Mum Top tip 24: Six weeks before Christmas!

(I know, I know, you don’t want to be reminded, but I was a Brownie and Guide so the motto “be prepared” is drummed in to me :-D.) 

In an effort to try to get organised for Christmas early this year, I thought I would put together a quick post about what to prepare roughly 6 weeks in advance of Christmas.

I have a Trello Christmas Reference board which I use every year and this really helps ease the pain.

I spent some time two years ago putting it together and now I don’t need to think about what needs to be done, I just refer to this board!

6 weeks before Christmas!

Do you know who you are buying for?

If not, time to make a list.

Once you know who you are buying for you can then start to think about what to buy them.

Look out for my Top Tip about CamelCamelCamel for saving money via Amazon.

I also keep a record against each person as to what I bought them in previous years.

This is especially important if you have friends with two or more children, so you don’t get a sibling the same gift.

Cheat: if you have to buy presents for several children of roughly the same age, buy them all the same thing! Then you don’t have to think about it! lol.

Are you doing stockings for people?

If yes, check out my 2012 post on stocking filler ideas that don’t end up as landfill. (This post also has a link to the post office with a list of mailing dates).

Are you hosting Christmas dinner?

If yes, what food do you need to buy?

I have a Trello list for food for Christmas day and then a Trello list entertaining food for when people come to visit.

I start buying the long lasting items off this list from the middle of November.

It helps spread the cost of Christmas. I think! lol.

What traditions are you planning to hold for your family?

There are key people that we always catch up with over Christmas and it’s important to us that this happens.

I think at Christmas time you have to be intentional about the things that you do and the people that you see.

One of our traditions is to hand deliver Christmas cards to our friends who live in Reading.

This isn’t particularly environmentally friendly but it gives Miss NHM a great opportunity to go “oooh, ahhhh” at all of the Christmas lights near where I friends live.

We also have another tradition where we go for afternoon tea at a hotel in the New Forest, with friends who live in Dorset.

Do you have a December bucket list?

I can’t remember where I first saw this, but it’s a great idea.

Are there certain things that are important for you all to do as a family during Christmas?

Write them down and add them into the December schedule to ensure they happen!

This year I am going to try to add several of our December bucket list things into our advent calendar.

Do you want to give out handmade gifts?

Time to start cracking on these, if you haven’t already!

This year I am toying with making handmade Christmas crackers, but you can guarantee it won’t happen, even if I do buy all the kits from Baker Ross!!! lol.

Are you doing a personalised advent calendar?

If yes, time to get cracking now! You can get some ideas about advent calendars via a post I wrote in 2014.

Are you posting parcels abroad?

Time to start thinking about the parcels you need to put together and the delivery times as they are sooner than for cards abroad.

Are you posting cards abroad?

Also check out the delivery times for cards abroad to ensure they arrive in time.

Are you putting together a Christmas Eve parcel?

If yes, time to start buying those Christmas Eve pyjamas!

Are you making Christmas cookies in a jar?

I’m probably going to regret sharing this post, but we made Cookies in a jar  last year and it went down a storm.

They took MUCH longer to make than expected though, so schedule at least 3 hours to make 12 jars!!!

Please, to all my friends who read NHM, don’t give us all “Cookies in a jar” as I’m trying to watch my waist line! haha.

Are you putting together a Christmas newsletter for your Christmas cards?

I’ve never done this but I’m toying with it this year.

So much has happened to our little family this year and I know our extended families that we don’t see very often would probably like to know what is actually happening, rather than the version that my Mum and my in-laws tell them! lol.

I probably won’t get round to it though!

Things to check

Do you have enough:

  • Sellotape
  • Christmas wrapping paper
  • Christmas tags
  • Christmas cards
  • Christmas table decorations
  • Christmas movies
  • Booze 😉

and check this post out for 14 things you don’t want to forget for Christmas!

In a perfect world, I would do all of the above.

I never do though! lol.

What have I missed?

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Top Tip 4: LeapReader


I did a lot of research for what to buy Miss NHM for her 3rd Birthday in March. We only wanted to buy her one present for her birthday as she gets spoiled by friends and family. I’m also trying to adopt the philosophy that “more is less”.

Since we got Miss NHM the LeapReader she hasn’t put the pen down! It’s been fantastic!

It keeps her busy and quite for up to an hour at a time. We asked friends and family to get her vouchers for her birthday, so we also bought some more books and the map from Toys R Us (the map is cheaper on Amazon).

She loves using the books and we’ve had a lot of fun with the map already. You can also download story books to the pen and Miss NHM will happily just sit and listen to the pen when she doesn’t want to “read” the books anymore.

I totally recommend this product!

Related Page

Mum Top Tip’s (all of the Mum top tips on NHM on one page!)

Related Links

LeapReader Review

LeapFrog Tag (the old version of LeapReader)

Our favourite books

Books have always been important to us. We’ve made a concerted effort to read to Misss NHM as much as possible. Mr NHM read the Gruffalo to Miss NHM on the day she was born.

When Miss NHM was very tiny I borrowed as many of the “That’s not my…” books from the library and purchased them from Nearly new sales and read them to Miss NHM. She also had a black and white book that a friend bought for her birth present which Miss NHM loved. Black and white books are supposed to be good for small babies.

I have always been a huge fan of our local library and going to the library when I was on maternity leave and after was a regular activity for us. They have a great selection of books of wonderful variety. Plus, you can order books online for the bargain price of 50p which is much better than paying full price for a book. I’m very conscious that we have a small house and as much as we love books, they sometimes turn into clutter!

It’s no secret that I absolutely adore Usborne books. When Miss NHM was six months old I bought the Apple Tree Farm box set from the Basingstoke NCT Nearly New sale (normally in March/April and October)) for £5 (total bargain!) and read them to Miss NHM every day. By 13 months old she could spot the usborne duck on most pages. I was amazed that she could do this as such a young age. The first page of each book in this box set is always the same and “Rusty” is still the name for all dogs for Miss NHM! Lol.

When Miss NHM was 15 months old I purchased another Usborne box set called the Phonics Readers from the Basingstoke Original Nearly New Sale (next one is this weekend!).

I also continued to read the Gruffalo to Miss NHM and have perfected the voices of the characters. Lol. When Miss NHM was 17 months I purchased “Monkey Puzzle” by the same team as the Gruffalo and this has also been a favourite book. Mr NHM has some favourites that he reads to Miss NHM such as Bear Snores on.

In Miss NHM’s bedroom she has a bookshelf with books that are hers and that she can “read”. She went through a stage of tearing the pages in her books which really irked me, but that stage didn’t last long and the books were repaired. I now often find her asleep in her bed surrounded by her books. She reads them our loud to herself and to her bedroom toys. It’s very important to me that she has access to her books in her room so she has control over what and when she reads.

When Miss NHM was 2 3/4 I persuaded her paternal Grandparents to get her the Very first Reading boxset from Usborne for Christmas (her only present from them). It was on special and priced at £30 for 50 small books. She absolutely LOVES this box set and is now “reading” the stories on her own. She memorises them so fast it amazes me. The books are very simple stories that progress in difficulty but range from classic stories to ones from around the world. Miss NHM’s favourites at the moment are “The Phoenix and the Dragon” a Chinese story and “Old Mother Hubbard”.

I recommend finding your local Usborne book lady and asking her to email or give you a copy of the promotional leaflets that are released every season. You can find some wonderful bargains on these leaflets.

The other evening I caught Miss NHM with her monitor in bed, with the light on, using it to read one of her books to her teddys. I was SO proud of her! Lol.

I’ve tried to read to Miss NHM every day for at least 30 minutes, I know this is a perk of not having a TV and of Miss NHM being an only child, but if I do anything for my daughter, I want her to have a love of reading. A love of reading opens up a world of education and possibilities.

Below is a list of other favourite books that we have, that you also might enjoy reading to your little ones. I encourage you to read to them as soon as they are born. You never know what they will absorb and where it might take them when they are older.

  • Hairy McClary books
  • Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes Boxset
  • Wow Said the Owl
  • The Gruffalo
  • Monkey Puzzle (same people as The Gruffalo)
  • The Hungry Caterpillar
  • Ten Wriggly Wiggly Caterpillars and Five Tiddly Widdly Tadpoles
  • Usborne Phonic’s Reader collection
  • Usborne Apple Tree Farm boxset
  • Wendy the Wide Lipped Frog
  • Usborne Very First Reading boxset – 50 books
  • Bear Snores on
  • Dogs don’t do ballet
  • Stories for 2 year olds/Stories for 3 year olds

What are your children’s favourite books?

Playmobil.123 and Childhood Dreams

I’ve found somewhere that sells Playmobil.123 locally! Yay!!!

We were pretending we were posh and went shopping in Winchester the other week. I wanted to check out Childhood Dreams, a toy shop that I’d heard about. I have a bit of an addiction to wooden fruit and veg. Don’t ask me why and I know it’s a bit tragic but I just think they are SOOO cool!

I’d heard that Childhood Dreams sells them so I saved up especially for them. My Beloved Husband gave me a limit of £10 to spend (he’s so generous! lol) and I managed to get a lot for my money. We came home with a wooden lolly, a wooden fried egg, a wooden bratwurst among others. I ended up with about 7 different items. I loved a lot of the other items in the shop but wasn’t allowed to buy any (boo hiss!).

They stock Usborne Books (another one of my addictions!), the cutest wooden Tool set (Saving up for this already!), lots of wooden cooking implements, some VERY cute little baby shoes and THE most expensive rocking horse I have ever seen!

Annnyway, after I’d spent my budget in Childhood Dreams we popped round to see The Toy Cupboard. I love it in here too, but they don’t stock as many “old skool” toys. However, their display of playmobil was AMAZING! I was so impressed to see that they also have the Plamobil Advent Calendars.

I was even more impressed when I saw that they also sell Playmobil.123. Yay! At last! I’ve found somewhere that stocks it! I wasn’t allowed to purchase any as I’d already blown my budget and I would still probably buy through the site we’ve used before as it’s so much cheaper, but they did have some items that I’ve not seen before.

I think one of the reasons why I love wooden toys and Playmobil.123 is that they are built to last. No matter how much your children munch and throw about these toys, they still seem to look like they did when you bought them. This also helps if you are a tight wad like me and plan to try to sell on as many toys as possible!I also like to think I’m doing my bit for the environment too, by not buying plastic tat that’s built to end up in the dustbin.

Playmobil Posts you might enjoy reading

A Playmobil secret…


If you are a fan of Playmobil and you have children under five years of age, you will LOVE playmobil123. I’d never heard of it before and we discovered it quite by accident when I was looking for wooden food toys on holiday. It’s “classic” Playmobil but is branded as being suitable for 18 months old upwards. The only website that sells it in the UK has Playmobil123 branded as being suitable for ages five years + but I think this is because they’ve lumped it into the “Playmobil” brand.

It’s the little details that are fantastic. There are no small moving parts that can be swallowed and figures “slot” into each toy so that they can be used by small hands. We bought the boat and the motorbike. ( I was slightly gutted when I found out how much we’d paid for them abroad when they are practically half price on the UK website).

With the boat that we have the whale has a float that allows it to either float flat in the water or stand on its tail. The motorbike has a “go faster” button which allows it to go really fast on hard floors. I’m not sure who was more enthusiastic about these details, our little one or my husband and I!

Click here for details about how to order Playmobil123 in the UK: I’m hoping to buy some more playmobile123 at my next pay day so I’ll let you know whether the site is any good.