christmas

Cookies for Santa

With our homes now fully decorated with our Christmas trees and twinkling lights for Christmas it’s time to start thinking about Santa.  As we all know, Santa absolutely loves sweet treats (don’t we all?!) and these Cookies for Santa will be loved by both Santa and everyone else! As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. A Cherished Family Ritual For my family, making homemade cookies for Santa is a cherished ritual eagerly awaited by both my children and I every year. It’s About Bonding and Creating Memories Baking together isn’t just about measuring flour and cracking eggs – it’s a bonding experience that creates lasting memories. These cookies are super easy to make, meaning that there will be minimum mess even when baking with really young ones. Skills Baking at Christmas (or any other time)  is a fun activity to be shared and enjoyed with our children.  Beyond the sheer delight of nibbling on delicious warm cookies, there are also valuable skills which our kids will learn whilst baking.  The best thing?  They won’t even realise there is a lesson involved! Teamwork and Collaboration In the realm of cookie-making, teamwork is key.  From dividing tasks to ensuring that the ingredients are seamlessly blended, kids learn the art of collaboration. These are skills that extend beyond the kitchen and which they can then put into practice in other aspects of their lives. Patience and Precision Baking is also a lesson in practice and precision.  Waiting for the cookies to rise to perfection teaches our little ones that good things come to those that wait. Meanwhile, measuring ingredients with care instils a sense of precision.  This is an invaluable skill which is essential in baking but which again is a great overall life skill. Creativity Now, when decorating Christmas cookies (as with decorating the Christmas tree) it is important for us adults to allow the little ones a little free rein.  Decorating cookies for Santa should provide children with a blank canvas on which to express their creativity.  Yes, they might not look Insta perfect but your children will have a blast and isn’t that the make thing? From vibrant sprinkles to chocolate drizzles, let them unleash their artistic flair.  This will foster a sense of imagination. Math and Science Without realising it, when baking, kids are delving into the realm of maths and science by following recipes with precision. We can also take the time to provide them with a little science information as they add each ingredient. Flour The flour is the backbone of the cookie.  Containing proteins and gluten it will give our cookies structure.  Mixing the flour with the wet ingredients is when the magic starts to take place.  But we must be careful not to over mix!  When over mixed, the gluten in the flour will result in tough cookies – not the result we want! Butter As you cream the butter and sugar we incorporate air into the mix.  These air pockets will expand as our cookies bake thereby giving us a light and fluffy texture.  The butter also helps the cookies brown and adds a delicious richness. Sugar Of course, sugar provides sweetness but it also helps retain moisture which again helps keep our cookies soft. Eggs Eggs act as binder to hold the cookie dough together.  They also add moisture and contribute to the cookie’s structure.  Eggs contain protein which thickens during baking, helping the cookies set. Baking Powder This is a little magic ingredient. When mixed with wet ingredients, baking powder releases carbon dioxide gas.  This gas gets trapped in the dough allowing it to rise and making the cookies light and airy. Happy Baking For us, Christmas baking is an important part of the Christmas Eve fun.  After all, the magic of Christmas lies not only under the tree but especially in the memories we share, one cookie at a time. Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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Malaga's magical Christmas lights

Malaga’s Magical Christmas Lights

As December unfolds, Malaga transforms into a winter wonderland with the dazzling Christmas lights adorning the city.  With its wonderful Christmas atmosphere, a visit to Malaga to see the spectacular light show is a must do for our family.  In this blog we explore Malaga’s Magical Christmas Lights. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. Family Traditions: The Spectacle of Christmas Lights For years now we have made the 27th December the day we venture up to Malaga to marvel at the Christmas lights display.  After a few days feasting and slobbing about this is a day to go out for some more…feasting!  After driving for an hour and a half it will be time to feed the dragons… oops I mean boys!  A quick pit stop at Five Guys usually gets us some peace and quiet before dragging the monsters …oops boys around the shops.  I get it, this is not the most exciting activity for a 13 and 9 year old (unless it involves shopping for themselves) but, there’s usually some good deals at Plaza Mayor just before Spain celebrates their Dia de los Reyes.  In Spain they exchange gifts on the 6th January and not the 25th December as it is with us.  Christmas Day itself is a much more low-key affair with their traditional celebrations happening on the day of the Epiphany. If you are visiting Plaza Mayor before the 24th December you will also be able to visit Santa and his elves.  Visit on a weekend up to the 23rd December and you will also be able to enjoy various activities for children including face painting and Elvish flash mobs. Christmas Markets After a stroll around the shops, we head down into the centre of Malaga for a walk around Muelle Uno. Here you can find a Christmas market open from 11am to 10pm between 24th November and 6th January.  There are over 90 stalls selling delicious Christmas treats – I know, as if we need to eat anymore! They also sell beautiful Christmas decorations, gifts and books.  There is also a snow village where little ones can enjoy various activities and take a photo on Santa’s sleigh. If you are down by Muelle Uno at 8.00pm on the 3-7th December or the 23rd December or at 8.30pm on the 9th December, check out the new drown show.  120 drones will depict Christmas images. If you are planning on visiting Malaga between the 6th and the 10th December be sure to head on over to the Paseo Del Parque.  On these days hundreds of local producers will sell their delicious goodies such as homemade breads, honey, wine, olive oil, jam, cheese along  Christmas Trees Traditionally there are four places to find Christmas trees around Malaga.  The main tree can be found in the Plaza de la Constitucion and this year you will also be able to enter inside the tree’s structure. But be sure to explore this beautiful city and find the three other trees.  One can be found next to the bishop’s square in front of the nativity by Malaga Cathedral.  Another is located by the Roman Theatre in Calle Alcazabilla.  The fourth tree, whose coloured lights will change constantly, can be found in the centre of the Plaza de la Marina. Ice Skating For a unique winter experience, lace up your skates and glide across to to the ice rink at El Corte Ingles Avenida De Andalucia  for a fun afternoon activity with the kids.  The rink is open from 10am to 10pm throughout December and up to the 6th January 2024.  You can also enjoy additional activities around the ice rink such as a carousel, a ferris wheel, a Christmas train and more. Nativities Did you know that there are approximately 70 different nativities around the city of Malaga?  To be honest, neither did I!  The most popular ones however are the following: Christmas Concerts Christmas concerts more your thing?  Then head over to the Plaza de la Constitución from 13 to 23 December where Christmas concerts take place daily at 6:45 pm and 8:15 pm. At the 19th century garden within Protestant cemetery you can also enjoy Christmas activities based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol throughout December and up to the 4th January.   You can enjoy hot chocolate and mulled wine whilst listening to Christmas carols and buying presents at the Christmas market.  Please note however that the admission fee is 5€ per person.  This attraction closes on the 15th, 24th, 25th and 31st December as well as on 1st January. Botanical Gardens Christmas Lights This garden was created in 1855 by the Marquises of Casa Loring.  Today it has more than 50,000 trees and at Christmas time it is transformed into an enchanted forest. This year’s theme is Angelic:  The Kingdom of Christmas Angels and the Christmas garden will be open throughout December until the 7th January from 6.30pm to 10.30pm. Along the route, you will walk through eight angelic realms:  The realm of enchanted winter, renewed hope, healing myrrh, peace and harmony, gold and light, generosity and solidarity, sweets and treats and finally the realm of dreams and desires. Tickets are priced at 15,50€ for adults and 11,50€ for under 12s.  Buy tickets exclusively here. The route is 2.2 kilometres long and will take you about an hour and a half to walk through.  Bear in mind that the path is mostly uneven and it is recommended that you wear flat shoes which you don’t mind getting dirty! Calle Larios It is however Calle Larios which steals the spotlight during December as it becomes a mesmerising display of twinkling lights. Stroll down this bustling street, where the radiant decorations illuminate the night, creating a captivating

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Owning My Truth:2023 Year In Review

This morning, as on most Saturday mornings, I’m awake at the crack of dawn.  It’s funny how on a weekday getting out of bed to face the day is such a struggle.  But, come the weekend no matter how tired I’m feeling I just can’t sleep past 7 am!  Anyway, I’m up with Jamie and I’m reading Fearne Cotton’s Speak Your Truth.  There are many sections in this book that really resonate with me but, as I’m pondering my post for my 2023 Year In Review, the section which is of most relevance is “The Glittering Effervescent Circus of Glamour.” My post has suddenly turned to Owning My Truth: 2023 Year In Review. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. The Glittering Effervescent Circus of Glamour I had no idea how this particular post was going to pan out and, if I’m honest, it didn’t look like this in my mind.  Yesterday I looked through my photo roll on my phone and listed all the things which I had done over the last 12 months. There have been plenty of holidays with my family.  Celebrations with family and friends..  I launched this blog with my great friend Milly.  I’m healthy.  Thankfully, the list of good things could go on and I am extremely grateful for all the new and exciting things which have come my way.  But, going back to this chapter in Fearne’s book, not everything is always rosey. Social Media Smoke and Mirrors In today’s social media age, it is all too easy to feel that others have the perfect life.  It is easy to believe the social media myths.  But, it is also very easy to create the perfect life on social media when inside you might be feeling something totally different. The reason I am writing this today is because only last week I was guilty of exactly this.  I created my own smoke and mirrors!  Today, as I am trying to learn how to speak my truth (thanks Fearne) I want to share some of the things I have been going through for some time. Pressure Cookers Those who know me well know I am not good at sharing how I feel.  This post is therefore quite difficult for me to write.  I am the master of blocking things and pushing feelings down.  The problem with this though is that the body is like a pressure cooker.  You can push down feelings like hurt, anger, resentment, regrets… But eventually that pent up pressure will explode! I have been struggling with perimenopause symptoms for around seven years.  To be fair, the symptoms at the beginning may have been my hormones not having yet settled after having Jamie, but, for the last seven years my moods have been totally erratic.  Add to this my inability to address things which bother me on a day-to-day basis and I’ve found the pressure cooker exploding at the most innocuous of things. The Dark Cloud Lately, I have also found that at least once a month I have been floored by a dark cloud which I simply cannot shift.  No matter how happy I may have been feeling just five minutes previously when the cloud (a bit like the levante over our rock) decides to come down, I simply cannot shift it.  I know just how blessed I am.  I have a beautiful and loving family, amazing friends, a great home, a good job and I am healthy.  But, when the cloud is about I love nothing about myself.  I feel like I am a crappy mum.  My food is not rubbish. I cannot get the words out for a blog or do anything right at work.  I feel fat, ugly and wrinkly….Of course, none of this is true but I feel and believe it all deeply and genuinely at times. Christmas Lights and Fake Smiles So, let me get back to my own smoke and mirror moment.  Last week you may have seen the post of my beautiful Christmas tree.  Christmas and putting up the tree is one of my favourite times of the year.  It has however also become a bit of a trigger for me.  You see, in my mind, I had the perfect idea of how the day was going to pan out.  We would start putting up the decorations and then go and watch Jamie’s football match.  In the afternoon we would order a takeaway and decorate the tree whilst listening to our favourite Christmas songs.  Does this sound too cheesy?  Too much like the Waltons or The Brady Bunch (yes, I’m that old!)?  Well, the reality was nothing like this! Duvets and Tears Yes, my tree does look amazing and today I’m watching its twinkling lights with a smile on my face.  Last Sunday however I couldn’t bring myself to come and join in the fun which I had been looking forward to all week.  The cloud had well and truly anchored itself around my head! Triggered by a difficult few days, I found myself in a dark hole I couldn’t get out of.  No matter how many times my kids asked me to help with the tree I just couldn’t do it.  I got in and out of bed and walked to the living room countless times to help out but I just couldn’t feel any joy. I kept trying to tell myself to get it together, count my blessings and be grateful but this cloud is a powerful force and I missed out on creating a beautiful memory with my family. It wasn’t until Tuesday that I was actually able to look at my tree with joy and look forward to a magical Christmas with my loved ones.  I am sharing

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Chocolate Brownie Delights

Chocolate Brownie Delights

‘Tis the season to indulge in the sweet symphony of holiday flavours.  And, what better way to do this than with a rich and indulgent chocolate fudge brownie?  These rich, gooey squares (or triangles!) of goodness not only satisfy your sweet tooth but also bring a touch of Christmas magic to your festivities.  Our chocolate brownie delights are truly delightful! As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. Chocolate Brownie Delights These chocolate brownie delights have an uncanny ability to evoke nostalgia and warmth.  Their fudgey texture paired with the decadence of chocolate creates a sensory experience that is nothing short of delightful. As you embark on your holiday baking, these brownies will undoubtedly become a staple, bringing joy with every bite. Christmas Trees and Christmas Hats Whilst these brownies are perfect all year through, at Christmas time you can customise them to the Christmas theme.  Elevate your Christmas treats by turning an ordinary brownie into festive masterpieces.  Gather the little ones and transform these chocolate wonders into Christmas trees or hats.  It’s an easy and enjoyable activity that adds a personal touch to your Christmas celebrations.  They also make a perfect treat for Santa who I am reliably informed LOVES chocolate brownies! Christmas Trees Once you have allowed your brownies to cool in the tin, transforming them into Christmas trees is so easy.  Just follow these simple steps: Christmas Hats If you prefer making a Christmas  hat treat for the big man the transformation is just as easy Happy Christmas Whether you choose to enjoy these brownies in their classic form or as whimsical Christmas creations, these treats are sure to become a cherished tradition.  Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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A Self-Care Guide For The Christmas Season

A Self-Care Guide For The Christmas Season

Any holiday season, particularly Christmas, can swiftly become a whirlwind of busyness and stress. Engaging in acts of self-care offers a much-needed respite, allowing you to unwind from the hustle and bustle that accompanies this festive time. In this guide, we’ll explore ten simple self-care tips tailored for the Christmas season. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. The Lead Up To Christmas While the weeks leading up to Christmas may be overwhelming and draining, I’ve noticed that as Christmas Day arrives, it becomes easier to slow down and begin the process of unwinding from weeks filled with present shopping, house decoration, Christmas meal preparations, and the seemingly endless task of gift-wrapping. While some might find these activities enjoyable, for others, it’s downright draining and overwhelming. Recognising the importance of practising self-care becomes imperative. In the fast-paced world we live in, getting things done is a must. However, why not take a step back and relax once the festive days are over? The time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is personally my favourite time during the festive season.  Days filled with family moments, creating memories, watching movies, playing board games, and relishing leftover Christmas food. It’s a time to do whatever makes us happy, with the most crucial element, rest and recharge. December, the last month of the year. The last chance to make it an amazing month before the New Year kicks in. If your 2023 has been anything like mine, in other words, non-stop, then why not take a moment to sit back and schedule some “me time.”  Enjoy the quiet, savour the peace, and conclude the year feeling rested and recharged. 1. Set Realistic Expectations The days leading up to Christmas turn me into a superhero, or at least that’s how I envision myself. A superwoman juggling multiple tasks, transforming my house into a Christmas-catalogue-worthy home, shopping for the perfect gifts (for what feels like ten thousand relatives), cooking festive meals, and managing everyday chores. This year, I’ve also had to add blogging and graphic design to the mix!  Setting realistic expectations about what I can accomplish would undoubtedly make my life easier. If I could figure out how to ease up on myself, refraining from exerting immense pressure to orchestrate a flawless Christmas while also attending work, producing content for the blog, and managing my home and family, my stress levels would undoubtedly be much lower than they currently are! So this goes to you as much as to myself dear reader. Let’s do ourselves a favour. Let’s take care of our mental health by setting realistic expectations.  In the grand scheme of things, is it that important? Asking for a friend :) 2. Make Rest A Priority On those days off work, after the Christmas frenzy, ensure you get enough sleep. Quality rest is crucial for managing stress and maintaining good mental and physical health. Even better, if you manage to get enough sleep throughout the lead-up to – kudos to you! Lately, sleep has been elusive for me, thanks to perimenopause and stress. But that’s a topic for a different blog post. 3. Schedule That Much-Needed ‘Me’ Time If you have a large family, finding time for yourself might seem like an impossible task. However, if by some miracle it is possible, then set aside some time for yourself. Read a book, take a bath, or go for a walk. Ensure you have moments of relaxation. 4. Limit Screen Time Set boundaries on screen time, especially on social media. Constant exposure to holiday posts can contribute to feelings of inadequacy or stress. Social media, with its high expectations and the pressure for extraordinary accomplishments, does not help our mental health. Personally, I consider it unnecessary noise. So, this year, I’ve committed to staying present with my family. Once I wrap up my pending blog work for the year, I’m switching off from social media until February. Yes, it’s drastic, but my soul needs it, and so does my family. 5. Indulge in Healthy Treats Is it even possible? Maybe I should change the heading to ‘Try to indulge in healthy treats’ Or perhaps instead of eating healthy, we can make an effort not to eat as unhealthy? How about not binging on chocolate while watching a Christmas movie? Or opting for a meal instead of tea and biscuits for dinner? Worth a try! If, like me, winter months are synonymous with comfort eating, maybe you can give it a try too! Read our blog post on how to maintain a strong immune system. Start the year by introducing healthy habits to your everyday life! 6. Engage In Creative Activities Once an avid crafter, I eventually gave away my stash as I lacked a spare room to convert into a craft room. Nowadays, instead of crafting, my husband gifts me a colouring book every Christmas. It has become a relaxing habit for me.  Sitting by the dining table with a cup of tea, colouring for hours, and listening to a podcast or some chill music, has become an effective way for me to disconnect from the world. 7. Do Something That Brings You JOY For me, it’s a few hours of uninterrupted reading or doing a jigsaw puzzle with my kids. Sitting by the Christmas tree, with Christmas movies playing in the background, snacks and hot chocolate. It’s wonderful to have this time with them, engaging in an activity we all love.  If they want some time to unwind by themselves, I’m more than happy to read a book. Sometimes, if inspiration strikes, I’ll switch on my laptop and get some writing done. Check out our Top Christmas Books recommendations.  8. Practice Mindfulness One of my favourite ways to practice mindfulness is

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Mindful Gifting

Mindful Gifting at Christmastime

Christmas is now well and truly just around the corner.  After weeks of non-stop toy commercials kids’ excitement is at a fever point.  Parents are also facing elevated stress levels.  But, in a world that so often emphasises the material side of celebrations and holidays, mindful gifting can offer a refreshing alternative. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. What is Mindful Gifting? Being mindful when gifting means recognizing that a gift is not just the physical exchange of presents.  It is, or at least should be, an expression of love and appreciation for the person receiving the gift.  For me, watching someone open their present is often more enjoyable than opening my own gifts.  I love watching the expression on the recipient’s face and it brings me great joy in knowing that my gift is loved. Mindful gifting goes beyond the price tag or the label.  It is about showing that you have put great thought into your gift and that you truly know and care about the recipient.  After all, it is easy to buy generic gifts but, will these really bring any joy?  When you put real thought into selecting the perfect gift it really shows and, the best thing about such a gift is that the recipient will truly feel the love behind it. Personalised Gifts One way of showing that you have gone the extra mile is by choosing a personalised gift.  This shows that you have taken time to understand the recipient’s preferences and interests.  This could be a custom-made piece of jewellery, a monogrammed passport or a travel journal.  Sporting equipment can also be personalised.  We love this personalised football plaque which we gifted to our youngest son for his birthday this year.  More of a golfer?  These personalised golf tees make a great gift.  You literally can personalise almost anything.  From gifts for wine lovers such as this electric bottle opener to this stunning bookmark for bookfiends. Gift Experiences Struggling on what to buy someone?  Why not consider giving a gift experience instead of a physical gift?  After all, experiences which can be shared also offer the opportunity to create lasting memories with your loved one. Examples can include a spa day, cooking classes, concerts or sporting tickets. Gift Your Time Whilst the world slowed down during Covid we are all now back on the fast lane of life.  This means that our time is now more valuable than ever.  With this in mind, why not consider the gift of your presence?  And by presence, I mean your undivided and fully present presence!  Consider planning a special day with a loved one.  Perhaps taking a hike, visiting a museum or going on a special dinner date.   Whilst you are at it, forget checking in on your phone and just enjoy the moment as it happens.  What other gift will show more clearly that you truly value the person you are with?   Alternatively, you can also give your time by volunteering in community projects.  After all, is there any other thing which better encapsulates the true spirit of the season? Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Gifting Looking for the perfect gift for a conservationist?  Then consider purchasing gifts made from recycled or organic materials or gifts which support local businesses.  Such gifts show that not only are you considering the recipient’s values but also the world we share. Handmade Gifts If you have a unique talent, perhaps you can knit or crochet, or maybe you are an amazing carpenter, why not make the ultimate personalised gift?  These can make the most precious of gifts and often can be the start of a family heirloom.  A hand me down which family members look forward to receiving.  I received two gorgeous handmade knitted blankets when my sons were born which I absolutely treasure.  I hope that one day they will be used again by my children for their own children. DIY gifts are not to be seen as a “cheap” option.  In fact, in my mind, not only do they allow you to express your creativity, but they also show the effort and care that you put into creating something truly unique and special for the person receiving the gift. Wrapped With Love Just as the thought which you put into buying or making a gift is important, so is the way you present the gift itself although I must admit that I am now guilty of rushing through my gift wrapping.  It hasn’t always been this way.  It used to be a process which I looked forward to.  It was part of the Christmas tradition – watching Christmas movies or listening to Christmas songs whilst carefully wrapping presents whilst munching on too many Christmas chocolates!   This year I hope to reclaim this tradition and view gift wrapping as an enjoyable task instead of a chore to speed through.  After all, there is enough rushing around on a day-to-day basis.  Christmas should be a time to slow down, reflect and connect with ourselves and our loved ones.  More importantly, the most valuable present that we can give at Christmas (or indeed any other time)  is BEING present!   Still Struggling? If you are still struggling to find the perfect present, don’t stress.  We have already done some of the leg (or scrolling) work for you.  Already on the blog, you will find great gift ideas for book lovers, football fans and wine aficionados.   Get In Touch Do you have any other suggestions for mindful gifting?  Share your stories and ideas with us – we love hearing from you. Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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Christmas Books For Your TBR List

The Top Christmas Books For Your TBR List

Christmas, the season of giving and receiving, making memories, family traditions, and eating tons of delicious food. But also, a time to slow down, watch heartwarming Christmas movies, and read late into the night. Our top Christmas books for your TBR list will have you smiling, laughing, and feeling good throughout the festive season. As a child, Christmas, along with summer, was the only time I was allowed to stay up late reading. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV, but reading was fair game. I have the fondest memories of reading in bed, cosy with a cup of tea. The house was quiet, and I felt as though I was literally in heaven As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. The Christmas Bookshop – Jenny Colgan Carmen, accustomed to her job at a local department store, faces uncertainty when it shuts down. When her sister, Sofia, proposes an opportunity in Edinburgh—a charming bookshop with a spare room in her house—Carmen hesitates, reluctant to accept help. With limited options, she arrives in the snowy city just a month before Christmas. Unbeknownst to Carmen, the shop is struggling, and she must turn things around before the owner is forced to sell. Sofia doubts a miracle can save the store, but this Christmas, Carmen might just surprise everyone. The Christmas Bookclub – Sarah Morgan A Lifelong Friendship…… Each year, Erica, Claudia, and Anna come together for their book club holiday. Bound by years of friendship and a profound love for books, they share a connection that goes beyond words… A delightful Christmas retreat……Meanwhile, in the charming Maple Sugar Inn, Hattie excels at turning her guests’ dreams into reality. However, this Christmas, all she craves is to survive the festive season. Juggling the responsibilities of running the inn and being a single mother, Hattie is on the verge of exhaustion. The beginning of a brand-new story…? Throughout a week filled with events, Hattie discovers that the friends are harbouring untold truths. Yet, nothing prepares her for how intricately her story will weave into theirs. Will this Christmas mark the conclusion of the book club’s narrative, or will it herald the beginning of an entirely new chapter? This Christmas – Emma Heatherington Two strangers. One double-booked cottage. This Christmas promises to be unforgettable… Rose, who used to love Christmas, retreated from the festive season after a life-changing year. She hasn’t returned home for the holidays since. Charlie faces his first Christmas alone, a season that’s supposed to be the most wonderful but feels otherwise this year. Seeking solace and seclusion, Rose escapes to a cottage in rural Donegal to spend the festive season alone. However, when Charlie opens the door to Seaview Cottage, the two strangers discover their holiday rental has been double-booked. Anticipating a solitary Christmas, they find an unexpected twist. Their lives may take a profound turn if they decide to share this holiday season together… One Day In December – Josie Silver Laurie is sceptical about love at first sight, dismissing it as a movie fantasy. However, a chance encounter on a misty bus ride changes everything when she locks eyes with a man she believes is “the one.” Unfortunately, the bus drives away, and Laurie thinks she’s lost him forever. To her surprise, he reappears at a party later in the year as her best friend Sarah’s new love. Despite trying to move on, Laurie wonders if fate has different intentions. Merrily Ever After – Cathy Bramley Merry fulfils her dream of having a family for Christmas by marrying Cole, a father of two. However, as she navigates her growing business, wedding preparations, and her new role as a stepmother, her dream starts to unravel. Emily eagerly awaits the New Year for a fresh start. Prioritizing her family over her own happiness, she discovers a photo in her father Ray’s possessions that could alter everything when he moves into a residential home. With past secrets emerging, will this Christmas be a magical memory for Emily and Merry? That Festive Feeling – Heidi Swan House-sitting in Nightingale Square for Christmas, Holly, newly single and uncertain about her career, plans to use the time to make life decisions.  During her early morning walks, she befriends May, an older lady who is also new to the area, and her dapper Dachshund Monty. A firm friendship quickly blossoms. Then, a chance meeting with the attractive Bear at the local pub adds to the appeal of her stay.  As the community celebrates the season, Holly must navigate distractions and make important decisions about her future. Will she find the festive feeling this Christmas? The Christmas Holiday – Philipa Ashley Krystle, longing for the warm family Christmases she never had, dedicates herself to creating perfect holidays for others. Her booming festive business leads her to rent a secluded house in the Lakes for the ultimate yuletide getaway. However, fate intervenes with a broken-down car, a flooded river, and Max, a man who dislikes Christmas. Undeterred, Krystle is determined to show Max the joys of the holiday season and melt his Grinch-like heart. Can Max, in turn, reveal that life’s magic often lies in unexpected moments? The Wedding Christmas Guest – Susan Mallery Reggie Somerville reluctantly returns home for her parents’ lavish Christmas wedding a year after being dumped by her fiancé. Facing town gossip, she unexpectedly runs into her first love Toby, stirring up old feelings. Meanwhile, Reggie’s sister Dena, single and intentionally pregnant, finds herself distracted by a handsome musician checking into her inn. A snow-kissed moment makes her question her Christmas wishes. As the Christmas wedding approaches, the sisters may discover the most unexpected gift of all – love. Snowed In For Christmas – Sarah Morgan Stuck in a snowstorm with the Miller

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Christmas-Eve-Box

Your Guide To A Memorable Christmas Eve Box

Christmas family traditions play a big part in our family dynamics. A few years ago, in the era of my trusty Cricut machine ownership, I discovered Christmas Eve Boxes. I delved into a whirlwind of research and crafting, determined to fashion the perfect Christmas Eve box for my kids.  Fast forward to today, my kids are all grown up, and my Cricut has found a new home. However, I do have grandkids, which is why I felt compelled to carry on the tradition and create magical boxes for them too. While personalized boxes remain my top choice, there’s no reason you can’t whip up an amazing Christmas Eve Box on a budget. Especially if you have more than one child. What Are Christmas Eve Boxes? Christmas Eve boxes have gained massive popularity in the past few years. They are typically packed with small gifts such as festive treats,  Christmas activities for kids, pyjamas, socks and books. They are meant to be opened on Christmas Eve, and it makes for a wonderful family tradition that can be passed down through the generations. The size of the box depends on how much you want to pack inside. I love customising mine with printables. For example, a nice list certificate from Santa, a heartfelt letter from the big man himself, and even shipping labels straight from the North Pole addressed to your little ones. The possibilities are endless.  Now. let’s dive into all the festive content needed to create a memorable Christmas Eve Box that will be a cherished memory for your children. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. Items Needed To Create A Wonderful Christmas Eve Box Complement With Our Free North Pole Printables Enjoy And Make Memories We sincerely hope that this blog post has provided valuable guidance in creating a heartwarming Christmas Eve Box for your cherished little ones. Merry Christmas from us to you! Milly & Colleene Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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Stocking Fillers

Stocking Fillers for £10 and under

‘Tis the season to be jolly! And what better way to spread Christmas cheer than with thoughtful stocking fillers? In this blog, we will explore a delightful collection of goodies that won’t break the bank but are sure to bring joy. Read on for our suggestions for stocking fillers for £10 and under. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. Stocking fillers for Dad Sports/DIY Gifts Food/Drinks Gifts Book gifts Games and Tech Gifts Toiletry Gifts Perfect presents for Mum Candles, Beauty and Toiletry Gifts Books and Inspirational Gifts Misc Gifts Stocking fillers for Teens Tech and Useful Gifts Beauty and Toiletry Gifts Stationary and Books Games Sweet Treats Fun Gifts for Kids Novelty Games Puzzles and LEGO Stationary Games Misc Gifts Gifts for Babies and Toddlers Happy Shopping With a little forward thinking and planning, we can find affordable gifts which the whole family will enjoy. We hope that these suggestions help you plough through your shopping list in a stress-free way! Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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elf on the shelf

Elf On The Shelf: Is It One Of Your Christmas Traditions?

Christmas is a time of magic and tradition. From choosing and decorating a tree to singing carols and visiting a crib.  Wearing Christmas jumpers and baking cookies for Santa are also long-standing Christmas traditions.  More recently, however, you may have seen and heard about The Elf On The Shelf.  But, what exactly is The Elf on the Shelf and is it one of your Christmas traditions?  If not, should it be? As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. The Elf on the Shelf is a tradition which started only as recently as 2005 with the publication of a children’s book of the same name written by Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell.  The book tells the story of a magical scout elf which is sent by Santa to keep an eye on children and provide him with daily reports.  Every day, the elf returns from the North Pole and part of the fun is searching for the elf to see where he will appear next. Pros of the Elf on the Shelf Tradition Cons of the Elf on the Shelf Tradition When deciding whether you want to start this tradition, be sure to carefully consider the following downsides to adopting an elf: Also, if your elf needs a magic top-up after being accidentally touched, sprinkle some glitter dust, cinnamon or sugar to help him “recharge”. Should I Adopt An Elf? Deciding whether to adopt an elf and introducing another Christmas tradition to your home will in essence come down to your values, other traditions and whether this will be a fun activity for your family or one which will cause unnecessary stress. If you do have an elf or will be looking to buy one this year, then we have you covered with 24 fun ideas. Elf’s Arrival When we first adopted our first elf Pluto, our doorbell rang and we found this big present direct from Santa.  Now when Pluto returns (together with our latest elves, Snowball, Icicle and our reindeer Cutie!) their entrances will range depending on how creative we are feeling! If you want to have a grand entrance you can have the elf swing in on a parachute or zip lining from a high spot in the house.  Another way to reintroduce your Elf is to have them arrive with a tiny suitcase or personalized note from Santa. Elf’s Movie Night Set up a mini movie theatre with popcorn and a tiny screen, featuring the Elf’s favourite holiday film. Elf’s Snow Angels Sprinkle flour or powdered sugar on a countertop, and have the Elf make snow angels. Elf’s Artistic Side Set up a small canvas, paint, and brushes for the Elf to create a tiny masterpiece. Elf’s Baking Adventure Have the Elf attempt to bake mini cookies in the dollhouse kitchen.  Make sure that your Elf is adequately dressed with these cute chef accessories.  Elf’s Yoga Class Position the Elf in various yoga poses with miniature yoga mat and props. Elf’s Elfie Set up a tiny photo booth with props and a miniature camera for the Elf to take “selfies.” Elf’s Post Office Have the Elf deliver tiny letters or messages to the kids. Elf’s Fishing Trip Create a fishing scene in a small bowl or sink, with the Elf “catching” mini fish. Elf’s Gift Wrapping Show the Elf wrapping tiny gifts for the kids, complete with a miniature gift-wrapping station.  Add some sweets (candy) to tiny gift-wrapped boxes for an extra little treat. Elf’s Candy Shop Create a candy store scene with the Elf as the shopkeeper, surrounded by mini candy and treats. Elf’s Bookworm Have the Elf reading a tiny book to other toys or stuffed animals. Elf’s Spa Day Set up a spa scene with the Elf relaxing in a small bathrobe bathrobe and towel, surrounded by mini spa products. Elf’s Science Experiment Create a simple science experiment setup with the Elf as the scientist.  Use a science set or place some Skittles around a plate with a note telling your little ones to add some water and watch for the magic. Elf’s Game Night Arrange a game night with the Elf playing board games or cards with other toys. Elf’s Wrapping Mishap Show the Elf caught in a tangle of wrapping paper and ribbon. Elf’s Workout Routine Position the Elf with miniature exercise equipment, like tiny weights or a yoga mat.  You can also have your elf falling after a skating attempt! Elf’s Sleigh Ride Create a sledge or sleigh using small objects, with the Elf ready for a ride.  A fun option is creating this with chocolate treats – this doubles up as a little gift for your little one. Elf’s Sweet Tooth Have the elf perch on a mountain of cans to reach the counter and treat jar and surround him with empty candy wrappers and a guilty look on his face. Toasty Elf Make an elf toast with a note saying “Brrrr it was really cold but now I’m really toasty! Elf’s Snowball Fight Set up a snowball fight scene with cotton balls as snowballs. Elf’s The Floor Is Lava Have your elf hanging off a piece of furniture with a note saying “The floor is lava” Elf on the Shelf Redecorates the Tree Grab a roll of toilet paper and wrap it around your Christmas tree.  Place your elf on the top of the tree holding on to the end of the tissue! Elf Cereal Spelling Have your elf spell his name or a note with cheerios. Elf’s Goodbye Note On Christmas Eve, have the Elf leave a heartfelt goodbye note, thanking the kids for the fun and memories. Top Tip: A great way to name your Elf is to use an online name generator! These ideas should

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