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 by one of our baby bloggers. Occasionally we accept guest posts too. 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. Once upon a time, when I was pregnant with my eldest daughter I travelled to Cologne to see the German Christmas markets. Cologne provides a stunning backdrop to the markets and it is impossible to beat Cologne Cathedral, the magnificent Gothic edifice that took more than 600 years to complete and which today is still one of the city’s significant features.

    Birmingham german market 

    Fast forward 10 years or more and I don’t have to travel far to experience the bratwursts, tankards of German beer and the fruity flavours of hot Glühwein as Birmingham has one of the biggest markets outside of Germany!

     Birmingham german market sausage

    We went into Birmingham last weekend and there were notices already up in the train station warning of delays due to the increased number of passengers going to the German Markets. It is lovely to have it on our doorstep and people clearly come from far and wide to visit.

    We travelled in the early afternoon and the trains were already busy so the later it gets, the busier it gets. Weekends tend to be the busiest times - great if you enjoy a bustling atmosphere but it can get very crowded.   

    Birmingham German market by night 

    You can see from the pictures that there is not much breathing room so our top tips for attending the Christmas markets are:

    1. If you are planning on going without the children, try a week day as they are less hectic although it can get very busy in the middle of the day (from noon to 2pm when shop and office workers go in their lunch break).
    2. Avoid the times between 5pm up until about 7.30pm on a week day, as people stop for a drink and a bite to eat on their way home from work in the city centre.
    3. Some people think that it can be expensive to go to the markets but don’t get too caught up with price matching. Most vendors have equal prices, and although we love a bit of haggling, it isn’t common practice.
    4. If you want to venture a little further afield and go to the actual German markets in Germany, there are lots of travel operators offering coach trips, or why not book a hotel and enjoy a festive mini-break? It’s also worth checking to see if travelling by car maybe cheaper but always make sure that you have Car Insurance that covers European travel!
    5. And finally, don’t forget to sample the Glühwein. You may find that for a small fee, you can keep and re-use the special mugs. Not only are refills cheaper, you have a great souvenir too!

    Collaboration with Aviva.

  2. We’ve waltzed into December and – just like that *finger snap* – the year is over. I’m a little dumbfounded to say the least. Just where have all those weeks gone? It doesn’t seem two minutes since we were looking forward to the six-week summer break and thinking about getting a gardener because the heatwave had made everything grow twice as fast.

    Given that time’s flying so fast it’s giving Santa’s sleigh a run for its money, I seem to have a little clump of anxiety up in my chest. The days are running away with me right now, and I can’t help but wonder how I’m going to cram everything in that I have to do before the end of 2018.

    Mums Christmas Checklist

    As my littlies keep reminding me, it’s only 21 sleeps ‘til Christmas. So, if you’re feeling the same way I am, here’s a handy checklist to keep us mum’s sane and plans in place throughout December.

    • First things first, if you do your grocery shop online, book a slot ASAP. Fill your basket up with a few bits to meet the minimum spend to secure your preferred delivery date and time.
    • If you haven’t already – deck the halls with your children! It will put you in a magical mood for everything else you need to do.

    Christmas table

    • Stock up on Christmas cards, gift wrap, tissue paper, bows, bags, and all that jazz.
    • Arrange a couple of Christmassy days out, e.g. Santa’s grotto; snow park; reindeer farm; pantomime, you know the score.
    • Write down said family fun days in your diary and actually remember to go!
    • Book in a babysitter, pull out all the presents and wrap! The sooner the better.
    • As you’re wrapping, make a list of what you have, and anything else you need. This is guaranteed to make you feel on-top of the whole gifting situ.
    • Speak with family and friends, plan in when you will get together for some festive fun.
    • Check last post delivery dates, and be sure to send out cards and gifts in time.
    • Revisit your online food shop to finalise your order, or plan in a time when you’ll hit the supermarkets. Eeeek. Don’t forget Christmas dinner ingredients, Christmas cake, nibbles, cheese and biscuits, and traditional tipples.
    • If you have the time Christmas weekend, plan in a baking day. Schedule out some time to make cupcakes, a chocolate yule log, and decorate your Christmas cake with the children.
    • Alternatively, if you’re pushed for time or so stressed your hair’s turning a glorious shade of Santa Claus snowy-white, scratch that. No one knows. You just didn’t Insta-it. A Christmas present from you, to you.
    • Prep the veg, pre-heat the open, pop open a bottle of something sparkling, and relax.

    You did it!!

  3. With Black Friday Week  and Cyber Monday Week done and dusted, we’re all feeling the pinch in our pockets this week. Although we’ve all supposedly been paid last week, I’m shook. My bank statement sure doesn’t look like it!

    As the end of the year gets closer and we are cozy in our homes, it is usually a time when we all think about new years resolutions and maybe a new home. Moving house is a massive undertaking for anyone, so before you start getting moving quotes we have some top tips for saving money before Christmas. It sounds like an impossible task but it can be done! 

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    We all know that December is tight. It’s no secret that when we get towards the end of the month, there’s an element of scrimping and saving. Luckily, we’ve already bought sufficient supplies of snacks, so at least we don’t starve. So long as you’re happy feasting on Festive Friends biscuits, M&S chocolate rounds, Pringles, and Quality Street toffee circles. If you’re lucky, there might even be an allusive After Eight left lurking somewhere amongst the empty wrappers.

    In all seriousness, while this is certainly the season for splurging, there are ways your can keep hold of some of your hard-earned cash.

    1. Go a bit Grinch with gifting

    OK, so that’s not in the holiday spirit, entirely, but it’s definitely worth rethinking your gifting. Sure, if you want to splurge on your children at Christmas, that’s great. You do your thing. But do you really need to be a second Santa Claus for the children of extended family and friends? Do you have to gift your parcel delivery lady, the staff at school, your colleagues? Probably not. Tot up what you would spend on presents you actually begrudge gifting and consider gradually decreasing the amount your pocket parts with. Alternatively, if you’re brave enough, scrap it altogether and simply explain you’re cutting back should the conversation arise.

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    1. Say no to seasonal outings

    Not all seasonal outings, of course. You want to head somewhere special with your family, whether it’s Christmas markets, a panto, or Santa’s grotto. Sure, you do. However, you don’t need to show your face at every festive event with extended family, friends, or co-workers. Prioritise your time. Don’t go to anything that really doesn’t do it for you. Choose the odd one or two occasions, and really enjoy them. As well as saving money, it could well save your sanity at this time of year!

    1. Bag the bargains

    There’s two ways to save mega bucks when it comes to buying presents: get gifts early or get them real late. Chances are, if you’re considering this tip, purchasing pressies early is out of the equation. Luckily, during December, stores start to panic and slash the prizes on prezzies. For example, M&S frequently slashes Christmas gifts by as much as 50 per cent at this time of year. Keep an eye on your inbox, as companies give sales a final push, you should see a whole host of discount codes appear in your emails. Don’t panic buy, put a couple of evenings aside, search online for the best prices, make use of offers and discount codes, and save some cash on the RRP.

    If you take heed of some of our top tips, you will notice that your savings will quickly add up. Good luck! 

  4. Ever since they start walking and talking, kids love to help their parents and ask to participate in all happenings around home. Even small kids, like toddlers and preschoolers enjoy crafting and baking with mommy as we approach holiday season. Same goes for Christmas! Invite your toddlers and preschoolers to help you with Christmas crafts and decorations. And they can even make Christmas gifts for family members and friends!

    15 - Fun Ideas for the Christmas Under 5s - square

     

    1. It’s fun when your Christmas tree is twirling and whirling on the wind! Invite your kids to create Christmas tree twirler from paper plate and decorate it as they wish. Then attach it on your ceiling and let them spin!

    1. We always keep a stash of paper rolls in our recycle bin for crafts. This inexpensive crafting medium is so versatile and we love reusing them to recreate different items. Like this lovely toilet paper roll reindeer! Adorable, isn’t he, with his red nose!?

    1. Little ones enjoy sensory play and while you’re busy preparing for Christmas holidays, prepare for them Christmas themed sensory bin to occupy them and let them explore different textures and senses.

    1. Is your child looking forward to white Christmas? As years go by, we are lucky if snow really falls on Christmas. But you can still let them have a sense of white Christmas if you make with them homemade snow recipe.

    1. Do you have buttons laying around your home? We always have some spares for crafts and one of crafts we made with them are lovely button snowflakes. If you are looking for more easy Christmas decorations, you can take a look at collection in Handmade Ornaments book.

    1. Gingerbread man is one of my children’s favorite Christmas themes. We made many gingerbread man crafts over years and we still have gingerbread man cards we made years ago as keepsake!

    1. Thinking to put together a Christmas party or you need a larger scale Christmas decoration for your classroom? We love how kids get to collaborate to make handprint Christmas tree. Looks wonderful displayed on bulletin board!

    1. Crafts that can be completed in super short amount of time, when you need something to quickly distract and occupy little ones are sometimes hard to find. Let them create their own personalised easy solstice lanterns as last minute project before Christmas.

    1. Christmas crafting comes as good practice for your toddlers and preschoolers fine motor skills. One of the crafts where they can use their little fingers and practice waving are yarn Christmas trees. Love how each and every one of them is different and unique!

    1. Every child is looking forward to Santa coming on Christmas eve! As they wait, invite them to make their own paper plate Santa! Easy craft to make after reading your child’s favorite Christmas story!

    15 - Fun Ideas for the Christmas Under 5s - pin

    Christmas is one of those holidays every child loves. We also love to spend time over Christmas holidays crafting and baking together. Perfect opportunity to spend time bonding as family and create memories for years to come! You can start new Christmas tradition this year with your kids too!