Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Christmas gift ideas for people who love to travel

I love putting together gift guides, and it helps me with my own Christmas planning! So I've got a few planned for the next few weeks, and they aren't based on things that I've been sent to review, they are purely things that I either own myself or have seen while browsing and on social media, that I think would make nice gifts for people. So I'm starting off with a Christmas gift guide for people who, like me, love to travel!

Amazon links are affiliate. 

Christmas gift ideas for people who love to travel

Starting off with the practical things that are helpful to all travellers. We have found a digital luggage scale very handy. It's one thing weighing your suitcases at home before you go away, but at the end of your holiday, along with extra bits and pieces that you've picked up on your travels, you have no idea how much the suitcase now weighs. A little scale is small and light and can be taken along with you to check your bags before you come home and save repacking at the airport. It's also great for checking the weight of your hand luggage if you have a restriction.

A set of luggage tags is also a nice idea, and you can either go for fun and colourful, like these patterned luggage tags, or go for something a little more grown up and sophisticated. Last year I bought my husband a smart leather luggage tag which I had personalised with his initials.

Christmas gift ideas for people who love to travel

You can also help your recipient find their luggage at the airport with some rainbow luggage straps and help them in their packing with a set of travel bottles that they can decant their toiletries into and make the trip through airport security a little easier.

Travellers love to both look back on their travel memories and plan new adventures. I've written before about the Travel Listography which I really enjoy filling out.

Christmas gift ideas for people who love to travel

I'm also hankering after one of these gorgeous personalised notebooks from Hope House Press. You can also choose from a huge range of notebooks, journals and diaries.

Christmas gift ideas for people who love to travel

We have a large World map hanging on the wall of our study which I love looking at with the children, but I'd also really like one of these scratch off World maps so that we can record the places that we've visited.

Christmas gift ideas for people who love to travel

I also enjoy reminiscing while sipping from my World Map Mug, and how about wrapping your gift in World map wrapping paper!

Christmas gift ideas for people who love to travel

Finally, if you are feeling crafty, why not make a display frame, like this one from Rachael Jess - Creating a Keepsake Box. It's a fun way to both show off and store those little mementoes that otherwise get lost, like travel or attraction tickets.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Crafting for Christmas 2016 with Baker Ross

Crafting for Christmas with Baker Ross

I love crafting with the children at Christmas, both making decorations for the home and as a way to calm down when the excitement gets a little bit too much! Baker Ross have some fantastic craft kits this Christmas, which are great do do with your own children, to keep on standby for play dates, or if you are looking for an activity to keep a larger group of children happy.

The children each have a Christmas tree in their own room and they love to fill it with decorations that they have made themselves. These Christmas Elf Mix and Match Decoration Kits (£3.49 for six) are really easy to put together and are a lovely bright and cheerful addition to the tree. All the pieces are self-adhesive, so there is no glue needed and no mess.

Baker Ross foam elf decorations

We also each sewed a reindeer ornament from this Rudolph Reindeer Decoration Sewing Kits. The sewing is very simple, and then the decoration is stuffed and personalised with self-adhesive stickers and googly eyes. They are very sweet and cheeful!

Baker Ross sew a reindeer ornaments

To decorate our front window, the children coloured in some of these Christmas Bauble Colour-in Window Decorations (£2.75 for 12). You just need felt pens to colour in these see through designs, and if you use nice bright colours they look lovely with the light shining through.

Baker Ross colour in window decorations

Another cheerful way to decorate the home is by doing some of these Christmas Scratch Art Pictures (£2.95 for six). Children just use the tools provided to scratch away the black surface and reveal the bright colours underneath. Even little ones can manage this easily and produce some lovely colourful wall art.

Baker Ross Christmas scratch art

Christmas is a time for giving, and friends and family love to receive handcrafted gifts from the children. I really like these Christmas Pals Cross Stitch Cards (£3.96 for six), the children have worked really hard on them and they are a lovely keepsake.

Baker Ross cross stitch Christmas cards

Gingerbread House Photo Frame (£1.49 for five) is also a lovely gift when completed with a photo of the child or perhaps a drawing. The self-adhesive foam shapes are easy to stick together with no mess, and can be customised however the child likes. They can be hung on the tree, or you could also attach a magnet to the back to display on the fridge.

Baker Ross gingerbread house frame

This was another lovely selection of seasonal craft kits from Baker Ross! We've been enjoying crafting with Baker Ross for a couple of years now, and you can see some of our previous crafts here - Baker Ross Crafts for Christmas 2015 and Baker Ross Crafts for Christmas 2014 - My first post and a second post.

I received these craft kits to review as a Baker Ross Blogger. Prices correct at time of writing.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Book review - Prankenstein on Tour by Andy Seed

Prankenstein on Tour by Andy Seed (affiliate link) is the third book in the Prankenstein series, published this October by Fat Fox. Prankenstein is the prank-crazed alter-ego of Soapy Thompson, and when he is unleashed he can cause all sorts of mayhem.

Prankenstein on Tour by Andy Seed

In this story, Soapy's Dad has won a cruise holiday for a family of five, and Soapy persuades him to invite his two best friends along as well, a good thing because there aren't many other children on the cruise ship. They have fun exploring the ship and generally causing mischief, but when pirates board the ship as they cruise past the East coast of Africa, and take his Mum hostage, Soapy's only hope is to turn into Prankenstein, and so the adventure really begins.

This book is very much the sort book that Harry enjoys. It's funny, has lots of pictures and diagrams, and in this case being set on a cruise ship was a big bonus as it's something that Harry could relate to. He really enjoyed it!

I received this book in exchange for a review.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Bringing cities to life with Lonely Planet books

This Autumn, Lonely Planet Kids have published two fantastic books aimed at bringing cities to life for children. As a family we love to travel and explore, and Lonely Planet Kids aims to kick-start the travel bug. Through their books they love to showcase the quirky facts, amusing tales and inspiring stories that bring our planet to life.

The first book that we looked at is How Cities Work (affiliate link), aimed at readers aged 7 years plus, a full colour hardback with 24 thick pages of flaps to lift and pages to fold out. 

Lonely Planet How Cities Work book

The book begins with how a city is born, and moves on to cover the different areas of the city and what goes on in them, how a city is run, all the different things that happen in cities, and what a city of the future might look like. Most of the pages fold out entirely, and the pages are full of flaps to lift and find out more. For example, what is going on inside the rooms in a high-rise, and what can you see at the museum or theatre.

How Cities Work book inside

As well as the fun of lifting the flaps, there is plenty of information packed into the pages. Interesting little facts are presented in an easy to understand and fun way, and it's the sort of book that you can dip in and out of and discover something new each time. It's a book for children to explore on their own, and have fun while they are learning.

The second books is The Cities Book (affiliate link), a large hardcover book containing double page spreads devoted to 86 of the world's greatest cities.

 Lonely Planet The Cities Book

There's a map at the front where you can choose which city to explore first, or else they are grouped by continent. It can be used either as a reference book, to find out about a particular city, or as a book to browse through, and learn something different with each reading.

Lonely Planet Cities Book inside

Each city page includes factual information about the city, plenty of lovely big photographs, as well as colourful hand drawn illustrations, and fact boxes. It's written with children in mind, so there are snippets about what life is like for children growing up in different places. For example in Tromso in Norway for two months of the year the sun never rises, so the children living there have to go to school in the dark!

These books would make fantastic stocking fillers for children this Christmas.

We received these books to review, Amazon links are affiliate.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

My Winter Sun travel wishlist (sponsored post)

I recently shared my Winter Travel Wishlist - a list of places that I would love to visit one winter. The thing that all those destinations have in common is that at this time of year they are very, very cold, so today I'm sharing some of the places that I'd like to visit for some winter sun with the family!

The Canary Islands

A few years back we spent a week in January in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands and we had a lovely time. The Canaries are lovely at the beginning of the year, pleasantly warm and not too busy, and it was still nice enough to spend our time on the beach and in the pool. We have booked a trip to Tenerife for January this year and I'm looking forward to a bit of sunshine after the excitement of Christmas has passed and the reality of a cold, grey January has set in! With a flight time of four hours, it is probably the closest place that you can get to from the UK to enjoy warmer temperatures during the winter.

Villa terrace in Lanzarote

Dubai

A little further away is Dubai, definitely somewhere that I'd like to visit one day. Lovely and hot, with lots of resort hotels, swimming pools, and beautiful beaches. You can go up the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, and if the children will put up with it, shop to your heart's content!

Dubain skyline
Photo credit Roman Logov via Unsplash
Florida

Florida is definitely our favourite family holiday destination. We've been lucky enough to enjoy a few holidays here already, but there is so much to see and do that I'd love to go back soon. We've only ever stayed in Orlando for the theme parks but Florida has plenty more to offer. I know that the childern would love to go alligator spotting in the Everglades, and there are some beautiful beaches along the coast. It is slightly cooler in the winter, but still very warm and pleasant with plenty of sunshine, and you are spared the daily thunderstorms that hit during the summer and autumn months. The cooler temperatures are also ideal if you are spending the day at theme parks, much more pleasant than during the summer heat.

Caribbean cruise

For me, I think that a Caribbean cruise has to be the ultimate destination for some winter sun. You can explore several different islands and travel between them in luxury, with plenty of entertainment and dining on board for the whole family. A cruise will take in several different islands so you can enjoy a variety of different beaches, and when you are at sea you can sunbathe or spend your time in the pool soaking up the sunshine.

Beach with palm trees
Photo credit Rowan Hevel via Unsplash
If you are looking for more winter sun travel inspiration have a look here - Top 10 Winter Sun Destinations.

This is a sponsored post.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Scandi inspired Hama bead battery candle holders

After making my Autumn Hama bead battery tea light holders, I decided to make a Christmas version! These Hama bead designs are based on the red and white colours of many Scandinavian inspired Christmas decorations that have been very popular for the last few years.

Please note that these Hama bead candle holders are designed to be used only with battery tea light candles - they would not be at all safe if used with real candles!


Scandi inspired red and white Hama bead battery candle holders

To make this Hama bead project you just need red and white Hama beads, a large square pegboard and some thick red thread or embroidery silk for sewing up the side. First come up with your designs. They should be the entire length of the square pegboard, and I've found that a height between 8 and 10 beads works well. For a wider candle you will need to attach two boards together. These are my patterns:

Scandi inspired red and white Hama bead battery candle holders

Then iron your designs. Use the iron on a medium setting and iron until the beads are well fused together, but there are still holes in the centres. Iron all the designs first on one side, then remove the strips of beads from the pegboard.

Scandi inspired red and white Hama bead battery candle holders

Taking each strip one at a time, iron again on the reverse. Then while it is still warm and malleable, wrap it around a cardboard tube and hold in place for a minute or two while the beads cool. When you remove it from the tube it will hold its curved shape.

Scandi inspired red and white Hama bead battery candle holders

Use some red thread to sew the strip together at the back, using a thick needle to push through the centre of the beads. Sewn up fairly tightly it was the perfect size for my battery tea light holders, but you might want to check at this point to make sure that your candle will fit inside.

Scandi inspired red and white Hama bead battery candle holders

And there you have it, three Scandi inspired Hama bead candle holders!

Scandi inspired red and white Hama bead battery candle holders

With a small battery tea light candle inside they are perfect for popping on the mantlepiece or under the Christmas tree. They are so simple to make that children could easily make a couple for Christmas gifts, and even a very young child would be able to copy a simple design or come up with one of their own.

Scandi inspired red and white Hama bead battery candle holders

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Sew this is Knitmas with White Stuff

This is a commissioned post in collaboration with White Stuff.

This Christmas, I am collaborating with White Stuff to create some blog and video tutorials for unique Christmas decorations using White Stuff fabrics. I have been sent some gorgeous fabric to use in my crafting, and I'm going to be sharing the instructions for two different Christmas wreath crafts.

You can see more crafting inspiration over at Sew This is Knitmas.

How to make two different types of fabric wreath

You'll find a full tutorial for both crafts in my video, and written instructions follow below.


Large fabric strip wreath


How to make a large fabric strip wreath for Christmas

You need:

Strips of fabric - each approx. 15cm long by 2cm wide
A wire wreath base
Ribbon for hanging

How to make a large fabric strip wreath for Christmas

Instructions:

First cut out all your strips of fabric. Aim for a variety of different colours, patterns and textures.

One a time, wrap each strip around the wire wreath base. Pull the knots tightly, and keep the front side of the wreath facing you at all times so that you can make sure all the wire base is covered and the fabric is tied in front of it.

How to make a large fabric strip wreath for Christmas

Push the knotted pieces of fabric close together as you go around, and make sure to add plenty of fabric strips so that the wreath is nice and padded out.

How to make a large fabric strip wreath for Christmas

Add a long length of ribbon to the wreath for hanging, then hang up proudly on your door!

How to make a large fabric strip wreath for Christmas

Make sure to fluff out the fabric strips so that it looks even all the way around. This style of wreath is a great way to show off a collection of fabric in different colours and textures - you could opt for colours that tone together as I have, or go for contrasting colours that really stand out.

How to make a large fabric strip wreath for Christmas

Mini hanging wreaths for the tree


How to make mini fabric wreath decorations

You need:

Thick cardboard
Long strips of fabric
Buttons and other embellishments
Ribbon for hanging
Glue gun

How to make mini fabric wreath decorations

Instructions:

Cut your thick cardboard into small wreath shapes. I used large and small plastic beakers as a template, then I cut out the wreaths with scissors and a craft knife for the inside circle. Take a strip of fabric and wrap it around the wreath so that it is completely covered. Secure the end of the strip firmly to the back of the wreath with a glue gun. You can stick to one fabric or use several different ones for different sections of the wreath.

How to make mini fabric wreath decorations

Glue embellishments, for example Christmas buttons, to the front of the wreath with a glue gun, and finish it off by tying some ribbon around for hanging.

How to make mini fabric wreath decorations

You can make a variety of different wreaths in all colours and designs, and you could also vary the sizes for a bit more interest.

How to make mini fabric wreath decorations

They are perfect for the Christmas tree, and they would also make a lovely gift popped inside a Christmas card.

How to make mini fabric wreath decorations

This is a commissioned post in collaboration with White Stuff.
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