65 articles Tag Christmas

5 Ways to Promote Your Small Business This Christmas

Ways to Promote Your Small Business This Chirstmas
Photo by Tim Douglas from Pexels

Some of you may know that aside from blogging and copywriting, I occasionaly do some marketing work too, and back in July I shared some ways that you can market your small business. With over 400,000 new companies launching during lockdown, it seemed like a good time to share some tips and now, with Christmas approaching (SORRY for mentioning the ‘C’ word in October!) I thought I’d give you some more targeted tips for helping your business to have a prosperous Christmas:

Point of Sale

Something that I’d advise many small businesses to invest in is some bespoke Christmas displays. This is especially important if you have a physical shopfront, and although you may be worried about the cost, it’s something that you’ll be able to use year after year. Having a professional display will really elevate your Christmas promotions and will look So much more inviting that just have strands of tinsel strewn about!

Send a Card

If you’re the type of business that holds address information for your clients, there’s nothing quite like a Christmas card to spread some festive cheer (and tell them about your latest offers!). There are many approaches, from online services which will send them automatically to actually handwriting cards, which is time-consuming but gives a truly personal effect. You could even just send an e-card via email, if that’s easier.

Christmas Themed Packaging

We all know how important custom packaging is for your brand. Packaging is the only thing that reaches 100% of your customers and is the first step in creating a memorable unboxing experienceUnique Christmas packaging for your products over Christmas adds a touch of luxury and class and, if coupled with a Christmas edition product, can really help create a sense of ‘exclusivity’ around your product.

Support a Local Cause

By reaching out to those less fortunate than you, you can also create awareness of your own brand at the same time. There are loads of different ways you can support charities, and it should be something you consider doing year-round, rather than just at Christmas. You could inform customers that all proceeds made from a certain range of products goes to charity, or even host a charity event like a coffee morning or brunch and encourage customers to donate with you. Just make sure you send invites beforehand!

Reward Your Loyal Followers

Depending on your audience, you may find that your followers on social media are your most engaged customers and your best brand ambassadors. Why not thank them by having offers exclusive to social media platforms? Although digital coupons and coupon codes work best with online stores, brick-and-mortar businesses can still offer print-at-home coupons that are promoted exclusively on social media. An alternative for online businesses is to create a landing page with unique offers, and again only promote this on social media.

Still Nil Nil – A Football Lover’s Perfect Gift

As you’ll know if you’re a long-time reader of Mum’s the Word, we’re fans of Liverpool Football Club. Husband has been a fan his whole life, and when we met I adopted LFC as my team, too. That means that there are many historical games from LFC’s football past that we revisit from time to time, and we’ve been to Anfield as a family for a special day of Liverpool FC hospitality (we also saw Luis Suarez score his first ever Home hat-trick while we were there, which made it extra special).

Perhaps one of the most relevant games to current Liverpool fans is the night of the 2005 Champions League Final, where Liverpool came back from 3-0 against AC Milan to win on penalties and become European Champions. It was an amazing night, and although it happened before I became a Liverpool fan, it was a night that Husband has rewatched with me MANY times, and one in his life that he’ll never forget. A Football Lover's Perfect GiftThat’s why, when I received an email about Still Nil Nil, I knew it would make an incredible gift for Husband. You see, Still Nil Nil have taken these special nights in sporting history and created beautifully illustrated books, containing original poetry, describing the events in detail. There are currently three titles available, costing £12 each; The Treble, based on Manchester United’s historic 1998/99 season, Invincible, revisiting Arsenal’s unbeaten 2003/04 season; and The Miracle of Istanbul, retelling Liverpool’s epic Champions League final comeback in 2004/05.

The Miracle of Istanbul

Josh Clarke, founder and director of Still Nil Nil, said: “It’s incredibly exciting to finally unveil a true passion project, Still Nil Nil. Millions of parents and children bond over their football club – and our books represent the perfect way for parents to pass on their passion, and memories, to their children with an incredible shared experience.

“With Christmas fast approaching, the response to our initial three books has already been overwhelmingly positive. We are delighted to be delivering gifts that football-mad children (and, probably more so, parents) are going to love.”

I can’t wait to give Husband his copy and I think it will be something he’ll cherish. The books are aimed at kids, but I truly think they’re perfect for football fans of any age, and for Liverpool fans young and old, the night in Istanbul will be something they want to remember forever.

There’s still plenty of time to order your copy of a Still Nil Nil book from the website, so head over there and grab one now.

Quilling Homemade Christmas Cards

Quilling Homemade Christmas Cards - Finished CardGiven the fact that it’s been a REALLY sucky year for most of us, Christmas will be a nice distraction from everything else. This year, us and our extended family have decided to keep the gift giving to just the kids of the family, so that we can make it all the more special for them. However, that doesn’t stop me from creating extra special Christmas cards for everyone, and this year I’ve even learned a new skill to help me – quilling!

Click on the image to see the quilling in action!

When I was researching the type of card I wanted to make, I stumbled across some festive greetings using quilling. For those who don’t know, quilling is a paper craft with uses coiled strips of paper to create shapes and patterns. I had a quilling kit when I was a tween and I loved it then, but I’d basically forgotten everything I’d learned by the time I tried it again. I also planned to use a graffiti font on the card, but my printer went kaput, right at the most inconvenient moment. *eyeroll*

As well as quilling strips and some papercraft tools, I used an 8x8in blank greetings card, some tacky glue (it’s stickier and dries fast for crafting), a gold marker, some gold edging stickers, mini Christmas bells and some Christmas pompoms. I also used a compass, ruler and pencil for sketching out the rough shapes before I stuck anything on.

Quilling the TreeQuilling Homemade Christmas Cards - Creating the Tree

I started by making the quills for the tree by coiling a whole strip tightly, then allowing it to unfurl a little. I then glued the loose end in place with a tiny dot of glue, held it until dry and then pinched one end of the coil of paper to create the shape. To create the star and tree pot, I shaped them after coiling in a similar way, and then I used the gold marker to write the message on the front. Finally, I just stuck all of the other bits on in the right place!

Adding the Text

Quilling Homemade Christmas Cards - Gold WritingIt took me a little under half an hour, from sketching out the final design to everything being done, and I think the overall effect is well worth the effort! What’s more, I really enjoyed making the card and I can’t wait to make a whole load more to send to the special people in our lives. I’m thinking of making a different design on every card, but that might just be a stunning case of me biting off more than I can chew, as usual!

I absolutely love making handmade gifts and cards for people. Now that I have a new skill, I’ll definitely be doing more of it. Have you ever tried quilling? Are you making handmade cards or gifts this year? Leave me a comment below telling me all about it, especially if you have inspiration for my next design!

How to prevent unwanted Christmas gifts

Christmas is undoubtably a time for giving and receiving. But how do you prevent receiving those unwanted Christmas gifts? It’s estimated that that over 50% of us receive at least one unwanted gift each year, that’s a whopping £5.03 billion going down the drain. Not only is this waste having a detrimental effect on our environment but it’s having a negative impact on our personal finances too, to the tune of nearly £50 per person.

Prevent yourself from receiving unwanted Christmas gifts this year by being proactive and taking charge – we’ve all got things we want or need, so let your loved ones know!  

Create a list 

The easiest way to prevent yourself from receiving unwanted Christmas gifts is to write a list. It doesn’t have to be long, but make sure it includes items under different budgets, for example gift ideas under £20, around £50 and over £100. This will help people assess how much they can afford to spend, and they’ll know they’ve got you something you will actually appreciate. Check some gift  ideas and  more info here

Ask for experiences

Avoid receiving more stuff and ultimately more things for landfill by asking for experiences. This is great for a group of friends. Instead of buying each other a mediocre gift that is sadly unwanted, why not all club together and buy an experience. This could be each putting in £20 to go to the spa together, going out for a meal at that fancy new restaurant, or even putting money towards a holiday. 

Not only will this prevent you having to fake an enthusiastic smile when you receive an unwanted gift, but you’ll have something to look forward to in the new year that has already been paid for! 

Drop hints

Drop into conversation with friends and family that you’ve seen something that you would love for Christmas. You can be as subtle or unsubtle as you like. If you’ve seen something in a magazine, leave the magazine lying around open on the page, or even better tell them face to face.

The most important thing to remember is that Christmas is about more than things – it’s about spending time with loved ones, reminiscing about the past and looking forward to the future. 

When it comes to buying presents, make sure that you don’t spend beyond your means. You may consider spreading the cost of Christmas with a credit card – which can be a good option, as long as you pay the balance off with your January paycheque.

If you do receive an unwanted gift, see if you can return it, sell it on or better yet donate it to charity. 

 

Alternatives to Toys for Christmas

I don’t know about you, but sometimes it feels like we’re drowning in toys. Sausage is older now, so her interests are changing but Sausage is still firmly in the “circle every toy in the Christmas cataogue” stage. This year, I’ve been trying to think of things that they would love for Christmas which won’t take up much (if any) space in the house, and I’ve had some decent ideas so far, which I thought I’d share with you today:

Swimming Lessons

BB has a pool at her school, but it’s outdoor which means they only swim between Easter and October and the rest of the year they don’t use the pool at all. I was thinking that BB would probably love to have swimming lessons and that her grandparents could club together and pay for her to have lessons for a year. There are some Seriously Fun swimming lessons for babies and children out there and I think it would make a great gift.

Zoo Experience

A couple of years back, Husband arranged for me to go to Wingham Wildlife park to have an up-close experience with the raccoons and coatis and it was genuinely one of the best presents I’ve ever received. I’ve been in love with raccoons for years and getting to feed them was just phenomenal. Both of our girls are animal mad and I think they’d be just as thrilled with a keeper experience as part of their Christmas present.

Subscription Box

One of the (very small) things that bugs me about Christmas is that you spend silly amounts of time and money buying specially selected gifts and by January, a lot of it has been used up or forgotten. A subscription box would last all year long, giving monthly surprises and you can get lots of different types, to suit every kid. Some of them even have experiements inside, making them low-key educational without the kids even realising that they’re learning as they go!

Magazine Subscription

Like a subscription box, a magazine subscription is the gift that keeps on giving. BB is a MASSIVE fan of magazines (usually for the plastic rubbish attached to the front!) but I think she’d be so happy to get her favourite magazine in the post every month. Magazines are also good because they help to give kids in interest in reading. Sausage is old enough to enjoy a much wider array of magazines now, too, like nature photography, crafting, colouring and even music.

Vouchers

My kids are both at an age now where they love getting cash or vouchers for Christmas and birthdays because it means that they can go to the shops and choose stuff for themselves. Sausage even has her own contactless debit card now, and she LOVES having mney in her account so she can use her card. There are a few shops that the kids love, where they can buy things like books and stationery so getting them vouchers would definitely be a hit – plus, I don’t mind finding space for books!

7 Things To Remember This Holiday Season

The holiday season is a fun-filled time where there seems to be something happening every day during the busiest periods. Avoid feeling overwhelmed this time of year by taking these steps to prep for the new year and also take care of yourself.

Tie Up Loose Ends At Work

Before you take your end of year break, prepare your documents so that you can come back and hit the ground running. Settle up all of your projects that have deadlines over the holidays and consider making a checklist with ‘back to work’ you in mind.

Set up an ‘away’ message for your answer phone and email if you don’t need to answer your messages while you are on holiday. Maybe set up a meeting for when you return so that everyone can recalibrate together.

Plan Your Gift Buying

Gift buying can get out of control fast, so make a list of the essential presents you have to buy, then prioritise those gifts.

Set a budget so that you don’t go overboard or overspend on one person (this can get tricky if you prioritise one sibling over another). Go to the mall and tick off the list first, and if the stores are offering gift wrapping then take full advantage of that.

Self-care

With all the family catching up and friends, catering and parties, it can be easy to burn out. Self-care is recognizing when you are burning out and taking some time to recharge. Know your limits when it comes to your energy and listen to your body’s cues to know when you need to have a night in.

A night in can involve a favourite movie and book, or it could be some light yoga and stretches or some meditation. Have a wholesome meal and a good night’s rest so that you are decompressed for the rest of the holiday season.

Manage Your Bills

A tight bank balance can be a huge source of stress for anyone, so make sure that you are on top of your finances this season. Manage your spending with a spreadsheet or figure out the best way to manage your own finances.

If you have annual contracts, such as rent, insurance or medical, then have a shop around for a better deal. Plus, you can search around for things like a cheaper car insurance quote or a better life insurance deal. Making a saving can put you in a good mood for the next year.

Tidying the House

A cluttered home can make you feel busy and stressed, so take the time to declutter your home.

If you live with other people, set a ‘busy playlist’ of some music or a podcast which can be as short as ten minutes to clear the clutter. Once the music stops, everyone can stop tidying. This takes the burden of tidying off of one person and puts a time limit on the chore. There are more tips to get the house in order before the holidays.

 Manage Social Media Time

Everyone goes into holiday hyperdrive on social media and browsing through your friends’ photos is fun, but can be a huge time drain. Turn the mobile ringer off so that a notification doesn’t distract you from being in the present.

The holidays are about making memories, so make sure you have some and don’t get lost in the social media well. However, when visitors are coming over, turn the ringer up in case guests get lost!

Avoid The Tradition Trap

“But this is how we have always done it” is a phrase that can create unnecessary stress around holiday time, even if the tradition is not terribly convenient and even causing you stress.

Instead, rebrand and create your own traditions that work better for you and your family. Try activities that work around your plans, such as morning walks, baking together or just trying something new.

So roll up your sleeves and get ready for the holiday season, the holiday stress does not need to sneak up on you if you take a few steps to prepare for the fun. By managing your mood and your household, this season will be a breeze.

Finding a Winter Coat

I’m in a bit of a pickle at the moment. I’ve got three winter coats, but none of them is quite doing the job for me at the moment. The first is a black wool coat that I bought when I worked in an office. It’s decent quality and warm but is a bit too formal to go with my usual mum uniform of jumper, jeans and Converse! The second is a proper Berghaus hiking jacket which is super warm and weatherproof, but a bit too out-doorsy for every day. The last is a gilet, which I absolutely love, and it would be perfect…if only it had arms! I decided to take a look at women’s jackets from Superdry to see if I could find something which covers all of the bases and this is what I found:

Classic Rookie Fishtail Parka Coat

You can’t go wrong with a classic parka and this one looks lovely and cosy, with the fur trim around the hood. . The parka features a hood with detachable faux fur trim, zip and popper fastening, popper cuffs and four external pockets. Inside the coat is fleece lined and has a drawstring adjustable waist

Luxe Super Fuji Mix Jacket

I definitely like the thought of a longer coat – some of the shorter winter coats are what my lovely mother in law would call “bum freezers” and I have to agree. This jacket offers great protection from the elements while looking really neat and stylish.

Kiki Leather Biker Jacket

I’ve been coveting a leather jacket for absolutely ages and this one is a great shape and style. Leather is great for keeping the wind out, and when you spend a lot of time standing in windy playgrounds, that’s a definite bonus. There’s something a bit egdey about a leather biker jacket and I love the fact that you can dress is up or down, depending on your outfit.

SD Girlfriend Sherpa Jacket

I’ve always had a thing for Sherpa jackets and this Superdry one is so cute, with the patches and little details. Obviously, I won’t be copying the model and going bare-midriff underneath it, but I think it could make a really nice, fashionable alternative to a stuffy winter coat.

Which coat do you think you’d choose from Superdry? Leave me a comment below.

How to Make Your Christmas Cards and Envelopes Extra Special

Christmas cards and envelopesI don’t know about you, but the one part of Christmas that I find a little bit of a boring chore is sending out Christmas cards. It’s not that I don’t want to send messages of good tidings to our nearest and dearest each year – it’s more to do with how boring the cards are. Every year, it’s a conveyor belt of cards with “Dear XXX, From XXX” written inside, shoved into boring envelopes and the whole thing feels like a damp squib. I’ve decided this year that I’m going to make our cards a lot more interesting, and I’m sharing some of the ways with you today:

Ditch the Boring Envelopes

Plain white envelopes might be functional, but they’re hardly inspiring, and blend in with the daily post and bills coming through your door. We’ll be switching things up this year by using gold envelopes from Bestbuyenvelopes  for our cards so that each one looks like a little bit of magic, sitting on the doormat. They’ll definitely stand out from the other boring post!

Use Rubber Stamps

Another thing we like to do is use a rubber stamp and ink pad to put a lovely festive image on the outside of the envelopes. It makes it look so lovely and takes only the tiniest bit of effort. In fact, I highly recommend you get the kids involved with this bit because mine love doing all my stamping for me (disclaimer: I won’t be held responsible if you kids end up bickering over who gets to use the stamp!)

Include a Drawing

Speaking of the kids, one thing that Sausage and BB love to do is draw pictures. They spend a LOT of their free time with a pen or pencil in their hands and love nothing more than creating something for someone they love. Give the kids a pile of paper and ask them to do a Christmas doodle to put in each card. It’ll make a sweet keepsake that people can look back on when the kids are all grown up.

Make More of Your Message

I know it will take a lot longer, but making your message a bit more personal can really improve your cards. Include a joke you think the person will like, or even joy down a happy or funny memory you share so that they’ll have a smile on their face when they read their card. Just a tiny bit of effort can really spread joy at this time of year.

What do you do to make your Christmas cards special? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Christmas Traditions Worth Sticking To

I’ve written in the past about how I feel overwhelmed by certain elements of Christmas. Being a mum in the age of social media means that as soon as Halloween is over, I’m bombarded by images of huge piles of presents, questions on groups about where people are going to see Santa and what people are loading their kids’ Christmas Eve boxes with. Each to their own, and all that, but I do find it all a bit excessive at times. When I was a kid, Christmas was a little more minimal but just as enjoyable.

We do, however, have a few Christmas traditions that we stick to and I thought I’d share a few of them with you.

Christmas Dresses from David Grant

New Dresses

The girls and I always get a new dress to wear on Christmas day. The key features are that it must be pretty, it must be festive and it must be comfortable! This year, I wanted something special for the girls so I’ve been looking at special occasion dresses for children from David Charles. The designs are stunning and I think Burrito Baby would look so cute in them!

Decorating the Tree

This is something that the girls and I do together every year. We set aside the first Saturday or Sunday of December and get the tree and decorations up. We drink hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows, we put a Christmas music channel on the TV and we get properly in the festive spirit while we adorn the house. It’s one of my favourite parts of the Christmas season.

Films

There are certain films that we watch as a family every year – Elf, Home Alone, Gremlins and The Polar Express, to name but a few. Then, on Christmas Eve, Husband and I watch It’s a Wonderful Life once the kids are asleep and share a few hours of peace before bed.

Wrapping

Speaking of wrapping, ours has become a bit of a regular event. I’m a bit of a control freak and love doing all the wrapping myself, so we usually compromise by enjoying a mulled wine while I’m doing it, with Husband delivering me festive treats like stollen and mince pies while I work. It may sound silly, but it’s something I really look forward to.

Boxing Day

Christmas Eve and Day are usually the time we spend with family, but Boxing Day is spent at home, eating junk (we usually buy party food from Waitrose to pick at throughout the day), watching movies and letting the kids play with their toys. Its great to have some downtime after two busy days and I think it’s something we definitely need, as a family.

Get The House In Order Before Christmas

Get The House In Order Before ChristmasIt’s that time of year when our thoughts are filled with festive plans; where we’re going for Christmas dinner, what’s happening on Boxing Day, who will we see the New Year in with? If you’re someone who likes to host, you may also be thinking about getting your house into shape before the masses descend upon you for eating, drinking and general merriment. But what can you do to spruce the place up without spending a fortune? Here are some ideas:

Flooring

It doesn’t matter how perfect your paintwork is, if your flooring is worn or dated it can ruin the whole look of a house. One of the most economical and hardwearing ways to improve things is by putting down some laminate flooring. It won’t cost a fortune, it will last for decades and you won’t have to worry about someone spilling a glass of Christmas mulled wine on it (which you KNOW will happen if you put a new carpet down instead!)

De-Cluttering

Another thing which can massively improve the look of a house is de-cluttering. If you get rid of stuff you don’t want and keep surfaces as clear as possible, it can even make your rooms look bigger and improve your health because of the reduction in collected dust. If you sell anything of value, you could even make yourself a few quid in the process!

Woodwork

Sprucing up things like skirting boards and dado rails can give the room a much fresher look, and sometimes they simply need a wipe down with a wet cloth or Magic Sponge to get them looking nice again. Look at the bottoms of doors and the areas around handles which can often get grubby over time, especially if you’ve got kids or pets.

Sofas and Cushions

If your sofa cushion covers and throw cushion covers are washable, taking time to stick them through a wash cycle will have two positive benefits – as well as looking cleaner, they’ll smell nice too, which can make your whole living room smell nicer. If they’re compatible with fabric softener, opt for one of the strong smelling concentrated ones for maximum effect.

Carpet Cleaning

If you don’t have the option of ripping up your carpets and laying laminate (if you live in a rented property, for instance), hiring a carpet cleaner is a good alternative. It won’t cost much and will revive the carpets, leaving them looking cleaner and smelling much fresher. You can get spot stain removers and even anti-pet smell solutions which can get your carpet looking and smelling as good as new.