Now I admit, I probably didn’t approach the issue in the best way. I should have known. It’s not as if I’m particularly new to this parenting lark. I know the rules. Parenting Rule number 537 states that a short sharp, direct approach, out of the blue, will not seamlessly shift offspring on to the next stage of development. Too quick. Too sudden.
No. It requires carefully placed, crafted hints being casually dropped for weeks beforehand. Like a trail of breadcrumbs leading them to their own discovery of the need to move up a level. Preparing the ground. I knew that. I’m not a rookie.
Not that that stopped me. When I look back, I made the classic mistake and I was doomed to fail from the moment I drew breath to speak.
All three offspring were in the kitchen. I seized the moment. I announced, in a nonchalent manner, that everyone was too old for chocolate advent calendars this year. My follow up argument about single use plastic would have won them over, but I played it too late. I felt some of them sway. Alas, by then, the battle had already been lost. Apparently, and this is the moment I knew I was defeated, I was on route to ruining their childhoods forever. (again)
I wonder which page of the childhood manual that gem is printed on.
Anyway, this partly explains why I ended up in the kitchen with my 13 year old, one evening, making chocolate.
I compromised. Yes, they could have a chocolate advent calendar, if and only if they helped make it, and as little new plastic as possible should be involved.
Fortunately, I am part womble. I have a habit of keeping useful things that other
sane people would throw away. “Surely this will be useful one day“, is my motto. I had three plastic inset trays from a previous year’s chocolate advent calendars, squirrelled away in a cupboard. Empty and clean, of course, and ready to use. They had the cutest, Christmas shaped indents, which is why I kept them in the first place.
Before you think that this was a smart move on my part and how it must have saved me a packet by not buying new, it did not. True, the chocolate cost less than buying all three of children a calendar each, with the added bonus of being really nice chocolate. A definite win.
I then threw cost effective out of the window and hiked up the cost by buying a chocolate thermometer. I was now even. I was making for more, or less, the same price as buying three new, deluxe chocolate calendars.
My theory is that I can use the thermometer again. It also ensures that the chocolate will, not only shine and snap correctly, but can be kept at room temperature without a melting issue. No need to make room in my overcrowded fridge for three glitter covered calendars, between the milk and the brandy butter, while showering the uncooked turkey with seasonal cheer.
(I’ll just pause there for a moment so you can imagine the complications of doing this in the run up to Christmas)
The next part the children did pretty much between themselves, as work and the lurgy kept me otherwise occupied. They flattened cereal boxes and marked out holes for the window, which lined up with the chocolates in the trays. Fortunately, the 13 year old is a dab hand at using a craft knife to cut out the windows.
Next they painted and decorated the cardboard, which, once dry, was sticky-taped to the plastic tray.
I’m told that the chocolates easily pop out of the old inset tray, each morning, and are delicious. Success. This craft project is worth doing again.
So just three questions left:
Will the insets survive for another year? I think so. They are thin, but there are no cracks, so they should be good.
Next question. Did I cut down on single-use plastic? Hmm. The chocolate came in a smallish plastic bag and I should have given them thread or string instead of the sticky-tape.
The thermometer was packaged in a moulded plastic case, which went out in the recycling bin and hopefully can be made into something else. Not wonderful, but over time, I should cut down on more plastic by using my thermometer to make treats rather than buying little bags filled with sugar yummies.
Final question. Why are there only two calendars? Darn you spotted that. Simple answer. Eldest teen is in the throws of her exam mocks, at the moment. I agreed to finish her one. Hmm. Yes. I’m getting there. I really am.
Project complete and a success. Finding a craft activity to do with older children is always more challenging, but this one worked. I had a great time making the chocolate with my daughter. Decorating the calendar fronts was a fun craft activity in its own right. Will we do it again? Yes. Although, I know with a heavy heart, that there is always a chance that they may be just too old for chocolate calendars next year.