Chlo Chlo Chlo Christmas Eve Boxes – Part Two

Hopefully you will have already read Part One of my blog which has given you a few ideas of what to fill your Christmas Eve boxes with. As I said in my previous blog, I know it seems strange planning the items you are putting in the boxes first, but one of the things I found when I was hunting for all the materials, was how much smaller the box sizes came in than I had expected.

I bought my Christmas Eve boxes in plain untreated MDF wood and they were delivered flat packed. There are several places you can order the boxes from, including eBay, although I did find that eBay weren’t stocking big enough sized boxes. I ordered all 12 of my boxes from Laser Cut Delights. The section you need is Boxes and Trays and you will find it is the third option along shown as Christmas Eve Box/Memory Box. There are 17 different sized options starting at 20cm x 10cm x 10cm all the way up to 40cm x 30cm x 20cm which is the size I went for. Prices start at £4.00 per box and increase along with the sizes up to £10.00 for the largest box. Always, always, always check and double check the dimensions you are ordering to check that they are the size you require. All of the websites which supply these boxes cut them and the accessories to order and order’s will therefore be non-refundable. All sizes on the Laser Cut Delights website are quoted in LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT. If this particular website doesn’t have what you are after, there are plenty of other websites to choose from, such as Laser Craft Shapes. A simple google search should reveal plenty of websites to choose from. Some boxes appear to cost more than others of the same size on different websites but always check the postage and packing costs in order to make an accurate comparison.

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Once you have chosen the appropriate box, it is time to have a think about how you want to decorate it. The wooden Christmas Eve box plaques are also available from the websites I have already mentioned but have a think about what you would like the plaque to say. It doesn’t necessarily have to be personalised, it could simply just say “Christmas Eve Box”, it could have the family name if it is going to be for the whole family, for example “The Smith’s Christmas Eve Box”, or it could have individual names on the plaque. You can have up to three individual names on the plaque, but in the instances where you order a plaque with three names, you may find the plaque is taller than it is wide, so it will have to be placed on your Christmas Eve box portrait style, rather than landscape. Different sized plaques are also available – 20cm, 25cm, 30cm and 35cm. Sizes are based on the width of the plaque – again, always triple check your sizes to make sure that the plaque easily fits onto the lid of the box and there is space all around the plaque. For my individual names, I ordered a mixture of 20cm and 25cm individual plaques, although I thought the 25cm ones looked better as part of the end result. I ordered the plaques in Designer font, but there are several fonts to choose from. The plaques were £3.00 each for the 20cm plaque with one name, for two names £3.50 and £4.00 for three names. If you choose a larger sized plaque, the cost increases by 25p for 25cm, 50p for 30cm and £1.00 for 35cm. If you are not sure about what you require or how it will fit – email the sellers and ask! They will be more than happy to help you!

Once you have decided on the box and plaque you want and placed your order, the orders take around 2-4 weeks depending on how busy the sellers are. DO NOT leave your order until the beginning of December as it is unlikely to arrive in time for Christmas, and even if it does you have to put plenty of time aside to order additional decorations and decorate the boxes.

Once your order has arrived, check that you have every single piece that you need – even if you have ordered several boxes. Report any damages or missing parts to the seller straight away and take photographs if necessary. For each box you should have 5 pieces – a base and four sides, and for the lid of the box you should have the same. The boxes are incredibly easy to assemble – each piece has ridges which easily slot together with the other pieces. I used PVA glue to assemble my boxes, make sure you apply the glue to the inter-connecting surfaces on both pieces you are gluing together to ensure they are as strong as possible. Some PVA glues are sold with a handy nozzle which made things much easier and keep the mess to a minimum. Once you have glued the box and lid parts together, allow them to dry for 24 hours. Check every now and again in the early stages to make sure that nothing has slipped out of place or the pieces will dry in the incorrect positions.

Once the box and lid glue is completely dry, you have two options. The websites which sell the Christmas Eve boxes recommend that you sand down the MDF before you apply the base coat and then sand it down again afterwards before you apply your final two coats. I didn’t sand down any of my boxes, mainly because I was worried about the mess it would make as I was building them inside – but the choice is completely yours. Either apply your base coat at this stage or sand down the MDF, apply your base coat and then sand it down again.

For the base coat I bought a large pot of plain white matt paint – I bought a ten litre pot as I had 12 boxes and lids to paint but of course if you only have one or two boxes to paint, you won’t need anywhere near as much as this. I bought the cheapest variety of paint – this really is just for a basic undercoat so the quality really doesn’t matter too much. I applied the base coat with a small roller (a set from B&Q with a tray, handle and two roller heads cost me only a few pounds) and filled any gaps afterwards with a small paintbrush. I applied another coat of white after the base coat had dried, mainly because I was using light coloured metallic paint on most of the boxes, but it is completely up to you if you want to apply a second coat of white. If you are using darker colours for the boxes then I probably wouldn’t bother.

Once your base coat(s) have been applied, it’s time to apply the first coat of your box colour. If you are putting together more than one box, I would highly recommend doing all the gluing, base coats and final coats on all the boxes at the same time rather than taking one box through from start to finish and then starting the next. It makes the process a whole lot quicker as you have all the tools and paint out that you need, so it saves you painting and cleaning repeatedly and mixing the paints up etc.

Add your first coat of colour in the same way – with a roller and then a small paintbrush to fill in any gaps. For the main box colour you can choose absolutely any colour you want – for mine I choose to make four red boxes, four silver boxes and four gold boxes. Red seems to be the most popular and safest colour to go for but if you know what colour scheme a person uses on their Christmas tree each year, of course you can match their box with this theme. I did two of the red boxes with a matt paint and two with a satin paint and found the matt paint to be the better one of the two but again this is personal preference. Colours like red can be picked up relatively cheaply, the silver and gold paint I used was rather pricey! The price for a pot for the silver or gold metallic paint was £19.95 each but I was lucky enough to get them on offer at two for £20 from B&Q. I used Rust-Oleum Gold or Silver metallic furniture paint, but there’s a lot of different varieties to choose from. There’s also a wide range of glitter paints if you wanted to try something a bit more adventurous! The only thing I will say about glitter paint I when I have used it on previous projects is I have found that you need to apply a LOT of coats in order to get a decent effect, so it may not be ideal for large areas – if you really wanted to use glitter paint – perhaps consider using it on the name plaque?

Now that your Christmas Eve box has had two coats applied and has been left to dry, it’s time to consider how you would like to decorate it. You can of course just add the name plaque to the top and leave it as that, or add lots of additional Christmas themed decorations. Do a quick google search of Christmas Eve boxes and have a look at the images returned for some ideas on what you would like.

To decorate my boxes I ordered lots of plain wooden Christmas tree decorations from Amazon. I bought several packs of snowflakes (different varieties), and a pack each of gingerbread men, doves, reindeer, Christmas trees, and snowmen. They all came in packs of 10 and cost between £2 and £6 depending on which ones you bought. The snowflakes were far cheaper than any of the other decorations, so to keep costs down you may just want to order multiple packs of snowflakes to decorate your boxes. These decorations are approximately 8cm in diameter – make sure you have enough space on the lid of your box alongside the plaque if this is where you are adding them.

On each of the four sides of the boxes I added two snowflakes and an additional character in the middle of the two snowflakes (each person had a different combination of characters).

I also ordered a pack of miniature wooden decorations from Amazon, they came in a pack of 45 with 9 different styles, as shown above, and measure around 2.5 – 3cm in diameter. Designs included angels, rocking horses, stags, doves, and tiny snowflakes. These were absolutely perfect to add to the lid of the box without overcrowding it with too much detail.

Once you have received all your wooden decorations, it is time to decorate them. You can of course leave them plain if you would like a rustic look, and of course the light wooden colour would match any box colour you have chosen. If this is what you would like to do then you can carry on with gluing on the name plaque and the decorations as they are, again using PVA glue.

If you would like to paint the decorations before applying them to the boxes, I’d recommend using spray paint. I bought some white satin spray paint from Wilkinson which was about £4 a can. You can spray the decorations with a primer first too if you like, however I just applied two coats of paint without the primer. Make sure you protect the area you are spraying and if you have newspaper underneath, move the decorations slightly every now and then after spraying them so the underside doesn’t stick to the paper. Do the same for the name plaques.

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Once they are completely dry, you can start gluing the decorations to the boxes. I also came across some lovely plastic snowflakes with a crystal centre which I found in The Works. They were designed for cards so had a sticky back and stuck to the boxes perfectly for a bit of extra sparkle!

For my finishing touches I wanted to include a little note so I printed off a poem and stuck these to the inside of the lid, so they would see it when they first opened the box.

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When I filled the boxes (make sure they are completely dry!) I wrapped all the box presents in tissue paper to match the colour of the box and then wrapped the box in matching wrapping paper ready to deliver them in time for Christmas!

Happy box creating! Please check out my upcoming blog about home made Christmas Advent Calendars!!

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Chlo Chlo Chlo! Christmas Eve Boxes – Part One

Christmas is my absolute favourite time of the year! I start planning as early as possible, not just because I enjoy the build-up to Christmas but also because I have so many people to buy for and so much to plan for events throughout December.

I always plan people’s Christmas presents way in advance so it gives me enough time to really think about what people would like. This means they get something they want, need or are interested in, and I don’t end up wasting my money buying presents which will ultimately end up in someones bin, at a car boot sale or on eBay for a fraction of the price that I paid for it.

Another reason I plan so far ahead is because each year for my family, Christmas has a different theme. This theme comes in the form of surprise gifts for the family which they are usually given on Christmas Day before we all sit down together for Christmas dinner. Other themes have stretched across the entire month of December! Previous themes include Silly Slippers, home made Advent Calendars, personalised Snow globes and Christmas jumpers.

As the years have gone by I have found it more and more difficult to choose suitable presents for people. I find it especially difficult to choose presents for couples, like my husbands Mum and Step-dad and his Dad and his Dad’s girlfriend. Throughout the year, if there is anything they fancy, of course they just go off and buy it! This usually leaves little to no choice of things to buy for them when it comes around to Birthday’s and Christmas.

I decided in around September 2016 that 2016’s family Christmas theme was going to be Christmas Eve boxes. A craze which originally started in America and is quickly becoming very popular in the U.K, the idea is that children would be given a personalised Christmas Eve box to open early evening on Christmas Eve. Children’s Christmas Eve boxes contain a few stocking fillers, for example a DVD for the family to watch together before the children go to bed, Christmas pyjamas, popcorn or other treats to eat whilst watching the film, a Christmas story book, games and puzzle books and so on. My first thought was why does this have to be limited to children?? I could put an adult twist on these boxes and almost put together a mini hamper for friends, family and couple’s I was struggling to think of suitable presents for. They would be hampers full of treats, games and stocking fillers for people to enjoy before the big event!

I did a lot of research into the boxes – Pinterest and eBay were my main sources for ideas. I found many on eBay which were already pre-made and would be personalised once they were sent. The prices for the boxes ranged from £30 to around £50 dependant on the design. Although I thought these prices were relatively reasonable considering the amount of work which went into the boxes, the cost was too much for me to pay out before I had even begun to fill them! The other thing was, although I wanted all the boxes to be the same size as they would likely all have similar contents, each recipient was an individual, and I therefore wanted each box to be individual.

The first thing I needed to do was to figure out a rough idea of what was to go in the boxes so I could buy appropriate sized boxes to fit everything in. This blog (Part One of my Christmas Eve box blog) will look at items you can use to fill your boxes, whilst also keeping it within your set budget. Not one of my recipients had exactly the same contents in their boxes, and some boxes were for individuals and some for couples, but contents included the following:

  • Miniature (20cl) bottles of Prosecco. There are many varieties available from a range of supermarkets, I chose the Plaza Centro Prosecco Doc Brut from Tesco which was £2.25 a bottle.
  • Bath bombs. Again, loads of places to get these from, especially if your town is lucky enough to have an annual Christmas market. I got all mine from Lush, prices vary depending on which bath bomb you go for but are around £3.75 to £4.25. I started buying these relatively early (in October) but if you do the same, make sure they are stored in a cool dry place or over time they will absorb moisture and start to dissolve and lose their scent!
  • Pyjamas. Primark is my go-to place for stocking filler pyjamas. I managed to get a couple of lovely themed nightshirts for women for as little as £5 and then flannel or fleeced 2-piece pyjamas for £8-£10. I found the men’s pyjamas more difficult to find as Primark didn’t seem to have a very impressive range this year. I ended up buying the men’s from Asda (a brilliant set of men’s Cookie Monster pyjamas for £14!), Tesco Direct (a lovely set of flannel chequered pyjamas for £10) and eBay (a bit more expensive but a much bigger choice of larger sizes XXL and above). Remember, if you are buying thick or fleecy pyjamas and particularly if you are doing a Christmas Eve box for two or more people and are giving them pyjamas, they will take up the vast majority of box space!
  • Yankee candle. I thought these were a nice idea as you can get so many lovely Christmas scents including Christmas Eve (of course!), Bundle Up, Cosy by the Fire, Candy Cane Lane, Sparkling Snow, Cinnamon Stick, All is Bright…. you get the picture. They bring out new flavours every year too. I bought the small jars for my Christmas Eve boxes but, costing around £7 to £9 each even on eBay, they were one of the most expensive things in the boxes! You may wish to buy the Yankee Candle melts which start at around 99 pence each on eBay. Imagine finally sitting down on Christmas Eve with the kids in bed, everything wrapped and the food all prepared and lighting your Christmas smelling candle in your Christmas pyjamas after having a relaxing bath with an amazing smelling bath bomb! Magical!
  • Slippers. Only a couple of my box recipients had slippers but if you are unsure of buying pyjamas then slippers are a great alternative. Again, Primark have a great selection of slippers and bed socks etc ranging from £2 to £5.
  • Chocolate, sweets and other treats! I used a really wide variety of these depending on what sort of thing people like. Most people had a Terry’s Chocolate orange in their box (my sisters and I always had one in our stocking when we were younger!) and there were a few large Toblerone’s thrown in for good measure (milk, dark and white chocolate versions). Marks and Spencer’s really do have some amazing treats – Prosecco or Buck’s fizz flavoured crisps, ginger and dark chocolate popcorn, cookie dough bites and beautiful boxes of chocolates. Asda and Tesco’s also have some brilliant stocking filler treats for £1 or less, the options really are unlimited! Always, always check the best before label on the food items you are buying – most items should be ok but some may have a short shelf life and expire before Christmas Eve (yes – despite being Christmas themed items! This has happened to me! Annoying!)
  • Book, CD or DVD. Depending on how much you want to spend on someone, you may want to include one of these – Christmas DVD’s such as Elf, Fred Claus and Home Alone which have been out for years can be picked up brand new from places like Amazon for only a couple of pounds. Places like The Works have great book stocking fillers – puzzle books and quizzes, and this year they had brilliant themed baking books called Game of Scones and the Walking Bread for only £5!
  • Silly Christmas hats or head boppers. eBay, Primark, Asda, most Poundshop’s and even Claire’s Accessories have had some great ranges over the years including Elf Ears, Reindeer Antlers, Christmas pudding bobble hats, Turkey hats… the list goes on.
  • Silly Christmas sunglasses. These also appeared a couple of years ago alongside silly Christmas hats and should be available from the same places. So far I’ve come across mistletoe sunglasses, Christmas Tree sunglasses, Reindeer sunglasses and Santa sunglasses which have a hat and beard attached! I’m sure you will find many more with just a quick Google, eBay or Amazon search.

 

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Of course you can add absolutely anything to the boxes that you choose! The list is never ending! A friend of mine makes gingerbread houses with her children every Christmas Eve and said she would make them a Christmas Eve box and start including gingerbread house kits and decorations in them every year.

One piece of advice – start with a list of what you are going to buy and cost it up first! Once you have costed it and you know your budget, do your very best to stick to it! It is so easy to get carried away if you don’t have a list to focus on, and then when you are packing up the boxes nearer Christmas, you realise you have spent £30 on sweets and chocolate per box!

You may end up changing some items on the list or adding a couple more if you find some good deals but bear in mind you will spend around £20+ buying and making your box in the first place, so if you had planned on only spending £30 per box this leaves you with limited funds to fill it! Don’t be disheartened though – in this instance you can still buy ten items from places like Poundland and B&M and still fill the box with some lovely items! Of course in subsequent years you can reuse the box and focus a lot more on the contents rather than worrying about what the box has cost to make!

Happy planning!

Now that you have made a plan on what to fill your box(es) with, find out how to buy, make and decorate your Christmas Eve box in Part Two of this blog!

Hello CocoChlo!

This is my very first blog! After a bit of research I have discovered that most people tend to start their series of blogs by telling their audience a bit about themselves, so I thought this might be a good place to start before I delve into all the good stuff!

My name is Chloe, I am 34 years old and I live in Gloucester with my husband Ben and our two crazy Shar-Pei dogs – Skibba and Lola. We have been married for nearly 8 years and bought our first house together back in 2006.

I have a real interest in fashion in general, particularly when striking colours and unusual designs are used. Over the past few years this interest in fashion has spilled over into a love for interior design, and I often find myself researching websites such as Houzz and Pinterest for new ideas and inspiration. I also love nosing through Rightmove at some of the really expensive houses way out of my range of affordability, as they can be filled with photos of amazing designs, colour schemes, storage solutions and life hacks.

I absolutely adore shoes and have a very large collection which, unfortunately for the bank balance, only continues to grow with each passing month. My favourite designers are Christian Louboutin, Charlotte Olympia and Sophia Webster but also love the unusual styles you can find on the high street in shops like River Island, Kurt Geiger and Steve Madden.

Another of my big interests is travel. I have been fortunate enough to have travelled to some incredible places over the past ten years or so. It reminds me what a big wide world we live in and just how different everyday life can be in different places across the globe. I never just book a trip somewhere without giving it any further thought, I always aim to learn as much as possible about the country I am visiting both before I go and whilst I am out there – its history, its culture, its food and its people.

Out of my love for travel has grown my love for photography. I am a very, very long way from being a photographer and catching the perfect moment but I love looking at other people’s work, and because of this my favourite social media site by far is Instagram. It is such a brilliant way to quickly capture those special moments and for individuals to get creative. One of my aims this year is to upload more of my photos from some of the amazing places I have visited onto my Instagram account.

It’s not really something which could be described as a hobby but I have a real love for food! I am by no means a food critic and I am extremely picky when it comes to certain foods but I love cooking and baking and trying new foods especially those of the sweet variety! I am visiting London with my Mum and sister in a couple of months and after looking at the first draft of our itinerary, we realised that the majority of places we are due to visit centre around food! Street stalls, bakeries, food halls, afternoon tea’s, takeaway’s and 3-course meals – we have literally got it all covered! Don’t get me wrong, I am not one to take a photograph of every meal I eat and then post it on social media, but I am hoping we will come across some really unusual treats during our visit!

My hobbies include going to the gym (although this has been very forced during the cold dark winter months!) and going to the cinema. Going to the cinema has always been my favourite form of escapism. After watching a film where a main character has overcome so much in order to achieve the impossible, suddenly your worries seem far more trivial than you had first imagined, and anything now seems possible. I am happy to watch almost any kind of film, but do enjoy thrillers and murder mysteries. There’s something amazing about getting to the end of a film and gasping out loud at the final twist and saying to yourself “I didn’t see that coming!”

Many of my family and friends know me as a bit of a control freak! I’m doing my best to be better about it and teach myself to let go of things that I really have no influence or control over, but I feel safe and secure in a routine and thrive on planning ahead and being organised, both in everyday life and months ahead on large events or projects.

I love reading but don’t have the chance to do anywhere near as much as I would like to. I have maybe 100 books lined up on my Kobo device to read at some point, but god only knows when I will have the chance to get round to reading them all. My favourite books are the Harry Potter books but, as with my film choices, I am happy to read almost anything and give it a chance!

My favourite TV programme by far is Game of Thrones. As I sit here typing I really can’t think of another TV programme I would even class as second on my list. Perhaps Sons of Anarchy or Peaky Blinders I would class as my next favourites. I have had a lot of people recommend Vikings and The Walking Dead so will aim to get round to watching those too when I get the opportunity!

And finally, saving the very best until last, the most important part of my life always will be my family and friends. I am lucky enough to have such an AMAZING set of family members and friends who support me, encourage me and allow me to grow. Any time there is an opportunity to celebrate or spend time with them, I will do my utmost to make it the best occasion possible.

This pathological people pleaser part of my personality (as my little sister refers to it!) results in many fun-filled adventures and surprise themed parties and events – any excuse to have something to look forward to and organise, and best of all, make someone smile! I look forward to ALL events with real enthusiasm – Pancake Day, Valentines Day, Easter, Summer BBQ’s, Halloween and my absolute favourite, Christmas! I have encountered my fair share of people who think these event celebrations are over the top and childish, but once they have experienced (or been subjected to!) such an event, believe me they are the first people to ask about the next one!

I hope this has given you a relatively good idea of who I am and what you might be able to expect from any upcoming blogs of mine – I hope as far as first blogs go I didn’t miss the mark by too much!!

CocoChlo xx