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Let’s face it; not everyone is the Martha Stewart of Christmas. There are plenty of folks who are staring out their windows wondering where the rake might be. The one that they forgot to put away last week. Before London, Ontario got hit with upwards of 70 cm of snow in a single day. Yeah. Good luck people! You’ll find it when all the snow melts in the spring. I’m pretty sure this deluge will last that long.

What it looked like at the McFadden home on Sunday morning

Under the circumstances, I suspect that Londoners can look forward to a white Christmas this year. At the very least, all the snow that walloped London got people in mind of Christmas a little early this year. Not only are Santa’s helpers already in the malls and Christmas carols jingling in the background, but everywhere you look certainly has that winter wonderland feel, including the mountains of snow in parking lots. It’s amazing how fast those mounds add up! How high are the piles beside your driveway? The kids are snowboarding off mine.

So, Christmas. Are you ready for it? Note that I have lights up outside already. Am I a step ahead of you? Don’t feel bad though, as that doesn’t mean that the rest of my Christmas prep is done. Perhaps a few decorations added to your house will get you in the festive spirit? These won’t knock Martha off her pedestal, but are still a fun way to get into the Christmas spirit. Why not grab the kids and try some of these decor ideas on for size. Heck, you could get them to do them all leaving you more time for eggnog consumption! Now that’s the ticket…

12 Easy Christmas Decor Ideas

A different take on the Christmas wreath

  1. popcorn strings (mix in beads or dried berries to jazz it up)
  2. clove-studded oranges
  3. snowflakes (perfect craft for youngest kids, but fun for all)
  4. Christmas ornaments in glass vases
  5. pine cones in bowls
  6. Christmas pictures popped into frames
  7. pillar candles encircled by candy canes (tied with a ribbon for a finishing touch)
  8. gingerbread house
  9. gingerbread ornaments hanging off the mantle
  10. evergreen garlands draped on the mantelpiece
  11. a bundle of birch branches as an accent beside the fire
  12. Santa’s boot filled with presents, pine cones, evergreens, candy canes, etc.

Now that is a dozen simple ideas that even the least crafty among you can handle. They help the Christmas budget stretch a little further and make Christmas more about the simple things in life. Isn’t that the beauty of the holiday?

What are your favourite Christmas decorations?

Hello weekend! You are always a welcome addition to any week. The perfect time to relax, reconnect with family and friends, tackle some chores, or get out and have fun in your neighbourhood! Do you have plans for this weekend? Are you going to tackle some Christmas chores? Perhaps I can suggest a few ways to cross some of those things off your list while still having fun this weekend.

Local Help For Your Christmas Chores In Your Neighbourhood

Learn how to make your own winter arrangements at Heeman’s

Let’s look at that list again shall we? I believe Step 1 was outdoor decor. No problem! Head out to Heeman’s for one of their Winter Workshops. For $50, you get to choose a container of your choice and learn how to turn it into a fabulous winter planter. The workshop runs 90 minutes in length. All the evergreen boughs, sparkly bits, and finishing touches are included. Classes are limited in size and require prior registration and payment. The best part is that you get to take home your masterpiece at the end of class to decorate your home with. And if you are particularly pleased with the result and want to create another one, you can buy all the necessary materials and make more at home. They have white and red pine, cedar, dogwood, willow, magnolia leaves, pine cones, birch poles, and more. They are open 8 am – 5 pm from Monday to Saturday. Workshops are as follows;

  • Friday November 22, 1:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday November 26, 1:00 p.m.
  • Monday December 2, 1:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday December 4, 7:00 p.m.

 

Create a felt stocking just in time for Christmas

Now, how about the inside of your home? Well, if you are looking for crafting help, you could head to Michael’s. Not only do they have tonnes of arts and craft supplies, but they also offer classes to give hands-on experience. On Saturday at the 1737 Richmond St and 3080 Wonderland Rd S stores, they are hosting a Festive Felt Stocking workshop for kids. Get your kids to make their own stockings and maybe one for everyone in the family this year! Workshops are 30 minutes in length and run from 10-11:30 am. Cost is $2 and includes supplies. Ages 3 and up.

 

Shopping is easy this time of year with all the Christmas Bazaars on. Here are a few places where you can start your holiday shopping.

  • Green Christmas: Fairtrade, local artist, earth friendly, alternative gift giving Christmas expo. Nov 23, 9 am – 4 pm at Talbot Street Church (513 Talbot St). One stop shopping for all your Christmas gift giving. Featuring art, fair-trade coffee, live musicians,  alternative gifts like “chickens for families in Haiti”, and plenty more. No cover charge.
  • Annual First Nations Art and Craft Show and Sale: Celebrate a handmade holiday. Nov 24, 10 am – 4 pm at Museum of Ontario Archaeology (1600 Attawandaron Rd). Over 25 craft vendors selling jewellery, moccasins, pottery, beading, soapstone, +++. Art and craft demonstrations. Door prizes,  and popular penny sale. Admission by donation.
  • Chocolate Sunday: Christmas arts/vendor bazaar. Nov 24, 12:30 – 4:40 pm, at the Hilton Hotel (300 King St). Includes Chocolate Fountain, Silent Auction, Door Prizes & a great selection of Christmas Vendors for seasonal shopping. Tickets are $15 for individuals and $35 for families. In support of Life Spin.
    • ALSO; For the past nineteen years LIFE*SPIN has facilitated a Christmas Sponsorship program that provides additional support to the poor families in our community.  This program relieves poverty for low-income families with children over the Christmas season. LIFE*SPIN matches low-income families with those wishing to help a disadvantaged family celebrate Christmas.

How much do you still have to do to get ready for Christmas? Got any tips for making it easier, faster or completed with local help?

It is mid-November in London, Ontario, but Mother Nature had everyone thinking it was mid-winter this week. There is still snow on the ground from the storm that caused more than 160 crashes across the region this week. Not a nice joke to play on us! Never fear though as the weather forecasters are valiantly coming to the rescue with speculations of double-digit weather by the weekend. That’s right. How does 10-14° C sound? Goodbye snow! Of course if you want to get outside to enjoy it, you might want to plan on Saturday, as sunshine will be at a minimum by Sunday with plenty of rain forecast. So it goes in November I guess.

What To Do In Your Neighbourhood This Weekend

Boler’s Treetop Adventure Park

If you want to get outdoors, why not check out Boler Mountain‘s Treetop Adventure Park. It is scheduled to be open for business until November 30th, 2013. Fall hours are Friday 11 am – 2 pm, and Weekends 9 am – 2 pm. Cost is $47 per person for up to three hours on the course. That includes the beginner, intermediate and advanced courses, as well as the full zip and  newly opened Big Zip. You must be able to reach at least 5’11”. For children over the age of 8 years, there is a Junior Course with junior harnesses. You have to be able to reach a minimum of 5’ up to 5’11” and be accompanied be a non-participating adult. The Junior Course costs $24. Make sure to book in advance. It sounds like a perfect activity for this weekend in my books.

What about a little exercise Saturday morning in the form of a hike? The Thames Valley Trail Association (TVTA) is a local organization that maintains, develops and encourages the use of walking trails in London. The TVTA was formed in 1971 and now incorporates over 100 km of trails from St Mary’s through London, to Delaware. It connects to the Elgin Trail and Avon Trail, and follows the Thames and North Thames River much of the way, as it winds through hills, plains, farmland, multi-use pathways and more. While you can always join in on one of their Saturday morning walks for free, they encourage everyone to become members of this great non-profit group. In addition to the Saturday morning hikes, TVTA also organizes regular hikes year round along the trails that range from very easy to very difficult. Some hikes even span a few days to complete. This Saturday’s hike is at Euston Park, starting at 9 am. Why not enjoy some fresh air and beautiful scenery, while you get a little healthier this weekend?

If errands have you tied up Saturday, and Sunday is your time to have fun, there is still lots to get up to this weekend.

You won’t find anyone else wearing the unique pieces you’ll find (like this hat by Paddy K) at the Wearable Art Sale

  • Santa will be arriving at area malls on Saturday and taking up residence til Christmas Eve. You could pay him a visit with your wish list and a promise to be good before then. I don’t think you can beat Rob Ford on the Naughty List anyway, so you are good there.
  • London-area artists will be taking over the Labatt Lounge, upstairs at the Covent Garden Market (130 King St) for the Wearable Art Sale all weekend long. Choose from unique, original pieces of art that can be worn, from garments, scarves, purses, jewellery and more, all handmade by the vendors. Hours are 12 pm – 7:30 pm Friday, 10 am – 6 pm Saturday, and 12 pm – 4 pm Sunday.
  • The London Multicultural Club will be putting on a fundraising event on Sunday, November 17th at 3 pm at the South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre (1119 Jalna Blvd) in support of victims of the typhoon that devastated the Philippines. A vigil will also be held in Victoria Park on Friday night (15th) at 6pm.

What do you have going on this weekend?

It seems like as soon as Halloween is done, Christmas decor goes up. Have you strung your Christmas lights yet? I don’t know if you happened to notice, but we actually even had a few snow flakes fall in London, Ontario yesterday. That might help to get you in the mood. And it also might help a certain someone glide into town tomorrow evening. That’s right, not only is Christmas in the air, but Santa Claus is coming to London this weekend! Get your festive spirit on Londoners!

Christmas Spirit In Your Neighbourhood

London Santa Claus Parade

You better watch out.
You better not cry.
You better not pout,
I’m telling you why.
Santa Claus is coming to town!

That’s right, the London Santa Claus parade is this Saturday November 9, 2013. The first floats launch from Dundas St and Egerton St. at 6 pm sharp. It will be approximately 60-90 minutes of cheer for all involved, and as always it is a FREE event. The parade route runs west along Dundas and ends at Ridout St. This year’s theme is “Christmas Around the World”. That sounds like a not-to-be-missed family event to me!

In addition to all the floats, bands, and of course the big guy at the end, the Santa Claus Parade is a great local event to attend for other reasons. Food donations are collected for the London Food Bank. Last year, almost 2,700 brand new stuffed toys were collected and given to the London Salvation Army. A toonie toss helps to supplement the cost of the parade (it is paid for via corporate sponsorship and community involvement, not by the City of London or any other level of government). A portion of the proceeds also goes towards helping local charities, like the Shriners, My Sister’s Place, and others. So the question I ask you is, have you been naughty or nice this year? And will Santa know or should you head downtown on Saturday to tell him yourself?

Clipart
Knowing that Santa is on the way puts most people in mind of a little shopping as well. Santa can’t fit everything down your chimney you know! You have to help the jolly old elf out when you can. You are in luck too, as there are a few Christmas markets being held this weekend around London.

Autism London Christmas Market – 

Knollwood Park Public School (70 Gammage St.); Saturday, November 9th, 10 am – 4 pm. Variety of vendors, tea room, admission by donation.

Annual Christmas Bazaar –

St Paul’s Cathedral (472 Richmond St); Saturday, November 9th, 10 am – 2 pm. Homemade jams, jellies, preserves, jewellery, handmade crafts, toys, silent auction table, and more. Free.

IODE London 10th Annual Tinsel Town Bazaar & Tea Room –

Kiwanis Senior Community Centre (78 Riverside Dr); Saturday, November 9th, 9 am – 2 pm. Raffle baskets, baked goods, attic treasures, books, jewellery, sewing, knitting, plus the Tea Room. Free.

Holly Bazaar –

First St Andrews United Church (350 Queens Ave); Saturday November 9th, 9 am – 12 pm. Christmas gifts, meat pies, jewellery, baked goods, pet treats, baby quilts, toys, as well as a quilt auction and Cafe Noël.

May Court Marketplace –

Bellamere Winery (1260 Gainsborough Rd); Sunday, November 10th, 12 pm – 4 pm. Holiday decor, frozen food, baked goods, original art, jewellery, handbags, wood craftsmen, tea room. Free

Christmas Shopping Extravaganza

Byron Legion (1276 Commissioners Rd W); Sunday, November 10th, 11 am – 4 pm. Baked goods, handmade items, sparkle tattoos, jewellery, scents. Swag bags for the first 50 shoppers. Entrance by non-perishable food donation to the London Food Bank.

That should be enough Christmas to keep your spirits bright this weekend. If you know of any other Christmas markets, just drop me a line and I will pass the good word along!

We might be considered little London, but there is nothing small about our fabulous city this weekend. In fact, we are so desirable that the world is coming to us! That’s right. If you head downtown, you will see a distinctly international flair in the air.

Where? At Sunfest!

SUNFEST

(Victoria Park; July 5-8, 2012, 11am-11pm)

Can you hear the rhythm beat?
Do you need a way to beat the heat?
Well, Sunfest is the way to go!
There’s music, dancing and a full festive show!

Starting today, you can catch some live bands
Get up and boogie while you clap your hands
Wiggle and shout along to Samba Squad
And there’ll be lots of other musicians that you can applaud!

Catch Phil Dwyer, Mdungu and LYY
Or Kaja, Joaquin Diaz, or Five Alarm Funk, you’ll also spy
But there’s more than music at Victoria Park
There’s a taste explosion for you too to embark

Eat souvlaki, churros and candy floss too
Or wander through the vendors for a craft or two.
You’ll find hats, drums and jewellery at a great price
And that Henna arm band would sure look nice!

So what are you waiting for? Get up and go!
The earlier you get there, the more fun, you know.
So make sure you take your smiles and your fun
Because Sunfest is a festival that beats all, bar none!

Welcome to In Your Neighbourhood!

Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Jim. You want to know more? Well, check out my "About Me" page! Don't forget to take a peek at my "Local London Listings" while you are here too! I update it regularly. Enjoy your visit and drop me a line to let me know you were in the neighbourhood!

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