What to buy older teenage boys for Christmas

I’d like to think this is a gift guide with a difference!

First of all, anything I have suggested here I have bought my teens through the years or I know of friends who have bought their boys similar. Secondly, none of it has been sent to me to be promoted, so any companies I mention here I have actually used or bought from them over the last 7 or 8 years.

I also think that teen boys are much harder to buy for than girls ( probably because I don’t have girls but I would imagine with clothes, perfumes and makeup and jewellery most things can be covered and they are so expensive too so a designer item could certainly be covered as a main Christmas present!) and I appreciate I could totally be wrong about this, but I have only experience in buying for boys in this house and so I think that is where my expertise lies.

I also do not like giving my boys money! That’s just a personal choice I make and I also think they like it that way. Any family members who buy for them instead give them money so they always have cash to put towards something more expensive in the sales. We also aren’t the type of bargain hunters that go out first thing on Boxing Day to buy stuff in the sales either (again our personal choice). Therefore, I like to buy my boys things I know they want as a main present and then fill it out with the usual extras like, underwear, t-shirts, books, cd’s or films etc. That way we all still enjoy a chilled out morning with everyone opening their pressies etc as we did when they were little – and again they love it that way! Keep on Reading!

It’s been a while!

Well it’s certainly been a while since I have been on here!

It’s not like there hasn’t been anything going on for me to write about it’s more like I haven’t had the urge to write, but lately that has been changing. So rather than bore you will loads of catch up posts I thought I would do a quick run through everything that has been going on.

So this year I have had more hospital imput for my M.E/ Fibromyalgia than I have over the last 8 years since being diagnosed. Finally I managed to get physio treatment for the Carpel Tunnel in my left hand which has helped ease some of the numbness at least. I have also been referred onto a pain management course due to start late September for 7 weeks and I hope that helps me with at least pacing any activity I do ( I am absolutely rubbish at saying ‘No’ to anyone and generally end up overdoing things and then crashing afterwards!). The course will run me up to almost Christmas when I have been told I may get referred onto an exercise class suitable to help with my illness.

Excitingly, earlier this year a ‘dream job’ sort of fell into my lap via a good friend of mine. Dream job in the fact I can do the job in my pj’s, at anytime of day, keeping my own time! Sounds bloody good eh? It comes in the form of running a social media account for a local clothing boutique called Kimmicass (would love you to come and give us a follow) that sells amazing womens clothing that you just cannot find in the high street shops (and will be looking to expand and sell online as well as open more shops too). This one account actually led to a second account for a London florist who lives locally but works independantly for clients like the V&A! This account is a slow burner and is not fully up and running but is definitely getting there and should be more active before Christmas. So how great is that? Literally a dream job for me as with my illness its difficult to predict health wise how I will be feeling on any particular day, but this job does not require me to be anywhere in particular for any length of time! So I get to work from home in my pj’s which I am loving ………….total result!

Also, we had an amazing surprise with my youngest’s sons GCSE results. His plan was originally to do a Level 3 Early years Childcare course at college which he needed 5 passes including English and Maths. Now hes a clever boy so we knew he would get the 5 passes unfortunately his worst subject is maths so we were extremely concerned ( as was he) that he wouldn’t pass that and therefore not be able to do his course. So the results morning was literally the most stressful time ever and I had lots of contingency plans running through my head should he not get his maths. Well talk about a total surprise, not only did he get a level 5 in his Maths ( the new marking system is numbered!) but he also passed ALL 10 GCSE’s and did so well was offered a place back at the school’s 6Th Form!! He was so gobsmacked he literally didn’t know what to do with himself and although he still went over to the college to enrol he ended up taking the place at 6th form to do A levels instead. As you could imagine it was total surprise all round so we ended up going out to his favourite restaurant to celebrate………….it would have been rude not to!

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Then it was birthday celebrations for my husband who was turning 50 at the end of August…………….50!! Now he’s not one for big parties etc although is more than happy to go to others he hates being centre of attention himself. So I came up with a cunning plan to use the money that a big party would cost and instead take him away to somewhere I know he has wanted to go to for a long time- ROME! So I managed to find a little family run boutique hotel in the centre of Rome for 4 nights and booked that and some flights etc for early October for the two of us. However, because this was going to be his only present , except for a few bits from the boys, I wanted to make it a little special. So, I came up with the idea of putting some clues together to put inside a cabin size suitcase and then wrap it all up. So I numbered the clues…

  1. A picture of a fountain and some Euro coins (for the Trevy Fountain)
  2. A spanish style fan with a picture of some stone steps ( for the Spanish Steps)
  3. A rosary (hopefully making him think Catholic!)
  4. A dvd of Sparticus with a small Italian flag!! (The Colosseum obviously)

Each clue was wrapped up and numbered and then his present was a gift of 2 guide books for Rome with the flight tickets inside.

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suitcase clues

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Now my hubby is not one for showing emotion at ALL but as he opened the guide books his eyes did well up and his hands were physically shaking which showed me he literally had no clue up until that point of what his present was. I had even gone behind his back to one of his work colleagues to help me book his time off work and get it approved (he is in the police so it’s not an easy thing to do without him finding out)……………..BUT I BLOODY DID IT!

rich and present

It was a tough thing to make all the decisions on my own with regard to the flights, the hotel and when to go so I was actually quite relieved when it all seemed to work out. Thankfully now I can relax as I know he will sort everything else out from here- he has already done our medical cards and booked airport parking! The only time throughout that I gave myself a total heart attack was when my Mum asked me on the phone if our passports are in date! For anyone who doesn’t know us we never go away anywhere abroad as we cannot afford it normally and the last time i used my passport was when he took me to Venice for my 40th birthday 7 years ago……………………………………..SO THANKFULLY THEY WERE IN DATE!!

**So if anyone has any recommendations for Rome please let me know**

We also took my eldest back to uni last weekend (sobs) and helped him move into his new shared house ( which is a total state and will be another blog post on its own!) so I am missing him already sitting with us for dinner etc.

Next up is my youngest 17th birthday in a few weeks time before we can get really excited about our trip.

Anyway, it’s lovely to be back and have the urge to put things down in black and white again and would love to hear what you have all been up to. If

Smiggle- Gift Voucher Giveaway

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I was invited recently to the Smiggle branch in Bluewater to open the next window on their Christmas advent calendar and see what treat could be waiting for me.

Anyone that has been to a Smiggle store will know it’s an explosion of colour and a total must for all stationary lovers. The store there is not huge but is very well stocked with both lots on the shelves and underneath the display tables ( so I cannot see you having any trouble getting a particular item you may be after).

At the moment they have lots of their fabulous Christmas Advent Stockings, that retail at £28. That may sound a little extravagant but is in line with Lego or even Yankee candle (if you buy yourself one!). However, the goodies that are in the advent would cost around £40 if they were bought individually, so a bargain when you consider that and also a great alternative to just more chocolate.

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There are the typical colour assumptions, pink for girls and blue for boys, but there are also lots of alternatives that can be gender neutral. Some of the bits can work out quite expensive but there are also some fabulous gifts that would be perfect for Christmas presents that work out at just £10-15 which is very budget friendly.

I particularl
I particularly liked this design on a black background and perfect for little monster lovers!

There is also a wonderful little colouring area set up in this store which was in use most of the time I was in the store and it was constantly busy in there. I was given the chance to peel off the next advent sticker from the window outside to get the next prize ( which I will include with the gift voucher giveaway as a little extra, it’s a Goo Glopper………………!

The store manager there, Linda, has a great manner about her and she will find out if it’s your birthday and get the whole store to sing Happy Birthday to you, I heard the singing even before I reached the store as I came down the escalator towards it. You will recognise her as she has a huge whistle hanging around her neck and she’s not afraid to use it- so be warned.

So I have a lovely £25 gift card and my Goo Glopper from behind the advent to giveaway to all you lovely stationary loving peeps. All you have to do is comment below with what you would use the voucher for and fill in the normal Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

This year I vowed I would be super organised and to be honest I have been ‘more’ organised but still find myself sitting now a week away from the big day with a huge ‘to do’ list and the panic is starting to set in.

I know this year a lot of people seemed to be putting their Christmas trees and decorations up towards the end of November and although it was nice to see the pictures I am a true December girl and mine always go up in the first weekend or week in December. However, I did start present buying mid November in an attempt to get ahead.

At the end of November I was lucky enough to attend the Ideal Home Show at Christmas which was a first for me. My friend and I had a fab time, bought lots of Chrismassy bits and pieces and had our first mulled wine of the season. It really did get me into the Christmas spirit and gave me lots of ideas for pressies along the way. The place was beautifully decorated and we had groups of carol singers and performers helping with the Christmas spirit.

From the minute you step off the tube you are in a Christmas world
From the minute you step off the tube you are in a Christmas world

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There were some gorgeous food stalls, a wide range of companies were represented there and there was even a Greg Wallace restaurant that you could book into.

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In fact there was so much to get around I probably could have done with another afternoon there to get around them all. However, I have to say my friend and I certainly gave it a good go, so much so that we felt the need to pop into the bar there for our first mulled wine at the end of the day before our journey home.

I loved the idea of this- an afternoon tea along with a London landmark tour!
I loved the idea of this- an afternoon tea along with a London landmark tour!I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the top deck
This is the top deck
The food looks amazing!
The food looks amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did buy a few new Christmas decorations and signs for this year from a fab stall that I could have spent a fortune at! Now I have to find just the right places for them. We weren’t lucky enough to see any of the celebrities as we attended on the Wednesday but there were different people there each day doing demonstrations throughout the few days.

I will definitely try and get back next year, but when I do I will start from upstairs in all the food stalls and work my way back down so I really do not miss anything……………………..mind you that may mean I spent a lot more. Although the bar is on the top floor so I may not see anything after a few mulled wine’s in there. Roll on next year.

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The Ideal Home Show at Christmas in London

This I am very excited about and thankfully only have a week to wait. This years Ideal Home Show at Christmas will be taking place at Olympia London for the first time ever. The UK’s biggest Christmas exhibition will be open from the 25th – 29th of November to provide everything you could possibly need in the run up to the festive season, from over 600 exhibitors showcasing top Christmas shopping inspiration, a plethora of celebrity appearances and a Christmas bandstand hosting live entertainment……………c’mon you Christmas lovers what more could you need?
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I’m feeling festive already and cannot wait to see the venue transformed into a winter wonderland. There will be exhibitors across 7 sectors, as well as a host of festive favourite celebrities including Gino D’Acampo, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Olly Smith and Katie Piper who will be making her Christmas show debut and  experts will be on hand at the show offering their own festive hints and tips to make your Christmas Ideal.

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There will be live entertainment for visitors to enjoy as they shop, a wide range of expert talks and advice,  a food & drink theatre featuring top tips from celebrity chefs, and even a champagne bar as well ( so that’s me sorted then!).

The Ideal Home Show at Christmas sponsored by Gocompare.com has everything you could possibly need to create the perfect Christmas all under one roof! So, for a chance to be part of history and experience Christmas for the first time at Olympia London, get yourself a ticket!

Tickets

To book tickets log on to www.idealhomeshowchristmas.co.uk or call 0844 209 7330.  For Group bookings call: 0844 412 4650

Weekday Adult £12.00
Weekend Adult £14.00
Weekday Concession (Over 60’s) £10.00
Weekend Concession (Over 60’s)     £12.00
Children (Under 15) go free when accompanied by an adult      

Timings for Ideal Home Show at Christmas:

Wednesday 25th November 2015 10am – 6pm

Thursday 26th November 2015 10am – 9pm

Friday 27th November 2015 10am – 6pm

Saturday 28th November 2015 10am – 6pm

Sunday 29th November 2015 10am – 5pm

I am looking forward to spotting some lovely new Christmassy bits to add to my ever growing collection that I manage to add to each year. Our decorations go up at the start of December and I love the festive run up to the big day itself. However, I do think my OH may disown me if I buy any more fairy lights for him to put up…………………………………… so watch this space.

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Gift Ideas for Older Teenage Boys

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When your children are young it’s easy to get ideas for Christmas, lets face it their lists normally have absolutely everything except the kitchen sink on them. Every time they see an advert for something they want it.

However, when they get older it gets a little more difficult. My boys are now 16 an 14, they have all their gadgets either bought as gifts or saved for and bought by themselves. That makes finding something to get them for Christmas that not only do they want or need but that doesn’t cost an absolute arm and a leg. I have definitely found that as they have grown up their pressies have got smaller and smaller in size yet the value has increased tenfold!

My youngest is in need of a new portable TV for his room ( something they have both been allowed from the age of 13 as we live in a small house and I do not want xbox and 2 smelly teens constantly fighting over who’s turn it is in my front room!  so shoot me now for being a bad mother, but that’s how it is here.) So I have a main present for him and that can be easily filled out with DVD’s, CD’s, a boardgame or two, some clothes and treats.

My eldest though is much more difficult as h has his game station, tv, Ipod and docking station, phone and all the usual trappings. When I have talked to him about some ideas he has just asked for a few DVD’s and that’s it!! NOT Helpful, and I do not agree with giving my children money on these occasions as I tend to ask family to give them money so they can save for the bigger items when they want them. So I have had really had to dig deep for ideas and trawl the internet and shops looking. I was looking mainly for what would be a ‘main’ pressie for him.

I thought I would share a few here……..

1. Some Young Driver lessons. These are available Nationwide at a different locations and we have one near us so this is a definite for my 16 yr old this year. They are normally around about £30 for a half hour lesson. My youngest has tried these already as he is a total petrol head and says 30 mins is long enough at a time as there is so much to concentrate on that he came out exhausted LOL. So I will be getting my eldest a few lessons in preparation for his 17th b’day in April when he will be starting lessons properly.

2. Experience Day Vouchers. These are more expensive but for a teenage boy of around 16 some of these are amazing as a main present at Christmas. Virgin Experience offer allsorts from indoor skydiving, Go-Ape, snowboarding to the more adventurous Zombie Survival!! So for an older teenage boy who has all the gadgets etc and doesn’t know what he wants, one of these would be perfect I think.

3.Unlimited Cinema Card. If your teen is a real cinema lover ( my youngest is like me and adores going to the cinema) and tends to go with his friends a lot the cost could add up very quickly! Therefore, why not treat them with an unlimited Cineworld card. These cost around £16.40 per month on a direct debit ( which is less that most of their mobile phone contracts these days) and that way you can spread the cost throughout the year as well. This will allow them unlimited visits andmoney off on food and drink and also no booking fees if they book online for a film. A yearly one will set you back £196.80 which is a huge outlay in one go, but equally you could get family to pitch in with an amount that they were going to spend anyway and make it a main present.

 4. Merlin annual pass. This will allow your teens unlimited entry to a wide range of attractions. For us we are near London so this would include Thorpe Park, Chessington, The Dungeons, Sealife and the London Eye and Madame Tousauds. My 16 yr old already has days were all his friends meet up and spend a day in London and my youngest loves Thorpe Park so again as a main present this would suit loads of teens. It isn’t cheap at £169 for a year pass but lets face it against a game console/ mobile phone it probably works out cheaper and they get a years worth of visits that you then don’t have to fork out for when money is tight throughout the year.

5. Magazine subscription. These can be easily found online and can either be for 6 months, 1 year or even a 2 year subscription. They cover everything, and I mean everything a teen could possibly be interested in, from photography, cars, fishing, computers, film  to all the different games consoles you can think of! Really there is something for everyone and it means that they receive their favourite magazine through the post every month without any effort by them or even you ( once it has been ordered obviously). These vary in price depending on what magazine you actually order but an example would be the Xbox magazine which comes in at £48.99 for 13 issues!!! Brilliant value as each magazine is then only £3.77each.

Now obviously I have looked at things that would be suitable for boys as I’m a mum of boys but to be honest the above 5 ideas are great for teenage girls as well. I always like to get them a ‘main’ present and then fill it out around that so I understand that some of these are a little expensive, but I’m sure you will agree some of them last them all year round and so are definitely worth the extra money, in comparison to a new PlayStation or Xbox game that costs around the £40 mark.

I would love to hear some of your ideas too.

 

The trouble with………..

……….long term illness is that from one day to the next you never know what it is going to throw at you! The last month has been unbelievably hard, my M.E symptoms have been flaring up. The exhaustion I have had has left me in my pj’s most days until at least 3 or 4pm, the pain in my muscles has seen me put on my new medication (that isn’t working) and generally feeling crap about everything including myself! I have found it difficult to be on here at all and have had no enthusiasm for it, but that is getting back to normal.

………..Mother’s Day with teens is that the presents change as I found out this year. Although I got my usual ‘little’ things that I love, mugs/ good coffee and other bits, I also had a more unusual gift which looked initially like this

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are you getting the theme here? But tucked inside was this……….

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Tickets to a show in the Palace Theatre for Breast Cancer, with Paul Potts, Shane Ward, Joe McElderry and Kingsland Road to name a few. It was a cracking night too.

………….the school holidays with teens is that they actually want to spend most of it in bed or in their rooms. Now the late mornings I am not complaining about but the wasting of days I am! Gone are the days where I would have everyday planned out with them, activities, visiting, meeting with friends at the park etc. But now they are teens, especially my eldest, he had some of his own things going on. He went out with friends to the cinema and bowling etc so a lot of the days were already planned. I do miss the old days but actually found this school holiday far more relaxing than previous ones. We did have the odd day out, Whitstable and Herne Bay -that sort of thing.

Me and my lovely boys!
Me and my lovely boys!

We also had some great card game nights after my MIL taught my youngest a few new games when he stayed over for the night at their caravan.

So there has been lots going on but I haven’t been that bothered about sharing it all until now. I will get back into the flow of things and have missed reading all my regular blogs and my conversations on Twitter but I have to admit the break has done me some good. So will be churning a few more posts in the next few days about what has been going on around here like my eldest turning 16!!!! Now that’s another post

 

 

Out with 2013 and in with 2014!

DSCF4022Normally Christmas for me brings stress, running around, a deterioration in health, more stress and results in a huge loss of enjoyment of the Christmas spirit!!

This year has been different. Each year I vow to be organised and ready early and each year I fail to do it. But this year I did manage it. I thought of and organised presents early, I had my cards written in October ( don’t shoot me I was just trying to beat my MIL to it…..and I did LOL). My decorations went up on the first weekend getting everyone in the Christmas mood.

I had my OH help me with all the major food shopping AND I made lists about what I actually had in the cupboards and what I still needed. I also farmed out presents as I arranged to see everyone so I didn’t end up delivering them last minute. I even managed to get them all into Christmas jumpers/ tops LOL

I had lots of social stuff on the run up to the big day and after the New Year which meant my actual Christmas week was chilled, relaxed and VERY enjoyable.

New Years Eve was spent at a film ( Walter Mitty) and having food at Bluewater in Kent and then home in the evening to see in the gong’s and celebrations, where I managed to torture the teens and my OH by singing along to Mr Barlow as though I was in the audience.

I haven’t made any rash resolutions this year as I’m a bit shit at keeping them,but there are a few new things I would like to learn for myself, crochet being one and after getting enough Christmas money we are investing in a decent digital camera which we should be able to get soon, so I’m hoping to improve my photography skills and maybe join you all on Instagram! I have also agreed that when someone asked me to get in the photo- I actually will instead of shying away ( as I have found there are loads of pics of the boys but hardly any with me and them).

So here’s to good health ( a cure for M.E would be gratefully received), a bit of wealth and a lot of love and happiness in 2014!

What’s your plans for 2014?

 

 

 

Christmas craft night

I’m a crafter of sorts as an avid knitter and have actually done quite well on this run up to the festive period earning a few extra Christmas pennies.

However, I’m not the greatest one for handmade decorations, my forte is more in the cooking side of things giving homemade treats as part of family presents.

I did recently though attend a Christmas craft evening in a local church hall with a good friend of mine. The idea was to make some items that would easily be replicated at home to use over the Christmas period.

There were four tables set out to make a wreath, a table decoration, a glass filled with flowers, and cards and I managed 3 out of the 4 on offer. Everything that you needed was included in the small fee ( only £8) and they even supplied us with a cuppa and a cake!!

So not to be outdone by the others that looked as though they knew what they were doing here’s my efforts:

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Table decoration complete with chocolate coins inside!
Table decoration complete with chocolate coins inside!

 

This is my personal favourite
This is my personal favourite

 

My favourite thing I made was definitely the wreath. It turned out pretty well even if I say so myself! Using the fresh cinnamon sticks and dried orange pieces with star anise made it smell amazing. I would definitely have a go at this again next year myself as it was actually much easier than I ever thought it would be.

So what have you all been crafting?

The ‘New’ Teenager

This post is a little overdue because of last weeks events (if you haven’t heard you can catch up here)

Just over a week ago my youngest turned the dreaded 13! Actually I don’t know how this happened as I’m sure it was only last week they were starting school………..feels like that anyway. Also I mean c’mon I’m sure I’m not old enough * runs to check for grey hairs and wrinkles*.

It ended up being slightly unorthodox as his actual birthday was on the Monday however, my OH was unable to get the time off and there was a good chance he was going to be late home. So we gave our youngest the choice of sticking to his ‘real’ birthday or milking it with a ‘day early’ birthday!

Like any 12 yr old he jumped at the chance of getting his pressies early. So everything was set for the Sunday.

Pressies in the morning,

His birthday treat ( a Young Driver lesson)in the afternoon – will do a post on this another time!

His birthday meal at his fav Indian restaurant in the evening.

To say he had a great day was an understatement! His driving lesson was a real surprise and a huge hit. We were able to enjoy a full day all together. I was so glad he made the decision to enjoy it early as the Monday was a complete washout- OH at work and youngest at school, OH was late in and we didn’t do his cake until almost 9pm!!! However, he had quite a few visitors bringing him more cards etc so he was still centre of attention ( generally what he craves anyway).

So now he has had the experience the Queen has every year- 2 birthdays!

Now over a week later I’m thinking I may not survive this this one’s teenage years if the last few days are anything to go by……………..