[AD] The kids are back at school now which means most people who have young children will now have a calendar full of weekend parties.!And dare I say it – Christmas will be upon us before we know it – which means finding presentsfor a whole variety of different tastes!
Wether you are buying for your own, or for other peoples children it can be an absolute minefield. Nobody wants to buy something that is going to be looked at once and then tossed to the side, and although I hold my hand up to this one – we all like to think a little more thought than some money in a card has gone into the gift buying process.
So with this in mind, here are a few tips to think about before you get buying:
Just Ask – A pretty simple solution here in theory is to just ask! Kids aren’t usually backwards in coming forwards so ask some leading questions, find out what interests they have or even have a look around for a list they may have been scribbling down somewhere.
Check With The Parents – A quick chat with the child’s parents is always a good idea. It might be to see if they have any ideas, maybe they can give you some tips on the things they might like, or simply just to check to see if you have an idea that you think would be good to go with.
Check Out The Top Sellers – Each and every year there will be a list of toys compiled that are set to be the best sellers for the year. There is bound to be something there to suit most tastes so it’s always a great place to start.
Something To Last – For me buying a present that is going to have a long life span is super important. A toy that can be enjoyed for years to come by lots of different children is always a winner in my books.
Something To Help Them Learn – Kids learn though play, so something that is going to spark their imagination and get their creative juices flowing will always be a winner.
Something That Can Be Shared – Now I’m not suggesting here that you but a child a ‘shared’ present, I am thinking thinking more along the lines of a gift that can be played with, with others. This then helps to get children used to sharing and in turn making it a more fun present.
Let Someone Else Do The Work – There are some amazing sites out there that take the hard work out of it for you. Wicked Uncle has everything set up into categories so that it is easy to find something special and a little different too!
Saftey First – As much as possible, choose non-plastic toys made of sustainable materials, free of BPAs, phthalates, PVC or toxic chemicals and dyes. I know this can sometime be a tricky one, but it’s definitely a good move if you can.
Gift An Experience – This always has an always will be my favourite gift. Giving someone the opportunity to create memories is a priceless present to me.
Buy A Book – If all else fails then go for a book. Children can never have to many books and it’s always a fail safe option.
I would love to know if you have any tips on present buying?
Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but the hustle and bustle, packed scedules and lack of time can take a toll on us all and the need to switch off from it all can be much needed.
Its not just the adults that need to take a break. I am definitly guily of trying to put too much on the kids at Christmas. I want these few short weeks a year to be crammed with as much magic as possible, but in reality it can all be a bit too much and they need something that give them a more chiiled day out – and this is were I was hoping the ‘Calmer Christmas Experince from Calmer Bananas would be perfect.
On Sunday morning we headed to Buckland Park Lake, Reigate to take part in this event. We parked up on the edge of the lake which was a stuiing sight to see and so surrene – however the boys were a little worried I was going to get them to join in with the wild swimmers!
We headed towards the gingerbread house where we were greeted by a super friendly elf that told us all about what our morning was going to hold. Buckets and scavenger hunt sheets in hand we headed off on our scavenger hunt to find all the pieces we needed to build our own snowman. In my head I had imagined a much lower key hunt, with us literally finding bits and pieces in the wooldna, so I was thrilled to discover a huge trail filled with activites, questions to answer and lots of little elves scattered aroynd to make it a really thetrical dispaly.
At each stop thier was something to keep the boys brains ticking over and thet loved the challange of having to complete a task to gain a piece towards their snowman.
After walking through the beautiful woodland we troated across a liitle bridge over a stream to play a few games of Pooh Sticks and made our final journey toward a pretty shleter nestled betwwen the trres. The numbers are kept low and we didnt bump into anyone the whole way round which made it even more speical and you didnt have the anxiety of having to rush trough tasks to let ohter people in for thier turn.
As a big fan of outdoor fun I actually think I was more excited at the sight of the shelter than the children. I was beatifuult decorated and homed an open fire where we sat down with a hot choclate after building our snowman.
Hot chocolate in hand and toes nicely warming up there was even more fun to come. We each had a gingerbread man to decorate and the boys made thier own christmas decorations. Whislt all these activites were being completed Mother Claus read the children christams stoires and sang a few songs to really get us in the christmas soirit.
There is also an option to have lunch whilst you are there and i was amamzed at the quality of the snack boxes. The boys has christmas tree shapped sandwithes, a candy cane cheese straw and a super cute reinderr brownie. so much thought had gone into it and they gave a big thumbs up for the taste test!
The adult boxes were just as good, and I enjoyed a festive treat with a turkey and cranberry sandwich, homemade sausage roll and a gooey chococlte brownie.
The whole experince was as relazing as i had hoped for. The boys are extremlly boysterous and can sometimes get more than a little over excited, but being ocupied the whole time gave them a mental workout, alonf with a good walk trough the woods, allowing them to really kick back and enjoy the peace and quiet of the calm actitives in the twnt.
This experience far excided my expectations and I would defintly put it top of our activites this year. It was someting differnt ans we will definlty be retrning next year!
Christmas is fast approaching and it’s time to start thinking about what we are going to be putting under our tree.
As always my guide is a one stop shop as I like to think we all have different likes and tastes and its hard to put these all into one box – so I’ve got sweet treats to naughty tipples, things to help you sleep and things to help your creativity. Take a look now and let me know what you think:
Doing It For The Kids – I have a little selection of some of the top toys this christmas, as well as some beautiful personalised pieces.
Count With Peppa: Who doesn’t love Peppa Pig. I know each and everyone of mine have been huge fans and you can now learn to count with the new Count With Peppa toy. Peppa comes with a purse full of coins that once promoted by Peppa you can slide them into her purse ,she will recognise it and then reply.
As well as being great fun, this toy helps will fine motor skills and colour and number recognition.
Barbie My Ice Cream Shop: Follow recipes, blend different colours and flavours and make delicious ice creams to share with your friends and family with the Barbie My Ice Cream Shop.
This set comes with everything you need to prepare, create and then serve to your family and friends.
Fuzzikins: These super cute characters have been popular for a while now and are avaliable in a whole array of different options. The Home Maker sets are great for stocking fillers and let you draw and decorate the house time and time again due to its easily wipeable surfaces. Another popular set is the Doll Set that comes with three gorgeous cats and the accessories you need to customise them.
Wonderbly Books: Now I have been a fan of Wonderbly books for a long time now. Wonderbly is an online personalised children’s book company with over 40+ personalised books. Their easy to use website allows you to create a perfectly unique book for that special little one in your life, and I have to say I have really fallen for their Christmas collection.
Something Pretty – We all love a little sparkle at Christmas and here are a few thing to help you shine!
Bloom Boutique Christmas Necklace: Bloom Boutique offer beautiful,delicate jewellery and gifts and I have enjoyed many pieces over the years. This Christmas they have a gorgeous range of christmas gifts, including this stunning Secret Star Birthstone Personalised Bracelet.
A Bit Of Beauty – Christmas is a time to receive treats to make us feel special and pampered, so here are a couple of gifts that fit the bill perectly.
Something Silky: Silk is well known for being a luxurious fabric and This Is Silk have some amazing gifts made from the softest silk. This silk pillowcase would make a wonderful present for anyone looking to tame their tresses and be kind to your skin during the night.
Shaving In Style: For those guys that like a traditional shave, this plant based shaving brush will allow for a good shave as well as being kind to the environment – so what’s not to love!
Night, Night: Help getting off to a good nights sleep is something I know I would love and I know that a few sprays of this Echor End Of Day Pillow Spray is a great way to drift of. The gorgeous combination of lavender, geranium, eucalyptus and sweet orange will have you counting sheep in next to no time.
Scrub Up: I love nothing more than getting rid of a days full of dirt and grime with a good facial exfoliator, and this one from Forever Living gently works its magic to reveail soft and healthy looking skin.
Kissable Lips: This time of year plays havoc with the skin, especially our delicate lips; so giving someone something to protect their lips with would be most welcomed. Lansinoh Linolin Lip Balm is 100% natural so as will as soothing the lips, many Mums use it to treat nappy rash or dry skin on their little ones.
Something For The Foodies – Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a foodie treat or two, and I have a few to check out now.
Choccies: You can’t go wrong with chocolates can you, and a classic such as these Guylian Belgian Chocolate Seashells are a luxurious treat for sure. The hazelnut praline covered with luxury Belgian chocolate makes for a winning combination.
Chin, Chin: Along with a lot of others, gin is my tipple of choice. This outstanding gin from The Secret Gin Distillery is made with a combination of different herbs that have been lovingly grown in the garden of a herbologist who is the brainchild behind the brand.
Their Christmas gin is a heady combination of christmassy herbs and spices and would make for a wonderful gift for any gin lover. And their miniatures give you the chance to sample a range or different flavours so you get the chance to pick your favourite!
Get Prepared: Christmas is definitely party season and with party after party this can put a lot of strain on our bodies, so the best thing we could do is give them a little prep before we put on our dancing shoes.
Inside Out drinks are a combination of water, hibiscus, cranberry, goji extract, stevia, milk thistle, potassium sorbate and gree tea extract that helps to support your liver and prevent the dreaded hangover!
Keeping Healthy: Swicily is a day to day natural sugar that melts easily into food, tastes great and is low in calories- making it a great substitute for sugar and a brilliant stocking filler for those looking to improve their health.
Experiences – Gifts don’t always have to be something physical, and I am actually a big fan of creating memories through gifted experiences, and here are a few for you to take a look at.
Racing Ready:Team Sport Karting have 35 indoor go karting tracks across the county and would make for a fantastic day out for any adrenaline junkie. They have a great range of gift vouchers that you can choose from to give someone a very special gift.
Tech Fans – This section is for all those tech fans out there.
I Love Music: Wireless headphones are a great fit for so many people. These TES1 pro true wireless stereo earbuds are noise cancelling, Bluetooth connectable and have a huge 42 hour playtime which is a fantastic feature.
Something For The Home – Something to enhance the home is always a welcome gift. From a simple vase to a beautiful throw, nobody would be disappointed with a gift for the home.
Beautiful Signs: A stunning number to identify your home makes a real difference to the exterior of your home and Village Green Signs are just the people for this. They create beautiful, traditional handpainted house signs as well as more modern acrylic and slate signs – so there is somthing to suit every taste.
Getting Crafty – This is one for all the crafty people out there!
Get Painting: This art palate from mouth and foot painting artists is designed so that people can get creative when they need to use either thier hands or mouth, but it can also be used by hand if wanted.
Looking After Yourself – Here are a few pieces for those people that are conscious of looking after their health.
Getting Organised: Thoses big clumpy pill boxes are now a thing of the past and slick elegant designs have taken their place with pill cases like this lovley tabuu case that is waterproof, durable and fits up to six tablets. Perfect for popping in your bag and taking anywhere you need.
Everyone Getting A Good Nights Sleep: In our house it is me that is the snorer! I get no sleep as my husband continually wakes me up and of course neither does he! Mute could be the answer to these problems with 78% of people breathing better, 75% snoring less and 73% of partners reporting a reduction in snoring.
A small device that sits inside the nose is a hastle free way of getting better sleep so it is definetly worth giving a try.
Mute is available from Boots, Amazon or www.mutesnoring.com starting at the trial pack to find the right size rrp £12.99.
2020 will most certainly go down as a year to remember. Sadly this will be for all the heartache and loss it has brought to us all. But as with every bad situation you need to look for the good and for us there had certainly been some wonderful, simple moments that I will cherish forever, and as always I’m going to show you these in pictures as they convey the fun much more than my words ever could…
[GIFTED] I am like Mother Christmas, and the minute Halloween and Bonfire Night are out of the way it’s full steam ahead with Christmas prep for me!
I actually love the run up to Christmas more than the day itself. The children are all balls of excitement and there just seems to be a little magic in everything.
When it comes to decorating the house I’ve always left it to the downstairs, and have never really thought about doing anything in the children’s rooms before, so when I was kindly sent some Christmas Bedding sets from Great Little Trading Co. I knew this was going to be a new tradition for us.
I went out a got a mini Christmas tree – lights an all and a poinsettia for their chest of drawers which was the perfect match for the bedding sets.
The crisp white 100% cotton sets come with a duvet cover and making pillow case, both of which has a super cute Christmas print with woodland animals and of course Father Christmas himself.
You can also get matching stockings and Christmas sacks that would complement the bed sets perfectly; and the classic theme means they can be used for many years to come.
This year has been a little sparse on the magic front, so this has made a lovely addition to the boys room and has definitely got them more than ready for Christmas!
[GIFTED] Last year I decided to mix things up a little and instead of making lots of separate gift guides I did one guide that included a little something for everyone, as let’s face it we don’t all fit into the same box do we!
I hope you manage to find something that takes your fancy here as let’s face it we all need a little cheering up this year don’t we.
Something For Our Tummies:
Chocolate Hamper – The ‘sweet dreams’ hamper from Willie’s Cacao is a chocoholics dream with this stinking g hamper full of goodies from gooey hazelnut spread, indulgent hot chocolate, tasty chocolate bars and much more!
Sparkling Kefir Water – I for one have been a lot more conscious of my health this year and have been looking for ways to enjoy things that are good for you but don’t compromise on taste, and this is exactly what you get from Agua De Madre low alcohol sparkling water that comes in three different flavours; making it a great alternative from the usual Christmas indulgences.
Pizza Making Kits – Gifts don’t always have to come in the form of a present under the tree and I personally prefer something a little more interactive, which is exactly what you get with the brilliant pizza making kits from Birtellis who deliver gorgeous stone baked pizza delivery lots directly to your door.
You can pick from a whole host of different toppings that are great fun to make as a family and sit down and enjoy in front of a movie or two!
Things For Teens:
PMS Gift Box – I put this one here for teens as I think it’s going to make the perfect gift for my teen daughter, but I know there are so many ladies out there that would love this gift box. Our Remedy have put together a whole range of gift boxes full of goodies such as their Our Remedy CBD oil, organic sanitary pads and tampons, vegan chocolates and lots more.
Smartphone Projector – Another one here that’s definitely not just for teens is the smartphone projector. This projector allows you to simply pop your phone inside the cardboard projector and let your favourite film fill your wall!
Cards Against Humanity – Now this game has been a huge hit in our family for many years now, but it has caused problems as for obvious reasons the younger ones haven’t been able to join in. The new Cards Against Humanity edition is a much fun as the iconic original game with a huge 600 cards you need to give it a try!
Carfume – Gone are the days of having a garish cardboard smelly tree hanging from your rear view mirror as you can now make your car small gorgeous in style with the Carfume Deluxe Edition that gives off the scent of some of your favourite scents in this sleek and stylish design.
LivingPlant Food – Indoor plants are becoming more and more popular and this gorgeous looking indoor plant care set will help you look after your plant babies in style.
Feel Good Gifts:
Happy Kids Affirmation Cards – It can sometimes be a challenge for children to open up and talk about their feelings so things like these gorgeously illustrated affirmation cards are a great way to increase confidence and build a positive attitude.
Box Of Favours – Sometimes giving someone your time is far more important than a physical gift and this is exactly what you get with this Box Of Favoursthere are a deli of cards that offer simple things like a cup of tea or breakfast in bed which can mean so much.
All The Toys:
TeethingToy – Teething can cause such a problem for babies as well as parents so giving them something like the Matchstick Monkey to sooth their gums would make for a brilliantpresent!
Stib Colouring – I love anything that allows little ones to get creative and what’s more with these Stib colouring pencils you get to read a positive word that is embossed on the pencils every time you pick one up!
Stomp Rocket– No batteries, no fuel and the ability to shoot 400ft in the air within minutes! Now what’s not to love about the Stomp Rocket!
Skateboard – Now skateboards have been on Santa lists for longer than I can remember and this Tony Hawkes board is perfect for those that are just starting out and wanting to practice their skills!
National Geographic Toys – Frankie is a huge fan of National Geographic and for me anything that gets kids engaged in something fun as well as educational is a win in my books! They have a great range of kits from shark tooth kits, to real bug kits and more!
Coding Toy – Coding is definitely a skill our littles ones need to learn as early as possible now and the amazing Botley is a fantastic way to help kids learn.
Botley is a coding robot that offers 100% screen free learning and allows children to build on their problem solving and critical thinking skills by taking part in a whole host of activities and challenges.
Getting Crafty – I love a toy you can make and keep and this is exactly what you get with the Fuzzikins Ice Cream Van Bag using the washable pens you can decorate the van and all it’s accessories which can then be taken anywhere with you.
Peppa Pig – Peppa Pig is loved by everyone and I have always been impressed with the amazing toys they come out with; and I’ve not been disappointed with the brilliant grow and play pots.
They allow children to learn about growing and nurturing alongside their favourite Peppa characters.
Subway Surfers – The Subway Surfer game is a huge hit with my youngest two so I know that the Spray Crew and Shorties collectibles would make for the perfect stocking fillers.
Dairy Diary – I’m sure I’m not alone in having a pretty empty diary last year, so this year it would be lovely to receive a diary like this beautiful dairy diary to fill with hopes and plans for the year ahead.
This diary also gives you lots of recipes and tips for the home and garden.
Cookbook – Lots more people are choosing to opt for a vegetarian or vegan diet, or at least have a few meat free days, so the Zest For Life cookbook is a great way to find some super tasty recipes.
Something To Wear:
Leggings – Leggings have been a wardrobe staple this year and they won’t be going anywhere fast! I’ve been wearing them to workout as well and leisure wear and Love Legging is the place to go for all your legging needs. They have a huge range and my favourites have been their Energise Leggings for training and their high waisted Everyday Leggings for wearing anytime at all!
Something Special –
Last year I featured a gorgeous necklace from I Love Rachel and this year she has come up with another beautiful piece in this copper necklace with a mint green enamel disc…it’s the little touches of a chocolate surprise in the gift box that mean so much too!
A Little Glow:
Candle – You can’t go wrong with a candle as a present, but these candles from Kindred Fires are something a little special as they smell incredible and offer a personalisation service to make it your very own!
Something For The Garden:
Bird Feeder – We’ve been spending a lot more time outside this year and have really appreciated everything it offers, especially all the nature we need to look after.
I have been reflecting on the past year and kicking myself for not doing as much as I should, achieving as many goals as I wanted and generally beating myself up which isn’t a good thing at all.
After flicking through my camera roll I had a word with myself and realised that I am eternally grateful for my happy and healthy family and all the things we have accomplished in 2019 and I’m looking forward to seeing what 2020 brings us.
[PRESS EVENT] If I was ever asked to depict a traditional Christmas then Hever Castle would be it for me. We have just had our fourth Christmas visit and it is still as spellbinding and breathtaking as our first trip.
Fairy lights covering the pathways, lights illuminating the vast lake and snow dipped trees tucked away made for an amazing start to our visit.
Already full of the spirit of Christmas we headed towards the castle where we got to sip hot chocolates and mulled wine, feast on mince pies and cookies whilst taking in the splendour of the beautifully decorated rooms.
Warm and toasty we headed back out into the grounds and had some fun on the carousel and the magic hall of mirrors. The children and adults alike where all smiles throughout.
Next up we headed to see the main man himself. We were a little early so the friendly elves set the boys down to writing their wish lists to Father Christmas that they could then seal and place in the letter box which was a lovely touch.
Before we knew it we were being guided through the snowy paths by more friendly elves who chatted about all the things they had been up to before passing us over to Father Christmas who was nestled away in his cute wooden cabin.
He chatted away to the children for some time and was extremely warm and welcoming. After a little pep talk on being good…which was most welcome they all received a lovely gift and we headed out to finish the evening with the Alice In Wonderland trail.
This is always one of my favourite parts of the evening and this year was one of my favourite themes. The actors were as elaborate and engaging as ever and the decorations were a wonder to see, although Oscar found a few a little spooky this year.
The beauty of Hever’s Christmas attraction is that tickets are not needed to be booked in advance for everything so there is the opportunity to enjoy this right up until Christmas Eve.
[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.
[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.