We hung our Advent Calendar up this morning, all ready for the 1st of December tomorrow. We have a beautiful one which was made by Caiti’s wonderful godmother Janet Lane. As you can see, it’s a Christmas tree with rick-rack tinsel and 24 little pads of velcro sewn on.

In the pockets at the bottom are 24 wooden shapes, ranging from cats to candles to candy canes, and you stick the appropriate day’s one on. Ruadhri spends time rearranging them so that he gets to put all his favourite ones up on his allotted days.

Reusable Advent Calendars like this one are the best sort for all sorts of reasons, not least because you can make them for yourself. The French adore their ‘bricolage’, crafting. There are hundreds of different craft magazines for sale everywhere, dedicated to such things as the more unusual wooden spoon crafts and flowerpot crafts, as well as more familiar stencilling, window painting, knitting, crochet and so on. And there are magazines devoted to making Advent Calendars. They’re huge over here. I’ve picked out a few examples from the Net to show you what ideas people come up with.

Felt cones in Irish colours! (aupotagedesdames)

Little knitted gloves - this one is super! (echevette)

Matchboxes are used here (from leblogdepatsi).

I invented my own a couple of years ago. I crocheted a red triangle with a white bottom from cut up teeshirts to represent Santa’s hat. I then sewed on 24 bullet cases into which Chris had drilled tiny holes. Let me explain. I don’t associate Santa with weapons. It’s simply that with four gun club members in the house, the youngest two of which come home from every visit to the range with their pockets stuffed full of shiny brass bullet cases of various sizes, then there is a vast supply of them laying around the house at any time needing to have something done with them. Plus I was making the calendar for our sure-shot, bull’s-eye-everytime Caiti so it was appropriate. Then I printed out a joke or a seasonal slogan in very small type on a very small piece of paper for each day, rolled it up and slipped it into the bullet casing. Voilà ! I think Caits has taken the calendar to lycée with her as I can’t find it to take a picture of. If it shows up, I will!

We’ve put Santa up on the gate too. I bought this guy and his clone our first winter here. They were all the rage that year and I felt it important to fit in. When in Rome, after all.

Santa is nearly as big as Rors!

Santa has survived five winters out in the cold so far and looks none the worse for wear. Good old China, manufacturing so much stuff out of totally indestructible materials! The odd thing about him is the pair of green mittens that it has. Green? Everyone knows they should be red. And also I’m not sure specs are the best idea for a bloke who’s going up and down a billion chimneys in one night. They’d be bound to fall off somewhere and would certainly get filthy. But evidently the People’s Republic think they’re appropriate.

Poor Santa, out in the cold again

And, rather creepily, Santa’s head can turn 180 degrees so he turns into a bit of a horror Santa any time Benj has been anywhere near him!

Enough to give you nightmares!