The Festive Season has Started

IMG_4928Even in semi rural France, the Christmas season is underway and now we’re into December I can feel myself getting into the festive spirit. Recently the weather’s been mild and really rather lovely; every spare minute I have I’ve hurried into the garden and I’m feeling slightly smug and proud of myself –  you see I’m ahead of the game for once, a true rarity! The potager is dug over, waiting for our occasional and infrequent winter frosts to break down the soil over the coming months, the vines have been cut and I’ve bored every family member who will listen to me with news of how prepared our garden is for winter!

P7820286And so yesterday when the heavens opened and the sun went into hiding, when the rain lashed relentlessly against the windows I felt no guilt about spending so much time indoors. In fact it was positively fabulous, a time to get cosy and as it is the weekend it meant I could start the festive preparations with the children.


I cannot deny I love Christmas and one of my favourite parts is watching my family opening their presents; seeing their faces is the best gift in the world. We’ve made a conscious decision to simplify the wrapping this year – we’re sticking to only brown paper and string. 


And if that sounds boring, think of the endless possibilities. We wrapped and cut and darted out into the garden to cut some rosemary for decoration, drying the dripping wet sprigs by the fire first. Now if you study these photos, you’ll see the cardboard box on top of the corner cupboard; it’s just a temporary addition, not a decoration! It houses some of our sweet potatoes which we recently harvested. They need two weeks in a very warm dry place, and up high in the kitchen fits the bill – we have several of them dotted around. This evening they should be ready to take down and wrap individually in newspaper to store for the winter. I’ve kind of got used to them but still I’m glad they are not a permanent fixture!



I let the girls loose with the miniature stamps. I found them in a little shop in Poitiers when Christmas shopping a couple of weeks ago and knew they would be an instant hit. 


Young and old can be entertained for hours, small hands will feel as if they are really making a difference and helping even if the wrapping itself is too difficult and on brown paper the possibilities are endless. Some random stamps placed haphazardly


or a more defined lookP7820303

It’s a matter of personal choice, but the result will be unique and original 


and whose heart wouldn’t melt when presented with a little personalised gift that looks like one of these? So simple and yet, oh my goodness, so gorgeous, I cannot wait to open them on the 25th, but then again, I don’t want to, they are almost too pretty to spoil. 



Alas, we cannot stay cooped up inside for 24 hours, fortunately we have dogs and even on a day like today, again wet and windy, they force us to put on our coats and wellies and to get outside for at least an hour, they need their walk and we feel thoroughly invigorated afterwards, ready to come back inside and resume the wrapping 


and yesterday was the much anticipated annual event of putting together our advent calendar – this is an old shutter we bought a couple of years ago, with old glass yoghurt jars, some string and a little gold paint for the numbers. 


Add a string of lights to give it a little sparkle


and then fill it with all sorts of little gifts for each day. Now this part, for me was slow going. First I had to make a list of the December days and note how many children would be home on each day, with three here full time, one a weekend visitor only during term time and one not here until much nearer Christmas itself, there had to be the right amount for the right day. It took some patience


even Bentley began to look at me as if I had gone half mad, he’d been waiting for his supper for a long time!


and when it did arrive he wolfed it down in his customary thirty second gulp!


Finally, the present wrapping debris was cleared away, the advent calendar was officially complete, decorating the rest of the house will start to take shape over the coming days and weeks. On a Saturday evening this was the best place to be.


And don’t forget amongst all of the Holiday season chaos, our Etsy Shop is still very much open, we’ll ship all orders Priority Mail to try and ensure delivery before Christmas. If you would like anything gift wrapped, just let us know, we’ll gladly do it for free and because it’s the time of year to be Merry and because I love giving, every single order between now and the 24th will receive a free surprise little French gift inside. Our present to you. Many of our items are still on sale with 50% off and there is also plenty of new stock, we always combine shipping to try and make this affordable, the more you buy the cheaper the shipping per item becomes, so you can really make the most of a bargain. Maybe it’s time to treat yourself?

35 thoughts on “The Festive Season has Started

  1. What beautiful wrapping! My mother used to do this, even use newspaper or magazines to make collages, it is really special. Being just the two of us now, Stuart and I no longer do gifts.
    At the moment, we are surrounded by boxes as we prepare for our move on Friday.

  2. Loved seeing the updates, Susan! Your packages are so charming and sweet. For me the wrapping is just as important as the present and I love the look of all of yours and the girls’ creativity. As an American, we have an extra week (or so it feels) for Christmas prep since our Thanksgiving was so early. And Christmas falls on the perfect day of the week this year so my kids will be here for days and days!! So, YEAH!! for a cooperative calendar since it means that I, too, feel wonderfully organized this year which may be a first!! Sending you warm wishes for a healthy and happy holiday season and look so forward to following along on your adventures in 2019!! xo

    1. Ah Ann, it sounds as though we might be in the same boat. Christmas this year will be a bit special as both Izzi and Millie will be home for longer than usual, so I can see some things being done ‘en famille’ that have not had a chance for a while. I wish you a great time too!!

  3. I love the look of brown wrapped packages. One year my family all agreed to use newspaper for wrapping gifts. We all got very creative and there were cutouts and photos from magazines. There was so much thought spent in the creation of the wrapping that no one wanted to open the gifts. They were almost the gift themselves. What fun….
    Home now but already thinking of next year .
    Ali xx

    1. Ha! We have done the newspaper routine too. Roddy has an idea for that which he is determined to make a business of, one day. But I agree decorating plain packages is such fun, too. Much love to Bob, and hope you have a wonderful holiday season with just the right amount of snow….XX

  4. Lovely Susan, I feel as if I have failed miserably and was very tempted to rush to your Etsy shop to see if you had an old shutter ready distressed as I haven’t got the kids advent calendars this year.. The glass yoghurt jars are a great idea, our local craft shop does clear plastic baubles that can be opened and usually I use those but this year we are in the throes of the bathroom renovation and half our sitting room is partitioned by tarpaulin so no room for a tree either. So keep these posts going as I shall be readying for Christmas vicariously through your blog!!

    1. Miranda – al old shutter can be found easily enough and they are so easy to do!! Give it a try, do! Millie has muttered that a tarpaulin sounds like a fine canvas to paint a Christmas scene on – though I am sure you did not want to hear that, lol. I hope enough remains of your ruins that you have a great Christmas 😀

    HOP over and see Vicki Archer on MY BLOG this week ONLY when YOU need a BREAK like ME!!!!!!XX

  6. I love the idea on going simple with the gift wrapping, I think I may just have to introduce this next year (as we have wrapped almost every present already!). I also love your advent calendar, so creative!

  7. Your creativity never ceases to amaze or inspire me! I especially loved the “plain” giftwrap — which as your photos show has been transformed into very beautiful, very personal packages indeed. What a gift you are giving your girls by teaching them to think outside the metaphorical/commercial box. xx

  8. What goes around comes around. In the old days this is what was used for wrapping. I love to use brown paper as well also bits of fabric and ribbons that I have saved over the years gives presents that personal touch. What an original idea for an advent calendar . Happy Xmas😍🌲

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