What’s going to be under your Christmas tree?

Christmas ElfWith Christmas drawing ever closer and the shops getting busier and busier, I thought I had better get my shopping list together so here are my best buys for Christmas from babies and toddlers, to the biggest of kids!

Isabella’s first Christmas was a really magical time but she was thoroughly spoilt by everyone as you can well imagine. If I could do it over, my top tip would be if people ask you what your little one would like for Christmas, think of a range of toys which you can bring out at different developmental stages. We had a few toys which were aimed at 9+ months when Isabella was just 4 months so we put them in the loft and brought them out later in the year. Not only was this brilliant because it meant she wasn’t over run with too many new toys at once, but it was so nice for her to receive new toys at different points in the year.

Some of our top gifts would be:

jumperooFisher-Price Jumperoo – This comes in different designs and although it’s quite big, is one of the toys that all of the babies I know have really enjoyed. It’s fun and engaging with lights and sounds and it also teaches them about cause and effect. If you’re quick you can get some great deals on this from Amazon  – currently £77 (we took advantage of this amazing price last year!).

Fisher-Price Discover ‘n Grow Kick & Play Piano Gym – Again, this became a life saver for me last year. Isabella would be entertained with this for a long period of time compared to other play mats which just didn’t have the same attention grabbing factor. The other thing I love about this play gym is the fact that it grows with your child up to 18months. At around £60 I think this item is expensive but it does go on offer occasionally on Amazon. For the fact that we got so much use from it, I would say the £60 is well worth it but if you can find it cheaper, even better.

sophieSophie la Girafe – There are several different teethers available in the ‘Sophie’ range but we found the smaller, harder giraffe the best for teething. The bigger, squeaky teether is nice but Isabella didn’t use it as much as the smaller one. You can currently get a limited edition gift set for just £14.99 which is brilliant value for money.

Natures Purest have some beautiful products for any baby up to a year old. I really love the quality of their products and the fact it’s natural. If you’re looking for something special for baby’s first Christmas, there’s a lovely range to choose from – stockings and soft toys and comforters would make a lovely gift and perfect keepsake too. From just £6, I don’t think you can go wrong!

Lamaze toys are just brilliant. I’ve got so many now but they really are beautifully bright and engaging; my favourite still has to be Turtle Tunes. At £22.99, you could play a tune or two this Christmas.

FGWith teething seeming to go on for ever, I would recommend Funky Giraffe Bibs. Out of all the dribble bibs we have tried, and there’s quite a few now, I would say that these are by far the best. They are the only ones that stood up to the test of my daughter who, for 5 days, refused to swallow any saliva because of tonsillitis. Even though the front layer of cotton was absolutely saturated, the back of the bib stayed dry. There are so many lovely designs to choose from too.

You really can’t go wrong with a simple set of stacking cups – available in most supermarkets, these would make a lovely stocking filler.

For the toddlers: Now your little one is starting to walk and talk their attention span is short to say the least so any toys you buy shouldn’t be too fiddly for them or require too much attention. Role play toys would be perfect as they are at the stage where they are pretending and copying; I love watching Isabella mimic a plastic horse eating or using a spoon or empty bottle to feed her baby. Some of the best toys for this age would have to be:

Fruit and vegetable set from Ikea. At £7 each, I think these are great value for money. It’s just a shame that you can only buy the fruit from the store and not online. These would make a lovely stocking filler and will entertain your little chef for ages.

mala-easel__0135810_PE292683_S4Again from Ikea their children’s easel is just £16. It’s a chalk board on one side and a white board on the other. I love this as it will last your little one for years and will be there to help develop their creative side.

As a stocking filler and to go with the easel, Stabilo do some brilliant 3 in 1 chunky wooden pencils. They act as a pencil, wax crayon and water colour paint  and are thick enough to be held by little hands. For just …………… they are good value.

GettingPersonal.co.uk offer some beautiful and reasonably priced gifts. I love the ‘My First Train Set’ which has your child’s name engraved into the wood on the track. It fits with most other wooden train sets so you can add to the track later on and you can get some really good deals on this. At £19.99, this would make a lovely gift which could be treasured for years to come.Personalised-My-First-Train-Set_a

If your little one loves the bath as much as mine, this Thomas and Friends Tub Trains is perfect. Although I find the trains themselves don’t actually stay together (it would have been better if they came as a single unit), Isabella lovely sticking the track and the numbers to the bath tub and knocking them off again into the water. I can’t wait to start using them to help her learn her numbers.

LittleHelper.co.uk offer an amazing FunPod Chalky. While this may not seem like a logical present, it’s actually a really nifty piece of kit. While it looks like just a box, it’s actually a really useful pod which will allow your little one to help out in the kitchen. Maybe it’s because they are into copying/role play but whenever I’m cooking or cleaning in the kitchen, Isabella always wants to join in but I’ve always been too scared that she’d hurt herself. Well once I tried the FunPod I was pleasantly surprised. It was so easy to put together (first big tick) and actually meant that Isabella could be in the kitchen helping while remaining safe. She loves it because she can interact with me and I love it because I know she’s safe. At £119, it’s definitely a luxury item but now I have it, I wouldn’t be without it!Funpod

A rocking Horse is a must have for any little one in my eyes and the most beautiful I found were from LittleBirdToldMe.co.uk I absolutely fell in love with Dylan and Boo and I have to say he was quite a hit with my daughter too. I’m so glad I shopped around for this one as it’s great quality and just a little different to most. It’s £125 so quite expensive but it really is well made and will last for years.

Hallmark’s interactive storybook ‘A Day at Fairy Grandmother’s’ are really lovely and a perfect way to engage your little one with a book. You can read the story and the book asks your little one questions about the story and depending on how your little one responds, the character will answer them as if they are actually having a conversation. I really love this imaginative concept and would love to see more in their range of interactive books. It’s available for £14.99.

phoneFor another unique gift (and one which links to charity) you can customise a t-shirt for your child with a fun character and their photo and name for just £9.99 at T-ShirtBooth.net. There are loads of characters to choose from and each character has partnered up with a different charity; £2 from each purchase goes to the selected charity.
• Moshi Monsters supporting Action for Children;
• Paddington Bear supporting Action Medical Research;
• Dinosaurus for Beat Bullying;
• Garfield supporting Cats Protection
• Cheeky Little Monsters for Children with Cancer;
• Silentnight for Dreams Come True;
• The Froobles for Heart UK;
• Rastamouse for Nordoff Robbins;
• Ben 10, LazyTown and Adventure Time (Cartoon Network Enterprises) supporting Plan;
• Forever Friends supporting Tommy’s;

For the bigger kids there are the more techy items:

The Goo.ey is a fun addition to a mobile or tablet device. It’s a polyurethane epoxy skin with a 3M adhesive which allows you to place your device securely on smooth, glossy surfaces in your home, office, gym or car. It’s compatible with iPhone 4 and 5, Samsung Galaxy S2, S3 and S4, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, iPad Mini and iPad (all generations) and fits nicely on the back of the device itself, or on a cover already in place. The Goo.ey can be used to turn your phone into a sat nav in the car, or to stick to the fridge/wall to use as a recipe book without getting messy or you can just stick it to a mirror for a Face Time/Skype call. While it sticks to flat surfaces, it won’t pick up dirt or fluff in your pocket and is smooth to touch. It’s a little bit of fun and would make a great stocking filler.

GoapeGo Ape gift voucher – if you want to save some of the excitement of a gift until after Christmas day, why not think of giving a gift voucher for Go Ape? It’s a really fun and enjoyable day out for kids as well as adults and could make a fantastic family outing. The forest adventure will have you swinging through trees and whizzing down zip lines and will give you and your family a day to remember. I really enjoy getting out in the fresh air and doing things as a family; although Isabella is too young for this at the minute, I still went along with my husband while Isabella watched us. We couldn’t stop laughing all the way round.

217_1_118_118_FFFFFF_0Front Cover Make-Up Set – It’s got most things you need to create a gorgeous look this Christmas or New Year. The make-up and nail varnish are good quality and last all day giving you great value for money and the eye-shadow brush, while not being the softest in the world, is good. The only part of this set that I don’t like is the blusher brush but to be completely honest, I don’t think I like any of the blusher brushes that come in sets. The best bit for me is the fact the box shows you how to use the make-up. As all of my close friends know, I’m not the best when it comes to make-up but this handy little box shows you exactly how you can recreate that front cover look. Available at just £19.99, it’s a lovely gift set for teens or adults.

jam_purple-r2The HDMX Jam Classic Wireless Speaker is brilliant. At just £39.99, it offers great sound quality which actually can go quite loud. For a portable speaker, it certainly doesn’t lack in sound quality. It comes in 5 different, vibrant colours (we have one to match out kitchen appliances) and uses Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to smartphones and tablets (from 10m away). There is an aux-in cable which can also be used and when used, provides 12 hours of playback (4 hours if used wirelessly). Much like many smartphone devices, it can be charged with a USB cable from a computer or laptop. I love this mini speaker for it’s portability as well as quality.

For the adults

After having my daughter, I’ve had constant back ache and my husband has always suffered too so the perfect treat for us was the Homedics Gel Shiatsu Back Massager. At £149.99 it is certainly a luxury item but since we got it, we’ve used it practically every night as soon as we’ve put Isabella to bed. I particularly like the spot massage function as you can choose where you need the massage the most. The gel pads make it really comfortable and as close to a real massage as it could probably get. I actually prefer using this to a professional massage as I felt I had full control over where I needed the massage to focus on.gsm300h_hero

Snapbox are offering an EZYWay to get your photos off your smartphone and onto a canvas print. I was a little sceptical at first about the quality of the print because the photo wouldn’t necessarily be a high resolution, but I have to say I was really impressed with this service. Not only is the print quality excellent, but the presentation in a wooden box frame is really unique and modern. I think this would make a lovely gift to a grandparent or parent. Not only is it amazingly easy to upload your photo (it literally took about 3 minutes) but it arrived within 2 days of placing the order. There are a limited choice of sizes to choose from (I’m guessing because if they went any bigger, the quality of the print could be compromised depending on the original photo quality but as a QUICK and EASY way of getting your images off your phone, Snapbox.co,uk is outstanding.

No Christmas would be complete without a little bubbly and I just bagged a great deal on Champagne thanks to Martin Lewis’s Money Saving Tips (for more info, please click here) but for those of you who are pregnant, driving or simply don’t drink, Shloer have come up with a delicious alternative. I’ve tried a couple of non-alcoholic champagnes/wines and haven’t been very impressed but Shloer seem to have cracked the market and have produced a tasty non-alcoholic alternative with Shloer Celebration. Shloer-Celebration-White-Bubbly_product



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