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Friday, 19 December 2014

A New Christmas Party Dress #Review

Bonmarche  David Emanuel Beaded Wrap Dress Christmas Party

I love having a new dress to wear for Christmas parties.  This year, however, has been so hectic that  I haven't had the time to even think about looking for a new dress so when Bonmarche asked me to choose and review some party clothes for them I was very grateful.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

A Festive Family Christmas Party

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CampaignHashtag #CollectiveBias
A Family Christmas Party #CBIAS

Christmas is party season!  From children's parties at school and clubs to grown up work dos- there are lots of them.  While we've been enjoying these parties with our friends, one of my favourite types of party over the holidays is the Family Christmas Party.  

We have quite a few of these around Nanny's house from now until the New Year and it is always great to have all the family together for such a fun, relaxed get-together.  

At the weekend after a fun but tiring morning spent ice skating, we all felt in the mood for a little family party and the great thing about them is they are so easy to quickly shop for and put together.

The Shop


A Family Christmas Party #CBIAS

As well as the party food you can also pick up other essentials you will need for your party, a Christmas CD, DVD, party board game and even decorations if you haven't got them up already.   Living in a rural place with very little choice for shops we are so grateful when we can pick everything up in our local Tesco Extra.

We found the CDs and DVDs on the second floor in the entertainment section.  There are seasonal sections but also remember to check the charts too as these will often contain a Christmas option or two.  The board games were on the first floor in the toy department.

Of course, we already have Christmas CDs, DVDs and board games at home but a new one is such a treat.  We let the kids choose a new Christmas DVD and I chose the new board game as I've wanted our own traditional version of Monopoly for a long time as we love playing it at Mum's house.


A Family Christmas Party #CBIAS Food


The Food

Everyone has a favourite party food that they are hoping to spot on the buffet table, whether it be sausage rolls or scotch eggs.  I tried to make sure I had at least one of everyone's favourite but then tried to keep it simple and the amount of food down.  I left out pizza, quiche and vol au vents but we still ended up with so much food.


A Family Christmas Party #CBIAS Food


Dave got in the kitchen cooking the"hot food", veggy sausage rolls,chicken and savoury snacks etc.  The kids and I set everything up and prepared the cold foods such as cheese and pineapple (so old school but I love them).  My kids love preparing food like this with me and it really helps. 


A Family Christmas Party #CBIAS Food

Under supervision kids can:  put crisps in bowls, put sweets out, put together the cheese and pineapple, fold serviettes and put on plates and help make drinks.


A Family Christmas Party #CBIAS Food


Finger foods work best.  I used to serve a salad but you need to sit down with cutlery to eat it so we find cherry tomatoes, grapes and vegetable crudites are easier.  


A Family Christmas Party #CBIAS Food

There also must be jars of pickles- it's not Christmas without a pickled onion!  


A Family Christmas Party #CBIAS Drinks Babycham


The Drinks

A classic Christmas party drink for me is Babycham!  It's not to everyone's taste but for those who do enjoy this retro tipple make sure it is served with a cherry (and if possible in a Babycham Glass- thanks for the loan Mum!). 

These super cute retro glasses can still be sourced in second hand shops and on ebay- I love them.



The kids drinks can be served with a cherry, lemon  or candy cane to dress them up too.  


A Family Christmas Party #CBIAS Drinks Babycham


The Music

I didn't pick up a new CD as I have a box full of Christmas CDs (my excuse is I needed every Christmas song recorded for putting on plays when I was teaching!).

Stick on some Christmas songs using whichever method you prefer and the mood instantly feels full of festive cheer.  

(Me and the kids do find ourselves singing along rather too enthusiastically to all the Christmas songs on in the shops at the moment!).

The kids had a dance in the living room.  At Mum's house the "dance floor" is always in her  hallway.  


A Family Christmas Party #CBIAS Board Game Monopoly


The Games

I love having time to play games as a family.  Over the years I have tried and failed to have a weekly family game night.  Because we can't manage it weekly, I always make time in each school holiday to play some board games with the kids.  They play them lots on their own too.  At Christmastime, board games come into their own.  

A Family Christmas Party #CBIAS Board Game Monopoly







 Get out the bowl of sweets, fill up the drinks, roll the die and you're ready to play!

Top tip:  Keep one adult spare to look after the younger kids.  Get out Christmas colouring in or play building blocks to amuse them or you'll end up with the game pieces everywhere.

If you have a cat, beware, they will also love to sit on the board game and move all the pieces around too (the saying never work with animals or children could apply well for board games also!).  


A Family Christmas Party #CBIAS Film DVD FreeBirds


The Christmas Film

Oh, the huge benefits of a family Christmas party are you can get your reindeer onesie on and cosy up and watch a Christmas film together at the end.  At mums house, it is a recent a tradition to always take a Christmas PJ's Group Selfie at the end of Christmas Day when we all get cosy and watch Christmas TV.

The adults get to relax and the kids get to calm down.  I prefer classic Christmas films with a goodwill message but my kids chose the a funny, crazy film "Free birds".  I managed to stay awake so it can't have been that bad!

Flavour your popcorn with vanilla or caramel for a seasonal taste, sit back and enjoy the feature!


A Family Christmas Party #CBIAS Hot Chocolate Night Cap

Younger kids may drop off towards the end of the film.  Older kids who stay awake can have a hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows.  

Adults could have a similar nightcap and add Irish Cream if desired.  We had these last year decorated with candy canes.

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Do you love family Christmas parties?  Which is your favourite board game to play? 









Monday, 15 December 2014

The Lantern Parade- Let There be Light #CountryKids

The lantern parade Christmas lights


Every year our town put on a lantern parade before Santa turns on the Christmas lights.  I've taken part in this since Danny was in my belly and I walked along with my school as a teacher.  Now, each year some of my children get to make lanterns in school.  The classes that take part change from year to year, So I always make extra lanterns at home to make sure that all of the kids have lanterns to carry.

The lantern parade Christmas lights

I used to make paper lanterns from A4 sheets of paper but this year as round paper lanterns are so easily available in craft and bargain shops we bought some.  We usually paint and glitter them but for the first time ever we stuck to using felt tips and stickers.  We have all been so ill and tired this Winter that I'm grateful for time saving short cuts wherever I can find them!  

The lantern parade Christmas lights


The lantern parade Christmas lights

The lantern parade Christmas lights

The kids decorated them all on their own and I wish I'd sat down and made one too.  I have so many ideas of lantern patterns that I wanted to make.


The lantern parade Christmas lights

It was touch and go many times if we would actually take part as poorly kids can mean unhappy (and grouchy!) ones.  Danny, we decided, was definitely too ill to walk around in the cold.   I was so sad that it was the first year taking part without Danny but knew this was the best decision as he struggles walking in the cold on good days so it would  have been hard for him, especially on the hills.

The lantern parade Christmas lights

Dave had to stay home to look after him so it meant I was now one adult down and not feeling one hundred per cent myself I did worry how I would cope.  It just seemed to be one of those days were putting on hats, scarves and gloves and taking coats off to get in car seats and then put them back on again just felt like a hindrance whereas usually I'd see this as part of the Winter fun.  I also haven't adjusted Izzy's cosy toes correctly yet so that wouldn't go on properly.  I don't know if she's just too long for it or if I've put it on incorrectly but never seem to have the time to have a good look at it.

At the start of the parade I felt a bit happier when I saw lots of friendly, familiar faces and then met up with Mum, Jo and Cerys.  Watching the three girls I couldn't manage to take any photos of us during the parade.  We march on the roads which are usually closed to vehicles for the occasion.  On one road there were cars allowed (although stationary for us to pass) so I had to watch the girls extra carefully.  

It was lovely seeing Santa join in with the parade as well as the cast from our local pantomime, Cinderella (I had no hands free to take photos sorry!).  I was very proud that my sister managed to walk all the way around too.  Every day she achieves something new since her stroke. 

The lantern parade Christmas lights

We made our way to the the Memorial Gardens to watch the switch on off the lights.

The lantern parade Christmas lights

The lantern parade Christmas lights

The lantern parade Christmas lights

We count down live on our local radio show...

The lantern parade Christmas lights

Then, the lights are on!


The lantern parade Christmas lights


The lantern parade Christmas lights

This was followed by a walk up to the Nativity in the stable.  This may have been my favourite thing about Christmas when I was a child and I still get so excited when I spot them putting in the figures a few days before the service.


The lantern parade Christmas lights Nativity

It was too crowded to take a good photo of the girls and the scene, so we will come down another night and have a look on our own.  One more week left in school then I've looking forward to a couple of festive days with the kids in the lead up to Christmas.

The lantern parade Christmas lights

Once in the Memorial Gardens with lots of other kids Caitlyn ran round and round, which is fine and expected, but frustratingly wouldn't come back and listen to me properly so it was quite hard to say our goodbyes and make our exit.  There were also free rides and food for sale but that would have meant lots of crowds and queueing.

We turned the corner and found ourselves back on our own again, we enjoyed our little walk  with the bright full moon shining down on us.  A lovely bit of calm after a frenzied afternoon.


The lantern parade Christmas lights

Back to the car and back home.  It was the first year that we haven't had a "Christmas Tea" after the event but Rebecca and Caitlyn were staying with Nanny and it felt odd to have this without them.

The lantern parade Christmas lights

As soon as we arrived at the Lantern Parade I realised that we had left our letters to Santa  in the car.  So after school one night we popped down to post them.  Again, we had no Danny due to After School clubs and Caitlyn wanted to post hers alone.

The lantern parade Christmas lights

The lantern parade Christmas lights Post letters Santa

Winter SunsetThe lantern parade Christmas lights Post letters Santa

Caitlyn from afar posting her letter!

The lantern parade Christmas lights Post letters Santa

Winter Sun

Winter Sunset

Whatever the season or weather there is always a lovely view from the Rath across the Haven.  I'm really missing the woods and the beaches where we can just play free.  I love Christmas but after the build up I love the quieter days to play and explore again. 

We've had our Christmas Concerts and Pantomimes, this week we're looking forward to ice skating, Carol Concerts and Christmas Parties.  
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, 11 December 2014

A Small Snowflake Hallway Gives a Bright Welcome

Turtle Mat Snowflake Mat Christmas Hallway


Well, "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas"...

  At Christmastime the majority of the rooms in our house are hit by the season's sparkle.  As in most homes, our main Christmas focus is always in the living and dining room but little touches also appear throughout such as a potted Christmas tree in the kitchen, a Gingerbread Tin full of festive bath bombs in the bathroom and paper chains and mini trees in the kid's rooms.


Small dark hallway



It has come to my attention however that one room certainly lacked the Christmas spirit- our small, drab hallway.  Although we mainly use our back door as our main entrance guests do still use the front door so I realised we really had to give our dark, little hallway a makeover- not just for Christmas.


Small dark hallway


The first thing we do in every room before decorating is declutter.  I sorted through the coats and put away our Summer season ones.  I also sorted all our shoes.  Most pairs are meant to live in the bedrooms and just the ones in daily use, such as school shoes, are to be be stored in the hallway but we've all been lazy of late and  have left the hall bursting full of footwear.

Next, we primed and painted our wood panelling white.  I have been meaning to do this for years but have been quite scared in case it went wrong to be honest.  I shouldn't have worried as I love the new white panelling and it really lightens the space and makes it feel bigger.  We also fixed the hall  ceiling light.


Turtle Mat Snowflake Mat Christmas Hallway

We were sent a Snowflake Christmas Turtle Mat to use to style our hall ready for Christmas, so I decided to make snowflakes the main theme of the room.


Turtle Mat Snowflake Mat Christmas Hallway

We have paper snowflakes on the glass panes of our front door.


Turtle Mat Snowflake Mat Christmas Hallway

Turtle Mat Snowflake Mat Christmas Hallway

Snowflakes LED Lights give a warm glow just above the coat hooks.

Turtle Mat Snowflake Mat Christmas Hallway

A paper snowflake garland hangs across the door way.  I confess that I am planning to hang a crochet snowflake garland here but I haven't had an evening free to get my yarn out yet.  Luckily, I love the simplicity of paper snowflakes anyway and the kids love making them with me.  I did think about adding buttons or glitter but in the end decided to keep them crisp white.  I love the patterns they make on the wall.


Turtle Mat Snowflake Mat Christmas Hallway

I think the snowflakes tie the design together.


Turtle Mat Snowflake Mat Christmas Hallway


Turtle Mat Snowflake Mat Christmas Hallway

The snowflake design of the mat is gorgeous but I wanted to test the practical side of the rug out too.   It arrived rolled up and I was pleased to see that as soon as I unrolled it, the rug lay flat.  Then I sprinkled on some "snow" to check that when Santa arrives and leaves his snowy, magic dust footprints as he does each year, that this can be cleaned up easily.  (Yes, I know that real snow melts but magic snow doesn't!) 

Turtle Mat Snowflake Mat Christmas Hallway

I'm pleased to say that the Turtle Mat passed the vac test and can also be machine washed and tumble dried.


Turtle Mat Snowflake Mat Christmas Hallway

Turtle Mats are developed to leave your floors as spotless as the last time you cleaned them, Turtle Mats' super absorbent cotton tufts work hard to trap moisture and grab dirt so you don't have to.  This will come in very handy with these four kids and their muddy wellies!


Turtle Mat Snowflake Mat Christmas Hallway

I haven't completely finished decorating the hall.  Now, the walls are white they seem taller so I am going to look out for a wooden sign or print to hang above the coats.  I will also change the (lovely!) bright red carpet (hmm) at some point too. I am thinking about an umbrella holder in the corner and maybe a shelf above the coats for more display room, but for now I'm appreciating the look of extra space before I fill it all again! 

If you have any tips on decorating and organising a small hallway please let me know in the comments below.

  
This is our entry into the Turtle Mat Christmas Mat Styling Competition.  One lucky blogger will win a hamper for Christmas.  We were sent a mat in order to take part.  All opinions are honest and our own.



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