Tag Archives: christmas

Dickensian evening 2014

A few days after the Guides made those candy cane reindeer, we sold them – and lots of other things – in aid of the district at our town’s Dickensian evening.


What do you mean, your town doesn’t have one?  It’s one of the highlights of the year in mine.  On the first Friday in December, the shops and churches and museum stay open late and serve mince pies and mulled wine, and the market place is filled with charity stalls, carol singers, morris dancers, brass bands, donkeys and reindeer, little fairground rides, snow machines, food vans, people selling flashing toys, competitions, and more.  And everyone is encouraged to wear Victorian costume.

This year was particularly impressive because the town has lots of snazzy new Christmas lights, bought with help from winning a “best town centre” award.

I arrived as soon as I could after work – having had some strange looks getting on the bus in my long skirt and shawl – and found other Leaders and Young Leaders from my district putting the finishing touches to our stall (under our Active Kids vouchers gazebo, again – best purchase ever).

We had a tombola, and were selling candy cane reindeer, “sweet bombs” (little wrapped packages of assorted sweets), homemade jam and ginger wine, homemade decorations and Christmassy biscuits, flashing head boppers (left over from the BIG GIG) and a few other odds and ends that kind people had donated.

Dickensian Evening 2014 (1)

The tombola did so well that all the prizes were all gone before the end of the evening.  The candy cane reindeer were popular, too, and we sold most of the 200 we had.  The other things sold reasonably, except the flashing boppers.  We still have lots of them left, and I’m not sure what we’re going to do with them…if we still have them in summer, we could give them to the girls at county camp.  In the meantime, let me know if you’d like any!

We had a good number of helpers through the evening, including a few Guides from both units.  I especially appreciated the Brownie Leader who turned up later in the evening with a flask of hot chocolate and paper cups.  It was very cold, I hadn’t had any dinner and was starting to feel a bit wobbly, and it was a lifesaver!  A lot of Guides past and present visited the stall – always nice that they come back and see us and still think kindly of Girlguiding after they’ve left.

Dickensian Evening 2014 (6)In other good news, we won the “best-dressed stallholders” competition, which means we’ll get our fee back.  I think what tipped it was our bonnets, made by some of our leaders from plant pots covered in fabric, ribbons and lace.


Christmas party

The Guides and their Leaders have made it to the end of term, and the end of 2014!

For our last meeting, we had a Christmas party.  I didn’t take any photos because I was running the games, but I can assure you that, in the dress code of red, green, white, or generally festive, we all looked pretty dapper.

Most of the evening was spent playing silly games.  The Guides sat in teams and had to nominate one person from their team to do each challenge – and everyone had to do at least one.  They were:

  • put a cut-up Christmas card picture together
  • transfer as many cotton wool balls as possible from a bowl in the middle back to their tables, using Vaseline on their nose (or elbow, for those with sensitive faces)
  • count out loud as high as they could in one minute, saying “one reindeer, two reindeer, three reindeer” etc.
  • flap a cardboard cut-out reindeer along the floor as far as possible in one minute
  • shake all the cotton wool balls out of a tissue box tied to their waist as fast as possible
  • be the first person to fill a pair of tights with bean bags/juggling balls/soft toys, put it on their head, run to the middle and ring a bell
  • wrap a present as nicely as possible in a fixed time

(Several of these are adapted from my fairy tale games last week.)

Our New Young Leader and two of the older Guides were a huge help – they did all the scoring and announced the results.  Meanwhile, the other Leaders took part in a few of the games, then one set up a projector and screen while the others set out the food that the Guides had brought.  About 20 mintues before the end of the meeting, we finished the games and started on the nibbles.  While they were eating and mingling, we played a slide show of photos of all (well, most) of the things the Guides have done this year.  I had fun and pride putting it together.  Looking back, we’ve packed a lot in – I had to limit it to 15 minutes of highlights!

When it was over, all that remained was to wish everyone a happy Christmas, say goodnight, tuck into the leftovers with the Leaders, restore order to the hall (not a quick job – there were crumbs and bits of cotton wool everywhere!), and make a rough plan for the first meeting of next term.

Much as I’ve enjoyed this term at Guides, I’m looking forward to a five-week break.  That’s longer than we had in the summer, because of the timing of camp.  Plenty of time to recharge my batteries and enjoy my Queen’s Guide exploration.

Candy cane reindeer and Christmas cards

This week at Guides we did some Christmassy crafts.  First we made candy cane reindeer.  We had a good production line going, with some Guides adding pipe cleaner antlers, others sticking on googly eyes, and others sticking on pompom noses.  (Over the years, we’ve found that double-sided sticky tape, as new as possible, works best for sticking things on.  The pompoms came from this ribbon.)

Christmas crafts (7)We made a veritable horde of reindeer – almost 200!  We’ll be selling them for 50p each at the town’s Christmas fair tonight.

When we’d exhausted the candy cane supplies, we made Christmas cards, using a packet of blank cards and trying to use up some of the fancy paper and jazzy bits in our craft box.  Queen’s Guide Buddy brought along her die cutter, which has Christmas shapes, so we cut out lots of those for the Guides to use.

We asked the girls to make one card to take home and one that we can give to a local elderly care home.  In practice, some girls made two, while others only had time to make one.  Anyway, we have a good little stash of cards to give out.

Christmas crafts (11)

Another positive from tonight were that our new Young Leader took on a more leader-y role than she has before; no criticism to her, as she hasn’t had much chance in the last several weeks – we’ve had quite a few meetings that weren’t very leader-heavy.  It’s really good that she’s keen to get involved when needed.

In other news, a whopping three of our older Guides have been selected to go on region international trips next year (as well as a Ranger/Young Leader who was selected last year but travels next year).  This is extremely exciting, but means intense fundraising times ahead!

Next week is our last meeting of term, so we’re having a Christmas party.  Huzzah!

5 thoughts for the next Christmas trip

Shortly before Christmas, we had a District trip to see a pantomime.  Nice and simple: get on coach at 11am, into theatre, see show, out of theatre, back on coach, return at 5pm.  Eat packed lunch on coach or in theatre.  Give parents a some time without their girls to get ready for the holidays.

I did the admin bits: booking the theatre tickets, writing and sending out the letters and forms, making sure everyone had paid, handed in consent forms, and was on the coach.  Another leader booked the coach, and the unit leaders were, of course, brilliant at looking after their girls.  It was a good day out, but this is what I’d change next time.

1. Less faffing over where to go

A Christmas trip was first suggested at a District meeting in September, and I offered to organise it (with help), partly because I just wanted to make it happen, and partly to count towards my Queen’s Guide Award (the part where you have to play an active role in an event involving more than one unit).

With a few other leaders (especially my wonderful helpful District Commissioner), I researched a few options, and exchanged many emails with everyone in the District weighing in on what they thought about the costs, timing, and age suitability, before making the final decision.  It was good to get everyone’s opinions, but I felt a bit guilty faffing and sending endless emails rather than just using my intuition and deciding.  Next time I’d ideally do the research nice and early, decide on the maximum price we could ask for and the most sensible day, and be able to present a couple of neat options at that meeting in September.  Haha, in my dreams.

2. Don’t book so many tickets up front…

I booked 100 theatre seats because I thought we could fill them.  Turned out we couldn’t, and we also couldn’t get a refund because the show wasn’t sold out.  We had 73 people going, which is a really good number, but it was a damper for me that we made a loss.  If I did it again, I’d book 50 tickets and add more if we got lots of takers.  We could up the coach to a 100-seater if necessary, and I’d make sure that the cost per person covered both sizes of coach.

3. …Or team up with other Districts

Either that, or we could get more bottoms on seats by running it as a joint District (or Division) trip from the start.  This time, I invited our neighbouring Districts when it became clear we couldn’t fill all the places.  By then, it was only a few weeks before the trip, and understandably we didn’t get many takers as they already had other plans.  However, we were joined by some Guides and their lovely leaders from a nearby village, whom we often camp with.  They seemed potentially interested in doing a joint trip in future.

4. Send out info/consent forms up front

I don’t think there’s a completely simple way to collect information from a whole district, but I could have made it easier.  With the initial letter, I included a “would like to attend” simple slip to be returned with payment.  I should have skipped the slip and just given them info/consent forms to return.  As it was, I sent them out a few weeks later, so parents had another thing to fill in, leaders had another thing to collect, and it was harder to make a list of emergency contact numbers in advance (to give to our home contact and print out for me).  Lesson learned.

5. Ask for a shout-out

This didn’t occur to me at all, so I was delighted when the dame pulled out a list of people to say hello to, and it included “W. Guides, Brownies and Rainbows”.  We gave a big cheer!  Luckily, one of our on-the-ball mothers had phoned the theatre a few days in advance to ask for a shout-out.  She found that the Guides were already on the list, as I had made the booking in our name, and she added the Brownies and Rainbows.  Day=saved.