School’s out

Get into the hol­i­day mood with these easy taste-tempters

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - COVER STORY -

The last week be­fore Christ­mas is re­li­ably the most stress­ful time of the whole year. On top of work dead­lines, fes­tive so­cial­is­ing and end-of-year events, the kids are on hol­i­day from school. While they’re su­per ex­cited and look­ing for­ward to sum­mer, you’re still jug­gling at break­neck speed. Hav­ing the kids home when you’re busy is all very well when the weather obliges but if it’s wet things can get raggedy. My so­lu­tion was al­ways to bake. When the kids were lit­tle, a babysit­ter would come over to su­per­vise, but as they got older we could leave them to be in charge of Christ­mas bak­ing and treats.

Or­gan­is­ing non-re­tail ex­cur­sions is an­other fun way to cre­ate a sense of hol­i­day ad­ven­ture that doesn’t in­volve spend­ing money. Bake muffins, scones or cup­cakes for a mini pic­nic and head out for an ad­ven­ture. Take a hike up one of Auck­land’s 50 vol­ca­noes, head to the beach or go fish­ing with a hand line on any of Auck­land’s coastal wharves and jet­ties.

Our kids grew up be­fore the selfie era, but these days there’s a lot of ap­peal for kids in a daily selfie of them do­ing some­thing some­where new. Set a chal­lenge to have an ad­ven­ture a day and get them to take a selfie with their home bak­ing in each lo­ca­tion. You can even print out their pic­tures and stick them on a map on the wall. Ex­pe­ri­ences, with pho­tos to trig­ger the re­call, cre­ate a bank of happy mem­o­ries to look back on.

In the evenings, with­out the pres­sure of early school starts, run din­ner a lit­tle later and pack a sim­ple bar­be­cue to take out­doors. Ar­range to meet friends and en­joy the long, late evenings over the sim­plest of meals. You don’t need to get fussy here — par-boil sausages for the bar­bie, grab a loaf of bread or rolls and some sauce, add in some salad, a pun­net of berries and a bar of choco­late and the job’s done.

Pack a cou­ple of pic­nic rugs, pa­per tow­els, por­ta­ble plates, glasses and in­sect re­pel­lent and throw in wine, fizzy wa­ter, cheese and


an­tipasti snacks for the adults. Im­promptu, ca­sual get-to­geth­ers like this are my favourite way to catch up with friends and their kids in the mad­ness be­fore Christ­mas.

One of the best ways to get into the hol­i­day mood is with a sim­ple end-of-year pool party or a pic­nic at your lo­cal park. Set up a cou­ple of old-fash­ioned games like egg-and-spoon races, three-legged races or ap­ple bob­bling for more fun. Make wa­ter­melon heart or star pops by cut­ting thick slices of wa­ter­melon and press­ing out shapes with a cookie cut­ter, then push a wooden ice­block stick into the base for easy eat­ing. Fill a big pitcher with a mock­tail and whip up a cou­ple of sim­ple tasty treats for the kids to graze on as they play. Let the sum­mer hol­i­days be­gin.

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