This Christmas, my husband and I decided to do away with the traditional notion of presents for Tallis. It’s not that I don’t enjoy Christmas quite the opposite, but a) our 15 monthold is still much too young to appreciate the whole concept of multiple presents and b) I wanted to give our daughter something that didn’t come laden with copious amounts of packaging that she (and inevitably we) would have to fiddle with for about 10 minutes. We all know that the ability to concentrate on one thing at any given time is not a toddler’s strong point, so the idea was to create something that had minimal fuss and maximum enjoyment for her.
Which led me to the idea of using a playhouse as a sort of giant shell of a present box. The cardboard house in itself was completely new and arrived flatpacked, so we had to set it up the night before, which I guess is the only downside to doing presents this way. It was totally worth it though, watching her sleepy eyes clamp down on it on Christmas morning, before she excitedly crawled over and opened the door to reveal a special room furnished with treats, all ready to be played with.
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We tried to make Tallis’ play house presents as personal as possible, from the doll cot bedding that I persuaded the very talented Catsandboys to make specially to fit, to the incredibly graphic building blocks by Peachy Baby that spell out Tallis’ middle name BELLE.
While we’re on the subject of pretty things, I need to talk about Studio Escargot’s brilliant maker Sophia Smeekens, who is in the midst of creating mini (yes MINI!) versions of her amazing handpainted dolls. They’re hopefully being produced any day now, so look out for these in her shop. For Tallis’ play house, Smeekens dreamed up a seriously adorable blackspotted doll and it’s incredible.
I find the most simple ‘toys’ and accessories made out of everyday objects can also be the most stimulating I wrapped some hula hoops filled with rice in matte white tape, and made a concretebased coat stand for Tallis and her dolls’ clothes (inspired by the amazing Love Aesthetics). The ‘carpet’ was a spare Ferm Living sticker sheet I had, and the giant slinky is actually a cheapaschips piece of airconditioner vent tubing. I’ve always found the idea of a Pigméedoll quite intriguing it doesn’t have a face or a front or back, which means your child can use their imagination to construct different characters for it so we got her a mediumsized one to go in her cot.
All in all, the play house kept all three of us entertained and playing in and around it for hours before we had to leave for Christmas lunch with our family. And the best bit for this messadverse mama? Not a smidgen of wrapping paper and packaging to contend with afterwards!
Image 1: Mayday lamp by Konstantin Grcic for FLOS; prints by Therese Sennerholt; diy hula hoops and coat stand; origami ball by Origami Est
Image 3: Tallis’ middle name is Belle and these building blocks by Peachy Baby spell it out in the most graphic way; doll cot by Smallstuff; doll cot bedding by Catsandboys
Image 4: Rotary tray by Jasper Morrison for Vitra; doll and ’baby’ doll by Studio Escargot
Image 12: Doll by Pigmée
Image 14: Tallis wears jumpsuit by Bobo Choses