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12 reviews before Christmas: 3) Peppa Pig Electronic Learning toys

Next up in my 12 reviews before Christmas, I have a fun and educational gift idea great for little ones who love a certain pink pig character...

Ethan is just like most toddlers and has been an avid Peppa Pig fan from an early age. I don't know what it is about Peppa, George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig but kids just seem to go crazy for it!

At age three and a half, Ethan is well into learning phonics at preschool and we're keen to held support his learning, and any toy which is fun to play with but has an educational purpose too has to be a great idea if you ask me.

So, when Santa comes down the chimney, he will be delivering to our little boy Peppa's Alphaphonics Campervan (RRP £19.99).

12 reviews before Christmas: 2) Scarlett and Mustard

In the second instalment in my 12 reviews before Christmas, I have a delicious foodie brand to introduce you to that you might like to try, or that you may think of when doing your Christmas shopping...

I am a real food lover at heart and Christmas is the best time of year to indulge. It's the law, isn't it, to fill up on lots of tasty treats? For me, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without festive food and trying out new flavours.

A great gift idea that I really enjoy putting together for others is a hamper, filled with different foods and nibbles that they might like. It shows you've given real thought and you can select all sorts of things that might tickle their tastebuds.

And you're likely to find something just like that from Scarlett and Mustard.

In their words: 'All our stuff is made with the best, zingiest, freshest ingredients we can find, and we don't use any additives, colourings or flavourings. Just add food!"

...days out: What the Ladybird Heard at Town Hall Birmingham - exclusive competition!

We are big fans of the wonderful children's author Julia Donaldson in our house. Not a night goes by when we aren't reading one of her stories, from the classic The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child (last night's choices) to A Squash and A Squeeze and Stick Man.

We tool Ethan to see Stick Man live at Town Hall Birmingham a couple of months ago and, as a Christmas treat, we're going to be enjoying What the Ladybird Heard there on 28th December - and Ethan is going to be thrilled!

Here's what it's all about:

Two crafty robbers, one tiny ladybird, and a whole farmyard of fun! Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len have a cunning plan to steal the farmer’s fine prize cow. But they reckon without the tiniest, quietest creature of all: The Ladybird has a plan of her own!
Book early for this glittering family treat. Join the woolly sheep, the hairy hog, the fat red hen and the dainty dog in this stage adaptation of Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monks’ colourful farmyard adventure. With live music, puppetry, plenty of audience participation and lots of laughs!

Read on to find out about my exclusive competition...

12 reviews before Christmas: 1) Harley Street Hair Clinic hamper

'Tis the season to primp, preen and pamper and to treat yourself and your loved ones to new things. With Christmas shopping in full swing and Christmas parties on the horizon too, I wanted to share a variety of snappy product reviews with you over the next couple of weeks in case they give you some gift giving inspiration - or if there's anything you'd like to try or ask Santa for...

1) Harley Street Hair Clinic hamper

I don't know about you, but the colder weather has really started taking its toll on my skin and on my hair. I have quite dry hair anyway and it can be quite fine and fragile too, so it was in the need for some TLC... and a lovely hamper from Harley Street Hair Clinic arrived just in time.

...crafts: make a jam jar snow globe

I've always loved snow globes and wanted to buy one for Ethan for his first Christmas. They're so beautiful to look at and I think they literally encapsulate the magic of the season - the scene in The Santa Clause when Tim Allen gives his son a snow globe so he can always see where his dad is gets me every time.

I love the beautiful designs you can get from Disney and I'm sure that we'll buy one of these in the future, but I decided after reading Kirstie's Christmas Crafts that I wanted to make one for my boy myself. Every year now, this had pride of place on our dresser.

...lifestyle: 5 of the Best Freebie Sites in the UK

* Guest post 

There are advantages to becoming a first-class freebie hunter, not only are there times in which it can help your daily budget, it can also help you to gain early access to products that have not yet hit the shelves.

Who doesn't love a good freebie? Fortunately there are many sites on the web happy which provide them. Although many will list various products that are the same, it is crucial to make sure that you are not wasting your time sorting through rubbish and are in fact going to the best ones.

There are many alleged freebie sites which offer fake freebies, for example “free minutes” if you spend a ton of money on a contract for a new mobile phone. Who wants to deal with that? So make sure you do not spend your precious time sorting through freebie sites that are bogus.

Here are our top favourites which we ourselves have tried out:

This friendly to use webpage offers over one thousand listed freebies. Every day, five to six freebies are added to the site, this means that there is always something new.

Many of the listed freebies are samples, so you are able to get your hands on all kinds of products, including toys, shampoo, chocolate and products. We personally love the perfume samples due to the fact that many times they can be quite useful is you are travelling or staying over somewhere else.

They have a tips and hints section which is quite useful and offers advice on how to take the most advantage from freebie offers, for example through creating an alternate email address. You are also able to sign up to their app which will let you, even when on the move, see the latest freebies they gave to offer. 

...days out: 5 fun festive things to do at Thomas Land Drayton Manor and top tips when visiting this Christmas

Ethan has been a Thomas the Tank Engine fan from an early age and at the weekend, we visited Thomas Land at Drayton Manor for only the third time to have a fun family day out and celebrate the start of the festive season - including our first trip this Christmas time to see Santa in his grotto.

It was a beautiful day - perfect for a day out and about, with blue skies and a slight chill in the air but not too much to put you off being outdoors for most the day - and our little man had been so excited. We were too; Ethan has grown up so much since our last visit, and of course even more so than the first time I took him for the day two years ago. There's a lot to do at Drayton Manor and Ethan is at just the right age (three and a half) and importantly, height (99cm to be precise) to enjoy all the rides that Thomas Land has to offer.

And boy, did he enjoy them all!

...food: 5 Places To Eat on Christmas Day in London

* Collaborative post

I don’t know about you, but in my family, Christmas lasts a whole lot longer than one day.  In fact, most of the rushing relatives, glazed hams, truckloads of presents and pageant preparation happen before the day itself.  By the time Christmas comes and the presents are dashed across the living room floor, I don’t feel like doing much of anything besides slipping a little bit of Santa’s special tipple into my coffee and kicking back.  Sometimes the best Christmas present for a mum and dad is a great takeaway or a restaurant that’s open on Christmas day, and if you live in London or will be visiting friends or family, you won’t have to look far.  

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