Something For Everyone:Christmas Gift Guide

This year I have switched things up a little when it comes to my Christmas gift guide, as let’s face it we don’t all fit in one box do we!

So instead of doing separate guides aimed at specific groups I have done one big guide that allows you to take a look at everything on offer.

Something Sparkly – Jewellery is always a welcome gift under the tree and this year I have found some beautiful pieces that I’m sure you are all going to love.

Limited Edition North Star Necklace: Merci Maman are a wonderful french company that produce the most amazing personalised jewellery that I fell for a while ago now.

This year they have a stunning 18k gold plated North Star necklace that is available in with white or black and is finished off with one single white zircon and of course their gorgeous hand engraved personalisation.

Enamel Star Necklace: Iamrachelshop is a new company offering a collection of beautiful enamel jewellery, including this pretty star necklace that comes in an array of different colours so you really will be spoilt for choice!

Sterling Silver Cat Earrings: for all you cat lovers out there…or actually just gorgeous jewellery lovers these beautiful hand polished, sterling silver cat shaped earrings would make a lovely gift.

Coin Bracelet: I’m a big lover of statement pieces and this stunning coin bracelet from Anna Lou Of London certainly stands out!

I don’t think this will make it under the tree!

A Little Bit Of Beauty – It wouldn’t be Christmas without some kind of beauty product finding its way under the tree would it. Here are a few lovely pieces that would make great gifts.

Lush Gift Boxes – everybody in my house loves Lush and all their products, so when it comes to Christmas a gift box full to the brim with a combination of gorgeous smells is always a winner. This year they have yet another amazing range of gift boxes that it is hard to chose from them all!

Face Masks And Makeup Removing Cloth – Disney really does span the ages and these face masks and makeup removing cloths from Mad Beauty would make a lovely gift for such a wide range of people. They would also be perfect secret Santa gifts.

False Lashes And Nail Varnish – If there was ever a season to party then this is it so if you are looking to get yourself party ready then these Kiss Lash Couture Naked Drama Collection lashes and the Leighton Denny Colour Collection can help you to do just that.

The Personal Barber Premium Shave Kit – This kit exudes luxury from the minute you open the kit. There is everything you need from a stunning safety razor with replacement blades and a fabulous smelling shaving soap that is all ready to lather up and apply with the traditional brush.

They really are taking things back to original shaving methods and I absolutely love it.

Something Sweet – I have a massive sweet tooth and if you can’t indulge at Christmas then when can you! Here are a couple of gifts – perfect for those with a sweet tooth.

DIY Gingerbread House Kit – For me Biscuiteers are the leaders in iced biscuits by far and I have never seen creations like them. So the bar is set pretty high with their DIY gingerbread house kit. This lot comes with everything you need to create your own gingerbread house and this year we will be seeing if we can get it anywhere near as good as the experts!

This would make a lovely pre-Christmas gift to enjoy as a family.

Retro Sweets Letterbox Gift: Many of is have loved ones that we won’t be able to get to see this Christmas so this letter box gift from Yumbles full to the brim with all the old school favourites such as Curlywurlys, popping candy, Blackjacks and so much more would put a smile on anyone’s face this Christmas!

Something For The Home – I for one love a gift to be used around the home and I have a few pretty different ideas here.

Glass Straws: With the majority of people becoming more aware of the impact of waste in the environment then a gift such as these glass straws from Vaso that are BPA free, contain no plastic or toxins would make a brilliant, sustainable gift this year.

Compact Vacuum – Now don’t all shout at once because I have mentioned a vacuum for Christmas – because after hearing about this one you will all be wanting Santa to drop one down the chimney!

The Gtech HyLite is a super compact, ultra lightweight yet extremely powerful hoover. It is compact enough to fit inside a draw/cupboard, has 20 mins running time and is a extremely durable.

Egg holder/cooker – something quirky is always a winner and they don’t come much quirkier than this egg holder/storer/cooker. It is literally a one stop egg contraption that is really handy and super cute!

Toys Galore – As you can imaging with five children and two grandchildren toys are always the biggest section on my list and I have some great ideas that I know your little ones are going to love.

Rizmo – The cute bundle of fluff that goes by the name – Rizmo is an interactive toy who adores music, dancing and most definitely singing. He can dance to music, mimic your own voice, and even sing a song back to you one he has heard it. I know this is going to go down a storm in our house on Christmas morning.

Space Explorer Pillow Case: Before I even talk about this pillow case can I just take a moment to ask you to look at the gorgeous wrapping paper the gifts from Eat, Sleep, Doodle come in!

The space explorer pillow case is covered in beautiful pictures of space that can be coloured in by your little ones and simply popped in the washing machine for them to do it all over again!

Construction Site Set And Vehicles – For those of you that have followed me for a while you will know about my love for wooden toys, and Great Little Trading Co really know how to do them well.

This construction site set and construction vehicles set is outstandingly made, eye catching and the perfect toy for children to build important things such as motor skills through play.

The set comes with a base that is interlocking which is great to save space on storage, building, ramps, a crane and a whole host of bricks, vehicles and road signs for little ones to let their imaginations run wild!

Swipe Out Board Game – who doesn’t love a board game for Christmas! For this Swipe Out game you need fast hands to swipe and grab your way to be the winner.

Talking Bing – The incredibly popular Bing Bunny can be brought home and brought to life by giving pressing his tummy to hear lots of different phrases, and squeezing him super hard to hear him yell his catchphrase – vooooosh!

Baby Annabell And Baby Annabell Travel Carrier – Baby Annabell has been a welcome member of our home for many years now and my First Baby Annabell is the perfect doll to start off any little ones collection. She also comes with a whole host of accessories, including this great travel carrier so you can take her anywhere you fancy without Mum and Dad getting left with the carrying!

Robo Dash – The fun loving pup Robo Dash is a robotic pup that can walk, follow you around, chase his own tail and stretch out to an impressive 45cm long.

He would make a great alternative to a real puppy which has been on my kids Christmas list for years now!

Something To Read – A book is always a great option for a present as it is a simple gift that can bring so much joy. Here are a couple of books that will be winging there way into friends homes this Christmas.

Personalised:The Nightmare Before Christmas: Personalised presents always offer something a little special and when they come in the form of a book I think they are even more special.

This stunning book by In The Book has made the classic – The Nightmare Before Christmas even more special with its personalised greeting, stunning, embossed hardback cover and gorgeous presentation case. This really would make a present that can be treasured for many years to come.

Who Do I See In The Mirror: This fantastic book tells the story of a little girl who takes a good look at herself and celebrates everything she is. It is wonderfully written and encourages little ones to remember that we my all look different and it’s what we have inside that really counts.

Pivotal – Pivotal is a split narrative book telling the trials and tribulations of four separate women’s lives that at first would seem unconnected but are woven together through a hypnotherapist they all seek help from.

This really was a page turner and would make a brilliant gift.

Something To Wear – Now that the children are older clothing is often top of their Christmas list and mine too!

Twinning Leggings: For a good few years new twinning has been a big thing and what better way to do it than in some gorgeous cosy leggings.

These light grey leggings from Love Leggings are a great fit, perfect thickness and brilliant to wear with your mini me!

Pet Lovers – Pets are a big part of many people’s families now and why not give them a treat this Christmas too.

Pit Pat – The Pit Pat activity tracker is a great way to ensure your dog is at at their optimum fitness.

The fob is simply placed on the dogs collar and through a free, downloadable app you can track your dogs activity, set and mange their ideal weight, get exercise recommendations and much more.

Experiences – Sometimes an experience is worth so much more than a physical gift and Red Letter Days certainly know how to offer this.

They have a whole host of experiences, days out of overnight stays with something to suit absolutely everyone.

*All products were gifted for the purpose of this guide.

Four Benefits Of Buying A 4×4 Car

[AD] the lookout for a new car? Allow us to help! If you, like us are a big family it could be worth your while to invest in a 4×4.

Not only will you benefiting the space they provide, but you may find yourself falling in love with how comfortable and convenient they are. If you need some inspiration as to why your next car should be a 4×4 here are some benefits of buying one.

They Can Help The Driver Feel Safer On The Road – 4x4s May help you feel that little bit safer throughout your journey as the height of the cars are elevated, so each driver is provided with better visibility over the road in front of them which also means that you may have more opportunity to spot any potential hazards.

They Provide More Room For All The Family – if you have a big family like us the chances are you will need a bigger car to get around. From the school run and after school activities, to weekend road trips and visiting extended family a big car is essential when you have five children and need to squeeze them all in.

A new Land Rover from the likes of Peter Vardy for example is not only spacious, but also practical.

They Are Ideal For Winter Months – in comparison to a front or rear wheeled drive, 4x4s have the benefit of added traction. This means that you have more control over your vehicle, which is particularly needed in winter when it is cold and icy.

They Can Handle The Windy Roads – 4×4 cars are particularly useful when you live in the countryside and have to manoeuvre yourself around windy roads on a daily basis. As these roads are often not maintained as well as main roads and as a result prove tricky to drive on. When you are off-roading you need to tackle any obstacles or steep hills, so you will be grateful for the power increase.

So when it’s time to but a new car, do t forget to view some 4x4s, especially if you have a large family to transport on a daily basis!

Top Tips For Keeping Your Hair Healthy In Winter

[AD] The cold affects our hair more than we know, with ice cold temperatures, rain, strong winds and even the snow, the wild outdoors mixed with the heating of your home or workplace can make for a disastrous combination.

Dryness and dullness are amongst the most common side effects of winter for our locks, so here are some top tips to keep your hair looking and feeling healthy during the colder months.

Keep Washing Hair To A Minimum – I know this isn’t for everyone but hear me out. If possible try and limit washing your hair to just two of three tiles a week. This will help prevent it from drying out in the cold. It also reduces the amount of time you spend drying, straightening and curling it too, which can be harsh on your hair, especially in winter.

Choose The Right Conditioner – For the colder months get yourself some really rich, thick and moisturising conditioner. Take a look at the ingredients list and choose one that contains fatty acids and things such as soy protein and pathanol.

Try Not To Have Boiling Hot Showers – I know it’s tempting to turn the shower up to the hottest setting possible, especially as the mornings are darker and colder, but this can damage your scalp and skin by stripping it of moisture. Throughout winter keep showers and baths to around 10 mins and have water at mid to lukewarm.

Visit Your Hairdresser For Regular Trims – It might sound counterproductive, especially if you are wanting to grow your hair for any reason, but by visiting your hairdresser regularly you’ll keep your hair healthy by getting rid of dry ends.

Keep Your Mane Moisturised – Once a week use a hydrating mask of some kind to restore your hairs natural oils which are stripped away during winter. Brush your mask through with a hairdressing comb and leave the allotted time for luscious locks through the chilly snap. And if you have heating on in the house(which I’m sure you will do), invest in a humidifier to keep even more moisture locked into each strand.

Taking care of your hair during winter will set you up for the upcoming season. Make a habit of repeating this routine and you’ll continue to enjoy a luscious, strong, glistening mane for years to come.

The Best Christmas Markets In The UK

[AD] If you are looking for something fun to do in the run up to Christmas with the kids then you should certainly consider taking them to a Christmas market. It is hard not to get caught up in the excitement and magic at these events and it’s also a good way to stock up before the holidays, but a few presents and enjoy some time in the UK’s best cities.

You are spoilt for choice when it come to Christmas markets in the UK and here are some of the best:

Winchester – Winchester is one of the UK’s prettiest and most historic cities which makes it a superb place for a Christmas market. Taking place with the stunning Winchester Cathedral as it’s backdrop, the Christmas market here is always great fun with a magical atmosphere. There are over 100 chalets selling all kinds of festive goods. Simple walking around the town and seeing the sights is also a lovely experience and sure to get you in the mood for Christmas.

Bath – Another beautiful city, the Bath Christmas market has over 150 chalets selling all kinds of homeware, decorations, jewellery and much more so you are sure to find a few things for the holiday there. The market takes place in the postcard-esque streets surrounding the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey for another scenic setting.

Birmingham – The biggest Christmas market outside of Germany and Austria, the Birmingham Christmas market of the place to be of you like delicious treats such as schnitzel, bratwursts and gluhwein, and it’s easy to get into the mood of Christmas with love music and carol singing. There are 80+ stalls to pursue, selling all kinds kinds of traditional and personalised items too.

Edinburgh – The Edinburgh Christmas market is found in the heart of the picturesque Scottish city with something for everyone, including jewellery, delicious snacks, festive beverages and more. It can also be easily reached from neighbouring Glasgow with a train from Queen Street to Edinburgh.

These are just a few of the best Christmas markets to choose from, all of which have their own distinctive characteristics and highlights. These markets will certainly get the family in the mood for the holidays and give you the chance to get some supplies.

FUNharmonics Family Concert – ZOG

[GIFTED] I think I must have walked past, taken pictures outside and wondered about the Southbank Centre more than a hundred times over the the years but have never ventured inside.

So I was over the moon when we were asked along to a the FUNharmonics family concert of ZOG that was being held there.

The Julia Donaldson, Alex Scheffler classic has been a favourite in our house for many years now and I was intrigued how the London Philharmonic Orchestra were going to execute it.

We arrived to collect our tickets and after getting our bearing we headed to a great area that had been set up with lots of ZOG inspired crafts to keep the little ones busy before the show. this was all included in the price of a ticket and was the perfect way to get them thinking about the story before the main event kicked off.

We took to our seats in the beautiful auditorium and listened to the huge orchestra warming up. The boys loved looking at a whole host of different instruments and had fun trying to guess what each one was called.

It wasn’t long before the performance was underway and I was hugely impressed with how interactive it was. The children got to answer questions to find gold stars that appeared on the big screen, there was singing, dancing and lots of information given on the orchestra in a super fun way that was perfect for the age range of the audience.

For the second part it was time to settle down and watch the super cute Dragon – ZOG.

As the animation was running we were treated to an amazing performance from the London Philharmonic Orchestra that complemented the story perfectly.

The whole concert was far more interactive and educational than I was imagining and adults and children alike throughly enjoyed it, if all of the woops and cheers from the audience were anything to go by.

It really did bring a children’s classic to life and it is something that will remain firmly in our memory banks for many years to come.

The orchestra is turning to Beethoven in February for its next concert – Why Beethoven Threw The Stew and I’m sure it’s going to be as fabulous as ZOG so keep an eye out.

Get Ready For Christmas With These Handy Tips

[AD] Christmas is creeping up on us quickly and before we know it we’ll be pulling crackers and tucking into our dinner.

But before that comes a lot of planning. Have you started to prepare yet?

As we approach the festive season we often overstretch ourselves and tend to start feeling stressed – especially if we know we are welcoming guests.

However by getting organised early you can ensure that you and your family have a magical, memorable Christmas to be enjoyed by all! So what can be done to ensure you feel ready and excited this Christmas?

Budget In The Months Leading Up To Christmas – Although it would be amazing to have a no expense spared Christmas, unfortunately that’s unrealistic for a lot of us, especially when your family had five children! Minimise the risk of of falling behind money wise or getting into debt in the run up to Christmas by budgeting for it early on.

Whilst not many of us want to think about Christmas Day in October, by beginning to purchase some presents this early on you will be able to spread costs nicely throughout the months.

Enjoy Family Activities Together – As the temperatures begin to drop there is nothing better than getting snug with the kids and watching Christmas films.

Before watching Elf for the tenth time research some recipes for gingerbread houses and once you are ready pop the film on and get decorating with your children. It’s a great way to spend some family time.

Decorate The House – If you have got guests coming over for Christmas dinner this year you may want to make home feel even more Christmassy than usual. Ensure that your house is picture perfect ready by picking some gorgeous Christmas lighting and cute decorations – they’ll not only make you feel more festive, but your guests will appreciate all the effort you’ve gone too.

Put Time In Your Calendar To Visit Family And Friends Further Afield – With family often spread across the country it can sometimes prove difficult having everyone in one place over the Christmas period. If you have presents that you need to drop off make sure you schedule your visits early on so that you have time to see everyone.

By following these handy tips you will be ready for Christmas without the unnecessary stress.

Prepping Your House For Winter

[AD] Winter is coming…

With the weather already offering more of a chill, the annual arguments over when to put the heating on have begun in millions of households nationwide, with the divide between warmth lovers and thrifty savers clear to see.

For a lot of people this period means prepping the house appropriately for the colder months. If you’re one of them here are a few ideas for getting your home ready for an enjoyable winter.

Boiler Check – If you’ve never experienced a boiler breakdown during winter, consider yourself lucky. It’s a real case of you don’t know what you’ve got until it gone with your boiler, which is why a regular service is advisable. Nothing too crazy – once a year should be fine, but it’ll make sure everything is in working order.

Think of it this way, you’d rather pay for a service than a whole new one. If your boiler ever breaks down you’ll need to have some financial backup funds ready to get one.

Lag The Pipes – You might not have heard of this term before but it’s actually a really simple process. Lagging is simply placing insulated foam tubes around your pipes, particularly by plastic ones in order to reduce heat loss.

A small investment that will get you some small savings in return, but more importantly it will help prevent your pipes from bursting in the cold – something that you’d definitely rather not pay for.

Draft Proofing – If you live in an old building without double glazing you might have already noticed a few shivery breezes rolling into the room on occasion. Poor draught – proofing is surprisingly common in UK homes, so it is worth checking to see if it needs doing.

It’s a good investment too – you’ll make savings in the long run and keep your home nice and snug.

Insulate The Loft – Bit is a bigger job this one, but if you have a loft then it’s highly worthwhile. Your loft may already have some insulation but it might be quite old. Today’s insulation is much thicker than that of yesteryear do see if y out can top it up.

Again this will be an investment here, but it will pay off once it starts to get really chilly.

Be Smart With The Thermostat – There are two ways to do this – be smart with your existing thermostat or get yourself a smart thermostat. If you have an old school DIY thermostat be sure to set practical timings in your day to day heating so you get a mix of comfort and economy.

Obviously you want the house warm for when you get in and wake up, but you need to be careful not to have it wakes up all day long and in turn get a big bill at the end of the month.

A smart thermostat meanwhile will handle all of that for you, but you do need to install it into your system at home. Either way using your heating wisely will keep your bills down over winter.

The weather might be getting colder but that doesn’t mean things have to be glum. Prep your house correctly and you can enjoy getting snug and cosy every night, all while daft in the knowledge that you won’t be spending to much money in the process.

Glass Partitioning In The Home

[AD] For a long time now open plan living has been a big thing. The elimination of doors and walls creates an light and airy feel by making all living areas as one.

I love the look of this kind of design but for me the need to escape to a room on my own is far to great, and this is where something such as glass partitioning would make for a happy medium.

Glass partitioning in the past has been something used more readily in shops and office spaces, but it is making its way into the home and I for one am loving what it has to offer. Here are some of the reasons I am so taken with it.

Creates Privacy – One of the problems with open plan living is that there is nowhere to escape to get five minutes to yourself. By using glass partitioning you can section off areas of the house to get that privacy whilst still keeping the light and airy feel.

Making A Statement – I find glass a beautiful feature and when combined with stunning framing it can be a real piece of art and make a big statement in the home.

Letting In The Light – The ability to let in light is probably what I love most about glass partitioning. Doors and wall obviously create this barrier whilst glass allows light to flood through.

Reduces Noise – Having a large family equates to a lot of noise which sometimes is nice to get away from. With glass partitioning you can have these separate areas that allow you to shut out the hustle of bustle without feeling like you are penned in.

Controls Odour – We all know the feeling of going out after you have just cooked and having the small lingering around on your clothes. Well with open plan living this is heightened as there is no way to stop the odours from your food travelling around the whole house. With the glass partitioning this can act as a brilliant barrier to keep all the smells just in the kitchen.

Clearing The Jungle With Fantastic Services

[GIFTED] For those of you that have been following me for a while you may remember when we moved house last year we had a super team of cleaners from Fantastic Services that came in and did a fantastic(this is where they get there name from) job just after we moved in which got us off to a really good start.

Fast forward a year and the inside is nearly complete but the front garden was in need more than a little TLC.

It was becoming overrun with weeds and I had no idea where to start. After slogging away for hours and hours and not reaping any rewards I enlisted the help of Fantastic Services once again.

Many people that I have spoken to aren’t actually aware of everything they have to offer and they really are an all round service covering cleaning, gardening, tradesmen jobs, building, removals, storage, waste removal and even pest control.

Two friendly gardeners turned up to the house and asked specifically what I was looking for and as soon as I had given them an insight into what I wanted they set to work. Digging, cutting back and generally clearing the whole front garden which would enable me to see past the mess and get some inspiration for how it was going to eventually look.

They were only there for two hours and I would never in a million years think they would be able to complete the job, but they tirelessly powered through and complete cleared the area for me as well as getting rid of the rubbish which I know many companies don’t do.

I was just as impressed with the gardening service as I was with the cleaning and I would highly recommend trying out either..or why not both!

If this had appealed to you which I’m sure it will I have a code HERE and using the code joyoffive which will enable you to get £10 off of your first service so what have you got to lose,give them a try.

Learning The Importance Of Friendship With – The Way Home For Wolf

[AD] Being five may seem to us adults a bit of a breeze. I mean you are fed, clothed, watered and the most challenging part of your day is which cereal to have in the morning.

But in reality those first few years are pretty tough as there are all sorts of hurdles to overcome, lots of boundaries you need to work out how and if you should push and just knowing how to fit in with your peers is all pretty tough going when you are so small.

I know for Oscar who has reached the grand old age of five, the determination to do things for himself and his self belief is pretty strong…not sure where he gets that from! So it’s good to try and explain to him that sometimes it takes a team to get through life and it is important to learn to accept help from others, and also be there for other people in your team; and this is the message the lovely new book – The Way Home For Wolf by Rachel Bright and Jim Field is trying to get across.

Rachel and Jim, who are also the creators of The Lion Inside, The Koala Who Could and The Squirrels Who Squabbled, have created a fantastically fun and easy to read picture book that tells the story of the uber confident wolf cub. Wilf is determined to take the lead when his wolf pack move on one cold and dark evening. Despite being told by his elders this wasn’t a good plan he finds himself lost, alone and not knowing what to do until he is found by a whole host of strangers that reach out a helping hand to him and help him find his way back to the safety of his family.

I love to encourage my children to be forthright and fearless, but in reality we all need a hand sometimes and should also always be there to keep an eye out for others needing that little bit of help too.

This is a lovely book that would actually make a fantastic gift for those of you with little ones starting school this year and it had come out just in time for this so go and take a look.

*Disclosure: This review is based on a free sample.