Clanging Bells and Popping Treats

Well the list of activities and tasks has been long, but there has been some fun along the way.
The Santa photo (I've posted before on why I do this..) was undertaken with a false sense of security on my part. Arch had been giving Santa happy waves across crowded vistas for some time now, so I (foolishly it turned out) thought he'd be okay with the photo.
Not true.
He was okay until we got right up close. Then he refused everything. Refused to be held, refused to sit near, refused to look at the camera, refused to smile.
All of this lovely behaviour culminated in a bright idea to let him hold Santa's big brass bell.
It worked last year.
Even Santa's good will was tested when Arch threw the bell on to the ground while screaming "Noooooo! No bell!!"
Um. Okay.

Apparently we were the most challenging group they'd had that day, week, Christmas.
We took our photo, not too bad under the circumstances, and made a run for it. Hopefully that Santa will have forgotten us by next year..

Then we moved on to Gingerbread houses!
And honestly I didn't feel any pressure from the fact that every man, woman and child had posted amazing masterpieces on Face Book. That didn't put us off at all.

YES the gingerbread house decorating was undertaken and completed without last year's trauma, or infighting or me struggling to hold it together in the face of yet another family Christmas tradition that should be fun, and yet, strangely, often, isn't.

I thank COLES supermarkets. Who, in their wisdom, imported a Canadian Christmas village kit, with small well-shaped houses. The kit came complete with a huge piping bag of industrial strength icing (nothing fell down. Or off. Or over!) and a bright array of lollies. Unfortunately I only realised the kit came with lollies after I'd bought a bag full of confectionery myself. Strangely, no one complained.
The kit was not costly, (like way under $20, maybe $10?!) and we all had great fun - even the ten-year-old who pretended he was over it, and even the toddler who last year ran amok! The kids each chose a house they were happy with and the results were even, dare I say, aesthetically pleasing!

Christmas baking has increased apace too, with the obligatory Christmas gingerbread shapes. Yes i got the mix out of a box. Quick and easy are my mantras this year.
Actually that's my mantra most years, come to think of it.

My brain wave was the decorating. Two words: Popping candy. It reminded me of an Enid Blyton special treat from the top of the faraway tree. Remember Sylvie's popping biscuits which exploded honey into the children's mouths?
Me too. That was my inspiration.

And, sticking with my popping theme, here is what I did for a quick and fun Christmas snack.
Did make me realise I should have put "Large saucepan with proper fitting lid" on my Christmas list. Oh well, maybe next year.

Salted caramel popcorn, presented in gorgeous Christmas cupcake paper holders (front ones Robert Gordon, while red and white ones were $2 for a dozen at a party shop). I added pecans to the first batch - and no nuts to the second (fussy kids!). Both went down a treat.

What are your fail-safe Christmas food ideas and traditions?
Are you planning a huge feast for Christmas Day?
Do you find Christmas cooking fun and relaxing, with smiling children as helpers and a spotless kitchen (because everyone helped clean up) ten minutes after?



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