A guest post from Bee – things that make Christmas special to me

Today I have a guest post from Bee, about her favourite Christmas traditions.

Christmas presents

All of my 20 Christmases so far have comprised of the same basic elements that I rely on to officially make it Christmas every year. Things generally happen in about the same way every time and I like the way things are. This year, however, I am going for my first Christmas in Ireland. I’m going for four days, which I am currently trying to manage in my mind as I really don’t like being away from London, let alone being abroad. Hopefully Christmas will still be nice though, even if I have to get my head around not having the usual Christmas traditions to look forward to. View Full Post

Competition – Win a child’s winter jacket with Muddy Puddles

Yet another competition! I’m just too good to you. I’m just throwing competitions at you, you’re entering them to win lovely things… I think this relationship is working really well, don’t you?

This week I have a great competition for you courtesy of Muddy Puddles, a company that’s committed to making durable, practical and protective clothing that ensures your children can go outdoors whatever the weather. Their clothing is particularly useful for those times when you have had a particularly stressful day and ask the kids if they would ‘like to go and play outside for a bit’ when what you really mean is ‘get out of the house for an hour so I can drink this cup of tea and look at a magazine in peace’. Now you can kick the kids outside whatever the weather! Or take them on a wholesome family walk, whichever you prefer.

Muddy Puddles competition View Full Post

Shop smart this Christmas and avoid the cyber-grinches

Have you given any thought to the hackability of your Christmas gifts this year?

Have you given any thought to whether hackability is even a word? It’s probably best you don’t, as I don’t think it is.

Intel Security recently conducted some research into the most hackable Christmas gifts, with a view to offering some top tips on how to protect yourself and your family. Christmas wouldn’t be a terribly jolly affair after all if you ended up the victim of online fraud now would it? That would take the thrill out of your Trivial Pursuit win.

The results surprised me if I’m honest. I always figured that it was just things like laptops, phones and tablets that were susceptible to hacking, but it’s actually a far wider reaching problem than that. The top four, according to Intel Security, are as follows:

   1. Smartphones and Tablets

   2. Drones and Camera-enabled Devices

   3. Children’s Gadgets

   4. Smartwatches and Fitness Trackers View Full Post

The one where I get excited about being nominated for a cool award

This week I have been trying to act casual. 

You can tell because my face gets that odd, tense look and my laugh gets a little high pitched. The overall effect is of someone trying to look dead casual, and failing miserably, looking instead like they might be having a mini stroke.

It’s because I’ve been getting excited about going to the Vuelio Blog Awards on Friday in London. I’m one of four people up for the parenting award, and I’m incredibly flattered to have been chosen. It’s not like some blogging awards, which are chosen based on votes and are essentially popularity contests, it has been judged by a panel of experts, and as a result it feels much more special – a bunch of people who don’t even know me have sat down, looked at the UK blogosphere, read loads of parent blogs, and picked mine as one of their favourites. It feels pretty ace.

I’m trying to act casual though because I’m not sure it’s terribly cool to admit that actually you really, really want to win. I think I’m meant to say that it doesn’t matter to me whether or not people like what I write, or how many people read it, or whether it makes them laugh or cry. I think I’m meant to say that I do it just for the love, because I want to share my thoughts with the world and it doesn’t matter to me if only one person reads them.

That’s nonsense of course.

We all want to be liked and respected, we all want to do well, and I of all people am driven by wanting to be recognised as being good at what I do. I have always thrived on praise, like a small child. If I win, this will be me:

Vuelio Blog Awards

So, what’s my point?

I guess it’s a thank you really. It is a cliché, but it’s true that this whole thing just wouldn’t be the same without you. Everybody that has ever read my blog, or told their friends about it, or tweeted a link to a post they loved, has contributed to its success. You might be reading this for the first time, (in which case, hoorah!), or maybe you’ve been reading for years, and have stuck with me through the ups and downs and frequent moaning and ranting. (Double hoorah!)

Whatever the case, thank you. Thank you for helping me to create something that means I can work flexibly around my family, and get to do cool stuff, and spend my time writing. I really, really appreciate it. That means more to me than any award.*

Wish me luck!

Vuelio Blog Awards

*Very nearly true.

Photo credit – Melpomene and  Luis Molinero/shutterstock

How to: DIY advent calendar balloons with Balloon Time

DIY advent balloons

I’m assuming you all had a go at my trick or treat balloons last month?


And you enjoyed it so much that you’d like another balloon craft activity for this month?

Excellent. Of course. Well you’ve come to the right place. This weekend I had a go at making some advent calendar balloons, which I think make a thoughtful alternative to simply giving your kids a shaped piece of cheap, nasty tasting chocolate every day during December.

My idea works as follows – every day you choose a teeny tiny gift, or write a lovely note with a special message, or reminder to do something festive, and you seal it up in a box, jar, or some sort of carefully crafted container. Every morning, before your children have woken up, you fill a balloon with helium, tie it to the gift with a length of suitably festive ribbon or string, and leave it outside their door.

Yes, it is a bit of a faff, and it will involve you getting up early and having a tank of helium in your bedroom for a month, but come on!! This is Christmas!! Time to make the effort. View Full Post