This week I popped my 2017 mince pie cherry.

To be honest, this is pretty late in the year for me to be starting on the festive themed snacks. Come to think of it, I’ve not even had a glass of mulled wine yet. Honestly, what’s the matter with me? The more I hear people complaining about Christmas songs playing in shops the more I want to crack out Slade and whip up an eggnog, so you’d think I’d be onto chocolate yule logs at least by now.

You can probably imagine then that my arm didn’t take a great deal of twisting when Iceland asked if I fancied hosting an elegant Christmas party to showcase their luxury foods range. Plus, having been up to London to for a preview of Iceland’s Christmas food earlier in the year, (in a heatwave), I already knew how tasty their luxury range is.

Festive no brainer really.

It got me thinking though about what makes a good Christmas party – how do you put on an impressive party over the festive season? What’s the secret?

I’m slightly strange in that although I love GOING to parties, now I’m at the age where I own decent carpets/am pretty lazy, I’m not massively keen on HOSTING parties. Ditto Christmas – I’ll happily turn up anywhere with a sack of pressies and a bottle of Harveys Bristol Cream, but please don’t make me baste anything. (Thinking about it, perhaps that’s not so strange really.)

Christmas parties then. Here’s what I think you need:

Christmas decorations

Oh look! The Christmas wreath has ACCIDENTALLY fallen out of the cupboard and hung itself on the front door, even though it’s only November. What a shame!

One of my favourite things about my new house is that it has a fire place in the living room. It’s not for the open fire – I’ve had to stick a cushion up the chimney as an anti-cat climbing measure – it’s so that I have a mantelpiece to decorate at Christmas with festive twigs and snow globes and what not.

If you’re hosting a Christmas party this year and want to impress your guests then you MUST have good decorations.

Christmas party decorations View Post

Christmas is here and that means that everyone will be on the lookout for the best holiday parties to attend. After all, for adults, Christmas parties are pretty much the best part of the holidays (unless they still somehow manage to get as many gifts as they did as a kid, that is). If you decide to take matters into your own hands and throw the party yourself this year, there are some definite things you need in order to throw the best Christmas party your guests will ever attend. While we can’t do it for you, we can give you some fun party ideas to try out that will certainly get you on your way.

Christmas party ideas

1. Set Up a Theme

One great way to get everyone in the holiday mood is to set up a theme for your party and the no brainer option is to throw an ugly Christmas sweater party. Sure, everyone does it, but it really never gets old as people are actually on the lookout for these hilarious sweaters all year long in the attempts to have the ugliest and most amazing one at the event. Since it is no fun unless everyone is wearing one, you might want to prepare ahead of time by collecting some extra sweaters that you can loan to any party guest who might show up without one. If you want to make a statement and stand out (as any party host should!), purchase ugly Christmas sweaters at Tipsy Elves—this company offers a variety of hilarious designs that will have your friends laughing in shock and awe.

2. Play Games

Not everyone immediately thinks of games when they think of Christmas parties, but there are loads of games you could play with your guests to make sure that everyone gets in the holiday spirit. You could go the traditional route and play a trivia game centered around Christmas movies, or you could take the more adventurous (and adult) route and play a game like Cards Against Humanity (which has released holiday-themed expansion packs in the past).

3. Set Up a DIY Photo Booth Area

A party just ain’t a party nowadays if there is not a rented photo booth there for the guests to have fun with. Let’s be honest, half the fun at a party is to be found spending countless hours posing like weirdos with your closest friends in the photo booth. However, utilizing the services of an actual photo booth company can be super expensive and considering the holiday season is already a pricey time of year, no one wants to be shelling out big bucks on a party. Thankfully, you can create your own DIY photo booth by simply hanging something up as a backdrop – you can do it with a simple colored sheet or get creative with paper and pin on some snowmen and a Christmas tree. Other than that, all you need is to gather up some props (like Santa hats, reindeer antlers and whatever else you can find). Since everyone has smartphones now, everyone will have their own camera to snap pics with – though you can also provide an instant camera if you would like.

4. Throw a Modern Cocktail Party

If you and your friends are the sophisticated types who only drink fancy cocktails (or have always want to live in the world of Mad Men), you could throw a modern cocktail party with a holiday twist. There are tons of cocktail recipe books out there and we are pretty sure there are ones based on the holidays, so just find one that you like and pick a handful of recipes for your guests. Then go to the store and grab all of the ingredients your guests will need to get mixing – just make sure that you will have enough for the entire night. You should also enforce a cocktail attire dress code to go along with the classy theme. Obviously.

Christmas party ideas

5. Utilise Social Media

This one is a small thing, but people will really appreciate it. Social media apps like Snapchat now let you create your very own custom filter, which you can do for your party. It is a lot more fun to Snap for your guests when they can use a special filter that will let all of their followers know that they are having a blast at yet another holiday party.

Images – g-stockstudio and Sergey Nivens from shutterstock

There’s an ongoing debate on whether we should ban homework during school holidays altogether, but learning at home doesn’t need to be restricted to a pen and paper. There are plenty of ways to teach that are more relaxed – with activities that are so enjoyable that your kids won’t even realise they’re learning.

Get creative

Sling on an apron and cook together. Be it cakes, cookies or lasagne, cooking opens up opportunities to teach maths, nutrition, problem-solving, chemistry, kitchen safety and, of course, baking skills. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of baking yourself you can do lots of fun creative projects like painting or arts and crafts. If they’re creating something, their imagination is flowing, which alone makes it worthwhile.

Explore new places

When on holiday everything will be new to you too, so spending time as a family exploring a new destination is certainly something to get excited about. Looking for learning opportunities with the beach at your feet obviously won’t be at the top of your to do list, but it shouldn’t be that difficult to seek out. When in Greece or Turkey look for the many archeological sites, try traditional cuisine (and a bit of the lingo) in Spain or Mexico or, if in New York, head to Broadway for an entertaining yet cultural theatre show, like, Latin History for Morons. Holidays can easily be educational without being dull in the slightest.

Get filming

You know your child better than anyone so tailor the activities to things they are interested in. If your child likes to watch films, suggest to make their own. You don’t need fancy equipment to do that either, using just a smartphone camera with an video editing app will produce outstanding results. Let them make a script and think of characters, plot twists, camera angles, locations and costumes. It’s a great way to think outside of the box and create something together. It’s also a nice keepsake to have. You can even be ‘that parent’ who will show this to everyone on their 18th birthday party.

Old school fun

If it’s a bit chilly and has started to rain, the prospects of heading outdoors isn’t too favourable. In times like these, just think, what did they do in the 80s? Get the board games out of course. Sit down as a family, unleash that healthy competition and play a round or two of Scrabble, Boggle, Trivial Pursuit, or whatever your brain-puzzling game of choice is.

Be a big kid

Let’s face it, you’re going to have to endure the learning as well, so why not put yourself in your kids’ size two shoes and have some fun? Take a road trip to the beach to eat ice cream in the rain and watch the tide, visit the zoo to learn about the penguins, or go to a farm and feed the little lambs. There’s lots to explore in the UK you just need to think outside the box and not take teaching so seriously.

There are many great lessons to be found in fun places. Finding fun ways to enhance learning is key to building on your child’s experience in the classroom.

Christmas stocking

Image Monkey Business Images by shutterstock

The holidays are quickly approaching, do you have your holiday shopping finished yet? Many times, people will complete the large purchases on their list and seem to run out of time for smaller items. Stocking stuffers are great last-minute items you can grab and place in the stockings that are hung by the chimney with care.

What are the best kinds of stocking stuffers to purchase though? Whether you are in Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane, you can sometimes feel frustrated with the mad dash to get last minute stocking stuffers. Christmas present ideas are often challenging for that person who has everything.

Keep reading, and you will be informed of the six most incredible Christmas stocking stuffers for your holiday gift giving this year.

Gag Gifts

Gag gifts are the best Christmas gift ideas when it comes to that outrageous fun-loving person. I mean, who would not want a poop emoji coffee mug in their Christmas stocking? Many gag gifts are raunchy and a little over the top, so make sure the person you are giving the gift too will be entertained by it and not offended!

Gift Cards

What fits well into a small stocking? A gift card of course! Gift cards are perfect stocking stuffers because they allow the individual to buy the colour, size, or fragrance they like instead of you trying to guess. They are also helpful for that person that has everything. Make sure to choose a suitable site that has a variety of Christmas gifts in stock.

Food

Who doesn’t like food, especially around the holidays? Holiday candies and cookies turn out to be great stocking stuffers for the foodie in your life. Make sure you know their favourite types of snacks and goodies and surprise them on Christmas morning with a stocking full of deliciousness.

Movie & Television Themed

One way to get a lot of smiles on Christmas morning is to fill your loved one’s stocking with movie themed items. Do they like Star Wars? The Big Bang Theory? How about Finding Nemo?

These movies and television shows have many gifts for any person out there. Whether you want a Leonard bobblehead or Star Wars ceramic teapot, one thing is for sure everything that your loved one wants is available nowadays!

Games

Another hot item for stocking stuffers are good old-fashioned games. Whether they are Harry Potter playing cards, dice games, brainteasers, or adult fun coupons and cards, you can find many game related ideas to use as stocking stuffers for your friends, spouse, or kids.

Pet-Related

What cat would not want to chase catnip bubbles around the house on Christmas morning? How much fun would the family dog have with a Nerf slingshot frog launcher? These are just a couple of examples of the crazy and fun pet-related items you can get as a stocking stuffer for your friends or family.

Stocking Stuffers Are Fun!

Stocking stuffers have a unique appeal because they are a mash-up of a bunch of things. What better fun than to run downstairs on Christmas morning and dump your stocking out on the floor to see what was left for you? Is it a toy/game or is it a lump of coal?

Since stocking stuffers are usually not wrapped, you can rip into them and enjoy the gag gift, the pet type item, the movie-themed gift, or the food-related present that was left for you.

Stocking stuffers at Christmas are like the hors-d’oeuvres of the food world. You start with them and move onto the main course of opening presents under the tree. Hopefully, you will receive everything your heart desires this holiday season! Holiday holidays everyone!

Hands up if you’ve got a cold.

*surveys show of hands*

I suspected as much. It’s that time of the year isn’t it? We’re inside more, the heating is on, we’re all starting to feel a bit tired – it’s only natural. It’s not much fun though.

What’s worse is when your baby or toddler gets a cold. They’re sad, but you can’t really explain it to them, and it can be difficult to know what to do for the best.

Here’s Bee as a baby:

olbas for children

Can you just imagine her with a cold, looking all snotty and upset? It’s not nice is it?

One thing you might like to try is Olbas for Children. Olbas for Children is a gentle yet effective decongestant, especially for children aged from three months to two years. It offers effective day or night relief for little stuffy noses using plant oils to relieve congestion and ease natural breathing. (Always read the label and keep out of sight and reach of children.)

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I had a boyfriend once who refused to kick piles of autumn leaves.

Every time I did it, he would do that thing where you draw your breath in sharply between your teeth.

‘What’s the matter?’ I would say, foot mid air, ready to send a heap of red and gold leaves flying across the path.

‘You shouldn’t kick the leaves like that,’ he would reply. ‘You never know what might be under them. You’ll probably end up kicking dog shit.’

It took the edge of my autumnal fun, that’s for sure.

It made me sad too, because as an attitude to life, what even is this??

why you should kick autumn leaves View Post