A Calmer Christmas With Calmer Bannanas At Buckland Park Lake

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!

Independent Shop Christmas Gift Guide

Over the years I have tried more and more to shop from independent stores for a whole host of reasons.

One being I know from experience how hard it is to run your own buisness, and how much blood, sweat and tears goes into making it a success. Because of this you always get that personal touch when shopping small and I know that each and every sale that is made will be appreciated.

I have compiled a gift guide this year showcasing a few of my favourite gifts from my favourite independents.

Something For The Kids – I always try to limit the amount of plastic contraptions that go on the kids Christmas lists and steer them towards things that are going to last longer and mean more…this doesn’t always work, but I definitely give them lots of alternative ideas to the ones that they see on screen.

Kind Words – I love anything that inspires children and encourages them to think about their day to day actions. Curious Child have a gorgeous range of fun, colourful clothing that they will love just as much as you!

This Be Kind jumper is certainly one of my favourites!

Colour Popping – For anyone who follows me regularly, you will know how much I love colouful clothing for the kids – and this is exactly what you get with We Love Frugi. They have a huge range of colourful, organic clothing and accessories from babies to adults. This super snuggle fleece and bobble hat would make a wonderful christmas gift.

Scrub Up – Bathtime gifts aren’t just for adults. I know that mine all absolutely love gifts that can be used in the bathroom. Childs Farm have everything covered, from this beautiful washbag full of body wash and bubble bath, a money box full of goodies and this super cute cracker for the tiny ones in your life.

All of their products are dermatologist and paediatrician approved, which makes them sutiable for even the most sensitive of skin.

Something Personal – Frankie suffers terribly with anxiety, with a large part of this attached to separation . When I came across these hoodies from Olive & Pip I couldn’t think of anything more perfect for him. Each super soft hoodie has a secret message printed on the inside cuff that is hand written by you. I think it will be a comforting reminder that there is always a little part of me with him when he is wearing it.

Olive & Pip don’t just stop there, they have a huge range of gifts from clothing to picture frames, prints to hampers and lots more so be sure to check them out.

Subscription Boxes – A gift they keeps giving in the form of a monthly subscription is always a lovely gift, and I think you are going to like this one.

Cover Those Toes – Socks are always a good idea at Christmas and what makes this Socks In A Box gift even better is that each month you get a box of of one or two pairs of beautiful bamboo socks through the door every month. They are lots of different options to choose from, including one off gift boxes.

Something Pretty – Christmas is definitely a time for jewellery and I have a couple of beautiful pieces here you might like to take a look at.

Snowflake Loveliness – Snowflakes and Christmas go hand in hand and this beautiful enamel snowflake pendent from I Am Rachel Shop would make a stunning present. This handmade pendent comes in white or mint green and hang from a sterling silver chain. Rachel also has a gorgeous range of other pieces that are definitely worth checking out!

Personalised Jewels – If you are looking for delicate, beautiful, personalised jewellery then Bloom Boutique is the place to go. They have stunning pieces such as this secret message birthstone necklace and bracelet. That are gorgeous on their own, but made that little more special with the personalisation.

Something Smelly – Who doesn’t love a scented gift at this time of year! I for one have always loved to fill the house with christmas smells and these wax melt hampers from Scentsational Candle Co give you a whole range of different Christmas scents – the hardest thing is to pick which one I like best!

In The Kitchen – I love gifts for the kitchen as I spend so much time in there and here are a few pieces that have really caught my eye.

Eco Friendly Kitchen – Sustainability is at the forefront of most peoples minds these days and I have been trying to move away from plastic food covering and EdiBee have got the perfect solution to this. They have a stunning range of sandwich bags, snack packs and bowl coverings in a range of different sizes and designs.

They have even done a Christmas Gluhwein mix in a reusable snackpocket that brings you that delicious smell of Christmas the moment you open them.

On The Go – Last but by no means least is this gorgeous flask, designed by my very own Oscar! Dinky Artist has a massive range of different items that can be personalised with your little ones creations. Oscar went with Santa as he said we love hot chocolate at Christmas and this could go in our thermal flask.

I really am in love with how well made and thoughtful these pieces are and I think they would make for a wonderful Christmas gift.

*PR Products included.

Something For Everyone Christmas Gift Guide

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.

Christmassy Bedtimes With Great Little Trading Co.

[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!

Something For All:Christmas Gift Guide

[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!

Car Lovers:

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.

Green Fingers:

Living Plant 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 Favours there 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:

Teething Toy – 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 brilliant present!

Colouring:

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.

Pen To Paper:

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.

This gorgeous Henry Bell Bulrush Feeder with its bulrush is a beautiful addition to the garden.

Last but not last is a bit of a funny one, but something my husband would love me to have…an anti snore ring.

This ring is worn an hour before bed and during the night to stop storing by using pressure points.

I know the gift of a good nights sleep would be the perfect gift for a lot of people!

Alice In Wonderland At Hever Castle

[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.

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.

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.

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.

Lapland UK – Creating Traditions

The moment the boys clapped eyes on the familiar little box from the end of the hallway they immediately knew that it was a gift from Father Christmas inviting them to Lapland UK. The mere sight of it had filled them with joy and they hurriedly opened the box that had been pre chilled by me as it had come from the cold climbs of Lapland UK. The pretty wax seals were delicately opened and I was over the moon that Frankie could read his invite this year which really added to the magic.

For me when it comes to Christmas there is nothing as special as having traditions that you can create year after year and through the familiarity bring something a little bit special to this magical time of year. For instance a trip to the farm with a pit stop at the pub has been something we have done on Christmas Eve for many years and making our own mince pies to leave for Father Christmas is a lovely thing to do each and every year and I hope that these little things will be passed down to my grandchildren.

I’m sure that a visit to Father Christmas is always on the list for most people and after speaking to friends this can also be the point in which a lot of children begin to question the authenticity of Father Christmas.

‘Why did he have blue eyes this year Mummy?’, ‘Why does his house look different this year?’. These are all little questions that come into inquisitive little minds and if  like me you want to keep the magic alive for as long as possible then visit that brings you the same wonder, with familiar surroundings and of course the most authentic Father Christmas you are ever going to see then Lapland UK will never be topped.

After last years visit where I was brought to tears and Frankie left exclaiming he had seen ‘the real’ Father Christmas I knew that this was an experience that would never be topped and one that would keep the magic alive for years to come.

Last year we visited in the daytime and I thought it would be good to see Lapland UK in all its glory when it was dark and the christmas lights were at their best. We pulled into the carpark and there were squeals of delight from the back of the car – even from Izzy who is a non believer now.

We headed towards the entrance and picked up our passports and Jingles (Lapland UK currency). Its these little touches that really make you feel you have been transported to somewhere else.

It wasn’t long before we were greeted by the friendly elves and their special ‘elf wave’ that the children had remembered from last year and before we new it we had started out journey. We all loved listening to the story of Lapland UK and hearing what was going to be expected from us all on our adventure.

We then headed off in our teams which are either team reindeer or team husky through the huge wooden doors that unveiled a snowy winer wonderland that really is something to behold.

The children hurried onto the Toy Factory while I took it at a slower pace to enjoy the amazing detail that goes into everything. No stone is left unturned when it come to detail here, they really do get everything just right. When we arrived at the Toy Factory the small folk, as the children are referred to at Lapland UK head in through the super cute little door and take to their seats, whilst the big folk later around the sides leaving the children to feel extra special by stating the task on their own. Ordinarily in situations like this Frankie is terrible and clinging to me and nine times out of ten will refuse to join in. It is however a completely different story here and he is more than happy to get stuck in and they all throughly enjoyed stuffing their toy penguin that is then left at the factory to give to little girls and boys on Christmas Eve.

From here we headed to Mother Christmas’s Kitchen where we were treated to a story from Mother Christmas who is as warm and loving as you would imagine and then they set to decoding their gingerbread men that Oscar and Izzy demolished in seconds, whilst Frankie packed his away to give to Father Christmas on Christmas Eve.

The small folks work was now done and we were given some time to explore the village which was even more spectacular in the dark. The snow cover trees and colourful lights set the most amazing atmosphere for us to take to the ice, grab a bite to eat and dose shopping.

I am not a fan of ice skating at all and the fact that they offer special attachments for the little ones shoes makes me so happy. The can then skate with ease so I can concentrate on keeping myself up right! All of that skating calls for something to warm you up and I have it from my little babychinno expect that Lapland UK offer the best babychinno he has ever had.

The bauble shop is always one of my favourite places and somewhere you can get a lovely momento of your trip. The children adore the toy shop which had changed around slightly this year and to me offered some amazing toys that were very reminiscent of Santa Claus The Movie and brought back some lovely memories for me.

The children love to select some goodies from the sweet shop where there is just to much to choose from and again a lovely place to pick up a little treat…or two!

It was now time to see the main attraction – Father Christmas, so we made our way along the snow cover path looking at the little eves homes and stopping to greet the reindeer on our way. One of the highlights for the boys last year was definitely making some reindeer food to take home and they were very excited to do this again whilst also keeping an eye out for all their favourite reindeers.

Our last stop was nearly upon us and after a very short wait we were taken by a very excitable elf to see Father Christmas. The children sat on the little bench outside full of excitement and anticipation and butterflies filled my tummy at the thought of seeing their little faces one we were inside.

Father Christmas was exactly as we had remembered him, the children were grinning from ear to ear and yet again aa tear came to my eye as he spoke about thing the children had been up to and wether or not they had made it onto the good list this year.

All as pleased as punch they had made it onto the list they received a gorgeous golden bell and cuddly husky, but I think above anything that little bit of time spent with the ‘real’ Father Christmas again is what made our trip.

Yet again Lapland UK gave us an afternoon of magic and winer that we will never forget and something that doesn’t easily get forgotten about once you get back home. The love they have for their huskies is there all year and they come on many a day out with us and being able to scatter the reindeer food and putting the gingerbread man out for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve means that a trip to Lapland UK really is a gift that keeps on giving and one we will never forget.

* We were invited along to Lapland UK for the purpose of this review and they are all my own honest opinions.