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You’ve bought the bunting, you’ve piped the cakes, and now it’s time to plan your Platinum Jubilee party games! Whether you’re throwing a full-blown street party or a small gathering of family and friends, your guests will expect entertainment. We’ve got some great ideas below, from traditional party games with a royal spin, to games you may never have played before!

Jubilee Party Games for Kids

Craft A Crown

This one is sure to be popular with younger guests (and keep them quiet for an hour or so). Set up an arts and crafts table with craft paper, scissors, felt tips, feathers – everything they need to make their own fabulous crown! Set up a catwalk for them to model their crowns once they’re done.

Musical Thrones

Okay, this one’s hardly new, but put a royal spin on musical chairs and you get…musical thrones! Pick a playlist of songs all including the word “Queen”. The first round might be to ABBA’s Dancing Queen, the second round to Castle by Halsey and the third to Killer Queen by Queen. If you’re going all in with the royal theme, you could even give the winner a crown to wear on their throne.

Building Castles

Everyone loved building a blanket den when they were younger. Take it up a notch by letting the kids build their very own castle! Give them all the sheets, blankets and cardboard boxes they could need and let their imaginations run wild.

Jubilee Party Games for the Whole Family

Pub Quiz

The pub quiz is as British as they come and should feature at your Platinum Jubilee party! As the quizmaster, you could stick to the traditional pub quiz format or do a royal themed quiz. You could even do a Queen Elizabeth quiz, with a round about historical events in 1926 (when she was born), Edinburgh (as she was the Duchess of Edinburgh until her ascension to the throne) and other famous Elizabeths (Taylor, Banks, Olsen and so on). Guests could compete for a prize or simply bragging rights.

The Name Game

The Queen’s favourite party game (apparently). We’ve all probably played this game at one point or another, but in case you haven’t, here are the rules. All the players write a celebrity’s name on a piece of card and put them into a bowl. Everyone will then pick a card at random and hold it to their head. Each player must take turns asking questions to try and figure out who they are. The more ridiculous the celebrity, the funnier it is.

Royal Rules

Everyone draws a card at the start of the day. The person who draws a Queen becomes royal for the day and gets to make a rule that everyone has to follow. If anyone breaks that rule, they have to do a forfeit decided by the royal. You can do this as many times as you like throughout the day, coming up with the silliest rules you can.

Outdoor Jubilee Party Games

Croquet

Croquet is a quintessentially British garden game; indeed, one could imagine the Queen herself playing it. But just because it’s posh, doesn’t mean it can’t be fun too! You’ll need a large, flat lawn and a croquet set to play, including malletts, balls and hoops. You can purchase a croquet set online. The aim of the game is to get your ball through all the hoops first – but beware, players can sabotage each other by using their turn to knock another player’s ball off course. You can see a full breakdown of the rules here.

Garden Cricket

Burn off some steam with a game of garden cricket! You already know the rules. Two team. One bowler, one batter. The team to get the most runs wins. Just beware, there will be tears and tantrums (and that’s just the grown ups). If you’re worried about broken windows, just get a soft ball to play with instead.

So there you have it, those are our top Jubilee party games! We hope you have a wonderful Jubilee weekend and make the most out of the extra time with friends and family.

April is Stress Awareness Month which aims to increase our knowledge about the effects of stress and teach us how to handle it better. You’ll see lots of advice about managing stress in the workplace, at university or during pregnancy, but there’s much less advice for managing stress as a parent. A lot of parents may feel ashamed to admit that, yes, their children do stress them out. We’re here to dispel some of that shame and provide you with some helpful tips on how to cope with stress as a parent.

Parenting Stress

Parenting stress is essentially when parents feel that they are not able to meet the demands of them as a parent. This might be caused by financial strain, lack of support or even specific (and quite normal) issues like tantrums or struggling to potty train their child. We’ve probably all felt like this and that’s okay from time to time. However, ongoing parenting stress can make us over-reactive (we blow up at our kids for nothing) or it can make us withdraw and become less sensitive to our children’s needs. That’s why it’s important to learn how to cope with stress as a parent so that we can maintain a supportive, nourishing relationship with our children.

1. Stop Shaming Yourself

The first tip for dealing with stress as a parent is to stop berating yourself for feeling this way. Negative thoughts about yourself and your abilities as a parent will only exacerbate stress. It’s easy to feel like everyone else is doing a better job at parenting than you, especially in an age of social media and family bloggers, but try to remember that this isn’t reality. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, everyone can only do the best that they can do. Once you accept this, you’ll stop being so hard on yourself and feel a lot better.

2. Reach Out and Accept Help

The old saying is true, it really does take a village. It’s almost impossible to raise a child on your own – we need support from our partners, family and friends. That could be something as simple as discussing a parenting problem or asking if they could have the kids for a night, so you get some time to unwind. If you don’t have close friends or family to turn to, you can also join parenting groups or online parenting communities, who can empathise and support you.

3. Identify and Adjust to Stressors

Does teatime always end in tears? Or is every day out a nightmare? When you identify events which are likely to cause stress, you can prepare yourself to prevent this. For example, if you find the school run stressful, you should consider why you find it stressful. If you normally end up snapping at the kids as you get them ready, you could try to let them do more themselves. Perhaps you need to wash their face and brush their hair, but could they get dressed on their own? Lay out the clothes they’re going to wear the night before and let them get dressed alone. Or if you get stressed by the schooltime traffic you could try to set off earlier to avoid it or play your favourite music to make the drive more enjoyable. Control what you can and let go of what you can’t.

4. Prioritise ‘Me’ Time

If you spend all your time working and then running round after everyone else, then it’s no wonder you’re stressed! We don’t stop being people with needs when we become parents. Prioritising ‘me’ time will ensure that you are well-rested and relaxed, enabling you to be a better parent. 

In the same vein, perhaps you need to de-prioritise certain activities so that you have more free time. For example, if you spend your weekend relaying the kids to various clubs, perhaps you should ask them to choose one or two activities that they would like to continue and stop the rest. Equally, if you find yourself running errands every weekend, perhaps you could try to ask someone else to help or take advantage of services like online food shopping.

5. Plan Fun Activities With The Kids

Tea time. Chores. Bathtime. Bedtime. A lot of the time we spend with our children can feel like we’re overseeing a military operation. When was the last time you got to enjoy a fun activity with your child? Probably too long. Book some time off work or take advantage of the upcoming bank holidays to plan an activity that you’ll both enjoy! That could be a visit to the zoo, a day at a play area, or fort-building in the front room – the important thing is that you’re spending time together. This will alleviate your parenting stress and bring you closer together with your child.

6. Practice Cognitive Reappraisal

One of the best ways to cope with stress as a parent is to adjust your mindset. If you’re stressed and you constantly rehash your worries and think about how stressed you are, you’ll ultimately make yourself more stressed. Instead, try to practice cognitive reappraisal. This is where you recognise the negative pattern in your thoughts and consciously change this to more effective, positive thoughts. So next time you’re annoyed with your child for making you late to an event, instead of becoming stressed try to reappraise the situation. Remind yourself that everyone is late every now and again, it’s not the end of the world! You can just make them get ready 30 minutes earlier next time to avoid it happening again. By challenging your thought patterns like this, eventually a more positive thought pattern will become natural.

7. Work Out

This isn’t the first time you’ve heard this and it certainly won’t be the last, but that’s because exercise has so many benefits for our mental health. Exercise can be a great way to let out any stress or frustration that has built up throughout the day, as it reduces levels of cortisol and adrenaline. And it doesn’t just let stress out, but actually improves our mood in general. Exercise releases endorphins and dopamine into our systems, which are ‘happy’ hormones. So next time you’re feeling stressed, it might be time to hit the treadmill.

We understand that it may be hard to find the time to workout when you have young children, especially if you’re a single parent. However, you don’t need to sign up to the  gym and go 5 times a week. There’s a wealth of home workouts available online – just take a look on YouTube. There’s sure to be a video on any kind of workout you want to do!

We hope this has helped you learn how to cope with stress as a parent. Whilst it’s quite natural to feel stressed from time to time, it’s important to learn how to manage this. That way, you can have a healthy, nourishing relationship with your children and enjoy a more fulfilled family life.

Spring has to be one of our favourite seasons! Blue skies, light nights, the first blooms of the year – it provides an instant lift to our mood. Spring also marks a time of change as we emerge from our winter hibernation mode, so here’s 7 Spring activities to help you get ready for the new season.

Set Goals

We know the new year is supposed to mark new beginnings, but let’s be honest, you make a resolution and then you’re faced with cold, rain and darkness – it’s enough to demotivate anyone! Spring is a season of change and growth, so it’s the perfect opportunity to make a positive change in your life. 

When setting goals for springtime, ensure that they are reasonable and achievable. For example, don’t try to jump from no exercise to going to the gym 5 times a week. Instead, chunk your ultimate goal up into smaller goals. In the first week you might attend an introduction class to learn how to use all the machines, in the second week you might try to go twice, and so on.

Get Out Into The Garden

We’ve spent months locked indoors during winter, but now the sun is finally back and we can reconnect with nature – where better to do this than your own back garden? Invest a small amount of time from your evenings and weekends to transform your garden into a peaceful haven where you can enjoy the sunny weather. So get out the lawnmower, pull on your gloves and get gardening.

Head to your local garden centre and pick up some flowers to brighten up your garden. You could plant these from seed, pot them or get a hanging basket. You could also start your own vegetable garden, where you grow fruit and veg to use in your summer salads. It might take a little work, but think of those long summer night barbecues – then it’ll all be worth it.

Enjoy the Outdoors with the Kids

Most parents are probably sick of being cooped up in the house with the kids, so take advantage of the better weather and get outside. Here’s some of our favourite outdoor activities for families:

  • Peep Behind The Curtain – you might know this game as red light, green light, thanks to its inclusion in Squid Games. Whatever you call it, the rules are the same. The person who is ‘it’ stands at the front facing away from the group. Everyone else has to try and tag them to win, but they must freeze when the person who’s ‘it’ turns around or they’re out.
  • Picnic – okay, this is hardly innovative, but you can’t beat a picnic in the Spring. Whether it’s in your local park or by the sea side, pack all your favourite finger foods and snacks to pick at. Chuck in a football or a bat and ball and let the kids run free.
  • Parachute Cat and Mouse – you’ll need a parachute to play this, but don’t worry, you can buy a games parachute pretty cheap online. One person is the cat on top of the parachute and one person is the mouse under the parachute, whilst everyone else holds the edge shaking it up and down. The cat must try to catch the mouse in 90 seconds or they lose. Then, the mouse becomes the cat and another player becomes the mouse.
  • Sardines – this is a spin on the classic hide and seek. One person must go and hide and everyone else must go and look for them. When someone finds the person who has hidden, they must then join them in their hiding place. The last person to find everyone hiding loses.
  • Spot the animal walk – this one’s probably best for young children. Print off a sheet with photos of farm animals and take them for a walk by your nearest farm and they can tick off the animals that they see.

Spring Recipes

During the winter months, you need hearty, warming meals to keep you going – not salads! Now that Spring has arrived though, we can start to enjoy different foods again.

For a breakfast that puts a spring in your step, why don’t you try and make your own acai bowl. A favourite with influencers for its instagrammable appearance, all you need is frozen acai puree (available on Amazon or Ocado), frozen fruit (we recommend bananas, blueberries and other berries), milk, yoghurt and granola. First, pop your frozen acai puree, frozen fruit, milk and yoghurt into a blender and blend. This will leave you with a delicious smoothie base, which you can then sprinkle with granola and freshly cut fruit. The perfect, refreshing spring breakfast!
For tea, why not try your hand at this delicious cajun chicken and black bean salad recipe we found. It’s the perfect tasty tea to enjoy in a bit of late night sunshine, plus it’s healthy too! It’s a win-win!

Spring Clean

It’s surprising how much clutter accumulates over the winter months, so a spring clean is in order! Whilst spring cleaning might not be the most fun, you’ll feel much better for doing it. Here’s some of our tips for a thorough spring clean:

  • Declutter – this goes for clothes, decor and furniture – if you’re not going to use it, get rid. There’s no point having them gather dust in your home when someone else could get good use out of it. Where possible, try to donate to charity shops or sell on sites like Gumtree, Depop or Facebook Marketplace.
  • Work top to bottom – start with dusting down windows and shelves, otherwise you’ll clean the floor and then cover it in dust again.
  • Try natural solutions – lemons, baking soda, vinegar and, of course, water are as good as branded cleaning solutions and they aren’t as bad for the environment. Try and switch to natural cleaning solutions where possible, which are often less expensive. For example, put your showerhead in a bag of white vinegar overnight to break down build up.
  • Pack your winter clothes away – bulky jumpers and big puffer jackets take up a huge amount of wardrobe space, so pack them away into plastic tubs under the bed during the spring and summer months.

Brighten Up Your Interior

Once you’ve got a clear, clean space, you might find that it’s in need of a little TLC. That doesn’t mean you need to spend thousands on a complete refurbishment, but simply spend a little money in the right places. For example, you might notice the walls are looking a little dull, so give them a fresh lick of paint to brighten them up. Or perhaps you bought cushions in a dark red velvet which look great at Christmas, but are a little too heavy and dark for spring. Buy some cushion covers in a light spring colour, like a mint green or baby blue. Another great way to refresh your interior is dotting greenery around the home which will create the feeling of bringing the outdoors in.

Refresh Your Look

Your home might not be the only one in need of TLC this Spring! We all tend to let our self-care slip during the winter months, but Spring is time to focus on feeling good about yourself and what better way to do that than a makeover? We’re not saying you need to completely change how you look, it could be small changes like promising to moisturise every day so you have soft, glowing skin by the summer. 

But if you do want to make a more drastic change, it’s best left to the professionals! Book in at our salon for a hair transformation, whether you’re going for a big chop or finally dying it the colour you’ve always dreamt of. To book, call our salon on 01254 690138.

So those are our 7 Spring activities to get ready for the new season! We hope you make the most of this lovely season and get out and enjoy the better weather!

Yes it may feel like Christmas has only just been and gone, but February half-term is here already! We know it can be hard to entertain the kids during the February half-term; the weather is normally too bad to get out most days, but there’s no Christmas films to keep the kids satisfied. That’s why we’ve put together some ideas for activities to do with the kids during the February half-term.

1. Valentine’s Day Treats

The first day of February half-term falls on Valentine’s Day this year, so why not take the opportunity to do some Valentine’s Day themed activities. An easy activity is making Valentine’s Day cards. All you need is pink and red card, safety scissors, pipe cleaners and LOTS of glitter. 

Another fun Valentine’s Day craft activity is making a Valentine’s wreath. You just need a paper plate, some paint and some heart shaped stickers and other embellishments. Just cut out the centre of the paper plate and leave them to decorate it how they want. The more the better!
Or you could do some Valentine’s Day baking. If you haven’t got the time (or the skill set) to bake a cake, you could just buy some heart-shaped biscuits, some pink and red icing, sprinkles and let the kids go to town. We also found this easy brownie recipe that you should be able to do with the kids. You get brownie points from your partner and actual brownies – it’s a win-win!

2. Burn Off Some Energy

We’re lucky here in Lancashire that we have so many amazing play areas nearby! Like Air Unlimited in Burnley, an inflatable course which is straight out of our 90’s child 50:50 dreams! Were you the blue or yellow team? Or there’s Jump Works in Accrington, packed full of trampolines to bounce between. Closer to home, there’s also Funtazia in Blackburn; a classic soft play area. Letting the kids blow off some steam is sure to leave them ready for bed that night!

3. Camp In

It’s far too cold to camp out at this time of year, but there’s nothing to stop you from camping in! Clear the living room and set up your tent or build your own den from sheets and pillows. Spend the day living like you’re really camping out – no lights, TV or electric in that room. Entertain yourself with board games and have a campsite classic like hotdogs or burgers for tea. The more you embrace it, the more fun it will be!

4. Visit Some Furry Friends

There’s so many farms and animal sanctuaries in our local area, which make great days out for the whole family. A visit to the Bowland Wild Boar Park is always a holiday highlight! Reopening for February half-term, you can wander round and see sheep, boar, cattle, rabbits and more, as well as take part in animal petting, chick holding and lamb feeding. 

If you’re in the market for a pet, why don’t you have a day out at Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary in Ramsbottom? They take in dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea-pigs and even horses, donkeys and farm animals and rehome them. Take a walk round, have a picnic and see if there are any animals who are a potential fit for your family.
HAPPA (a horse and pony sanctuary in Burnley) would be the perfect day out for your horse-crazy kids! They have a Beginner’s Guide to Pony and Horse Care or Own a Pony Day for children over 7 years old, which teaches them all the basics of caring for horses.

5. It’s Showtime

Whether they sing, dance, act, or they’re a triple threat, kids love putting on a show! Ask them to come up with a show for you to watch in the evening and rehearse it all day. It could be a reimagining of their favourite film or an original screenplay. Tell them you want the full works, costumes, lights and sound effects – that’s sure to keep them busy!

6. Cook Up A Storm

Kids in the kitchen might sound like a disaster waiting to happen, but with the proper supervision and some child-friendly recipes, it’s a great way for them to start learning a vital life skill. Depending on their age, you could have them making quick lunches or small treats. Here are some great recipes we’ve found:

7. Dressing-up Time

There’s nothing little ones like more than throwing on a costume and playing princess/superhero/doctor for the day. So get involved in the fun and dress up yourself! Go all in with hair and makeup too. Another fun idea is to let the kids dress up as the parents and you dress up as them and switch roles for the day. They get to tell you to tidy your room and you get to mess up theirs!

8. Follow the Leader

Get out of the house and let the kids lead the way. Make your way to a walking trail like Pendle Hill, give them a map and a compass and ask them to get you from A to B. You just might want to wait for a dry day, as it might take a little longer than usual!

9. Build a Bird’s House

There are lots of bird houses online which you can easily slot together and leave the kids to build and decorate on their own. This will teach them the beauty of building something with your own two hands and comes just in time to watch the little chicks hatch in Spring!

10. Embrace your inner scientist

A trip to Eureka is never a bad idea! This interactive museum helps children learn about everything from the human body to electricity, whilst playing and having fun. You still have to book in advance, so pack up a picnic and hit the train to Halifax.

Once all the thrill and excitement of Christmas and New Years has passed and the reality of a cold, dark winter sets in, it is unsurprising that a lot of us experience the phenomenon known as the January blues. Yes, that little dip in your mood at the start of the year is totally normal, but you don’t have to accept it as just one of those things. There are plenty of ways to overcome the January blues, which we’ll discuss below.

Show Yourself Some Love

Perhaps the most important tip on this whole list is to embrace self-care this January. Self-care is important year-round, but especially when we’re feeling low. No good will come from beating ourselves up for feeling like this. In fact, that will probably make you feel worse as you start to feel shame and guilt as well.

Self-care is essentially looking after ourselves, physically, mentally and emotionally. It is not a selfish act; it leaves you feeling more fulfilled and happy, which then means you’re able to give more to those around you. There is no set self-care routine that will work for everyone, it varies from person to person, but here are some general self-care ideas that we’ve come up with.

  • Do something creative – doing something fun and creative is a great way to lift your spirits and take your mind off other things. This could be drawing, painting, playing an instrument or writing stories. And remember, you don’t have to be good at it, you just have to enjoy it!
  • Do something relaxing – set some time aside every evening to unwind from the stresses of the day. Personally, I like a nice, hot bath filled to the brim with bubbles.
  • Do something for yourself – it’s important to treat yourself every now and then. Going to the salon has to be the ultimate me-time. Book yourself in for a blow dry which leaves you feeling refreshed and confident. Call 01254 690138 to book.

Don’t Set Yourself Up For Failure

It’s important that you don’t set unrealistic resolutions and goals in the New Year. A New Year’s resolution like “I’m going to go to the gym for an hour everyday” only sets yourself up for failure. It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to go from little-to-no exercise, to going to the gym everyday. Plus, what about work, cooking and all that housework you’ve got to fit into your day! Cut yourself a break! 

Unrealistic New Year’s resolutions make us feel like a failure when we’re unable to achieve them. So instead, think about setting realistic, sustainable goals. For example, if you would like to start exercising more, you should think about your lifestyle and come up with a plan that works for you. Perhaps you can’t make it to the gym everyday, but you could do a 30 minute home workout every other day. It’s important to set time limits on goals to keep us motivated, but they should not pressure us into sudden, drastic change, and we should always be flexible and willing to adapt them to the reality of our situation.

Get Your Body Moving

Yes, we’ve all heard it a thousand times before, but that’s because it’s true! Exercise is a great way to boost your mood, as it releases endorphins which cause feelings of pleasure. Plus, exercise is good for our physical health and helps us sleep better, both of which are also tied to our mood.

This doesn’t mean you have to be slogging away in the gym for hours either. Make exercise work for you. If you love being outdoors, then pull on your hiking boots and hit your nearest walking trail. If you used to rule the netball court when you were younger, see if there’s any local groups you could join. Or maybe you’re not much of the sporty, outdoorsy type, in which case crank some tunes and have a good old boogie around the house. Anything that gets you moving is good for you, it’s up to you what that is.

Limit Your Screen Time

This is particularly important for young adults. It’s easy to go on Instagram and feel like everyone is having the time of their lives, but as we all know, social media is all smoke and mirrors. Think about how many times you yourself might have posted a photo from a night out all glammed up and ready to go – when in reality it was a pretty mneh night and you were home by 11.

There is a general consensus that too much social media can have a detrimental effect on mental health, as we compare ourselves to other users, which leads to feelings of insecurity and less satisfaction with your own life. It’s also easy to fall into that social media wormhole of scrolling and scrolling, never taking your eyes off your phone. Then, before you know it, it’s bedtime. So instead of reaching for your phone, why not write a to-do list, do some chores, fit in a quick workout or pick up a book. Something that makes you feel better, not worse. Limiting your time on social media can therefore help you to feel more satisfied with your own life and increase your productivity.

Or, if you don’t want to cut down your time on social media, it could just be time to have a good clear out of the accounts you follow. The influencer who buys a new designer item everyday? Gone. That toxic friend who’s constantly causing drama? See ya later! Your ex? BYE! And if you’re worried about actually unfollowing/unfriending people, there’s always the option to mute their account instead.

Socialise and Keep in Touch

It’s easy to feel lonely in January, after all the Christmas parties have been and gone. That’s why it’s important to keep in touch with family and friends, who can support you and stop you feeling isolated. If you can’t see them in person, a simple text message or phone call can help you feel connected.

One tip I’ve taken from my mum is to always have a date in your diary to look forward to. Okay, the weather might be rubbish in January but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good night out! Just wear jeans and take your brolly – sorted! Or, if money’s tight, you could just have friends round for a takeaway and a movie night.

We hope this helps you to conquer those January blues and remember if you’re experiencing persistent low moods, make an appointment to see your GP who can help you to understand why you’re feeling like this and suggest treatment options. 

Here’s to looking after ourselves in 2022!

December is here, which means the countdown to Christmas is officially on! Last year we didn’t get to celebrate Christmas like we normally would and kids missed out on the usual festive activities like nativity plays, Christmas light switch on’s and visits to Santa’s grotto. So this year, we’ve come up with some fun, inexpensive activities to make this Christmas that little bit more magical and memorable.

Extreme Elf On The Shelf

Elf on the shelf has only been around for a couple of years, but it seems to have sealed its place as a favourite Christmas tradition for many families now. It can be hard coming up with 24 different scenes to put this mischievous elf in though, so we’ve listed some of our favourites below:

  • Crash landing – have your elf arrive in style, as they crash land in the Christmas tree. Put the elf in a plastic cup halfway up the tree and tie a helium balloon to it, so it looks like their hot air balloon drifted a bit off course.
  • Snack time – that naughty elf has been trying to steal snacks whilst everybody else is in bed. Cut a hole in a Pringles just big enough to have the elf’s head sticking out and have the kids try and help them out.
  • Snow angels – this is a lovely Christmassy scene, but will take some cleaning up after. Pour some flour on the floor and make a snow angel shape with your fingers, before laying the elf on top.
  • Caught red handed – sure to outrage the kids, let them catch the elf trying to steal their pocket money. Leave a piggy bank on the table with pennies scattered around it and put the elf’s hands inside. Top marks if you make them a robber’s mask and burlap sack.
  • Chef Elf – the elf has been making themselves at home by whipping up a Full English. Put some fried egg sweets in a frying pan and put a spatula in the elf’s hands.
  • Wrapping things up – on Christmas Eve, wrap the elf up and leave a note saying they were practicing their wrapping to help Santa but got themselves into a bit of a pickle and need your childrens’ help.

Have Your Own Christmas Disco

Primary school discos used to be the highlight of the year when we were younger. Recreate that magic at home by having a night in with the kids dancing to Christmas songs. Get all dressed up in your favourite Christmassy outfits – let the kids choose their own outfit so it feels extra special – and lay out a buffet with all their favourite foods, sweets and drinks. Then, crank those Christmas tunes up and get dancing! Bonus points if you have a disco ball!

Christmas Games Day

Plan a day packed with festive games to really get your kids into the Christmas spirit. Some of these look so fun, we’re thinking of pitching them for the Riverside Christmas do. They’re probably even better after a couple of Proseccos.

  • Oven mitts wrapping – get the kids to race each other wrapping presents whilst wearing oven mitts. It’s sure to result in a good few laughs, but just make sure it isn’t your present they’re wrapping. All you need for this game is a couple of boxes to wrap, some sellotape and some safety scissors for kids.
  • Jingle all the way – hide a little Christmas bell somewhere in the house when no one’s looking. The first one to find the bell and ring it wins.
  • Christmas Pictionary-ish – okay, this is a bit of a DIY festive spin on the traditional Pictionary. First, a judge should come up with an idea of something Christmassy to draw – from the easy like a snowman, to the hard like a sleigh. They should put these all in the middle and split the players into teams. The picturists will pick a piece of paper at random and they have to draw what it says on it. The first team to correctly guess what’s being drawn win the point.
  • Fill the stocking – hang a stocking up for every player and have them stand the same distance away. Give them each a small bouncy ball or ping pong ball which they must try to get in the stocking.

Christmas Movie Marathon

Okay, this is hardly innovative, but hear us out. Don’t just sit on the couch and watch a Christmas film, go all out! Get the kids to make themselves a cosy Christmas den by hanging bed sheets and piling pillows on the floor. Then, make a shopping trip specifically for film snacks and let the kids pick all their favourite treats to gorge on. We’re thinking Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Kinder Buenos, a box of Celebrations and pick and mix! Just before you start your film, make the ultimate Christmas hot chocolate with whipped cream, marshmallows, a flake, the lot. Then you’ve got your perfect Christmas film night, cosy in your Christmas den with lots of chocolates and sweets, and a hot chocolate to wash it down.

Santa Scavenger Hunt

Build up the excitement on Christmas Eve by sending the kids on a Santa scavenger hunt! Leave a note from Santa telling the kids that he’s left them their first present somewhere in the house (it doesn’t have to be a present if you don’t like opening presents before Christmas, it could just be some chocolate coins). End the note with a clue about the location of the next note, until they finally find their present.

So those are our ideas to make this Christmas a little bit more special this year. After all, when we look back at Christmases from our childhood, we probably don’t remember exactly what toys we got or how much it cost, we remember the people we spent it with and the memories we made.

Merry Christmas from everyone here at The Hub and wishing you all the best for 2022!

We all know the value of kindness. Whether we’re the giver, the receiver or the observer of an act of kindness, we all go to bed feeling a little lighter, happier and inspired to pass the positivity on.

What is World Kindness Day?

World Kindness Day falls on the 13th of November each year, and was created by the World Kindness Movement in 1998 to celebrate the positive effect that kindness has on all of our lives. On the day, we’re encouraged to commit small, intentional acts of kindness which ripple throughout the community.

Whilst researching for this blog post, I came across this Psychology Today article by Rick Hanson PHD. In it, he expounds the principle that kindness to you is a kindness to me; kindness to me is a kindness to you. This perfectly explains that warm, fuzzy feeling we get when we’re kind to someone else. When we’re kind to other people, we feel more fulfilled in ourselves. At the same time, when you’re kind to yourself, your own well-being increases and you’re able to be more loving, supportive and kind to those around you. 

We love the entire concept of World Kindness Day here at The Hub, so we’ve come up with some small, manageable ways to work kindness into your day on World Kindness Day and beyond.

Small Acts of Kindness We Can All Do

We don’t all have the resources to make grand gestures that are going to change somebody’s life, but we can all do small acts of kindness which start a cycle with the potential to change the world. 

Here are some ideas for small acts of kindness which we should all be able to do:

  • Give someone a compliment – this is a quick and easy way to work kindness into your day, and we all know how great it makes us feel.
  • Let someone out in traffic – most of us are guilty of being stingy on the morning commute, and even worse on the way home! Let someone out and make their day that little bit better.
  • Do someone else’s chore – lighten the load for someone you love. It could be as small as emptying the dishwasher, but the relief from having something ticked off their to-do list is priceless.
  • Tell someone they’ve made a difference to your life – whether it’s an old teacher you haven’t seen in years, or your best friend who you see everyday, tell them. Write them a letter or a text to say thank you, they’ll appreciate it.

A Little Bit More

If you have the time or the financial ability to do a little bit more this World Kindness Day, we’ve come up with some ideas that will really brighten someone’s day.

  • Cook for someone – is your lasagne a family fave? Or maybe you make brownies to die for? Cook up a big batch of food and drop it off at friends, family and neighbours houses to give them a little treat.
  • Treat a stranger – if you’re going through a drive-through, ask to pay for the meal for the person behind you. Or if you’re at the coffee shop, pay for someone’s drink. It’ll make their day.
  • Donate to a foodbank – many people rely on foodbanks and adding a few extra items onto your weekly shop can help families on the breadline. Add in a little treat for them to enjoy, as well as the everyday basics, like posh biscuits or a luxury hot chocolate.

Donate blood – this is quite a big action and can be very daunting, but what could be kinder than potentially saving someone’s life. If you want to give blood, but you’re also feeling anxious about doing it for the first time, here’s a blog with tips to relax.

Self-Care is Self-Kindness

We all tend to be our own worst critic and say things to ourselves that we would never dream of saying to anyone else. Like we said earlier, when we’re feeling fulfilled and cared for, we’re able to give more to other people. Make a conscious effort to be kind to yourself this World Kindness Day, so that you’re able to be kind to others in the future.

Here’s some of our favourite easy self-care activities for World Kindness Day:

  • Start your day with a stretch – getting your body moving in the morning is the best start to your day and you don’t need to be doing anything fancy like yoga. A simple stretch in the morning will wake your body up and leave you feeling invigorated for the rest of the day.
  • Take a bath – run a nice hot bath, filled to the brim with bubbles, and shut out the world for a while. You could bring in a book, watch some YouTube on your phone, or just sit and enjoy the silence.
  • Feel-good films – take some time to yourself to watch all your old favourite childhood films with your favourite snacks, and you could even treat yourself to a Tango Ice Blast if you can get one.
  • Show gratitude – every day when you wake up, or before you go to bed, take a minute to list three things you’re truly grateful for that day. It could be the big things like the love of your family, or small things like your favourite triple chocolate cookies.

We hope this blog has given you some ideas for World Kindness Day and we’d love to hear what you get up to on the day, so be sure to let us know on our social media! 

We thought we’d leave you with this quote by Scott Adams to inspire you:

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.

How to Throw a Spooktacular Halloween Party!

Last year, Halloween was spent in lockdown, which means kids didn’t get to celebrate properly (nor did us big kids)! So this year, why not go all out and give them a Halloween to remember with a cracking party?

We love Halloween here at The Hub. Scary movies, crazy costumes and lots of sweets- what’s not to love? So we’ve decided to round up some ideas to make this Halloween the best one yet!

Food, Gory-ous Food

Let’s be honest, Halloween is all about the food. We’ve found a few terrifying treats to spice up the buffet table.

Gingerbread Skeletons

Gingerbread Skeletons

We can’t all be Mary Berry, so we’re starting with an easy option to make skeleton gingerbread men. All you need to do is buy some gingerbread men and some white icing to draw on the skeleton – the kids will love doing this! If you want to bake them yourself, we found this easy recipe to follow too.

Finger Hotdogs

Finger Hotdogs

Finger hotdogs are another pretty easy option to make your food more on theme. All you need is a small knife to cut out a fingernail shape and knuckle lines before cooking, and you’ve got a quick, simple, stomach-turning Halloween snack.

Spicy Halloween Ribs

Spicy Halloween Ribs

If you’re more savoury than sweet, these spicy Halloween ribs are perfect for you! It’s all about the presentation with these ribs, as the spicy flavouring should leave them looking particularly gory, whilst placing a red bell pepper in between the ribs will make it look like there’s still a heart in the chest!

Graveyard Cake

Graveyard Cake

This showstopper would definitely make a great centrepiece for the table! A graveyard cake doesn’t even have to be baked by you, you’re just in charge of the decorations. Carefully slice the cake to separate it at the filling and pack in lots of strawberry laces to dangle over the sides, like entrails. On top, sprinkle some coconut shavings mixed with green food dye to look like grass, and stand up a few biscuits to look like gravestones. You could even use chocolate buttons to look like a snake is weaving its way through the graveyard!

Or you could always put out a bowl of Monster Munch and call it a day – we won’t judge.

Dreadful Decorations

Our sister Hub over in Buckshaw has a blog packed with plenty of Halloween decoration ideas, but we thought we’d cover the basics here too.

Watch out for the Spiders Webs

Watch out for the Spiders Webs

Spiders webs are an easy way to instantly up your game this Halloween. Just drape them along the stair bannister, in the corners of doors and even across the buffet table. Just try not to walk into them!

Scatter Some Bones

Scatter Some Bones

Scattering a bag of bones about the house is another great way to up the fear factor this Halloween, and doesn’t take too much effort either! You could even have one buried alive in the front garden to scare trick or treaters.

Go Gothic

Go Gothic

If you’re up for a little bit of DIY and you have a few empty wine bottles lying around, these gothic candlesticks really add to the theatrics of any Halloween party. Just paint the bottle black, pop a candlestick in the top and let the wax drip down the side when you light it. A very easy but effective Halloween decoration.

Family Halloween Costumes

Family costumes are a surefire way to show your commitment to Halloween and get some insanely cute photos too. But sometimes it can be hard to find a family Halloween costume that has the right number of characters and is appropriate for your child’s age. Well don’t worry, we’ve lined up some great ideas to suit everyone.

Mystery Incorporated

Mystery Incorporated

Scooby Doo and the rest of the gang are the perfect family costume, full of nostalgia for you and still a firm favourite with kids everywhere. This costume can work for all different types and sizes of families, as there’s plenty of characters to choose from. Even if you’re a family of six, you can still make it work by adding in a bad guy dressed up as a ghost in a white sheet, bound to be unmasked by those meddling kids!

Cruella, Cruella De Vil

Cruella, Cruella De Vil

Did you see Disney’s hit movie Cruella this year? If not, you’re missing out! Thanks to its success, Cruella is sure to be an on-trend costume choice this year. Parents can dress up as Cruella and her henchman Horace, whilst you can DIY dalmation costumes for the kids with a white top, a bit of black felt and a few stitches- we just hope you don’t have 101 of them to make, for your sake!

The Cooky and the Spooky

The Cooky and the Spooky

How could we not include the original icons of Halloween: The Addams Family! Yes, nothing quite says Halloween like The Addams Family playing on ITV2 every weekend for a month- but we can’t complain, we love it! Parents can play the gushingly in love Morticia and Gomez Adams- with a long black dress and wig, a pinstripe suit, and plenty of PDA. Any brooding teenager is sure to have Wednesday Addam’s sullen look mastered already. Just add plaits and a black dress, and voila! Middle child Pugsley is another easy costume. All you need is a white and black striped t-shirt, black shorts and black knee socks. This family costume is perfect for families with a little one who can dress up as Pubert, the baby. If not, a baby doll should do.

Halloween Games

Keep the kids (and yourself) entertained with these Halloween party games!

Toilet Paper Mummies

Toilet Paper Mummies

The toilet paper mummy game is a classic and it isn’t a real Halloween party without it. You already know how to play- just split up into teams, choose a mummy from each team, hand out the toilet rolls, and see who can wrap up their mummy the best in the time limit! You could use a Halloween song like the Monster Mash as the timer, and tell the teams they have until the end of the song.

Bobbing for Apples- Covid-style

Bobbing for Apples- Covid-style

Bobbing for apples is another Halloween classic, but it’s at risk of falling out of favour as we’ve all become more aware of hygiene over the pandemic. Luckily, we’ve found a solution that keeps the fun and cuts out the germs. All you need to do is find a large washing up tub, place some towels underneath, fill ¾ with water, and drop in your apples. Rather than letting kids pick up the apples with their teeth, give them some chopsticks to try and grab the apples instead! There you have it, a post-Covid bobbing for apples!

Pin-the-Skeleton

Pin-the-Skeleton

Another fun Halloween game is a spin on pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. You can buy a pin-the-skeleton game here, or you could always make a more gruesome version yourself if you’re feeling creative!

So those are our ideas for throwing a spooktacular Halloween party. Don’t forget to let us know how you get on, and drop by to see us here at The Hub!

Christmas Crafts for Kids

Here at The Hub, our nursery kids love craft time! With Christmas just around the corner, we’ll be planning lots of festive fun for them, including plenty of arts and crafts. 

Christmas crafting is a great way to keep your little ones occupied throughout the build-up to the big day.

The things you create make for lovely personal holiday decorations that you can use anywhere in your home and are also great for gifting. 

The kids at Nursery love these so much that we thought we’d share our ideas to spread some cheer. 

1. Christmas Character Sweet Pots

Christmas Character Sweet Pots

Character candy pots are an easy way to get creative this Christmas, they’ll look so cute dotted around your house or on the table, and you can have sweet treats readily available to snack on!

Turn little plant pots or candle holders into characters! Think reindeers, snowmen and elves made from felt, pipe cleaners, paint, googly eyes and whatever else you can think of, and then fill them with your favourite sweets for the whole family to enjoy.

See a tutorial for this over at Crazy Little Projects.

2. Cupcake Christmas Trees

Cupcake Christmas Trees

Okay so we don’t mean actual cupcakes, just liners folded and stuck together in the shape of a Christmas tree! Look for green, red, gold or silver liners for a fantastically festive look, but you can use any colours you like. You can even decorate them with glitter, sequins and stars which the little ones will love.

We saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it was super created and cool! They look great on Christmas cards and trees and garlands too.

3. Paper Plate Santa

Paper Plate Santa

Let your kids get in the Christmas spirit by making the big man in the red suit out of paper plates! All you’ll need is paper plates, card, paint & googly eyes if you want to take him to the next level.

Tip- half a plate is great for the head, then add on a Santa hat made of card.

4. Paper Straw Christmas Trees 

Paper Straw Christmas Trees

We love this idea from Crafts by Courtney! These cool mini Christmas trees made out of paper straws are easy to build and make great decorations. All you’ll need is some paper straws, hot glue, scissors and some sparkly paper for your star. Adult supervision is needed for younger kids.

5. Reindeer Baubles 

Reindeer Baubles

We stole this idea from Little Bit Funky, but it’s just too good! Take a bauble, some paint, pens and your child’s finger, and you’ve got yourself some fingerprint reindeer baubles. These will look amazing on your Christmas tree for years to come. If you’re feeling super creative, you could also make some fingerprint snowmen baubles too!

Take a look at Little Bit Funky’s blog for an indepth tutorial.

6. Toilet Roll Snowman

Toilet Roll Snowman

The best thing about this idea is you can use materials lying around the house and recycle your used loo roll! Take the cardboard and draw on your snowmen, googly eyes really bring them to life, along with ribbon scarfs and ear muffs made of pipe linkers and pom poms!

7. Pasta Christmas Tree’s and Wreaths

Pasta Christmas Tree’s and Wreaths

Pasta cards are a classic, we all remember making them at nursery and school, so it’s only right we continue the traditions with a dash of Christmas magic! 

You can let the kids use their imagination here and make pretty much anything they want out of painted pasta, although we think Christmas trees and wreaths look the best. 

Michelle over at Crafty Morning shows a lovely example of a green wreath, check it out for some inspo!

8. Xmas Cards

Xmas Cards

Last but by no means least, the classic Christmas card. We love hand-making cards here at Riverside nursery, and there’s no doubt the recipients love them just as much! Let the kids get as creative as they want and encourage them to write loving messages to their nearest and dearest.

Hopefully, you’ll spend many fun-filled hours Christmas Crafting with your family thanks to some of these ideas. It really is a great way to spend a winters day and a lovely bonding activity. Enjoy guys!

Tips for Helping Children Deal With COVID Related Stress

It’s a difficult time for everyone at the moment which means stress levels are high. We often only associate stress with adults, but it can affect people of all ages – including kids. The pandemic has caused their lives to tip upside down, so its only natural that they might feel a little overwhelmed.

Signs that your child is feeling stressed 

Signs that your child is feeling stressed

Children respond to stress in different ways, and the reasons behind their new behaviour may not always be clear to us adults. Some things to watch out for are:

  • Being more clingy
  • Feeling anxious
  • Withdrawing themselves
  • Angry or agitated behaviour 
  • Bedwetting
  • Feeling scared to leave the house

How to help kids manage their stress 

How to help kids manage their stress

Most parents natural reaction to learning their child is experiencing stress is to try to make everything as smooth and comfortable as possible. However, according to expert Reid Wilson, PhD, it’s much better to help them manage their stress by teaching them to problem-solve, plan and know when to say yes and no to activities and commitments.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t comfort them. Children need love and support now more than ever, so giving them some extra time and attention certainly can’t hurt. It’s important to listen to their worries and to reassure them in a realistic way. 

  1. Make sure they understand the pandemic 
1. Make sure they understand the pandemic

The World Health Organisation recommends that you should provide facts about what is happening in the world right now and how it happened. It’s important that they understand how the virus works and how they can reduce their risk of infection that is appropriate for their age. This includes informing them about what might happen if a family member catches covid, such as going into hospital. 

  1. Give them time to play 
2. Give them time to play

Life is so structured at the moment with all of these new rules and regulations and it seems that all anyone is talking about is the coronavirus – at home, at school, on the tv and the radio. This is something people of all ages can find overwhelming. Kids need some downtime to give their brains and bodies rest and just do whatever they want to do, which is why structuring their play isn’t the answer. Play shouldn’t have a goal or teach a lesson, it should just be free! 

Combining playtime with physical exercise is always a good idea too as exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy.

  1. Make sure they get their 8 hours 
3. Make sure they get their 8 hours

Sleep is the key to everything! It minimizes stress, boosts productivity and energy levels. We all know what it’s like to have a breakdown purely because we’re exhausted. Giving your child a bedtime is important to make sure they get to sleep, as they often won’t want to even if they’re tired. 

Keeping electronics such as TVs, phones, tablets etc out of their bedroom is also a good tip to make them sleep.

  1. Manage your own stress 
4. Manage your own stress

You’d be surprised how much of your behaviour gets imprinted upon your children. They’re like sponges, soaking up energy and learning behaviours from you. If you’re stressed your child will sense this and become stressed too.

Managing your own stress is important for you and for your little ones. They need to see your relax and effectively deal with anything causing you to act stress. After all, you cant live a stressful life yourself whilst teaching stress management. 

Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand how your child might be feeling and how to help them cope with things. The coronavirus has brought about a situation that is new and confusing for all of us and we are all learning how best to deal with it. As long as you’re providing a loving and supporting environment you’re doing the right thing. 

If you’re worried about the amount of stress your child is feeling or they’re displaying extreme symptoms then reach out to a professional for help.