25 articles Tag shopping

Christmas Preparation

Christmas PreparationChristmas seems to come around earlier and earlier each year. There’s the long school term; a drag which seems to take forever, and when (mercifully) the summer holidays roll around, they seem to come and go in a flash and before you know it you’re faced with the onslaught of the silly season.

For many, what is supposed to be a joyous time surrounded by family and friends, becomes a stressful, unenjoyable holiday that feels like more hard work than the rest of the year. Thankfully you can take the edge off with some canny planning and a fresh outlook, and these are our favourite ways to take the stress out of your Christmas.

Budget (and stick to it)

Money is perhaps the biggest source of stress for families during the Christmas period. Gifts, food, drink, decorations, evenings out; the list is endless. Take the money worries away and you’re already 9/10 of the way towards an enjoyable yuletide season.

By writing yourself a strict budget you can work out how much you have to spend on each necessity and take away much of the indecision that comes with your Christmas shopping by sticking to your budget 100%. No compromising.

Write down all of your expenses, allot each one an amount and lock it down! If it isn’t on your list, kick in into touch.

The internet is your friend

Ordering gifts online is a huge time and money saver but many people forget that you can actually order much of your consumable Christmas wares online too. There are some excellent online butchers who can send you your meats and if you buy alcohol online you’ll likely save a fortune on supermarket prices. Once those boxes arrive with your gin,  turkey and other tasty treats, you’ll feel the relaxation descend. Guaranteed.

Be prepared to say goodbye to the Christmas rituals

Most families have things that they always do at Christmas time, whether it’s hauling themselves through the crowds to the local panto or making sure they watch their favourite Christmas films in the right order, but you don’t have to do the same things you do year on year. Krampus won’t sneak up on you in the middle of the night if you forego It’s a Wonderful Life and spend some time other things you enjoy. When things that are supposed to be fun become a chore, it’s time to cut them loose.

Your house, your rules

If you’re catering for friends and family over the Christmas period, you’re going to want to make them feel comfortable and well looked after, but all too often the hostess (or host) feels like they have to make a raft of changes just to sate their guests, and many of us have guests who are quite happy to be vocal about what they’d do, were they you. Here’s the thing though: they aren’t you. Your home shouldn’t be somewhere where you feel frozen out at the expense of others who are only around for the day – and drawing a firm line will let everyone know where they stand.

The emergency present

This isn’t a new one by any means, but budget for (and buy) an auxiliary gift that will suit anyone – chocolates, champagne, a diary or planner – and wrap it up, just in case you’re faced with an unexpected plus one or someone else that you might have overlooked. Just knowing that you have an emergency gift tucked away will allow you to relax that little bit more.

If your family is packed with kids, maybe include a child-friendly option, too.

Embrace your daily rituals

While we think it’s important to be flexible about saying ta-ra to your Christmas rituals, we think it’s integral that you maintain the things that make you tick day-on-day. If you go for a run every morning, take a bath before bed or enjoy a few pages of your book after lunch, make time for these things during Christmas. You’ll find it easier to keep your head in the game if your simple pleasures are there for you.

Remember Christmas is for you too

We all get caught up in process of making sure our loved ones get the presents they want and our guests are fed their favourite foods and everyone is happy and content – but you must remember that applies to you as well. When you’re doing your online booze shop, throw in that nice bottle of fizz you’ve been denying yourself all year, or treat yourself to some new clothes, so that you can feel on the top of your game come Christmas day. You’ll feel better for it and maybe (maybe) when next Christmas rolls around, you won’t dread it quite so much.

5 Great Luxury Gifts for Your Man

Let’s be honest with each other here, as much as they wind us up, husbands and boyfriends are pretty great (usually). They’re our partners through life, helping us each step of the way! So when it comes to a special event, or when you’re just feeling grateful, it’s nice to get them something super special; a luxury item that they’ll be really thankful for.

These moments of love are great but equally, they come with a lot of pressure. You want to make sure that whatever you gift you choose is amazing and perfect but what are the options? How can you be sure it’s the best one for him? Fortunately, here we have a list of great choices to get your cogs turning, hope it helps!

Watches

Watches are a classic choice. Luxurious, stylish and suitable for both casual and formal events, you can’t really go wrong with a quality timepiece. On top of the general elegance, watches also serve a practical purpose that you can use all-year round (a rarity in most luxury items), so not only are you supplying your significant other with an exclusive piece of menswear, you’re also giving a gift they can actually make USE of. Everyone knows that practical gifts are the best ones.

Cufflinks

Cufflinks are an essential part of any man’s formal ensemble. They’re subtle, they’re fashionable and they can add that little bit of pizzazz to his look. The best part about giving cufflinks as a gift is that they come in so many different styles, making it easy to pick out unique designs that complement your spouse’s specific tastes. Tateossian cufflinks are some of the most distinctive and impressive available, definitely worth checking out to add that extra wow factor to your man’s outfit.

Cologne

Cologne is a typical gift option. Nowadays, designer fragrances can cost a fortune, bumping them up to the ’luxury gift’ zone, but boy are they worth it! There are few things as great as when your partner smells REALLY good, it just makes them more irresistible. On top of the great effects of cologne, as you’ll be the one buying it you can make sure you love the scent before purchasing. It’s a fool proof plan that results in a great smelling better half! Just to help you on your mission for the best fragrance, here’s Forbes’ nine best men’s colognes of 2018.

Sunglasses

The summer months have passed and we’re slowly edging into winter but that doesn’t mean sunglasses are a bad gift choice. Great for any bright day, sunglasses are versatile and useful all year round. One of the best things about sunglasses is the massive variety available. Everyone has different tastes, different styles and different looks, so why not look through your partner’s wardrobe and get a few ideas of the colours that might work? Alternatively, just ask him what he likes! Use articles that show off multiple styles to help you make an informed decision and you’ll find the perfect pair in no time.

Wallets

Last but not least, wallets are one of the few items that most men carry around everywhere, meaning they’re always going to appreciate an upgrade. Before you make your purchase though, it’s worth doing a little research. Take a look at what your partner’s wallet looks like already because clearly, they like that style, then find another that emulates it. It’s also worth keeping in mind the features available and the habits of your significant other. Does he carry change all the time? Then a coin pocket would be appropriate. Does he have LOADS of cards? Then make sure that whatever you pick has enough space to fit all of them. Regardless, there are so many styles of wallet available today that you should be able to find a suitable one easily.

These formal menswear gifts are great but there are hundreds of other luxury options, so don’t be afraid to experiment and pick out something your partner would love. Often the most unusual gifts are also the most thoughtful and the most loved.

Travelling in the U.K. #ExploringCheshire

If there’s one thing that Husband and I have realised this summer it’s that we want to do more stuff as a family all year round. We put so much pressure on ourselves in the holidays to pack in the days out and activities that we’re all a bit burnt out and the holidays seem to disappear in the blink of an eye. We decided that if we did more stuff for the rest of the year, there wouldn’t be a big rush in the 6-week break and we could enjoy it all a bit more.

We’ve vowed to travel more within the UK and see more of our lovely isles, and one place we’d like to go is Cheshire. It’s a great county with so much to offer (and it helps that it’s home to a lot of players from our beloved Liverpool FC!), and the lovely folk at Laurus Homes have made a really interesting infographic to show some of the best parts of the area:

Cheshire

Here are some of the places we’d love to visit:

Blue Planet Aquarium Ellesmere Port

Blue Planet is the largest aquarium in the North West and you can view Europe’s largest collection of sharks through our captivating 71-metre underwater tunnel – you can even swim with them! It’s also home to over 100 living displays and thousands of marine creatures from around the world, so you’re bound to find something fun for the whole family!

Nantwich Jazz, Blues and Music Festival

These days, I’m a bit too much of a lightweight for the intense environments of most music festivals, but one which showcases the best jazz and blues sounds right up my alley!

McArthur Glen Cheshire Oaks

The only thing I love more than shopping is getting a massive bargain and this retail park in Cheshire is a designer outlet, home to shops which give massive discounts off of designer brands!

Where in Cheshire would you love to visit?

The Ultimate Summer Holiday Shopping List

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplashpacking, 

The holidays should be a time to de-stress and have fun. One way to make sure that’s a reality is to get on top of everything you’ll need for your summer vacation!

Read on for your ultimate summer shopping list that’ll ensure your holiday is one to remember for all the right reasons.

Clothes and safe shades for cool kids

Get the kids set for summer with some sunglasses that have a high Eye Protection Factor (EPF). Those that are rated 9 and 10 block out almost all UV radiation. Not only will they look super adorable and stylish, but their eyes will be protected from sun’s harsh rays.

It’s also good to make sure that you’re bringing the clothes your children will actually need to wear. Pack tons of shorts and T-shirts so the kids can be active and have fun, as well as protective swimwear. If you’re spending all day at the beach, rash guard swimsuits are perfect. They come in seriously cute and colorful designs, so what’s not to love?

Bags and suitcases

Determine what kind of luggage you’re going to need for your trip. If you’re catching a flight, perhaps the kids can have their own carry-on suitcases. Not only will it give them a little independence and responsibility, but it’s less you’ll have to carry around yourself! Kids having their own little bags with quick-access compartments will mean a more comfortable, stress-free trip for everyone. A definite win-win!

Clothes and summer accessories for mom and dad

It can’t be all about the kids, right? Mom and dad deserve to look and feel fabulous while on holidays! Online shopping can be the best option for parents with limited time to go out shopping for themselves.

If you want to score yourself a bargain, you can find them on PromoCodeWatch. There’s an array of coupons to all your favorite stores, and you can even set up alerts to email you when there’s a sale or a great deal going.

Camera

The summer holidays are all about making memories that will last a lifetime, and what better way to remember the good times than with photographs?

You’ll want to get a camera that’s waterproof and shockproof, especially if any of the little ones are budding photographers. There are many compact cameras on the market, so you can pop one in your bag and always have it ready to capture special family moments.

Sun cream

This one is definitely a must-have! If you’re going to be in the sun all day, you need to be smart and protect yourself and your family. Aim for a sunscreen with SPF 50, though 30 will do too, and apply it every few hours.

Don’t be left red-faced, literally, by forgetting this. Nothing will ruin your holiday more than everyone complaining about their uncomfortable sunburn.

The Things You Can do Online Without Leaving Home!

OnlineWhen I was a kid, I spent a lot of time with my Nan, and I remember a lot of her days seemed to be a real slog. Instead of going to the supermarket for one big shop, she’d go to the butchers, the greengrocers, a general shop for cleaning stuff and cupboard essentials and then to Marks’ for what she called her “bits”.

Then came anything money related, which meant a weekly trip to the Post Office to get her pension and pay some bills, then to the building society to pay money into other accounts…it’s truly mind boggling when you consider how much we do online from home these days! It got me thinking about things I never thought I’d be able to do from home…

Socialising

I don’t know whether this one is a good thing or not, but I personally love the fact that I can still interact with my friends without leaving the comfort of my own home. Social media means I can keep in touch with friends and family who I might not see from one year to the next, which is a truly wonderful thing in my opinion.

Gambling

I won’t lie, I do love a flutter every now and again and being able to go to a live casino online without even having to get out of my pyjamas is a bit of a novelty! Watching the spin of the roulette wheel on my screen is such a thrill, and it’s even better if I win!

Banking

Just recently, Husband and I sold a phone on Facebook and were paid in cash, which I took to the bank to pay in and it occurred to me that it was the first time in about three years that I’d stepped foot inside an actual branch! Husband and I do all of our banking online, usually through a phone app and rarely need to go to the bank in person.

Shopping

Just as with the bank, my trips to a High Street are few and far between. I avoid the shops as much as humanly possible and MUCH prefer shopping online…although the amount of returns that I have to do are too darn high sometimes!!

What do you do online that would have been a massive chore for your parents or grandparents?

5 Ways to Save Money Ahead of Summer

save moneyI don’t know about you, but for us, this always seems to be an expensive time of year. Between birthdays, holidays, needing to spruce up the garden and all the other expenses that pop up, I seem to be spending money hand over fist at the moment. Because of this, I’ve been thinking about ways to save, so that we’re not skint by the time summer is over, and these are some of the things I came up with:

Shop Around

Recently, we needed to buy a new tumble drier, because our ancient one wasn’t really up to the job anymore, and because it was a big purchase we decided to shop around to make sure we got the best price. There are sites to look up the cheapest prices in the UK for just about everything you want to buy, and we scoured these before making our purchase.

Check Your Tarrifs

This is a great time of year to make sure you’re not paying over the odds for all of your bills, including gas, electricity, mobile bills, internet and TV. Providing you’re not at the beginning of a new contract, there is often room to negotiate with your service providers and could find yourself saving a significant amount each month (I recently did this with our BT will and am saving almost £40 per month on that one bill!

Scrimp on Fuel

Do you take the car on unnecessary short journeys where it would actually be possible to walk instead? I know SO many people who drive when they could walk and they’d save loads across the course of the month if they left the car at home. There are also websites and apps which tell you which petrol stations nearby are the cheapest, allowing you to get the best value there, too.

Use What’s in the House

We’re naughty when it comes to food and tend to buy our meals on a day-to-day basis, but recently I decided that we were going to actually use up what was in the house. It meant a few days of slightly odd meals that you probably wouldn’t eat ordinarily, but it saved us from buying new stuff and helped make space in the cupboard and freezer for new shopping.

Check Your Subscriptions

I know so many people who subscribe to the full TV package and never watch the channels, or have services like Netflix, Disney Life or Amazon TV and rarely use them. Do a stock-take of all of your subscriptions, including newspapers and magazines, and ditch any that you barely use.

How do you save money?

Sausage’s Ninth Birthday Gift Guide

In just twelve short days Sausage, my tiny ginger bundle of happiness and wild imagination, will be turning nine. I genuinely cannot get my head around the fact that I’ve been a mother for NINE whole years, and I’m so proud of the amazing little human she’s become. On the down-side, Husband and I have discovered that shopping for an almost-nine year old is so much harder than it was to shop for an 8-year old. She’s less interested in toys and more interested in Dr. Martens and ear piercings (she’s just had her second lobe piercing and now is basically the coolest kid in her whole school!).

We’ve been wracking our brains about what to buy for her and, aside from consulting BannerExperts for her birthday banner, have come up with a few suggestions so far, and I thought I’d share a few of them with you here:

Converse

She’s already got a leather black-on-black pair which she wears as school shoes, as well as a silver pair, but she’s definitely her mother’s daughter in her love of Converse so I reckon another pair in a super colour or print would go down really well. Clothes become a much more viable gift when they’re this age, so this is definitely on the list for this year.

Perfume

Okay, so this is much a present for me as it is for Sausage – she’s suddenly developed a bit of a fascination with my perfume collection, which is fine, but my bottles aren’t cheap and hey seem to be running out FAR too quickly! Vivienne Westwood make scents which smell incredible but are also a little bit edgy – she’s quite into her punky stuff at the moment, so a perfume made by the woman to styled the Sex Pistols will definitely go down well!

Jewellery

Sausage is a major accessoriser; no outfit is complete for her without co-ordinating earrings, a few bracelets and a necklace, not to mention the hair bows! She’s got such a gorgeous, unique style that I’m always in awe of, and Husband and I love encouraging her individuality. As I mentioned above, she’s now got her ears pierced twice on each lobe so the potential for new earrings has doubled! She’s already got her eye on some which are specific for double piercings, which a little chain between the two and they definitely fit her new punky look.

Roller Skates

She’s not massively into toys anymore but one thing that she has mentioned wanting is a pair of roller skates. Full disclosure: I HATE the idea of roller skates!! For me, they’re a one-way ticket to fractured wrists and bruised coccyges, but I can’t wrap her up in cotton wool forever…as much as I’d love to!

A Keyboard

She’s mentioned wanting to learn an instrument for a while now and although we don’t have space in our house for a full piano, we DO have room for a decent electric keyboard. She already owns a little one that she got a few Christmases ago, but that’s more of a toy, so we want to get her one with a full set of keys so that she can learn to play properly. It’ll fit in our dining room nicely with a proper stand and a stool.

Do you have a nine year old? What did they want for their birthday? Leave me a comment below!

Styling the New Me

I’m still nowhere near the end of my weightloss journey, but I have lost enough now to notice that many of my clothes are now miles too big. This was okay when the weather was cold and I could just wear belts on the jeans and chuck a hoody on, but now it’s summer again (or at least pretending to be!) I’m finding it a lot harder. A few weeks ago, I decided to get my summer dresses out and all but one of them hung off of me like a potato sack! I’m not keen to to go and spend a fortune on a whole new wardrobe but I think there are probably a few key items that I can buy which won’t look outrageous once I’ve gone down another dress-size or two.

The thing I’m really struggling with though, is HOW to dress. Since gaining weight, I tend to opt for The Mum Uniform which consists of a selection of t-shirts, skinny jeans and cardigans. Every single outfit I wear is some variation on this theme and while I’m not planning to get to a size 10 and suddenly start going out in hotpants, I don’t really know what my style even is anymore. The last time I enjoyed shopping and was even ABLE to shop in non-plus-size shops, I was in my very early twenties, newly married and child-free. Now that I’m a mother of two and in my thirties, I feel quite stumped.

For summer, I reckon maxi dresses are a good bet. Any that I buy now will hopefully be too big by next summer, but I’ve seen lots of people styling maxi dresses with a big belt, or even wearing ones which are really baggy, so I think that could be an investment worth making. They’re ‘girlie’ and summery but don’t bare loads of flesh which makes them ideal for school runs on a hot day.

I have noticed already that shopping is significantly easier JUST from loosing one dress size. Previously, shopping for an 18 meant that there were lots of places I couldn’t shop at all and my body shape made it impossible to find things which suited me. A few weeks ago, I went to a wedding reception and needed a dress. I was DREADING going shopping because it’s usually such an ordeal. I go from shop to shop, getting more upset and frustrated that I either can’t find anything I like or nothing fits me properly.

This time, however, I went to ONE department store, picked up about 5 dresses, tried them on and managed to find something I loved with just one trip to the changing rooms. It was probably the happiest shopping experience I’ve had in over a decade.

From now on, I’m going to try to keep a positive head on when I go shopping as I think it makes it much easier to find something I like, instead of getting into a funk in my head and not wanting to look any further. I may even take the liberty of using a personal shopper to help me find some items that I love at some point in the future!

What’s your shopping style? Have you had a body overhaul which has meant that you’ve needed a new wardrobe? Do leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear from you.

 

Black Friday Madness

I love a bargain as much as the next person. Probably more-so than some as I’ll never buy things without looking for a Voucheroo code first (Dominos pizza, I’m looking at you!) but I have to say, the whole Black Friday thing leaves me cold. I went into town today to pick something up from Waterstones and walked through Debenhams to get there, and it was genuinely the busiest I’ve EVER seen it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m ill at the moment or what, but being in such a busy shop made me feel a bit panicky.

The thing is, I’ve not actually seen a single bargain online OR in shops which represents anything even close to a decent saving. People are going crazy for items that they probably don’t even need at prices which aren’t even that good. It’s just not British!

I did a cursory Google of “Black Friday crimes” and found stories dating back years of shoppers punching each other for the last discounted TV and even several stories of people pulling GUNS on other shoppers to get the best bargains. I found a report that showed that, since 2006 7 people have been killed doing Black Friday shopping and a further 98 have been injured.

According to Wikipedia “During Black Friday 2010, a Madison, Wisconsin woman was arrested outside of a Toys ‘R’ Us store after cutting in line, and threatening to shoot other shoppers who tried to object. A Toys for Tots volunteer in Georgia was stabbed by a shoplifter. An Indianapolis woman was arrested after causing a disturbance by arguing with other Wal-Mart shoppers. She had been asked to leave the store, but refused. A man was arrested at a Florida Wal-Mart on drug and weapons charges after other shoppers waiting in line for the store to open noticed that he was carrying a handgun and reported the matter to police. He was discovered to also be carrying two knives and a pepper spray grenade. A man in Buffalo, New York, was trampled when doors opened at a Target store and unruly shoppers rushed in, in an episode reminiscent of the deadly 2008 Wal-Mart stampede.”

I mean…it’s surely not just me who thinks that’s insane, surely? It’s capitalism at it’s ugliest.

I will admit to not being a hugely covetous person. I was massively frivolous with money when I was younger and it’s taken a long time for me to go the other way and show a bit of frugality, but I don’t really crave the newest cars or clothes which is probably why I don’t feel the desperate need to go out and spend a load of money on one day of the year. Maybe if the bargains were better I’d be a bit more inclined to get involved, but nothing really seems THAT cheap to me.

What do you think? Are you banging down the doors of your local department stores to get a few quid off or are you like me and a little bemused by it all? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Kids Autumn/Winter with Petit Bateau

Something that I love about shopping online is that I can source things which are a little bit different to what you’d normally find on the High Street. This is especially great for finding clothes for Sausage and Burrito Baby as I do love dressing them to accentuate their unique personalities, which is why I was happy when Petit Bateau asked me to put together an outfit for each of them from their new Autumn/Winter range.

Sausage is pushing boundaries with her fashion choices at the moment. She loves to be a little bit different (hence the pink hair during the holidays!) and relishes bucking against what girls in her class would be wearing. BB likes to wear things that look “pweety” (yep, that’s how she says it!) but which also allow her to charge around and don’t impede her running/climbing/dog riding. Here’s what I chose for them:

 

Petit Bateau

 

Petit Bateau by jayne-crammond on Polyvore

Grey is one of my favourite colours for clothing at the moment and I think the grey jeans make such a nice alternative to blue or black, which is what you see on most people. Sausage and BB both look amazing in most colours, but Sausage looks especially fantastic in autumn/winter palates because of her wild red hair, while BB looks great in more neautral shades because of her blond locks and pink cheeks.

I actually wnjoy shopping for the girls SO much more than shopping for myself, so spending an afternoon scouring a site and choosing things for them is a real treat! Have you shopped with Petit Bateau before? Do you enjoy shopping for your kids? What would you choose from the Petit Bateau ranges? Leave me a comment below!