On Friday evening, Jack and I were very excited to be invited to watch Elf The Musical at The Lowry in Salford.
Based on the beloved 2003 hit film starring Will Ferrell, Elf the Musical is an utterly brilliant, life-affirming tale based around Buddy, an oversized elf with terrible toy-making skills, who doesn’t realise he’s a human accidentally brought back to the North Pole and raised by Santa and his elves. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.
For fans of the film, the storyline is a little different apparently (I haven’t seen the film, so can’t tell you first hand!), but don’t fret as all your favourite lines and silliness are still included from Mr Narwhal, that fight with the department store Santa and the biggest burp I’ve ever heard!
The entire cast give it their all throughout the show and what a stellar cast it is featuring West End ‘Superstar’ Ben Forster reprising his role as Buddy, Liz McClarnon of Atomic Kitten fame playing the sarcastic and jaded Jovie, Louis Emerick as Santa Claus, Joe McGann as Walter Hobbs and Jessica Martin as Emily Hobbs. Their voices are phenomenal, especially Ben and Liz, and the songs throughout the show are incredibly catchy and stay with you long after the show. I also really enjoyed watching Lori Haley Fox who stole every moment she was on stage with her hilarious adaptation of the office secretary Deb.
Without wanting to give away any surprises, it would be unfair of me not to mention the incredible set. The creative team have done a sterling job at translating the magic of Christmas to the stage and it is truly spectacular.
I can’t recommend this show highly enough. It’s the perfect show for both children and adults alike, with good old slapstick comedy for the kids and a few ‘grown up’ jokes thrown in for good measure.
Elf The Musical will continue its run at The Lowry, Salford until Saturday 14th January, and you do not want to miss out!
There is a brilliant 2-for-1 ticket offer available for all remaining shows of Elf The Musical at The Lowry Theatre, by simply using the promotional code READERHUG. You can purchase your tickets here.
**Sadly, since writing this review Ben Forster had a little incident on stage on Saturday afternoon and broke his ankle, but all future performances are scheduled to go ahead as planned with his brilliant understudy Colin playing the role of Buddy. **
Disclosure: We were guests of the Lowry Theatre for the purpose of this review, however all opinions and views are entirely my own.
Last January I wrote this post featuring my New Year’s resolutions. There were goals focusing on achieving a better work/life balance, goals to drink more water and look after my skin better (I’ve achieved the latter, but still fail miserably at the water consumption) and as with all New Year’s resolutions, there were the goals to get fit, lose weight and eat more healthily.
One year on, I feel like I’m back in the same space I was last January! Don’t get me wrong I did get fitter in 2017 after training hard for a half marathon in October and have lost a substantial amount of weight (nearly 2 stone). But since the half marathon has been and gone I seem to have slipped back into my old ways and my weekly game of netball is not cutting the mustard on the fitness front!
Likewise my eating is all over the place. At the start of the year I was using my Nutribullet daily (it’s ingenious btw!) and felt healthier than ever, but slowly the unhealthy food crept back in and over the Christmas period I feel like I consumed my body weight in Chocolate Oranges!
To start my healthy eating on the right note this year, I have trawled the internet, done a lot of research and bought the following healthy eating cookbooks (all of which I can highly recommend) to help me on my merry way.
1 // Get The Glow: Delicious and Easy Recipes That Will Nourish You from the Inside Out, £13.60
2 // The Detox Kitchen Bible, £20.29
3 // Hemsley & Hemsley – The Art of Eating Well, £16.98
4 // Eat. Nourish. Glow: 10 easy steps for losing weight, looking younger & feeling healthier, £7.99
5 // Lean in 15: 15 minute meals and workouts to keep you lean and healthy, £7.49
6 // Everyday Super Food, £6.99
What are your New Year’s resolutions? Do you have a favourite healthy eating cookbook you’d like to share?
With only 2 more shopping days until the big day, time is running out to buy your loved ones the ‘perfect’ gift. If you don’t fancy joining the masses and trawling around the shops, I have found the perfect solution for you – a One4All gift card.
Gift cards are always a great fallback if you have no idea what to buy someone, but you’ve always got the dilemma of which shop to buy them in. Thankfully the One4All gift card solves that major issue as it is accepted in over 120 high street stores such as Topshop, Warehouse, Boots, Marks & Spencer and GAP.
You can even spend them in restaurants including Pizza Express, online retailers such as amazon.co.uk and even on Virgin Experience Days. (Check out the full list of retailers here).
One of the great things about a One4All gift card, is that you don’t have to spend it all in the same place or all in one go and you can check your balance online at any time. (Retailers can’t tell you how much is on your card and you do need to know that you have enough on the card before they process the transaction, so it’s a good idea to keep track yourself.)
So how do you get your hands on this perfect Christmas present??
Simply call into your local Post Office and choose from a range of gift card designs to suit all recipients. You can add any amount between £10 and £400 and brilliantly there is no expiry date as long as there is a balance on the card.
Suitable for all ages (Jack, aged 6, received one for his birthday a few months ago which I thought was a brilliant present), spend more time with your loved ones this weekend and less time shopping, by popping to the Post Office to buy all the remaining people on your list a One4All gift card, they won’t be disappointed.
Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with One4All gift card.
Over the past week, I’ve been sharing my Christmas gift ideas with you to provide a little inspiration for your present buying. First up there was my Christmas gift ideas for her, followed by Christmas gift ideas for him and latterly Christmas gift ideas for new parents.
My final gift guide focuses on Christmas gift ideas for little people…
1 // Laser X Double Pack, £49.99
Enjoy the ultimate game of laser tag with Laser X! Play inside or out, as team red or team blue, with unlimited players! Laser X works up to 60 metres away with pinpoint accuracy and it’s utterly brilliant fun! We bought Jack one for his birthday a few months ago and I can’t rate it highly enough.
2 // Baby Annabell Learns To Swim Doll, £29.99
Phoebe is obsessed with dolls at the moment, hence why I’ve added two different ones in this guide. This adorable Baby Annabell is designed for water and she splashes around, floats on her back and wiggles her arms and legs aswell as making adorable happy baby sounds. She even comes with a towel and inflatable water wings with cute sheep design.
3 // ‘My Golden Ticket’ Personalised Book‘, £19.99
The perfect personalised gift for 5-12 year olds, this book gives every child a unique adventure in Willy Wonka’s factory. They’ll explore wondrous new rooms and uncover their own delicious secrets. Jack is a huge Willy Wonka fan so I can’t wait to read this with him on Christmas Day Eve.
4 // Disney Guess The Film Game, £14.53
Are your family Disney movie experts? Well it’s time to put your Disney knowledge to the test with this fun and exciting Guess the Film game! Take turns rolling the dice and open the window with the corresponding colour to the die. Each coloured window reveals part of an image from an iconic Disney film, and it’s down to you to guess which film the image is from. If you guess correctly, you win a Mickey token! The first player to earn four Mickey tokens wins the game! The fantastic Disney Guess the Film game is suitable 2+ players, aged 4 and above.
5 // VTech Star Wars Stormtrooper Camera Watch, £59.97
Fans of Star Wars will love the KidiZoom Star Wars Stormtrooper Camera Watch from VTech with over 30 different digital and analogue custom clock faces from Star Wars to help children learn to tell the time. There are also 3 fast-paced mini games to play, keeping them entertained on the go. While out and about, keen photographers can have fun capturing moments with the camera and video feature with this awesome camera watch and get creative by adding fun effects, frames and filters!
6 // Intelex Microwavable Cozy Plush, £11.89
How cute is this little pup! Not only does he look cute, he can also be popped in the microwave for 90 seconds to keep your little ones nice and toasty on these cold Winter nights. He is super safe for any age, and unlike a hot water bottle, there is no risk of burns. Scented with lavender he also smells delicious, and is sure to go down a treat with both children and adults alike.
7 // Mini Face Paint Kit, £2.99
Snazaroo’s mini face paint kits are ideal for every day play and can be taken anywhere. They are also super easy to use and each kit contains a sponge, a brush and a super simple 3 step guide to recreate your favourite look. There are lots of different kits to choose from including a witch, vampire, snowman, pirate and my favourite, a tiger.
8 // Chipmunks Jack Wellington Boots, £18
Constructed in durable rubber, these waterproof wellingtons feature easy on pull handles and are lined with fleece to keep little feet warm and dry when splashing in puddles. Jack adores his ‘Jack’ wellies and finds them so much more comfortable to wear than previous brands we’ve bought for him and the handles make them a breeze to pull on.
9 // VTech Kidizoom Duo Digital Camera With 4GB SD Card, £49.99
If your little one loves taking fun photos of themselves and their mates, this easy-to-use Kidizoom digital camera will be a big hit. Thanks to its dual lens it’s easy to take great selfies as you can switch between front and back lenses at a touch of a button. You can then add fun distortion effects, stamps and frames, or use the auto-portrait feature. When you record a movie you can add animations and you can even record your voice with funny effects.
A must have gift for a unicorn fan, we challenge you to find any little lady who doesn’t adore these. Inside this set there are six of the prettiest (odd) socks ever, and all contain a rather magical theme! All you have to do is mix and match the set of 6 socks to make a magical 15 combinations. From rainbows to multicoloured manes, stripes to polka dots, stars and so much more, these socks are certainly eye catching!
11 // Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet, £79.99
If your children are constantly trying to get their hands on your tablet, it may make sense to buy them their own – with suitable rules about how much they use it, of course. Amazon’s child-focused tablet is well worth a look. More than just a tablet, Fire Kids Edition comes with 1 year of Fire For Kids Unlimited, a Child-Proof Case – available in a choice of Blue, Pink and Yellow. And a 2-year worry-free guarantee. Best-in-class parental controls also allow you to manage usage limits, content access, and educational goals while entertaining children within a safe kid friendly environment.
Fire for Kids is built from the ground up to help give parents peace of mind when it comes to tablet use. Parents can create a profile for each of their children and choose which books, apps, games and videos they want to give their kids access to. Fire for Kids is free on every Fire tablet. With Fire for Kids, parents can set daily limits for tablet use, or restrict certain categories, such as games and video, while leaving unlimited time for reading.
12 // Children’s Veg Patch Experience (Gift Voucher), £34.99
I love this idea for a gift, and it’s perfect for the green-fingered little people amongst us. Once activated, the voucher entitles your child to a delivery of organic vegetable plants to grow and comes with a complete growing guide with advice on how to plant and look after their veg. From strawberries to carrots and potatoes, this garden is packed full of children’s favourites!
13 // K’Nex 85618 Kid K’Nex Budding Builders Building Set, £27.99
Any creation is possible with the K’NEX Budding Builders Tub! Aspiring K’NEX builders can choose from 100 colourful parts and pieces and 50 amazing building ideas to create everything from a fish helicopter to a robot puppy! The K’NEX Budding Builders Tub offers endless possibilities for a child’s imagination to grow!
14 // LEGO DUPLO Disney Pixar Cars 3 10857 Piston Cup Race, £22.50
Disney Pixar Cars 3 fans will love lining up Lightning McQueen and Jackson Storm for the final race of the piston cup, and helping Luigi to start the race. First help them master early construction and fine motor skills by building the 3 cars and the starting gate. Then explore imagination and role-play with them as Luigi raises his flag.
15 // Mr Bucket Game, £15.33
Mr Bucket is the all action game that everyone can enjoy. Can you fill Mr Bucket to the brim before your friends do? Choose a set of coloured balls and watch Mr Bucket go! Place your balls back into Mr Bucket before he can shoot them out again. Complete the task before the other players and pick up Mr Bucket by the handle to win the game! It sounds easy enough but remember your battling for space with the other players! A great game for 2-4 players and ages 4+.
16 // Girl’s World Styling Head, £17.99
Girl’s World Styling Head continues to provide budding stylists with the opportunity to create the trendiest looks and hairstyles, just like in a real salon. Add colourful hair extensions and use the cool accessories to brush, plait twist and clip the hottest new looks. It even comes with pink hair that really grows!
17 // Skip Hop Explore & More Fox Xylophone Toy, £18
Get some musical fun for little ones with this Skip Hop Explore & More Fox Xylophone. This adorable animal is sure to engage your little one’s imaginations with hours of musical play. Designed with rainbow colour keys and a soft plastic face that bobs up and down, little ones will love discovering the range of notes they can play by banging on the keys with the attached mallet. The mallet even doubles up as a handle to pull it around on its wheels, and can be stored under this lovely fox’s belly at tidy-up time.
18 // Snuggle Sac – Dalmation Original Snuggle Sac, £50
This cute and fluffy Dalmation Snuggle Sac is extremely soft, cosy and comfortable for a restful night’s sleep. It’s ideal for sleepovers and the handy tote bag that it comes in makes it easy to store away after use.
19 // Coloursoft Pencil 24 Wrap Set, £35.99
Derwent Coloursoft is Derwent’s softest pencil ever and this Coloursoft Wrap set includes a set of 24 Coloursoft pencils and Derwent’s classic Pencil Wrap. It is a stylish and practical accessory with individual compartments to hold up to 30 pencils and accessories. Rolls up small and compact when travelling and rolls out flat for easy access to contents when you are out and about. It makes the ideal present for your little budding artist.
20 // Origami Multy-coloured Dinosaurs Set, £5.94
This amazing set of dinosaur origami is so much fun. Containing over 100 brightly coloured bits of paper & the booklet to help you master the craft, this fab set will keep your little one busy for hours.
21 // Sass & Belle Tropical Flamingo Clear Water Bottle, £5.94
Who wouldn’t love a Flamingo water bottle?! Ideal for after-school sports clubs, school trips, lunchtimes and so much more, this chic water bottle is bang on trend.
22 // Staccups Game, £12.99
Great fun for the whole family, speed and hand/eye co-ordination are needed, in this fast, frantic stacking game as you race your opponent to clear all of your cups. If the base colour of your cup, matches the top colour of one on the podium then stack it quickly! Your opponent may be quicker, and your chance has gone, but keep alert for the next one!
23 // Skip Hop Zoo Luggage – Butterfly, £37.50
Ideal for holidays or just to take for a short break, these Skip-Hop Zoo Trolley Cases are great fun for children. They come in a range of distinctive animal designs including a giraffe, bee, monkey, ladybird and owl and they also have a shoulder strap too so you can carry the bag easily when your little one decides they can’t be bothered any more.
24 // WOW Toys Casey Camper Van, £21.99
Load Casey with her suitcases and doggy accessories before setting off on an adventure! When she’s arrived, use the figure’s hand to press the magic WOW button to release the back door and then lift the roof to reveal a fold down playground for the boy and girl figures to play in. After a long day, push her along and watch her motorised engine take her home. Casey Camper Van is an 8 piece set including 1 motorised camper van, 1 picnic bench, 1 dog basket, 2 suitcases, 2 figures and 1 dog.
25 // LeapFrog EPIC Academy Edition Tablet, £99.99
We’ve had a LeapFrog EPIC for a good while now and both Jack and Phoebs love it. The LeapFrog EPIC is educational, safe, secure, robust and most importantly fun, and in my opinion, you can’t ask for anything more in your child’s first tablet.
The EPIC Academy Edition is LeapFrog’s most advanced Android-based tablet, that adapts as your child grows, offering endless possibilities for exploration, learning and play. With the first-of-its-kind playable home screen, children can bring a town to life and watch their world turn from day to night, change the weather, add animated characters and discover a new surprise every day. LeapFrog Epic is safe right out of the box and parents can control when to add more features such as Android™ apps as their child is ready. There are so many wonderful features that I can’t rave about enough, so do read here for more info…
26 // Frugi Sofia Skater Dress, £30
I’m a huge Frugi fan, so when I saw this gorgeous skater dress with its ‘Mountain Reindeer’ Christmassy print, it just had to make the list. Made from super soft organic cotton, this dress is perfect for layering over leggings or tights for a pretty yet practical outfit!
What are you buying your little ones this year? I hope this Christmas gift ideas for little people will give you some festive inspiration.
Disclosure: A number of these products have been gifted for the purpose of this guide.
The third instalment of my Christmas gift guides brings you a selection of lovely Christmas gift ideas for new parents and their little bundles. From wall art to baby carriers, I’ve tried to include a variety of gift ideas to suit every budget and taste.
1 // Etta Loves Muslin Square, £19.95
Never underestimate the importance of a muslin square, or ten. Every new parent knows that these soft pieces of fabric will be your constant companion over the next twelve months or so, so they may as well be pretty to look at! Made from supersoft 100% cotton, little ones will adore these fun and vibrant Extra Large Etta Loves muslin squares and they are also super soft on your skin too! The striking leopard print pattern using three colours, is designed specifically to aid 5+ month old babies’ cognitive and visual development too!
2 // Grobag Fruit Cocktail Baby Sleeping Bag, £16.50 (currently reduced to clear)
I swore by Grobags for my two when they were younger, and this super pretty one is a bargain currently at John Lewis. This particular one is a travel Grobag, which is often overlooked by new parents (as they don’t normally know they exist), but they are super handy for holidays. The clever travel opening makes them easy to use with a 5 point harness such as in a pushchair or car seat, so you can take all the safety features of the original Grobag with you on the road.
3 // Leopard Dusky Pink Children’s Print, £15
I’m a huge fan of Wonder & Rah’s quirky works of art and these charming, whimsical illustrations make perfect presents for little babies and their parents.
4 // Baby milestone cards, £11.99
These baby milestones cards are perfect for capturing precious moments such as baby’s first smile and first steps. This pack contains 30 beautifully illustrated cards featuring all the major milestones. Simply fill in the date and take a picture of your baby together with the card to create the perfect gift for friends and family or a lovely keepsake for yourself.
5 // LittleLife Minnie Mouse Toddler Backpack, £26.99
Make travelling more fun with this ingenious toddler daysack based on cartoon favourite Minnie Mouse. It offers a three litre capacity, a top grab handle, a detachable safety strap (rein) for parents and adjustable shoulder straps.
6 // Sophie The Giraffe Original Teether, £11.99
Relieving sore teeth and gums since 1961, Sophie the Giraffe is the classic, must-have teether. Brilliant for little hands and featuring a little squeak too, Sophie will go down a storm with any baby that can get their hands (and gums) on it.
7 // Boden 5 Pack Pretty Bodies, £28
This five-pack of bodies couldn’t be prettier, with fun stripes and prints of flowers and bunnies. Each one is soft as a fluffy tail, featuring cheery colours, a little bow and a picot trim. It comes in a matching fabric bag, so it’s a charming present for bouncing baby girls.
8 // The White Company Little Sheep Baby Blanket, £39
Knitted from super-soft cotton, this charming intarsia blanket feels beautiful against the skin and will keep little ones cosy throughout the night. Detailed with a charming flock of little white sheep, which skip across the width of the blanket, and one tactile Terry-cloth black sheep, this blanket is an adorable addition to any nursery. A loveable gift idea for expectant parents.
9 // Original Kids Rule Height Chart, from £115
These gorgeous softwood growth charts are designed as giant vintage-style rulers and make the perfect personalised present for new parents. Available in 5 colours (Aged Oak, Mid Oak, Washed White, Pale Grey and Putty), they come in either Imperial or Metric and make a brilliant focal feature in your home.
10 // Cosatto Supa Change Bag-Magic Unicorns, £39.95
Cosatto’s Supa Changing Bag has been designed to keep those baby necessities super organised and easy to find. This luxury changing bag comes with an adjustable shoulder strap and a changing mat.
11 // Don’t Buy Her Flowers Recovery Package, from £41
Perfect for weary new parents, this gorgeous recovery package will go down a storm with its worthy recipient. Containing a host of lovely products including Skin & Tonic Gentle Facial Scrub, Sister & Co Coconut Oil, Laughing Bird Shea & Cocoa Butter Body Cream, Laughing Bird Lemon & Walnut Body Scrub and Love & Peace Tealights, this recovery package should definitely be up there if you are looking for a ‘thoughtful’ gift.
12 // BabyBjörn One Baby Carrier, £124.99
This versatile baby carrier from BabyBjorn offers both comfort and security for parent and baby. BabyBjorn’s multifunctional One Carrier will take you and your child through from birth (3.5kg) right up to 3 years and with 4-way front and back carrying positions you can adapt it to suit you. Developed with paediatricians, it provides the right support for your growing child’s head, hips and spine and there’s no need for additional inserts. Simple zippers allow you to adjust the carrier so it will grow with your child and will provide full support at all ages. It’s also easy to remove sleeping babies, hurrah!
13 // Theo & Grace Gift Voucher
We are HUGE fans of Theo & Grace in this household and their gift vouchers make the ideal present for new parents. If you haven’t heard of Theo & Grace, Emma (the lovely lady behind the brand) makes the most beautiful bespoke dresses and skirts that are adored by adults and kids alike. Not only are they super cute, they are so well made with quality fabrics and meticulously neat seams. Theo & Grace gift vouchers are valid for 6 months from date of purchase and can be redeemed against any of Em’s gorgeous wares.
I hope you found this guide helpful, do you have any other Christmas gift ideas for new parents and babies that you’d like to share?