How to do all your Christmas Shopping Online

It’s the most wonderful time of the year; the streets and shops are packed with people all fighting for that last bargain left on the shelf, and people become almost crazed with the stress of having to buy presents and food for all. If this sounds like you, and you still haven’t managed to make it to the shops, then don’t panic. Here’s a guide to how you can have a totally online Christmas, providing you stick to a few simple steps…

how to get all of your Christmas shopping completed without leaving the house

1. Set a realistic budget 
As with any shopping list, it’s important to set a budget, but people always tend to feel panicked whilst Christmas shopping, surrounded by people and the pressure to put it in your basket simply because you’re there. When you shop around online though, you can do so with your feet up, cup of tea in hand, so you can set your budget at a realistic level, rather than allocating extra money for impulse buys.

2. Make a list and stick to it 
When you have your budget, make a list of all the people you need to buy for, and write down some gift ideas. This will help you narrow down which e-stores you visit and how long you spend looking; for example, if your children all want a selection of DVDs, books and gadgets, it’s a fair bet that you’ll be able to find a lot of your gifts on Amazon.

3. Opt for well-known, reputable brands
You might be concerned that you’ll end up buying something from a fake website by mistake and getting scammed, but this is easily avoided if you stick to well-known reputable brands. For example, stick to department stores for homeware and electricals, and for fine jewellery, head to luxury retailer ChloBo over at ChloBo.co.uk. You can also look out for certain giveaway signs, such the padlock icon in the search bar which confirms a secure website – for more of these tips, click here.

4. Hunt through the sales 
This is the best time of year to buy; following on from Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness, there are still plenty of deals to be had. Plus, if you want to get ahead on next year, when the festivities are winding down on Christmas Day evening, this is when the Boxing Day sales begin online. Bag yourself the best bargains for New Year’s Eve outfits and birthday presents for next year.

5. Some extra tips 
If you’ve managed to find a couple of retailers who stock the same product and you’re not sure who to buy with, look out for free delivery, additional introductory offers when you sign up to newsletters, and extended guarantees or warranties. Also, if you find the perfect present but it’s out of stock, don’t forget to phone up local stores. It’s often the case that online stock is based off warehouses, so get in touch with the relevant department and ask if they have any left. Are you opting for an online Christmas this year?

*Collaborative Post*

Family Fun at Christmas with The Christmas Bingo Card
*Disclosure : This is a sponsored post*

Today the realisation hit that it is Christmas NEXT WEEK! Straight to Amazon I went, I seriously love Prime. Stocking fillers and remainder of presents sorted I started to think about Christmas Day itself, we’re hosting Christmas again this year and obviously it has to be full of fun and laughter. I love a good game, but, I’m not the best at general knowledge so a game that requires very little thinking and is suitable for most ages ticks all the boxes for me.

Christmas Bingo card free to download

This bingo card, created by bingo site experts Paddy Power is fab. It covers traditions such as sprouts and arguments on Eastenders, as well as drunk relatives and overeating, also the lesser likely snow! See how many you can tick off and how traditionally British your holidays is.

I’m pretty sure I would be able to tick the majority of these off, though I may struggle with a full house as I don’t watch Eastenders and the chances of it actually snowing on Christmas day are slim but none!

What would you like to see included on your family Christmas Bingo card? I would definitely change Eggnog to Snowballs as they are our traditional family tipple at Christmas time!

Six Ways to Fill Up Your Penny Jar This Christmas
*Disclosure : This is a collaborative guest post*

I know we say it every year, but it’s barely believable that Christmas is less than three weeks away. It’s unfathomable as to where the time goes, and this year feels like it’s just motored along. Yet we’re firmly within the grips of the month of advent now, and it’s a pretty exciting time. Exciting, and expensive, I suppose.

six ways to fill your penny jar this christmas - tips to save money at christmas

Things like money certainly aren’t the be all and end all, and don’t diminish the warm, fuzzy glow we all get with the excitement in the air, lights everywhere and the sense of holidays, and fun and mirth that will be had with friends and family. But there’s no getting away from the fact that with all the festivities, social fun and, of course, present shopping, December can be a month where finances are tight.

Luckily, there are easy ways to give yourself a boost in this regard. Here are a few things you can do to give the coffers a helping hand…

1. Save a bucket load on energy

It’s a bit farcical really. The oil price plummeted last year, but electricity and gas prices barely dropped a penny. Now that oil has moved upwards again, companies are more than happy to push up their prices, with those on standard variable tariffs most likely to get stung. The time to switch is now if that applies to you, and it could mean you save as much as £300 a year. And, to make it more enticing, there’s barely any hassle involved for you – it’s all down to the companies themselves to facilitate the change for you.

2. Cashback credit cards

With so many credit card platforms out there gunning for your business, it’s no wonder they have such generous cashback offers at the moment. Some offer cashback of up to 5 per cent on all credit card spend (albeit for a limited period of time). You can find a list of the best deals here. Just make sure to get this right: pay off your balance in full each month! Otherwise the high rates of interest will eat into your rewards.

3. Switch banks and get paid!

As with energy providers, switching current accounts is as easy as 1, 2, 3. But in this case, you actually get paid for doing it. And handsomely, too. It’s competitive out there, with M&S, TSB, First Direct and Halifax all offering £100 for signing up with them, albeit with a few Ts & Cs relating to minimum monthly deposits, and a couple of other basic footnotes. Perhaps the most appealing of the bunch is the Halifax Reward Current Account, which offers an additional £5 a month as a bolt-on bonus (although this drops to £3 a month from February).

4. Don’t let your money sit idle

When considering which bank to switch to, don’t only think about the initial perks. Look at what rate of interest you’ll be earning as well. Accounts like the Santander 123 account offer decent returns of 1.5 per cent, or if you’re willing to take on slightly more risk, peer-to-peer lending can earn you returns of up to 5 per cent, and the launch of a new ISA will make it even more attractive. The bottom line is that the effort is in working for your money. So when you actually have some money to set aside, you want to make sure that it works for you.

5. Flog old goods

What better time to do an inventory of all your possessions than Christmas? Be ruthless: decide what you realistically need, and identify the things you don’t which may have some re-sale value. Whether it’s DVD players, books, or even jewellery, there are plenty of sites where you can flog such items and earn decent amounts of cash.

6. Sell on your wedding dress

This one will not appeal to everyone, and obviously a wedding dress carries sentimental value. But if your practical mind outweighs such sentimentality, then this could fetch you north of £500. Second-hand dresses are becoming more and more popular as the costs of weddings continue to spiral. This puts you in the box seat, and if you’re up for giving it a good clean and boxing it up, you can make a good little bung by selling it off sites like Preloved, while The Dressmarket is a niche site whereby you can put up an ad for free.

If you’re fancying more money saving tips, check out today’s Vlogmas, tips to save money at Christmas.

We Met Santa in Hamleys, Cardiff
*Disclosure : We were invited to Hamleys free of charge in exchange for honest feedback*

Aria is a very lucky girl as she was invited along to a party with Santa and his elves at Hamleys in Cardiff. Hamleys are hosting Christmas parties in selected stores right up until 24 December. The parties are aimed at 2-8 year olds and promise to be packed full of fun with games, activities, snacks, time with Santa and a gift to take home.

Review of Hamleys Santa Christmas parties in Cardiff store

We  were met at the door by a group of very excited and enthusiastic elves who took us through to the party room, but they would only take us if we agreed to sing, yep, we walked through Hamleys in a line singing Christmas songs – the other customers weren’t sure whether to laugh or join in, one or two did actually join the line and sing with us, I think they were a little confused!

We had a little bit of drama as the door to the party room was stuck, but thankfully with a little bit of magic we were in. The party room itself is lovely, the Christmas set up is very cosy with a little fire roaring away and an armchair for Santa. It is very small but lovely all the same.

We started with cookie decorating, unfortunately the tubes of icing were too hard for Aria to squeeze, but with daddy’s help she managed to have fun. The promised snacks came in the form of the cookies that we had just decorated, but Aria refused to eat her piece of art work.

cookie decorating at Hamleys Christmas party in Cardiff

Once the cookies were decorated and we persuaded Santa to come and see us with a bit of singing the children sat on the rug by the fireside while Santa read Twas The Night Before Christmas to them. This was lovely, a really nice moment and I have to say that Santa was amazing, one of the best Santa’s that I’ve seen.

Santa reading to the children at Hamleys Christmas party in Cardiff store

Once the reading had finished the children were invited to play games with the elves and Santa, unfortunately the games involved walking/running which Aria isn’t yet able to do unaided, plus they were generally a little bit too old for her, but she isn’t yet two yet which is the suggested minimum age, plus she isn’t quite up to speed with most other children her age.

Once the games are over the children get to write their wish list for Santa and meet the man himself. You get a lot of time with Santa, he takes the time to chat to the child and the parents, and really tries his best to make the child comfortable and, most importantly, smile for the camera! As well as having the time to sit on Santa’s knee he also wanders around during the party and spoke to Aria on several occasions.

photo with santa at Hamleys Cardiff

We  had such a great time, the party was lovely and, as always, it was nice to meet up with local bloggers Cardiff Mummy Says, We Made This Life, All About A Mini Norris, First Time Valley Mam and Baby Holiday.

We came away with a lovely goody bag from Santa which included a new tree ornament, a gorgeous ‘I Met Santa at Hamleys’ teddy, a Mr Men Meet Father Christmas book and a big bar of chocolate. Aria was also handed a helium balloon which she loved.

Tickets for this event are priced at £19.99 per child and can be booked here. The massive down side for me is that you are only allowed one adult per paying child. I can see why they do this as the room is small and could very easily get overcrowded, but, as a one child family, this could be a deal breaker. If we were paying almost £20 for a Santa experience I would want both of us to be able to attend. They do say that two adults can go, and you can take it in turns while one waits in the shop, but it really isn’t ideal.

Watch my short video to get in the festive spirit and see a bit more of the experience.

The Family Christmas Gift Guide
*Items marked with an * were either gifted to me for the purpose of this post or have sponsored this post*

It’s November, which in blog land means CHRISTMAS! I have been working on this Christmas gift guide for a little while now and am super excited to finally be able to share it. The guide includes gifts for everyone, so the little ones and the big ones, something for the whole family. If you’re looking for Christmas treats for mam & dad and fun for the children, then look no further.

the family christmas gift guide - a gift guide including gifts for the whole family - children's christmas toys - adults Christmas treats

Christmas gift guide - presents for mother-mam-nan-nanny-mum - Weleda gift set

This Weleda Pampering Gift Bag* includes body wash, body lotion and a bath scrunchie. The Pomegranate body care includes organic pomegranate seed oil which is an antioxidant that protects the skin from dying out and premature ageing. This is the perfect gift for the busy mam or nan.

Great British Bake Off fridge magnets - Christmas gift guide for the gbbo lover

These Great British Bake Off fridge magnets* are super cute and make the perfect little stocking filler for the GBBO fans out there. The Bake Off range is currently stocked at Debenhams.

wooden christmas pudding coaster set from create gift love

This Wooden Christmas Pudding Coaster Set* from Creategiftlove is ideal for the Christmas fanatics! The coasters are made FSC Certified wood and are super high quality.

personalised white boards and glass boards from teacher boards - notice board supplier

These personalised whiteboards Teacher Boards* make a fab gift for pretty much everyone. You can purchase standard boards or send in your own art work to create a unique and personalised whiteboard or noticeboard. I quite fancy a blogger daily task list for myself.

bright pink selfie stick from Primark

The selfie stick is a present for my seven year old niece who is currently considering setting up her own YouTube channel. Selfie sticks are suitable for pretty much anyone of any age, provided that they like selfies! This particular selfie stick came from Primark. I am planning to buy some Shopkins and use my glue gun to transfer this into a unique Shopkins selfie stick. If I manage to pull it off there will be a blog post.

hot pink action camera - 1080P full hd - less than £15 - GoPro alternative

This hot pink action cam is a complete bargain at less than £15. It is available in a range of colours as well as pink, I’m currently awaiting delivery of the pink version for my selfie crazy niece. The action cam and selfie stick are a great gift for a budding YouTuber!

Messy Monster Talking Soft Toy from Messy goes to Okido Christmas gift guide for the whole family

The Messy Monster Talking Soft Toy* is great for Messy Goes to OKIDO fans. Squeeze him to hear some of his favourite sounds and phrases from the TV show. He is super soft to touch making him an ideal comforter and friend.

DinoSaur DNA kit TyRannoSaurus Rex - excavate and re-create with augmented reality - make your own life size dinosaur

The Dino DNA Kit* aimed at ages eight and over is perfect for the budding palaeontologist. Bring your very own dinosaur to life by excavating and re-creating with augmented reality. Once you have completed the code and downloaded the app a life size dinosaur will appear and you can film your very own mini movie! Watch this YouTube video to see the Dinosaur kit in action.

menu-u selection box - box of mini toiletries - christmas gift guide for dad/ grandad

The men-ü selection box* contains a 100ml shower gel and six various 15ml tubes, the perfect gift for the man who travels or the man who is simply looking to trial a new skin care regime. 

pull along wooden toys dog and elephant from hape - toddler Christmas gift ideas

Hape stock the cutest range of wooden toys, including this beautiful pull along elephant* and walk along puppy*. As well as stimulating the imagination these toys will help your child to learn balance.

shabby chic wooden toy kitchen cut out hearts pretty - toddler Christmas gift guide

Talking of beautiful wooden toys, we will be buying this shabby chic style wooden toy kitchen for Aria’s main present this year. Kids love kitchens and as it has to go on display in my house (probably the dining/living room) I want to ensure that it looks good. This kitchen ticks all boxes as it has draws and doors to open, knobs to twist and it looks super pretty. We will also be buying some cute wooden kitchen tools to go along with the kitchen.

Christmas gift ideas for the whole family - Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit personalised little guide to life books

Historic Newspapers have recently launched a beautiful collection of personalised Beatrix Potter little guide books*. These well presented books are perfect timeless keepsakes and come in a choice of the guide to harmony, guide to virtue and guide to life. These books are perfect for adult and child alike.

If you’re still struggling for ideas then why not download Zeek and purchase some discounted gift vouchers? If you download via my link you will receive £5 off your first purchase.

Before doing your Christmas shopping don’t forget to sign up to cash back sites such as Quidco and KidStart.