My name is Lily-Sue, but my mummy calls me Munchkin (or 'Munch' for short!) I am 8 years old, and this is where my mummy will help me write all about all the fun things we do together. I hope you enjoy reading about the adventures of my mummy and me, Munchkin, with the occasional appearance from the siblings - Beastie and Plumlet.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Disney on Ice at Christmas

When you wish upon a star ...!

Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without a dose of Disney. That dose can come in a number of forms, from a new Disney toy to enjoying a movie marathon of all your favourite classics with the family. However, this year, we were being treated to an extra special Disney treat.

Disney on Ice presents Frozen has been touring the UK and is in London right now. Munch has wanted to see Disney on Ice for quite some time now, so The Man created some special invitations for them and we presented them to the girls on Christmas Day. 

We couldn't tell them too far in advance - if they had one more thing to count the sleeps for, I thought the excitement might have bee too much! This surprise really did finish off their Christmas Day in the most magical way. They went to bed on Christmas night with little squeals of excitement and with them deep in conversation of anticipation of what they were about to see! As a parent, to listen to this joy was wonderful. They had never been quite this excited about an upcoming day out.

Tuesday, 27th December, 2017: 5.30am ...

"Is it time yet ...?!"

Moods were good, emotion was high, and all the girls wanted to do was get ready. Princess dresses needed to be worn ... but which ones?! A mini fashion show was essential in order to decide on the perfect attire!

 Dress decision made, the girls got ready, still bubbling with hysteria. Munch even let Beastie borrow some of her special Elsa jewellery for the occasion! 

... and helped her fix her hair ...

And we were ready to go.

Disney on Ice: Presents Frozen is only showing for another few days, completing its tour at the London O2 on Friday, 30th December. However, this will most certainly not be the end, as it will continue with Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic in March, 2017. But if you want to experience the story of Elsa and Ana on the ice, you will need to get your tickets quick!

Disney on Ice Frozen is the much loved and award winning tale we all know and adore, but on the ice. A full length show including the quirky one-liners and the famous music all reenacted by a team of the most delightfully talented ice dancers and the most brilliantly skilled technical crew who will make you and your little Disney lovers feel as though they have been transported to the kingdom of Arendelle and are part of the adventure along with their favourite characters. The girls could not wait to take their seats!

Yes, Beastie is shooting her Ice Magic!
The O2 was buzzing with excited children, and although it was extremely busy, it was very well organised. Queues were kept moving by highly informative stewards and security was efficient. There were assistants around at every turn, ready to help with directions and everyone was really friendly and accommodating. 

We found our seats. The girls were thrilled that we were seated right near the ice. We were ready for the show to begin!

The show began with a fun, lively number featuring all of the Disney favourites. Mickey and Minnie, a host of familiar princesses and princes, Nemo and Dory, Buzz and Woody and many more. Each stepped on the ice, stirring more and more excitement in the girls until I thought they might completely burst!!

They started the show with singing and dancing, inviting the audience to join in as much as possible. Despite Beastie feeling slightly overwhelmed as she had just realised just how huge the audience was, she was up on her feet, following the actions and loving every second!

The show is full of wonderful music, captivating special effects and the most mesmerising skating ever. The girls did not take their eyes off of the ice for more than a second and have talked about the show continuously since! The audience was treated to a full length reenactment of the widely adored story of Elsa and her little sister, Ana as they battle life circumstances to overcome Elsa's magical force. And the cast is complete with Sven the reindeer, the Trolls, the lovable snowman, Olaf and, of course, Marshmallow!

And as if the wonderful light show and the incredible skating skills wasn't enough, there is falling snow too just to add to the magical atmosphere!

Every single moment of the performance was simply enchanting. I cannot describe the joy I felt watching the pure amazement and excitement in the girls' faces, hearing them singing along to the soundtrack they know so well at the top of their voices and seeing them turn to me with the biggest smiles on their faces at various points. They were just so happy!

I honestly cannot recommend Disney on Ice enough. It's the perfect show for Disney fans of all ages. I've loved Disney since I was a child, and even now I felt the excitement bubbling when I saw the characters gliding across the ice and felt the prickles on the back of my neck when I heard the familiar voices and music! The skaters possess extraordinary skill and the production team clearly work extremely hard to ensure that every single audience member remains totally captivated throughout the show, and I hope they manage to sit back and smile at their achievement, as in Disney on Ice, they have created pure magic!

Roll on March 2017. We can't wait for another incredible show!

Until next time ...

For full information about all upcoming shows and tours, visit the Disney on Ice website. You can also keep up to date with everything regarding the fantastic shows by following Disney on Ice via their various social media channels:

Thank you for the magic, Disney!

We received tickets to see Disney on Ice: Frozen for the purpose of writing this review. No other payment was received and all thoughts and words are 100% our own.

Monday, 26 December 2016

It's #UnBoxingDay with Num Noms!

"A cupful of cuteness and a spoonful of surprise!"

Today is a big day, for today, there is a new section to the menu. Num Noms are now serving Series 3, and, not  wanting to disappoint, the scents are  exciting, unique and, as always, they #smellsodelicious!

Today is #UnBoxingDay!

To mark the launch of the new series 3 of the much loved Num Noms, Beastie was sent a wonderful Lunch Box Deluxe pack from the new range to experience the fresh new scents and the and the new combination possibilities for herself.

The set contains 10 scented Nums, one of which is a mystery item which is not revealed until the blind bag is opened. The Noms come in a variety of scents, and when I say variety, I mean the kind that offers marshmallows, candy and fruit & veggies all in one lunch box! If that is not inviting some pretty imaginative combinations, I don't know what is!

The set also contains a stamp Nom and two mini eraser Noms.

So whilst inspecting the new scents, some interesting flavour combinations were suggested! By stacking the Nums and the Noms in different ways, children can create an endless mix of scent sensations!

We've had carrot and grape smoothies and pea ice cream suggested and created so far!

The pack, as with all Num Nom sets, contains a full menu list, which categorises every Num and Nom available in the series, making it easy for children to identify the proper names of the items in the set. Beastie has decided so far that her favourites are her mystery Num which is Toasty Mallow, CC Candy and the unique Eda Mama which can be made complete by inserting the included Erase-It Noms, Pea and Pod.

The new series bring a host of exciting new characters, complete with new scents and tricks and Beastie is looking forward to adding them to her existing collection to expand the possibilities of her creations! Candy combined with sushi, fried food mixed with ice cream and now veggies stacked with marshmallows ... what delights will your little one be serving up?! Apparently, my menu is now set and I'm in for a culinary masterclass ... with a difference!

Beastie loves everything about Num Noms, from the mystery blind bags and surprise pots, to the exciting Series 1 light up duos which can be combined to create colourful flashing Nums which really bring the collection to life. 

Series 3 consists of 85+ Num Noms, each with its own exclusive scent and appearance. The best thing about this particular set is the box itself is fully recyclable. With its quirky, spoon-shaped handle, the packaging can be used as a carry case for all your child's favourite Num Noms. But don't tell Beastie that this was a design intention ... she thinks she's a genius for suggesting that she can store other Num Noms in the case!

With so many to collect, there are hours of fun inside every pack of Num Noms. With Nums of all colours and scents and Noms with a variety of characteristics, children can stretch their imaginations to the limit. Lip Gloss Noms (now with dual flavour gloss-ups), Stamps, Erasers and motorised GoGos, every pack contains a surprise. And the suspense is always just too much for Beastie, and the first thing she does is attack the plastic on the blind bag to reveal what she was lucky enough to get!

Num Noms are full of fun for the kids. They will create so many imaginative scenarios together, and Num Noms will always play a lead part! They are wonderful to encourage a number of different games from role playing to mathematical problem solving and the girls are always searching for new ideas of how they can incorporate their Num Noms into their playtime!

Series 3 is now available to buy from a number of high street retailers and online, and there are a number of sets on offer. From Starter Sets to Lunch Box packs, Surprise in a Jar to the much loved individual blind bags, there is the ideal treat for every occasion! Keep up with Num Noms on social media to stay informed of new products, events and upcoming launch news as well as competitions and special offers. They can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For all other information, check out the website.

Happy #UnBoxingDay!

Beastie was sent a set of series 3 Num Noms as well as a selection of items from other series to enjoy for the purpose of writing this post. However, all words and thoughts are our own.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Seeing Santa at London's Transport Museum

It's the month of Santa visits!

It's that time again. Grottos are popping up all over the place and excitable children can be seen dragging their parents towards those festive doors that are hiding all sorts of magic!

We tend to only take the kids to one grotto each year. I like that it is a single Christmas tradition for us, and feel the children appreciate the special occasion a lot more if they only have one visit each year. We usually choose a local grotto - a garden centre or shopping centre. However, this year, we are going somewhere a little different ...

For the first time ever, Santa is coming to the London Transport Museum and is ready to make magical memories for children visiting from all around.

Children will have the chance to meet the man himself and tell him all their Christmas wishes. Parents are invited to take photos of the occasion themselves, and Santa's little visitors will leave with either a mini wooden train set or an exclusive slap watch. Following your Santa visit, you can take advantage of a 10% discount on the exclusive range of London Transport Museum wooden toys that are available in the adjoining shop.

Santa will be at the museum from 11am until 5pm on the following dates:

10th December
11th December
15th - 18th December

Visitors are advised to pre-book their chosen time slot online at http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/events-calendar/family-activities to avoid disappointment.

Ticket prices are £12 for one child, £20 for two children or £25 for three.

We're really looking forward to taking the children somewhere new this year, where they can take in some of the Christmas magic in Covent Garden, London as well as getting to see Santa in a completely unique location!

Watch out for our full write up coming soon!

We have been offered tickets to visit Santa at the London Transport Museum, but no other payment has been offered or received for the writing of this post.  

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Talking TABOOS with your daughters: Giveaway!

Talk about it!

As an adult, women's intimate health can be difficult to discuss. The thought of having to visit the GP and talk about matters related to women's problems can be enough to make many women want to dive under the duvet and never emerge again! However, it should't be this way. 

Canesten® believe that personal success and development begins with a good level of self confidence, with the comfort in one's own body and with the strength to be able to discuss worries when necessary. And if we, as women, are happy to talk about our intimate health, then this same content attitude will pass on to our daughters, leading to a future of strong, confident, empowered women!

I remember, as a child, being handed a book by my mum. I can't have been much older than about 9 or 10 years old. It covered lots of topics related to growing up. You know, all the nitty gritty bits and pieces that your mum never really wanted to talk about until they had to. This book, I believe, was not an attempt to educate me on health issues, but more to prepare me for what was to come. It introduced puberty, and other changes that I could expect to experience as I approached my teenage years. I don't feel my mum intended for this little book to replace the valuable knowledge a mother can pass on to her daughter, but rather for it to be a starting point - something to get the cogs working in my mind and to evoke a path of questioning. No mother wants to initiate the talk, as it can be difficult to know where to start ... and where to stop! This book meant that I could approach my mum myself with a basic foundation of knowledge on which she could build, in order to help me to grow into a health smart teenager.

As a mum to two girls, I am happy that, for now, both are very comfortable telling me when something doesn't feel right. They are open with me about any pain they might feel or about any unusual irritation they might experience. In response to their worries, I am equally open with them, making them feel as though they are right to talk to me and ensuring that I am as attentive as they want me to be. I would hate for them to feel as though these issues were in any way embarrassing or uncommon, as this is where taboos begin. Within this, I am also certain to help them to understand a level of appropriateness too, an awareness of the right people to talk to about these worries. They know which people in their lives are appropriate to trust with intimate information and the individuals who will help them in such situations. Announcing at the top of their voices in the middle of a crowded train carriage that they have a sore bum is the last thing anyone wants!

Teaching a good balance of openness and discretion is key to a feeling of confidence in any growing young lady!

Nowadays, primary schools include a good start to personal health in the curriculum. However, I like to think that the important bits of information will come from me. And I want to know that I can reinforce and build on anything that they learn in class. I would like to feel that any questions that they have that aren't answered at school can be answered by me. A lack of formal education about female health, both at school and at home, can lead to a lack of understanding when, later in life, they might find themselves with intimate conditions such as thrush - a common ailment which is easily treatable but which can be extremely unpleasant if a low level of confidence prevents them from finding out the best course of action. An ability and the knowledge and courage to recognise the symptoms and self diagnose common problems is a valuable lesson that we can all teach our girls.

So, when do you consider to be a good time to start teaching your daughter about her personal, intimate health and well being? Personally, I like to feel I have started early enough with the steps I have mentioned above. Some may think Munch, who is 7 years old, is too young to be educated in this way. It is a very personal matter and one which I feel is not open for judgement, but I do feel that, as parents, we can help educate each other on the ways in which we do things. However different our views might be, one thing we do have in common is the desire to keep our girls from harm and the passion to raise strong, independent, healthy women of the future!

Tell me your views in the comments below and complete the other competition entries for your chance to win a £100 Amazon voucher! On top of this, know that with your views and tips, you may well be helping another parent who is unsure about where and when to start educating their child about intimate health matters.

Good Luck Everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Competition Terms & Conditions
This competition runs until 12am on 22nd December, 2016.
Competition only open to entrants 18 years and over.
There is 1 prize of one £100 Amazon voucher. 
The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered
Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of The Hart of the Munchkin Patch and Bayer plc
Entrants must log into Rafflecopter and leave a comment on this post. Failure to complete this step will result in disqualification from the competition.
The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries. Every entry will be checked.
The winner will be informed within 14 days of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 28 days or a new winner will be chosen. 
The winner’s name will be announced on the blog.
The prize will be sent within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address.
This is a joint promotion between The Hart of the Munchkin Patch and Canesten®
Entry to this competition confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions 

This post has been supported by Canesten® but all thoughts and words are my own.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Keeping fit as a busy mum

Finding the time ... and the Motivation!

Before having children, I had no issues regarding personal fitness. I was free to leave the house whenever I wanted, went walking with the dog in my spare time, commuted from place to place on a daily basis with my job and, to be honest, took a very flexibly active lifestyle for granted! 

Having the children, although hasn't stopped the opportunity of a fit and healthy lifestyle, it has restricted things somewhat and made the whole process very ... different. No longer can I just leave the house with nothing more than a water bottle and an MP3 player in my hand, and instead I have to remember comforters, a change of clothes (for the children, not me!!) and my MP3 player is replaced by Paw Patrol on loop on my mobile phone, but I do try to make sure I still stay as active as possible.

Of course, my time out of the house now has to work around school runs and Plumlet's nap times, but instead of allowing my fitness regime to fizzle into a state of non-existence, I have just had to change the way I do things slightly.

Since the arrival of workout DVDs and affordable home fitness equipment, keeping to a regular, disciplined exercise regime even when you are unable to leave the house should be simple, right ...?

Well, admittedly, it does make things a little easier, but my visions of being able to complete a full routine whilst my youngest naps and others are at school were soon slapped with the reality. It wasn't long before an innocent 20 minutes with Davina was halted thanks to a rogue Lego brick underfoot or a call for my assistance in the bathroom or a courier trying to knock my front door down! So I thought, why not involve Plumlet in these routines? He absolutely loves to dance around in front of the TV, and for him to see me doing it with him will provide endless giggles and amusement. After all, who said working out has to be a serious business? Certainly not us!

I won't lie - I am extremely body conscious. I have been so for many years. Therefore, the thought of exposing any part of me in the outside world is enough to make me run for the hills! Every time I think I'd like to run more or cycle around our local area during the Summer evenings, I will browse suitable clothing. There is so much of it around, and I will mentally fill my online shopping baskets with item after item of really attractive looking apparel. Then, I picture each garment on me, and all of a sudden, the shopping carts that were rapidly filling in my mind, empty completely! I know I shouldn't care about things like this, and I know I notice my imperfections so much more than anyone else around me, but still, it's a hang-up that's difficult to shake. Maybe I just need a few more of those Davina workouts behind closed doors, and I'll feel a little more confident about wearing some of the great gym tops and figure hugging leggings that I have my eye on!

Being a mum that stays at home full time to look after our youngest, I get the chance to do very little without him in tow. Of course, I'm not complaining as I wouldn't change this for all the money in the world, but it does mean that some activities need to be completed with a little clingy companion! Therefore, when it comes to wanting to combine exercise and fresh air, we go together. And the best way to do this and to ensure that I don't get nagged with constant moans of "I'm bored, mummy!", we make it fun. We will take a ball to the park, we will throw a frisbee around, and we will laugh together as we chase each other around the wide open space. Fitness and fun for the both of us!

So, as a busy mum of three, trying to cram school runs, writing, general mummy duties and keeping tabs on my own personal fitness, I think the best way (for me) to keep a good balance both physically and mentally is to make it fun. And instead of regarding Plumlet as an obstacle to my fitness regime, I see him as a companion!

This post has been written in collaboration with Gym Talk. However, all words are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Gifting at Christmas! A Guide for the kids.

Buying for the School Age kids

I don't know about you, but I can't quite believe that we're right on top of the festive period again! Decorated trees are starting to show through evening windows, twinkling lights are shining through curtains and pretty wreaths are hanging on front doors.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

In addition to the embellishments we see in our local area whilst walking down the road, there are also the Christmas lists. The often long and very comprehensive lists of all the wishes written lovingly to Santa, full of all the toys etc that our children have mentally collected throughout the year. Pieces of paper adorned with their neatest handwriting and their careful drawings, and more pleases and thank yous than you've seen or heard all year round!

It's a huge time of year for families, especially parents, as we try to keep up with the most important items on their lists, ensuring we have fulfilled enough to keep the magic of Christmas and the Big Man himself alive for another year. I have worked alongside both my own school age children, Munch (age 7) and Beastie (age 4) and some wonderful brands to compile a list of some wonderful items that might have made it onto lists this year, as well as some goodies that may have been missed! After all, I always tell my own children that, Santa never brings everything on their lists, because he likes to bring some gifts that they haven't asked for to keep an element of surprise about the season. 

Take a look at our list and see what you think.

At the top of Munch's Christmas list this year is her very first pair of roller skates. She has never had a pair, but since owning a pair of Heely's (which she is still trying to master!), she wants to learn to skate! Skates.co.uk offer a huge range of outdoor accessories for all ages! Whether you are looking for a gift for the experienced individual who is a bit of a pro on wheels or for a complete beginner, Skates.co.uk has the perfect gift idea for you. From skates to scooters, BMX to balance boards, as well as all the safety accessories you'll need, I was spoilt for choice when browsing the website for ideas! Eventually, I found the ideal gift for Munch and I think she is going to love them ...

The Girls Roller Derby Trac Star Adjustable Quad Skates (£37.95) are the perfect skates for any young girl wanting to learn to skate. In addition to the robust but comfortable design, the size is adjustable across 3 shoe sizes, so will fit her for some time! 

Something Beastie has been asking for this Christmas is a Classic Tiny Tears. Now, this one takes me back to my own childhood, as I am sure will be the case for many parents out there. John Adams has this wonderful doll to offer to our children of today, and she's better than ever before!

With an RRP of £19.99, this adorable remake of the classic from my own early years needs to be cared for by your little ones. She cries, she drinks and she uses the potty! She comes with all the accessories your child will need to be able to tend to her needs, including her own potty, a pretty party dress, a bottle and pacifier, a hairbrush for her beautiful long hair and a pair of pull up knickers for her to wear once she's finished on the potty. The doll is fully jointed allowing her to be placed in all sorts of positions and she is able to sit upright unaided.

Recommended for ages 3+, Tiny Tears is the perfect doll for role play and to encourage your child's caring side to shine through. She is a million times better than I remember her being when I was a little girl, and I know that she will bring hours of fun to Beastie's playtime!

Moving on to something quite different now, but something both Munch and Beastie would have so much fun with! CHOC Chick is one of the only businesses in the UK to import directly from cooperatives in Ecuador and is the home of raw chocolate making. With a wide range of products available, their items would make a lovely, unique gift for any chocolate lover. The award winning CHOC Chick Starter Kit is an introduction to raw chocolate making and has enough ingredients to make around 30-40 raw chocolates (using the mini cases included) or 3 bars (using simple plastic containers) and over 30 truffles. And priced at just £12.99, I think this would be a great gift for any age. However, I have included it here in our school age guide due to its simple method as well as the sense of achievement any child would experience once they realise that they have made their own box of chocolates! They have a range of flavours available, and even a Dairy Free option!

Goliath Games is an international manufacturer and distributor of toys and games. Goliath is one of the few remaining family-owned and run businesses in the world of toys and games. As the home of family favourites such as Rummikub, Pop the Pig, Domino Rally and Robofish, Goliath Games clearly makes games with the whole family in mind. And what better way to bring the family together at Christmas than with a good, fun game that makes everyone smile? Well, on our Gift List this year, we have a game that will probably see the family showing more than the odd smile ...!

Who Tooted? The game of guffing and bluffing! With integral 'toot' machine with ten different giggle inducing sounds, this game challenges players to guess correctly which of their opponents made the hapless Dad character 'trump!. Laughter guaranteed. With an RRP of £19.99, I know this will have the kids roaring with laughter! Who Tooted is available from a wide range of good game stockists, including Amazon, Smyths and Toys R Us.

Now for something a little special! Munch is a huge fan of the great Roald Dahl. With her favourite book, and the first full length novel that she ever showed an interest in being The BFG, this gift idea caught my eye and captured my heart the minute I saw it. Let me introduce you to the beautifully unique Spineless Classics. Imagine your favourite classic novel printed in its entirety on one single sheet.Every single page, paragraph and punctuation mark right in front of you without having to turn a page. This is what you get with Spineless Classics. A wonderful, innovative gift which can be framed, mounted on the wall and provide a focal talking point in and room!

And their library of classics available is vast! From Roald Dahl to Rudyard Kipling, Romance to Religious, Spineless Classics are sure to have a favourite for everyone. This would make a really special keepsake for Munch, a reminder of where her journey into grown up literature really began, as well as a delightful decoration for her bedroom wall. And with a price range of £14.99 to £54.99, there is a price to suit most budgets too. The perfect gift for any book lover out there! New designs are being made regularly, but if there is a classic you would like that you don't see on the website, just complete a contact form and they will see what they can do to accommodate your request.

One day, Adan Chung sketched a quick interpretation of what popular characters could look like if they were just a bit “itty bittier.” Before long, he had inspired the creation of a whole host of character favourites in Itty Bitty form. These small versions of iconic, recognisable characters from some of the biggest movies of all time are cute and will make the perfect stocking filler.

With a sweet, cuddly selection of characters from Marvel Comics, DC Superheroes, The Wizard of Oz, Snoopy and Star Wars, I know my three would fall in love with these in a second! At just £6.00 each, they make a lovely small gift for children of any age. In fact, I'd be happy to receive one myself! They're well made and instantly identifiable, and not to mention fun to collect! My three will most definitely be getting one of these each in their stockings this year!

Another stocking filler now. Dentek have made some really cute little toothbrush covers in a variety of different designs.

Keep your toothbrush protected from dirt and germs. These fun animal-shaped Toothbrush Covers fit most toothbrushes and allow for proper ventilation to keep your toothbrush clean. They are a fun way to ensure you keep toothbrushes hygienically clean, and with the suction cups on the rear, they can be stored in a convenient position as they will stick to bathroom tiles or mirrors. With easy opening and secure closing, the kids will love to find one of these in their stocking! Available from Boots (in store) at an RRP of £3.99 each, other designs also include panda, cow, lion and dog.

Interplay, over the years, have developed a number of toys that offer children the opportunity to learn through creativity and imagination. My three have been lucky enough to experience the joy that Interplay products bring on a number of occasions,and this Christmas will be no exception.

First we have the Shamballa Jewellery set from their My Style range.

Priced at £12.99, this kit comes with everything your creative child will need to start making beautiful Shamballa items for themselves and their friends. With full instructions included, your child can make bracelets, earrings and necklaces using the selection of glittery beads that are inside the box. As simple as the instructions are to understand, the actual method can be a little tricky to execute, so some adult supervision is recommended, at least until the technique has been mastered. 

With this set, you can create sparkly jewellery that wouldn't look out of place amongst the Shamballa pieces in a jewellery shop. This will keep Munch amused for hours! She loves sparkles and thrives on a challenge, so the Interplay My Style Shamballa Jewellery set is the perfect gift for her.

Next, sticking with Interplay, but shifting to their Craft Box range, we have something that I know Beastie will love. This range from Interplay claims to stimulate children's imagination and promotes the development of their creativity

The Fuzzikins Craft Dozy Dogs has an RRP of £12.99 and is a delightful set. Three little dogs, each a different size, come completely white and free of any detail or decoration. Children are encouraged to unleash their creative sides and personalise their little pets however they wish with the felt tip pens provided. To ensure they get them just how they want them, there is a practice card included in the box! Beastie would have hours of fun creating her little family of pups.

This kit also includes a number of accessories for your Dozy dogs. A brush to keep them well groomed, little sleeping bags to keep them cosy and everything needed to make them each a cute little sleep mask for when they're sleeping! Give your child the ability to design their own pet and to learn the responsibility of caring for it too. Recommended for children aged 4 and over due to small parts, the pens that are provided are washable but may stain some surfaces. Therefore, adult supervision is advised. Beastie would love to find Fuzzikins Dozy Dogs under the Christmas tree!

Another wonderful gift idea. This one is from BuyDirect4U. A company that started small and once only had a presence on eBay, BuyDirect4U has grown into an internationally recognised brand, supplying their goods to 31 countries. To bring products that are unique and exciting, the company sources goods from manufacturers from all around the globe to ensure these items are easily accessible at low prices to its customer. Take a look at their website at some of the products they offer, and you will see there will be something for everyone in the family ... even the pet! Home and garden, to the playroom and the garden shed, there is a huge variety of lovely gift ideas!

What fun tech loving child wouldn't love to find this under the tree on Christmas morning? In fact, this could be one for the big kids too (I'm talking about the one you're possibly married to, by the way ...!) The RS X Man Transformer 2 in 1 Rastar Remote Control Toy, £29.99, looks like so much fun! Available in yellow, black or red, it transforms from a robot to a sports car and back again at the touch of a button. When in car mode, the remote control can move it forwards, backwards and can steer it left and right. To give the impression of reality, when the car is in motion, the headlights switch on and the brake lights can be controlled too. Suitable for use both indoors and out, I think the whole family will have fun with this one!

If you are looking for something really unique for your animal loving child, why not look at what is on offer from The Donkey Sanctuary? 

The Donkey Sanctuary is dedicated to improving the lives of donkeys across the UK and worldwide. Many of the donkeys rescued by the Sanctuary have experienced neglect or abandonment, and through their adoption scheme, anyone can adopt a donkey and sponsor them for life to ensure they will never want for warmth, care or food again.

If you're looking for a more unusual gift, The Donkey Sanctuary has something to offer that is suitable for all ages. Adopting a donkey also makes a great last minute gift as you can print and download the adoption certificate should you miss the postal deadline. Adopt a donkey and you will be part of their lives forever, each adopter also receives an adoption pack which includes:

· A framed portrait
· Four beautiful postcards
· A certificate and their donkey’s story
· Regular updates about their donkey

Adopters can follow their donkey’s antics on social media and use the fun Memory Maker app where they can add their donkey to any one of their photographs. They can also visit their donkey for free at one of The Donkey Sanctuary’s six centres across the UK.

Adopting a donkey for a year costs just £24, and the money raised through adoptions goes towards keeping their new donkey friend happy and safe while also supporting other Donkey Sanctuary projects worldwide.

You can find out more about The Donkey Sanctuary’s adoption scheme at https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/adopt

Aldi have out done themselves again this year as they seem to have even more variety available for the Christmas season. There was once a time when I would only have considered Aldi for food and drink, and possibly the odd homeware item. Not today! Today, they offer a whole Christmas Shop worth of items, from food & drink, and homeware products to toys, books and pyjamas! And best of all, many of their products feature some of today's most popular characters so will be a delight for the kids to find on Christmas Day!

Whether you are looking for small stocking fillers or larger tree presents, Aldi have a wonderful selection of gift ideas. Munch will love the fact and fun filled Doodlepedia. This is a drawing book, a colouring book and a fact book all in one. Colour the detailed pictures and create your own doodles all whilst digesting interesting information about the world around us, and it is priced at only £2.99! In addition to this great gift idea, you'll also find a beautiful selection off traditional wooden toys, puzzles, cuddly toys and clothing,all perfect for the festive season and beyond. Some items are only available in store or online, whereas some are available on both, so take a look at the website and make your way to your local store to see what you can find!

Every child loves a gift of the chocolate variety at Christmas! Why not surprise them with something a little different from the conventional selection boxes that have been found under the tree year after year for decades?

The origins of Mr Stanley’s confectionery can be traced back to North Yorkshire, England circa 1800. Mr Stanley has always had a penchant for the finest confectionery, and travelling the world he discovered some of the most splendid treats and exotic flavours to bring back to the British public.

Under our tree this year will be a wonderful selection of Mr Stanley's delicious goodies! Munch loves fudge, so she will be treated to a lovely box of Salt Water Truffle Fudge (£5.99 for 150g) This delicious rich chocolate truffle fudge with a hint of sea salt is the perfect choice for her. Honeycomb is a favouritefor Beastie, and she will be delighted to find a box of Mr Stanley's Dark Chocolate covered Honeycomb with a pinch of Sea Salt with her name on it (£5.99 for 120g) Finally, Plumlet goes crazy for gummy sweets, so Mr Stanleys Gummy Gingerbread Men (£3.99 for 180g) will be waiting for him under the tree this year. And with free shipping on all UK orders over £25, I recommend you get your order in for something delicious and different this year!

We like to include stationery items in the girls' stockings. They like to wake very early on Christmas morning, and if they find stationery in their stockings, they will sit happily together for ages in their bedroom, drawing and colouring, until it is a more socially acceptable hour and Plumlet wakes and they can all venture downstairs together. 

Derwent have a wonderful selection of stationery products for both children and adults. This Unwind in the Wilds colouring book (£9.99) is absolutely beautiful with page after page of decorative nature illustrations. The Derwent Unwind in the Wilds colouring book is the amazing new colouring book from Derwent in collaberation with artist Sarah Taylor. The nature themed images could be used for art therapy in a way that aids anti-stress and mindfulness and allow for the creation of some truly stunning pieces of work.

This can be coupled with the Derwent Coloursoft Pencil Tin (£20.50 for 12 pencils) An exciting range of 12 vibrant colours, specially chosen for their richness and versatility. The pencils have a soft, velvety strip, ideal for the quick application of bold colour. Munch can start to learn the basics of colour blending with these special pencils, allowing her to create some really wonderful masterpieces!

Have you heard of Lost My Name? These are really special.

Imagine a world with dragons, unicorns and rabbits in top hats ... With The Little Girl who Lost Her Name (and The Little Boy who Lost His Name), these creatures which usually only come alive in the dreams of children become a reality in their own personalised adventure. Exciting story lines combined with the most captivating art work make every book a work of art and something your child can and will treasure forever!

All three of my children will be lucky enough to find their own book under the tree this year. Each of them will be taken on a journey in which they are the character on a quest to find their name. And one of the best things about this gift is, I had the opportunity to customise each one myself. I am, in fact, so in love with these books that I will be writing a full review on the blog dedicated to the ordering process and the product itself after Christmas when I can take photos of the children losing themselves in their very own stories!

Priced between £19.99 (softcover) to £34.99 (Deluxe Edition), I think they are well worth every penny. To briefly describe the customisation process (because, as mentioned earlier, I will go into this in full detail in my full review shortly), for the purpose of this gift guide, the most important thing you need to know is that it is so simple! You enter your child's name, gender and select your choice of character. You are then presented with the preview of your book. From here, you can change the animals on each page and choose whether you would like a paperback version or one of the other three options.

I cannot wait for the kids to see their books and to submerge themselves in their very own adventure as they gradually build their name, one letter at a time.

Watch out for our full review after Christmas!

K'Nex, in case you didn't know already, encourage children (and by 'children', I mean those up to the age of around 99 years!) to explore their creativity and imagination through building and construction. From the living room to the classroom, K'NEX has building toys specially designed for every age group and skill level. The K'NEX family of brands includes K'NEX Building Sets, K'NEX Thrill Rides, K'NEX Education: America's STEM building solution, Lincoln Logs®, Tinkertoy®, NASCAR®, Angry Birds™, Mario Kart Wii™, Mario Kart 7™, Super Mario™, PacMan™ and more. 

The Man took one look at this and he smiled as his eyes widened! I tried to tell him it was intended for Munch, but I don't think he heard! He had temporarily been mentally transported back to his pre-teen self and was imagining the hours of fun he Munch will have with this, the K'Nex Electric Inferno Roller Coaster Building Set! Part of the Thrill Rides range, this amazing set is made up of an incredible 639 pieces and requires 2xAA batteries (not included) Use the rods, connectors and track to build this electrifying thrill ride which will send the coaster car rushing through the twists and turns, as it climbs to stomach turning heights before racing to the ground again! Standing at 2.5 feet tall and 3 feet wide, the set also includes a motorised chain lift. And, as if this wasn't enough, you can then download instructions to build a second exciting model. Any construction loving child, young or old, will most certainly have endless fun with this set, building their creation and then watching as it bursts into life! Recommended for children aged 7+ years and with an RRP of £39.99, I know Munch is going to love finding this under the Christmas tree ... as long as she gets to it before her daddy does!

Another delight from K'Nex, but this one is from their Mighty Makers range. Marketed towards girls who have a love for engineering toys, the Director's Cut set has an RRP of £24.99 and contains an impressive 320 pieces. Using the story based building instructions, children can enjoy learning about the science behind film making. And to bring the reality element in, bonus instructions can be downloaded so you can include a mobile device to create your very own movies! 

Munch has been doing this a lot lately, aspiring to be a YouTube sensation with her own little video reviews and as she follows her younger siblings around the house with some kind of recording device running, so the chance to build a real recording studio and bring it to life will get her really excited! She will have the opportunity to play with Lily and her pet dog, Zoom, as she helps her to film her own movie featuring her pet. Once filming has ended, children can rebuild the stage into a theatre and watch the final cut of their creation! Then,with a phone or a small tablet, they can build the device stand and film their very own movie. Again, recommended for children aged 7+ years, accessories include film camera, movie clapper, dog bone, hoop, theatre chairs, and graphic panels. 

Take a look at the K'Nex website for information on where these exciting sets, and many more, can be purchased, and bring a smile to your little (or big!) builder's face this Christmas!

    Thermos have spent many years establishing themselves as a household and widely recognised brand, and their reputation is enough to fill their customers with confidence knowing that they have invested in a brand that won't fail in functionality and will continue to serve a purpose for a long time.

    All children love to return to school after the holidays with something fresh and new, even if they don't really need it! Whether that is new shoes, a new pencil case or a new lunch bag, new things always make the return to school a little more exciting!

    Send your little one back to school in January with this lovely Flower Lunch Bag and Funtainer kit. Known for keeping cold drinks cold and warm drinks warm, this kit will be perfect for school all year round!

    I don't know about you, but I find that Munch and Beastie both drink more water during their school day if they know that the drink in their bottle is chilled. Neither are particularly fond of drinking water at room temperature. I will present them with a chilled flask of water from the fridge every morning, but by around break time, it will have warmed in temperature and I find that they drink very little as the day goes on. With the Thermos vacuum insulation technology for maximum temperature retention, this will no longer be a problem as their drink will stay chilled all day and as a result, they will stay more hydrated throughout the day. The Funtainer is made with a stainless steel exterior and interior with a non-slip and scratch resistant base. The 355ml bottle will keep drinks at your desired temperature for up to 12 hours and comes with a 5 year guarantee. Perfect for school!

    The pretty upright Lunch Bag boasts IsoTec™ premium closed cell PE foam insulation, ensuring that food inside is kept at a healthy temperature. When the girls get to school, their lunch bags are placed on a trolley in the hall, and they stay there until lunch time. I am always concerned about the fillings I put in their sandwiches, as the hall is quite warm, and this isn't the healthiest environment for food that is recommended to stay chilled until it is ready to eat. Much like the Funtainer, the bag will keep the food temperature regulated, giving me peace of mind that they are not consuming unnecessary bacteria from food that is slowly deteriorating during the school morning. Made 100% PVC free with PEVA linings, this really is the best of lunch bags on the market, and will give me more freedom when making their packed lunches! Best of all, it is durable with an easy-to-clean fabric to keep it free of all the spills it endures each day!

    These items can be bought as a kit for £24.99, but can also be bought separately through the Thermos website.

    Finally on this year's gift guide, we have a must have from the wonderful Disney! With the upcoming release of the new live action film, Disney fans everywhere are going crazy for everything Beauty and the Beast, and Disney have brought us this most wonderful toy for Belle lovers everywhere!

    This delightful Belle's Tea Cart will allow your little one to recreate the magic of the Beast's Castle as they hold their own tea party, inviting friends and family as guests to the most enchanting feast around! The cart features favourite characters such as Mrs Potts, Chip and a very musical Lumiere! With a golden tray and wheels and a pretty pink frame and a conveniently placed handle to allow the cart to be moved around, your child can lay the table complete with Be Our Guest place cards, so all visitors can feel extremely special. The set also includes a Lumiere figurine who joyfully sings the famous song from the film as the cart moves, Mrs Potts the teapot and 4 teacups, including Chip, of course! The crockery is completed with saucers, a sugar pot and spoon and a milk jug. All that is needed to create the magic is 2xAAA batteries (included) 

    Beastie will most certainly be inviting the world to tea with this beautiful set which has been created especially for The Disney Store. Every child loves to host a tea party, and with the Belle's Tea Cart, a little extra magic and wonder can be brought to their game as they sing along with Lumiere. I can predict there will be some dressing up involved too as Beastie throws herself into the royal role like a pro!

    With an RRP of £49.99, this will be a wonderful gift for your Disney lover to open on Christmas morning!

    I hope that our School Age Gift Guide has given you some ideas for Christmas this year. All that is left is for all of us here at The Munchkin Patch to wish you the happiest of Christmas seasons. May you find yourselves warm, safe and surrounded by the people that you love the most!

    We were sent samples of a number of the items included in this gift guide, but only accepted items that we knew we would like to recommend to our readers. All opinions are 100% our own. No payment has been received for the writing of any part of this post.