Advent is one of my favourite times of the year. We play games and read stories, and craft ourselves silly. Is it even Christmas if the house doesn’t become an overload Museum Of Festive Crafts? Not a single wall can be left blank by the time we get to Christmas Eve.

Over the last few years, though, it’s gotten increasingly tricky. In 2015 I started doing Santa photos, and by the time we wrapped up in 2018, we were doing over 400 groups in four weekends. My life became a hot mess of shooting all weekend, editing and packing orders late into the night during the week, getting up and playing mummy during the day on minimal sleep. We still got stuff done, but by the end of it, I wasn’t having fun with all the crafts and games. They were just another item on my list.

My tiny babies the last year I took their Santa photos. Mr 14 in particular has particularly shot up. Mr 7 remains the evil mastermind intent on world domination that he appears to be in this photo!

The Santa experience was an absolute blast, but I also am not sad to not have that on my plate this year. To slow right down and soak in all the magic of Advent and Christmas and all the fun on offer at this time of year. I am also very conscious of the fact that my biggest boy is growing at a rate of knots, and we have only four Christmases, including this year, left with him at home. I am determined to make the most of the precious time I have left before he is an adult and off socialising with friends instead of sewing with his boring old mama.

And what fun we have had in the first half of Advent. We’ve played a stack of games. St Nicholas has been and left jammies and m&ms and activity books and another game. 12 Days has quickly become a firm favourite, though there’s been plenty of Yahtzee and Dodge Dice and chess. We’ve started mini quilts and made cards for our friends. The children have handed theirs out, though mine are still waiting. Today’s list includes Christmas photos so I can get the cards finished.

The chickens have been in to inspect the tree, as you do. We had a false start when we couldn’t find our crate of decorations, but the children thought it was great fun to choose a whole pile of new decorations. We’ve been swimming with friends to beat the heatwave, and had Christmas parties for our homeschool group. Kayaking and cake and hot chips makes for an excellent wrap up to this crazy school year.

On a practical level, I’m just about organised for Christmas itself. The shopping is done as of yesterday – don’t even get me started on the number of parcels we’ve had coming through the door. I’m finalising the lunch menu and starting to plan my contribution to dinner. The cards are just about the last thing to finish sorting.

It’s different, though, being in a smaller house for the Advent season. There aren’t as many walls to plaster with projects, and we need to be more judicious with our choices. We can’t play extended board games that need to be left set up over night. We don’t have a tv so there aren’t as many movie marathons. The basics are there though. There are Christmas outfits in progress, and because it’s 2020, I’m about to start sewing matching masks. It’s different, but it is fun. Two weeks down, two to go. We are knocking the Christmas Crazy into overdrive as we finish up our projects and start making gifts. Our biggest problem is which Spotify Christmas playlist to choose. It makes for a nice change, going from crazy busy to crazy fun, making the good kind of memories. It’s the best kind of Christmas magic.