Advent calendar ideas for the whole family

Advent calendars used to be a bit of a worry for me. I sometimes wondered if, as my children grew older, they might lose interest. I know it’s not a big thing but it is a tradition they loved as little ones. A silly tradition possibly but something we enjoyed as a family. Something else that could be lost as they took (yet another) step away from needing me.

Now that Col is 21 and living on his own, Bess is in college and even Moose is starting to question whether a certain bearded man really exists. Well, the reality of them no longer being my babies does hit me like a spade to the face sometimes.

Luckily though, advent calendars are still all the rage! As much as I have fond memories of our chocolate advent calendars from years ago it is lovely to see so many different styles of calendar on offer these days!

Nutcracker Advent Calendar

Nothing say CHRISTMAS like a Nutcracker does. So what could be better than your very own refillable Nutcracker advent calendar! This one available from Ryman is absolutely perfect. It is 70cm tall, sturdy and the 24 little boxes are a great size. One year we decided to buy a small lego set and distribute the pieces so Moose had to guess what he was making and it was an absolute hit.

You can purchase your Nutcracker Advent Calendar here RRP £14.99

Nutcracker shaped advent calendar

Oreo Advent Calendar

What is it with teenagers and their ongoing obsession with Oreos? Mine cannot get enough of them. It is impossible to walk past an Oreo display without a few packets of them landing in the trolley. There are so many flavours now – don’t get me started on double stuff!

The chocolate covered Oreo advent calendar from La Di Da Sweet Treats however is more than a little bit special! Behind each door, you will find a selection of 25 milk and white Belgian chocolate, coating a delicious mini Oreo, each individually hand decorated with sugar paste Christmas decorations – December will never quite be the same with this super advent calendar.

RRP £22 and you can buy yours here

Oreo Advent Calendar

Schleich Advent Calendars

Schleich toys are one of those that you know will be a great quality product. All 3 of my children have played with Schleich animals and dinosaurs and I think that the advent calendar is a fantastic starter to introduce them to the world of Schleich play.

What is so great about toys like these is that they encourage imaginative play and they are so beautifully detailed. Moose has already commented on how realistic the horse figures look. I know he cannot wait to get stuck in!

RRP £29.99 and available to purchase here

Coffee Advent Calendar

Why, yes I do run on caffeine. Thanks for asking!

The 12 Days of Discovery Advent Calendar is a specially curated collection of coffees from the Chimney Fire 2022 Discovery Coffee range. Each coffee has been carefully selected by their roastery team to satisfy different tastes, and introduce a new and interesting coffee from around the world – be that a new origin or region that they hadn’t sourced from before, a new process or varietal, or something seasonal with a unique flavour profile.

RRP £45 and available to buy here

Gin Advent Calendar

I know it’s 12 and not 24, but, hear me out!

The Twelve Days of Gin Advent Calendar is the essential for gin lovers this December. A Sous Chef exclusive, enjoy 12 unique flavours of Gin in a Tin. Countdown advent with new and exciting flavours of festive spirit. 

This gin advent calendar features classic flavours of elderflower and ginger, alongside unusual ingredients of pumpkin and black pepper. It also includes one new and unreleased flavour from Gin In A Tin – but we won’t spoil the surprise! 

RRP £49 and you can buy yours here

Haribo Advent Calendar

There is a reason that kids and adults love it so.. Haribo is tasty. Everyone knows it. The great thing about the Haribo advent calendar is that you will find a lovely mix of flavours and types from the Haribo range.

From MOAMs to Goldbears you will ber certain to find all of your favourites

RRP £5 and available to buy from Asda, Tesco, B&M and many more!

Roblox Advent Calendar

Hands up who has a Roblox obsessed child? Pretty much all of us, right! M is SO excited to get stuck into opening this one.

The Roblox advent calendar features 6 figures to build along with virtual items to use in the game. The figures within the calendar are all very festive: Elf, Christmas Tree, Gingerbread Man, Magical Reindeer, Santa Claus and Snowman! Along with these are lots of accessories.

I know that M will get hours of play out of this one

RRP £40 and available to buy online


Which advent calendars will your family be choosing this Christmas? Comment below and let me know!

How to financially plan for Christmas

It’s no secret that Christmas can be one of the most expensive times of the year. With presents to buy and huge food shops to tackle, the festivities can put strain on your bank account. If you’re keen to manage your finances well this Christmas, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ll explore how to plan your spending and top tips for cutting costs.

festive table

Be realistic with what you can afford

Many people feel tempted to splash the cash during the festive season – from indulging in luxury food to buying expensive designer gifts. But spending more than you can afford may put you in financial difficulty, particularly if you build up debt. The key is to be realistic with what you can afford to keep your finances healthy through Christmas and beyond. To do this successfully, you need to set yourself a budget for food, gifts and any other festive things, which we explain below.

Set yourself a budget and stick to it

When it comes to successfully managing your finances at Christmas, you should set yourself a spending budget and stick to it. Take a look at your finances and see how much disposable income you have to spend, or any savings you’ve got that you’d be happy to use over the festive period. It’s wise to follow the 50/30/20 budget rule, which divides your income into 50% for essentials, 20% on debts and savings, and 30% on anything else. If you follow this, you could use 30% of your income over the festive season on tasty treats, presents and other goodies.

shopping bags

Cut costs by making homemade gifts

Are you keen to cut costs this Christmas? With many people across the country facing financial strain due to the coronavirus pandemic, you’re certainly not alone. One simple way to cut costs is to make your own gifts this year, rather than fork out on expensive presents. You could bake homemade cakes or cookies. Why not create a piece of artwork if you’re particularly creative, or even make your own candles in your kitchen. The options are almost endless!

Shop around for the best deals

Another easy way to save money at Christmas is to shop around for the best deals. If there’s a specific item you want to buy as a gift, look at various retailers. See if they have any offers you can take advantage of. Of course, this doesn’t only apply to present shopping, but food shopping too. If you have time, check out any deals supermarkets have on your favourite festive treats. Maybe you can get what you need for the best possible prices.

By effectively managing your money over the Christmas season, you can enjoy the festivities without having a financial hangover to face in the new year.

Christmas Gift Ideas – For Teens and Adults

This post contains gifted items

Christmas shopping for children is easy. You can pretty much hit the bullseye every time. Children are not exactly backward about coming forward when it comes to declaring their interest in the latest movie or tv characters, are they? and if all fails? slime. Bam. You pretty much nail it every time with slime. When they hit their teens though? Well! You are going to have to get a bit more creative..

 Young at heart

So whether they are young or just young at heart, they will love this. A super easy to use Tie Dye kit by Fab Labs! Create unique and trendy clothes and accessories with the new Tie Dye Luxury Kit! There are enough ingredients to dye loads of t-shirts and accessories. Just one of the collectable FabLab kits available from Interplay.

a tie dye gift

The gorgeous tiny polar bear necklace by Jane Reinhardt would make a great gift for young or old. It might be small but it is perfectly formed.

Handcrafted in the Uk and polished to perfection this one is going to be a surefire hit!

tiny bear chain

My Dad loved Doctor Who when he was a child.

I haven’t missed an episode since it was revived in the 2000’s, Col loved it and now Moose loves it too. With that in mind, a Doctor Who based gift is a good bet in our family!

We love this Doctor Who desk tidy. The eye-catching stationery holder is an official wooden replica of the Tardis – the Time Lord’s iconic blue police box.

Billed as “the must-have Whovian accessory”, the wooden replica promises to transport your stationary to another dimension (not literally, of course – no pencils will be hurt and/or displaced in time by the purchase of this item!) by offering a unique and fantastical way to store your pens and sonic screwdrivers. It might even be bigger on the inside too, but that would be telling.



Who doesn’t love a surprise? They don’t get much bigger or better than the Amazing Mystery Box! What makes this even better is that this particular box is not actually a mystery. You can opt for a Mystery of course but this particular one, well, let’s see inside, shall we?

Sonic spork. They pretty much had me at sonic spork. As well as this (which would make a good standalone gift to be fair) the not so mystery box is also packed full of loads of other Whovian merch! Coffee mug, figurines, notebooks.. You definitely get your moneys worth here!


Perfectly Practical

I love a cosy pair of slippers and what could be better than a pair of handcrafted Onaie sheepskin slippers? Perfect for the winter months and a versatile gift for young or old.

Practical gifts are always a popular option.

For car enthusiasts all over the country, the NextBase 522GW includes revolutionary new features to redefine the possibilities of a Dash Cam. Leading the world in safety and ease of use with the addition of exclusive features such as Emergency SOS and Alexa-built in. This is the Christmas gift for tech enthusiast who loves all the latest gadgets.

Perfect for selfie lovers everywhere, the Rapid White Blue Light Tooth Whitening System would make a great gift this Christmas. Clinically proven to whiten teeth up to five shades in just two weeks and the first at-home whitening kit with light-activated gel technology.

For Bookworms

Dan Fallon is an ex-Royal Navy physical training instructor on a mission. His goal is
to help 5000 Dads across the UK to get fit and lose weight, without meal plans or
shake diets, and the message of his new book is very clear – Start with ONE THING.

It can be so hard to buy for men sometimes but I think that Dans no BS approach would be a popular one with MrG and men like him.

The amazing Pub Quiz book contains more than five thousand pop music pub-quiz questions at various difficulty levels, ranged from easy to medium and hard. There are themed quizzes on a huge variety of musical subjects including genre quizzes (like indie, hip hop and heavy metal), legendary artists (like Elton John, Queen and Madonna) and specialist decade quizzes, as well as pot-luck quizzes for an extra challenge.

This book contains all you need for setting your own pub quizzes or brushing up on your musical knowledge for your next competition.


Sudio are a trendy Swedish electronics company specialising in manufacturing high-quality lifestyle headphones with minimalistic Scandinavian style. Designing and selling sleek and stylish headphones with studio quality sound.

Sometimes simple gifts are the best. This cake in a mug, mug comes with indicators on the inside of the mug to help you make the perfect mug cake!


I think books make great stocking fillers so I make sure to include them every year. When I was a teenager I loved reading my horoscope. It was just a bit of fun and I am carrying it on. I picked mine up from The Card Factory

Freya Fontaine and the winged lion of Aretas. Freya was just a regular eleven-year-old from London until the friend she’d only just met told her something she’d never expected. ”There is buried treasure in Petra Freya, buried golden treasure,” Hiyaam whispered, her dark eyes sparkling with excitement. ”A jewelled winged lion, Freya, and I know where it is.” This Indiana Jones style adventure would make a great gift this Christmas!


Pants and socks are a common Christmas gift but these are pants with a difference!

Modibodi create period-proof sustainable underwear for women, it’s leak free and designed to be worn without the need for a pad or tampon, helping women feel confident no matter the time of the month. Modibodi makes a great useful stocking filler and is perfect for those looking to drastically reduce their impact on the environment as a result of period products.


If you’ve never used Sugru before, I really recommend it. It’s not so much something you can make a craft out of, but it might be just what you need to finish that project! Sugru’s super handy to just have around the house, and it has so many uses! It’s a mouldable, durable rubber, it’s such a versatile & unique craft material! This Create & Craft Kit includes different colours of Sugru, a storage tin & lots of ideas to use it!



Some of the items featured were sent to me in exchange for inclusion. Some were items I bought. All opinions are honest and my own.

Christmas Gift Ideas – Children

This post contains gifted items

My least favourite part of Christmas is shopping.  Choosing gifts for children however is a horse of a different colour. Whether I am selecting gifts for my own 3 or to donate to our local giving tree I love it! Here is a selection of gifts which I believe will be a hit this Christmas.


Playmobil is such an incredible toy for imaginative play. I had Playmobil toys when I was child and now all 3 of my own children have loved it too. Moose is really into it at the moment and I just know that he will adore the How To Train Your Dragon set.

A little while ago we were sent the Playmobil MARS Space Station to try out. Moose hasn’t stopped playing with it since so the Mars Mission Rocket will definitely go down well with him! I really like that the MARS Playmobil can fit together so that they can be played with as one big set or as smaller modules.

That’s the great thing about Playmobil, it is adaptable and has a range of ways a child (or a particularly eager adult) can play with it.

playmobil rocket



Moose opted for Angry Birds 2 as his birthday movie this year at the cinema so it came as no surprise whatsoever that an Angry Birds version of a family favourite might be popular. This one is really easy to play, doesn’t take very long and is great fun.

Flags of the World is a great fun game packed with information about countries, capitals, lakes and populations. The game contains 200 high quality cards each showing the flag of an independent nation. On the back of each card you will find information about the country, its capital and geographic location, as well as clues to its identity such as mountains, rivers, natural resources and so on. There are three sets of rules for adults plus one for children. The rules can be modified according to the levels of difficulty and to your own ideas. Great fun!

Don’t Rock The Boat game is a great one for families. Arrrr ye ready for some fun? Take turns to balance your pirate penguins on the ship but if you rock the boat and send some mateys overboard ye be a landlubber! This 10-1/2×10-1/2×3-1/2 inch package contains a ship with three masts two piece water waves sixteen pirate penguins and rules. For 2 to 4 players or teams. For ages 5 and up.


Take N Play Anywhere – Magnetic Travel Game Tins are one of my favourite finds for Moose this Christmas! Not only are they inexpensive (around £7.99) but because they are magnetic they are great for stashing in your bag so you can play anywhere.

Gifts for the really little ones

Whether you are buying for a boy or a girl the Baby Gund Sleepy Seas Light & Sounds Whale would make a perfect gift. This musical soft toy will help your babies drift off to sleep. The whale is presented in an oh-so-soft light blue fabric, with blue ribbons for its hair, and dark embroidery creating a smiling face. Press the left fin and the animated whale splashes into life. Press the musical note on its right fin and the plush starts to play one of five different noises: Ocean Magic, Soothing Ocean Whale Sounds, Brahms’ Lullaby, Bubbles or Ocean White Noise.

Sometimes practical gifts are the best option for new babies. The award winning Microwave Steam Steriliser from MAM now comes in a new trendy grey colour with 6 bottles! The MAM Microwave Steriliser helps make cleaning your baby accessories that little bit easier. Up to six MAM bottles fit comfortably across the two levels and in as little as 5 minutes all of your feeding equipment will be cleaned and stored hygienically for up to 48 hours. The compact design allows for easy storage in a cupboard or microwave when not in use, keeping your work service free from clutter. When travelling, the Microwave Steriliser can also be used as a Cold water steriliser.


Something to read


How exciting it would be for a child who is learning to read to be able to find a book all about them. We love Mason Goes To Sleep because it’s a great little story which runs through the bedtime routine and is just long enough to entertain.

mason goes to sleep

The Toniebox is something completely new and unlike any other children’s audio book I have seen before. It’s an easy to set up audiobox which plays stories. You place a Tonie character on top and the audiobox uses that to play a story through it’s speakers. Moose absolutely loves listening to The Snowman on his and we even have a blank Tonie onto which we can record our own audio book. Neat!

If you have an older child who loves to read then you should check out Freya Fontaine and the Winged Lion of Aretas. It’s an exciting new adventure story and Bess loved it!

Freya was just a regular eleven-year-old from London until the friend she’d only just met told her something she’d never expected. ”There is buried treasure in Petra Freya, buried golden treasure,” Hiyaam whispered, her dark eyes sparkling with excitement. ”A jewelled winged lion, Freya, and I know where it is.”

2 reading books

Getting ready for the big day

The toys the kids will love

Lego is always a really safe bet when it comes to Moose so I was thrilled to find this smaller set which will easily fit into his stocking!

Foodie Roos are adorable mini plush collectible characters that look, feel and smell just like their favourite foods!

Each Foodie Roos container gives a hint at which character inside, with a unique “Peek a Roo” reveal!

Super cute plush friends, with 20 characters to collect in series 1.

The food container also becomes the Foodie’s room! Comes complete with stickers to decorate the inside to make your Foodie Roos feel right at home.

It’s my opinion that all parents should know about Paint Sticks. They are a revelation especially for Mums like me who love crafts but hate the tidying and cleaning which usually goes with it!

Paint Sticks are a bit like giant lipsticks in an array of colours. We love them and Moose plays with them most days.

Little Brian paint sticks 2 in 1 Mini art station is a table top double sided easel, featuring a white board and a chalkboard. Features 6 chalk sticks, 6 mini paint sticks, 1 Duster, 10 sheets paper stored inside. The perfect size for table top utilisation and is simple to fold away. Features a handle so you can transport around with ease and to unleash creativity anywhere. The handy clip can be used to utilise the art station as an easel for painting or drawing On paper.


Decorate your child

One of the best new toys of 2019 has to be the Face Paintoos. I was put in charge of these at a recent kids birthday party and I managed to face paint 80% of the kids at the party in record time because they are just so simple to use!

Face Paintoos transform the magic of ‘face painting’ into a fun and easy activity for everyone. With Face Paintoos, it is simple to achieve great results every time!

No artistic skills required! Face Paintoos don’t smudge, they are quick and easy to apply and remove.

Face Paintoos Party Pack comes with 20 tattoos, including wild animals, magical creatures and cutest pets! Perfect for parties, playdates, school fetes or for everyday fun!

Removal wipes, applicator sponge and instructions included.


A future James Bond?

The Micro Spy Gear set is perfect for mobile Spy Surveillance! Features a utility belt with 4 micro tools, including a Micro spy light (with an ear clip for hands-free), an Invisible ink pen (decoder light reveals secret messages), a Micro Motion Alarm (beam detects movement or vibration) and a Micro listener (features ear piece).

Harry Potter’s all the rage here with pretty much everyone. No surprise then that the Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak was rather popular. You can see what we thought about it here 


It’s school time for fuzzi babies! Fuzzikins school pop-up playset comes complete with four students (hamster, lamb, monkey, Mouse) and a wise owl teacher. The pop-up opens to reveal three school sections, all with built-in furniture; the playground, the classroom and the dining room. Have you coloured the classmates and the teacher with the washable pens? When you wish to change your design, rinse in warm water, dry then free-colour! Now, colour The stickers and decorate your school! The pupils can sit at their desks and learn about numbers and letters on the wipeable white board! When it is lunchtime, their lunch will be served through the serving hatch then finally, it is time to Have fun playing hopscoth in the playground! Perfect for story telling and hours of creative play with endless possibilities of personalization. Simply create, rinse, free-colour and play!

Teamsterz Car Transporter is a huge, free-wheeling car transporter with 12 detailed die-cast cars and lots of barrier and traffic cone accessories. Transporter features detailed cab and space for up to 40 cars. With carry handle so you can pack up and take with you wherever you go! Suitable for ages 3+.

This lovable, robotic, remote control puppy is designed to follow you wherever you go. ROBO DASH will follow your gesture commands to perform tricks and actions, like chasing his tail like a real dog. He has two modes: follow me – bringing ROBO DASH to life as he shadows your movements – and manual control mode using the multi-directional remote. ROBO DASH comes complete with touch sensors on top of his head which grow and shrink his spring-like fabric body up to 45cm. ROBO DASH will fetch the ball shaped remote when you roll it on the floor.

Dragons’ tower garden is a grow & play playset featuring a magical tower castle that is home to mummy and baby dragons and the beautiful fairy Thea. Take the baby Dragon anywhere in his egg shell. You can use the egg shell to water the plants as well! Dragons’ tower garden comes complete with pea and grass seeds to grow in 3 growing areas. Just add soil!

Christmas Gift Ideas – For foodies

Post contains some gifted items

Do you have a foodie to buy for this year? If you do then this is the gift guide for you! Read on for some of the best ideas around for the food or drink lover in your life.

Hot drink lovers

Beanies have a great alternative advent calendar idea. A wonderful gift for anyone who loves coffee but also people who are watching their calorie intake as each cup is only 2 calories. Beanies coffees are available in 20 flavours including Cookie Dough, Caramel Popcorn, Irish Cream, Amaretto Almond, Chocolate Orange and Coconut. A flavour for everyone!



I absolutely adore filter coffee but it’s usually just me drinking it and I have to limit my caffeine so putting a big pot of coffee on would feel like a bit of a waste. The Pact Hario v60 is perfect for me! I love the Christmas blend coffee which comes as part of the Newbie Gift Set and the Pact Advent Calendar is a great way to try new blends!

Something new I did this year was to start drinking tea! I love the idea of this Organic Herbal Tea advent calendar. It would be a great way to try out new teas for the first time as well as a good way to keep hydrated during those busy weeks of Christmas preparation!

For those with a sweet tooth

When I was a child I used to love getting a Thorntons Easter Egg with my name on it and now you can order an personalised advent calendar too! It doesn’t cost any extra to have a name added so it would be rude not to really! I also love the cheeky elf and snowy bear – the children will be thrilled to find them in their stocking come Christmas morning!

We always grab Kinnerton advent calendars for the children. They feature an array of characters and the kids just love them – plus they are usually really easy on the wallet!

Chocolate is always a winner. My Mum has always been a big fan of the Guylian Seashells and I can see why! Guylian invented Sea Shell chocolates as a souvenir at the Belgian coast. It soon became a bestseller and synonymous with the brand. Every elegantly crafted Sea Shell chocolate is filled with their original hazelnut praliné filling, that is still made according to the recipe of their founder.


This cute penguin shaped gift box from Haribo makes the perfect stocking filler – full of polar bear or penguin shaped jellies in strawberry & vanilla, blackcurrant & vanilla and peach & vanilla flavours.


We absolutely love Fiona Cairns so we simply had to include some of their products on our guide. Christmas in a tin (£12) looks so luxurious.  The Christmas cake is made with premium French culinary brandy and topped with an attractive snowflake design.

We thought that the Iced Gingerbread Penguin was both adorable and delicious and Moose loved the little gingerbread men! Both £4

Harry Potter is definitely a firm favourite in our house and these sweet treats from Jelly Belly would be great stocking fillers for any Potterhead! If you love Harry Potter too why not check out review of the Invisibility Cloak!

Festive Kitchenware

Have you tried for any of your Christmas shopping? I absolutely love these embossed rolling pins. They come in an array of designs suitable for use throughout the year. I think that they would make a great gift!

If you have a taco loving teenager like me then you could do worse than this fabulous taco stand from Aldi and burrito blanket from!

What better time of year than Christmas to get into the kitchen and rustle up some gorgeous homemade fare? If you have a baker to buy for then Tala Homeware have you covered. Tala have been a household name in our kitchen since my own childhood and they have a beautiful range of products that would make great gifts this Christmas. Every master baker needs baking beans in their kitchen cupboard, a shaker to add that finishing touch and of course somewhere to keep your cakes tasting fresh!

Some of the products featured were sent in exchange for inclusion. All opinions remain my own.