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.

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.

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