Image of a Christmas Flower Bouquet by Florist with Flowers

Christmas Flowers – Best flowers for Christmas

Receiving a fresh bouquet or pot of flowers induces genuine feelings of happiness and joy. If you want to brighten the day of a loved one during the holidays, give them flowers for Christmas. Flowers are not the first thing that pops into our mind when we think about Christmas presents. But if you want your idea to be unique and just as thoughtful as traditional Christmas treats, sending our Christmas flower arrangements is definitely the best way to go.

 

  • Christmas Flowers are the best gift idea for people who have everything

 

What do you give a friend or a family member who literally has everything in life? Or for loved ones who simply don’t need more material possessions in their homes? Try giving them flowers for Christmas. According to studies, sending out Christmas flowers enhances the mood of recipients. It’s the most thoughtful gift that money can buy during the holidays.

 

  • Save Mother Earth while making other people feel good at the same time

 

If you’ve recently jumped on the “zero waste” bandwagon, sending out Christmas flower arrangements is best. Gift giving around the holiday season can be extremely wasteful. To reduce your carbon footprint and that of your Christmas gift recipients, you can’t beat giving flowers for the Christmas season.

 

Although flowers for Christmas will start wilting a few days to a few weeks after delivery, since they are biodegradable, they will not contribute to more trash in landfills and even waterways.

 

  • Flowers are an affordable Christmas present option

 

A misconception about flower gift giving is that they are too expensive and may not fit right into the budgetary constraints. But did you know that flowers are cheap, especially when you know where to look. Source local and ethically-grown produce. During the holidays, make sure to get blooms in season such as:

 

  • Poinsettia
  • Roses
  • Carnations
  • Germinis
  • Chrysanthemums

 

To check out captivating Christmas flower arrangement ideas, visit us here. To place an order, call us on 02 9871 1666.

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Filling Your Home with Memories

Christmas, like many other key times in our life is firmly etched in our memories. What those memories are will differ for each family of course, but what remains the same is that those early memories have the potential to become our own Christmas traditions in the future.

My childhood Christmas had a smell- I’m sure it was the same for many of you too- the smell of pine is unmistakable, and like fragrances tend to do, getting a whiff of the scent of pine again transports me back to another time and place.

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Replicating the perfect Christmas is almost like a step by step recipe that we are unable to deviate from- it is like a sportsman wearing his lucky socks or jocks…. Sometimes it is impossible to put your finger on exactly what element made something perfect so you just repeat everything in the hope that you will be able to create the same magic again.

Everyone’s idea of perfect is different too of course but there is something special about fresh produce, whether we are talking about food, cut flowers, or plants.

NSW is quite unique in that both Christmas Bush and Christmas Bells are endemic to the region. Both these flowers are naturally available at Christmas time as their names suggest, although, weather conditions can influence this. Fresh cut flowers throughout the house is important always of course BUT essential for Christmas.

Christmas Bells are nostalgic for many customers but  tend to be fairly pricey per stem as they are a restricted crop. They naturally grow in many low lying areas within National Park areas, however it is an offence to pick them. For that reason, they should be purchased from only reputable suppliers; the bunches are generally tagged to certify that they have been grown independently.

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They are the kind of fresh cut flower that many hold close to their heart, and as a general rule, we can never get our hands on enough Christmas Bush. At its best, the Christmas Bush is red and vibrant. Did you know that they begin as a white bract and that the actual flower is quite insignificant? The bract then changes from white to a more peachy, orange tone, before becoming red.  It is a pretty temperamental crop, and given too much rain, strong winds or too little rain for that matter, can wipe it out. Some suppliers will be forced to pick crops early, resulting in peachy toned Christmas Bush, or even White.

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A gorgeous alternative to traditional choices like Christmas Bush, is the vibrant red flowering Eucalyptus. These little explosions of colour are like mini fireworks. This native flower is endemic to Western Australia however grows well throughout New South Wales. They can be a little messy, but let’s face it- the best things in life tend to be a tad messy 😜

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Poinsettia are a favourite at Christmas time as they make a gorgeous gift, but they are also an amazingly simple, and cost effective table centrepiece. If you are short on space, or tight on cash, a single Poinsettia set in the centre of your table is a fantastic alternative to more costly arrangements. Plus, for all you green thumbs out there, plant them in the garden and enjoy the beauty again and again. There are several varieties of Poinsettias available these days- in white, cream, soft pink, verigated pinks, strong pinks, corals and everything in between.

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Often the ritual of getting ready for Christmas is influenced by the happy memories of your own childhood, or the wishes you had as a child. It encompasses all the things you love, you enjoy, and the things you are passionate about.

What are the ingredients for your perfect Christmas? I hope the lists are written and you are starting to cross things off because…..there is ONLY 11 sleeps to go!

Fwf x

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Christmas Tree Decorating that Breaks the Internet

If you, like me, like a good ‘theme’ to things, then Christmas is probably no different. I must confess though, in my current stage of life (3 kids under 5) over the last few years I have stuck with the same theme out of a combination of laziness and practicality. Despite the burning desire to change the colours, I have resisted, telling myself that this year is probably the last year that I will have to decorate a non traditional tree.

Over the last five years I have done what most families do; that is, either choose to have a non traditional Christmas tree decoration, OR, for the traditionalists, erect a fence-like structure around the parameter of your Christmas tree.

I have created a hanging wooden tree, made from various lengths of wooden slats, hung together to create a triangular Christmas tree silhouette and this has appeased me both practically as well as aesthetically. This  hangs in an alcove at the entrance of our home, away from little hands that seem absolutely determined to pull everything out and down, only to throw it all on the floor….for me to stand on.

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Like many other cash savvy mums out there I keep my eye on decorator ideas from many of the big retailers. And I have to say, non rival what Kmart have on offer.

Mums from all over the country post pictures of their trees sourcing wisdom from the crowd for their decorating dilemmas. Others post pictures for others to take inspiration from, and of course to garner the envy and appreciation that only social media ‘likes’ and comments can give you.

The one that really seemed to impress  this year was Tammy Sims’ black Christmas tree dressed head to toe in a slowly changing rainbow. Using a combination of store bought decorations as well as D.I.Y baubles that she glued and glittered herself, she was able to create a truly eye catching, creative tree.

Tammy Sims' Rainbow Christmas Tree

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Images via Kmart Mums of Australia Facebook Page

The South Australia mum of three has scored over 6.1K ‘likes’ on the Kmart Mums of Australia’s Facebook page with her creation inspired by the ‘Yes’ vote.

“It seemed appropriate in celebration of the yes vote,” she explained.

Not everyone puts as much thought and consideration into the theme they will use to decorate their Christmas tree. Depending on your family, perhaps you have a box of precious baubles that have special memories attached to them, and they are lovingly hung each and every year.

Or perhaps you prefer less of the clutter that tends to comes with Christmas? If that sounds like you, then Kmart has another option that might fit the bill.

It’s not a fresh Christmas tree. It’s not even green. But Kmart’s stacking Christmas tree is both space saving and chic.

Part of the appeal of the Stacking tree is it’s neutral colour palette and simple Scandi style, however many creative people out there have used the shelf style tree pieces to create colourful compositions to suit their themes for the year.

Jacqueline Bertucci's metallic tree hack
Jacqueline Bertucci’s metallic tree hack
Sam Dawson decided to steer clear of glitzy baubles and instead created a neutral colour palette with light and texture
Sam Dawson decided to steer clear of glitzy baubles and instead created a neutral colour palette with light and texture
Louise Martin's take- with and without the lights illuminated.
Louise Martin’s take- with and without the lights illuminated.

So whether you choose to decorate a fresh or artificial tree, fill a vase with dried branches, or can decorate your home with festive fresh flowers you have endless opportunities to extend yourself creatively….and, if all else fails, know that we do it for you! Check out our Christmas range for inspiration!

Fwf x

Featured image; by Sofia Katariina 

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Christmas Fun to Start at Once!

With the start of December upon us, it is a great time to begin enjoying some more social activities, and the City of Sydney really turns it on, with some great (and often FREE) activities that you can enjoy throughout the month leading up to Christmas.

This time of the year is notoriously busy of course, but many of these activities are great group activities that will help you get into the spirit of Christmas whilst socialising as well.

DID YOU KNOW that according to the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) nearly 25% of Aussie homes, and occupied by a single person? I find that pretty astounding. Nearly one quarter of our population lives alone, so the beginning of the festive season could also spell the beginning of feelings of loneliness and disconnectedness for those flying solo.

It is easy at this time of year to be consumed by our own lives and all the business that comes with the silly season. Often those who are lonely withdraw further, not wanting to burden others with their problems. Dropping in small thoughtful gifts to neighbours, can help combat feelings of isolation in those who have no family or friends around them- Check out our Christmas gift range if you need some inspiration. Now is also a great time to extend the invitation to people you suspect may be lonely. Keep plans open and informal- after all, the more the merrier!

Some of the sights throughout the city provide a base for creating a fantastic treasure hunt activity, or could provide entertainment between a festive pub crawl. How fun would that be? With so many amazing venues throughout the city, what a fun way to spend an afternoon or weekend with a group of friends.

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Image; Swarovski Christmas Tree at the QVB via What’s On

There is plenty to do and see in the city, so starting somewhere central makes sense. The QVB building is always dressed to impress at Christmas time, and with the Swarovski crystal Christmas tree taking centre stage, it is certainly worth a look. With Town Hall station basically underneath as well as many bus routes passing by, it is easily accessible. Then head toward Hyde Park.

PUB CRAWL SUGGESTION; RAMBLIN RASCAL TAVERN

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Image; David Jones flagship store on Elizabeth Street, Sydney

At the flagship David Jones Stores on Elizabeth Street you will find the big retailer’s take on Christmas modeled in each window display. This is always a nice thing to do with the kids- and this year features very cute gingerbread characters. The David Jones windows are beautiful to look at during the day, but are also gorgeous at night, with the displays illuminated once the sun goes down.

PUB CRAWL SUGGESTION; RABBIT HOLE BAR AND DINING

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Image; Martin Place Christmas Tree via The Salvos

The Christmas tree in Martin Place is already in place, and the lights are on, shining the way throughout the city. Each night leading up to Christmas, choirs will be at Martin Place caroling. With a train station near by at Martin Place this makes another great meeting point. Light projections are also on site here every night to see.

If you fancy a little sweet treat to keep your energy levels up, The GPO pop up dessert bar is set up at No 1 Martin Place offering a range of gelato, housemade sweets, cakes, coffee, cold beverages and savoury options.

PUB CRAWL SUGGESTION; GPO BAR

Image; Boulevarde of Lights

Head down through Pitt Street Mall though the Boulevarde of Light; a Christmas forest installation with nearly 80,000 white lights shining down on you. On Thursday, Saturday and Sunday evenings caroling choirs will also be performing here from 6-8pm. Check out what Choirs are coming to perform right here.

PUB CRAWL SUGGESTION; PALMER AND CO

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Image; Child Mags

Swing by St Mary’s Cathedral which will be putting on a Light Show again this year, with the sweet singing voices of a choir to accompany the show from 7.30pm every evening. There will be food options on site for those with grumbling bellies.

PUB CRAWL SUGGESTION; OPERA BAR

Circular Quay is a great destination to finish your city tour. For locals and tourists alike, it is a picturesque place to sit down and rest your weary bones, and grab something to eat or drink. After all isn’t that all part of getting into the Christmas spirit- eat, drink and be merry!

Fwf x

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NEWS IN: Christmas Decorating Believed to Make You Happier

Did you know there are LESS than 5 weeks til Christmas? If you are anything like me, hearing that fact gives you a little pang in your belly, aware of all the things you need to do and organise.  Despite knowing that I am so far completely unprepared, even coming up with a list seems to premature. How could it be almost the end of another year???!!

I’ve always grown up in a house that does not begin Christmas decorating until December 1st. My mother’s birthday is in the last week of November, so she feels incredibly put out if there are any reference to Christmas before we have celebrated her day. Much to her annoyance, the shopping centres begin Christmas decorating usually sometime in October. Is it just me, or does it seem to be happening earlier every year?

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Image; Decoist

WELL, according to new research by psychologist Steve McKeown, people who begin decorating for Christmas earlier are happier. McKeown says; “In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood,”

Ever heard that saying ‘like a kid on Christmas’? Well, according to McKeown, decorating for Christmas stirs up all those warm and fuzzy feelings we felt as children….all those wonderful feelings of anticipation and excitement. Christmas decorations work as visual cues, creating a nostalgic pathway back to those feelings.

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Image via Crave Online

It is not all happy news though- according to McKeown, hanging up the decorations early can be to relive happy memories from your past, BUT it can also be to over compensate for past neglect. Decorating the house early is also a tool that people use to appear more friendly or social. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, suggests there is a link between decorating your home for the festive season and seeming more open and social to your neighbours.

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Image via Little Lewes
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Image; Country Cupboard Cookies

So what kind of festive activities does your family undertake? Do you bake gingerbread houses or shortbread? Do you create your own wreaths for the door or table? Do you create interesting advent calendars for the family? There is tonnes of inspiration on Facebook craft pages, Instagram and Pinterest if you fancy trying something new. And family favourite Kmart brings the goods at affordable prices if you fancy getting creative.

As always, Florist with Flowers offer a gorgeous array of Christmas themed decorative items for your home-check them out here. Fresh floral wreath arrangements can be ordered for your door or table. Poinsettia plants and miniature Christmas trees are sure to make an appearance in store in the coming weeks.

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Christmas tends to be a very busy time socially and it is often difficult to choose gifts for people who you only know professionally, or perhaps for people who really seem to have everything they need. Fresh flowers or plants are always well received, and we can create an arrangement to suit any colour scheme or styling.

So on that note, I encourage you to start decorating now even if it goes against your whole being…after all, apparently it is good for you!

Fwf x

 

 

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10 Christmas displays you can create in 10 minutes or Less!

We are all time poor these days but never  more so than at this time of year when there are countless social engagements, family celebrations and workplace functions filling our calendar, as well as heavier traffic and longer lines in the stores.

It is totally acceptable and expected then, that the less important tasks are left to the very end, and for many that will mean the decorating.

Creating a talking piece is easy. Don’t believe me? In less than ten minutes, you could create one of these fun displays that you could use in a foyer area, side table or servery or something you can add to your table. For those of you who have left decorating to the last minute, I have found some eye catching pieces from all over, which are effective and also quick and easy to get together.

These super cute Christmas Tree Napkins from Publix are surprisingly easy to make. For the tutorial head here.

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Image; Publix

Or if you fancy a cute Elf hat instead, you can find the tutorial here. I’d alternate the colour of the elf hats or christmas tree napkins to add more colour to the table but stick to one block colour if you have other accessories on your table.

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Image: Good Housekeeping

Table top designs like these tinsel trees, and super easy to make. Pick up styrofoam trees from the craft or dollar store, and cover them in card; this way you are using the styrfoam as a mould. Then hot glue tinsel to the surface by winding it round and round. (If you use the hot glue directly on the foam, you will find it melts). Remove the card from the styrofoam tree, and place on your table.

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Image: A Lion’s Nest

My craft cupboard has an assortment of household junk, old wrapping papers, scrap-booking papers and lots of old thick card. Whether you purchase thick quality card, or recycle cardboard boxes, these two piece tree ornaments are super cheap and super easy to make. You can cover your recycled card with old wrapping paper, paint your designs or cover them in glitter to match your theme, then, when they are dry slot them together. Voila!

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Image: HGTV

Hurricane Lamps or other vases can be used to create a display within, like a life sized snow dome of sorts. You can even turn over your stemware and create a slimlined display down the centre of the table.

A display can be very quickly put together using a handful of Christmas ornaments that match your theme and a large vase, and it will take you less than a couple of minutes. Alternatively you may use Christmas themed figurines and carefully craft a scene that your guests may admire. The more intricate the scene, the longer it will take you to make, but it will also keep your guests amused discovering all the details to your design!

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Image: Take Time for Style
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Image: Cuecas na Cozinha via Pinterest

Candles are an amazing way to add ambiance to a room. Obviously though, they are best reserved for night settings where the candles glow can truly be utilised.

I love these candle holders that have been accented with some evergreen flat pine. Nothing says Christmas like a touch of pine, right? With the help of your trusty hot glue gun and a few sprigs of flat leafed pine, you will quickly be on your way!

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Image: Better Homes and Gardens

And check out this AWESOME alternative to traditional votive holders by removing the centre of a pine cone. Think about how easily this idea can be altered to tie in with your colour theme;you can either change the colour of the candles, or spray paint the cones and sprinkle them with chunky glitter while the paint is still wet.

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Image via Sortra

Too advanced for you? This idea with recycled bottles, candles and a touch of pine simply tied on, is easy enough for ANYONE! No excuses- Get crafting!

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Well, that rounds out our Christmas themed blogs for another year- it’s hard to believe 2016 will soon be coming to a close. From all of us here at Florist with Flowers, we thank you for your continued support here, in store and online, and wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas.

Fwf x

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Festive Facelift- Transforming your Home for the Silly Season!

With less than two weeks to go, getting your home Christmas ready will now be in the fore front of your mind. If you are anything like me, that means getting busy with some DIY projects and I have been scouring the net for some gems for you to be inspired by.

Sure, a full floral arrangement in the centre of the table is gorgeous (and Florist with Flowers can certainly help you achieve that, you can check out our Christmas range here), but if you are wishing to do something a little different this year, you may find some interesting alternatives below.

Creating street appeal for your property is always important, not just when it is for sale. I’d cringe with embarrassment if I knew my house was the worst looking one in the street ordinarily, but more so at Christmas time. Imagine being the equivalent of the Christmas Grinch of houses when the festive season rolls around!

Decorating the outside of your house is entirely personal- some people love lights, others don’t. So for those of you looking for a different way to decorate your home, consider these ideas. They will certainly dress up the front of your home, add a touch of fun and festivity, and as an added bonus, people won’t grumble at you when you don’t get involved in street dressing.

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Image: Etsy
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Image: Naptime Decorator via Kensington Furniture
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Image: Digs Digs
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Image: 365 Greetings

Add to that the current trend of up-cycling, and you are sure to be onto a winner. These pieces are a novel way of creating large eye catching displays for your front lawn.

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Image via Pinterest
https://flic.kr/p/GuY4ZZ | Tire Snowman | I saw this tire snowman in front of a farm house in northeastern Nebraska. It was still on display well after Christmas. I thought this was such a clever idea. It is a good way to recycle old tires.:
Image: Flickr
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Images (L-R) via Etsy, Hometalk, Etsy

There really is nothing better than walking into a home to smell the sweet scents of something baking. Here, we showcase some inspirational gingerbread pieces, when the ordinary old gingerbread house just won’t do. Why not create a Christmas garland made of gorgeous gingerbread like this one by Donna Hay.

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Or if you fancy the gingerbread featuring on your table instead, you can bake the pieces for individual tree place settings.

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Or instead of a snow covered gingerbread house, why not make it a Aussie farm tractor!

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Many people say that the smell of a fresh tree IS Christmas for them; they simply cannot resist the smell, and if this is you, I have some alternatives for you! Whether you want to try something new, or perhaps do not have space for a real tree, you can still get that special smell of pine indoors with these alternatives. Why not try a fresh floral garland like these or a wreath for your door or your table?

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With a little over a week to go before Christmas, next week’s blog will be on quick Christmas decorating. We’ll have 10 decorations that can be made in 10 minutes or less!

Fwf x

 

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Up in Lights- Christmas displays and activities

For those who managed to find time last week (at this crazy time of year) to read our blog, you would have seen that my family and I fill the whole month of December with a range of Christmas themed activities. It makes for a fun and interactive way to spend some quality time together. Obviously at this point in my life, much of my week is spent at home with wee ones, and my husband certainly doesn’t get a chance to enjoy many of these activities with us (I bet you he is counting his lucky stars!) BUT some of the outdoor activities and outings we make around the City of Sydney we accomplish as a family unit.

The Sydney City has a tonne of cool things to keep you and the family busy over the silly season by way of organised/sponsored events and also must-sees through the suburbs. There are heaps of fun things to do on a family day out, and lots of lights to swing by and see once the sun has gone down.

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Local to Carlingford there are a few recommended light displays. According to Christmas Light Search you should check out:

Juniper Place, Baulkham Hills

Juniper Place features 4 out of 6 houses decorated in the street, so is well worth the trip. The homes are full of magnificent light displays.

Brush Road and Victoria Road, West Ryde

Located near the Marsden Road end of Victoria Road, Brush Road features a baby Jesus, Mary and Three Wise Men. Also featured is a moving musical Santa, reindeer lights, a sleigh, a snowman, roof decorations and a very friendly owner who pops out to give candy canes to the children. Awwww.

5 Dorset Ave, Northmead

If Northmead is close by, this home is worth a look with an interactive playground full of lights, Christmas characters and tunnels that you are able to walk through.

For help finding other Christmas light displays in your local areas head here.

Many of these activities form part of our Christmas advent calendar which featured in last weeks blog, and provide little outings for the family to spend quality time together. It is a nice way to get out into the city in which you live and have an opportunity to absorb the infectious energy of this time of year.

The City of Sydney has many displays throughout the heart of the CBD which are well worth the look, particularly if you have a young family, but there are many things that couples or singles alike will enjoy also, or at least they can provide a starting point for a fun night out anyhow! Check out some of these:

Martin Place Christmas Tree

The 21 metre high tree in the City’s centre is on display from Nov 26- Dec 24, and will be lit each night with a range of choirs/singing groups performing each night beside the tree in the lead up to Christmas.

You can also send your own personalised message to 048 SYD XMAS and watch your message appear up in lights across the boards on site.

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David Jones Elizabeth Street Christmas Windows

Much like the David Jones Flower Show which marks the start of Spring in September, the window displays at the Elizabeth Street Flagship store are certainly worth a look.

This year’s display features Santa with a team of snow white Polar bears preparing the presents in the sleigh for delivery.

The display is on display NOW and is a free event.

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Lego Christmas Sleigh display

The kids will LOVE this one, whether they are the little ones, or the big kids! The Lego display captures the attention and imagination of everyone and this years life size sleigh provides the ultimate backdrop for your Christmas snaps! Use it in your selfie, or jump on in- the sleigh is open everyday in the late afternoon/evenings for your to take your pictures. You will find this display in Martin Place, just near the Christmas Tree so you can check them out at the same time :-)

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QVB Swarovski Christmas Tree

This year the QVB buildings Christmas display is quite the eye catcher. Sparkling with 82,000 Swarovski crystals and 65,000 twinkling lights, the tree towers 24 metres and fills the central void under the dome between the three floors. Adorning the top of the tree is a spectacular 2.2 metre wide gilded star.

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St Mary’s Cathedral Christmas Lights

Kicking off today December 8th and continuing through until December 25th, St Mary’s Cathedral will play host to an amazing light display featuring an animated depiction of The Nutcracker Suite, as well as images of Madonna and Child.

Each night will begin at 7.30pm with a choir performance, the lights will begin at 8.30pm and continue until midnight.

This years theme is ‘ Joy to the World’, and is presented by PAYCE.

For more information on any of these events and more head to City of Sydney’s Website here

For more information on the City of Sydney events head here.

Til next time,

Fwf x

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Counting Down til Christmas- Creating a Family Advent Calendar Tradition

Growing up, you really think that being a kid on Christmas, is the best thing EVER! And it is…But the joy you get watching your own kids on Christmas is beyond anything you could ever have imagined.

You bring some of the things you enjoyed from your own upbringing into your annual Christmas rituals, along with your partner’s family traditions as well, and somewhere in between all of that, you start to form your own traditions as well.

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Image: DIY Homer

Something we have really enjoyed doing as a family is creating a family activity advent calendar. Not only does it provide ideas of seasonal activities, but it also helps young ones pace themselves throughout the silly season. I don’t know about you, but my kids, particularly Miss 4, always wants to know what is next, what is happening tomorrow etc…. As a parent I have learnt the hard way that if you say you are going to do something, you better be intending to really do it, because your kids will not let you forget it!

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Image: The Painted Hive

The Christmas advent calendar is a novel way to limit activities to one a day, and the beauty of being the adult in the house, means that you can rifle through the activity options the night before and swap them to something you are up for!

Creating your own Christmas activity advent calendar is easy, and it can be customised to suit your own family’s preferences and interests. Don’t go to church? No problem, leave anything out with a religious significance. Don’t like craft? No problem, think about more physical activities you can do.

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Image: Irish Mirror

advent-4Some of the activities you may wish to consider including are;

  1. Decorate your Christmas Tree
  2. Write and post your Christmas cards
  3. Watch your favourite Christmas movies together. Let each family member choose one for a weekend movie marathon!
  4. Sing Christmas carols- find your local carol night, pack a picnic and make it an evening of fun with friends
  5. Read a Christmas story together
  6. Attend a Christmas Church service
  7. Choose a Christmas present for the less fortunate
  8. Make a donation to your preferred charity
  9. Make a handmade decoration for the tree
  10. Make Christmas wrapping paper
  11. Help choose and wrap up presents for special friends
  12. Bake gingerbread cookies, or if you are feeling particularly ambitious, bake pieces to construct a gingerbread house!
  13. Do Christmas themed craft- paint paper plates into giant Christmas baubles, or make your own bonbons

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    Image: Taste
  14. Bake Christmas shortbread
  15. Write a letter to Santa
  16. Make a garland, table arrangement or Christmas wreath with fresh flowers and foliage
  17. Visit Santa- and if you are feeling brave, have a picture with him! If your family includes pets, try a pet Santa or check out the outdoor beach Santa displays for something truly Australian! Santa in BOARDSHORTS!!!
  18. Take a trip into the City to see the Christmas displays
  19. Visit the neighbourhood houses decorated with lights
  20. Catch up with friends for a Christmas get together or party
  21. Help mummy choose a special present for daddy
  22. Help daddy choose a special present for mummy

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    Image: My Merry Christmas
  23. Wear Santa hats/reindeer ears and other Christmas themed fancy-dress
  24. Open one present together. Leave a plate of snacks for Santa and his reindeer.
  25. Have an indoor picnic around the Christmas tree
  26. Order fresh flower gifts, hampers and living plants- click here if you need some help!
  27. Have a BBQ dinner outdoors, enjoying the summer balmy weather and extended daylight
  28. Donate food items to the Salvation army or other charity
  29. Volunteer at the soup kitchen
  30. Listen to a Christmas CD- who does the ultimate Christmas album? Mariah for the WIN!!! Or maybe Michael Buble!!??
  31. Take a family trip to the farmer’s market to choose fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables.
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Image: Not on the High Street

Certainly if you are handy with a sewing machine, a needle and thread you can get busy and create your own fabric calendar to fill, but if not there are many crafters out there who are creating unique pieces for you to purchase.

For some an advent calendar full of activities will be too hard to juggle with full time work and other commitments, so you can also alternate the pocket fillings with candy, chocolate or decorations that can be added to the tree throughout the month.

Fwf x

 

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Poinsettia- A True Christmas Star

So the carols are on, the decorations and tinsel are adorning the big shopping centres; put simply, the countdown is ON. We all know Christmas is on it’s way, and we all know that before you know it, it will be upon us. So while you are decorating your home, if you find you want to bring some of the outdoors inside, there are few plants that can give you that Christmas feeling as well, or as easily as the Poinsettia.

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The gorgeous plant, which is also known as “Christmas Star” with it’s brightly coloured star like display, is indigenous to Mexico and flowers throughout the Christmas period in the Northern Hemisphere; the Winter months. Here, it naturally flowers throughout the colder months as well, and you will notice the bright red, white, lemon, marbled and stunning pink flowers in many gardens throughout June- August. Poinsettias are forced to flower for Christmas here too by growing them in a controlled environment. Like many Winter and Autumn blooming plants, when the night temperatures start to drop, the days become shorter and the plants have access to less light, the plant begins to bloom. These factors are simulated in order to produce flowering poinsettias all year round.

The Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) belongs to a family of plants that produces a white sticky sap when the plant is cut or broken. This sap is poisonous and can cause allergic reactions to sensitive skin. All plants in the Euphorbia family produce this sap, so you must be mindful when pruning your plant and remember to ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS.

A closeup of a poinsettia flower cluster from the side. Many people confuse the bracts (red leaves) with the actual flowers; they're quite different. This macro shot shows multiple pseudanthia surrounded by a sea of red bracts (colored leaves associated with a flower). The flowers themselves are called cyanthia; the green tissue surrounding each flower is an involucre, a cluster of bracts (leaves) fused into a cup-shaped structure that contains multiple male flowers and one female flower within it. Emerging from the involucre you can see red filaments supporting yellow anthers on the male flowers, and you can even see some of the pollen grains. Also emerging from each involucre you can see a number of dark-purple structures supported by short stalks (that are about a tenth of the height of the filaments; I'm not sure what these are - they may be stigmas and styles, but I doubt it). The bright yellow, liquid-filled structures attached to the involucre are nectar glands filled with nectar to attract pollinators.
Image by Marc Perkins of actual flower. Many people confuse the coloured bracts as the flower of the Poinsettia plant.

Certainly the bright red Poinsettia is the most common and popular variety at Christmas time, however there are many more varieties today thanks to modern cultivation. The red star shaped ‘flower’ is not actually part of the flower at all; the flowers are the white/yellow insignificant clusters in the centre. These coloured ‘bracts’ are simply modified leaves. Knowing that after giving a Poinsettia it is likely to die back and re-flower during Winter, you can choose other coloured varieties to plant throughout your garden to add the desired colour, or give as gifts. Poinsettias make fabulous gifts as they are long lasting, and are available ina variety of sizes so they can fit almost any budget.

New varieties are constantly being created and experiemtned with. Currently, other varieties include, but are not limited to;

Euphorbia ‘Cortex White’ – Large creamy white bracts

Euphorbia ‘Silver Star Red’- Variegated cream and green leaves.

Euphorbia ‘Cortex Candy’ – Pale apricot blushed bracts

Euphorbia‘Cortex Pink’ – Velvet textured pale pink bracts

Euphorbia‘Cortex Lemon Snow’- Pale yellow bracts

Euphorbia ‘Galaxy’ has intense velvety red bracts.

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Poinsettias can grow right throughout NSW and QLD, in some cases as far as Cairns, throughout parts of South Australia and even in Northern coastal areas of Western Australia. The do not grow well in frost prone areas. Poinsettias are often left to their own devices, and as a result many specimens you see have grown tall and spindley. The way to get around this is to give the plant a hard prune after it has finished flowering and watch it re-shoot, become dense and flourish again when it becomes cold.

Keep you eye out over the coming weeks on our Christmas gift range but also our offerings in store.

Fwf x

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