Saturday, 23 October 2010

Personalised Christmas Stockings for Children

Finding unique gift ideas for Christmas can be stressful for someone who is not struck on this festive time of year, but making Christmas special for kids can be made simple by small touches on how the gifts are presented. This includes swapping an old pair of socks for a personalized Christmas stocking.

Personalized Christmas Stockings for Kids

Personalized Snowman Christmas Stocking
click to buy from Amazon
The sight of Christmas stockings hanging from the Christmas tree or near the fireplace seldom fail to excite children for the promise of Christmas treats that lay within, but personalized Christmas stockings could add something extra with a multitude of festive designs including snowmen, robins, reindeers, and of course Santa. Different colours including red, green, blue, cream and gold will please the tastes of any child. The special part being that the child’s name is placed on the stocking.

The good thing for the grumpy gift buyer is that little effort is required, for Christmas stockings ready personalised can be bought at very reasonable prices within a few days of ordering.

Personalized Christmas Sacks for Kids

Personalized Santa Sack
click to buy from Amazon
The personalized Christmas theme can be carried over to Christmas sacks, which means swapping a sad old pillowcase for a personalized Santa sack. Again, to make Christmas extra special for kids, their names are placed on each Christmas bag. Again, different themes can be found to suit the individual tastes of each child, most predominantly Santa and snowmen but designs may differ from embroidery to traditional Christmas scenes. Sizes small, medium, large and huge can be found. Of course, the kids are likely to prefer the huge sack to the small.

Simple Ideas for a Special Christmas

Christmas can be a nightmare for the grumpy gift buyer trying to live up to kids’ expectations, but small touches can really make a big difference to a family Christmas. This includes personalized Christmas stockings and sacks, which can be chosen to suit the tastes of the children and bear their names. A good quality stocking is important, so that it can be used next year and the year after. Ideally, the Christmas sack should be sturdy so that it can hold all the pressies inside, and have a suitable design that will please kids’ tastes for a few years.

External Links on Christmas Gift Buying

Friday, 22 October 2010

Fine Bone China Tea Sets for a Domestic Goddess

Buying a house warming or Christmas gift for a house proud neighbour or friend may propel the grumpy gift buyer into a random gift buying mood that may yield a colander or garish plate rack from a poundshop. But an English fine bone china tea set from yesteryear could be the ideal gift.

Collectable Tea Sets

Collecting Susie Cooper (Collecting English Ceramics)
click to buy from Amazon
A tea set for special occasions often has a quality that makes a kitchen look inviting as well as provide an aesthetic focal point. But rather than opt for Debenhams, an M & S tea set or similar from the high street, why not find a discontinued design from the previous decades?

Antique Tea Set Gifts

What may once seem outmoded soon becomes a classic or even an heirloom in the near future. Beautiful tea set designs can be found in the Alfred Meakin or Royal Grafton range. Such classic tea sets can snapped up at auctions, antique shops or even second hand shops. Further collectable tea set designs can be found from the following examples.
  • Royal Worcester
  • Copeland Spode
  • Coalport
  • Shelley
  • Royal Grafton
  • Churchill Crockery
  • Troika
  • Or a crockery maker featuring a designer such as
  • Wedgewood featuring Susie Cooper
  • Broadhurst featuring Kathie Winkle
  • Wedgewood featuring Keith Murray
  • Wade featuring Rowland Emmete
Tea sets made as recently as the 1970s or 1980s have become collectable. Each tea set design is unique and says something about the times. But try not to let the age of the tea set get in the way of visual judgement. Some designs are rather dour and may not be in keeping with the receiver’s tastes, although it might be worth retaining as possible future antique value. Also have a good look for any minor chips or hairline cracks on the crockery.

The Best Vintage Tea Sets

The teapot is often sold separately, or some other item might be missing. If looking to complete a set from different sources, look out for slight colour variations in different batches. A close check of the colour cast will ensure each element of the tea set matches perfectly.

A tea set can be selected to serve two people, four or six. If tea set for six has a damaged saucer, it can be made into a tea set for four. It is worth noting that tea sets for two are exceedingly popular.

Gift Boxed Tea Sets

If a gem of a tea set has been found at a village auction or charity shop, it is worth presenting well. Take the time to have it professionally boxed and gift wrapped. The opening forms part of the giving and a smart gift presentation will enhance the tea set. A collectable tea set will also remain safe in a sturdy gift box and the receiver is likely to keep the box as well.

Period Tea Sets

A gift buyer who is stuck for what to buy a home loving neighbour may earn some accolade if opting for a vintage tea set. Many discontinued designs have become collectable and even valuable. Crockery from as recently as the past decade or two have become sought after and even considered to be an heirloom of the near future. Presented well in a sturdy gift box, a gift wrapped tea set featuring a classic design could be the ideal gift for a home lover.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Best Jewellery to Buy a Girlfriend

Buying jewellery for a girlfriend can be a tricky business if the boyfriend is unsure of the girl’s tastes. A grumpy gift buying mood may result in cheap or showy jewellery that resembles costume jewellery. What are the best jewels for a girlfriend?

Dos and Don’ts of Buying Jewellery

Journey Sterling Silver C.Z. Diamond Pendant Jewellery
click to buy from Amazon
Shopping around for the most suitable jewellery is often a minefield if the boyfriend thinks one piece of jewellery looks much like another. But there are important guidelines to finding the perfect jewellery for a girlfriend. The following tips on buying jewellery may help:
  • Filigree detail on a delicate piece of jewellery such as a charm or bracelet can create a great focal point that may echo her complex character such as Celtic knots, and yet a simple design with minimal detail can look classy and sophisticated such as freshwater pearls.
  • Consider the colour of the jewellery. Certain stones have symbolic meanings, including birthstones or even the colour of the stone. If the girlfriend is inclined to such things, it might be worth conducting a little research into the meaning of stones or gems and how they relate to the date of her birth. The birthstone for January, for example, is garnet; the birthstone for November is topaz.
  • The colour of the girlfriend’s complexion or eyes may dictate the colour of the jewellery selected. Deep blue may compliment violet eyes; yellow gold will look good with hazel.
  • Beware of allergic reactions that may stem from metal amalgam. Ensure the jewellery is at least plaited gold or silver, to minimise irritation.
  • Part of the gift is in the packaging. It is worth spending a little extra on a classy gift box and having it nicely gift wrapped.
Personalised Jewellery for Girlfriends

Personalised jewellery can mean many things. A small locket on a chain harbouring a treasured photo cannot fail to touch the heart, particularly on a romantic occasion. But jewellery that says something about the girl’s lifestyle, hobbies or passion will also show that thought had gone into its selection. Such examples are jewellery designs exhibiting a beloved musical instrument, or a breed of cat. I have discovered that a piece of jewellery can be found to reflect just about any preoccupation, regardless of how odd, including kayaking or antique collecting,

Inexpensive Jewellery for Her

Most will agree that girlfriends love diamond jewellery, but sadly, most boyfriends’ budgets cannot stretch that far. However, classy jewellery can be found at reasonable prices. Examples are sterling silver, gold plated and yellow gold. A fine chain punctuated with an intricate design can look stylish and elegant. And in a chic gift box, will earn a few brownie points for the boyfriend. To add something special and novel to the gift packaging, the boyfriend may enclose a crystallised flower within the giftbox which will make the jewellery gift look more special. Crystallised flowers are cheap and easy to make, and instructions can be found on the link at the foot of this article.

Which Jewels Make Her Happy

A gift of jewellery that shows that thought had been invested in its selection will reap rewards. A personalised charm or bracelet, that says something about her hobbies, or one that harbour a photograph will make her feel special. Pay attention to the stone selected or the style of the jewellery to ensure it bears some meaning to her. Avoid garish or showy jewellery that tends to look cheap. And finally, ensure it is gift wrapped in a smart box. These simple guidelines will help take the headache out of buying jewellery for a girlfriend.

Links to Shops and Further Advice on Girlfriend Gifts

How Not to Get the Wrong Perfume for a Girlfriend

The boyfriend beset by a grumpy mood at the prospect of buying a girlfriend perfume may get it wrong in a rush. Cheap perfume from a garage shop is unlikely to impress the girlfriend and may even cause an allergic reaction, reflecting the whole business of gift buying for some boys. What is the best perfume for a girl?

Which Fragrance to Buy a Girlfriend

The first rule of thumb is to avoid perfume sporting a shop brand, especially if it is associated with a budget shop. Even if the perfume were acceptable in smell, the whole packaging will spoil the effect. It’s rather like eating French cuisine out of cardboard boxes.

The business of buying perfume not only involves the smell of the perfume, but the presentation box, the design of the bottle and the colour of the perfume. A boyfriend confused by which perfume to choose may ask himself, would I like this perfume if I were a girl? A strange question, but could be worth asking if the right perfume were selected. (I have to say, Dolce & Gabbana is rather nice, try a sniff yourself!)

The Best Cheap Perfume for a Girlfriend

A boyfriend who has a slim wallet may feel anxious about the price of good perfume, but there are some lovely perfumes at cheap prices to be found. Included are: True Love by Elizabeth Arden, which has a light spicy yet feminine scent, Dream Angels Heavenly by Victoria’s Secret, which has a light flowery fragrance. Or how about the old classic, Eternity for Women, by Calvin Klein. A lovely romantic scent that has proved exceedingly popular. Be warned, the price of this scent varies wildly but can be found at a reasonable price on my Amazon perfume shop at the foot of this article.

Classy, Sexy Girl’s Perfume

Romantic perfume for women can be found in Obsession Night by Calvin Klein which has a lovely mixture of vanilla, rose and jasmine. Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker which has a light, feminine scent, or CK by Calvin Klein which has a refreshing, yet sexy citrus aroma. Or for something different, Vera Wang Princess by Vera Wang, in a lovely cute bottle, this perfume has a uniquely light floral scent.

Perfume Shop for Women

Special Christmas Gift Ideas for the Girlfriend

A grumpy boyfriend faced with choosing the ideal Christmas present for a girlfriend may hope a rushed effort into a corner garage will pay off. Chocolates, flowers and flashy jewellery are said to be a great gift for a female partner, but such presents may give the message that all girls are the same. How can the boyfriend find a special present for a girlfriend?

Cool Gifts for Girlfriends

Sterling Silver Marcasite and Blue Gold Stone Heart Pendant, 18"
click to buy from
Before rushing out and finding the first gift that presents itself, the boyfriend may first think about the girlfriend’s personality. A cheap gift that shows invested thought is likely to be more appreciated than an expensive, flashy but unsuitable present. This may mean thinking about the girl’s tastes. This means hobbies, fashion sense, humour and character.

Hobby Gifts for the Girlfriend

A gift to compliment a hobby, such as jewellery making, decoupage or even paintballing is likely to be used. The ultimate flattery in what a girl thinks about a gift, is to find it worn out and used in a few weeks’ time. Ensure the item is not already in the girl’s possession and also that it is suitable for purpose. Play safe and stick to a recommended brand.

Cool Jewellery for Girlfriends

Great jewellery need not be expensive. Tasteful gothic or Celtic designs can complement the girl’s clothes or character. A novelty piece of jewellery that says something personal about the girlfriend will be more appreciated than a generic one. A jewellery sporting a loved musical instrument, a pet or even a locket with a small photo showing the two of you can rarely fail to get to her heart is more likely will be worn.

Best Experience Days for Girlfriends

The boyfriend will soon discover by perusing the experience day choices that there are loads on offer. Such inspiration for a special day out for girls can be found in pampering days, where the girlfriend may enjoy being indulged over in a Dove spa at many locations in the UK; or a chocolate making workshop, a wine tasting experience or even a day out driving a tank. Cheap experience days can be found at a reasonable £30.

Funny Gifts for Girlfriends

A girlfriend with a silly sense of humour may enjoy a joke gadget that says something about her personality (in a nice way of course) such as toilet bowl lip gloss, or a romantic toast stamper that says I love you, or a Drama Queen car sticker.

Inexpensive Perfume for the Girlfriend

Buying perfume can be a tricky business, as girls can be very particular on this, but great perfume can be obtained at very reasonable prices. This does not mean popping into the hypermarket with a few quid to get a cheap perfume that could make your eyes water. Cool but cheap perfume can be found in True Love by Elizabeth Arden, Eternity by Calvin Kline or Nicole Miller. All can be found in my gift shop at the foot of this article at around £20 or less.

What to Buy a Girlfriend for Christmas

A boyfriend beset with a grumpy mood due to gift buying can find lots of great gift ideas for a girlfriend by simply buying what the girl wants. Look into her personal tastes. Avoid buying a generic gift that shows little thought. A personalised piece of jewellery, a gift that compliments a hobby or a favourite perfume will guarantee that the gift will be used and appreciated, the ultimate flattery to the gift buyer.

Links to Girlfriend Gift Ideas and Shops

Monday, 18 October 2010

Sharing Games for Children to Promote Social Skills

click to buy from
Kids’ sharing games not only help kids interact with each other, but also develop social skills, which of course is of great importance to anxious parents as well as preserving a peaceful Christmas or birthday. Not forgetting earning some accolade for the grumpy gift buyer. But which sharing games are best?

Gift Idea for a Large Family

An ideal gift for a family with multiple offspring of similar age is floor games. Traditional games have a classic quality that never grows obsolete. Twister is an old favourite where kids try to compete for the prize of best contortionist and get laughs on the way.

Giant snakes and ladders, drafts or chess enable kids to combine kinaesthetic activity with logic as they lounge across the floor or in groups. Or how about dressing up games which enable kids to role play? Cheap dressing up kits can be found to include five or so outfits on animal themes or occupations. Auntie’s or granddad's throw-outs will do just as well, such as scarves, hats or even wigs.

Sharing Games for Girls

Props designed for role play rarely fail to get girls to interact with each other. Kids’ tea sets, kitchens, post offices, banks or sweet shops are great for girls to pretend adults. Dolls houses, castles or palaces make great opportunities for girls to pretend situations together using figures, furniture and other mini props.

Sharing Games for Boys

Competitive games for boys can be found in target games such as darts or bulls-eye (the arrows having suckers, of course) although such games are best played outside or in the bedroom. A mini pinball machine or Buckaroo provides noisy fun for boys, as well as tumbling tower quoits or four in a row, which encourage players to take their turn.

Cheap Sharing Games for Children

Games that encourage social interaction can be found at reasonable prices, keeping the grumpy gift buyer’s purse strings intact. Such games include as card games including snap, happy famillies or trumps; guessing games, memory games, charades, chatterbox and quizzes help develop mental skills. Ensure the quiz game is aimed at the correct age group and time period as popular culture changes very quickly and kids grow up fast.

Social Skills Games for Children

A great gift idea for a large family is games that provide sharing and social interaction. The grumpy gift buyer cannot go wrong with one that exercise social skills between kids and keep them entertained. Old classics are a safe bet. Ensure the age group of the quiz is compatible with the kids concerned.

Toys to Promote Social Skills in Childen

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Interesting Gift Ideas for a Teenage Boyfriend

Buying a Christmas gift for a boyfriend can be like walking through a potholed minefield where a memory lapse may result in a Man U calendar for a Liverpool fan, or love compilation album for an anti-Smoltz. How can a girlfriend find the best Christmas gift ideas for a boyfriend?

Christmas Gifts for Boyfriend

Ck Free By Calvin Klein For Men Edt Spray 3.4 Oz
click to buy from Amazon
Intimate knowledge on boyfriend’s tastes when it comes to sport, music, aftershave, clothes and films is like the Holy Grail. Brand names may seem alike but in many cases, matter to him and make a statement. Making sneaky enquiries to his friends, siblings or parents may yield some answers, or failing that, a furtive scan of his bedroom walls or shelves (without of course, acting too furtively). Look out for current favourites, books, video games, hobbies or films.

What to Buy a Boyfriend Who has Everything

Experience days providers have such a huge repertoire of choice in prices and days out, that the gift buyer will be spoiled for choice. Driving days have become much of a muchness. But tank driving experiences, Brazilian football days, water sphereing and even balloon trips are certain to surprise the boyfriend. See my compilation of the ten weirdest experience days for further inspiration.

Pampering Gifts for Boyfriends

Grooming gifts should never entail guesswork. Avoid getting an aftershave endorsed by an unadmired celebrity or cheap imitations from the corner market. It is worth getting the best aftershave or shaving kit, as it will be used often. I would even go as far as simply asking the boyfriend which aftershave, hair gel or grooming product he prefers.

Jewellery for Boyfriends

It seems that teenage boys either love or hate jewellery. But buying jewellery for the former will provide the sender with lots of gift ideas to embellish his style, including charms, Celtic insignias and gothic emblems. A piece of jewellery that says something about his tastes, such as one that sports a surfboard, a beloved pet or guitar will show that thought had gone into the gift.

Inexpensive Christmas Gifts for Boyfriends

A gift that reflects the aforementioned hobby or passion provides a good opportunity for an affordable gift, such as a guitar lampshade, or football mug. An accessory to a costly item will compliment the theme, be it kayaking, paintballing, playing the drums or selling on Ebay.

Humorous gifts for a boyfriend can also be found inexpensively. Silly gifts such as an Instant Excuse Ball, Grow Your Own Mafia Boss or Grow Your Own Anfield pitch will create a memorable occasion. More silly gadgets can be found from Boystuff or the PresentFinder, or view my gadget gift shop link at the foot of this article

Special Gift for Boyfriend

Whatever the gift, its presentation can be everything. A simple token of sentiment can be found in a crystallised flower, which provides an organic ornament for a gift. Smart gift boxes will make a cheap gift look classy and make a Christmas gift for a boyfriend a memorable occasion.

Further Advice on Gift Buying for Boyfriend
 Gift shop for boyfriend

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Best Christmas Craft Ideas for Children

Shopping around for crafty Christmas gifts for kids may confound the grumpy pre parent into buying a craft kit that can barely fashion a snowman, or one that contains a multitude of small decorative sequins that seems to find its way into every corner of the house. What is the best Christmas craft idea to keep kids happy for hours and win some approval for the sender?

Quilling Kits for Kids

Quilling Kit: Christmas Angels
click to buy from
Quilling is an old craft that stems from the middle ages. It basically entails making intricate shapes out of strips of paper into swirls, loops or spirals for design purposes. However, this craft may provide fun for kids wishing to make tree angels or reindeers. The only materials required are coloured paper of varying thicknesses and a gadget around which the paper may coil. Quilling kits with full instructions can be found in craft shops or in my Amazon shop below.

Christmas Projects for Kids

Novel Christmas craft ideas for kids can be found in handmade holiday ornament kits, seasonal bookmarks or blank Christmas figurines ready for kids to lay paint on. Kits such as make your own gingerbread men, Christmas crackers, nativity figures, penguins, snowflakes, baubles and more crafty kits can be found from Little Crafty Bugs or Yellow Moon.

Make Your Own Craft Kit

But if the gift buyer cannot find a suitable craft kit in the shops, money could be saved and more craft items obtained from a self-assembled generic craft kit by including items such as coloured paper, string, PVA glue, glitter, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, foam shapes, crepe paper, beads and scissors. When packaged in a large box wrapped with shiny paper or Christmas paper, could provide a great craft kit for kids.

Homemade Christmas Puppets for Kids

With such a generic craft kit, kids can make their own Christmas crafts. And example could be Christmas puppets made with wooden clothes pegs or painted lollypop sticks illustrated with felt tip and clothed with stuck-on pieces of fabric. Simple touches can be very effective at suggesting Santa, a snowman or Rudolph. Alternatively kids may cut foam shapes for faces and stick on cotton wool or pipe cleaners for hair, googly eyes and glue the funny faces onto the sticks.

Homemade Christmas Card Kits for Kids

Saving last year’s Christmas cards and discarding the part with the written dedication could provide the ideal materials for creating new card designs. Kids may cut out, rearrange and stick on various aspects of the cards to create festive montages. Stars, snowmen, reindeers and Christmas trees as well as decorative borders and motifs can be used to great effect.

Novel Christmas Crafts for Kids

The best Xmas craft kit is one that keeps kids happy for hours. It must be flexible and have spares, so that kids may adapt the craft to their own wishes or add elements to create a truly novel holiday decoration, puppet or bookmark. The gift sender may provide a self-assembled generic craft kit if a suitable one cannot be found. With the addition of discarded Xmas cards of the previous year, this Christmas card making kit may provide the sort of activity kids will enjoy for hours.

Links to Christmas Crafts

I Haven't a Clue What to Buy a Boy Toddler for a Present

Buying a Christmas gift for a young boy can be a headache if you don’t know the difference between Thomas and Hornby. A grumpy mood may induce a rushed effort into a small racing car, a few Duplo bricks or cheap wax crayons, but the parents may give you a disgruntled look in return. So how can a grumpy gift buyer find the best toy for a small boy?

Learning Toys for Boys

LEGO Duplo Learning (5497)
click to buy from Amazon
 Educational toys really are the thing nowadays. Duplo’s Play with Numbers (a large version of Lego but with numbers), will exercise boy’s logic and coordination. The Busy Zoo Activity Centre offers a multi sensory experience, where young hands may explore textures, and manipulate blocks to make pictures.

VTech’s electronic books with bright illustrations, noisy buttons and lights will keep young boys distracted for hours, the Leapfrog Alphabet Explorer will help boys learn about letters and basic spelling, and parents will thank you for it.

Computer Games for Little Boys

Boys of surprisingly young age can get to grips with such games as Batman, Supermario Kart or Pokemon, which cater for ages as young as three. Leapster is a sort of pre Nintendo gadget that helps the developing child with hand coordination and visual cues during the progression to complex computer games. Although the game cartridges are different to Nintendo, they provide affordable gift ideas for kids and provide hours of fun, even for boys beyond toddler age.

Cheap Toys for Young Boys

This year’s hot toys often burn the pocket of those financially challenged, but buying an accessory or parts to a theme is a great ways of saving money on Christmas presents. Thomas, Hot Wheels and Lego with launching gadgets, moving parts or power machines are sure to be used if the main thing is the boy’s pride and joy. Take care to get the part for the correct range of toy, as the Thomas collection, for example come in two age groups.

Christmas Stocking Fillers for Tots

Crafty gifts for kids are always a safe bet. Aquadoodle enables boys to draw with water, but without the mess of paints. Simple construction kits such as wooden skeletons, robots or dinosaurs will make young boys feel satisfaction on its completion. Yellowmoon supply a huge range of craft kits for tots, including collage painting kits, stickers and wood craft.

Xmas Gift Ideas for Young Boys

Finding the ideal toys for a toddler need not be a stressful experience if knowing what to get. Learning toys are a good choice, but age suitability must be checked first. Accessories to an expensive toy provide an affordable gift idea for Christmas. Leapster games or Hot Wheel tracks are two such examples. Stocking fillers dotted with innovative crafty gifts will keep boys quiet for hours and the grumpy gift buyer will be redeemed for yet another year.

Links for Christmas Gifts for Boys

Monday, 11 October 2010

The Dreaded Secret Santa Gift for the Office

Just when the Christmas gift list couldn’t get longer, up pops the office Christmas tub. To make matters worse, you find yourself Christmas shopping for someone you hardly know. What can the secret Santa sender do to get the best Christmas gift? The answer might lie in a joke gift from Secret Santa.

Funny Christmas Gift Ideas for Secret Santa

Radio Controlled Stunt Granny with Turbo Function, Ramp and Supermarket Stunt Props
Stunt Granny
click to buy from Amazon
Present opening time at the office can sometimes yield a motley medley of odd and unfitting Christmas gifts, not only in quality but in suitability. One colleague gets a cheap pack of smellies from a supermarket, another gets royal Vale tea set. To avoid guess working or researching into which Christmas gift to buy an office colleague, a joke gift might fit all. But where can funny Christmas gifts be found?

Funny Gadget Gift Ideas for Work

The same old Christmas joke gift ideas seem to come around every year, the pooing reindeer; the Santa thong. With tastes varying from the relatively prude to the downright smutty, the gift sender may try to avoid causing offense or insult to the receiver but then again, may not. Why relegate the racing grannies or fighting granddads to the shop shelf if there are plenty of office workers due retirement? The list goes on to radio controlled stunt grannies or speeding granddads.

Politically Incorrect Joke Gifts for the Office

Lots of other gift ideas are sure to brighten a pre Christmas day at the office and cause a little offence to boot, such as a slingshot chicken for an animal rights activist, or an instant excuse ball for someone in denial of being lazy. Or how about a laughing mirror for one who loves to cake on the makeup on a Monday morning? A T-shirt displaying “I’m not a doctor but I’ll take a look,” for the overt flirt or an annoying GPS gag, to distract one who is always caught in traffic. And finally, a hook line and stinker fishing game for a colleague who spends half the day in the loo. All these gifts can be found on my Amazon shop at the foot of this article

Best Joke Gift for Christmas

Some novel funny gift ideas that will stick in the memory for future Christmases can be found in the form of the “grow your own” series. The idea is akin to watering a plant, but instead, you water an “object.” You can “grow your own gay best friend,” “grow your own boss,” “grow your own hooker,” or even “grow your own cowboy.” These bizarre objects grow over a few days to life size. After which, they reduce to original size when abstained from water.

Funny Outfits for Work

When stuck for ideas on what to get a work colleague, why not just get a joke gift for a colleague? Old favourites like pooing reindeers have a classic quality that will probably keep coming back every year, but there are always some innovative new joke gifts for Christmas to suit every taste and offend someone, such as flying animals, grow your own hookers or fighting pensioners to make a grumpy gift buyer less grumpy. The joke gift will be remembered for many joyful Christmases at the office to come.

Links on Advice for Joke Gifts for the Office at Christmas

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Help! I Don't Know What to Buy a Girl Toddler for a Gift

Christmas shopping for a little girl can be a nightmare if the buyer does not know the difference between Bratz and a Barbie and may cop out on cheap candies, plastic jewellery or craft set with a profusion of beads and glue. But the parents might not speak to you again. What is the best Christmas gift for a young girl?

Christmas Learning Toys for Girls

You can’t go wrong with educational gifts for tots. A pretty toy, initially enthused over may not have the same entertainment value after a day or so. Toys that stimulate the senses will help to develop toddler’s spacial and mental skills and continue to entertain. A good range of learning toys for girls including musical books, words games and Duplo and many others can be found from Vtech, FisherPrice and TafToys.

My personal favourite is electronic books with push buttons on each page where tot may explore and learn about words, music and pictures, supplied with sound and visual effects.

Aquadoodle Draw N Doodle
click to buy from Amazon
Aquadoodle provide opportunities for tots to experience their first artistic experience with water without creating mess. Put the pen in water, draw over the aqua-mat, and watch a picture emerge. Certain locations of the aqua-mat will make noises when pressed, such as farm animals. When the picture dries, it fades so it can be completed again. Travel size will keep young girls happy during holiday trips. Take care as the aqua range have small parts.

Cute Toys for Girls

Few little girls could resist cute toys. Baby Annabell, Hello Kitty, My Little Pony, Builder Bears and Baby Born provide cuddle value and virtual play, as they come with themed accessories including beachwear, party clothes and sound effects.

Save Money on Expensive Toys for Christmas

Why not get part of an expensive toy such as a crucial accessory or part? Electronic games for Nintendo, little people, furniture for dolls houses, farmyard animals or horses for pony stables could form a part or complete the set. Be sure to get the right accessory or it won’t suit. Get the parents to write the exact name of the product.

Stocking Fillers for Toddler Girls

A useful gift for a girl will ensure it is not left on the shelf. Pretty hair accessories, jazzy tights, swim floats or wellies will come in handy and look good. Most girls love pink, glitter effect, fairies or ponies.

Best Christmas Toys for Small Girls

Grumps needn’t spend hours searching for the ideal Christmas gift for a little girl. Young girls’ interactive learning toys will earn brownie points from parents and girl alike; accessories to a pricey toy will save money, and practical stocking fillers will get used, helping make gift-buying less of a grumpy experience for people like me.

Links to Gift Buying Ideas for Girl Tots
Image credit: Lewis Hines

What to Buy a Baby for Christmas in a Rush

Buying Christmas presents for babies can bewilder the pre parent and the grumpy gift buyer who may opt for rattles, a dummy or a cuddly toy – well, what else do babies want? If only it were that simple. Here is some practical advice on buying Xmas presents for a baby and earn the reluctant gift buyer lots of brownie points.

The Best Present for a Baby

The First Years Stack N Count Cups
click to buy from Amazon
Firstly, what may seem obvious may be overlooked. Check the age suitability of the toy. Believe it or not, there is a big difference between “suitable from birth to 3 months,” and “suitable from 3 months to 6 months.” Also check safety. Small parts could cause choking. Ensure eyes and buttons are securely fastened on soft toys.

Educational Toys for Christmas

Fanatical parents love educational toys for their kids. After all, who knows if a mini Mozart isn’t in the making? VTech, Fisher Price, Leapfrog and TafToys supply a range of great educational toys for babies that exercise visual awareness, auditory pathways and physical coordination. The best are those that stimulate all three ie., is colourful, makes noises and does stuff, such as react to baby’s touch. Simple hands-on toys such as basic Duplo or colourful stacking cups are often most effective. Surprisingly, kids love these cups, as they can be stacked, bashed together and cupped over feet. They are also compact and can be taken anywhere.

Soft Toys for Christmas

Parents will be eternally grateful for a toy that calms baby at night as they can watch TV in peace. Cot mobiles might do the trick. Those with funny animals that hover over baby, or one that plays a little music and provide a light show on the wall will lull baby to sleep. Soft scrunchy touch cubes with textures, letters and numbers will engage baby if eyes refuse to close.

Christmas Gifts for Baby Girl or Boy?

Gift buyers who feel anxious about getting it wrong when buying for the sex of the baby can go for toys suitable for either sex. Inflatable toys with plastic balls provide small tumble areas for babies that could take the form of a car, rocket or playhouse. Such physically active toys are likely to create hours of fun and wear baby out.

The Ideal Christmas Present for a Baby

The best bay gift will please the parent as well as the baby. Educational gifts are sure to tick the boxes for both. The simplest toy can be most effective. Action toys to help coordination as well as visually interesting mobiles for bed time will suit baby whatever the mood. Check age suitability and safety to take the headache out of having to return unsuitable Christmas presents for babies.

Christmas Baby Gift Links

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Lazy Way to Avoid Weight Gain over Christmas

It is a sad fact that Christmas shopping does not aid radical weight loss, but there are sneaky ways of avoiding getting fat over Christmas, which involves simple strategies of maintaining protein intake and abstaining GI index, but in a way that suits a grumpy and lazy Christmas gift buyer.

Foods to Avoid over Christmas

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Actually, I hate the word “diet,” but love the duo, “lazy diet. You don’t need to weep over the salad bowl or sweat it out at the gym to slow or stop the fat from creeping on the waistline over Christmas. However, a Christmas eating plan will help keep the fat at bay.

Slimming Christmas Foods

Some festive foods promote weight gain more than others, and the culprits are not necessarily the ones you’d expect. Foods containing lots of fat (although best checked) are not as fattening as high carbohydrate foods. High carb foods are those that contain lots of sugar. And remember, sugars come in many forms including sucrose, starch, fructose and maltose. And sugar exists in savouries as well as puddings.

Christmas Foods with High GI

Sugar and carbohydrate are really synonymous, as both provide energy. Surplus energy is eventually stored as fat unless it is burned off. Foods that proclaim “no fat” or “low fat” could still cause fat gain if it has lots of sugar and is not burned off. A general rule of thumb is, food that contains around 60g of carbohydrate or more per 100g or more (60% or more) is high carb food. This describes foods with a high GI index (Glycemic Index) which means that sugars enter the blood stream quickly. This creates a peak in blood sugar levels and then a trough, causing sugar cravings.

Christmas Food that Makes you Fat

High sugar foods include mashed starchy vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips, turnips and carrots; dried fruit, Christmas pudding, fruit cake, dates, mayonnaise, pasta, ice cream, bread, fruit drinks and alcoholic drinks.

However, this does not mean you should abstain from carbohydrates. You need some carbs to be healthy. The secret is how you eat your Christmas food. To do this, you have to know your low GI foods, or Christmas foods that help you lose weight. Generally, these are proteins. In the context of Christmas, these might be: turkey, beef, salmon, lamb, pork, soya, nut roast, nuts, cream, cheese and soya. Some low protein foods are low GI too, including sprouts, peas, beans and tomatoes. High protein foods are usually low carb and therefore keep you full for longer.

Slimming way to Eat Your Christmas Dinner

I love Christmas dinner, but you can still enjoy it without worrying too much about your waistline. Simply eat your proteins (or more of it) first. Tuck into your turkey or nut roast, add a few sprouts or (boiled) carrots into the initial part of the meal. Leave your spuddy bit for the latter part. This will leave you feeling full before eating too much of the carbs. Sipping fluids with the meal will make you feel fuller quicker. Sip boozy or soft drinks with the meal rather than on its own, as the protein in the meal will dampen the sugar rush.

Slimming Christmas Pudding

Look for Christmas puddings with more nuts than fruit, as it will be higher in protein. If you make your own, a blend of Brazils, almonds and walnuts make a nice combination. Add some oats or buckwheat with the usual ingredients to make the pudding higher in fibre. Prefer cream to custard as a pour-over.

Low Calorie Christmas Snacks

Snack on cheese and nuts rather than lots of sultanas, dates and white crackers. High fibre foods will also allay those nasty sugar cravings. Enjoy chocolate treats around the same time as a high fibre snack. Chocolate and nut mouse are tasty and high in protein. Chocolate soya mousse is also delicious and high in protein.

Lose Weight over Christmas the Lazy Way

Of course, as with any diet, some exercise will help weight loss over Christmas, but eating in a certain way will make it easier. Eat proteins and fibre before the carbs. Combine carby foods with high fibre and protein to dampen the sugar rush. Watch out for soft drinks and booze. Many of them equate to fluid sugar. Water it down with some spring water or sip with a meal. Avoid also white floury foods such as pasta, white rice, bread and crackers, as these have no fibre.

And so endeth the grumpy gift buyer’s guide to a less grumpy Christmas.

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Friday, 8 October 2010

Survival Guide on What to Buy an Old Person for Christmas

Having to buy a Christmas gift for an older person may tempt the grumpy gift buyer in me to cop out for bath salts, slippers, humbugs, woolly cardie or housecoat sporting wolves’ heads. But such advice is not helpful for those wishing to take the more sensitive route to finding the ideal Xmas present for a granddad, elderly aunt or a senior colleague at work. The following advice might help.

Christmas Presents for the Older Generation

Old Folks Jokes
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It is worth remembering that an elderly person was once young and has individual tastes like anybody else. If you are lucky enough to know of secret talents, passions or hobbies, be it painting, collecting antiques, archery or paragliding the Alps, a Christmas present that targets this area can seldom fail to please.

Humorous Gifts for Old Folks

But if you are lazy about gift buying like me and wish not to conduct research into an old person’s tastes, a humorous gift is a good alternative. Indeed, I have noticed plenty of great humorous books about being an old folk and find myself reading the dam things myself, as much of it relates to me, even though these books are not targeted to my age group.

A further suggestion is the bear in mind the time of year. Toe warmers, a novelty hot water bottle, a Slanket, Ug boots, a sun lamp, hair of the dog or deer hunter hat could well and truly be appreciated by someone who feels the winter months setting in at mid September (a bit like me then).

Christmas Gift Ideas for a Gran or Granddad

A present that reminds the person of his or her former youth is another choice. How about a Wii Fit or a snowboard? Or more seriously a nostalgic gift that brings back treasured memories. A scout through an antique shop or charity shop (don’t let on) may yield some hidden treasures not found in usual outlets such as a Royal Vale bone china tea set or a signed copy of a favoured first edition book. I have found such antiquated books signed by the author, which would be a bonus. If nicely giftwrapped, it provides a memorable and fitting gift for Christmas.

Novel Christmas Gift Ideas for Gran

If the older person wants to live for now, a treat at a Dove spa might be the ticket. There are loads of experience day gift ideas to be had for the older person who has everything, from jewellery making workshops to wine tasting experiences. The Ariel Atom experience could certainly blow away the cobwebs. These novel experiences start from just £30 or so.

What to Buy an Old Person for Christmas

Christmas gift buying for a senior citizen is one of my least savoury gift buying tasks, but Christmas provides extra opportunities for finding the ideal gift for a grandmother or great uncle. The time of year, for a start, as home comforts takes precedence. A nostalgic gift or one that echoes of a passion or hobby or an experience day is also likely to bring a little life and soul to the person. Failing that, go for the jugular and get a book that poke fun at getting old. One day, the recipient might be me (or even you). Save the slippers for another year.

Articles on Christmas Gift Advice for Older People

Monday, 4 October 2010

Cheap Halloween Gift Ideas for Kids’ Parties

As Halloween gift shops seem to stock up earlier every year, you can bag bargains before the Halloween rush, which is something I try to do. Inexpensive Halloween presents will still make a Halloween party special, as kids often find fun value from the simplest of things. Here are some fun gift ideas for spooky parties.

Spooky Gift Ideas for Halloween

Grinning skulls, detachable skeletons, glow in the dark horror masks and stretchy rubber eyeballs harbouring pools of blood are certain to inspire ghoulish fun, especially with boys. Girls might like Halloween make up, Halloween character bags or a gravestone savings box, where a skeletal hand drags the coin into the slot. All this and more can be found in Poundshops, corner shops and supermarkets. But I like to keep it simple when it comes to buying gifts for Halloween. As my Halloween parties often involve in excess of ten children, I endeavour to get bumper gift sets or Halloween party bags.

Halloween Treat Bags

Always a winner with kids, Halloween party bags are consistently colourful, sweet and cheap. I vet them, as some are more challenging on kids’ teeth than others. I prefer those that don’t have artificial colourings or flavourings, and at least have a gift inside. If it has fun value or does something, all the better. Some trick or treat bags are filled exclusively with candy, which I avoid. Chocolate treats are perhaps preferable to boiled or chewy sweets, as at least they are not sticky. Always check the sell by date.

Homemade Halloween Gifts

You can opt to make homemade Halloween presents, which need not take long to prepare and are fun for kids. A bag of ping-pong balls can easily be made to look like eyeballs if illustrated with an iris, pupil a few veins with felt tip pens, and red wool stuck to the back to suggest optic nerves.

Homemade scary puppets can be made with old socks illustrated with felt tip pens and white paint. Green socks can be used for a witch’s face, white for a clown or yellow for a zombie. Stretch the sock over a large spoon before illustrating. Use white paint for the eyes, which can easily look scary if framed with heavy brows. Outline each facial feature with dark felt tip, such as the fangs of Dracula or a witch’s wart to make them stand out. Hair can be suggested with coloured wool which can be threaded through the stitching of the sock. Tie a small knot at one end before threading and trim to shape once all the wool required has been threaded through.

Affordable Halloween Presents for Kids

Hosting a Halloween party does not have to entail trudging around shops looking for Halloween gift ideas for kids, for Halloween seems to come earlier every year (a bit like Christmas). If I see something in September, I will save it for Halloween to avoid the rush. There are lots of gory gift ideas to make Halloween memorable for kids, including dismembered hands, glowing pumpkins and inflatable ghosts to provide entertainment for kids. Homemade Halloween presents add something personal to a party, but from a grumpy gift buyer’s point of view, I like to have a big payoff on the fun value in relation to the cost and the time to make.

My Halloween Gift Shop

Photo credi Juushika Redgrave

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Fun but Scary Halloween Games for Kids

The key to a great Halloween bash is one with thrilling games that kids can enjoy. As a busy mum who is loathe to lengthy groundwork, I prefer to host games that provide minimal preparation and work. I also like to join in now and again. Here are a few ideas for Kids’ Halloween games.

Monster Statues Halloween Game

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This is a game adapted from musical statues, but the children may take the persona of a favoured monster or ghoul, be it Dracula, a werewolf, Frankenstein or a witch. All that is required are masks, made by the children of course, during a craft activity earlier in the day. Dressing up clothes may be used too if any are available.

The children must move in the manner of the monster chosen to the music, which could be a zombie gait or a monster shuffle. But when the music stops, the children must stop in exactly the bodily position that occurs at that moment. The position must be retained for up to 30 seconds, during which the observer must look for any wobble. The children that remain motionless may continue, but otherwise, must sit out the remainder of the game. The winner gets a prize. Another popular game that can be adapted to a Halloween theme is pin the nose on the Pumpkin.

Spooky Halloween Game with Skeletons

Another fun Halloween game that requires minimal planning and resources, but yielding lots of fun is hunting for skeleton parts. This can easily be arranged by concealing skeleton bones around the house. Plastic skeletons with detachable parts can be obtained cheaply and easily around Halloween. The children, in teams of two, just need to find the skeleton parts, before attaching them. The first team to complete the task wins. Skeletons can be substituted for plastic body parts or a simple jigsaw showing a Halloween scene for variety.

Adaptation of What’s the Time Mr Wolf?

The game “What’s the time Mr Wolf?” can be substituted to any monster the host wishes from to a zombie to a witch, but in this example, it can be a hungry monster. The person playing the monster, wearing a monster mask, stands face averted to the other children. The object is to creep up on the monster without making a noise. But before doing so, the children must ask, “What’s the time Mr Monster? The person playing the monster may make any reply. But if the monster says, “twelve o’clock it’s time for lunch,” the monster may turn and chase the other children. Those that are caught before reaching “den” at the other end of the room are out. The child who manages to creep up on the monster first may play the monster next time.

Simple Halloween Game for Kids

A game, mentioned in an earlier post is Mummy Wrap. And no, it doesn’t have to involve mummy, but mummy can join in if kids insist. Two teams must wrap a child each in toilet roll until the child is concealed from head to toe, and so resembling an Egyptian mummy. The one who completes the task first is the winner. To make clearing up easy for mum, the child who unwraps his or her mummy first gets a bonus prize.

Guess the Gruesome Object

For extra thrills, the host may place a simple object in a large cardboard box or tube with holes cut in each end. The guesser must place the hands inside the holes and guess the object. The twist is the host can place an object that could easily be something more sinister. A wet flannel or a wig could easily be a dismembered hand or a hairy spider. The guesser must try to overcome the suggestions of the cruel host and guess the object. (All objects must be harmless and mundane.)

Halloween Party Game Ideas for Kids

Other party games can provide fun, such as pumpkin bowling (pretty self explanatory) or relay races with “batons” consisting of gruesome body parts or skeleton bones (plastic of course), or gourds painted to resemble witches faces.

Favourite Halloween Party Games

Great party games for kids will make any Halloween party a winner. With just a few simple resources and minimal preparation, the kids are likely to experience a party to remember. Keeping kids entertained by preparing their own materials will help create a Halloween party with more fun value, whilst at the same time, leave less for mum to do.

Image credit: Charles F Lester