Over the last few years we've noticed that the cost of toys across many retail websites, and in shops, see a marked increase as Christmas approaches, and worse than that, stock availability is often poor during the festive season. Sometimes the price of individual items rises, in other instances, special offers that were available in earlier parts of the year disappear in the run-up to Christmas.
Our advice is to do your Christmas shopping early. Start looking for genuine bargains over the next few weeks and months. If you know some of the toys or other products that you want to buy then start monitoring their prices now and see if they come into a sale during the autumn.
Shopping early does mean that you could miss the number one Christmas toy, but if that's the only toy that you buy in the run up to Christmas, you can save yourself, quite literally, hundreds of pounds.
The New Year sales offer a great opportunity to stock up on birthday presents for the coming year. The only downside is that you need space to store everything until birthdays arrive, but if you have a cupboard out of the way, you can make dramatic savings.
Christmas is approaching at 100 miles an hour and will be with us in no time at all so make sure your craft cupboard has all the ingredients for festive Christmas craft to do with your toddlers! There are loads of decorations that you can make for Christmas so make sure you are stocked up with crayons, glue, scissors, glitter, card, coloured paper, cotton wool, googly eyes and anything else that makes for festive decoration.
Here are just a few ideas of things to make:-
- Christmas Cards: make lovely glittery Christmas cards for friends and family, for younger children, draw pictures for them to colour themselves. Older children can draw their own pictures with Santa, Christmas trees, reindeer, baubles, candles etc. Use glitter or cotton wool to make sparkly or fluffy snow.
- Paper Chains: Craft shops will sell strips of brightly coloured paper with adhesive at one end. Lick this and stick it into a loop and create a chain to decorate your house. If you can't find paper chain strips, just cut strips of any coloured paper and stick them with glue or tape.
- Glittery Holly: cut small holly sprigs and dry them inside overnight. Apply glue to each leaf and sprinkle glitter on. Make sure you do this over a sheet of paper so that you collect all the surplus and pour it back into the tube. Try to beat the birds to holly sprigs with berries on!
- Snow Scene in a Jar: Find a jar with a screw lid and buy a small plastic toy that can fit inside the jar. Ideally look for a Christmas themed toy, you'll find a Christmas cake decoration in most supermarkets at this time of year. Glue the toy to the lid and glue some extra stones on too. Use either an all purpose adhesive or a glue gun - this is definitely a job for grown ups! When dry, fill the jar with water and add some glitter, put the lid on and screw it tightly and you have a snow scene. Instead of a plastic toy, why not have your little ones mould something from plasticine instead? Penguins and snowmen are fairly easy for little ones to make.
- Countdown Calendar: Although Christmas will arrive quickly, it will seem ages away to your little ones. Help them see how far away Christmas is by making a countdown or advent calendar. Give them a surprise each day, whether it be a Christmas picture, chocolate or some other treat, and they will be able to see how many more sleeps until the big day! Use the exercise to practice counting, count how many days left until Christmas each day.
- Tree Decorations: Make decorations from the Christmas tree - be creative and use different materials: pine cones, paper or card, plasticine, clay, pipe cleaners etc.
These are just a few ideas for Christmas fun craft. The most important thing is to ensure that your craft cupboard is well stocked in the run up to Christmas so that you can entertain the children with craft ideas whenever you wish to!
Winter Wonderland has opened for the Christmas season in Hyde Park, London; take your little ones along for a festive spectacle of lights, sounds and the smells of Christmas foods!
Situated at Hyde Park Corner, Winter Wonderland offers a Christmas Market, Christmas themed fairground rides, a big wheel, ice skating and lots more! Winter Wonderland is full of sights and sounds that will trigger your little one's senses and bring that magic sparkle to Christmas.
Entry to Wonderland is free but you will need to buy tokens to enjoy the rides which typically cost between £2 and £4 per person. Babies and toddlers will love Santa Land where all the rides are suitable for even the youngest visitors and they can meet Santa for free. Kids will love the carousels, a train ride and many other fairground attractions.
Plenty of food stalls are scattered throughout, selling hearty fare including hog roasts, fish and chips, bratwurst, potatoes, soups and Belgian chips. For grown-ups, there's mulled wine and German beers. Food is a little on the pricey side for a family because you won't find children's portions, each food is priced at around £5, and with so many stalls around, everyone can choose a different meal.
The large attractions include a giant wheel with rides lasting around 15 minutes and Zippo's Circus. The ice rink isn't particularly good for younger children as there are no 'Penguins' to help children stay on their feet and build confidence on the ice. Keep an eye out for the talking tree, that will keep children engaged for hours. There are plenty of toilets on site, as well as baby changing facilities in two locations.
At the Angels Market you will find Christmas decorations, London memorabilia, traditional toys and craft, jewellery and other gifts.
Winter Wonderland is open daily now, from 10am to 10pm, until 3rd January 2012. Check out more information from the Winter Wonderland website.
We're only just past the summer solstice, marking the middle of the year, but there's no better time to starting your Christmas shopping than right now! Retailers in the high street and online are suffering poor sales - we don't have money to spend and we're not buying. Shops are currently launching into their summer sales, many starting earlier than usual. Now is the perfect time to bag yourself some bargains rather than waiting for Christmas.
Particularly good value at the moment are children's audio and video offerings. Family DVD's and CD's are cheaper at the moment than they will be at Christmas. Amazon and Play are selling many Disney DVD's for between £5 and £8 at the moment. Come Christmas time, they will probably run the same Buy One Get One that they have for the past couple of years, but suddenly all their titles will be retailing at a much higher price - you'll feel like you're getting a bargain but in truth you'll probably end up paying more than you will for the same titles right now.
Many toy retailers are also offering discounted goods at the moment. Grab yourself some bargains, pick up stocking fillers and stock pile gifts for friends' birthday parties now! Every parent takes advantage of discounted toys to give at parties, shop efficiently and you can save yourself a small fortune!
There's nothing more heartwarming than watching your children perform Christmas songs to the rest of your family at Christmas! If they are old enough to talk and in a playgroup then it's likely that they've already learned at least one or two festive songs that youcan encourage them to perform to grandparents over Christmas. If they aren't yet singing, then put on some festive music and encourage them to wiggle in time with the music!
Ask older children to act out the nativity story, playing the different parts. Acting forms a fundamental part of pretend play that is so important in developmental terms.
You will be proud, the grandparents will be moved and your little ones will be delighted! Practice a few songs or stories now so that they're ready for the big day, and have them bring the house down for their Christmas debut!
As Christmas approaches, your mind is probably turning to which gifts to buy the children, and by now you're fully aware that there are some great toys out there, but also some terrible ones too! There's nothing worse than having a toy break before you even reach Boxing Day, or finding that a game that looked like it would be brilliant turns out to be useless and the kids just aren't interested!
Luckily we have help at hand. Over the last few years the Internet has been fundamental in shifting shopping patterns from the high street to the home. Even if you haven't braved that revolution, we have also seen a new and welcome trend in online shopping. Many online stores allow buyers to review products that they buy, and nowadays you can quickly find great gift ideas with positive reviews, products that others have lavished on their children and you can now buy in the reasonably safe knowledge that you're buying a good gift!
Some stores allow buyers to review products in their own site directly, others plug in to independent review sites that specialise in collecting reviews rather than selling, arguably making the reviews more trustworthy. Do retain a healthy scepticism for sites that seem only to have one or two really positive reviews for every product as they could have been left by the manufacturer or seller, make sure that there are a good number of reviews that concur.
Reviews will often cover the quality of items, as well as giving a good indication of how suitable the product is to children of different ages. If you are wondering how good a product is and whether to buy it for your children, seek out reviews online and use the experience of others help make up your own mind! If you are later either pleased or disappointed with your purchase, then take the time to leave your own review in order to help future shoppers.
As we approach Christmas, the supermarkets and high street retailers are all vying to win you over with discounted toys and games to lavish on your children at Christmas. There are some great bargains to be had at this time of year! Online retailers also have some great offers and you can often find the best prices using online price comparison sites such as Google Products or Book Butler for books.
If you have a 'smart' phone, such as iPhone, Android or one of the new Windows Phones, with rich internet access, you can get the best of both worlds by looking for ideas in supermarkets or high street shops but then using price comparison sites to see if you can get a better price online. If you can, you could even order it there and then, if you can't then you can buy the one off the shelf! Don't forget that you must add on postage and packaging costs to many online stores, although most large online retailers offer free delivery in order to remain competitive.
If you can save just a pound off the price of each gift you buy this Christmas, that could mount up to a pretty good saving overall, although you'll probably find you can save much more by shopping smart!
Think ahead beyond Christmas as well - stock up on some bargains for birthdays that you know might be coming up over the next few months. Provided you have a place to store them, you can buy presents and keep them on hand well into the New Year!
Santa should swap his mince pies and glass of brandy (or rum or wine) for a couple of Rudolf's carrots say public health experts at the British Medical Journal. He should opt for a bike or even walk and get rid of the sleigh and reindeer! We are told that the current image of Santa promotes laziness, drink-driving and speeding!
Dr Nathan Grills from Australia, claims that Santa offers a poor role model and should instead be promoting healthy living! His studies reveal that the persona of Santa is very influential and the most recognisable character in childhood. Because we suggest he drinks alcoholic beverages, this implies he is a drink driver and that clearly sets a bad example! Similarly the mince pies are a high fat, high sugar cake product - countries where Santa is popular are also the countries where childhood obesity is greatest. He adds that there's no seat belt on the sleigh and that Santa promotes fast driving!
Grills dressed-up as Santa to meet some children (lucky kids!) who offered hugs and kisses - even though some had runny noses, coughs and sneezes! Yes, you've guessed it, he claimed Santa was a source of spreading infection too!
So, what do you make of that?! I wonder if we should cancel Christmas all together because obviously the spread of germs, childhood obesity and drink-driving is all because of Santa!
Or perhaps we should look at the positive aspects, such as his spirit of geneorosity and impressive work ethhic, and teach our children what to eat, how to behave and a bit about road safely! We wish Santa, and the festive and cheery Mr Grills from Australia, a MERRY CHRISTMAS!
As we enter advent, there's still time to create personalized Christmas gifts for friends and family, and to create your own Christmas cards! No doubt you're really proud of your little ones, and what better way of showing the children off to your family than to send photo cards out for Christmas? While you can photograph your kids and have them appear on the cards you send, you can also photograph or scan their original artwork and use that instead.
Personalized photo gifts were available long before digital photography, but recent printing technology has expanded the array of items that can be personalised. Vistaprint, Snapfish and Moo are just some of the many companies that have joined the print revolution to offer low cost, custom print runs for Christmas cards and other gifts. If they don't have the products that you want, just 'Google' for 'photo product', replacing 'product' with whatever you want (eg. 'photo bag', and you'll quickly find lots of suppliers to choose from.
Remember that whenever you have the option to upload a photo to customize a product, you can also upload a scan or photo of your children's own artwork!