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6 Quirky Christmas Trends For This Year

Christmas Table Decoration

Christmas is an exciting time of year, everyone is full of festive cheer and looking forward to spending some time with their loved ones. You’ll probably be familiar with the December routine, the shops are full of the usual Christmas trees, decorations and gifts, as busy shoppers flit around getting ready for the big day. And as ever you prepare yourself for the influx of red and green, holly leaves, tinsel and baubles.

But if you fancy side-stepping the usual Christmas traditions this year, or simply adding a little extra to your usual Christmas Day, there are plenty of new trends for you to choose from in 2019. It’s never to early to begin planning the perfect day, that’s why we’re bring you a list of six quirky Christmas trends for you to try out this year.

1. Have an ABC Christmas

This trend is particularly fun if you have younger children in your family, but more than anything it’s a quirky way to add some creativity to your Christmas Day. The theme suggests that you choose a decoration, in particular baubles, for each letter of the alphabet. This can be a great way to get your family involved, assigning letters to everyone and allowing them to choose their decoration. This also means that by the time you’re done you’ll have a truly unique and personalised Christmas tree covered in a range of colours, textures and motifs.

2. Add a touch of tropical to your big day

The festive season brings with it plenty of parties and social occasions, and you can let your fun shine through in your Christmas decorations as well. And no, this doesn’t simply mean adding glitter to everything! One of this years’ biggest and most unique trends is the use of tropical motifs. In fact, this Christmas it’s out with the cold and in with the new. Consider ditching your Santa and snowmen and instead choosing all things tropical like cacti and flamingos.

Sounds crazy, right? By way not make this your brightest Christmas yet and embrace the colours of the tropics. Choose vibrant colours for your tree and tropical motifs for your mantel piece. This playful theme has dominated summer in recent years – you’ve probably noticed the growing popularity of all things covered in flamingos or pineapples – but now it’s winter’s turn for a taste of the tropics. And what better way to start than on Christmas Day.

3. Sidestep traditional colour and patterns

What do you picture when you think of Christmas? Red, green, gold and glitter everywhere. So this year why not sidestep the traditional colour schemes and go for something more daring. This year blue has been added to the colour palette, midnight hues, aqua and light blues are going to be all the rage. That and the bright tropical colours we mentioned earlier in the article.

What’s more, Christmas trees are even changing colour. Why settle for a tree that’s just green when you can have all the colours!  A new multicoloured tree has been launched just in time for Christmas Day 2019, so why not go all out quirky and get yourself a brand new multi-coloured tree.

And finally, patterns are also going to play a big part in Christmas 2019, but we’re not talking about the traditional trees, snowflakes or tartan. This year stripes and spots will be taking the lead – even better if these fall into your vibrant colour schemes.

4. Be environmentally conscious

This year has been the ‘year of the environment’. We’re increasingly hearing more about our negative impact on the planet and more people have begun to try and lessen their impact on the earth. If you’re environmentally conscious or you’d like to be more eco-friendly this year, you can carry this through into your Christmas Day. Consider how much waste is produced each Christmas, because of this many companies are now offering more socially responsible alternatives.

While you might just assume that wrapping paper is recyclable (it’s paper, duh) you would be wrong. Some wrapping papers use print and chemicals that aren’t recycled and that’s why you should choose natural or biodegradable alternatives this December. Not only this, but why not choose sustainable Christmas cards too or those made from recycled paper.

Lastly, if you really want to be socially responsible you can choose eco-friendly crackers. Yes, these really do exist! Consider how much plastic waste is made from the toys in crackers each year, so why not choose more environmentally friendly Christmas crackers. All of these offer you the opportunity for a quirky day, which will have a better impact on our planet.

5. Think about your table layout

Take your table to the next level this Christmas. Another key trend for 2019 is going to be all-out table decorations and place settings. Yep, you read that right. Treat your Christmas dinner as if it were a huge and important event (even if there’s only four of you). Personalised place settings can add a touch of whimsy to your day and festive centrepieces can make you feel really fancy as you sit down to your roast dinner.

6. It’s not just about the big day

Don’t forget that the festive season begins at the beginning of December and the countdown to Christmas can be just as exciting as the day. But this year instead of choosing your average, traditional advent calendar, why not go for a quirky alternative. A huge number of brands have begun putting together unique advent calendars to help with your countdown. From beauty products to prosecco, vegan chocolates to small bottles of gin, you’re sure to find the perfect calendar for you.

Better still, you can even buy empty calendars to fill yourself for a loved one. You can get these from a number of craft stores and choose the perfect fillers for yourself or a friend. These could be tea bags, chocolates, makeup or stationery – it’s really up to you!

If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas present with a personal touch for any member of the family then check out our range of gifts.

Top Tips For Travelling As A Single Parent

Single Parent Travel

Travelling with children is never easy, but travelling as a single parent is even harder. With all the responsibility placed on your shoulders, it can be hard to actually get to enjoy your holiday. Flights, hotels, travel itineraries, packing, you are responsible for it all and it can be a very daunting, stressful situation for anyone. But is possible and totally doable. In this guide, we  cover our top tips for travelling as a single parent and how you can make sure you and your children get to have the holiday of their dreams.

1. Fly direct to your destination

It doesn’t matter how much money it will save you travelling by train or getting two flights to your destination, pay the extra costs and get a direct flight. Can you imagine how difficult it will be to get onto the plane and then have to get off and get onto another one? Consider how many extra hours of travelling, of planning and unnecessary stress you will put on yourself. Even if you are travelling to a long haul destination, flying direct is a better option as you will have in-flight entertainment to distract your little ones and can at least rest in the knowledge that you will be in one place for the next however many hours. Make it easier on yourself and invest in a direct flight and if you want to save yourself even more time and energy use a luggage shipping service to travel basically hands-free.

2. Remember to allow time to rest

Travelling takes it out of the best of us, but it is more exhausting for children. It’s important to schedule in time for you and your children to rest throughout the holiday. No matter how important it may seem to visit every site, you know you won’t enjoy it with a cranky child in tow. Plan in rest days and make sure that you adhere to your child’s nap time and bedtime schedule when at home.

If you are travelling to a different time zone, then you also have the added issue of jet lag. This can be hard to handle for adults, let alone children. If your baby is young enough to be carried in a sling or carrier, then let them sleep when they need to and follow the same sleep routine you have at home. It will take a little while for them to adjust to a new time zone, so take this into consideration when planning trips or your itinerary.

3. Get child-friendly travel insurance

When travelling with children it is important to not just pick travel insurance that is the cheapest option. You need to make sure you have an insurance that covers children in case of illness, accident or cancellation. Choose one which will offer cover for theft and any in case your flights are delayed or cancelled. There’s nothing worse than being stranded in a foreign airport with your kids.

4. Don’t forget the medical pack

Travelling with children means preparing for every outcome. This should also be your mantra when it comes to bringing a first aid kit and medicine for your kids. Getting sick is often something that comes hand in hand with travelling. Whether it’s the dreaded Delhi belly or just a common cold, it’s important to have planned for this in advance. Invest in a portable first aid kit that covers the basics from plasters to bandages to antiseptic. Stock up on tummy medicine, rehydration salts and accessories like a humidifier for baby. Bring some child-friendly paracetamol and some cold and flu remedies just in case. If you are travelling to a country where you need medical advice, make sure you get this in advance. Plan for your children to get any immunisations and speak with your doctor regarding malaria, zika and dengue fever risks.

5. Have an emergency plan with your children if anything should go wrong

The most important thing you can do with your children is to have a safety talk with them. It is incredibly rare that anything will go wrong or that you will find yourself separated from them at any time, but in cases of emergency, you should have a family plan. This plan could be as simple as knowing the destination’s number for emergency services, or for how to alert the reception desk at the hotel. Ensure that they are aware of what nationality they are, where they are staying and your itinerary. Similarly, as we teach them at home, make sure they know to go to a police officer if they get lost.

6. Always bring extra snacks and water

No matter where your trip takes you, make sure you always bring enough snacks and water. Travelling in another country can mean unexpected delays, cancellations or detours. So it’s a good idea to have something at hand if your children get hungry and there’s nowhere for food in sight. There’s nothing worse than a tired, hungry child, so choose small snacks that are filling and can easily fit into your bag. If you want to make sure you always have access to water, then invest in a filtered water bottle. You can purchase one of these in advance before your trip. These bottles allow you to drink tap water and filter it so it is safe to drink. They come in handy if you find yourself without bottled water and with a thirsty child.

7. If you have an older child, let them take a role in the planning

This will not only give you some well-needed rest bite but will also let your older child feel a sense of responsibility. Allow them to choose the itinerary for a day so that they can then plan it and choose what activities to do. Relax and let them take the reigns, even if they aren’t really! Get them to actively join in, in finding out train times, getting the tickets and choosing where to eat.

8. Choose hotels or resorts that cater to kids

If you need a well-earned break and want to allow yourself some time of relaxation then choose to go to a resort or hotel that caters for kids. This means that whilst your kids are being looked after a kids club, you can worry about relaxing by the pool, reading that new book or treating yourself to an indulgent massage. They’ll be having plenty of fun making new friends and you’ll have just as much fun getting some peace and quiet.

An Essential Guide To Sustainable Fashion

Guide To Sustainable Fashion

It has been reported that the fashion industry is the second largest polluter after the oil industry – pretty shocking right! This is because fast fashion has made clothes almost disposable and it takes a huge amount of materials, water and chemicals to meet the ever-growing demand for these garments. Not to mention that a huge volume of unsold or discarded clothing is being burnt or chucked in land fills every day.

But as more people are becoming aware of what is happening, many are trying to change their shopping habits for the better. Sadly a number of retailers are taking advantage of this by using what’s known as ‘greenwashing’. This is the practise of making misleading or incorrect claims about how eco-friendly a product really is, in order to capitalise on those who try to be more eco-friendly.

Because of this, the best way to combat the damaging effect that the fashion industry is having on the planet is to become fully educated about what sustainable fashion really is, and how you can make more eco-friendly choices in the future. Check out tour comprehensive guide below for more information.

What is sustainable fashion?

Sustainable fashion is an umbrella term for producing clothing whilst taking into consideration both its environmental and the socio-economic impact, and trying to reduce its harmful effect on the planet. So for something to be sustainable it needs to be manufactured, sold and used in a way that is going to be most sustainable and beneficial to the environment, and the working conditions of those producing the garments must be fair.

There are so many things that need to be taken into consideration in order to promote and encourage sustainable fashion. For example, this is not just as simple as trying to use more natural resources and ensuring fair pay to workers. There are a whole host of areas that need to be improved including manufacturing, storage, transport, packaging, marketing, repairing and reusing. In order to create more sustainable fashion we need to be more careful with our resources such as energy, animals, plants and water. It also means choosing renewal energy sources, improving working conditions and finding less damaging ways to package and transport garments.

So as you can see there is a whole lot that goes into improving the sustainability of the fashion industry, yet this is something we really need to encourage and take responsibility for as humans. While we don’t expect you to rise up in some sort of heroic Martin Luther King type speech, there are some small changes you can make to your own shopping habits to be more eco-friendly; because the more people that do this, the more we can look after our precious planet.

How can I be more sustainable?

If you’re looking to make a change and help save the planet, there are several ways you can be more sustainable with your fashion choices – check these out below:

1. Buy less stuff

OK, it’s not always fun to hear, but the best way to reduce your footprint is to simply buy less! We love retail therapy as much as the next person, but over time you might find that you’ve needlessly accumulated a huge wardrobe and you only wear 25% of it.

2. Buy responsibly

Before you buy anything, stop to consider whether you really need it and whether it actually reflects your style. Buying a top you vaguely like just because it costs £5 is not very responsible, especially if you end up throwing it out next time you de-clutter your wardrobe. By shopping more responsibly you can help to reduce waste.

3. Buy used

In recent years thrift shopping has become increasingly popular. So whether it’s eBay, Facebook, charity shops, vintage stores or apps like Schpock – buying second hand is a great way to reduce your footprint and decrease the need for fast fashion.

4. Fix things

We’ve become too used to our things being disposable. Just because something has lost a button or has a tricky stain on it, that doesn’t mean it needs to go straight in the bin. Take the time to mend any broken garments and make sure you care for your clothes in the first instance. Again, this reduces waste and the damaging effects of fast fashion.

5. Borrow

For one off occasions, don’t splash out on buying a new outfit. There are plenty of shops out there where you can rent beautiful clothes for the special occasion. And you don’t even have to go and rent from companies, why not speak to your friends or family and see if one of them has a great outfit you can borrow.

6. Choose sustainable brands

One of the biggest steps you can take to being more eco-friendly is choosing sustainable brands. It might feel time consuming, but before buying from a brand do some research into how and where their clothes are made. After all, you’d never just walk out the door and buy a house or car without doing proper research first. So apply those skills to finding the right sustainable brands for you.

Which are the top sustainable brands?

There are a number of brands that are gaining traction right now, some you may have heard of, some you may not. There are also a number of highstreet brands that are trying to do more to offer sustainable fashion choices. Some of the growing names and best sustainable brands include:

•        Reformation

•        Thought Clothing

•        Alternative Apparel

•        All Birds

•        Madia & Matilda

•        Nomads

•        Komodo

•        People Tree

When it comes to shopping on the highstreet retailers such as Weekday, H&M Conscious and Mango are all putting steps in place to be more eco-friendly, though these are still a far stretch from being a completely sustainable brand. What’s more, buying from slightly more expensive, but high quality highstreet brands means you can buy garments that will stand the test of time. For example, Levis or Birkenstocks.

8 Ways To Make Starting School Fun For Kids

Starting School

Whether they’re starting infant, junior or secondary school, going into a new year of education can be nerve wracking for children – but also for their parents. If you’ve got kids you’ll be all to familiar with the back to school blues and even more familiar with how nervous you felt packing them off on their first day.

But this is a necessary and unavoidable part of life, and all you can do is try to make it as seamless and fun an experience as possible – for both of you. If you’re currently in the throes of getting your kids into a school routine, we’re here to help.

Here are 8 ways you can make starting school fun for your children, so you can nail the school routine and make everyone’s daily life more enjoyable.

1. Get them excited about school supplies

Going to the shops and buying all your supplies and new stationary is a back to school tradition and can be a great way to get your little one excited about starting the new term. Take them shopping and allow them to choose their own pencil case, stationery, backpack, lunchbox and any other supplies they may need for the big day. This helps them to feel more confident and prepared for starting school, and let’s face it, who doesn’t love a brand new notebook and pen!

They might need a new uniform or they might be allowed to wear what they want (though this is rare at school age and doesn’t usually happen until college). Either way, try to get them excited about their brand new uniform or school clothes. Make sure these fit them perfectly and they feel smart. Sending them off in an ill-fitting outfit could knock their confidence.

2. Get them involved in planning and packing their lunch

Over time packing lunch can become a bit of a faff and a task you often leave until the morning, but while they’re starting out and you are trying to get the kids in a routine, it’s best to be proactive. Take them to a supermarket and allow them to help you choose snacks for their lunchbox. Of course you don’t want to let them run riot down the biscuit isle, but do let them choose a sweet treat that will have them excited to tuck in at lunchtime, you could even pack their very own personalised cutlery!

3. Share stories of your school days

We are often fed horror stories, particularly when starting secondary school, about the teachers or older students, and these can play on a child’s mind. So reassure them and get them ready for starting school by telling them tales from your school days. Tell them about your friends, your favourite teachers and the subjects you were good at. You could also tell them about any fun school trips you went on or after school clubs you were part of.

4. Meet with friends over the holidays

Whether it’s their existing friends or new starters that you know are going to be in their class, arranging play dates or days out during the summer holidays can help them to bond. This way when the time comes to go back to school they’ll feel confident that they know more people, after all nothing is more daunting than feeling like you’re going to walk into a class of strangers. The more people they know and the more friends they see over the holidays, the more excited they’ll be to get to school and spend time with them.

5. Take first day photos

Another back to school tradition is the first day photos. This can help them to feel like it’s a special occasion. It can also make them feel grown up and proud of their smart new school uniform. The reality is these photos are for us to treasure and coo over as the kids grow up, but it can also help to get them excited about their first day.

6. Make getting ready and getting to school fun

It can be a good idea, especially with younger kids, to practise the school run before the big day. You could even turn this into a game of seeing how long it takes you to get ready or how long the walk to school takes. Then each day you can try and beat your personal best and get the kids excited about trying to beat their time. You could also introduce star charts or treats for getting ready on time and without a fuss. This can incentivise them to get up and get going. It’s also a fun way to start the morning.

7. Celebrate the milestones

In the first days and weeks it can be a good idea to make a big deal of their milestones. For example, have a special dinner planned for their first day, whether you go out or eat at home you can choose their favourite meal. At the end of their first full week treat them to a fun day out at the weekend or a gift. This can help them to see that school is an exciting and important time in their lives and that they can still enjoy their free time too – it’s certainly not all going to be about doing homework!

If they make new school friends why not invite them over. Organise activities with their parents or as they get older invite them to stay over for the night. This can help them to form strong and lasting relationships with their friends, because let’s face it our friends are half of what makes school so great.

8. Ask them about their day

Finally, make sure you ask them about their day. This way they can recall what they’ve learnt, anything that made them laugh or anything nice their teacher said about them. Then reinforce this, keep them excited about learning and praise them when they’ve had a great day. It also means you can flag any issues early on and address any problems before it affects their perception of school.

Guide On What To Buy For Your Friend’s Newborn

Baby gift

It’s always an exciting time when your friend has a baby. It’s the start of a new journey for them, not to mention you get unfettered access to baby cuddles every time you visit. And when the day comes that their newborn arrives, you’ll likely want to get them a gift to welcome them to the world. But buying for a baby can be tricky, especially as mum and dad will have probably bought them a huge amount of stuff already.

So if you’re currently racking your brain trying to think of the perfect gift for your friend and their newborn, we’re here to help. The guide below will look at how to think practically and personally to help you choose something your friend will really appreciate, followed by a list of great gift ideas to help inspire you, no matter what your budget!

Think practically

The reality of having a baby is that priorities change, and your daily living costs go up. As such, it can be helpful to choose practical gifts for your friend’s newborn. Though these might not be all that exciting, let’s face it, the baby isn’t aware of this and you could be doing your friends a huge favour. For example, babies use a lot of nappies every day, so buying your friend a couple of big packs of Pampers can be extremely helpful. The same applies to other necessities like baby wipes, bottles and dummies. You might even want to combine a few of these to create a lovely hamper for your friend and their newborn.

Other practical gifts can be things like soft play mats, muslins or blankets. If you’re really unsure what to get, you could always ask your friend if there’s anything they’re short of that they could use. This way you can ensure you buy something that is going to make a genuine difference to your friend and their new addition.

Think personally

If you want to get something lasting or more personal, there are a number of very sweet and personalised gifts you can choose for a newborn. The internet has opened us up to a world of custom designed baby grows, personalised teddy bears and hand embroidered blankets, meaning there are plenty of gorgeous gifts out there that your friend will love. Take some time to think about what you’d like to get the baby, you might also want to get them something they can treasure forever, for example a ‘my first years’ book, christening bangle or personalised keepsake box.

Think about the parents

This suggestion is slightly left field and arguably not a present for the newborn as such, but don’t forget about the parents when choosing a gift. Especially mum, who has been through a lot throughout the pregnancy and birth of the baby. As well as choosing a gift for their newborn, you might also want to get a little something that the parents can enjoy. This could be some essential oils or creams to help mum on her way to recovery, it could be some of their favourite treats or it could be a baby sling to make their life easier when out and about.

Think outside the box

You can also get creative with your gift ideas, things that the new parents might not have ever known they needed, but actually can make a big difference. An example of this could be a Netflix subscription. If your friends are going to be spending a lot more time at home, help keep them entertained with a great boxset! Technology can be extremely helpful for new parents, consider a NutriBullet Baby Food Processor or a pressure cooker so they can still have delicious home cooked meals without having to spend any real time in the kitchen.

There are also a number of companies out there that create monthly subscription boxes full of goodies for newborns. These types of presents are gifts that keep on giving. Each month they’ll receive a package with new products in, and this can be a great way to help them out on a regular basis. If you want to buy a gift that’s a bit different, think outside the box!

8 gift ideas for your friend’s newborn

Hopefully by now you’re beginning to put together a few ideas for what you can get your friend and their newborn, based on the guide above. In this next section we’ve complied a list of eight great gift ideas to help you choose the perfect present that your friend is going to truly appreciate.

1. Baby Shusher

Perfect for fussy babies, you can buy the official Baby Susher on Amazon. There are also a number of other cute, portable noise machines to help get baby back to sleep.

2. Headrest mirror

The perfect gift for helping parents keep an eye on their little one whilst they’re in their car seat.

3. Baby changing travel bag

When a baby needs to be changed you don’t want to spend ages searching for a changing facility. This fold out travel bag helps you to change you newborn when you’re out and about, as well as being a handy bag for carrying nappies, wipes and other necessities.

4. Baby welcome hamper

There are a number of companies out there that put together beautiful hampers for newborns, usually featuring baby grows, nappies, essential toiletries and soft toys.

5. Hand and footprint kit

There are different varieties you can choose from, but these hand and footprint kits make great keepsakes for parents.

6. Personalised cashmere blanket

Soft, cashmere blankets are perfect for newborns, and you can add a personal touch by having their initials embroidered in the corner. You can find a number of companies online that offer this service.

7. Personalised “my first curl” box

Ramp up the cuteness factor and savour those precious moments with a my first curl box customised by us to include names, birthdays… anything you like!

8. Soft play mat/activity gym

Create a soft and safe area for the baby to lay, whilst keeping them entertained with some of the great activity gyms available for newborns.

7 Budget Fashion Tricks To Always Look Luxury

Luxury Dress

Whether it’s your workwear or evening attire, we all want to look great no matter what our personal style. The problem is fashion trends are always chaining and keeping on top of the latest looks can be pricey. For this reason we often settle for cheaper alternatives to what we would have actually liked to have worn.

But the good news is shopping and dressing on a budget doesn’t mean having to compromise on your style. There are a number of ways you can keep the cost of your wardrobe down whilst still looking great. In this guide we’ll share our top seven fashion tricks for always looking luxurious even when you’re on a budget. Read on to find out more!

1. Buy tailored clothes

If you want to look luxury there is one sure fire way to do it. When it comes to style, you rarely see celebrities or famous fashionistas photographed wearing ill-fitting clothes that are too big or small for them. That’s because the best way to flatter your figure and look great is with tailored garments. These could be a great pair of ankle grazing trousers or a fitted blazer. You just need to make sure that they are a good fit for you and that they pinch or gather in all the right places.

2. Keep it simple

You know what they say, less is more! So while pink floral might be in this month, fast fashion means trends are changing all the time and if you try to keep up with them all you could end up spending a fortune on clothes. Not to mention that this isn’t good for the environment or your wardrobe space. So instead it’s best to invest in some great basics that you can easily dress up or down accordingly.

This means choosing a good coat, trousers, jeans, shirt etc. until you’ve covered all the basic bases. For example, if you wear a pencil skirt and blouse to work everyday, choose a few staple items like these and keep them in neutral colours like black, white, navy or grey. By keeping your colour scheme neutral these are easier to mix and match to create a number of luxurious looks.

3. Know how to accessorise

Accessories can make all the difference, especially when you’re working with a basic wardrobe. Adding statement pieces of jewellery can add a real touch of class and luxury to your look, without breaking the bank. Just be sure you don’t choose jewellery that’s too cheap – after all, green bands round your fingers or wrists certainly doesn’t say luxury!

What’s more, you should also choose a statement handbag. Make sure this is elegant and versatile so you can pair it with most outfits. Then, to take your look to the next level try to also match your shoes with your handbag. This can really add a touch of elegance to your look and shows that you’ve put real thought into your outfit.

4. Choose the right fabrics

Another trick to always looking fabulous even in budget clothes is choosing the right materials. Cheaper clothing is going to be made from cheaper fabric and not as well made as more expensive brands, so you need to be careful when choosing your clothes. If you buy something that is made with a really tacky looking material it’s going to look awful. Instead, try to get the most bang for your buck and look for well-made but affordable garments where the material looks more expensive than it really is.

You also need to be aware that if you buy budget clothes they sometimes start to fall apart, so you need to fix this quickly. For example, if you notice a loose thread – cut it off right away! And if a button falls of your bargain coat, sew it back on. You could even replace the cheap looking buttons on your coat with some more luxury looking ones that you’ve bought separately from a craft store. These small details can make a real difference to how luxury you really look.

5. Iron your clothes

This might seem like a strange (and pretty simple) thing to say, but ironing your clothes is such a cheap way to improve your look. Let’s be honest, creases don’t look good. But sometimes when we’re in a hurry we decide to ignore the odd wrinkle here and there. If you really want to look luxury even in budget clothes, invest in a great iron and be sure to take your time in getting all the creases out.

6. Go thrift shopping

If you’re looking for some big name brands but you’re put off by the price tags, why not go thrift shopping! Checking out charity shops, pre-loved sites online or outlet stores can make a real difference when it comes to finding a bargain. Thrift shopping doesn’t mean buying battered or tatty old clothing. In reality you’d be surprised what people throw away or donate. You can often find some great quality items from big labels and you could even find some beautifully unique and vintage items that no one else will have.

7. Shop out of season

This is a budget fashion trick that you could really benefit from, and once again shows why it’s better to have a basic wardrobe that you can mix and match. If you shop out of season you can often find things for half the price (and sometimes even less!). So while it may be summer time, if you see the perfect trench coat for a reduced price, it’s worth buying and putting it at the back of your wardrobe until the winter.

But as previously stated, fashion trends move on so don’t buy anything that will quickly go out of style. Otherwise by the time winter rolls around you might not like the coat anymore and it was a waste of money. So keep it neutral and timeless. That way anything you purchase out of season you know you’re still guaranteed to like when the time comes to actually wearing it.

A Guide To Preparing For Your Baby’s Christening


Although our society is becoming a lot less religious than previous generations, many parents still choose to have their child christened as a rite of passage to prepare them for their future and celebrate their arrival into the family.

As with any celebration, there’s plenty of planning involved, especially for such a big commitment. If you’re organising your child’s christening right now, there are several aspects you need to take into consideration to ensure everything goes smoothly. To help you out, we’ve put together this step by step guide which covers all the important areas you need to focus on in order to host the perfect day for your little one.

Booking the church

The first and most obvious step is booking the church and organising the blessing with the vicar. While some clergy are pretty relaxed about attendance, others will want the parents of the child to have attended church at least a few times before the day. As such, if you don’t go to church very regularly, it’s a good idea to attend a few services before you approach the vicar to ask about the christening.

Once the vicar has agreed to host the christening, there’s one important detail you’ll need to clarify. Some churches give the option to host a private ceremony, but others will expect the christening to go ahead as part of the regular Sunday service. Therefore, you need to find out if this will be the case as you may have your own preferences with regards to the exclusivity of your child’s christening.

Securing the date

Before you settle on a date, you need to make sure that all the most important guests are able to attend. This could mean your parents (the child’s grandparents), close friends and the soon-to-be godparents. Once you’ve made them aware of the date you’re planning to hold the christening, if everyone is available you can go ahead and OK this with the vicar. After all, there’s no point booking in a date and then finding out that only half your guests will be available.

Choosing the godparents

A big part of a christening is choosing the godparents. Their role will be to watch over your child and to help guide them through their faith. Traditionally, your child has three god parents, for girls they have two godmothers and a godfather, and for boys it’s the other way around. But ultimately that is up to your digression and personal preference. You can have more or less if that suits.

Many couples choose their close friends or relatives to be godparents as they’ll be playing such an important role in your child’s life. You may already have a good idea of who you’d like to take on this role, but if not then it’s vital that you put careful thought and consideration into your decision.

The final step to choosing your child’s godparents is checking that the people in question are actually happy to take on the role. It’s no use planning the christening with godparents in mind, only to find out that they’re not willing to take on that responsibility. Therefore it’s best to officially ask your chosen friends or family first. Most people will be delighted and excited to become godparents, they might even want to be involved in the planning of the big day.

Planning your child’s outfit

It’s customary that your child wears a christening gown for the service, so you’ll need to choose one you like. That said, don’t buy this month’s in advance as young children grow very fast! Instead, leave it until just a few weeks before the christening to buy the gown. You may even have a gown that has been passed down through your family. If this is the case, make sure your child is not going to be too big or small for the gown a few weeks in advance. This gives you time to have the gown tailored or to go out and buy a new one if you need to.

Organising the service

The service is perhaps the easiest part of your planning. You might want to run through everything with the vicar, but as a general rule these always follow the same format and the vicar will be in charge of most of this. Just be sure that you tell your guests to arrive with plenty of time so as not to hold up the service. There could be other christening or events after yours.

Throwing an after party

It’s customary to throw a reception after the christening, especially if some of your guests have travelled quite far to attend. This doesn’t have to be any sort of religious ceremony, it’s just a nice chance to continue the celebrations and catch up. But this will also take a bit of planning. One great tip to consider is using a luggage shipping service for loved-ones who are travelling from other countries. This will make the experience even more enjoyable for them and it can even save money on excess baggage if they are bringing gifts etc. with them.

First you’ll need to choose a venue. This can either be held at your house, a family home or you could choose to hire a venue like the church hall. Once you’ve got your venue settled, you’ll need to arrange food. You might want to hire a catering service or provide the food yourself depending on the size of the guest list.

On the morning of the christening you might want to decorate the venue with balloons, streamers or banners. Especially if this is being held in an otherwise empty hall. If you’ve got lots of other children coming it’s a good idea to make sure there is plenty to keep them entertained. This could be a garden, toys, bouncy castle or you could even hire a children’s entertainer depending on your budget.

Giving and accepting gifts

As with most events, guests will probably assume that they need to bring a gift. If you’re happy with this arrangement then it’s best not to say anything and if you’re one of the guests or want to make a list then we’ve got you covered.

Finally, you may also wish to provide some gifts of your own, particularly to those how have been a big part of the day. For example, you might choose thank you gifts for the godparents. You might also want to buy some commemorative party favours for all the guests to keep as a momento of their day.

Style Guide: How To Dress Like A Royal

In recent years there has been a new wave of royal fever with Kate Middleton (Duchess of Cambridge) and Meghan Markle (Duchess of Sussex) joining the royal family. Not only have these young royals captured the hearts of the nation, but they’ve become style icons for women across the world.

Though both Kate and Meghan are bound by the rules of royal dress code, they have certainly put their own mark on it and created their own signature style. This fresh fashion has photographers everywhere poised and waiting to snap photos of what they’re wearing every time they step foot outside the door.

Both Kate and Meghan choose practical, elegant styles, and retailers across the nation have tried to replicate this through their clothing lines. This means it’s possible to dress like a royal without the expensive price tag! So whether you want to channel your inner Kate Middleton, or embrace the bardot necklines of Meghan Markle, our guide below will reveal how you can dress like a royal too.

Finding the perfect skirts and dresses

Hemlines are every important when it comes to royal style as the rules state that skirts and dresses can’t be too short. For the most part this means skirts or dresses should finish below the knee. Not only does this follow the guidelines but it also adds elegance to your outfit, lengthening the legs and slimming out your figure.

What’s more, when it comes to finding the perfect dress or skirt there are plenty of options thanks to the young royals. Kate Middleton is partial to a double layered dress as this give the illusion of two matching separates, while Meghan Markle loves the bardot neckline dresses we know so well from the style of her wedding dress. Of course you could also opt for a classic wrap dress or asymmetrical skirt, just make sure these are an appropriate length for a royal.

When it comes to choosing patterns, style and colour, Kate has been known to rock the polka dots. Alternatively, you can’t go wrong with floral prints or stripes in the summer. During the colder months darker plaids add a youthful but classy touch to your outfit. But whatever you do, just don’t choose anything too bold or bright (that’s the Queen’s forte after all).

Practical royal fashion

While we can only assume that the Queen doesn’t even own a pair of trousers, the young royals aren’t afraid of practical fashion. The Duchess of Cambridge favours more relaxed trousers when she’s out and about running errands, and if she needs to dress it up she’ll add a blazer to add formality to her style.

What’s more, the Duchess of Sussex was sporting the roll sleeve blouses even before she was a royal! These can be paired with trousers for a smart but more relaxed look, and completed with a blazer or collarless jacket. Alternatively, Meghan has often been photographed going about her business in a pant suit, so this could be the perfect choice for more formal occasions or perhaps even business affairs.

And don’t be afraid to rock these styles on more than one occasion! Kate has been known to break the rules of celebrity style by wearing the same outfit more than once (we know, she’s crazy right?) and this is just another reason the nation love her so much.

What to wear on your feet

Now you’ve got your outfit planned out, you need to find the perfect royal approved footwear to match. Another rule in the royal guidelines is that heels cannot be too high, therefore pumps tend to be a favourite of the Queen. But while the young royals have publicly worn larger heels in the past, it’s best to stick to a smaller heel or sandals for a more refined look. And wedges are a no-no. Not because they are too high but because they can be deemed too casual for a royal affair, so keep this in mind when choosing the shoes to match your outfit.

When out on more casual affairs, Kate Middleton is also a big fan of cowboy boots, so it could be worth investing in some neat ankle boots, usually in brown though black may be more your style. These are perfect for a more relaxed look whilst keeping it smart and elegant. They can also be worn year round, paired with a flowing tea dress in the summer or trousers and a jacket in the winter.

How to accessorise like a royal

Finally, you need to know how to accessorise like a royal. You’ll certainly never see the royals walking around with huge handbags – why would they, they have people to carry their things for them and they certainly aren’t walking around with a purse, pack of tissues, used water bottle and umbrella in there. Instead they’ll simply carry a small bag for they essentials, mainly their phone. For this reason it’s best to stick to an elegant clutch bag or a small top handled bag.

That said, Meghan Markle has been shaking things up since she came on the scene with clutches that double as cross body bags. If you opt for something that you can wear over your shoulder like this, just be sure to stick to the rules of small and stylish. This will keep you feeling like a royal without having to hold your bag all day long.

Another accessory that has become a firm favourite with Meghan Markle is the Panama hat – despite this originally being designed for men. This can complete your outfit at more casual events, for example Meghan was seen wearing one of these at a polo match. So if you plan on spending a whole day in the summer sun, a hat can be a good idea. Why not consider following in her footsteps and finding yourself the perfect hat to match. This doesn’t have to be a Panama hat, though this certainly will keep you feeling on royal trend, as long as it’s classy and not too bold (and certainly not a sports cap).

10 Unique Ways To Do Wedding Favours

Wedding Favours

Back in the day you got a box of sugared almonds at your place setting as a little gift for joining the bride and groom on their special day. And while some may still choose to adopt this time honoured tradition, nowadays couples are putting more imagination into their wedding favours. After all, this is a great way to inject some personality into your day and offer something unique to your guests that they may not have seen before.

So if you’re planning a wedding and have decided to side step tradition and present your guests with something a little more quirky, there are so many fun ideas you could try out for your favours. Below we’ve put together a list of 10 ideas for favours with a difference, ranging from the more extravagant and expensive, to fabulous budget favours that will add the finishing touch to your big day.

1. Say it with seeds

There are so many ways you can present seeds as a wedding favour, from small tie bags to personalised paper packets or even small jars! This versatile favour allows your guests to plant the beautiful seeds of your choosing, so when their flowers bloom they’ll be reminded of your special day each time they look at them.

2. Puzzle it together

There are a number of companies out there that offer personalised wooden favours specially made for your big day. One of the popular options is custom made puzzle pieces, with your names and wedding date carved into them, thanking your guests for celebrating with you. These cute gifts are a very sweet reminder of your day.

3. Make a toast

As the gin revolution has taken the world by storm in recent years, there are so many delicious craft alcohols on offer and these can make really great favours. From bottles of ale, to miniature gins or whiskeys, choose your favourite tipple to share with your guests. You could personalise this further by adding name tags, serving in small jars or even having custom labels stuck on the front.

4. Share your good fortune

Share a message of love and good fortune with your guests on an affordable budget. There are a number of retailers out there offering personalised fortune cookies and these can be packaged in small packets or individual boxes depending on what you choose.

5. Celebrate with a great cuppa

Is there anything more British than a good brew? As the tea revolution continues, why not choose unique or interesting flavoured tea bags to present to your guests. You can add some context with sweet slogans such as ‘Love is brewing’ or simply add your names and wedding date to the packets.

6. Let the sun shine

If you’re planning a summer wedding, why not add some fun to your favours with personalised sunglasses. You can choose your own message and select colours to match your wedding theme. These are fun and practical gifts, and just think of the great wedding photos you can get as all your guests don their personalised sunnies on your big day.

7. Choose something sweet

There are a number of sweet treats with a twist that you can choose for your guests, from chocolates with your initials on, to personalised Love Heart sweets and even individually boxed Krispy Kreme donuts! The choices are endless and perfect if you’ve got a real sweet tooth.

8. Let’s raise a (shot) glass

Are you known to like a drink? Perhaps personalised shot glasses could be the perfect favour to get the party started. Your guests (all those over 18 of course!) can raise a shot glass to the happy couple and you could ask your caterers to go round and fill these with your favourite spirit or cocktail, and perhaps a mocktail for those who aren’t quite old enough yet.

9. Give the gift of charity

If there’s a particular charity that’s close to your heart, why not donate the money you would have spent on favours to them. You can then give your guests a little gift that explains what you’ve done. For example, charity pins, wristbands or cards.

10. Hangover kits

It’s not a wedding without a few glasses of champagne, so prepare your guests for the morning after. You can order custom made hangover kits online, or perhaps even get creative and make your own. Find small bags or boxes and these can include things like mints, face wipes, paracetamol and Lucozade.

There you have it, 10 great ideas for unique wedding favours and if you want to add a personal touch check out our own range of gifts.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas With A Difference

Fathers Day Gift Ideas

Repairing your toys, driving you to your friend’s house, giving you advice, teaching you to drive – it’s a busy job being a dad! So, with Father’s Day just around the corner, you’re probably on the hunt for the perfect gift to say ‘thank you’.

Choosing gifts can be tricky and dads are notoriously difficult to buy for. But if you want to show him how much you appreciate everything he’s done for you over the years, perhaps it’s time to bypass the novelty socks and choose him a present that he’ll truly love.  To help you out, we’ve put together a list of 10 great Father’s Day gift ideas with a difference.

1. Experience days

Buying vouchers for a day out can be a really great gift. Whether this is for an escape room, paint balling or a sky diving experience, you can choose the activity that you know your dad is going to love. Giving them an experience instead of a physical gift makes a nice change and means they can create memories to cherish forever. Better yet if you book an experience day for two, that way they can choose someone to join in the fun with them (and you never know, they might choose you!).

2. Personalised jewellery

With more men embracing jewellery trends, there are now more options available to them than ever before. So why not gift your dad with something truly meaningful. You could choose a bracelet, ring, watch or necklace depending on his style, and have this personalised with either his name or initials in his or your own actual handwriting. This is something he can treasure for years to come.

3. Something for the kitchen (or garden)

Does your dad love to cook? Or perhaps he’s the opposite – is he a hopeless cook who could use a hand? There are some great gifts out there that can really make his life easier. Lazy pans allow dads to make a quick and easy fry up (with less to clean up afterwards!) or alternatively you could choose him some great tools for cooking outside on the BBQ. If he’s already got all the gear, why not add some spice to his life with meat rubs, spices or chilli sauces – there are some great gift sets out there that you can choose from.

4. Engraved gifts

Add a personal touch by having your gift engraved. There are a number of great gifts that you can have personalised in this way depending on your dad’s interests. For example, hip flasks, whiskey glasses or tumblers, watches, golfing equipment, key rings, or cufflinks. Choose the perfect gift for your dad and have it engraved with a special message from you.

5. His favourite tipple

What does your dad love to drink – beer, whiskey, gin? Whatever his favourite tipple may be, you can make it extra special this Father’s Day. There are a number of upcoming retailers and unique new stores producing interesting and delicious drinks. Whether that’s a local ale, flavoured gin, smokey whiskey or funky bottle of tequila. Help your dad kick back and relax on Father’s Day with his favourite drink.

6. Something retro

If your dad is a bit of a collector, or perhaps he has one thing in particular that he loves, why not find him something retro to add to his collection. If he supports a football team, look for old memorabilia, or perhaps he loves a particular sports star, writer or artist? Track down something they’ve signed or produced years ago. When it comes to finding something like this it can get a little bit pricey, but there are a number of vintage stores both online and on some high streets that hold a huge range of retro pieces, it’s just about tracking down the perfect one.

7. Gaming gifts

Your dad might be a gamer and with new technologies emerging all the time there’s always a new release or new attachment to try out. Think VR (virtual reality) headsets, Playstations and top of the range gaming chairs. There are so many gift ideas for the gamers in your life, but if you’re unsure what to buy, you can always gift him with physical vouchers or online credits that allow him to choose what he wants himself.

And it doesn’t just have to be a techie gift. If you know your dad loves an evening in playing board games, or can’t resist an opportunity to get down the local for the weekly pub quiz, why not get him his very own quiz game for at home. Pick from a huge range of fun and hilarious board games so that dad can delight in a family or friends games night in.

8. Useful gadgets

Dads love a gadget! Whether that’s a bottle opener, multi-tool, miniature game, keyring, soap dispenser or radio – if it’s a weird and wonderful gadget, dads are sure to love it! There are a number of novelty gifts out there for you to choose from, so you just need to decide whether you’re going to pick something to make him laugh, or whether you want to opt for something that will come in very handy (bonus if it does both!).

9. Interesting foods

Is your dad a bit of a foodie? Treat him to some of the more creative foods that have been popping up in recent years. You’ll have your choice from chocolates to condiments, you’re bound to find a unique taste your dad will love. Choose from whiskey chocolates, spreadable rum chutneys or chilli gummy sweets, there are so many retailers offering weird and wonderful creations.

10. Travel accessories

If your dad is always jet setting here and there, help him on his way with some unique travel accessories. Perhaps a suitcase printed with his own face, a personalised passport cover, travel books to give him inspiration or a scratch wall map that allows him to showcase everywhere he’s been so far. Give him a gift that is sure to remind him of you every time he travels.

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