Christmas Ideas From Happydesigner

December Fun With Happydesigner!

This year has been another stellar one at Happydesigner, and we’re all so chuffed to have been able to work with so many talented and innovative authors! Recently I put together a blog that highlighted some of our recent releases, and it’s so exciting to know the New Year is going to bring many more, and possibly even more awards for the unstoppable Marion Adams, whose book, “Go To Sleep”, has been sweeping the boards! Well done Marion, and well done to everyone who has managed to fulfil their dream this year of writing their own children’s book.

children's illustrator
Go To Sleep Author Marion Adams

So where does that leave the Happydesigner team for the remainder of 2017? Well, between painting and drawing her socks off, Sarah has been visiting Norman Gorman’s, who now have their very own Happydesigner-sponsored Guinea Pig! Geoffery will be staying with the Sanctuary but is being cared for by Happydesigner, which is really great. We’ve also been working on a few new books, which we are so excited to be able to show you when they’re ready! But as the tinsel starts to festoon itself around the house, and the spangly trees begin to appear in windows (who else loves playing “spot the tree” when they’re being driven around after dusk?!), we’re aware that for a lot of people Christmas brings stress, as schools send their kids back home for two weeks (don’t try and send them in anyway, the schools get a bit miffed…) and childminders take a much-needed break from your little angels. So what can you do this festive season to keep everyone entertained?


children's illustration

Decorate a Tree

Some people don’t like trees, and this is perfectly understandable. Whether you don’t want the mess, or you find it a bit odd to bring the outside in, there are plenty of ways you can make your home festive or cosy at this time of year. However, if you are keen on decorating a tree, real or artificial, then make sure the kids have a go too! You can always go back later and rearrange a few bits…they never need know! Or if you really love the “kid” touch, just get them to do the parts they can reach. The important thing is that everyone stays safe (no balancing on rickety old step-ladders!) and that everyone has fun!

children's illustrator

Why not try and make your own decorations? These days there are loads of “paint your own” kits, or if that’s a little messy or above what your child can do then why not cut out cardboard shapes, attach some string and then paint those? If you’re feeling really creative you can even print out “colour-in” images from the internet or draw your own shapes! How about seeing who can draw the most festive Santa, the reddest-nosed reindeer or the happiest Elf? You could use this exercise to explore different festivals that you can teach your children about, such as Hanukkah and Diwali.

Bake Festive Biscuits

children's illustration
Be careful not to get biscuit mix everywhere like Annie’s Grannies did!

If you want to get the house feeling all snug and cosy for the season, why not bake some biscuits? The internet has so, so many recipes, although we love these super easy star shaped biscuits. Perhaps you can challenge each other to make the most wacky shape, or the most sparkly topping? Make sure they’re still edible though, we’ve all had icing/glitter disasters where it feels like you’re crunching down on gravel! How about adding some spices like cinnamon, clove and ginger to give the biscuit a really festive kick? If you celebrate a different festival this season you could make some snowflake-shaped biscuits, or go all out and see who can make a snowman! The most important job is the clearing up afterwards, so to make sure the kids help out why not do it whilst the biscuits are cooking? That way there’s a tasty reward for helping with the cooking and the cleaning!

Write a Letter to Santa

Now, as adults we all know that Santa is definitely real, although he may have to have a little help from Mum, Dad, Granny and Grandad or other carers! But do you make sure your kids sit down every year to keep in touch with the big man?

children's illustration

Instead of focusing on what the children are going to get in their stockings, why not focus on asking Santa what Lapland is like, or how the reindeer are? Perhaps get the children to ask Santa for four gifts: something they need, something they want, something they’ll wear and something to read. This way, the children really think about what they’re asking for and it will save you thinking for ages about what your kids can do without, or really could do with getting at Christmas.

children's illustration

children's illustrator
Santa and Birdham Bear love getting post!

Of course, if your children say they want a llama, they need a llama, they’ll wear a llama and they want to read a llama your work might be a little harder, but at least you get a theme to work with! This exercise is a great way to focus children away from just wanting gifts for the sake of having fun things to unwrap on Christmas Day. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, or don’t give gifts, you can still play the game so that next time the kids need something you have a list to work from. Don’t forget to make sure the children ask how Mrs. Santa Claus is, she works just as hard as Santa does during the year and at Christmas! If Santa doesn’t come to your house at Christmas you could ask the children to write letters to someone they admire (even if it’s Pepa Pig!) and get them to practise their writing and drawing skills. Santa (and Pepa) love drawings of themselves!

Wrap Presents in Your Own Paper

This may be a slightly more ntough one if you and your family don’t give gifts at Christmas, but you can still decorate the paper to use another time of the year!

children's illustrator

If you want to really personalise your gifts, why not buy a big roll of sugar paper and get creative? Glitter glue, poster paint and stencils will all come in handy if you want to create your own wrapping paper. If it’s easier, wrap the gift first and then decorate (it may be an idea to wrap the gift in a square box first!). You could buy some ribbon or string and wrap your presents with your own bow as a finishing touch However you choose to do it, make sure you keep the mess on the kitchen table, or on a wipe-clean surface! Glitter glue is fab until you’re having to pick it off the new carpet… get creative, get festive and have fun! Feel free to send your creations to our Facebook page, our twitter or on our Instagram. We’d love to see how you get on!

Decorate a Stocking

You can find plain stockings in many discount shops, and you may even find a few in your local charity shop! Wherever you find one, why not personalischildren's illustratione Christmas to the max this year with decorated stockings?

children's illustration To minimise the mess you can buy festive stickers, or use PVA glue and a peg to help stick on pictures, sparkles, feathers or even bows! Find some glitter glue pens to write names, and get funky! You can add fluffy string, tinsel, fabric – if it sticks, put it on! Your kids will love making sure Santa knows which stocking belongs to which child around the world! If you don’t have stockings why not make cards to send to friends and family? They don’t have to be Christmas cards, although if you do celebrate Christmas then you can make some fab cards for Granny and Grandad, the next door neighbours or the long-suffering teachers!

Whatever you do this December, whatever it is you celebrate, or however you spend your time, we hope this list of suggestions helps you to keep the children in your life happy, amused and occupied for at least five minutes! For other great suggestions check out the Birdham Bear site!


children's illustration

A few of my previous clients

happydesigner clients

  • "WOW! Love it! I'm so happy with what you've produced- and with so little input from me. FANTASTIC!!! THANK YOU” - Darren Pascoe: 'Red Rabbit Book'

  • “Sarah’s re-branding of my business has given it a much needed fresh and quirky feel. She provided us with an extremely friendly courteous and efficient service and injected an energy into the project, that only Sarah could.” – Discovery Leisure

  • "I can’t speak highly enough of Sarah! She has brought Roopert Snoopert to life in a way I could never have imagined.
    The illustrations are fantastic! Sarah keeps you update with progress from the draft stage right through to sign off." - Paul Micklewright
  • "The logos are absolutely fantastic, they are spot on brief and are even better than we imagined!Paolo Pini, Step Up To Languages

  • "I hope my recommendation will persuade you to use Sarah! I cannot fault her, for her professionalism, enthusiasm and talent." - Michelle Hawkins, Director: The Flying DoDo

  • “Books arrived safely today- I am absolutely delighted with how they look – I can’t thank you enough – you’ve made my dream come true :)” – Jane Collins

  • “Thank you, Sarah, for the amazing work you did on the illustrations for my book. Working with you has been so easy thanks to your enthusiasm, flexibility, support, professionalism and, of course, the amazing quality of your work." – Stuart Neath

  • "Sarah quickly understood what I wanted to achieve and the look I was after. Sarah kept me informed and brought me into the whole process” – Darron Jon Love

  • “When we first contacted Sarah, Dainty Dizzy was a concept;  an idea to be shaped into a brand.  Sarah took this idea and illustrated it perfectly….and our brand look and feel was born.” – Dainty Dizzy

  • "Outstanding illustrator with exceptional talent. You couldn’t wish for a better artist, as it would be impossible to find. Such a spectacular gifted designer who is always happy!" - Rachel Lake

  • Sarah is professional, friendly and very knowledgeable, she delivered 100% with a new logo that was spot on! We can't recommend her enough!” - Lucy @ Get Active

  • "Sarah loves her work, her friendly ‘can do’ approach is reassuring whether you’re on your first or tenth book."  – Darron Jon Love
  • “Sarah’s advice has been invaluable, she could have just illustrated my first attempt but knew there was more to be had from the story and pointed me towards the right help." – Darron Jon Love

  • “Sarah was lovely to work with and keen to make sure that the illustrations were a perfect match for the story. It’s obvious that she really cares about her work and wants you, the author, to be happy with the final results.” – Marion Adams

  • Sarah really understood the brief right from the beginning and has been able to translate my ideas and mental images, that at times were quite specific, into magical illustrations that are better than I’d ever hoped. She has absolutely nailed it!” – Gareth Edwards

  • "Thank you both so much for your hard work and dedication. Sarah is a fantastic illustrator! It is nice to know I have worked with someone who is so professional at her job, and will certainly remember her for the future if I need another book illustrating."
  • "These posters and flyers are perfect”
    - Julia G, Manager at the Truro branch of Pets at Home

  • Sarah is an extremely talented designer and illustrator. She has that rare gift of being able to find something in your business or character that you never knew existed" Craig Green

  • "I am absolutely thrilled with the colours and love the look and overall feel of the book, its so different and unique, thank you so much"
  • "Sarah is amazing - very fast at understanding the requirements, great pictures and never too much trouble. I recommend her wholeheartedly" - Fernando Caldeira-Saraiva
  • "It's been great working with Sarah as our illustrator! She's been so great in taking all feedback on board and delivers work of the highest standard. Would 100% recommend :-)" - Michelle Gibbs, Doodle Dozen Series
  • “I am so happy that I found Sarah to bring my book to life. Sarah took the time to listen and really made the effort to make sure that I was happy and her brilliant designs translated the words of my book into a beautiful visual story." - Jodie Jackson

  • “I was so nervous ringing you as i've never done anything like this before, but you were so friendly and put me completely at ease.” - Donna Purvis

  • "Sarah understood what I was looking for and produced a fantastic logo for me.  She is very approachable and friendly – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her” Katie Jarvis, Fancy Prints

  • Sarah has a great insight into how to best produce a children’s book and is really helpful in getting you there! I really cannot recommend Sarah enough – brilliant designer, friendly and professional. The experience has been a great one!“ – Jodie Jackson
  • "She has a keen eye for the quirky detail, she is punctual and a joy to work with. I simply cannot praise her enough.” - Clickety Books