Arghhhhhh…..We’ve reached that time of year when there are Christmas parties left right and centre and the work Secret Santa. In previous years I think I’ve been much more confident with this as I knew my colleagues quite well and had sussed their sense of humour or lack of if appropriate. This year I have a bunch of brand new colleagues so I may have to play it safe. Here are my Secret Santa Present Ideas……..
Ps – If you are one of my new colleagues reading this – My actual Secret Santa present is not listed. How stoopid do you think I am!!!
There is usually a price cap on work Secret Santa Presents. Ours is a spend of no more than £5.00 but add some up to £10.00 as well.
Yesterday was late night shopping in Exeter and as I’m feeling a little bit less exhausted at the moment we thought we would take the opportunity to take a trip to the Christmas Lights.
I met Chris and Isabelle in town after I finished work in the hope that we could catch the 5pm showing of Spark which are an LED drumming group in Princesshay.
We turned up just in time as they had just started. It was heaving so it was quite difficult at first to find a spot where Isabelle might have a chance to be able to see.
We did find the perfect spot where lots of children were and Isabelle had the perfect view until a group of women came and pushed their way through and stood in front of the kids. I was more than a bit annoyed!
However, it took a bit of an unexpected turn when the drummers started to march through the crowd and headed off through the shopping centre. Everybody upped and left to follow them.
At first we weren’t going to follow as there were so many people we didn’t think we’d stand a chance of being able to see them. We headed off in the directed of the Charity Christmas trees, which if you know Exeter are in behind the side of Debenhams and go along all the way past Chando’s Deli (yum) where you end up back in the centre of Princesshay.
It just so happens that we ended up in the middle of the Spark drummers. Quite literally as they went past either side of us which was quite a treat. We had a great view and managed to watch the remainder of the show.
We finished off our Christmas Lights outing by going for food of Isabelle’s choice, so off we headed to McDonalds to join the longest queue along with half of Exeter’s parents and kid population!
This year I think I’m going to try and convince Chris into taking us on a bit of a tour of the streets where there are houses that have decorated the outside of their houses. I thought that we could have some snacks, maybe some chocolates and even a cup of hot chocolate (in a travel mug). I’ve yet to mention this so Sshhhh…….
Following on from My Christmas Wish List, I thought I would post Isabelle’s Christmas Wish List so here is the Christmas Wish List of a 7 year old. The list is endless. She wants everything that she see’s advertised on the TV so we have had a chat about Christmas not being just about presents to which she rolled her eyes at me.
So here goes……
Top of the list has to be the Zoomer Show Pony and I’m pretty sure that you can get a unicorn version as well. Neither of the kids have had any kind of robotic toy before so I’m not sure if this will be a five minute fad or something Isabelle will get a lot of play out of.
Hatchimals Twins – I thought Isabelle would have liked the pink giraffe’s but apparently she wants these Peacats. She was desperate for a Hatchimal last year but after searching high and low we just weren’t quick enough off the mark to get one.
The Shopkins Shoppies Skyanna’s Jet Set Playset – We ummed and ahhed over this for Isabelle’s birthday in September but in the end opted for a different Shopkins Set. However, this has been mentioned time and time again and she really does get a lot of use out of her Shopkins so I’ve got a feeling that this may be under the tree come Christmas day.
Unicorn Poo – What is it with slime at the moment? We did try and make our own slime a couple of times which went completely wrong. I’m not sure that this is slime but she loves the rainbow colour and it’s squishy so it’s on the list!
LOL Doll Big Surprise Ball – I feel awful writing this, but although this is on Isabelle’s wish list it will not be under the tree this Christmas. Apart from the fact that they are impossible to get they really don’t seem good value for money at all. Once all the plastic has been taken off and each ball has been open there is very little to show for your money.
Fingerlings – These cute little monkey’s curl around your finger and seem to be one of the must haves for this year. Isabelle has wanted one of these for a little while and they are very reasonably priced as a gift so why not.
A Unicorn Hooded Blanket – With the colder weather and my pregnancy exhaustion we’ve been snuggling up on the sofa after school to watch films and play games. Isabelle loves a blanket and we spotted this hooded one which I thought would be perfect. She may even let me have a corner to cover my feet.
Spirograph – This has been around for years, but I don’t think will ever go out of trend since it’s a bit of a classic. Isabelle loves to draw and colour so would really enjoy this set. She’s seen it on TV quite a few times and has screeched at the TV that she ‘has to have it’!
Lego Friends Heartlake Summer Pool. She’s got a few smaller Lego sets now and has really enjoyed building them. We saw this set in town the last time we went in so this went on the Christmas list.
Colour Glow Glisten Build a Bear. I did point out that she already has a Build a Bear Reindeer but it’s not this one, so it’s on the list. She has quite a nice collection of Build a Bears along with accessories but never tires of them. This is the one shop along with Smiggle that we can’t get past in town without just having a look.
This is just the cream of Isabelle’s Christmas Wish List.
#Blogmas – Day 4 – Christmas Activities for Families in Exeter
I think we’re really lucky living in Exeter as there are so many things to do and see, and we’re definitely spoilt for choice at Christmas. Here are some of the things that we have done in the past as well as some things we think you will love.Exeter
1. Cathedral Christmas Market
Don’t forget to take a trip to the Christmas Market which is held in the Cathedral Green. It’s packed full of lovely local sellers where you can buy lots of unusual and unique gifts. There are also lots of food stalls so you can make a bit of an event of it with a bit of shopping, something to eat and a glass of mulled wine. It’s even nicer if you go on a Thursday evening for late night shopping, but be warned if you take the kids as it’s usually heaving. If you want to check out what kind of stalls are there then head on over to the Exeter Cathedral Website where they are listed.
Thursday 7th December. Performances will take place at 5pm, 6pm and 7pm and last about 30 minutes. Spark combines high impact drumming with kaleidoscope lighting. It looks like a real treat. We’re going to head to Princesshay to watch this and am looking forward to it.
Saturday 16th December. Taking place at Grammarcombe Woods this festive celebration involves Christmas Craft Activities. All children get that chance to make a Christmas gift to take home and keep. There will be a surprise visit from Santa and his elf helper where all children will receive a special gift. Tickets (booking essential) are priced at £9.50 for children over 18 months, £6.50 for adults. The price includes a Christmas gift for the children and hot chocolate or hot drinks for all.
If you’re looking for a real Christmas Tree then head to Cotley Farm and make it into a christmassy experience. Visit the farm shop, pick out a tree and then head to meet the reindeer (including one year old Willow). They are also holding Kids Craft Events in December where the kids can make a creation that they can take home to keep. Booking is advisable for the crafting but you can pop to the farm during opening hours at your leisure.
It’s a while since I read Wind in the Willows, and we’ve yet to read it to Isabelle. Killerton is one of the places that we like to and explore, often with our dog in tow. It’s a beautiful setting. This year you will find Toad, Ratty Mole and Badger throughout the rooms where scenes are set up to tell the story. As well as the house, you can wander through the twinkling outdoor trails where you will find activities themed on the classic story. Dates for this are available throughout December and end on the 5th January. Booking is essential as all events do get really busy.
Join the donkeys and Santa himself for a magical evening of Christmas carols illuminated by thousands of candles. There will be 20 jazz saxophonists from the Saxminster band who will play a host of merry tunes followed by a 45 minute Christmas Carol Service starting at 5pm. Mulled wine, hot drinks and mince pies will be available as well as hot food served in their restaurant. The event is free to attend so I imagine you will have to get there nice and early.
For one day only there is a very special surprise for all the very lucky boys and girls who have been well behaved this year! Santa will share his favourite Christmas Story, and you will get to meet his trusted Reindeer and Snow Dog. You can even pop to the North Pole Workshop and make your own gift. For the adults there will be the opportunity to buy some Christmas gifts at the Christmas Market where local traders will be selling their wares. Admission is £8.00 for children which allows one adult free admission. Additional adults will be charged at £4.
I hope this give you a good start with things to do. This is going to be an ongoing post that I will update as I find or go to exciting events. Do you have somewhere great that you like to take your children?
A new cosy dressing gown. Especially as much of my time at the moment is spent resting on the sofa when I get home from work and the rest of the time sleeping (trying) I fancy a new dressing gown. I like this Ted Baker Grey Dressing Gown from Debenhams. It’s the colour and the cozy-looking-ness of this one that I like.
Sticking along the comfort line, I would really like some lovely comfy (and stretchy) pyjamas. I really like these Peacock Pyjamas from Next which are not in the maternity range but they do have an elasticated waist to they will probably be fine.
I love a planner or notebooks so I’ve picked this Passion Planner which I’ve heard mentioned a few times around the blogging world which I would LOVE.
A Light Box – I’ve wanted one of these for a while but just haven’t got round to buying one.
A New Bag – I can just see Chris rolling his eyes at the mere mention of another bag, but I don’t have anywhere as many as most women so there! I like this one which is an everyday bag which would be suitable for work.
A pair of Maternity Skinny Jeans. I’m a little way off maternity clothes at the moment but the time will come when I need some stretchy clothes. I’m going to pick these Skinny Jeans from New Look since they will go with anything.
A New Coat with room for a bump. The coats that I currently have are all quite tight fitting so it won’t take long for my belly to be popping out.
Last on my list is a pair of new boots and I’ve spotted these ones that are totally lush and would go with my skinny jeans and the above coat whilst holding my new handbag.
As you can see pretty much everything I’ve chosen is a practical item but they are things that I want.
To kick off our #Blogmas posts this month I thought I would do a round-up of Non-Toy Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids. I already feel quite overwhelmed with the buying expectation of parents. The pressure that we feel to make sure we buy the ‘must-have’ toys and games which is clearly what Christmas is all about. Or is it?
Sometimes the best things you can buy for your children is an experience that will create life-long memories or nurture an interest that they may have shown. Here are a list of ideas of alternatives to toys that they will still love.
Cinema Gift Cards
All kids love to go and watch the latest films. If your kids are a little bit older it could be a day that they meet up with friends and make a bit of an outing out of it.
Classes and Clubs
I think this option is a favourite for Grandparents to do. We all love for our kids to go to swimming club, ballet classes, brownies, etc but the cost of these can really rack up so what better way to pay for something that your child has taken a real interest in.
Concert or Gig Tickets
I think this one might be for older kids, although there are lots of things popping up for younger kids. We went to a kid’s rave a few months ago which was awesome.
You can buy a subscription box for pretty much everything now. Isabelle really loves the whole receiving the box through the post addressed to herself, and cannot wait to find out what surprises are laying in wait for her. Our favourites are the Toucan Boxes (read our Toucan Box post) and Mila & Pheebs boxes. You can view our unboxing video for the Mila & Pheebs box over on our Babynotincluded YouTube Channel.
Theme Park Tickets
Tickets for top attractions will be a huge hit and something exciting to look forward to.
Sports Events Tickets
Sports tickets especially football tickets to the larger clubs are harder to get your hands on these days so these will definitely be a hit with the sporty crew.
Ohh you can never have too many books, especially for children. We have a huge selection which have been made up of brand new bought books, charity shops and gifts. We have books in pretty much every room of the house. Isabelle has a book basket in her bedroom which she picks from at bedtime and we rotate these around so that we’re not reading the same books over and over.
Tickets for Local Activities
This could be for the local zoo, farm, leisure centre, theatre. Anything that your kids are particularly interested in. Again, once the hustle and bustle of Christmas has died down this will be something to look forward to.
Clothes as presents for kids can be a bit boring, but we always add in a few pieces. We like to wrap a dress up for Isabelle which she usually wears on Christmas day and Ryan will also have something smart to wear for Christmas day as well.
It’s important that kids learn to tell the time. I know that in this digital age technically they don’t need to learn how to tell the time, but I definitely think it’s something that all kids are taught.
Similar to classes but these could be one-off craft activities such as pottery painting where they can go and create something themselves and bring it home.
A Camera or Video Camera
We bought Isabelle a Kidizoom camera a few years ago and she still enjoys using it. Let them loose with it on a day out and see what you end up with. Isabelle took a lot of pictures of close up’s of things like table legs, the TV and loads and loads of selfies which are hilarious.
Whether it be proper glossy magazines or a digital subscription.
A journal or Diary
Did you write one as a kid? I never did for fear that my sister or mum would read it, but many people do so why not start the tradition with your kids.
Recipes and Ingredients
This could be saved for a rainy day. Make some recipe cards and ensure that you have all the ingredients available so that you can make them together.
Kids can never have too much craft stuff. I say this as I look around the room where there is craft stuff busting out or our craft drawers.
If your child has shown interest in a musical instrument, Christmas could be a good time to present them with their instrument of choice.
Or dare I say a music CD (I heard the other day that CD’s are considered a bit retro now).
Make your own promise coupons such as Movie Day, Trip to the Park, Trip to the Museum etc. Pop them in a jar and let the kids pick one out when you haven’t got anything planned.
Choose some DVD’s, get some movie snacks and have a duvet day. Isabelle loves to do this preferably on a Friday after school when we’re both a bit knackered from work/school.
I’m not a massive fan of giving money as a gift, but there are times when they want to save up for something a bit pricey, and as they get older they like to go and pick out things in the shops for themselves.
I hope this gives you a few ideas of non-toy gifts that you could do for your own children or family and friends.
As it’s now officially December I can now say Happy Christmas!