The Ultimate London Mums Christmas Gift Guide 2015
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- Published on Saturday, 05 December 2015 13:00
- Last Updated on 03 December 2015
- Monica Costa
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When Christmas is approaching, I read lots of statistics about family spending and traditions around this festive season. Here are some of the best findings and gift ideas.
The UK will spend 2.3 billion hours preparing for the big day on 25th December. The average Brit expects to spend 37 hours preparing for Christmas: planning what to buy, shopping, wrapping gifts, writing cards and posting parcels. Women expect to spend 11 hours more than men on Christmas preparations – 42 hours vs 31 hours (survey by parcel company Doddle).
Despite the rise in online shopping making the process considerably easier and quicker, 44% of Brits still find Christmas the most stressful time of the year.
Shopaholic London Mums did not find stressful finding and reviewing these original gifts. Enjoy and tell us what your favourite pressies are below this Ultimate London Mums Christmas Gift Guide 2015.
DELICATESSEN: Biscuiteers Christmas Collection
Savoury and sweet biscuits are for me personally always the best presents. This Christmas I have chosen two boxes by Biscuiteers: the Advent Tin (filled with ginger biscuits) plus cloth Advent Calendar and the savoury alternative Say Cheese tin (filled with yummy cheese biscuits, vintage cheddar and jams).
All Biscuiteers biscuits are handmade and iced by hand. Delivered in stylish, traditional square edged tins that have a life after biscuit, each collection is beautifully decorated according to its theme.
If you want to become a Biscuiteer, you can visit www.biscuiteers.com or drop in at one of the shops: Biscuiteers Icing Cafes at 194 Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill or 13 Northcote Road, Clapham.
No need to say that you can re-use the gorgeous and robust tins forever to keep all sorts of things including food and your special quirky little items.
Make-a-Bar Chocolate Factory Minions Edition
Christmas does not need to be boring. Kids can be entertained with this new Make-a-Bar Chocolate Factory Kit Minions Edition to make chocolate bars without baking or getting dirty. The lovely Christmas jumpers won’t get dirty. Fans of loveable Minions heroes Kevin, Stuart and Bob can get creative making a unique Minions themed chocolate bars – including delicious Belgian chocolate that is far from ‘despicable’! This kit contains everything needed to design and create yummy chocolate bars featuring fantastic Minions designs.
Delicious Belgian chocolate is included in white, milk and dark chocolate, as well as a re-usable bar mould and templates. If you’re feeling really creative then let your imagination go wild and create your own template instead. Simply melt the chocolate in its ‘ready to use’ pouch in warm water and you’re ready to go. Once you have finished creating, simply pop the bar in the fridge for 20-30 minutes…. then share and enjoy! Bars also make a fantastic handmade gift for friends and family too.
Available now, RRP £9.99, Suitable from 4+ www.makeabar.co.uk – Stockists include Argos
Since I was a school girl, I remember my Italian grandmother sharing a shiny tin of Quality Street chocolates with the guests. I still own that tin which is something that reminds me of my childhood in Italy all the time. This is why the new limited edition Quality Street Christmas tin has caught my imagination as it provides the same emotions. And I am not a chocolate person. But I remember liking putting my little hands in the tin to search for my favourite brightly coloured wrapper. I also remember that every chocolate was different from the others and wondered how this was possible. The Quality Street history is lovely too. John Mackintosh and his wife opened a shop in Halifax, Northern England, in 1890 where they created a new kind of sweet by mixing hard toffee with runny caramel. These toffees were made from inexpensive local ingredients such as milk, sugar beet and eggs They were so successful that in 1898 they expanded the operation to build the world’s first toffee factory. It burned down in 1909 so John bought an old carpet factory and converted it into a new facility. When John Mackintosh died his son Harold inherited the business and in 1936 he invented Quality Street, which is still manufactued in the same facility today. In the early 1930s only the wealthy could afford boxed chocolates made from exotic ingredients from around the world with elaborate packaging that often cost as much as the chocolates themselves. Harold Mackintosh set out to produce boxes of chocolates that could be sold at a reasonable price and would, therefore, be available to working families.
His idea was to cover the different toffees with chocolate and present them in low-cost yet attractive boxes. Rather than having each piece separated in the box, which would require more costly packaging, Mackintosh decided to have each piece individually wrapped in colored paper and put into a decorative tin. He also introduced new technology, the world’s first twist-wrapping machine, to wrap each chocolate in a distinctive wrapper. By using a tin, instead of a cardboard box, Mackintosh ensured the chocolate aroma burst out out as soon as it was openend and the different textures, colours, shapes and sizes of the sweets made opening the tin and consuming its contents a noisy, vibrant experience that the whole family could enjoy.
In today’s terms, Harold Mackintosh could be considered a marketing genius. Britain in the mid to late 1930s was still feeling the effects of the economic crash at the beginning of the decade and Mackintosh realized that in times of economic hardship and war, people crave nostalgia. Quality Street chocolates were, therefore, packaged in brightly colored tins featuring two characters wearing old fashioned dress, known affectionately as Miss Sweetly and Major Quality. These characters remained on Quality Street tins until the design was changed in 2000.
Years ago after watching Bridget Jones’ films, I decided I was never going to wear Christmas themed jumpers, but yet Jolly clothing changed my mind with their soft and light jumpers which will not make you sweat during the long Christmas lunches. My 9 year old son Diego and I got matching Christmas jumpers from Jolly clothing.
We both like the fact that we look like tweens. They are meant for indoor as they are not made with wool but with excellent cotton. My own jumper – Women’s Reindeer retro-styled long sleeved top with distressed print RRP £18.00 – has glow in the dark technology embedded which makes it perfect to go out at night and always be visible while dancing Last Christmas. A great alternative to the traditional Christmas jumper.
If you prefer a warmer and more traditional looking Christmas jumper with joyful images that would be perfect for lunch with Bridget Jones, then you will love this Nutmeg’s cosy and soft jumper by Morrisons.
I love Christmas because I can spend quality time with my son, my nieces and my extended family. I particularly enjoy reading stories to and with my son. Even if the stories are for younger children, Christmas books have the taste of ginger biscuit with a glass of milk. They leave a lovely after taste for a long time. Click this link to check my selection of the best Christmas books for children.
Colouring books for adults
Colour and Doodle Your Stress Away – This is a gift for all workholic and stressed mums and dads.
If you have stopped in front of a bookshop window wondering what colouring books for adults were, you are not alone. Sainsbury’s recently announced record sales of adult colouring books with over £1.2m of books sold to date. And demand continues to rise with 34 variations of adult colouring books now on sale at the retailer. Colouring inside the lines has never been so popular, with everyday Brits and celebrities alike picking up their pens and turning to colouring books to unwind and de-stress. Apparently Zooey Deschanel and Nigella Lawson are amongst some of the celebrity fans of the crayon craze, which is known for its relaxing effects, ability to reduce stress and anxiety, and promote mindfulness. Personally, I love colouring but I never seem to find the time to do it. Maybe Nigella can give me some tips on how to find the time to do some colouring in-between main course and dessert.
London Mums’ favourite pocket-sized colouring book is The Mindfulness Colouring and Activity Book: Calming colouring and de-stressing doodles to focus your busy mind By Gill Hasson & Gilly Lovegrove (Published by Capstone, November 2015 Paperback, £8.99). I guess most colouring books are similar and have the same calming effect. Giving the mind something specific to focus on will allow thoughts to flow easily but without any complex thinking or planning with each activity providing a balance between challenge and skill. The level of engagement keeps the attention so focused that the reader becomes fully absorbed in the moment, preventing stressful thoughts from entering their head. The Mindfulness Colouring and Activity Book includes: Colouring, Zentangles (creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns), Optical illusion activities, Origami, Mazes, Word Puzzles, Doodling activities, Drawing games and Observation games.
Do you remember trolls dolls? If you do, then you will love the new Elektrokidz™. Ready for the 21st century these toys don’t just sit there while you style their hair into a spiky ‘do’. Their hair is too busy dancing to the beat of the music you are playing! and they’re under £10. These dancing trolls are the ideal stocking fillers this Christmas. And they honestly bring joy as they are really funny when they dance.
They are inexpensive and add lots of fun to the festive days.
I am not surprised that Elektrokidz have taken the US by storm, and are already hugely popular over here as well. There are six groovy Elektrokidz to choose from and each sport their own ultra-cool looks, rocking locks, a pair of stylised shades and totally bling colours.
They are music-inspired collectables that dance to the beat of any music you are listening too (also when you speak loud enough). Nobody works the dance floor like an Elektrokidz! They are from WowWee the makers of cool robots such as MiPosaur, REV, MIP, Robosapien. They are suitable for ages 6+. You can get them from Asda for £9.97 RRP (spare batteries included).
I make no secret of my love for fashion dolls and treasure my collection of 300+ fashion dolls. Call me crazy, call me infantile but I cannot resist the charm of Barbie, Bratz, Moxie Girlz, Steffi and Sindy. When I have a little bit of time, I love dressing them up for my own photo-shoot and make-believe games with my grown up girlfriends.
BRATZ ARE BACK – just in time for Christmas
When I heard that Bratz were back in time for Christmas and re-launching in 28 different countries, I jumped for joy because Bratz are fun and quirky dolls with personality and could only make my fashion dolls’ collection more colourful. Read my interview with Andrew Laughton, MD of MGA UK where he talks about dolls’ trends and and other insights into this Christmas toys’ trends.
MC2 PROJECT – It’s cool to be smart
A new generation of fashion dolls was recently created called MC2 Project: smart and fashionable girls who love making scientific experiments. Each doll pack comes with a lab kit and a cool experiment to make using household material. It’s innovative that these toys are trying to promote science to girls.
These dolls are excellent for the holiday season as you can get the girls to make scientific experiments during the Christmas holidays.
The Lammily doll has reently caught my imagination. She is called the anti-Barbie because her measurements are normal as opposed to skinny or supermodel-like dolls. The Lammily’s proportions are in fact based on the average 19 year-old American woman. While I hold it in my hands next to a Barbie doll, I can feel her muscles are almost real and chunky as you would expect a real person to be. Barbie clothes don’t fit her. It is quite refreshing to see a normal looking doll. I am totally enjoying it. Read my exclusive interview with the creator of the anti-Barbie Nickolay Lamm (from Lammily.com), whose sales are growing by the minute (more than 19,000 dolls have already been pre-ordered). See what he had to say. I personally found his story very fascinating.
‘Star Wars’ is back and (guess what?!) movie-Related Toys are the Driving Force Behind UK Toy Market Sales Growth
It comes as no surprise that Disney Frozen and Star Wars hold the number one and number two spots, respectively, as the top toy properties this Christmas. Driven by the launch of new products since the beginning of the year, Frozen toy merchandise has more than doubled in sales year-to-date compared to last year with Sing-A-Long Elsa dolls as a big hit.
All big retailers have published their top toy trends predictions. But the editorial team at London Mums strongly believe that this Christmas will be dominated by Disney movie-related toys.
Star Wars related sales have tripled since the Force Friday event on 4 September 2015. The iconic Sphero BB-8, an app-enabled droid from the upcoming movie, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, was the best-selling item in the UK during September, and the LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar claimed the lead in the week ending 3 October.
According to Argos’ research almost 90% of children’s toy boxes across the country contain toys influenced by their favourite TV shows and films, with nearly three quarters of kids across the UK (74%) wishing for at least another one underneath the Christmas tree this year. Click on the above links to be redirected to the dedicated pages and reviews.
(Click on the link to be redirected to the dedicated pages and reviews).
The non edible advent calendars do not have expiry date and can be given out as a Christmas present too. They are fantastic.
It wasn’t easy to decide between so many fantastic gadgets for Christmas but I managed to choose my favourite products to fill those Christmas stockings! They are totally affordable and will put a smile on many faces. They are universal, easy to use and can be enjoyed by mums, teenagers, some dads and even grandparents. Check them out at this link.
DOBBIES (TESCO) CHRISTMAS CENTRE TABLE for only £5
As an alternative Christmas gift to a mum/grandma or a dad with a green thumb, Dobbies offers all material to make a Christmas floral table centre for £5. With the video tutorial you can make your own. Check this out.
As you can see, I made mine in only 10 minutes spending only £5.
The Winter season is tough on our skin so it’s important during the festivities to treat our body like a temple. Here are my favourite Christmas Beauty Essentials to end the year with a glow.
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums