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, when he is not relaxing in one of our best recliners, 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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Category: Views & Ramblings

  1. Is it the end of the classic birthday party?

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    We’ve an important matter to discuss today. I’m having trouble with a genuine pondering. Perhaps you can help me out?

    Yesterday we went to a birthday party that had party games. Proper pass the parcel and general craziness. I loved it. It led me to wonder whatever happened to old-school birthday parties, and why am I arranging extravagant birthfest fiestas year in year out? Why are children receiving favours of organic, freshly-spun unicorn sourced candy floss? Whatever happened to plastic party bags filled with penny sweets, a trashy yellow yo-yo, and a birthday blower?

    Whatever happened?

    Birthday parties of times gone by

    Cast your mind back. Not that far. Just, say, 15 to 20 years. When birthday parties came around, the venue was almost always the birthday girl or boy’s home, save a soft play or two. The living room would be adorned with foil bunting, homemade banners, and corner-shop latex balloons.

    Entertainment took the form of pass the parcel (wrapped nothing but the very best weekend supplement), musical chairs, musical statues, and Bongo the clown – if you were mega lucky. And I mean mega lucky. Your party would be the talk of the class for years to come.

    Party food? Well, it was carbelicious. This was pre-noughties. No one cared about good carbs and bad carbs. Starch? Pah! We partied in the face of starch. Our buffet tables were a glorious shade of beige. We ate every form of corn crisps on the market. Jam sarnies. Cocktail sausage and cheese cocktail sticks. Yes, cocktail sticks; if a child choked, they’d learn and sit down the next time they picked a prick out of the hedgehog.

    Those were the days. But where did they go?

    Parties of the contemporary era

    Fast forward to the 2000’s and birthday celebrations became a different beast altogether.

    Today, the game is on to throw the most creative, extraordinary parties. While soft play is always a favourite for young ones, farms, kiddy museums, and pottery painting have also entered the ranks. Parents with older offspring are shelling out exorbitant amounts for quad biking, trampolining, 4DX cinema experiences, and more.

    And that’s not all! Colin the Caterpillar will no longer suffice. Personalised cakes are in vogue, and this doesn’t equate to a printed icing sheet. The bigger, the more original, the better. It is the centrepiece of the party, and woe betides those who don’t know. Cake is everything. Cake is life.

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    Final ponderings of a perplexed mother

    Are our children missing out on good old fashioned British party traditions? Are we absolutely going overboard? Or are there other underlying parental wins here?

    After all, these places take your child and his or her friends, keep them entertained, and feed them, while you sit back with a brew.

    Forget tradition… shut up and take my money. Every time.

  2. How to save money when buying for Christmas

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    Being frugal in the run up to Christmas isn't always easy. Yes I mentioned the C word, it is October and therefore allowed (unless you speak to my brother who won't allow mention of Christmas before his November birthday ... but I digress).

    So how to save money when all the shops are encouraging you to buy those "must have " gifts and you have a list of friends and relatives as long as your arm? Well I have attempted to remain frugal this week and here's what I have done.

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    Stop-tober

    Stopping shopping in October. There is a campaign at the moment promoting staying sober for October but I decided to stop shopping. I have to admit that this is only for myself but it means no new shoes, clothes, bags or even a cheeky scarf which is already proving difficult as I have two nights out planned already but I have been steadfast ..... so far. 

    Buying Christmas presents on offer

    I have been slowly buying Christmas gifts, not the big ones but the little gifts that my girls like to buy for their friends. I saw a 3 for 2 offer and online discounts at Claire's Accessories this week, so have stock piled gifts at pocket money prices. 

    Re-selling

    I may have become a little addicted to my local selling pages on Facebook. It reminds me of the old Bargain Pages where you could sell anything locally but unlike eBay, there are no seller or Paypal fees and someone will generally come and collect it from your door. The girls are loving making space in anticipation of Christmas and putting money in their piggy banks while doing it. 

    No coffee shops

    I have to admit that I am a big fan of hot chocolate and marshmallows but my regular stop off at Costa is not good for my waistline or my bank balance. So I have stopped going in. Stopped the temptation. Stopped the spending. For now anyway ..... I am already thinking about buying and getting into that Christmas party dress. 

    Remembering not to buy Christmas cards

    I picked up some Christmas cards in the shop the other day but something was nagging at me in the back of my brain that I already had some at home. When I checked at home, I remembered that I had bought a batch of Christmas cards in the sales in January, so I managed to save myself some money without even realising it! 

    What are your top tips for saving at this time of year?

    I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week linky.

  3. The Best Educational Days Out

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    Trying to find things to do with the kids that are educational as well as fun can be tricky, but fear not! There are plenty of days out to be had across the UK that your family will never forget. Whether you choose to visit a zoo, museum or go to an outdoor adventure park, there are always new things to discover.

    Safari

    • Knowsley Safari is a great day out for the entire family. Get up close and personal with your favourite animals and watch on as they roam freely. Enjoy a wild day out whilst learning about all the conservation work that Knowsley Safari take part in, including their breeding programmes!
    • Get involved with loads of activities at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, from creating your very own Wonka Bar to storytelling. Your little ones will have the opportunity to develop their creative skills, learning how to create a story of their own - and then perform it!
    • Step back in time with The Beamish Museum. This town-turned-historical-treat shows what life was like in the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s in North East England. You can explore the old town on foot, catch the tram, or travel around by horse and carriage! Learn how to make sweets in the old sweet shop or go to school and learn some of the oldest playground games.
    • The Royal Air Force museum offers lots of fun activities including exhibitions and displays about the history of the RAF and a flight simulator. The museum has free admission which makes the day a cheap trip out for those who wish to save money! The Royal Air Force Museum is a great day for birthday parties offering trails to complete and a goody bag each.
    • Situated in the North West of England, the Blue Planet Aquarium is a popular attraction for adventurous families. Come eye to eye with sharks, crocs and many more sea creatures! Whilst visiting, why not check out their conservation work and discover how you can help protect the planet?

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    • Experience life as an Anglo Saxon in the West Stow Anglo Saxon village. Take part in an archaeological mini-dig, perform ancient battles, and enjoy some bush craft activities!
    • See the UK’s largest domed planetarium at the National Space Centre in Leicester. You can explore the universe and learn everything there is to know about planets. Discover the famous rocket tower up and see if you can spot some astronauts - that’s something for your kids to tell their friends about!

    Where’s your favourite place to go to as a family? 

     

  4. Where is your happy place?

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    I always remember being set an assigment at school that asked us to describe our favourite place in the world but I don't think my teacher was expecting me to go into significant detail as to why my bed was my favourite place!! The assignment was more to do with the places that make us happy and this is was clearly what that teacher was hoping to find!

    According to recent research, eating a pub lunch in the Cotswolds has been voted the nation’s ultimate "happy place", with hiking in the Lake District coming in a close second, followed by eating an ice-cream on Brighton Beach. Interestingly, the researchers from SACO, The Serviced Apartment Company, polled UK holidaymakers and revealed one in four Brits believe there is "no place like home" when it comes to holidays.

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    We recently went on a trip to London to see friends for the weekend and had an amazing time taking in the sights of London, which is apparently number 10 on the list! 

    We were really lucky and got a brilliant day of sunshine to walk around and be tourists for the day. Although hilariously, the research found that 27 percent said it was a must to get blown about on a windy beach and 24 percent said you haven’t experienced a true British holiday until you have been caught in torrential rain.

    You forget how amazing London is and how the history blends with the modern buildings at every turn. I "may" have mentioned in a previous blog post that I walked 20,400 steps that day and while it would have been good fun to go on an open top bus, walking was the healthier option! 

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    Happy Places are not just something that researchers created for marketing purposes, Professor Christopher Peterson wrote a book explaining that when we are acutely aware of the moments in our life that give us pleasure, we can extend these experiences to maximize the amount of pleasure we get from them. Finding our own happy place is good for the mind, body and soul. 

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    So last weekend as we sat in a rooftop bar, looking over St Pauls it is such a shame to think of all the tragedy that London has seen recently because it not only has the ability to inspire happiness but to inspire curiosity, impart historical knowledge and give a sense of patriotism that is rarely found in any other city in the UK.

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    For me, my happy place will always be wherever my friends and family are. As long as we are laughing, we could be anywhere on this list.

    How about you? Where is your happy place?