Kids toys don't get more traditional than a bucket and spade set, which is perfect for spending hours shovelling sand and building sandcastles.
We have long been fans of Dantoy, a company which makes a wide range of eco-friendly children's toys, and their bucket and spade set is certain to be loved by any child who enjoys playing outdoors.
The Dantoy play set comes with an eco-friendly bioplastic bucket, spade, rake and watering can, all of which are made with sugarcane, making them totally non toxic. So, they are both safe and cute, which is a bonus!
Given we live in London, beaches are hard to come by, so we took our play set to the sandpit of our local playground to give it a test run. My three-year-old loved carrying around the bucket and filling it and emptying it, time and time again. Sometimes it really is the simplest things in life that really do give us the greatest pleasure.
It's hard to keep kids entertained during lockdown when options are limited, so I'm always looking for new ways to keep my kids busy and myself sane. Not always an easy task.
My three-year old loves helping us in the kitchen and pretending he's a chef, so this super cute and very realistic pastry set from Dantoy, is just the ticket for keeping him amused.
The 11-piece set comes with a rolling pin, cookie cutters, two mixing bowls, a whisk, and of course, a pastry cutter! We've found that the cookie cutters are also great for making shapes with PlayDoh when you're not busy baking. I love when something is dual purpose!
All items carry the Nordic Swan Ecolable and are toxic free without phthalates, perfumes or BPAs, so it ticks all the right eco boxes, too. Interestingly, the products are made with 90% sugarcane, which comes from pesticide-free plantations in Brazil.
All items are also dishwasher safe, so you can throw them in the dishwasher after the baking fun is done, making clean up a breeze.
The Dantoy Pastry Kit is available from Smallable.com for £21.00.
Stubble & Co The Weekender Bag
I love a weekender bag, and I much prefer men’s weekender bags, as I find they are much roomier than women’s versions.Why do I love a weekender bag? Because it holds a promise of being whisked away for a fabulous weekend! Sadly, the pandemic has more or less put a stop to any “whisking away” as such, however we did manage one wee sneaky staycation at my family holiday home. No rules were broken in road testing this holdall, we adhered to all the rules and restrictions of the pandemic.
I’m a sucker for a dust bag and this comes with one, which is extremely handy when storing the bag away. The bag has been crafted with premium waterproof canvas, and is made of natural full grain leather and has YKK zips. It has a 42litre capacity and as I am known as someone who packs everything and the kitchen sink, this extra space comes in handy. It has a high-density protection 15-inch laptop pocket and additionally a safe and secure inner pocket. There is also an outer pocket, perfect to have quick access to my smartphone.
This bag is the brainchild of Ben Watkiss who started the company through kickstarter. His goal was to create good quality bags to suit our needs for our busy lifestyles, I would like to say he has succeeded.
I loved this bag, it is durable, roomy and stylish and ticks all the boxes. I cannot wait until we can freely travel once more, as I am sure that this weekender will become my constant travel companion.
Pros: The interior laptop pocket is fab, my laptop has my life on it, and I like the fact that I don’t have to carry it separately. The pocket is very sturdy and I felt that it was quite safe from damage. I love the fact that it is a timeless classic and if looked after properly it is something that I will happily hand down to my teenage son or daughter if she gets to it first, she is already eyeing it up! It is also very reasonably priced.
Cons: It is quite a heavy bag, weighing an impressive 1.5kg, however the fact that it is sturdy makes up for that.
Available from Stubble and Co.com for £155.00.
HyperX Alloy Elite II keyboard
This cool, rainbow-hued gaming keyboard will certainly up anyone's game and certainly puts a bit of pizzazz into your typing! Built with speed and responsiveness in mind, you can trust your key inputs. The solid keys give you a real sense of purpose, as if you are actually accomplishing way more than you are.
Available from Currys PC World for £89.99.
HyperX Cloud Stinger S headphones
This headset has excellent surround sound, and blocks any exterior noises. It has 50mm directional drivers that pump out high-quality sound with pinpoint audio description. The memory foam and soft leatherette are lightweight which makes them comfortable. It also has 90degree rotating ear cups and a swivel-to-mute noise-cancellation microphone.
Available from Amazon.co.uk for £59.99.
BEAUTY AND PAMPERING
Treat someone to eco-friendly beauty essentials – MÁDARA Ocean Love Clean Essentials gift set
This gorgeous gift set contains 100 ml purifying foam and a 60 ml daily defense balm nestled in a cute box in a fun and vibrant print, making it perfect for tucking under the tree this Christmas. Suitable for all skin types, this gentle, non-irritating purifying foam is a highly effective face cleanser that removes makeup and impurities and leaves your skin feeling fresh and clean – without drying out your skin.
The multi-purpose daily defense balm nurtures skin, while protecting against dryness and roughness in harsh weather conditions, making it perfect for the cold winter months. Suitable for hands body and face.
Best of all, the products are vegan, cruelty free and made with 100% biodegradeable formulas and ocean-friendly ingredients. What more could you ask for?
Available from MÁDARA for £15.95.
Give the gift of glowing skin with Holy Grail Naturally Radiant AHA Skin Tonic
For the beauty maven who loves a good skincare routine, you can’t go wrong with a gorgeous skin tonic. We love this hydrating acid toner that helps to exfoliate the surface of your skin for an everyday glow. Infused with botanical extracts, this gentle 5% glycolic acid solution lightens dark spots, refines pores and improves the overall appearance of the skin to reveal finer, softer, healthier-looking skin.
The combination of AHA, Rosemary Leaf extract and a natural form of salicylic acid derived from willow bark extract hasthe power to loosen dead skin cells, unclog pores and minimize the appearance of blemishes. Gentle enough for daily use.
Available from holygrail-beauty.com for £21.00 for 150ml.
Encourage calm with The Mindful Box from Holistic
This lovely gift box contains everything you need to feel grounded and relaxed including: A neroli + chamomile candle, lavender tea, lavender pillow mist, lavender and chamomile bath salts, lavender pillow mist, a velvet sleep mask and an inspiring journal all packed up in a gorgeous keepsake box. Bliss. Available from Holistic for £44.00.
Give an indulgent spa break
For anyone on your list that deserves a bit of me time and the perfect relaxing treat, a gift voucher from Spabreaks.com is just the ticket. They are currently offering 10% off online bookings and 15% off gift vouchers. Use the code XMASTREAT at checkout.
FOR TRAVEL LOVERS
Keep it clean while travelling with the Aesop Departures travel kit
We love Aesop and a good travel kit, so when you the combine the two, you’re on to a winner. Contains everything you need to feel fresh upon arrival: Rinse-Free Hand Wash (50ml), Resurrection Hand Balm (15ml), Blue Chamomile Facial Masque (15ml), Immediate Moisture Facial Hydrosol (50ml), Rosehip Lip Cream (6ml), Mouthwash (50ml), Toothpaste (10ml).
Available from Cult Beauty for £45.00.
Get cosy with The White Company Cosy Eye Mask and Throw Set
I don’t know about you, but I never trust the cleanliness of the blankets handed out during flights, so I always travel with my own. This gorgeous set includes a 100% cotton thrown and a cute eye mask to ensure you’ll have everything you need to nod off in comfort during your next flight.
FOOD AND DRINK
Give a Luxury Christmas Hamper from Marlo Wine
Everyone loves a hamper, but there are hampers and then there are FABULOUS hampers. This gorgeous luxury hamper from Marlo Wine is definitely of the latter. Boasting three bottles of beautiful wine and a selection of delicious gourmet snacks, it’s the perfect gift for even the fussiest foodies. Available from Marlo Wine for £195.00.
Treat foodies to some gourmet cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil from the Greek island paradise of Zakynthos has delighted foodies for over 2,000 years, but cold pressing and fusion with black garlic is a new and unique innovation.
Made from single-origin olives, each and every organically-certified olive is pressed within 24 hours of picking to ensure the best flavour. We can't wait to use it for dipping crusty bread and jazzing up pasta.
Available from Symposium Olive Oil at Etsy for £10.00 (100ml bottle).
Give a bit of spice with the ‘Eaten Alive’ hot sauce Discovery Pack: The perfect Christmas gift for spice lovers!
‘Eaten Alive’, the award-winning fermented foods producer created by two former Michelin starred chefs, has launched its first ‘Discovery Pack’ featuring four of its best-selling fermented hot sauces – all bursting with flavour and the beneficial bacteria that helped create them.
An explosively delicious gift for fermented food fans and spice lovers, the pack of seven delicious raw sauces includes the Smoked Sriracha, Chocolate BBQ, Scotch Bonnet, Preserved Lemon, and Raw Kimchi sauces. Available from eatenalive.co.uk for £29.99.
London In Bloom by Georgianna Lane
For anyone that loves London and flowers, this book is a must have. Bursting with beautiful pictures of London in all its blooming glory, it’s a feast for the eyes. From majestic parks to quaint gardens, sweet neighbourhoods and charming floral markets, you get all the joys of travelling through London without leaving the comfort of your home. At the end of the book, there are recommendations for the best places to take in blossoms and blooms as well as how to make your own floral arrangements. Although it’s the middle of December, this book has given me some serious spring fever!
London In Bloom by Georgianna Lane is published by Chronicle Books. Available from Blackwell’s for £10.99.
Hot Cheese by Polina Chesnakova
Who doesn’t love a bit of hot cheese, especially when the temperatures drop? There really is nothing that screams comfort food more than a bit of hot cheese. This recipe book contains 50 cheesy recipes from finger foods to meals, there’s something for all cheese lovers to drool over. Some our favourite recipes included pigs in a blanket, Cheese Steak with Kimchi, and the Shepherd’s Pie Tater Tot Hot Dish, a real Midwest American dish that takes me back to my Minnesotan roots.
Hot Cheese by Polina Chesnakova is published by Chronicle Books. Available from Waterstones.com for £14.99
My Wellness Journal by Monika Schneider
After a trying year unlike any other, never has taking care of one’s self been more important. This daily wellness journal is designed to help you have a positive mindset, while reflecting on your goals, habits, sleep and your diet to help encourage self-care. Available from Papier.com for £24.99.
We've rounded up our favourite Christmas gifts for the little people in your life. Enjoy!
BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN'S BOOKS
Paolo, Emperor of Rome by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Claire Keane
This book follows Paolo, a daring dachshund who goes on a whirlwind tour of Rome in search of freedom.
Feeling confined in his master's hair salon, he escapes and sets off on an adventure, exploring all of the joys of Rome. From the food to the art and opera, this tale brings to life all that is wonderful about Rome, while helping ignite wanderlust in even the youngest of readers.
Paolo, Emperor of Rome by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Claire Keane, is published by Abrams Books for Young Readers. Available from WH Smith for £10.65.
The Tower Bridge Cat and the Baby Whale by Tee Dobinson, illustrated by Steve Cox
In this cute, beautifully illustrated children's book, Bella the Bridge Master's Cat is on her latest adventure to save a baby whale that is stuck under Tower Bridge! Bella enlists the help of her friends including the Bridge Master, Stan the Stoker, Hannah the Cook (inspired by Hannah Griggs, a real-life cook at Tower Bridge in the 1910s), before Maya the Flyer helps Bella come up with a brilliantly daring plan to lead the whale to safety.
Full of wonderful illustrations from Steve Cox and an exciting “tail” of peril and heroism by Tee Dobinson, this book in the Tower Bridge Cat series is ideal for primary school children, or as a bedtime story for younger children.
Available from the Tower Bridge online shop, for £6.99, or for those lucky enough to live locally, you can pick up a copy at the Tower Bridge Gift Shop (once the shop reopens post lockdown).
UNIQUE AND IMAGINATIVE CHILDREN'S HOME DECOR GIFTS
NASA lava lamp
This rocket shaped NASA Retro Galaxy Lamp is the perfect gift for space-enthusiasts. The mesmerising lava is certain to keep kids entertained for hours as they relax and dream about far away galaxies.
NASA Retro Galaxy Lamp is available from ThumbsUp.com for £34.99.
Doodle World Map Pillowcase
Children will love this beautifully illustrated world map pillow case (in 100% cotton), which comes with a pack of washable fabric pens, so they can colour in as they discover. A great gift to encourage a lifelong love of geography.
Available from Standfords.co.uk for £14.99.
Transport inspired beds to take them to the land of nod ...
All aboard this traditional London bus! This striking bright red bus, will make children feel as though they're on the bustling roads of London. Available from Robert Dyas for £339.99 (currently on sale for Black Friday).
Surf's up with this cool Campervan Bunk Bed that's certain to transport your child to the beach. Featuring a surfboard style ladder and a steering wheel, children will have hours of fun playing in this realistic campervan. Available from Robert Dyas for £499.99.
GIFTS FOR INSPIRING MAKE BELIEVE
This fabric playhouse from JoJo Maman Bebe is perfect as a reading tent or playing house. Available from JoJo Maman Bebe for £59.50.
GIFTS FOR ENCOURAGING OUTDOOR PLAY
The Plum Deimos Metal Dome is a vibrant climbing that looks great in any garden. Designed with children in mind, it allows them to user their balance and reach the top. The geometric frame is ideal for developing motor skills and encouraging active play.
The Plum Play Deimos Dome is available from PlumPlay.co.uk £139.99.
Cool sunglasses in men's, women's and unisex styles
I'm a firm believer that a girl can never have too many sunnies, so when the team at Layoners got in touch to introduce us to their range of super stylish sunglasses for men and women, we couldn't wait to try some of their latest styles!
The Slovenian brand is inspired by catwalk fashion in Milan and street style in New York - two of the hottest fashion epicentres in the world. Their collections are bang on trend and feature both retro and futuristic styles, providing a wealth of different options to sport.
I'm wearing the 'Wild Girl' model, which gives off some serious vintage vibes. I love the tortoiseshell detailing and the gorgeous purple hued lenses with a hint of blue trim at the base of the frame. The oversize style hides a wealth of sins, which is a godsend for a tired momma who wants to look glam even if she hasn't had a full night's sleep! Although my travelling is on hiatus for a while thanks to lockdown, I can already see myself wearing these on a sun lounger while sipping on a frosty cocktail with a good book in hand!
My husband, Brad, opted for the Layoners Black Advantage, (€,32.99) a more futuristic style with classic black frames and sleek, silver sides, making this style both timeless and modern. I personally think he's giving James Bond a run for his money, but I'm a little biased.
Layoners are available at www.layoners.com.
Enjoy your downtime together in these sensational slippers
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, knowing what to buy for your other half can feel like a daunting task. if you’re looking to steer away from tacky, unimaginative presents plastered in hearts, then a pair of luxuriously chic slippers from mahabis is the perfect solution.
The ultimate luxury footwear designed for style and comfort, mahabis are perfect for slipping on wherever you go. We love their minimalist Scandi-chic design aesthetic, which makes them a must for anyone who wants to look style conscious during their downtime.
Made with a premium felt upper, 100% wool lining, a contouring foam footbed and a performance-grade sole, they're so exceptionally comfortable, you'll forget you're wearing them. As a freelancer who often works from my home office, I have the privilege of being able to spend a great deal of time in slippers, and these are hands down, some of the most comfortable slippers on the market.
Because the best things in life come in pairs, mahabis is offering 15% off your entire order when you buy 2 or more pairs of any classic, flow or outdoor slippers*. Toasty toes rejoice!
mahabis are available from £79. To buy a pair for your special someone, visit mahabis.com to browse the styles.
*Offer valid from 31 January - 14 February. Discount automatically applied at checkout. Offer excludes luxe & kids slippers.
Keep it pale and interesting this Spring with these understated watches that pack a punch
With Spring comes pastels and nothing goes better with pastel clothing than neutral and metallic accessories. We've selected our favourite classic women's watches that will look great with pretty much anything given their chic and subtle design.
Things We Love
Here you'll find a round up of our most desired items from around the world.