As you can see in the background, here at The Madhouse, the Christmas tree is now up and the countdown to the festivities has well and truly begun. That invariably seems to involve vast amounts of baking and crafting ! Juliette was therefore over the moon to get her hands on a box of Gel-A-Peel to put through its paces.
Inside the box, there were three pink and purple sparkly gel pens with a variety of tips. It reminded us of a cross between glitter glue pens and a piping bag for icing !
Each of the tips gives a different finish - you can choose between round tip, star tip, rake tip, spike effect and, if you're feeling really creative, rainbow effect.
In our box, there was also a selection of accessories to create unique pieces of jewellery - some hair clips, necklace and earring fasteners, as well as the all important design sheets and the plastic sheet that you lay over your chosen design as a template, before squirting on the Gel-a-peel, leaving it to set, then, as the name suggests, peeling it off.
The Gel-A-Peel website shows you all sorts of designs that you can recreate, or you can just let your imagination go wild and come up with your own designs.
As we're into the run-up to Christmas, Gel-A-Peel sent us through a selection of Christmassy items to decorate - a fabric Christmas stocking, a cardboard stocking tree ornament and a polystyrene star - which highlights the range of materials that you can use as a creative base for your artwork.
Within seconds, Juliette was off. There are no complicated instructions to read - it really is a case of selecting and attaching a tip then squeezing it out of the tube. Juliette started with a hairclip and, even though this was her first ever attempt, she quite successfully achieved the scalloped effect that she wanted.
Pierre was equally impressed and wanted to join in too, so I found some more accessories that he could decorate. He's only seven but found it just as easy to use with no input from me (apart from pulling off the stoppers the first time we used the pens, because they were stuck in tight).
It was great to find an activity that the kids could get on with all by themselves, after what had turned out to be a very busy day sorting out the decorations and wrapping presents !
Juliette also wanted to test the peel-off qualities so she started making a bracelet, using one of the designs in the box. It's actually a lot less fiddly than it looks, although she did stop halfway, deciding to let the first part dry out before starting the next part, because she was worried about smudging it with her hand and messing up all her hard work.
The kids had great fun and made some very cute designs that will have pride of place on the Christmas tree.
The only very slight fail of the whole session was from me - I decided to wash the tips in hot soapy water before the gel set hard. Big mistake - I got covered in a gooey, sticky, greasy residue that was hard to get off my hands. After reading the instructions, I noticed that you're supposed to let it set hard and then use the little plastic scraper to clear out the tips. That definitely sounds easier and above all cleaner !
If you have crafty kids, they'd definitely love to find a pack of Gel-A-Peel in their Christmas stockings, but the design possibilities are numerous and intricate enough that I think it would also appeal to teens and even grown-ups.