D.I.Y. Advent Calendars

Would you like to get your children & family members even more excited about Christmas than ever?? Well an Advent Calendar is definitely the way to go!  But if you’re looking for something different from the standard supermarket version (although it’s hard to knock something that gives you a chocolate a day!), here are some creative and inspiring alternatives for the Christmas Countdown…

[ Click through all images for the original source & more info, instructions, printables etc where available.]

Christmas Advent Garland

A Christmas Advent Garland

Christmas Advent Socks

A Christmas Advent Garland Made of Cute Baby Socks

Santa Sack Advent Calendar

A Santa Sack Advent Calendar

Brown Paper Envelopes Advent Calendar

Beautiful brown paper envelopes with vintage images

Paper Packages

Paper Packages!!

Origami Advent Calendar

Origami Advent Calendar

Book Advent Calendar

Book Advent Calendar

Ornament Advent Calendar

Ornament Advent Calendar

Advent Tree

Advent Tree

Advent Activities

Advent Activities

Advent Activities (bottom image = printable)

Christmas Advent Jar

Christmas Advent Jar

Santa's Beard Advent Calendar

Santa’s Beard Advent Calendar (printable)

Santa's Beard Advent Calendar Version 2 (printable)

Santa’s Beard Advent Calendar Version 2 (also printable)

Wine Bottle Advent Calendar

An Advent Calendar for Mum and Dad??

Happy Christmas Countdown everybody!

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Fun Christmas Food + Drinks

It’s 25th November today, which means that the next month will be filled with “Christmas Entertaining”. Picnics, cocktails, family bbq’s, get-togethers, work-do’s (arrgh), office parties and more!

So we thought some fun and festive food + drink ideas might be in order…

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Savoury:

Betty Crocker’s Easy Fiesta Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree Cheese Board from Cabot Cheese, Vermont

Babybel Cheese Santa from Cute Food for Kids

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Fruity:

Edible fruit tree from Ginger & Garlic (scroll down for instructions)

Strawberry Christmas Tree from taste.com.au

Strawberry Santas!

Corporate Christmas Party Food from Tracey Lau.  No recipes but pictures show Chocolate Dipped Cherries and a Vanilla Bean Bavarois with Raspberry Coulis – gorgeous!

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Gingerbready:

Gingerbread tree – no recipe but I guess you could use any gingerbread biscuit recipe – the idea is lovely:)

Double gingerbread cupcakes from babble.com

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Yummy:

Mini snowman shots – eat em’ fast!

No recipe – this is from a wedding blog – but it is apparently chantilly mousse and raspberry sauce. Doesn’t it look Christmas-sy!

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Cupcakie:

Lovely Mini Christmas Vanilla Cupcakes from Once Upon a Plate

Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes from Sweat Peas Kitchen

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Drinkie:

Refreshing Raspberry Mojito from a la carte kitchen

[b.t.w. we have put a yummy ice republic mojito mix in our “It’s a Man’s Xmas” gift box – so cool for Christmas or Boxing Day bbq’s]

Apple, Ginger and Cranberry Cocktails from the fabulous What Katie Ate

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Party:

And if you’re looking for some fun entertainment ideas for young and old I love the “Christmas Minute-to-Win-It” ideas in oncloud8’s Not So Silent Night blog post.

Happy Eating & Drinking & Being Merry !!

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Christmas Gift Ideas for Men

So, did you know that married couples have differing views over whether they share the gift buying responsibilities evenly at Christmas?

Probably not surprisingly, only 20% of women agree that responsibility for choosing and buying gifts is shared evenly with their partner, while slightly more men (33%) think that they shoulder half the burden. Ha!  I bet these numbers don’t only apply to married couples either.

What it means in practice though is that women are often the ones who have to choose gifts for the range of men in their life – fathers, fathers-in-law, husbands/partners, sons, brothers, brothers-in-law etc.

This can be quite a hard job… so to help you out this Christmas we’ve firstly compiled a few tips on choosing gifts for men, and then we wanted to show you our top 9 picks for Christmas gifts for guys from The Paper Package.

1. Some general gift choosing tips for guys:

Of course this is all very stereotypical, but you might like to keep in mind…

  • Most men prefer to receive gifts that they can put to immediate good use in either their work life, their home life or their spare time. So in terms of gift buying, this means thinking along the lines of practicality rather than sentimentality.
  • Following on from the above, consumables such as food and drink, and useable items such as golf balls, fishing bait/tackle, even socks (!) can in many situations be good, practical gift ideas for men.
  • Electronic items such as gadgets and games are popular gift choices for a lot of guys. You just have to be a little bit careful because men can be pretty specific about what they want (for example, about what exact game they want, or what exact model/version of gadgets they like). Exchange cards could be helpful here.
  • Tickets or arrangements to go somewhere/experience something can be a fun gift. It’s important to make sure you think about where he would really like to go (and this is sadly, not necessarily where you would like to go :)) Depending on his interests this could be a restaurant, sports game, concert, adventure experience etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask men directly what they would like for Christmas (see points on practicality and specificness above). But also don’t assume that “nothing” actually means “nothing”… it’s much more likely to mean “nothing in particular” or “nothing I can think of at the moment”.
  • If you’re having trouble choosing something and are just not sure what to give, then be careful not to over-compensate by spending more money. Lavish spending never guarantees a good gift.
  • Remember that when you give something to someone, you are also communicating something to them. So an interesting way to think about gift buying is to firstly spend some time thinking of what you most want to say to that person, and then try to choose something that reflects this. ie. focus first on the thought behind the gift rather than the physical gift itself.

2. Christmas Gift Ideas for Men from The Paper Package:

Our top nine picks for Christmas gifts are shown below, but be sure to also check out our full range of gifts for men & Christmas Gift Hampers for more ideas.

Christmas gifts for men from The Paper Package

Top row (L to R): Vintage Leather Satchel  :  Ciak Golf Notebook  :  Sweet & Savoury Gift Box

Middle row (L to R):  The Connoisseur Gift Package  :  It’s a Man’s Xmas Gift Hamper  :  Classic Moleskine

Bottom row (L to R): Xmas Chocko Box  :  “Masterchef” Gift Package  :  Leather Card Case

Thanks for reading and we hope some of these tips/ideas help with your Christmas gift shopping. Next post, because we’re starting to head into the Christmas party season, we’re planning to show you some fun ideas for food/nibbles and decorating. Hope to catch you again then 🙂

Christmas Gift Ideas for Women

In this era of gift cards and downloadable gifts it can be a real thrill to have a proper present to open on Christmas Day.

Gift cards etc, while they might be what people ask for, do lack a lot of the magic of a physical gift. Let’s be honest, you can’t really have the same fun opening an envelope with a plastic card in it that you can with a lovingly wrapped present. With a traditional gift there’s the whole anticipation and experience of unwrapping… picking it up, holding it in your hands, feeling the weight of it, bringing it up to your ear to listen as you shake it a little, and then finally starting to unwrap it. Great fun!!

One of the main reasons people don’t give each other actual gifts so much anymore is that we’re apparently all stressed by not knowing what to buy or worrying whether the recipient will like the gift. But this is a problem we can help you solve! With just a little bit of thought and some inspiration from our gift selections below, you can bring back all the charm and nostalgia of a traditional Christmas present to someone you care about (even if you do want to slip them a little gift card on the side as well!)

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Selection 1: Natural Simplicity

Top row (L to R): Gardener’s Hand Cream : Botanical Cards Boxed Set : “A Day For Me” Gift Package

Middle row (L to R): O-Check Library Notebook : Sweets & Nibbles Gift Box : “Garden Notes” Gift Package

Bottom row (L to R): String, Spool & Scissors : Galison Weekly Organiser : Au Jardin Sticky Notes

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Selection 2: Elegance

Top row (L to R): Holy Night Gift Box : “Keep Your House in Order” Gift Package : Harmony Notebook

Middle row (L to R): Moleskine Book Journal : “Hello” Boxed Card Set : “Family Recipe” Gift Set

Bottom row (L to R): Vintage Album Gift Package : Passionflower Room Fragrance : “For Her This Christmas”

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Selection 3: Traveling with Style

Top row (L to R): “Stylista” Gift Package : French Card Boxed Set : Paris Sticky Notes

Middle row (L to R): Ephemera Stickers : “Notes from Paris” Gift Box : “Vintage Golf” Gift Set

Bottom row (L to R): Vintage Crackle Leather Satchel : “Vintage Travel” Gift Package : Paris Notebook

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Selection 4: Family and Friends

Christmas gifts for women - collage 4

Top row (L to R): Christmas Cookie Care Package : Talking Family : Moleskine Recipe Journal

Middle row (L to R): Butterfly Pocket Journal : Christmas Wishes Gift BoxAssorted Dog Card Set

Bottom row (L to R): Rosehip Organiser : Kitchen Care Gift Pack : Retro Housewarming Gift Box

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Introducing: Rifle Paper Co.

Rifle paper co.

When I recently went into town to buy a birthday card for a friend I have to say I was shocked (SHOCKED!) by the price of a single card. After spending some time browsing I eventually found a nice card for $5.99, but that was after I had put back quite a few in the $7-9 range. Considering the time it had taken me, plus parking costs, the whole exercise was pretty expensive for just one card. And worse still, the next birthday that rolls around I’ll have to do it all over again!

That’s one of the reasons why we’re so pleased to be able to stock these boxed assorted card sets from the Rifle Paper Co. At $35.99 for a set of 8 they are great value as well as gorgeous, and having a box of these on hand will mean that you’re never at a loss for a top quality card to send.

Botanical card set from Rifle Paper Co.

Botanical Cards – Boxed Set of 8

Rifle Paper Co. is a boutique stationery brand and design studio based in Winter Park, Florida. Created by Anna Bond and her husband Nathan, the company’s products feature Anna’s whimsical designs in a lovely nostalgic and timeless style.

Dog Boxed Set of Cards from Rifle Paper Co.

Assorted Dog Cards – Boxed Set

Rifle Paper Co. takes great care in choosing all of their stock and printing methods so that their designs come to life in an elegant, beautiful and durable way.  All the cards are printed in the U.S. using environmentally friendly printing methods and papers, and are then assembled by hand. Apart from the vibrant pretty colours and cheerful compositions, it’s the quality of these products that makes them so special to both give and receive.

French cards Boxed Set from Rifle Paper Co

Assorted French Card Set

Wouldn’t you just love to open the mail and find one of these… from a friend saying hello, or maybe wishing you bon voyage, or congratulating you on another year passing by?  That’s why these types of products make such great gifts.. you get to give something beautiful and original, the recipient gets to receive something beautiful and original, and then they get to send someone else something beautiful and original. It’s a lovely win-win-win all round!

Folk Art Card Set Rifle Paper Co

Folk Art – Boxed Set of 8 Assorted Cards

For a further look at the card sets we have in stock you can visit our website here, or to find out more about Rifle Paper Co. itself you could visit their blog here.

And finally, we wanted to show you these fantastic “Twas the Night Before Xmas” postcard sets. At $29.95 for a set of 10, these postcards will absolutely charm the socks off your friends or family, and make a great change from all those other run-of-the-mill Christmas cards.

Christmas Postcards - Rifle Paper Co

“Twas the Night Before Christmas” Postcard Set

Christmas Gift Ideas for Children

Continuing on with our Christmas gift guides, today’s post is all about choosing gifts for children. Now, we’re not really talking here about parents choosing gifts for their own kids for Christmas (that is outside our expertise as mainly selling gift basket-type products), this is more a guide for extended family or friends who may not have a lot of day-to-day contact with the kids but would like to give them a present at Christmas.

In this post we want to start with some of our top tips for choosing gift ideas that kids will love, then go on to showcase some of our children’s gifts from The Paper Package, and finish up with a few fun examples of homemade gifts kids will love…

1. Top 5 Tips for Choosing Children’s Gifts

Tip # 1 – If at all possible – check with the parents first

Children’s interests can change markedly from year to year, so a quick email or phone call to the parents could be the best step towards finding that perfect gift. They often have interests (obsessions?) related to what is currently popular at school or on TV, and although the trend usually only lasts for a little while, at the time it can be all they want.

Tip # 2 – Online toy stores can have great gift buying guides

It’s really hard to keep up with what stages kids are at, so online stores where you can research what’s age-appropriate and popular can be a great help.

IQ Toys (www.iqtoys.co.nz) is an example of a great website in NZ for checking out kids toys. They have “shop by age” and “shop by price” categories, buyer’s guides for different age groups and customer reviews of products (note: we aren’t affiliated or associated with IQ Toys in any way 🙂 )

Other good places to look for ideas include lists of the latest book award winners (try NZ Post Children’s Book Awards Finalists) or toy awards.

Tip # 3 – There’s always the classics

There are just some gifts for children that never seem to go out of style – for example Lego, Barbies, crafts, stationery (especially for girls), stickers, magic tricks, bouncy balls and books.

Tip # 4 – Family presents make great Christmas gift ideas

Giving a gift to the whole family at Christmas time can be a nice idea. For example – movie passes, tickets to the local swimming complex, vouchers for a simple meal out or items like board games that the whole family can play.

Similarly, a family gift basket can make a great present. A family DVD with a big bag of popcorn (or packets of microwave popcorn if you’re posting the gift) and chocolate bars, minties etc. makes a great movie night basket. Or try a new tray of cupcake tins with cake mix, icings, liners and lots of sprinkles and little sweets for decoration – kids love making and decorating their own cup cakes, and this makes for a fun family-orientated holiday activity.

Tip # 5 – If in doubt – add something sweet!

A few lollies or sweets added to a gift for children always has the effect of turning it into a huge hit! It’s  especially fun to add things that sensible parents might cringe at – like those huge lollipops as big as your face, or their own individual boxes of chocolates. 100% Guaranteed to please.

So, on to some of our own lovingly wrapped gift ideas…

2. Children’s Gifts from The Paper Package

First up, gift boxes. Although it might not be the first thing you think of in relation to children’s gifts, receiving their own “brown paper package tied up with string” in the post or in person can be a fun idea for Christmas. In our Christmas gift basket range we have 4 that are particularly suitable for children (as well as anybody else who is young at heart :)) Please click through the links or images for more details.

Little Xmas Treat Box

Just like the name says – a nostalgic little package of treats…

Christmas Gift Baskets for Children

Jolly Sweet Gift Box

A traditional taste of the tuck shop in a box – with lots of freshly made old favourites like sherbet, candy rock, gingerbread, cola fizzies…

Christmas Gift Baskets for Children

Xmas Chocko Box

This is a guaranteed to please idea for most teenagers. Chock full of chocolate and wrapped in a lovely vintage-style…

Christmas Gift Baskets for Children

Christmas Bluebirds Gift Box

Particularly suitable for tween or teenage girls, this lovely gift box contains cute stationery and more…

Christmas Gift Baskets for Children

As well as these Christmas gift baskets, we also have available a small number of quality paper products for children that could make a great Christmas gift.

For example, these puzzles from the multi award-winning Mudpuppy Press, New York.

Christmas gifts for children

Around the World Puzzle  :  Fairytale Puzzle  :  Pirates Puzzle Package

Or these imaginative and creative gifts with a nostalgic twist…

Christmas gifts for children

Clockwise from top left: Robots Create-A-Card Set  :  Crafty Flowers  :  Little Robots Package  :  Fairytale Theatre

In the final part of this post we’d like to show you a few homemade gift ideas for children this Christmas…

3. Homemade Children’s Gifts

Candy Cane Playdough

A cute and inexpensive idea for littlies…

From The Artful Parent

Picnic / Adventure Basket

This awesome gift was given for a wedding, but the idea could be wonderfully adapted to make a children’s version (or an adventure basket). Thinking along the lines of… a butterfly catcher, binoculars, magnifying glass, notebook & pencil etc. along with the blanket and drink bottle (absolutely love the idea of the viewfinder too!)

From Tiger in a Jar

Ice-Cream Sundae Kit

Along similar lines, this collection of toppings, sauces and cones makes a perfect summer Christmas gift…

From Family Bites

So that’s our guide to children’s Christmas gifts… the next post planned is gifts for women so stay tuned for some nice eye candy 🙂