Mums of babies and younger kids seem to share their day-to-day story all the time, but after that… crickets. In an effort to hear more from mums of older kids, we’re sharing this new series called How Mothers Work. We’ve asked mums we admire to tell us how they make it all work — from raising the kids, to doing the job, to living the dream. We hope you’ll pick up some great advice from mums in the trenches along the way.
Hello Courtney Adamo
This week we meet Byron Bay-based lifestyle influencer Courtney Adamo. She’s the mum to five kids ranging in age from four to 16 who appears to live a dreamy life in carefully curated mustard-and-nutmeg-toned Instagram squares. Her very-present husband Michael is a bit of a spunk, the house is beautiful (and beautifully uncluttered!), the many kids all seem to get along, heck, even the dog is a ten out of ten.
Honestly? Courtney is the kind of mum who quietly terrifies the majority of us. However, don’t run screaming for the Bangalow hills just yet. We’ve been curiously following this calm, wise and smart woman for years and there is far more depth to her than pretty pictures. She’s loaded with common sense, doesn’t suffer fools and leads a no-bullshit life that works a treat when you’re raising tweens and teens. So, yes, meet the irresistible Courtney Adamo and be ready to take notes!
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My name is Courtney and I’m married to Michael, and together we have five kids ranging in age from 16 to four.
While Michael and I are both originally American, we moved to London in 2003 and lived there for 12 years. Our first four kids were born in London, and they all still consider themselves English.
In 2015 we sold our house and most of our belongings and set off on an 18-month travel adventure around the world.
We eventually moved and settled in Byron Bay in late 2016, and our fifth baby was born a few months later. Now we live in an old house in a little town called Bangalow, in the hinterland of Byron. We love surfing and spending time outside.
A typical week
Michael works three days a week and I work four, so we alternate days with Wilkie when he’s home. We somehow manage the work/family juggle. It really is a team effort between the two of us.
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Weekday mornings are always hectic in our house with breakfast to make and lunchboxes to pack and getting five kids ready for school. The kids come home around 3:30 each afternoon, and we encourage them to do chores, get their homework done, take the dog for a walk, etc. Weekends we generally spend at the beach.
Weekends are generally spent at the beach.
We always eat pancakes for breakfast, and then head to whichever beach has the best winds and waves for surfing. We’re lucky all the kids love surfing, so no one ever bores of this activity.
The four eldest kids — two teenage boys aged 16 and 14, and our two girls aged 12 and 8 — go to a local Steiner School in Byron, which we really love. The school goes from Kindergarten up to year 12, so all of the kids can attend the same school. It’s small — just one class per year — so it’s quite a close-knit school community. They all take the school bus to and from school, so there’s no school run for us.
Our youngest Wilkie goes to preschool two days a week just around the corner from our house — we ride our bikes to his school, which I love.
On the days all of our kids are at school, Michael and I both work from home, and try to really make the most of that uninterrupted work time.
The Adamo family kids, from left Wilkie, four, Easton, 16, Ivy, 12, Quin, 14, and Marlow, eight. Image: Juliette Murray
What’s most important to me
One of the biggest reasons for leaving London was to slow down our life as much as possible. Life was really busy in London and we both had to work really hard to afford the lifestyle we had.
We made the decision to move to Byron because we knew we’d be able to spend more time with our children and have less financial pressure.
We put a lot of value on our time together, and also a lot of value on time in nature. In terms of a day-to-day priority, we always eat dinner together as a family.
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Little kids versus big
Raising little kids is physically exhausting and obviously requires so much energy and patience. It’s almost hard to remember how physically exhausting it was! Parenting bigger kids is a different kind of exhausting.
Parenting bigger kids is a different kind of exhausting.
Unlike little kids, you can’t put them to bed at 7:30 and have the evenings to yourself. Often our older kids stay up later than we do! There’s no time where you can just switch off.
Also, it’s emotionally exhausting trying to show up for each child and meet their individual needs. The relationship with your child becomes so important as you try to support them through adolescence, through this huge period of growth and change. Parenting teens requires a whole new level of patience, and a lot of reminding yourself not to take things personally.
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This took me by surprise
I’m constantly surprised by how quickly it all happens. Just the other day I looked over at the kitchen and realised we have three kids my height or taller! They’re suddenly all so big!
Our house feels small (admittedly too small) as our kids get older. Our kitchen never stays clean for very long. The phone charger is never in the cupboard where it belongs. It’s impossible to watch a movie in the evening without a thousand interruptions.
My clothes and hairbrush and tweezers and even my favourite skincare products go missing all the time.
Courtney and her eldest, son Easton, 16. Image: Supplied
There are suddenly so many opinions to take into consideration — the big kids want to weigh in on what we eat for dinner, where we go, what we do, etc. I guess it’s this feeling of surrender I am adjusting to. Not that I parent from a place of control, but obviously as the kids get older, there’s this sense of not having any control anymore.
My biggest challenge
I have always struggled with patience, but as the kids get older, I find it even more challenging.
I think it’s easy to falsely assume they should know better, or have more respect, or know how to control their emotions or anger because they’re older and should be more mature. But obviously, they’re going through a huge developmental period — their brain is basically being reconstructed, their emotions are heightened, their bodies are changing, they’re trying to form their own identity separate from their parents and leaving behind the comfort of childhood.
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We have to remember to be compassionate for what they’re going through. And to try not to take things personally! I’m trying to remember to be calm, even when my child is not.
My biggest joy
One thing I really do love about teens is that they do have the capacity to reflect on things. When they’re little, you have to deal with things in the moment, because kids don’t really understand or remember what happened yesterday or even an hour ago. But you can talk to your older children about an argument or an emotional outburst, and they have the ability to look back and reflect on it.
I’ve learned that this is where the parenting magic lies: in being calm in the moment, only to come back and talk to your child later.
I’ve learned that this is where the parenting magic lies: in being calm in the moment, only to come back and talk to your child later. Whether it’s my child doing the apologising or whether I owe the apology, I really love the conversations we have together where the healing and understanding forms.
There’s this sense that you’re really teaching them and helping them to grow into their own self, which is so rewarding. Also, it’s incredibly beautiful to watch them form their own identity and work out who they really are.
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My hopes and dreams for my children
Don’t we all want our kids to be happy and to honour their authentic self? I just hope my kids will feel secure in themselves to follow down their own path, whatever that might be.
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One thing that was beautiful about traveling with our children was that we were able to show our kids that there are so many different ways to live and be happy.
We became friends with a rancher in Uruguay, a surf instructor in Chile, a tuk tuk driver in Sri Lanka, a pastry chef in Italy, and so many other beautiful, interesting people around the world who were truly so happy and content in life — not because they had material possessions or wealth or fame, but because they were doing what they loved, valued their health and their loved ones, and had everything they could possibly need. We only hope our children will do the same.
My new course for mums of tweens and teens
I’ve been writing and blogging in the family lifestyle and parenting world for nearly 15 years now.
In the last few years I’ve turned my attention to creating online courses for parents to help inform and inspire. What I love about these courses is the community of parents from all over the world who come together to learn and share together. You really get this sense that we’re all in this together.
I’ve spent the last six months creating a course for parents of tweens and teens to help prepare and support parents through the adolescent years. I’ve learned so much just creating this course, and I’m excited to connect with other parents to learn alongside them.
You can find Courtney Adamo on Instagram here. Find out more about her new course for parents of tweens and teens here.
It’s the hooooolidays. Hello holidays! Cue head scratching to figure out some good things for tweens to do at home!
I work from home which is a holiday blessing and a curse. A blessing because hello kids and a curse because hello kids. My kids are older now and basically self-catering, but when they were younger, I had my work cut out for me.
I couldn’t afford to pop three kids into holiday ‘camp’ (when did a day doing a drawing class become a ‘camp’ and why does it cost $130?), so we either headed out on excursions together or we occupied ourselves at home. It depended on my workload for the day.
Over the years, I gathered lists of loads of things for tweens to do at home to keep them busy. These will hopefully keep your tweens happy at home these holidays. Feeling the joy and loving each other… as siblings always do. ROFL.
Useful mega-list of things for tweens to do at home
Hunt and gather
1. A photography challenge is all kinds of good fun.
2. A simple shades of colour hunt.
3. Make a nature mandala
4. Nature treasure hunt for readers (with poem).
5. The colours of nature hunt.
6. Make a summertime observational walk around the garden.
7. A hunt to photograph all the colours of the rainbow.
8. Take a counting number find walk (mostly suits younger tweens).
9. A riddle scavenger hunt.
10. Hide favourite object in the backyard and get your sibling to search for them. Provide clues only if absolutely necessary.
11. This scientific treasure hunt is just gorgeous.
12. Create a treasure map and X hits the spot!
13. Tally up the number of times you find things on your list.
14. This is a really clever hunt to capture sweet childhood moments on video.
15. A Follow the string treasure hunt is so imaginative.
16. An alphabet treasure hunt is fun for all ages.
17. A noun scavenger hunt.
18. Try a deck of scavenger hunt cards.
19. A pictorial take on a hunt, great for any age.
20. Take it to the next level with a scavenger hunt journal.
21. I only hesitate with this one because of the thought of putting it all away again later.
22. Including an artist’s pallet is a cute take on a colour hunt.
23. Sticking the list to a paper bag makes good sense.
24. Theme your hunt to make it fun – here’s a pirate version.
25. A hunt for textures is a neat spin.
26. I remember finger knitting as a kid.
27. Take old stuff apart.
28. My MIL gave the kids a huge jar full of buttons, so this button tree might be fun.
29. Playing a pen-and-paper game looks good
30. Make a 3D comic book
31. Easy leftover-Christmas paper collaging
32. Making blackboard play good fun
33. Indoor snowball fight (hopefully more like a snowball get-along than a fight)
34. Cut outs are great and Felix the Fox is pretty much irresistible.
35. A whole toilet roll people town would be good (we certainly seem to produce enough tubes!)
36. Nature cut outs and journalling.
37. Make butterflies out of straws and pegs.
38. Curate a post-it note gallery.
39. Weave a friendship bracelet on a loom.
40. Or try making something out of felt.
41. Settle them in with a ‘talking book’.
42. Play with their glitter playdough.
43. Write in their holiday journals.
44. Build a colourful cardboard house.
45. Make some way cute popsicle people.
46. Work on their fairy garden.
47. Build Paris.
48. Do a little cloud gazing.
49. Hang a tag on the grateful tree.
50. Make some milk carton lanterns (we can use the battery-op mini-Christmas lights to light them up!).
51. Create a yarn trail that leads to a few treasures.
52. Build a Minecraft fort
53. Do some mud target practice (using homemade chalk to draw the targets, of course!).
54. When the fireys say it’s okay, we’ll be lighting the bonfire.
55. Make a bird feeder and consult the bird book to identify any visitors.
56. Create a backyard ball run.
57. Go on a photo challenge hunt.
58. Have a go at nature sorting.
59. Make a sun dial that works.
60. Grow something.
61. Play a little ‘mystery sound’.
62. Draw an amazing chalk world.
63. Collect some pebbles to make these owls.
64. Go on a creature hunt.
65. Create a backyard obstacle course.
66. Get into cloud appreciation.
67. Make a shaving cream slip and slide (should have filed this one under ‘messy’!)
68. Try a spot of nature weaving.
69. Go on a backyard camping trip.
70. Make a mud pond (if I dare!)
71. Draw our shadows.
72. Give sheet painting a go.
73. Start a nature journal.
74. Feed the birds.
75. Make a bow and arrow (maybe).
Pick some more things for tweens to do from this list.
76. Make some oobleck
77. Ooze into rubber slime
78. Make some glitter slime
79. Try your hand at bees’ wax wraps
80. Play with shaving cream
81. Make some paper
82. Draw on the driveway with fizzy chalk paint
83. Do the puffy paint thing
84. Try your hand hand at explosive art
85. Paint something other than your nails
86. Use salt for painting… interesting!
87. Glue some beans
88. Rock and roll the paint
89. Make some salt dough beads
90. Bake some monster bread
91. Bake our fave honey jumbles
92. Construct a bouquet of fruity flowers
93. Bake some face biscuits
94. Make Jamie pizzas!
95. Make a worm farm
96. Plant some vegies
97. Have a giant colour fight
98. Build a fort
99. Plant some bulbs
100. Try some tie dye
101. Construct an elaborate indoor mini-golf course.
102. Spend the time making a summer fun jar.
103. Create an elaborate geometric puzzle.
104. Make mini worlds in shoeboxes.
105. Do an indoor shape scavenger hunt (we do love a scavenger hunt!)
6. Write some “old-fashioned” letters.
107. Make scones and stage an afternoon tea party.
108. Choreograph some dance moves.
109. Listen to an audio book.
110. Get stuck into the housework (they love it, no really…)
111. Try some marshmallow and toothpick construction.
112. Make some recycled rubbish people.
113. Put on a puppet show
114. Write a short story and illustrate it.
115. Play with our socks.
116. Set up an indoor obstacle course.
117. Strike a few yoga poses.
118. Try “eye bombing”.
119. Build a fort under the kitchen table.
120. Read some books together.
121. Create a mural for the bedroom wall.
122. Bake some health rusks.
123. Get out the hama beads.
124. Play indoor balloon tennis.
125. Shoot some marshmallow guns (maybe).
What’s are your tweens favourite activities at home?
Images by Annie Spratt
This year, more than any other, gaming has been a constant companion for some kids. The increased time spent online playing games and socialising in digital spaces can be confronting for parents who hate not understanding what their kids are up to. It’s tempting to throw a blanket ban on the whole thing, but a better solution is to take the time to learn what it’s all about. Enter series 2 of the (very) aptly named ABC show Help! My Kid is a Gamer! which has recently dropped onto ABC iview. This show is a must-watch for any parent whose kids are into gaming.
Host Nich Richardson – aka NichBoy – has been around the Aussie gaming traps for over 10 years. He was a host on Good Game (with Bajo and Hex – remember them?) and recently revived Back Pocket on Twitch. Fortunately, he manages to calm down the manic-gamer-presenter schtick for Help! My Kid is a Gamer!, settling into his ‘dad’ role nicely. We asked Nich a few big questions regarding kids’ gaming habits and what parents can do to
get rid of support them.
The appeal of gaming
There’s the obvious stuff that initially gets kids involved in gaming: it’s fun and entertaining. Games are specifically designed to be engaging, hitting the brain’s reward buttons and sending he ‘happy hormone’ dopamine flying around the brain.
But a legal rush isn’t the only reason why kids’ get so heavily into gaming. According to Nich, it’s all about hanging out.
“Really it’s mainly the social aspect.” he says. “When you’re playing a multiplayer game with friends like Among Us or Fortnite you’re chatting and hanging out with friends.”
Gaming is what most kids are into these days, so it’s also what they talk about when they get together IRL. “The games they play are a big part of conversation and bonding,” says Nich. “In the same way as parents might talk about what they watched on Netflix last night, if you play games, then those are the stories you tell.”
“The games they play are a big part of conversation and bonding.”
This is one of the reasons why kids fight so hard to start playing multiplayer games. They feel left out if they’re not part of it. Not just while the game is going on, but also at school and during other activities. Gaming is a big reference point in every aspect of a kid’s social life.
It’s definitely not all bad: 7 reasons why gaming is good for kids (and a few things to look out for)
Controlling the game
This is also what makes gaming such a thorn in a parent’s side. Many parents feel like they are powerless to control their kids when they are online. This has a lot to do with not understanding exactly what the kids are getting up to while they play. Knowing the basics of the game they are into is not only reassuring, it also gives you a better understanding of what you’re asking from your kid when you put rules in place.
“Right in the middle of a big game with friends is a pretty terrible time to try and come and cut them off,” says Nich. “It would be like you being in the middle of a phone conversation with a friend and your kid comes in and says ‘right, you’ve talked enough, get off the phone!'”
A better strategy is to give your kids fair warning about when you expect them to finish up their game play. Give them a ten, then five minute countdown, if necessary, “Then it’s up to them to time manage themselves when it comes to joining one last multiplayer game,” says Nich.
This will help: How to set boundaries on Fortnite and other video games
Know the players
Of course, online video gaming is hard to control in other ways, too. It can feel confronting when your kid wants to play multiplayer games online. Getting into group gaming should come with a list of rules and warnings.
“[The] biggest one is who are they playing with?” says Nich. “Are they playing with people they know or strangers? Are the people they know people you trust?”
If your kid is playing multiplayer games, they are most likely going to be playing with strangers at some point.
Make no mistake, though, if your kid is playing multiplayer games, they are most likely going to be playing with strangers at some point. “That’s just how it works,” says Nich.
However, as Nich points out, there’s a big difference between simply being on the same team as a bunch of people you don’t know and joining their Discord servers to talk to people you don’t know and being contacted directly by them. Nich’s advice is to check what game your child is playing and google the safety features. The eSafety Commisson is often a good place to start – here’s their overview of Among Us and Fortnite.
You can also use the parental controls on your game console to limit access or block people or message requests.
Read this too: Managing screen time is about more than setting limits
When your kid is really into gaming
Some kids get completely enmeshed in gaming, such that it becomes their whole life. This isn’t ideal, but there is a possible career path for the super gamers. Be warned though, it’s a rocky path.
“Some kids can, most kids can’t,” says Nich, who himself as made a career from his love of gaming. “The sheer amount of video game channels, streamers and creators out there means you need to be one in a million to make a living from producing content. Additionally, it’s a grind that is unrealistic for most people – the amount of time you need to sink into building an audience is absurd.”
It can be fun for uber-gamers to create the content anyway. “Just because they might not become the next Ninja doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do it just for fun,” agrees Nich. Ninja – aka Richard Tyler Blevins – has 24.2 million YouTube subscribers and makes US$ 500,000 a month live streaming his games… nice work, if you can get it.
To be competitive in either gaming or esports, Nich estimates your kid would need to be practising 8-10 hours a day. Which is “not the most realistic option”, according to Nich and “never, ever going to happen” according to most parents.
“The best way for kids to make money from games is to head into the industry,” says Nich. “If they love gaming, encourage them to look into coding, software development, producing, writing, etc. These are all skills that you need to work in the games industry as a developer, and they’re also skills that transfer to many other fields should gaming not turn out to be the golden ticket they hope it is!”
Thanks Nich, that’s sound advice from one very cool dude. If your kid is into gaming, Help! My Kid is a Gamer! is definitely worth a watch on ABC iview. Did we mention NIch is also quite easy on the eye? LOL.
Would you consider your kid to be ‘a gamer’? Does it bother you?
Nich Richardson images courtesy of ABC ME; Dark room teen by Mark Cruz; Boy playing Fortnite by Alex Haney
The teenage years see many dramatic changes our kids’ health and development. In 2020, these dramatic changes have been compounded by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Research has shown that young people have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and are experiencing increased stress and anxiety. It’s important that parents are equipped to help teens take care of their health, especially through this challenging period.
Every parent will be aware of how difficult it is to support teens to make beneficial changes. It feels like they rebel against us out of sheer spite – if we tell them vegetables are good for them, they will most likely never touch a carrot again. At least, not until they are 25 and have woken up to themselves.
Trying to get a teen who doesn’t like exercising to exercise, or one who never talks to open up… well, we’ve got our work cut out for us.
Three golden rules
Remember the three golden rules for getting teens to do absolutely everything:
1. Make it about their friends
If you can tie their mates to their wellbeing, you’ll have more chance of success. This could be offering to be the car pool driver for them all to go the local pool or a gym session; providing a healthy fruit and veggie platter when they are all hanging out at your place; or even just mentioning that so-and-so is looking good after starting a new gym program, etc.
2. Ask, don’t tell
Making a ‘suggestion’, not ‘telling them what to do’ is our best strategy for gently nudging our teens in the direction we want them to head. It helps if you can offer them two healthy choices and then the decision is theirs.
3. Bin the nags
It can be so easy to fall into a pattern of nagging. All our teens hear when we do this is that we find fault in everything they do. Instead, seek out the times when they are doing something well and hit the praise button as hard as you can. “Well done for walking to school this morning, did you feel good?”; “Thanks heaps for taking the dog out, I really appreciate it”; “I noticed you picked up your towel this morning and I’m really grateful,” etc.
To further help us out, the YMCA have created Virtual Y. It’s a completely free online wellbeing hub aimed at supporting kids at home. The team have a few areas where they can help teens take care of their physical and mental health.
While we know that Nutrition Australia’s Healthy Eating Pyramid is a great place to start for good nutrition, getting our kids on board isn’t easy. Good nutrition in the teen years if vital for physical and mental health, but it’s hard to get kids to understand the benefits.
We can relay info to our kids until we are blue in the face, but they are unlikely to change their Gatorade-guzzling ways. Enter Virtual Y, which shares important nutrition information in a non-confrontational way. There’s a nutrition coach available to answer any of their food and nutrition questions. They also regularly update the site with new and delicious recipes that will appeal to even the fussiest teen.
Latest recipes include asparagus fries, banana and blueberry bread, and Japanese vegetable pancakes – all straight-forward enough for even brand new cooks to make themselves.
Keep ’em moving
It’s more important than ever for teens to get their bodies moving and stay physically active. Not only is exercise vital to health, growth and development, it also has emotional and intellectual benefits. Physical activity can help to improve mood, sleep patterns, mental health and even concentration.
Virtual Y includes a range of online fitness classes to help teens get into and reap the benefits of movement and routine. From Pilates, yoga and dance, to HIIT, strength and cardio training – there’s bound to be a class that appeals. It’s all completely free to access online – so they don’t even need to leave the house.
If the Virtual Y program doesn’t appeal to your teen, there are plenty of free workouts, yoga and pilates channels via YouTube. Just make sure the instructors are qualified! We like Yoga with Adriene, The Balanced Life for Pilates, AthleanX for strength training and Joe Wicks for HIIT-style workouts.
The key to keeping teens active is to help them get into a good routine. Exercise should become a habit, like brushing their teeth (hopefully teeth brushing is a habit by now!) or checking their Insta.
Set up a schedule for getting them moving, and work with your teen to add as much variety in there as possible. They might walk to and from school each day, do a Virtual Y yoga class before school on Tuesdays, a HIIT class before dinner on Thursdays and go for a long bushwalk, skate or surf on the weekends.
Mental health is just as important
Mental health becomes very important during the teen years, as teenagers spend more time with friends. They begin experiencing new pressures and stressors, and often turn to social media to stay connected.
Mental health can be impacted by factors including diet and exercise (see above), sleep patterns, or drug and alcohol use. Teens are also experiencing a flurry of hormonal changes, which can then affect their mental health (and our own!!). Many teens are in quiet crisis during these turbulent years, so stay alert for changes in behaviour and be ready to seek help if necessary. There’s a list of contacts that can help your teen here.
Though it can sometimes feel hard when our kids push us away, it’s important to stay connected in order to support their mental health. Virtual Y suggests that parents can do this by taking an active interest in their teens’ lives. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and show plenty of love and affection. Spending quality time with them away from everyday distractions will help get them to open up.
50+of the best movies to watch with your teens
11 family games teens will be into too
100 fun, quirky, important ways to bond with your teen
What’s your top tip to help teens take care of their health?
This post was not sponsored by Virtual Y – we just wanted to share their excellent free program.
Feature image by Madison Compton; beach by Vince Fleming; salad by Brooke Lark; skate by Priscilla Du Preez
Emma Rowe of Frog Goose and Bear party fame is our resident crafty minx. She makes all kinds of fabulous stuff for birthdays and Christmas. Including reinbeer.
Reinbeer! We die!
It’s a pretty simple concept. You stick pipe cleaner antlers, a little red pom pom and googly eyes on your choice of beer bottle. Sometimes the most effective craft moments are actually the easiest. Dead simple, as it happens. Creativity is so often an IDEA more than a commitment. And, honestly, no one can say they’re not crafty when faced with something as simple as this.
Total reinbeer awesomeness
What you need
- Hot glue gun
- Brown pipe cleaners
- Googly eyes
What you do
Take one pipe cleaner and wrap it around the lid of the bottle to secure. Cut a second pipe cleaner in half and twist onto first pipe cleaner to make antlers.
Glue a nose and eyes onto the neck of the bottle.
If you grab a six-pack of beer, you can add a cute printable label to the box for added Christmas cheer. You can find a free label here. OR you could head here and customise your own.
Hello reinbeer and thank you for being so cute for so little effort! Could it really be that easy? It could. Can it really be this cute? It is!
Try making Emma’s crackers too:
Expressing gratitude at Christmas
Apparently reindeer beer is something that’s been doing the rounds on Pinterest for a while. We couldn’t trace the exact moment someone first came up with this most excellent concept, but we are grateful to them.
We are also especially grateful to Emma. Firstly, for being wonderful and generous and kind and just so ridiculously clever, always. And secondly for introducing us to the glory that is reinbeer.
We’re off to find the hot glue gun and make someone’s day…
Know someone who deserves a reinbeer this Christmas?