What Are Benefits of Having An Artificial Christmas Tree?

I’ve got no loyalty when it comes to the never-ending debate of real versus artificial Christmas tree. I’m avoiding the word fake, on the grounds of attempting to eradicate all negativity from my life over the festive season.and fake being a negative word. My PMA is through the roof right now as I push bad thoughts away and saying fake, to me, reeks of things trying (and failing) to match something good.

I say fake, what comes to your mind? fake snow, yeah, that’s total pants. Fake money, worlds worst practical joke, how fake boobs, see where I’m going with this? I’d be lying if I hadn’t contemplated it. Being a size 6 has it’s good and bad points, but I’m still not convinced I’d pull off fake boobs at 90 in the nursing home when everything else has gone south. replace it with artificial and boom, it’s a little more woolly. We tried to make it real, but the nearest we got was artificial.

We’re not mentioning the F-word.

So, cleared that up and now back to my question, what are the benefits of having an ARTIFICAL Christmas tree

Now, this is where I’m struggling with an air of authenticity. You see, I’m typing this while sitting 10 foot away from a glorious real Christmas tree. It smells lush, it looks lush and the dog is well impressed we have some greenery in the house. In all my years of home owning (about 20 now, I think) I’ve only had a real tree 3 times, this year is the 1st time I’ve gone out and bought it myself.

I've been pondering over the difference of going real and not having an artificial Christmas tree. There are benefits to both....Years past have always seen the big decorating day begin with the assembling of the artificial tree. And I’ve been pondering over the difference not having an artificial one this week.

Decorating Is Totally different.

This light bulb moment popped into my head as I looked at the mish-mash of decoration on my tree, and for the tenth time that day rehung the ones which the dog and the 3-year-old had knocked off. There’s less pressure to decorate a real tree.

Instead, it’s just a case of aiming for the most sticky out branches with very little attention to detail. Yet here’s the thing though…… I like that attention to detail.

I like carefully arranging a theme of colours and alternating between things that wrap around and things which dangle. I like making sure my mathematical mind is satisfied that everything is in its place and pattern. I’d go as far as to say my strategically arranged artificial Christmas tree made me proud and when visitors came through the door I’d wait for that,

“wow doesn’t your tree look amazing!”

compliment.

Other than the odd comment on my current tree having a nice shape, not one person has complimented my decorating skills. And let’s face it, who does love a compliment?

Maintenance is key

Or not if you’re talking artificial. I was the proud owner of my last artificial tree for, give or take, 5-6 years. That poor thing was pushed down the stairs in its box as I navigated it down from the loft then rammed back into a box when it was time to say goodbye. There was no remembering to water it (something I didn’t realise you had to do with my first one which was in a very sorry state by Christmas day, I was young and inexperienced, don’t judge me.) There was no panicking everytime the kids got a little hyped up, and there was no working out what to do with it once it’s served its purpose.

You would never see my artificial tree lying in my front garden shamelessly waiting for the Christmas tree fairies to take it away.

An artificial tree is a good investment.

And finally, I’ve done the maths, and if I was to invest in a new artificial tree for say £100 and kept it for 5 years, (or more!) then that’s worked out a lot cheaper than buying a real one each year. Now don’t get me wrong, my £30 real tree IS glorious and I do not regret buying it one bit. The real bonus, I guess, was being able to support a local business.

But will I do it again next year?

I’m still undecided.

But……..

I’d be lying if I didn’t look at my mums with a little envy, sitting all perfectly proportioned with it’s perfectly arranged decorations and wonder if I’ll go back to an artificial tree next year?

I've been pondering over the difference of going real and not having an artificial Christmas tree. There are benefits to both....Disclaimer. 

This is a collaborative post 

Follow:
Share:

Keeping Toddlers Healthy Over Christmas

Simply having a Toddler-Sized Christmas time

Earlier this year I took part in the Toddler-Sized challenge, encouraging parents to use the evidence-based guidance on feeding toddlers, developed by the Infant & Toddler Forum, into something easy and practical. For me, it helped to take the guess work out of feeding my toddler healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks.  T

Along with my own ideas on how to create toddler sized lunch boxes, there were many others who took part in the challenge and you can meet the winners here. And the advice now extends to the festive season with the Infant & Toddler Forum’s festive menu to give little ones a healthy balance, while still enjoying some treats while the festive tips for active toddlers give lots of active play ideas.

Infant & Toddler Forum’s festive menu to gives little ones a healthy balance, as well as tips for active toddlers

Toddler menu and healthy hints and tips for a happy festive season

Christmas is a time for families to be together, to relax and to celebrate the season. It can also be a time of extra pressure as families get swept up in the holiday madness of parties, shopping and cooking! In such a busy period, everyday routines may go out of the window, and it can be hard to keep track, and make sure your toddler is eating the right foods in the right amounts and in the right balance. Some toddlers may become extra sensitive as routine changes influence moods. Nap-times are essential for toddlers but at Christmas these may be later or cut short, not to mention meals and snacks may be rushed and regular activity may get forgotten.

To help make the most of this busy period, the Infant & Toddler Forum has developed resources to help maintain a happy, active and healthy holiday season for all. Our festive tips for active toddlers (see below) have plenty of ideas to keep the little ones busy, and our festive menu is full of suggestions to give little ones a healthy balance at Christmas dinner, while still enjoying all the seasonal fun.

Facts and stats on parent toddler diet confidence

A recent parent survey (parents of children 1 – 5yrs) by the Infant & Toddler Forum found that:

  • Only 14% of parents follow the recommended serving frequency for each of the food groups when feeding their toddlers
  • Over a third (35%) are worried they do not give their children the right balance of foods and more than a quarter (26%) feel their child is not getting enough variety
  • Whilst 80% of parents correctly identified the key food groups that when combined form a balanced diet, only a third (28%) take the advice given to them by experts on what they should be feeding their children

Infant & Toddler Forum’s festive menu to gives little ones a healthy balance, as well as tips for active toddlers Infant & Toddler Forum’s festive menu to gives little ones a healthy balance, as well as tips for active toddlers

Disclaimer
This is a collaborative post 
Follow:
Share:

Why I’m not Doing Elf On The Shelf This Christmas

I’ve been looking at all the Christmassy posts firing up on my social media and already I’m starting to feel like a total mum fail. I’m not going to lie, I’ve seriously toyed with the idea of doing the Elf on the shelf thing, but talked myself out of it at the 11th hour on the grounds that my 3-year-old is oblivious, and do I actually need any added pressure in my life right now? (the answer is no, no I do NOT need anything more to do right now.)

I have a good few years ahead of me where I will have to do these things, so if I can put it off for one more year then that’s a no-brainer, throw in the fact that he’s not here for a couple of weekends as he visits his dad, and my imagination couldn’t even begin to stretch to how I’d get around that obstacle.

So it got me thinking, am I right in trying to minimise stress at this time of year or is it part of the parcel? Am I total Rubbish Mum Scrooge?

I’m usually quite a level-headed person, don’t get me wrong, there are occasions where I lose the plot and things get the better of me. Like trying to get out the door in the morning, even 17 years on, I’ve not cracked the parenting code of the pressure to get out in an orderly manner. And ex-husbands, don’t even go there! But 90% of the time I’m total ‘what ev’s.’ But this morning, while chatting with my mum about how ace my sister and cousin are at doing the whole parenting thing, I found I had to justify my whole approach to the festive season.

Not wanting to throw the whole single mum card around too much, but it’s hard sometimes not having a backup person to remind you to move the bloomin’ Elf. I also know, had I chose to go along with thinking up new and exciting ways for our Elf to tantalise the toddler each night, that pretty soon the novelty would wear off and I’d resent him. That by week 2 I would wake regularly in the early hours of the morning in total panic as I’d forgotten all about him, and anyway, I rarely get enough sleep as it is. So if my current health aim is getting a good nights sleep it is bonkers that I’m even considering introducing something into my life which will make it worse. Right?

It’s not that I think it’s a bad thing, kudos to all the parents who are doing it right now. And please do keep sharing on social media as I’m making a mental note of ideas for next year. But this parent, the one who’s already staring at a long list of to-do’s of present buying, wrapping, Christmas events, card writing, putting up decorations and wondering how the chuff she’s going to get everything done before the big day is here, while working and adulting. Then sheesh, I need to cut myself some slack and face facts, there simply is no room in my life for an elf this year.

But for those of you who are wondering, what has happened to the Elf, who is yet to be named. He is here, busy keeping guard of all the badly hidden presents on top of my wardrobe.

I've seriously toyed with the idea of doing the Elf on the Shelf thing, but talked myself out of it at the 11th hour and here's why...

Follow:
Share:

Christmas Dinner Made Easy with HelloFresh

There’s definitely a recurring theme on here this month; I’ve already hinted that you can make Christmas shopping easier with prefilled stockings, how you can tick off some of that list for your label-loving person in your life and now I bring good news about a great, stress free way to simplifying the Christmas day dinner with a HelloFresh Christmas box.

I’m no stranger to HelloFresh deliveries and have written about them a couple of times already so it’s no surprise that I’m a big fan of their festive box. For those not in the know, HelloFresh is a subscription meal delivery which you cook from scratch. You get an easy-to-follow-recipe card and high quality, pre-portioned fresh ingredients so they time allocated on each card it true, there’s no weighing or measuring. It also takes the hassle out of planning your meals for the week, I’m terrible at thinking of new things to cook, most weeks, I don’t have time to browse through with my recipe books, HelloFresh is a much quicker way of making sure my family get fresh, healthy meals.

And the Christmas box is no different.

You get all ingredients, including a turkey, along with a step by step recipe card. It starts you off prepping for the day before, giving times and foolproof instructions. And with the music cranked up, it was all girls in the kitchen (although had I not been severely jet lagged, I’m pretty sure I’d have managed to cook this on my own.)

On the menu were;

Butter Basted Roast Turkey with Pigs in Blankets

The BEST Rosemary Roast Potatoes

Creamy Brussel Sprouts with Garlic and Pancetta

Honey & Thyme Roasted Root Veggies

Slow Cooked Spiced Red Cabbage with Apples

Rich and Delicious Make Ahead Gravy

This was the first time I’d make a ‘proper’ gravy, like mums do, and was absolutely lush, it’s quite hard to pick out a favourite from everything we cooked. The slow cooked spiced red cabbage got a huge thumbs up, the creamy brussel sprouts with garlic and pancetta were probably, at a push, top of my yum list. (for the record, I’m in camp brussels, and cooked this way took that bitter taste away making them even more delicious.

I bring good news about a great, stressfree way to simplifying the Christmas day dinner with a HelloFresh Christmas box.

 

Our box came pre packed with enough to feed 4 people, but I’d say it would feed a couple more comfortabl,  no need to worry if there’ll be enough. HelloFresh offers Christmas boxes for 4, 6, 8 or 10 people with the option of adding a pudding on. At £69.99 for the 4 person box, it’s not the cheapest way of doing Christmas dinner, but you’re guaranteed fresh quality ingredients (which I can vouch for having used them for over a year now on and off.) And it saves time on going out to buy everything, it’s almost too easy having a box delivered straight to your door.

It almost like cheating, but I’m all for time savers and as I said previously, there was more than enough for 4 people so you’ll still get your boxing day bubble and squeak!.

I bring good news about a great, stressfree way to simplifying the Christmas day dinner with a HelloFresh Christmas box.

Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post, I was gifted a HelloFresh Christmas box for the purpose of this review 

Follow:
Share:

Clever Christmas Shopping With Hawkins Bazaar

Is there really any need for the Christmas rush?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the last minute dash into town to grab the last few presents, it’s part of the final countdown. What I’m not happy about is the lack of time to mooch around the shops at a leisurely pace and buy things as I go, that seriously kills my budget! Or then there’s getting to Christmas eve and having a niggling doubt that I’ve forgotten to buy for one of my 2 children (once you get past 2 kids, it’s easy to overlook one! Or that just me?)I (try) to stick to a budget for each of my boys, all exactly the same and this in its self is a whole maths game as I write down what I’ve bought and tot up the numbers, sibling equality is a HUGE thing for me, as it always was for my parents.

I (try) to stick to a budget for each of my boys, spending exactly the same of each of them which, in its self is a whole maths game as I write down what I’ve bought and tot up the numbers. Sibling equality is a HUGE thing for me, as it always was for my parents. And guess what! I’ve found a much seasier way of saving time, making sure you’ve got the spending all fair and square AND no child is going to wake up on Christmas morning eyeballing their brothers stocking fillers while they sit peeling their satsuma, muttering “worst Christmas ever” under their breaths.

(Should probably add, that’s never happened and that my boys haven’t been brought up to be like that, but it’s still something I’m conscious of)

Why Choose Hawkins Bazaar?

So anyway, that thing I’m hinting at is a Hawkins Bazaar pre-filled stockings. I’ve had a gander at the teenage boys and young boys sets and am feeling very smug right now that I’m well on my way to completing my shopping, giving me more time for Christmas movies and finding a new set of sparkly heels to dance away the festive season.

Weighing in at £25 each and filled with over £50 worth of stocking fillers it’s a no-brainer really. This shop has been my go-to for stocking fillers for many years, so I was fairly confident at taking the plunge and letting them choose what would be suitable for my requirements. In the past, I’ve spent time trying to find the best offers and make the biggest savings. Buying a pre filled stocking, with double the value contents saves all that bother.

What’s Inside?

The Teenager boys (14 plus) stocking came with some great little presents which were perfect for my Marvel loving boys as well as a few thing I wouldn’t have considered buying but actually, I think they would like. I forget about getting toys now they’re older, but in reality, I think they’d quite like the silly little things like the wind-up zombie and model plane kit. Chalk mug, mmmm, not sure I’m looking forward to seeing what they write on these!

Is there really any need for the Christmas rush? The Hawkins Bazaar pre-filled stockings made my Christmas shopping a breeze.

As for the boy’s 3 plus stocking, this is just what I would’ve bought, I’m not keen on the tattoos, have you ever tried to get those things off? but it’s not about what I like, is it! Great to see some old favourites in there too. No childhood is complete without watching a wooden, fluffy haired bird pecking his way down a metal pole. Same goes for the collapsing toy and I’m sensing some Christmas day races with these glider kits!

Is there really any need for the Christmas rush? The Hawkins Bazaar pre-filled stockings made my Christmas shopping a breeze.

Actually feeling REALLY smug right now, that was such an easy a way to get a start on the Christmas shopping! Next stop, sparkly shoes

Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post

Follow:
Share: