Blog : Little Lilypad Co

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The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad or our baby bloggers and occasionally we accept guest posts. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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  1. LLP - 10 Ways to Stay Debt Free this Christmas

    Christmas is a great time of the year spent with friends and family, enjoying the festivities, and having fun.  But it can also be a costly one, especially if you have children.  While there’s nothing wrong with using a credit card if you need to, there are ways to help you have a debt free Christmas and avoid paying for it well into next year.

    Budgeting

    We have said it before and while it isn't the most exciting solution, the key to a debt free Christmas is to budget for everything – and stick to it.  Parents in particular have the urge to go a bit nuts on their kids at Christmas and there’s nothing wrong with that but try to do it in a structured way.  Look at what you can afford to spend, divide it up across the various areas such as presents, food and social events and work out what you can spend on who.

    Save reward points

    Many of the big supermarkets have reward points systems and you can save these up for Christmas to help with the cost of the food.  Alternatively, some do swap systems, such as Tesco, where you can exchange £5 for £10 to spend in certain areas such as kids clothing.

    Take control & know when to stop

    Debt is a very personal issue and it can become increasingly difficult to talk about to those around you but it is better to take control than to stick your head in the sand. No one wants to be paying for Christmas presents long after the decorations have come down so for some people an IVA may enable them to get back in control of their money. It is imperative to get good advice from a company like Creditfix who have discrete and professional staff that work with individuals to find the best way to manage your debt problems.

    Grab a bargain

    Shopping early might seem like cheating but it is great way to get the bargains.  Events such as Black Friday may seem hyper-commercial but there can be some good deals to get.

    Shop around

    If you missed the bargains, all isn’t lost as you can still save money by shopping around, especially for the expensive items.  Use comparison sites to look at the price across different stores and don’t forget online ones. Whenever I find something I like online, I then open a new tab and the website + voucher codes in the search bar and it is amazing what comes up, from free delivery codes to first order discounts.

    Check voucher sites

    Following on from searching for codes, voucher sites are big business and are available for more than just food.  Check them out, sign up for emails and watch out for those discounts that are time sensitive or limited in number – you can save a serious amount of money with them.

    Use credit card rewards

    Likewise, some credit cards reward you for using them through the year so why not save up these rewards to use at Christmas and reduce the cost of the festive season.

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    Make handmade presents

    Kids love to make things and family members love to receive things the kids have made.  So why not use the excuse of cold, rainy days to make some handmade presents and save a bit of cash?  Small kits like friendship bracelets are also great for their school friends.

    Send photos as presents

    Family or fun photos of the kids are a great present, especially for family who live away from you and don't get to see your children growing up day by day.  Picture frames are inexpensive and can be decorated by the kids to add to the personalisation.

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    So while Christmas may be the season of giving, it is also a time to remember that being festive doesn't have to be expensive too.

    Do you have any money saving tips to add to this list?

  2. Enchanted Christmas Kingdom

    There is no escaping the fact that Christmas is looming and with a Santa experience available everywhere from the supermarket, school fetes or local garden centre, how do you choose the best place to go? We were invited along to Hatton Adventure World to experience their Enchanted Christmas Kingdom this year, so we gathered all the family up for a crisp November morning and set off in search of Santa and his reindeer.

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    Christmas Shopping Markets

    Before you even step inside Hattion Adventure World, you get to walk through some fabulous Christmas market stalls that are just there for the festive season. The stalls change week on week and you don't need to pay entrance to the park to enjoy the shopping experience either. There was so many fabulous Christmas themed gifts from handmade plaques and personalised pictures through to our particular favourites of gorgeous scented soy candles from Wicks of Water Orton. There wasn't a cash machine working on site during our visit, so it is definitely worth making sure you have some cash available if you want to shop in the market area. 

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    Zoobee's Christmas Cracker Show

    Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas at Hatton without Zoobee and his marvellous magic show. We have seen Zoobee a few times and every time is different and the Christmas Cracker Show doesn't disappoint. We won't tell you what happens as we don't want to ruin it but the jokes are as funny for the grown ups as much as the children!

    Farmyard Favourites

    No visit to Hatton Adventure World is complete without popping in to see (and feed) the farmyard animals and they have been given the festive treatment with tinsel and decorations around the farmyard too. The children love to feed the animals (but you need to double check as there are signs saying that not all the animals should be fed).

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    Writing A Letter To Santa

    All children love to write their letters to Santa and if your little ones haven't done so already, they can sit on a toadstool and write their list in the Arts and Crafts tent area before taking a trip to see the big man!

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    Christmas Decorations Making

    Hatton are all about children making memories and the Arts and Crafts area gives them a chance to make their own decoration to hang on your Christmas tree or personalise your own Christmas card or wreath. My girls loved this area and we actually went back again after we saw Santa as they wanted to make more things, after walking around for a few hours it was nice for us to sit down in the warm for half an hour or so too!

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    Reindeer Quest 

    Ooh we forgot to mention that upon arrival you are told that elves have (carelessly) lost the reindeers and you are tasked with trying to find them. They are hiding around Hatton find all [12] of them and you get to win a Christmas thank you prize! (which is chocolate so that works for us). While we were hunting the reindeer locations we actually came across a real one ....

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    One of the things I really liked about our day out at Hatton was that it wasn't overly crowded and as you are able to book a slot to see Santa, there are not huge queues (and bored children). The approach and entrance to the grotto is very twinkly and you could see the excitement building in the children's eyes. 

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    Children don't sit on Santa's knee anymore but Hatton had provided a wooden chair to sit on next to Santa. My youngest was a little shy so I got the chance to sit next to him too!! Santa must see A LOT of children but he was so welcoming and engaging with the children, making them laugh and even raising a smile from the 11 year old!

    The look on the children's faces when they were told their key meant they could pick any present they wanted was only surpassed by their expression when they saw the toy workshop and all of its offerings.

    So overall, what did we think?

    Hatton Adventure World has enough to do to fill a whole day out, so if you are used to paying a couple of pounds for a quick visit to see Santa in a local grotto it may seem a little expensive. However the earlier you go, the cheaper it is with prices increasing up to £19.95 in Christmas week. The prices here are on the gate prices, and the website says there are discounts if you book online in advance.

    So what are you waiting for? Go ho ho ho .....

  3. A month today is Christmas Eve ... how is that possible? 

    We are 11 months into the year and the children are keen to believe that the elves have been working hard all year, although I am still unsure as to how this actually works when the children only seem to write their lists in the last few weeks but I suppose that is all part of the magic isn't it?

    For many parents Christmas can be a mix of emotions from the excitement of sharing Christmas with the children to the stress of actually affording to pay for the gifts and festivities. 

    How to afford Christmas without breaking the bank

    So how do you afford a magical and (financially) stress free Christmas? Here are our top tips.

    Make a list and check it twice.

    Having a plan is my top tip! This includes creating a list of everyone you need to buy for and setting a budget. You then know what you need and then don't deviate from it! If you can agree present budgets with friends and family that is even better because no one likes feeling awkward when your gift is significantly more expensive (or cheaper) than theirs.

    Budget, budget, budget

    I am not talking about finding a way to make your pay packet last all the way through December and I know it is easy to say now we are in November but putting away a little bit of money every month can make life a lot easier when it comes to present buying at Christmas time. I am acutely aware that a lot of families don't always have disposable income to put £50 in the savings account every month, especially when you get requests for school trips or the children need new shoes but there is always an option of playing a couple of pounds with games online. I was asked by Lottoland to take a look at their site and as I am usually a bit cynical about the lottery, I wanted to take a look. The interesting part is that you are not actually purchasing a lottery ticket, instead, you are betting on the outcome of the lottery. This was a totally new concept for me as it is a form of betting that gives you the opportunity to play along and bet on lotteries that are not normally accessible to us. There is the EuroMillions, Irish Lottery and Powerball which is the American lottery which had the £1 billion jackpot ealier this year! So even if you played this for £1 a week, the chances of adding more pennies to your Christmas savings pot definitely has better odds than sitting in your piggy bank.

    Shop online 

    Christmas shopping may be fun but it’s a lot more interesting and a lot less stressful when you don’t have to battle the crowds. Most people now shop online in order to obtain bargain prices on gifts but that’s not the only thing that can be purchased online. Stocking up on your entire Christmas food order online and having it delivered will definitely help eliminate the stress of Christmas supermarket shopping.

    Give an IOU to your other half or best friend

    Instead of paying December prices, offer to take your partner or best friend shopping in the January sales. It means that you get a day out together at a fraction of the pre-Christmas cost. This is an especially good idea if you wanted to buy a joint present for the house (this does not mean a vacuum, in case my husband is reading this!!)

    Get cashback

    Whatever you are buying, make sure that you are getting cashback whether this is through an online site (there are so many to choose from) or with your own bank account. It makes total sense toget cashback on the gifts you are buying and you can start to put this into your 2017 Christmas fund!

     

    What are your top tips on affording Christmas?

     

  4. Have you seen it yet?

    Can you feel it?

    You know what I mean don't you? ..... The magic of Christmas of course!!

    Magic isn't just reserved for Christmas Eve, not when there is an Elf for Christmas involved in the build up to the 25th December. Sent from the North Pole, Elf reports on good behaviour to let Santa know if children are on the Naughty or Nice List. 

    This is the perfect way to create a modern family tradition, ‘Elf for Christmas’ is an enchanting toy and reward kit perfect for girls and boys aged two and over. You can choose from a girl or boy Elf and this charming toy brings fun and magic to your home throughout December – while promoting good behaviour and family engagement.

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    Where the magic really happens is in the Christmas Reward Kit - a unique package to help you bring the excitement of the Elf to life. The kit is designed for families with up to two siblings, includes an arrival letter from Santa explaining Elf's role in your home, a reward chart and stickers, mini report cards and certificates, which can all be used to promote kindness and good behaviour.  

     Win an Elf for Christmas

    Keep the festive spirit alive with Beware of the Elf signs for your door and a Thank You postcard to round off the magic in January. Also included is a Letter to Santa Claus template, ready to post your letters off to the big man himself, and a goodbye letter for when it's time for Elf to go back to the North Pole. Refill Kits can be purchased for larger families, or for annual use.

    Throughout December, you will receive unique personalised emails from Santa Claus, directly to your children or class, with information your Elf has learnt about you. It really is magic. All you need to do is believe it!

    In 2015, 34-year-old mum-of-two Sarah Greenwell put pen to paper and turned her magical Christmas Elf ideas into a product for her young children. From a kitchen table and an online store, Elf for Christmas was born. A sell-out in its first year, Elf was noticed by leading toy retailers, including Selfridges, who will stock Elf for Christmas this winter, so we are delighted to be able to give you the chance to win the "must have" Elf for Christmas just in time to let the mischief, mayhem and madness start!

    December will never be the same again......

    All you need to do is enter below!

     a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Terms & Conditions

    The Prize: Elf for Christmas 
    The winners will be chosen at random by the random winner generator on Rafflecopter and notified within 2 working days by email
    Elf for Christmas will make every effort to provide a choice of elf but this cannot be guaranteed
    By entering this competition, you understand that your details may be retained for future mailings. You can unsubscribe from this mailing list at any time.
    There is no monetary equivalent.
    Little Lilypad Co take no /responsibility for loss or damage in the despatch of prizes
    If the prize is unclaimed within 7 days we reserve the right to redraw the winner.
    End Date 28/11/2016 at 12am