said desserts, and the likes of Aldi and other supermarkets stock their own brand dessert pots and cheesecakes which come in similar glass containers.

Whatever you choose, you need to fix the candle wick to your candle jar/glass. I I found pre-fixed  candle wicks ones on Amazon which came with stickers and a wick holder, the ideal kit for beginners. Take one fixed wick, add some Blu tac to the underside of the fixing, and stick to the bottom of your jar. Repeat this for however many candles you choose to make.

3. While the wax is melting, chop up some bits of your chosen colour of crayon to add to the tin. It’s worth bearing in mind that the soy wax candles are really white, so if you’re going for a red candle for example, I’d recommend adding some red and some brown crayon in there to achieve the desired colour. You don’t have to add colour, the candles still look fab white, but it helps to distinguish the scents if you’re going to try a few different ones. I chose to make one batch red, and one batch orange. Although I could have definitely added more brown to the red one as it came out paler than I’d hoped!

4. Once your wax and colour has all melted, turn off the heat and remove the tin from the water bath. Now choose your scent and add around 2ml (not quite half a teaspoon) of it to the melted wax. I used fragranced oils, opting for mulled wine for my red candles and orange & cinnamon for my orange ones. If you’re keen on keeping things more natural you can use essential oils rather than fragrance oils. Stir in your chosen scents well, so the fragrance mixes evenly in the wax.

5. Now it’s time to pour the wax into the jar. Be careful to hold onto the wick so it doesn’t bend or float around in the wax. Once filled, tie your wick around a pencil or use a wick holder to keep the wick evenly in the middle of the candle.

Once all your candles are filled and wicks firmly in place, simply sit back and relax – you’ve got about 2 hours or more for your candles to set! I left mine for most of the day just to be sure. Once set, remove the wick holder/pencils and trim your wick to the desired length (no more than an inch above the wax).

6. For decoration, I simply used some Christmas ribbon (from Aldi, however you can get similar ribbon almost anywhere for around the same price) and glue dots to hold in place on the glass. If you’re feeling more adventurous, why not decorate with glitter and glue, snow spray and stencils or draw with a marker if you’re quite the artistic type.

Hey presto, you just made a Christmas candle!

Unlikely-mum-makes-festive-candles-homemade