The Art Of Giving Your Kids “Fun” Practical Gifts

Whether it’s a birthday, Christmas, or your kid just got a fantastic grade on a piece of schoolwork, choosing the perfect gift for your little one can be hard work. You probably worry about it more than they do because many birthday and Christmas gifts just end up being novelties that your child will forget about a few weeks down the line anyway. Of course, you might be giving this so much thought because you don’t want things to be that way. You want your child to remember this present and you also want it to be useful in their life. These helpful tips might just help you master the art of giving your kids “fun” practical gifts.

Replacing broken or worn-out things.

The best way to combine gift-giving with a practical task that you’ve been meaning to tick off your ‘To Do’ list is to think about all the things in your child’s life that need fixing or replacing. Perhaps you could even think about the practical things your kid needs that they don’t yet have. You could use this gift-giving occasion as a chance to update things in your child’s bedroom; they grow up so fast that their room will become childish and outdated in their eyes quickly. Perhaps you could look into high sleeper loft beds to give your kid an exciting upgrade from their current bed but also, on a practical level, to open up more space in the room. The space beneath the bed could be used for storage, a desk, or a fun play zone. I think we know which of those your child would prefer.

Clothes are also a smart investment if you’re looking for something practical that can be gifted at any time of year. It doesn’t matter how old or how young your kid is; everybody needs clothes. Of course, you should try to search for cute and exciting outfits that your kid will love; don’t go for socks because, whilst adult may relish in such a practical gift, children really don’t. If you’re buying a present for Christmas, you could give your little one some cute mittens, a woolly hat, and other wintery/Christmas-themed clothing that’s fun but doubles up as a practical gift. Everyone’s a winner.

Going on a fun day out.

A great way to give your kids a gift that’ll really help them make some memories is to take them on a fun day out. It’s more practical to buy a gift that they’ll remember for the rest of their life rather than one which will be far more expensive and forgotten a week after you give it to them. And the key to a successful day out is one that suits your child’s interests. What’s their favorite place in the world? Maybe it’s the park. In which case, you won’t have to spend any money at all but you’ll be giving them the most exciting gift in the world: spending a fun day with their loved ones. Sometimes, the most practical way to buy the perfect present (for any occasion) is to think less about money and more about what would make the biggest impact on your child.

Throwing a party.

The best kind of gift for any occasion is a party. Whether it’s a birthday, Christmas, new year, or your child has just finished another year of school, the best way to celebrate is to throw a party for them and their friends. Again, it’s a practical idea because you don’t have to spend a lot of money and it’s guaranteed to be a success; hanging out with pals is always going to put a smile on your kid’s face. Of course, you should probably make sure there’s cake too.

Hidden Sources of Stress and How to Avoid Them

The average person today probably has access to more luxuries than ever before in human history. We have the wisdom and digital entertainment of the world at our fingertips courtesy of the internet, central heating in our homes, sofas, access to tasty snacks from 24-hour supermarkets, selections of home goods from sites like Bathroom Takeaway, and more.

Yet for all that, there’s a stress epidemic going around, with huge numbers of people feeling overwhelmed by the challenges and difficulties of day-to-day life.

Luckily, there are things that can be done to tackle this issue and restore some sense of calm and balance to our existences.

Here are a few hidden sources of stress that might be afflicting you.

Social media

Social media can be a great thing, for a whole host of different reasons. It allows us to maintain contact with distant friends and family, organise and coordinate events months in advance and with laser precision, and, of course, enjoy the interesting photos our acquaintances choose to share from their latest holiday.

For all those benefits, however, social media can also be a tremendous source of stress and unease.

For one thing, spending too much time on social media conditions us to constantly obsess over how people perceive us, often leading to anxiety and self-doubt if our latest profile picture doesn’t get enough “likes”.

For another, the constant stream of exciting-life-updates can lead to us comparing ourselves ruthlessly to everyone we know, and feeling depressed if we don’t seem to measure up.

Consider cutting back on the social media. Maybe force yourself to check the sites for only 10 minutes a day, or even only once a week.


Coffee may well be the most popular drink in the world, and if it doesn’t take the number one spot exactly, it surely can’t be far off. No matter where you go in the world you’ll find you’ve never more than a few minutes from the nearest steaming pot of wake-up-juice.

And while coffee is delicious, and associated with various health benefits, it’s definitely possible to have too much of a good thing.

Excess caffeine intake spikes production of the stress hormone cortisol, meaning that if you’re a heavy coffee addict, you might be in a constant state of stress and anxiety, for no other reason than your choice of beverage.

Cut back to a cup a day, or switch to a drink like matcha green tea, which balances the stress-inducing caffeine with the relaxing L-Theanine.

Sleep deprivation

If coffee is often abused like a hard drug, it’s largely because too few people are getting enough sleep on a nightly basis.

It’s easy to see why this could be the case. On one hand, there’s work that needs to get done. On the other, our evenings can easily be spent surfing the web, watching TV, or hitting the local bars with our friends.

As tempting as it is to squeeze every last drop of entertainment out of our free time, however, there are some real benefits to getting an extra hour or two of shut-eye a night.

Put simply, sleep deprivation messes up our hormone production. It makes us more stressed, more likely to fall ill, less mentally sharp, and it just drains a lot of our vitality overall.

Top Fitness Tips For The Winter From Personal Fitness Trainer Toby Garbett

“As a personal trainer and coach, I often find people let their fitness levels slip over the winter months, and regular exercisers become more sporadic. Even as an Olympic and World champion rower myself, the thought of winter training when icy water splashes around in and around the boat on wet, windy cold days is not inspiring. This can lead to an increased risk of injury as people forget that they are not in their peak summer fitness and often challenge themselves with similar intensity workouts, without the baseline fitness or warming up correctly. This can lead to poor motivation due to feeling despondent that they are not as fit as they thought they were, or even worse, injury. Such injuries can subsequently have a negative impact in further training and create a vicious cycle of recurrent injury and reduced fitness.”


Here are some of the most common barriers to exercising in winter, along with Toby’s top tips for addressing them:

1) “It’s dark. We all feel the need to hibernate a little over the winter months. Going for a run in the dark can feel less interesting and even less safe than doing so in the warm evening sun. I suggest teaming up with a buddy to do any form of outdoor evening fitness. If you have committed to meet up with someone you are less likely to back out. You will be safer in a group of two or more, and it also adds interest as a weekly (or more!) meet up, to what might otherwise be a boring work-out.”

2) “Mood. Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) to some degree. This is when the nights draw in and we are exposed to less sunlight, which can adversely affect our mood. This lowering of our mood can lead to lower self-esteem and motivation and makes us naturally less inclined to get out and exercise more. Interestingly, what we should be doing is the exact opposite, and exercising MORE! Exercise releases endorphins, which can have a positive effect on our mood, even after we’ve stopped exercising. I find when I explain to my clients that exercise can have a positive impact on not just their body but also their mind over the winter, they feel more able to engage with any programme we develop.”

3) “It’s cold. We are naturally less inclined to get out and do our fitness when it is chilly outside, and it takes willpower not to curl up with a hot chocolate instead! One remedy to this would be to find an indoor fitness space, such as a gym, but it is also entirely possible to do a good workout at home without a lot of space, for example by doing a high intensity programme. If you much prefer the outdoors, you could motivate yourself to get out there by treating yourself to some new winter fitness kit to wear. This isn’t entirely for vanity though. When our muscles are cold, we are more likely to suffer injury.”

4) “Lack of a goal. Over the summer, there are many sporting events to sign up to and challenge yourself with. These tail off significantly in the winter. I would advise signing yourself up for a challenge in the spring, and write yourself a basic training programme which will help keep you motivated over the winter. Of course, this doesn’t have to be of the same high intensity as you would do in the immediate build up to an event, but it is important to maintain a baseline level of fitness on which to build as you get closer to the event.”

5) “Eat up. Eating well is key to fuelling your body and sustaining fitness levels. Studies indicate that eating beetroot can have a positive effect on sports performance due to its high nitrate levels. It can help increase oxygen uptake for improved cardiorespiratory fitness so make this a regular part of your winter diet to optimise what training you do. They can be bought ready to eat and flavoured so are a quick and easy way to add to post work-out meals.”

6) “Illness. As an Olympic rower, I spent a lot of time out on the cold water, both at home in winter and overseas at altitude camps where the climate is colder. Cold weather inhibits your immune system which leaves us more prone to the illnesses which are naturally more prevalent in winter. I found a good way to attempt to address this problem and boost my own immunity was to eat a healthy diet rich in vitamins and other micronutrients. Beetroot provides a good source of these, such as folate, potassium, vitamin C, phosphorous, iron, magnesium and zinc. It is easy to add to your daily diet as it comes in many forms such as pickled, flavoured, roasted or raw, meaning you can keep up the interest and variety.”

Higgidy Launches a New Frittata Product This October

This October Higgidy are launching an exciting new range of pastry-free Frittatas. From the creaminess of the Welsh Goat’s Cheese & Leek Frittata and the sweetness of Higgidy’s CherryBell Pepper, Feta & Spinach recipe, to the smokiness of the Chorizo, Feta & Roasted Pepper Frittata, Higgidy have created a whole selection of egg-based deliciousness.

Frittata, an egg-based Italian dish similar to an omelette or crustless quiche, is often combined with additional ingredients such as meats, cheeses and vegetables and is usually fried. However, Higgidy have chosen to skip the frying and instead opt for a healthier baked option, packed with vibrant ingredients and the result is a delicious wedge of wholesomeness.


Whether gently warmed in the oven and drizzled with a tangy salsa verde for a quick midweek dinner, or cut into wedges and eaten as part of a desktop picnic, Higgidy’s range of Frittatas make for the ideal convenient meal or snack, whatever the time of day.

Camilla Stephens, Co-Founder of Higgidy: “Our Higgidy frittata is a wedge of wholesomeness that’s versatile and convenient – great for packed lunches, a quick midweek supper or meze meals shared with friends. I think frittata easily bridges the gap between food for now and food for later.”

Full of fresh, free-range eggs, the Higgidy Frittatas are full of goodness, containing protein, omega-3 fats, B-vitamins, zinc, magnesium and many other nutrients. What’s more, eggs are a natural source of vitamin D too – something the Brits are usually lacking! With frittatas increasingly being championed by chefs and foodies alike, including names such as the Hemsley sisters, Nigel Slater and Jamie Oliver, who celebrate them as quick and convenient dish, the Higgidy range is aimed to appeal as a lighter and healthier option for those who are always on the go. The new Higgidy frittata range will be available from October 25th in Waitrose stores from £4 and from November 6th in branches of Tesco.

Have a Hauntingly Good Halloween at Manchester’s Revolution and Revolución de Cuba!

This Halloween get ready to creep it real with five of Manchester’s best bars – Revolution and Revolución de Cuba where they’ll be hosting some chilling events and serving up freakishly fang-tastic cocktails…

Revolution’s Night of the Bat – 27th & 28th October

Revolution are all about the boos so this Halloween, celebrate the ‘Night of the Bat’ with the bar’s Big Freak-end, guaranteed to be the freakiest party in town! Eat, drink and be scary with this Bacardi fright-fest on Friday 27th October (featuring a happy hour from 5pm) and Saturday 28th October, where complimentary canapés and cocktail tastings will be on offer late into the night.

Revolución de Cuba’s Day of the Dead Takeover – 31st October

Revolución de Cuba will be teaming up with El jimador to bring all souls together with a Taco Tuesday Day of the Dead takeover on 31st October. Tuck into tacos, dance to the freaky beats and sip on a selection of frighteningly good cocktails.


Creepy Cocktails – until 5th November

 Available until the 5th November, revel in a collection of spook-tacular drinks at both Revolution and Revolución de Cuba – let’s get this party startled.

Stay lively at Revolution with the Zombie Apocolypse, a mix of Bacardi and Wray & Nephew rum, muddled together with grenadine, lime, pineapple and passion fruit; or the Choccy Horror Freak Shake with Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum, Amaretto, Half and Half, vanilla liqueur, whipped cream and chocolate sauce, piled high with sweet treats (and no tricks). If ghouls are your game, sip on the Spooky Juice – a ghostly mix of Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum and Malibu, blue Curaçao and pineapple juice, garnished with a mint and a gruesome message guaranteed to give you the jitters. Or indulge in Snow White’s Kryptonite; the Poison Apple Frappé, made using Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum, Midori and Revolution’s Big Apple Handcrafted Flavour, blended with apple, strawberry and lemon. If you want to share the screams, go mad for the monster-sized p-IT-cher, featuring the iconic red balloon and loaded with Bacardi Carta Blanca rum, passion fruit, lime, grenadine and pineapple juice.

Meanwhile, the team at Revolución de Cuba will serving up some Day of the Dead themed delights, including the Paloma, mixed with El jimador tequila, grapefruit, lime and sugar and Ting; and the Skele-tini, a bone-a-fide winner wth El jimador tequila, shaken with Kahlúa coffee liqueur, cream, vanilla and a shot of espresso. Día de Los Muertos doesn’t start until the arrival of the Mariposa, so start the night with Revolución de Cuba’s own Raspberry Mariposa with El jimador tequila, sugar, lime, fresh raspberries and Ting; or dabble with Los Meurtos a tempting mix of El jimador tequila and Amaretto, sweetened with apple, lavender and lime.

If you’ve got it, haunt it.

Multi-Family Holidays – The Answer To Every Parent’s Dream?

Last year the British public spent £43.8 billion on visiting overseas holiday destinations. In light of the EU referendum in June 2016, and the dramatic fall of sterling against the Euro that followed, the cost of travel to Europe has shot up. The hike in prices will be felt by people looking to book a trip to their favourite destinations in 2018, with the average family of four expected to pay an eye-watering £2,851 to travel abroad.

An upward trend in the popularity of luxury ski holidays among UK holidaymakers might well be threatened by these rising costs.  The team at Les Rives d’Argentière, a five-star luxury ski resort in Chamonix Mont-Blanc, have a simple solution for those reluctant to give up on their dream holiday: invite extended family.


Martin Bromley, General Manager of Les Rives d’Argentière, said,

“We know the majority of British visitors prefer to stay in chalets when they go skiing, as opposed to hotels, but with the weakened pound this is likely to become more expensive.

“As such, we’re encouraging families and larger groups to make bookings together. The financial impact of hiring a private chalet will be drastically reduced by dividing the costs of catering and accommodation between more people.”

When it comes to travelling with extended family, the financial incentive alone might not be enough for some –  luckily, there are plenty of other perks to bringing relatives on a ski chalet holiday. Parents who have tried to arrange holidays in the past will know just how important it is to have entertainment for the children and having other children in the party offers a new avenue of possibilities.

Whether it’s a snowball fight, ski lessons on the slopes, or an evening of board games, the children can entertain each other while the adults take a well-earned break. And it doesn’t just have to be the extended family; the same benefits apply to a group of friends looking to travel together. Additionally, having family members or friends so close by could equate to sharing childcare.

If a volunteer can’t be found from within the group, Les Rives d’Argentière also offers childminding services, provided by fully trained chalet managers, which offers a level of freedom and flexibility.

Of course, Chamonix Mant-Blanc is best known for its world-class skiing, and holidaymakers of all ages and abilities who head to the region during the ski season will not be disappointed by the range of routes and top-notch training on offer. However, for those that want to reduce the cost of their family holiday even further, booking ski chalets during the summer off-season can result in savings of up to two thirds across flights, accommodation and activities.

Martin Bromley adds, “With temperatures consistently above 20°C between June and September Chamonix makes a great option for summer holidays, without the rush of the crowds.