Christmas Gift Guide For Babies and Children

Buying for babies and children at Christmas time is one of life’s great pleasures, in my view.  Few things beat stowing away precious finds, envisaging lit up faces on that much-anticipated magical December morning.  What can sometimes be a challenge, however, is choosing things that will be treasured, appreciated and used.

One of my major bug bears is clutter; particularly the relentless tide of junk that children appear to effortlessly collect.  They never seem to want to part with any of it, either.  In fact, the more tired, broken, dirty or unloved the toy, the more my daughter children want to hang on to it.  We add to it, of course.  Who hasn’t caved in to the favourite magazine at the supermarket, which inevitably comes with a load of cheap plastic tat strapped to its cover?  Or the occasional Kinder egg?  Party bags are just a synonym for junk, and pocket money toys generally end up in the bin, or under the sofa, within three minutes of making it through the front door, however much-coveted they previously were.

Still, all is not lost.  There is hope when it comes to Christmas.  Let us say no to rubbish toys, for buying stuff for that sake of it, and yes to something a little different.  A stocking filled with craft supplies, perhaps?  Individually wrapped, of course.  A bag of Hama beads, a selection of loom bands, a box of pencils… a treasure trove of things to make and do, create and amuse.  Craft Merrily is my go-to place for art and crafts; we recently were introduced to the delights of Hama beads and I have already stocked up on more for Christmas!

Hama (15)

So, that’s the stocking sorted.  My next tip?  Buy them something to wear.  And try to steer clear of the high street wherever possible.  Everyone will have that Elsa dress or those Spider-Man pyjamas, but not many will have these animal beanie hats from Minnie’s Macaroon.  Incidentally, they also make some truly gorgeous fairtrade and organic handmade toys!

For the baby girl in your life, why not head over to Lovely Deer and order a bespoke headband? Handmade to order, these really are a beautiful gift, and amazing value too.

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Exlusively for babies just now, these will soon be available in toddler and older girl sizes.  In fact, Miss J is having one made for her as we speak; lots of photos to follow, I promise!

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alease headbands

 

I love these photos!

My final suggestion for great gifts for kids is anything that promotes activity; anything that makes them want to get outside.  I have a slight aversion to screens for little ones, and try and get my two outside as much as possible.  With this ethos in our hearts, we have been through a lot of outdoor toys!  We have had scooters and bikes, space hoppers and roller skates, stilts and skateboards, kites and quad bikes, footballs and badminton rackets, balance bikes and péntaque sets…  One of our very favourites, however, was the boy’s toddlebike.  Bought from a friend for a fiver, it was probably the best purchase I made that year.  He loved it.  He didn’t even care that it was pink!  It provided him with a great introduction to life on wheels.  He has since progressed through the balance bike to his first pedal bike, which he received for his 4th birthday in September.  The greatest testament I can give to the humble (and cheap!) Toddlebike, is that the boy rode a pedal bike within seconds of being given a pedal bike.  There was no hesitation, no wobbling and no wondering how it all worked.  He just sat down and pedalled.  A joy to witness!

And here endeth my Christmas gift guide for babies and children.  There are, of course, a million ways to make a child smile at Christmas; the above are just my favourites.

Christmas Gift Guide For Mum

Before you object to my mentioning Christmas, please be reminded that it is a mere six weeks away.  Despair not; I have a great selection of gift ideas for all the family, starting with Mums.

As you will probably already know, I am a Mum, and my favourite gifts are photographs of my children.  Hubby has, several times now, bought me pro shoots and photos of our little ones as presents and I cannot get enough of them.  I’ve always thought of it as a little outside the box, but I am a big fan of gifts that give something more than just stuff.  The gift of photography gives time and memories and an addition to the photo wall (tell me you have one of these too?).  To me, it is a foolproof gift for any Mummy. Are you tempted?  Take a look at this gorgeous picture and tell me you wouldn’t appreciate something similar…

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This is the work of Sussex photography company Acorns and Thimbles, who specialise in maternity, newborn, toddler and family portraiture with a difference.  Location shoots are welcomed, which means you can aim for something as stunning as the above picture, rather than the standard studio fare.

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The couple behind the cameras are Emma and Robin, childhood sweethearts with three (ridiculously adorable) young children.  Their eye for a good photo teamed with their knowledge of children and general photography experience makes them the perfect choice for your special shoot.

emmy lou

Being November, it may be to late to book in a pre-Christmas shoot but, fear not, gift certificates are available!  Email smile@acornsandthimbles.com for more information on these and order one for Mum’s stocking.  Do it!  Trust me, she will be over the moon.  Unfortunately, Acorns and Thimbles only cover the Sussex area but, if you’re lucky, you will have someone (almost) as good nearby.

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Gah, I could share images from these guys all day long!

From the sublime now to the potentially ridiculous, but please bear with me on this one – bread makers!  I don’t know about you, but since becoming a Mum myself, kitchen gadgets have been high on my Christmas wish list.  I’m not sure why, if I’m honest… perhaps it’s just one of those things that children bring to your life.  One of these new breadmakers for the kitchen would be a great idea; not only does it make bread, but it takes care of cakes and jams too. Pretty cool.

breadThis Panasonic beauty is on the expensive side, at £134.99, but I think it’s worth it to make someone smile on Christmas morning. It is available from Currys, John Lewis and Argos.

Other than the aforementioned, great gifts for Mums are personal, thoughtful and as unique as the ladies behind the title.  Speaking from personal experience, we don’t need a lot to be happy.  Seeing the kids’ faces on Christmas morning is more than enough of a gift for me.  But, you know, a little something sparkly always goes down well too…

CaseApp Review and Giveaway

Family aside, my iPhone is probably the thing I look at most often, so it has to be pretty, right?  With this in mind, when CaseApp offered me the chance to review one of their custom iPhone cases, I bit their hand off politely accepted.  Their website has a great layout and is seriously the easiest I have ever used.  I could not quite believe just how simple it was to order the product I required.  It felt as thought the entire process took around 30 seconds but, in reality, was more like five minutes.  All you have to do is click the picture of the product you wish to design, upload an image, save to cart, and checkout.  There are options to make photo collages or add text to your design, though I chose just to have an image on my case and currently have this little beauty on its way to me:

phone case

 

If you would like the chance to try out the website for yourself, and receive a custom case worth £19, all you have to do is fill in the form below. The competition will run for seven days and the winner will be notified by email. Good luck!

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wedding Countdown

With our wedding planned for next year, now is the time to start looking at accessories.  I am a total sucker for anything sparkly, like this tiara from Gardenia Site.

tiara

I am not one for too many accessories or pieces of jewellery in everyday life; indeed, all I usually manage is my engagement ring and one earring that I often forget is even there. My wedding day will be slightly different though. I’m not sure if I could realistically carry off a tiara, but I will definitely be looking at necklaces and bracelets.

Accessories aside, I am yet to find the perfect dress for our wedding day. I am drawn to the princess cut dresses, like this one:

dress

 

Having said that, I will not be looking at strapless dresses when it comes to my wedding. Instead, I will be choosing something more along the lines of this little beauty:

dress

I am hoping for a small wedding; intimate, with just close family or, even better, a couple of witnesses. My ideal day would involve our children being bridesmaid and ring bearer respectively, a hearty roast lunch after the ceremony, a beautiful night with my husband in a honeymoon suite and, finally, a week-long holiday at a cosy retreat somewhere in the countryside. Of course, the children would be invited to the holiday; without them, we would not be the happy family we are today.

I am so excited to finally marry my fiancé, after more than seven years together, and just know that whatever we choose for our day, it will be perfect.