Get Christmas wrapped up with Aura

I am absolutely obsessed with Christmas (in case you hadn’t noticed) and we love all things festive in this household. We have so many cute little surprises for our family and friends – you can see our gift guides and amazing advent is practically bursting as they’re so full – now that the big day is approaching we have also been working hard on handmade gifts and our festive bakes to share with loved ones.

No matter what surprises we have planned I love to make them look wonderful for the recipient. We put a lot of effort in to wrapping presents and making the unboxing experience special for our loved ones and Aura has us covered with personalised Christmas tags so that we don’t get any gifts confused. With so many nieces and nephews we like to gift them the same things so a label for us is super important not to get things mixed up and we like to add a personal touch.

I’ve been having a mooch on the Aura website and there is so much I can share with you all – from custom tags to greetings cards and beyond there’s something for everyone wether you’re looking for items for personal use, or for businesses, maybe even to organise Custom greeting card printing for the entire class or sports club when you have a lot of people to organise cards for.

For those who are creative minded then Aura has a fabulous blog post about how you can turn those illustrations and graphics in to a side hustle and maybe set up your own printing service – along with all sorts of tutorials and blog posts to get the creative juices flowing.

My favourite idea however has to be the custom wrapping paper. This hands down beats anything you could possibly receive in the shops and adds a unique personal touch. Maybe you could get each kids name printed up, or add a pic / graphic to paper so they know the deisgn is just for them. Totally unique for a present pile picture which will certainly stand out from the crowd!

Check out the latests posts from Aura here – I just love the idea of creating my own deck of playing. Cards or tarot cards and then crafting a little box to store them all in! When it comes to party planning and hosting those all important gifts be family gatherings then signs and labels for food are a must have. Maybe you could opt for a hot chocolate station sign or something which says “Santa stop here for the Smiths Family” – you can’t get that kind of personalised touch in home bargains.

Aura also offers a rush service for a fast turnaround on orders so there’s still plenty of time to get your festive stationary organised if you have left it until the last minute

I do 3D – two pen activity set – things that go – review

I’ve been looking at 3D pens for a while (for myself ) and the opportunity came up to review these kids sets from I do 3D which we were delighted with. Logan and I stepped up to the challenge and I have to admit the airplane project is very intricate and so we worked together on this project very carefully as fusing some of the parts together did require two pairs of hands. One to hold the pieces together and one to hold the light.

The box contents included two coloured pens alongside a worksheet with templates, a transparent sheet to work on and also a little mould to work on some extra projects. We completed our plane in about 45 minutes and made a few little mistakes along the way but we got there in the end and we’re delighted with the end result. The pens are squeezed and then a gel like substance comes out instead of ink.

For this project we traced carefully over the 2D design template on the worksheet – placing a transparent sheet over the top of the paper and you use the blue light to cure them (a bit like they use in a nail salon) and then all of your components can be gently peeled off before finally constructing the plane by using the gel from the pens as a glue. It takes a couple of seconds for the gel to cure, depending on the thickness of your design so we took our light off the pens to give us more time to be accurate.

There was more than enough gel in the pens to be able to complete the project, fill the moulds to make some shapes and then get creative with drawing some freehand items – we went for our names and some simple shapes and are delighted to have a second project to try on another rainy day. Logan said he might give the plane another go all on his own using the opposite colours as a challenge.

We worked on a laminated table top and it wasn’t a challenge to clean up as the cured gel simply peeled off but you could work on a plastic tray if you have wooden surfaces. Overall I’m impressed – these retail at about £11-£15 from toy shops and online retailers. I think they’re a great gateway product for creative and construction minded kids to get the hang of working with 3D design concepts and have a little play before considering some of the more expensive products on the market. Pitched at 8yrs+ and I’d say this is just right with adult supervision.

The curing / setting process

Life without Comic Sans

We’ve all been there, when it comes to writing up an essay, creating a poster, organising some party invitations or adding labels to food it’s easy to open up Microsoft word and choose one of the pre-Installed fonts. It always seems like Times New Roman is too formal and Ariel is too boring so it’s easy to opt for comic sans as it’s the most “fun” but in reality comic sans makes me and many others cringe. Back when I was at school I even conducted lots of experiments with word art – thank goodness that hard drive was corrupted! Eventually I studied graphic design at university and I’m a self confessed typography geek.

Comic sans is just too simple and lacks any style. Back in the nineties when there was no other option there was a place for it but now almost thirty years later when it comes to crafting new designs there are hundreds and thousands of options available and you can add flair to your work which will make out stand out from the crowd in the right way. Once you have downloaded and installed a new font it’s just as effortless to use in most desktop software programmes.

Heres some inspiration for projects using fonts from Font Bundles which is a digital design market place. Check out a selection of awesome summer fonts here.

Personalised tee shirts

Using a decorative font such as “let’s go camping” and then adding some colour and texture to the letters you can create a unique style of your own which brightens up any day. This whimsical font featuring caravans and shapes cut in to the letters is ideal for the summer of Staycations. I used a sublimation technique to apply the design to the t shirt.

Nursery decor

When you’re looking for the ideal finishing touches to a nursery or child’s bedroom then adding a print is a great option. I used to trawl through Etsy looking for the perfect prints but now instead I create my own. Here I used “squishy” which gives me mermaid vibes. Again filling the letters with a lilac and pink swirled texture and printing out on to high quality paper before popping it in to a frame for display.

Food and drink labels

When you’re back planning a summer soirée its always a great idea to label the table. I find this saves me time as a host having to repeat myself, you can find editable templates online which can be printed out on to sheets of cardboard and then get creative with your own text. I label drinks which contain alcohol as I often make up cocktail pitchers and mock tails for the kids and then I highlight dishes which are vegetarian or vegan. I’ve used animatic which features in several summer font bundle packages to create this lemonade label design.

Party invitations

Organising a party, planning a theme, an outfit, the food, decorations and the entertainment can be fun and stressful too. It’s important to let your guests know all the details. An RSVP is great to have guests confirm their attendance and this is your one opportunity to let guests know the time/place/dress code and any other important details. It’s too easy these days to send everyone a group chat message or Facebook invite but there’s nothing quite like having an invitation, especially for children and you can incorporate the theme in to your design and use fonts to highlight the most important details. In this example it’s the time and date. I often like to play with using two fonts in design and when you choose a bundle deal there’s always complimenting options to choose from. You can send these digitally or get them printed out – I like to design a 6×4 image and then order print outs from a photo printing app. I like to think that the design would look nice stuck on a fridge or notice board in the kitchens of my guests.

Thank you notes

Continuing with the party theme I love sitting down with Arlo and “writing” thank you notes. Experimenting with colour and curved texts creates a fun and whimsical effect and it’s so much nicer than comic sans. Arlo’s still getting to grips with a pencil even though he likes to get involved his mark making so creating a little template for him with space to add his creative flair is perfect, the art of letter writing is something which I do not want to see disappear even though I am an advocate for digital design. Sometimes doing things the old fashioned way is just as fun. I enjoy stamping and posting out letters just as much as I enjoy using digital fonts.

Bonus Idea – kids resources

I like to craft learning resources and printables for Arlo and this little egg box is his treasure box for scavenger hunts. With a laminated label featuring a simple rainbow graphic and words in one of my favourite fonts, this has lasted us well over a year (even when the original egg box disintegrated).

Create your own sunshine – craft projects with sunflower SVG’s.

Our favourite local sunflower field is due to open very soon at Becketts Farm. I’m so excited to revisit that I wanted to share some creative projects using sunflowers as inspiration with you. Of course the first thing I always get to work on for any special up occasion is a custom tee shirt for Arlo so that he is always dressed for the occasion – this funky “hello little sunshine” tee was designed using Sunflower SVG’s.

This was actually really simple to create, by layering an SVG over a paint swatch texture. This is my signature style as I love the textured effect of the paint behind the black outline of the flower, which creates a great contrast and a unique design. I use editing software to adjust the colours, using a dropper tool to sample colours from photographs of real flowers, then taking another paint swatch shape for the centre flower. I went lighter with this to make sure the flower outline wasn’t lost. Wrapping a quote around the lower edge of image in a script font completed the design. I then used a sublimation printing technique to apply this design to the t shirt.

There’s just something about sunflowers which makes everyone happy, and inspire lots of creative ideas which you can try out at home this summer when crafting or maybe even consider adding to your own small business repertoire as Design Bundles downloads are also licensed for commercial use.

I love getting Arlo involved in creative projects and so this little messy play activity was great fun – we had our sunflowers for observational drawing and decided to use toilet roll tubes squished to form petal shapes and stamped them in paint to create sunflower mandalas together. These sunflowers were grown by us from seed over lockdown in the garden and we’re hoping that we have even more success this year with our plants. I’ve been using SVG’s as printables and using them as colouring in sheets for Arlo, and myself too – colouring in mandalas is so relaxing.

It’s easy to add a little touch of sunshine to craft projects – this layered gift tag is a great way to add a splash of colour, using a simple SVG to cut textured paper, yellow for the petals and then a brown for the circle representing the seeds and simply glue them in to place on a swing tag. I often cut my own swing tags out too using another SVG. Adding a ribbon bow or using raffia can create a rustic look. This is a great first project for the Cricut or Silhouette to try out at home and once you get started you’ll be looking for items you can customise all over.

If you fancy being a little extra (and you know we are all about that in this house) then you can use an SVG to cut out a 3D sunflower with all of its petals. If you have the patience you can resize a sunflower SVG – make them tiny to add as card or tag embellishments or you can go big. Try sizing up the SVG’s to as big as your machine can handle and make a huge flower, adding a splash of colour to your home, maybe a in a nursery, or create your own eye catching decorations. Putting lots of these together can create an eye catching backdrop for a birthday party.

Moon and stars water colour salt painting activity

This week at nursery Arlo has been following the topic of “moon stars and sun” which works with the terms overall themes of “light and dark, hot and cold” – so to support this learning I’ve incorporated some ideas in to activities we can do together at home.

This does require a little bit of planning ahead but not too much,

You will need:

  • Card stock (paper is too flimsy)
  • PVA glue
  • Salt
  • Water colour paints
  • Brushes
  • A jar of water

First things first create your shapes on card in PVA glue – I went free hand but you can find stencils or patterns online to print off or trace just as easily – simple ones are most effective for this kind of activity and you can involve the little ones if you wish.

Then sprinkle salt all over the glue and leave it to dry for a while. I have a separate container of salt to save the excess and use it in messy play trays and Science projects to melt ice etc. I like to create two sheets of paper (at least) and for activities like this I sit beside Arlo and work alongside him demonstrating and encouraging.

Once your glue has dried the image should Take on a 3D shape like this and it’s ready to paint.

Our simple set up included a palette of water colour paints and a jar of water. Arlo loves to mix colours and wanted to jump straight in – but he had to remember the process of dipping the brush in to water and then the colour and then the salt. He quickly learn that the more water he had on his brush the more colour he could mix and the better this spread on the salt.

We really enjoyed making our stars and moons rainbow coloured – and even though we had two projects Arlo took over both…. and we had a little happy accident where Arlo knocked a brush mix air and made splashes across his page – but fear not. I described these as twinkle stars and this became a new painting technique and he added some extra colours to finish his masterpiece.

These will be left to dry overnight and then we’ll put these up on display. I’m not quite sure what else we’ll try with this theme but I’m sure we’ll have a busy weekend and come up with some ideas to share.