22 December 2019

How to wrap gifts and be environmentally friendly: 10 ideas

So who is still wrapping gifts the night of Christmas Eve? Yep, me... And while I'm at it, I try think of the turtles and all and do my gift wrapping in an environmentally friendly fashion. Of course, gift wrapping will in almost all cases produce some amount of waste but you can try minimise it and reuse as much as you can. And here are my tips on how to wrap gifts while keeping waste and single-use plastic at minimum. 


environmentally friendly gift wrapping ideas


While doing gift wrapping, it's worth keeping the age old adage "Reduce, reuse and recycle" in mind. This is the right way to consider materials, as it minimises the waste. Recycling should be the last in your considerations, as unfortunately, recycling can be wasteful even with the best intentions. Best is always to just reduce, so not buy something in the first place. 

But let's start with reducing...

Reduce

Try reduce the things you buy for gift wrapping to reduce the waste. Reuse is the key word here. Skip buying any gift wrap and use what you already have home, and what would otherwise go to waste. 

My personal favourites are drawings made by my kids. I don't know about you but my kids produce a mountain of drawings, many of which are destined to the recycling bin. One way of giving them a bit more life is by using them to wrap gifts. 


reusing old papers for gift wrapping

kids drawings are wrapping paper


Reuse any nice gift bags or paper bags the gifts may have originally been packed in by the shop you bought them from - just wrap a string around them and add a gift tag to jazz it up. 

You don't need to buy gift tags either with a bit of forethought. Use old Christmas cards and cut them into gift tags. Glittery Christmas cards with abstract designs are particularly nice for this. You can also save the old Christmas wrapping paper for future use, and string and ribbons for decorations!

Reuse

Reuse your gift wrapping materials by choosing wrapping that can be reused! You can buy really nice reusable fabric bags. If you are with family you can agree ahead of time to reuse these year after year, and might even get them back next year, with your gifts wrapped in them. 

You could use a nice scarf or a tea towel as cloth to wrap gifts in. This will act as an additional gift! It's called the art of furoshiki nowadays apparently, but I'm sure we all remember that back in the day this was quite a common method here too!


reusable gift bags for gift wrapping


And under reuse, remember to gather all reusable bits and bobs after unwrapping, and store them for next year (or for birthday gift wrapping through the year). If you are careful while unwrapping you can use good quality wrapping paper again, and can reuse ribbons and string and other decorations there may be. Christmas cards can be cut into gift tags for future use. 

Recycle

Choose recyclable materials for your gift wrapping. You can nowadays buy loads of recyclable wrapping paper - just remember that shiny and glittery paper can't be recycled, it needs to feel like normal paper. If in doubt, the best bet is to buy brown parcel wrapping paper. It is cheap, and can be easily recycled. 

Brown parcel wrapping paper doesn't look boring if you use the right decoration - in fact it looks really stylish and thought-through with the right decorations. 

brown parcel wrapping paper ideas

brown parcel paper wrapping ideas


For decorations choose recyclable and/or biodegradable options. Personal favourites of mine are cinnamon sticks, dried clementine slices, and pinecones, with a biodegradable jute string as opposed to the usual plastic string. Red and white string looks particularly nice with green Christmas tree cuttings and candy canes. You can also use white paper to make paper snowflakes to decorate the wrapping paper, or even use stamps to decorate it, the latter being easy and fun for kids to join you with!  

Other tips

If you cut your paper too small, flip it diagonally. You need to fiddle with this a bit for it to work, it's not a magic trick unlike some social media posts make you think, but does help. 


too small wrapping paper

turn it diagonally

and you might manage to wrap the gift anyway


Or of course, you could just not wrap presents ha ha. That would be the most environmentally friendly option, and might work if the presents come in a nice box as is.


10 ideas for how to make gift wrapping more environmentally friendly - including tips for decorations, wrapping paper ideas and reusable options.

10 ideas for how to make gift wrapping more environmentally friendly - including tips for decorations, wrapping paper ideas and reusable options.


Which option for environmentally friendly gift wrapping did you like the best?


You might also like: Christmas gift ideas for girls aged 6 to 7Christmas gift ideas girls aged 5-6 will love and 9 best Christmas gift ideas for girls aged 4-5



18 December 2019

Christmas gift ideas girls aged 6-7 will love

It's that time of the year again when life catches you up and suddenly you notice it is a week until Christmas - and time to get those last presents! Here is my gift guide for girls aged six to seven, including some of the top toys for 2019, STEM and learning gifts, books, make-up and craft kits that girls this age would typically love to receive. 

Of course, you choose a gift based on the recipient, but from my experience there are a few things that tend to appeal to girls this age. Children's make-up and nail paints and accessories are popular, as they are entering that age they like to try big girl things. STEM kits and craft kits tend to be well-received, and fun things to do over the holidays. Frozen 2 toys are big this year, and generally speaking, baby toys like Baby Annabelle are always popular with this age range. Fairies and all kinds of animals and magical creatures are popular too.

But, without further ado, here are a few recommendations I think any girl aged 6-7 would be lucky to have... and have a look at my previous Christmas gift guides too for more ideas - Christmas gift ideas girls aged 5-6 will love and 9 best Christmas gift ideas for girls aged 4-5!

You can also win a Baby Annabelle doll and her Lunch Time Table accessory at the end of this post! 

(Some of the products featured in the post were gifted for review; some of the links in the post may be affiliate, meaning should you order products through the links I get a small fee at no cost to you)

Top toys of 2019

Baby Annabelle is a great toy to play with for all ages. It is meant for children over the age of 3. It is battery-operated and this years version drinks water from a bottle, and cries real tears. It also sucks on a dummy, and the face moves, which is quite surprising and fun. You can burp it and cuddle it to sleep, and it does little giggles if you tickle its tummy. When you lie it down the eyes close, unlike some of the previous dolls where eyes opened using the battery-powered motor. It also snuffles and snores in a very cute way when it sleeps.

All in all, it is great interactive toy little girls will absolutely love and I think it is well worth the price tag. My daughter has had so much joy from it, she is now wanting to convert part of her room to a Baby Annabelle corner. 


baby annabelle doll

baby annabelle lunch time table


Baby Annabelle also comes with plenty of accessories and new this year is the Lunch Time Table Set. We have played with this a lot and it is quite funny to see your kid get frustrated when Baby Annabelle turns her nose up at everything you offer her - just like they used to do as babies ha ha! The Lunch time Table Set is fun to play with, and seems to randomly assign either a good or a bad reaction, and you will have to swap the drinks and the foods until you get a happy response. You can then feed Baby Annabelle who will make happy sounds (the sounds come from the table).

Check out my giveaway for Baby Annabelle and this accessory at the end of this post!


anna singing fashion doll


Frozen 2 toys are BIG this year - every girl seems to want something. The most popular toys will be the Anna and Elsa fashion dolls, which you can also get in light-up or singing versions - ours are the singing versions. Another very popular Frozen 2 toy is the Into the Unknown doll, which is a cuter child-like version of Elsa, and who sings and lights up.


walkie talkie toy


Walkie talkies seem to be a VERY popular gift this year, and often out of stock. I got ours from BrightMinds, who provide a wide variety of learning and creative play toys. Walkie talkies are great fun at this age, as you can use them with your friends or parents. I would say these are great to encourage your kid to go and have an outdoor adventure!


STEM toys and other learning toys

For STEM and learning kits I was introduced to BrightMinds this year - their tag line is "where learning is fun"! And looking through their website, there was lots of fantastic science toys, toys to help learning and fantastic creative play toys. They have a section for new toys for 2019, and lots of science toys too, for all ages. 


magic of magnets stem kit

easyread time teaching wall clock

moon beam night light


From BrightMinds I got a Thames & Kosmos Magic of Magnets kit, which will be a great help in learning science and testing how magnets work. The kit teaches you how to build a compass and has games for magnets too. Another learning item I got was an Easyread Time Teaching Wall Clock - it uses colours and phrases to teach kids how to read a clock. I've never seen these before but they look like they would be fantastic learning tools. There are Easyread wristwatches too. 

And while not quite a STEM toy or a learning toy, this Moon Beam Light seemed like a fun addition  to room decor and something that could encourage an interest in space. It is apparently a faithful reproduction of the moon! 

Collectible toys

There are so many collectible toys girls this age love - LOL Surprise dolls seem like they are very popular. This year I have got these little Hatchimal Royal collegtible eggs - you hatch them by rubbing on the egg, and there is a tiny little animal toy inside. In the Snowball edition they are all dressed up in a wintery fashion. 

Sylvanian families were super popular in my childhood and I always wanted to have some, so now I got a Sylvanian family of rabbits for my rabbit-mad daughter. If you visit the pop-up shop in London you can find the limited edition Guardian Bear there. Sylvanian families also do blind bags with babies, which are only £3 and would be great as little stocking fillers!


collectible toys


Make-up and beauty items

Girls this age start to LOVE make-up, but I prefer if it is still child-like at this age. Hair accessories are great too. This year I got her some hair chalk pens, which also came with some hair accessories. This kit should be fun for her to play with. After testing it, it does give a very good colour coverage, even for darker hair. Lip balms and lip glosses are an easy make-up item too, and what would be better than a chocolate flavoured ones! Nail polishes and nail stickers are good fun at this age too! I also included a craft set for a fairy flower crown, right up a little girls streets!


hair accessories and make up for girls


Books

There are so many great books for this age range as they start to get more confident with their reading. For girls that love fairies and everything magical, Magic Fairy books are great! Isadora Moon on the other hand is a half fairy, half vampire and totally unique, and this Isadora Moon Makes Winter Magic should be a fun book to get into over the holidays. 




So here were my tips... but I would love to know your choices for this age bracket?


What would you choose as a Christmas gift for young girls?


You can win your own Baby Annabelle doll and her Lunch Time Table Set, together RRP £69.98 with my giveaway. Enter via Rafflecopter below, UK entries only, 18 over only, ends 12th January 2020. The doll is unboxed (unused, new), no batteries included. The Lunch Time Table is boxed. 






16 December 2019

Twinning my girls with Lighthouse Clothing: Review

I love twinning my girls. I have always thought it looks fun and cute so having two girls was a jackpot for my mummy stylist dreams... 

This weekend I twinned the girls with the help of Lighthouse Clothing who asked me to review a few items from their new collections. It can be difficult to find clothing collections that work for an age gap of five years like our girls have. Most clothing collections are from 0 to five, and from three to twelve. My girls are one and six, so the sizes needed are 1-2 and 6-7. Lighthouse Clothing however do kids collections from sizes 1-2 all the way up to 9-10, so plenty of choice!

girls with navy coats

sisters at park

girl pushing a toy pram


From their new collection I chose the girls Emma Coat in Night Sky dark blue as their autumn and winter rain coats. Such a classic and beautiful coat, this had a couple of cute girly touches such as a pink logo and pink striping on the inner seams. I'm liking the stylish little touches, and the coats look great on the girls. 

I was really keen on this coat as it has a 100% cotton outer with a Teflon coating, so it feels nice and breathable on. The coat is highly waterproof at 5000mm, highly breathable at 5000gsm, windproof and has taped seams so is perfect for outdoors adventures. You can tell the coats are high quality when you see them live, and they feel nice to touch. They are slightly padded and have a curved hem, so are warm and protect your bum too if sitting or sliding down something wet. Sizing is accurate, although I got 7-8 for my older one (normally she wears 6-7) as Lighthouse Clothing had only 5-6 or 7-8 sizes. It is slightly large, although should fit her well next year too.


girl in a navy lighthouse clothing rain coat

girls walking in a park in rain coats


The coats feel warm. So far the girls have been fine wearing these, the temperatures near us have been around 5 degrees. The coats might be OK throughout the winter with a woolly sweater underneath, but we shall have to see how cold January will get.  The only downside of these coats is that due to the colour dirt shows easily and I have to wash these near weekly to keep them tidyish. Frequent washing might eventually affect the Teflon coating and thus waterproofing. 

I also got the girls Causeway Tops with the Llama Applique design. These were fun and colourful and the girls love wearing these. The cotton is sturdy and good quality, and should wash very well. The applique was very high quality and had lots of detail to it - such a cute design! With these shirts the fit is quite slim. The shirt fit well on my older child, but the toddler size (size 1-2) was very slim - narrow on the tummy area so it snags, but otherwise length and shoulders were normal. It would have been good if it was more roomy in the toddler sizes due to the usual toddler body shape - had I known the sizing on the shirts was very slim I would have gone for one size bigger.


toddler in a lighthouse clothing coat

girl in a navy lighthouse clothing emma coat

stripey causeway llama top


All in all these were lovely and well-made clothing - I was very pleased with the quality and craftmanship, and they have been well-used in our home and outdoors adventures. The girls enjoy wearing their matching coats and shirts. And as for me - everytime I see them matching and being oh so cute sisters, I just squeal a little inside with delight!



sisters sitting on a sofa reading a book






13 December 2019

How to survive Winter Wonderland with kids

The last time I've been to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland was in 2017 and my, it seems to grow bigger and bigger each year! This year we were invited to attend Winter Wonderland press day to review the experience and got some free tickets to shows and rides to be able to do this. We went as a family - mum, dad, a six year old and a toddler - and on this post I wanted to share a few tips on what to expect and how to make the most out of Winter Wonderland if you have kids. 

Overall, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is a great family day out. It is big, and hectic, and truth be told, rather expensive, but the kids loved it. Us parents, well, we had fun too.


winter wonderland big wheel


We spent the whole day at Winter Wonderland, from around 10.30AM to 5-6PM.  I'd recommend starting your day early, especially if you are bringing a pram! There were hardly any queues in the morning and early afternoon. Late afternoon and especially after sunset it started to get extremely busy and you could hardly walk around without bumping into lots of people. By 5PM the kids were knackered so it was time to go. 


What attractions are there?

There were plenty of things to see. My personal favourites were the Magical Ice Kingdom and the Giant Wheel.

Magical Ice Kingdom is an incredible collection of ice sculptures, this year in the theme of A Christmas Carol by Dickens. It is just amazing. Beautiful, mesmerising and filled with great photo opportunities. There was an ice slide, which was great fun, and ice thrones to take photos on. It was -10C inside, so wrap up extra warm and bring a hat so you won't have to rush through.

Giant Wheel is the big ferris wheel right in the middle of Winter Wonderland. Great views, and in the morning  and midday you didn't have to queue long longer than five minutes, got your own booth, and the wheel went round four times. In the evening, while the lights are truly mesmerising, it gets so busy you will be waiting forever and I hear it goes round just twice. So, earlier you go the better it is with kids.

view from feeris wheel

ferris wheel cabin

view from the giant wheel

family selfie


Other than that there is ice skating, rides and Christmas Grotto and a Christmas market. Grotto has a long queue, so if you want to do it, it might be worth going there as early in the day as possible. We didn't do this as I didn't want to queue. The Christmas market is fun to walk through, lots of traditional looking booths and crafts, and other products too.

We also went into the Upside Down House - don't take your babies or toddlers though as it is awkward to walk around on tilted floors. It was quite uncomfortable for us with a one year old, and while we got some fun photos, it was difficult to wrangle a toddler there.

In addition to these attractions, there are also shows...


ice door

ice sculptures

woman ice sculpture

ice fox

ice sulctures and ice bridge

shops made of ice

icy shop front

ice thrones


What shows to see?

This year (2019) there are several shows too see - Mr Men & Little Miss, Zippos Circus, Paddington on Ice, Cirque Berserk and Comedy Club. The first three are suitable for young children, and are during the morning or day time. 

We went to see Mr Men & Little Miss show as it seemed to be perfect for the age bracket our kids are in. While the kids were mesmerised at first, the show did go so long the younger one became restless. I know I'm not the target audience at 36 years of age, but there didn't seem to be much of a story and it was difficult to hear what was going on as the circus tent could be a bit noisy. I'd have preferred a shorter show, with a bit more volume.

As the kids (and the third big kid...) were so restless after the show and wanted to explore the Winter Wonderland area, we skipped the next show from Zippos Circus. That said, this show was well received by other reviewers on the day so do keep it in mind when you visit. I feel confident in recommending Zippos Circus as well - we had a fantastic time at their show earlier this year. 


two girls watching the show

mr men show

zippos circus performers



What were the best rides for kids?

Lots of variety depending on the ages of the kids - big scary ones for the teens and your traditional merry-go-rounds for the little ones for example. As for my personal favourite... I would recommend Ice Slide as long as your kids are tall enough. My six year old was just tall enough. So much fun sliding down a 45m ice slide on a rubber ring - strangely scary too! You get two goes, and there can be a bit of a queue, but it is worth it.

The cost for the rides is usually from £2-5, although you will have to exchange your cash for tokens. Slightly annoyingly, there were several rides where you can't let the little little ones go on their own, but you still have to pay for the privilege of accompanying them. Some rides (Teacup, Bumper cars) on the other hand parents could accompany kids for free.

Near the rides there are plenty of games too - keep an eye out for the ones where everyone will win if you've got kids that want to try get a prize!


ice slide ride

tea cup ride

bumper cars

merry go around

merry go around


Where to eat?

With kids the Street Food area is probably the easiest, as you can grab and go, and there is plenty of variety for all kids of tastes. Lots of good booths to eat from - burgers, chicken, fish and chips, hot dogs, toasted sandwiches, pizza, and so on, but with a very upmarket quality to them. The prices were upmarket too of course. You can expect to pay £7 for a kids fish and chips for example. We got two burgers, chips, fish and chips, and some drinks, and our lunch cost around £40.

For dessert, try some churros or fresh donuts! My older child is always going on about these how amazing they are, and they are very nice Imust admit!

If you have a packed lunch, or prefer to eat at a calmer place, go to Kakao Kids Family Chill Area close to the Christmas Grotto. Relaxed place for families to sit down.

upside down house posing

upside down house

decorating upside down christmas tree

burger



Top tips for families with kids:

  • Go early - morning there were no queues for anything. From midday there starts to be more people, and by dark it is getting so busy it stops being much fun with the kids. 
  • Try something unusual and wintery - Magical Ice Kingdom and the Ice Slide ride for example. Both great fun! Ice-skating might be fun with older kids too. 
  • Giant Wheel gives you amazing views over London, but do visit it in the morning or midday to avoid long queues. 
  • If you need to chill out with the kids a bit, or eat a packed lunch, Kakao Kids has a nice Family Chill Area at Santaland area. You can also warm up bottles and food for the little ones there. 
  • If you buy food at location, Street Food area has many booths located right next to each other so you can have a good variety. 
  • Santas Grotto is free, but queues can be long. Best go early. 
  • If you see shows, you will have to contend with leaving the buggies outside, and wrangling bags and kids and jackets inside. Not the easiest prospect, and you can make it easier for yourself by bringing as small a bag as possible. 
  • It is an outdoor location, so dress sensibly and bring warm clothes especially if you are going to the Magical Ice Kingdom. 
  • It is quite hectic, so beware and prepare I guess ha ha! It can be overwhelming for kids (I know it was a bit for me) so just try have a relaxed approach to the day. 
  • Family entrance is the Red Gate - this is closest to all the favourite family activities of Winter Wonderland, like Santaland, the kids rides, circus tent, Magical Ice Kingdom and so on. Closest tube station is the Marble Arch Station. Gold Gate is a convenient entry point too. 


winter wonderland at night

nighlights at winter wonderland


All in all, a fun hectic day. You can easily spend all day at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, seeing shows and going on rides, but you also need deep pockets for all the entertainment!


Have you ever been to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland? 

Top tips on how to have fun and survive a hectic day out with kids at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.

Top tips on how to have fun and survive a hectic day out with kids at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Ideas for food, shows, attractions and rides.

Top tips on how to have fun and survive a hectic day out with kids at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Ideas for food and fun activities.


You might also like: Our amazingly fun first visit to Zippos Circus and Strolling through Winter Wonderland



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