Christmas Stocking Fillers For Kids

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If you are buying presents for your children they have probably already presented you with a list as long as their arm detailing what they would like this year. So this guide is more about some different ideas for stocking fillers, and gifts for babies who haven’t yet started to demand the universe complete with a unicorn.

A Personalised Toy From The Personalised Gift Shop

Babies are notoriously hard to buy for, but a personalised item is a lovely way to celebrate a first Christmas. The Personalised Gift Shop has personalised items for all ages, and I just love the Personalised Guess How Much I Love You Large Plush Hare.

The Hare, from the iconic children’s story can be personalised with any name on the ear. It stands at 23 cm tall, 13 cm wide, and 10cm depth, and is super soft, making it lovely for a baby or a young child. This is a present that both baby and child will enjoy and treasure.

A Baby Toiletries Hamper From Johnson’s Baby

If you are buying for a very small/newborn baby, you may choose to go down the route of buying something that is actually practical and useful for both baby and parents.

Johnson’s Baby Products are a mainstay of most babies lives, so why not put together a hamper of some of the faves. The bedtime range is soft and gentle, and choosing a few items that could then be placed in a wicker basket or pretty box could be a gift that is not only lovely, but could also help the new parents save a few pennies on essentials. Alternately, Boots have a lovely gift set which could also fit the bill.

JOHNSON’S® Sleep Tight Set £12.00 Click to visit Boots

The Perfect Christmas Eve Pyjamas From Nutmeg

The rise in popularity in the Christmas Eve box makes pyjamas a good choice to give as a gift just before Christmas. Nutmeg, the range of clothing that is sold at branches of Morrisons supermarkets, have the most adorable Christmas pyjamas that are suitable for the whole family, perfect if you want to take that special family shot on Christmas Eve.

The Bear PJ family are the cutest, and warmest pyjamas that you will really enjoy wearing this festive season. The children’s version have long sleeves, come in sizes right up to 13-14 and have a lovely illustration on the top, and soft tartan bottoms.

The PJS are a collaboration with children’s cancer charity Clic Sargent, and 75p from every pair bought will be donated to the charity.

A Picture Cushion From Vistaprint

An unusual gift idea for a tween or teen could be a personalised cushion from Vistaprint that incorporates a favourite photograph. This could be a piccie with their friends, or even a special photograph with a hero.

I have created a cushion for Joe with one of his football heroes, Charlie Austin of WBA, using a photograph taken at a recent signing session. This is another practical gift, perfect if your child is in the middle of a bedroom makeover, but it is also very special due to the one off nature of the gift.

Sweet Treats From Haribo

Even if you are very strict about sweet treats at all other times of the year, at Christmas, enjoying a little of the sweet stuff is a given. Haribo always have some really brilliant gift ideas at this time of the year, and this year is no exception. I love the HARIBO Hamper which is a mixture of  sweet and sour Bear Buddies, Squidgy Strawbs, Jelly Beans, Balla Stixx, Chamallows and delicious Dummies Z!NG.

HARIBO Pip Polar Bear Z!NG and Puck Penguin Gift Boxes

There are also the very cute HARIBO’s Pip Polar Bear and Puck Penguin gift boxes which are beautifully packaged for Christmas. The HARIBO Pip Polar Bear Z!NG are raspberry and blackcurrant polar bear and paw-shaped jelly pieces that make a magical addition to any Christmas list. The HARIBO Puck Penguin features an  array of jelly and foam penguin-shaped pieces in a flurry of fruity flavour combinations including peach & vanilla, blackcurrant & vanilla and strawberry & vanilla.

Beautiful Books for Christmas

I love giving books as gifts at Christmas, especially when the recipient is a child. What could be better than a gift of knowledge, especially if it is a book that parents and children can read and enjoy together.

The Natural History Puzzle book is a beautifully curated book which guides you through the history of our incredible world with hundreds of questions certain to confound and amuse children and parents alike. The themed quizzes and puzzles are a great way to spark interest on everything from ancient fossils and dinosaurs to human evolution and the natural world around us. It is the sort of book that can help alleviate boredom over the Christmas period.

For football fans what about the Harry Kane Fan Book, which is packed with stories and facts about the England striker, along with lots of colour photographs. This is a book that could work for a child who you know loves football, but you’re not sure of their team, with Harry being an England hero, this is sure to please.

 

For younger children, a personalised “Goes to Sleep” bedtime book could be a lovely idea, and even an aid to help your child go to sleep easier. The book has been written by George Berkowski, with beautiful illustrations by Kasia Dudziuk and has been created in partnership with ‘The Children’s Sleep Charity’. Each copy is personalised for each individual child and you can also add a photograph of your child inside the cover, along with a dedication.

The book is beautiful and bright, with really appealing illustrations and a lovely, exciting story to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enchanting! The King And I Opens In Birmingham.

Simply Breathtaking. That is the only word that can be used to describe ‘The King And I’ which has opened for the Christmas season in Birmingham at The Alexandra this week. The story of the young English widow who became a governess for the children of the King of Siam is well known, with three film versions, one that includes the career defining performance by Yul Brynner. This beautiful stage version wows with glorious well known songs, impressive sets and staging, and glorious central performances by a pitch perfect cast. It is, quite simply, wonderful.

This new version of The King And I brings the politics of the original story back to the fore. It is, first and foremost a story of love and friendship that blossoms despite a clash of cultures, but there is also an underlying story of a King trying to keep hold of his traditions and his power as the European states start to expand their empires in the Far East. Anna Leonowens is a young widow with a son who goes to Siam to be the teacher to the children of the King. She has a strong independent spirit and a real sense of her own worth, and is shocked by the way that the women of the court are treated, and the way they accept this submissively. Her own relationship with the King is fiery to begin with, and she threatens to leave on more than one occasion, but a real friendship develops, one that could turn to something more, and based on a mutual respect that is totally new to the King, but all this is threatened by the doomed love of the King’s new wife Tuptim and Lun Tha, the man who brought her from Burma to Siam.

THE KING AND I by Rodgers and Hammerstein’s, , UK ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR -DAVID SIEBERT, SETS -MICHAEL YEARGAN, COSTUMES -CATHERINE ZUBER, LIGHTING – DONALD HOLDER, Manchester Opera House, 2019, Credit: Johan Persson

Annalene Beechley and Jose LLana are just perfect as Anna and the King, with a true chemistry, pitch perfect vocals and classy performances. Llana makes the King both infuriating and easy to love, whilst Annalene pitches Anna to perfection, with the clipped accent, the ladylike elegance and the feisty spirit. They have a wonderful supporting cast around them, notably Cezarah Bonner as Lady Thiang, the King’s most important wife and mother of the heir, Kok Hwa Lie as Kralahome the Prime Minister, and Aaron Teoh as the heir Prince Chulalongkorn.

Paulina Yeung is a stunning Tuptim, with an incredible voice and a real sadness to her performance. Ethan Le Phong as her doomed lover Lun Tha is also very good, and I loved their scenes together, so romantic but tinged with foreboding. The staging of Tuptim’s version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin chillingly echoes her own feelings towards the King, and is a sad reflection of what is to come.

The King and I is a sumptuous treat. The ‘Shall We Dance’ scene is a highlight, but there are so many more, not least the school room scenes with the wonderful children. The King and I is a true classic. Not to be missed this Christmas.

The King and I

The Alexandra, Birmingham
 Tue 10 Dec 2019 – Sat 4 Jan 2020
Click here for Ticket Information

A Very Special Gala Night As The Grand Theatre Celebrates 125 Years

It was a very special night in Wolverhampton last night, as the jewel in the city’s crown (sorry Wolves, but as an adopted Wulfrunian and Baggies fan that can never be you ) celebrated its 125th anniversary with a gala performance of this year’s panto ‘Dick Whittington’ featuring a very special, much loved guest.

The legendary Jimmy Tarbuck made a return to the theatre to herald the start of the birthday celebrations, taking the role of the Sultan and having the audience howl with laughter as he proved that the old ones are definitely the best ones. He was matched in the laughter stakes by the panto, a gloriously old fashioned slapstick romp that has everything you want in a pantomime, glitter, sparkle, songs and lots of silliness.

Jimmy Tarbuck – Guest appearance in Wolverhampton Grand Theatre pantomime Dick Whittington – photograph by Jonathan Hipkiss

Dick Whittington is one of the classic pantomimes, and this years cast are having a ball with it. Former Coronation Street favourite Ryan Thomas is Dick, the young man who makes his way to London to make his fortune, meeting a (talking) cat Tommy along the way. In London they find Alderman Fitzwarren in need of help in his stores, not least due to a problem with rats, and Dick duly falls in love with the Alderman’s lovely daughter Alice. But Queen Rat wants revenge on the Alderman and his family for conflict in the past, and uses her magic to thwart Dick at every turn. Can Fairy Bow Bells ensure that all’s well that ends well?

credit Tim Thursfield – Express & Star

The cast of this panto is a fabulous balance of new and old favourites. Ryan Thomas is a likeable presence in the lead role, bringing an easy charm, and he is well matched by the lovely Katie Marie-Carter as Alice, who shows an impressive singing range. Panto’s best dame Ian Adams is back, raising lots of laughs with a string of double entendres, with the fabulous Julie Paton also back at the Grand, and once again excelling as Fairy Bow Bells.

photo Tim Thursfield – Express & Star

The Hi De Hi favourites Su Pollard and Jeffrey Holland are reunited to great effect, especially when we see them transformed into their much loved Hi De Hi characters. Su in particular is a hoot in the role of the villainous Queen Rat, one of the most hilarious baddies you will ever meet. But the stand out performances come from Aaron James as Idle Jack, and Jordan Ginger as Tommy the Cat. Aaron is just brilliant at ad libbing, and shows of his talent with an A-Z of impressions, all of which hit the mark. Jordan’s ultra posh, and sometimes rapping cat is a real audience favourite, and he is definitely a name to watch out for.

credit Tim Thursfield – Express & Star

credit Tim Thursfield – Express & Star

credit Tim Thursfield – Express & Star

The staging is impressive and as glossy and glamorous as you expect a panto to be, and their is one particularly showstopping moment which involves a rat which I will not give away, but needs to be seen.

Unashamedly silly, gloriously funny and superb fun, Dick Whittington is a family delight.

DICK WHITTINGTON

11 Dec – 12 Jan 2020

Click here for ticket information

Petra Crystal Studs From Demi + Co

I am a magpie when it comes to jewellery. I love large, sparkly statement pieces that instantly take the eye and move an outfit from the ordinary to the spectacular. I love real gemstones, but am equally as happy in costume pieces, and I just love finding new jewellery brands to wear.

Demi + Co is a brand I have discovered only recently. It is a small, family run business that is based in Nottinghamshire and sells a range of jewellery for both men and women that is inspired and based on travels around the world. Demi + Co offers something that is a little different from the rest of the High Street, and is garnering brilliant reviews from its customers due to the lovely quality of its products.

The Petra Crystal Stud earrings are just such an example. These are earrings that I would describe as discreet, the sort of studs that you can wear with any outfit, and for any occasion. They are small enough to wear for work, and could also be worn by a teenager for school as they add a little sparkle, but are also elegant and small enough to not attract the wrong sort of attention.

The stud earrings are made up of a larger crystal stone at the centre, surrounded by a frame of smaller diamante stones. They are secured with a small butterfly fastening and are light and comfortable to wear. They have a style that is timeless and elegant, the sort of earrings favoured by the Duchess of Cambridge, and would look so pretty with an upswept hairdo or a simple pony tail style.

The earrings come beautifully boxed, seated on a black velvet cushion and then boxed in the attractive Demi + Co gift box, which means that these are all ready to gift to someone special this Christmas, or to keep for Valentine’s Day.

The earrings are currently available with 50% off at the sale price of £13. You can find them here.

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