Christmas stockings

Christmas stocking ideas for toddlers

When my daughter was a toddler it was so hard to restrain myself from buying too many stocking stuffers. There were so many cute little things I was convinced she needed! I’ve learned in subsequent years to rein myself but I still find it tricky. Here are 5 great ideas for stocking fillers that won’t break the bank.

Bath Crayons

When it comes to crayons, good old Crayola is always a top choice. These bath crayons are non-toxic and will not only provide hours of good clean fun but will be safe if your little one decides to taste one.

Stacking Cups

An excellent choice for stocking fillers, these Early Learning Centre stacking cups come in a pack of 10 and are recommended from 6 months to 3 years. They are excellent in the bath or sandpit for pouring, scooping and moulding. The ten colourful colours help with learning colour names, hand eye co-ordination and problem solving.

Shape sorting eggs

Oh how my daughter loved these! Your little one will spend many hours pulling these Early Learning Centre eggs apart matching an sorting. There are great opportunities to learn about shapes and colours too. This gift is great for hand eye co-ordination, problem solving and even role-play.

Interactive books

Books are always a good gift for children and those who cannot yet read are no exception. The Jellycat Jungly Tails Children’s Soft Book is suitable from birth, is safe for little hands and boasts excellent sensory learning from the different textures. There are lots of ways for toddlers to learn colours, animal names and sounds making this an ideas stocking filler.

Finger puppets

What is not to love about the magic of finger puppets? This 5 pack of Jungle animal finger puppets are sure to get your toddler’s imagination engaged. They are suitable from birth and cute enough to get any toddler babbling in conversation to their finger puppet pals.

There are of course many more fantastic stocking ideas out there and I’d love to hear which are your favourites. Leave me a comment below and let me know.

Christmas 2020 · Eco-friendly Christmas

5 Eco friendly gifts for adults

We all know what to get the people on our Christmas lists for the most part, but what about the eco-conscious recipient? What do you get someone who tries to live in as environmentally friendly way as possible? Here are 5 ideas to warm the heart of your eco-warrior.

POLU  Bamboo fibre coffee cups

Polu was founded by two Australians who produce gorgeously designed sustainable and ethically sound alternatives to single use products. These reusable cups are 455ml (or grande) and are made from ethical bamboo fibre. They come with their own sleeve negating the need to use a cardboard sleeve. They are compostable, BPA free and dishwasher safe. With loads of colours and designs to choose from, what’s not to love?

CHOWIE – Reusable lunchbox set

Packed lunches just got eco-friendly! Chowie have the perfect reusable lunchbox made of from fully recyclable wheat fibre. Each lunchbox comes with a fork and spoon and has a rubber vacuum seal to keep lunches fresh and leak free. Generous dimension of 21cm x 14.5cm x 7.5cm mean even those with a hearty appetite won’t go hungry. Chose from green, pink and naked colours.

GREEN ISLAND cotton mesh produce bags (set of 3)

It’s incredible how something as simple as the weekly grocery shop can incur so much single use plastic waste. The folks at Green Island came to the rescue! You’ll no longer need single use plastic bags with these durable, drawstring, cotton mesh produce bags. These bags are machine washable at 30 degrees making them a breeze to look after. Size are: 28 x 20cm, 28 x 34cm, 28 x 44cm. 

Soap Daze Harmony soap on a rope

If you thought soap on a rope was a thing of the past, think again! They’re back! Did they ever leave?

These large eco-friendly soaps are handmade in Devon, UK and have a useful waxed cotton rope that you can hang in the shower. These vegan friendly soaps contain natural ingredients and use materials that are sustainably sourced. Each of these glorious soaps weights a minimum of 185g and comes in a range of six scents with each soap containing different ingredients to suit all skin types.

Irusu candles

While researching candles for this article, I happened upon Irusu candles and fell in love with the packaging. The aesthetic is gorgeous; there’s something about the apothecary style look that has me sold just looking at it. With names like Dusk, Dawn and Earth, you just know these products are made with eco-friendly at the forefront of the creator’s mind.

Irusu, meaning ‘to pretend to not be home when someone knocks at your door;’ create hand blended and poured soy wax candles with essential oils. They’re ethically made, vegan and cruelty free. It’s little wonder with all this going for them they have been featured in The Sunday Times Style, Elle, The Guardian and the Independent.

I hope I have inspired you with these eco-friendly gifts for those eco-conscious recipients on your gift list this Christmas.

If you have any other ideas for great eco-friendly gifts, leave them in the comments below.

Christmas 2020

Free ebook: Saving Christmas 2020

Everywhere I go, people are lamenting the fact that their favourite family outings are cancelled this Christmas. Others are asking online how they will be able to make Christmas magical and special with all the government restrictions in place as the pandemic rages throughout the world. I was worried too but then I decided that …

NOBODY PUTS CHRISTMAS IN THE CORNER!

My Christmas will not be cancelled by a pandemic!

The outings and events that we’ve come to enjoy so much are not the only way to enjoy Christmas and make it magical. We have to be creative and inventive and think outside of the box when it comes to the 2020 festive season. After all, as The Grinch said,

“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.”

It wasn’t until I decided to get creative and inventive when it came to planning our Christmas that I got inspired to write the free ebook Saving Christmas – Magical ideas for making merry during the pandemic.

This free little ebook is stuffed full of wonderful ideas to enjoy the season’s family fun outings in a different way, while still following the latest pandemic guidelines. There are so many wonderful ways to make the festive season magical and this book has a few fabulous ideas to add to your list. I hope you enjoy it and use the ideas or even adapt them to suit your family situation. it’s free to download below.

I have two very special people to thank for all their help with this ebook: Firstly, my dear friend Shelley who helped with editing and formatting.

And also Katy from MC Graphic Design Studio for her help with the brand new logo.

All my Christmases would come at once if you would follow this blog. I have sooooo much great content coming up for you over the coming months.

Follow me on:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thebestchristmasyet

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/the_best_christmas_yet

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.co.uk/leorobertson81/official-best-christmas-yet

Leave me a comment in the comments below to let me know which idea is your favourite. Oh, and send your friends along so they can download their free copy too.

Click below to download your free copy

Keep calm and be Merry this Christmas!

I partied with:

Between Naps on the Porch

My glittery heart

Lou lou girls

Ducks ‘n a row

A little bit of everything

Life and Linda

A pinch of joy

Create with joy

Grandma’s briefs

The hearth and soul

Sum of their stories

My uncommon slice of suburbia

A stroll thru life

Scrapality

Pam’s party and practical tips

The Writer’s Den Linky Badge
My Random Musings

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Christmas prep

October Christmas prep

  1. By now, you should have a nice Christmas fund. If you haven’t already, start buying gifts.  Keep a running list of what gifts you’ve bought and where you’ve hidden them in your planner or on your phone.
  2. Wrap any presents you bought in the sales and label clearly. If you are using gift tags instead of those gift label stickers, make sure they are on good and tight! Nothing worse than finding a gift without a tag and not knowing who it was for.
  3. Start buying advent calendar stuffers if you have a reusable advent calendar or shop online for those desirable Lego, perfume, make up, candles, posh stationery, gin and tonic advent calendars that always sell out.
  4. If you get your groceries delivered weekly because you shop online, check out your supermarket’s online deliver saver policy and consider signing up. Some stores offer a priority Christmas delivery slot which might interest you. Read the small print to ensure you do get a priority Christmas slot!
  5. Purchase travel insurance if you are travelling and book a car if necessary. Don’t forget to book the pet sitter.
  6. Book family days out such as visits to see Father Christmas, the local Pantomime or other such concerts and events.
  7. As dates for nativity concerts and local events come in, put them into the calendar to make sure you don’t miss an opportunity to make merry and enjoy the season.
  8. If you’re having professional Christmas photos taken, book a date with the photographer.
  9. Make a list of any events that you will all require special outfits for such as Christmas dinner with Nanny and Grandad.  Do you perhaps need new Christmas jumpers for the Christmas photographs? Add these items to your list and keep a look out when you go shopping.
  10. Finalise your Christmas menu plan.
  11. Continue adding a few non-perishables pantry items towards Christmas to your weekly grocery shopping. Check out the blog post Prep ahead Christmas Pantry for a list.
  12. Have a freezer clear out! Toss all those lumpy bags of ‘who-knows-what’ because you didn’t label and date them. You’re making way for all the Christmas goodies you intend to buy or make to freeze.  While you’re at it, if your freezer is competing with Jack Frost, defrost it and give it a good wipe down.
  13. When your Christmas menu plan is all done, you can now start baking/cooking and freezing to get ahead with your Christmas food prep.  If you decorate your tree with gingerbread men and stars, make your gingerbread dough and freeze it. Freeze mince pie pastry and cookie dough too. Make chipolatas wrapped in bacon and stuffing balls ahead of time and freeze them. If you’re not yet ready to make these, pop a date when you plan to make them ahead of time into your calendar as a reminder.
  14. Before meat prices inflate for the festive season, buy any Christmas meats from the supermarket and freeze them. Please make sure your turkey fits your oven!  Mark the date to remove the turkey from the freezer on your calendar so you don’t forget.
  15. If you prefer to order your Christmas meats through your butcher, get this done. If you are unsure, ask the butcher for advice on what size turkey you will need and how long it will take to defrost.
  16. Get your Christmas cakes and puddings made. Perhaps arrange to bake with a friend or maybe have a virtual Bake and Banter to get these made.  Mark on your calendar when to feed the cakes over the coming weeks.
  17. Continue to make Christmas cards, tags and crafts.  You might like to arrange a weekly or bi-weekly crafting night with likeminded friends to get these done.
  18. Buy your stamps and start writing Christmas cards ready to mail. The cut off date for first class postage is 21 December and 18 December for second class. Perhaps consider posting out early this year due to the pandemic.
  19. Get the children writing letters to Father Christmas. Tell them the cut-off date is 1 November or Father Christmas cannot guarantee the elves will have time to make their gifts.
  20. Make a list of any special crafts or baking you want to do with the kids over the Christmas festive period and note down any supplies that need to be purchased in your Christmas planner.
  21. Book an oven cleaner for the end of November. If you clean your own oven, place the date in your calendar for the last week of November.
  22. If you need a new tree, order a new Christmas tree if you did not pick one up at the sales.
  23. If you’re decided to go for a whole new colour scheme for Christmas this year, look through your Christmas decorations and see what you can reuse.
  24. Start working on your Christmas Elf antics and make a list of anything that needs to be bought to bring your elf plans to life.
  25. Keep up with your Christmas newsletter if you’re doing one.
Uncategorized

5 Christmas gifts-in-a-jar ideas roundup

With 14 weeks until Christmas and the the world gone mad due to the pandemic, people are Christmas shopping earlier than ever this year and who can blame them! Thankfully, I have finished all my Christmas shopping but for those of you are thinking of avoiding the shops altogether and creating something homemade, I’ve got you covered.

It seems that this year has been an exercise in homemade with many people taking up new crafts, scouring hedgerows for blackberries to make jam or baking up a storm. Going with the homemade theme, I thought I would share some great ideas for gifts-in-a jar. The basic idea is giving someone a jar of all the ingredients for making something delicious with a recipe card attached.

If you have already been making jams, chutneys and other pickled deliciousness and have excess to give, then by all means, write out the recipe or serving suggestions on a gift tag and your gift is ready to give to friends and neighbours. If you haven’t quite been as industrious as yet and would like some suggestions, check out some of the internet’s best ideas in this handy roundup.

Hot chocolate: For me, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a gorgeous hot chocolate. The Swish Family Robertson have a fabulously indulgent hot chocolate in jar filled with marshmallows, choc chips and crushed mints to make your cup of cheer extra special.

Cookie mix in a jar: I heart naptime offers a recipe for creating cookies mix in a jar with a free printable label/recipe. Who wouldn’t want everything all weighed out and measured ready to make cookies with the kids?

Chocolate chip muffins: Also from I heart naptime, this Chocolate chip Muffin Mason Jar recipe is perfect for those looking to give the gift of breakfast. Can you imagine receiving this gorgeous jar and whipping up hot chocolaty muffins for breakfast on boxing day? Muffin making will be a doddle!

Homemade bread: Given the lockdown flour shortage we’ve had this year with everyone worried they’d run out of bread, this next bread in a jar gift-in-a-jar from Cul de Sac Cool is brilliant! And did I mention economical? Perhaps deliver it with a carton of soup for an extra special touch.

Gingerbread cookies: This next gift-in-a-jar from Mommy Musings is by far my favourite bake from a jar gift. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love to receive Gingerbread cookie mix in a jar. The cookie cutter just sends the presentation into totally adorable territory!

All of these gifts are easy to put together using basic ingredients that are easily obtained at most good grocery shops. Mason style jars can be found in Home Bargains for under £2 or can easily be bought reasonably from Amazon here.

Stay tuned for more ideas for homemade gifts, stocking ideas, Christmas planning and more.

Christmas prep

Prep ahead Christmas pantry: Non-perishables

Besides the average family holiday, Christmas is the second most costly time of year and I am always on the lookout for ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality and our favourite treats. Many people don’t like that the supermarkets stock Christmas items from as early as September but for a prep ahead person like me, it’s fabulous! It means I can pop a few non-perishable items into my trolley with my weekly shop during the run up to Christmas and spread the cost of my festive favourites.

Here is a list of the the types of things you can stock up on. Print it off and add it to your Christmas planner.

Non-perishable shop ahead items:

  • Chestnuts (if using)
  • Chestnut puree (if using)
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Chutney or caramelized onions
  • Fruit mince for making mince pies
  • Dried fruit to make a Christmas fruit cake
  • Pickles
  • Tubs of chocolates
  • Savoury biscuits or crackers
  • Tinned fruit for trifle
  • Candy canes
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Cider for making mulled cider
  • Cartons of orange juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Brandy to ‘feed’ the Christmas cake
  • Mulled wine spices
  • Red wine for making mulled wine
  • Nuts
  • After dinner mint chocolates
  • Christmas pudding if you don’t make one yourself
  • Snack items like pretzels and crisps
  • Stuffing mix
  • Gravy granules
  • Hot chocolate powder
  • Yorkshire puddings if you don’t make your own
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Slabs of chocolate for baking and homemade holiday treats
  • Baking ingredients for making Christmas cookies
  • Cartons of custard
  • Cans of whipped cream
  • Popcorn kernels for popping corn for movie nights
  • Long life milk – just in case
  • A couple of loaves of bread to freeze – just in case
  • Kitchen paper towel
  • Christmas paper napkins

Another great idea is to purchase batteries for toys when you purchase the toys. You could either install the batteries when you wrap the toys or wrap the batteries with the toy! Either way, you will avoid disappointment on Christmas day.

What essentials do you stock up on for Christmas?

Christmas stockings

Christmas stocking ideas for babies

The baby’s Christmas stocking seems to the be one people struggle most to come up with ideas for. It seems the pressure of Baby’s first Christmas makes looking for stocking fillers all the most stressful. There have been a few posts in groups that I belong to recently and I thought it would be a great idea to do a post on.

When it comes to Christmas gifts for my daughter, I have always gone with the old adage of:

Something they want;

Something they need;

Something to wear;

Something to read.

but I like to add one little item of my own: something they don’t know they need!

In keeping with this little saying, here are 5 great ideas for Christmas stockings for a baby.

Something they want:

Obviously baby’s can’t tell us what they want, but if I were a baby I would want something cute, bright and interesting to keep me curious. These sensory balls are perfect for little hands and great to explore with their mouths. Take them out of the box and they’ll fit perfectly into a stocking.

Something they need:

Sophie la girafe is the perfect soft touch teething toy that every baby needs. The adorable design is perfect to pique your baby’s interest but also soft and durable for teething.

Something to wear:

If your baby is anything like my daughter, she will love these wrist and sock rattles. Interesting and attractive in design, these rattles are soft, durable, wearable and washable. Perfect for a Christmas stocking.

Something to read:

Soft and durable activity books such as this Fisher-Price 1-5 activity book are perfect for playtime. Thanks to a sturdy clip,books like these can be attached to buggies or car seats without fear of losing them.

Something they don’t know they need:

Every baby needs a gorgeously frivolous woolen bonnet baby hat like this one from Etsy sellers like One Stop Bonnet Shop UK . Made of cosy wool, a cute hat will be sure to keep your little one toasty warm. And they are adorable too!

All items suggested here are good quality and durable, however, they can be expensive as are all baby toys. If cost is an issue and family are asking what they can get your little one as a gift, suggest they buy a stocking filler each.

I hope this post has given you some excellent ideas for stocking fillers for your baby. Join me next time for Christmas stocking ideas for toddlers.

Christmas prep

September Christmas prep

I know some of us prepare for Christmas all year long, but if you haven’t started yet, its time to get your santa hat on! I’m here to help you get all your duck…er…poinsettia’s in a row so that you’re not left scrambling around at the last minute. On a more serious note, with this year being a Covid Christmas, its probably best that we get our preparations done sooner rather than later. I would ordinarily suggest you start booking Pantomimes and family outings but those are probably not going to take place this year. So instead, I’ve prepared a list of things that you can do to get ahead and have a less stressful Christmas regardless of what is going on in the world.

  1. With the kids back at school, it’s time to start thinking about the big day. Although we are unsure what the government guidelines will be closer to Christmas day, give the family that you usually spend Christmas day/Boxing day with a call and decide between you who will be hosting. Get a rough idea of who will be bringing what part of the meal.  If you are hosting, you might like to do the starter, turkey and roast potatoes, while others might like to bring pre-cooked side veggies or desserts. Start your Christmas gift shopping. Keep a running list of what you’ve bought for whom and tick it off your list once it’s delivered.

2. Start buying Christmas gifts.

3. If you have an online delivery pass with your supermarket of choice, keep checking to see when the priority delivery slots are available and book yours as a matter or priority!

4. Once again, nobody knows what the new government guidelines will be nearer Christmas, but planning ahead always helps. Add dates when family or friends will be staying to your calendar and schedule time in a week before they arrive in your diary to freshen up your guest room – or completely declutter it if necessary. Decide if you need to buy new bedding or towels? If so, add these to your shopping list.

5. Start adding a few bits of non-perishables towards Christmas to your weekly grocery shop to spread the cost of your Christmas grocery shop. Don’t forget disposable turkey roasting tins. Christmas is too short to spend time scrubbing roasting dishes!

6. If you usually make homemade Christmas cards and tags and haven’t yet started, aim to get these done by the end of September or mid-October at the latest.

7. Thinking of giving homemade gifts this year? Start making a list and buying ingredients or materials. Make a rough list of when you will be making which gifts so you don’t run out of time.

8. Check the school website to see when the nativity play will be and pop the date into your diary.

That’s it for September!