How do you celebrate New Year countdown with young children?

2015Over the years we have celebrated New Year’s Eve in many different ways: quiet dinners at home, large house parties, organised parties, fireworks and more but what happens when you become parents. Everything changes, family and friends who might usually babysit are busy and it costs a fortune to hire a babysitter, unless you are really lucky!

Until a couple of years’ ago we were happy watching the Jules Holland Hootenanny, SPOILER COMING UP SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH! Why did we stop? I will set the scene… Baby in bed at 7.30, check, lovely dinner and wine, check, cosy up with fizz and chocolates, pop the telly on to enjoy the festive count down on the Jules Holland Hootenanny. It gives gave us a real sense of celebratory warmness until… we found out it was pre-recorded aghhhhhhhh. We actually found out at 11.30 one night and I was mortified! I always watched believing it was live, a real countdown and how cool to have those big celebs on New Years Eve!

So what do we do now?

Idea 1. Have a house party, let the kids stay up late and deal with the aftermath – tired kids, messy house etc etc the day after.

Idea 2. Pop the kids to bed at the usual time and enjoy your wine, food, a little music or TV.

Idea 3. If you want to involve the kids why not celebrate New Year with a different time zone. If you have family or friends who happen to live in an earlier time zone than you why not celebrate with them? Skype them or just watch their city fireworks on the screen.

Dubai Fireworks

This year we have decided to have our New Year celebrations early with the kids. We start the ball rolling at 4 O’clock with close friends coming over for fizz, food and games and our New Year countdown will be at 8 o’clock in time with probably one of the best firework displays of the year in Dubia. Most countries are live streaming their fireworks via You Tube this year and if you have a smart TV you can play it directly using the You Tube app from your phone. Dubai You Tube New Fire Works link hereht_netflix_king_julien_nye_countdown_jc_141229_16x9_992

If you have Netflix you could also air their Kids New Year’s Eve Countdown with the characters from Madagascar. This three minute film can be played any time and provides an alternative countdown. The internet is rife with stories on how to trick your kids into believing that it is a real countdown and that they have stayed up late until the midnight hour, not sure why anyone would want to do that though as there are plenty of New Year parties happening for more you can piggy back, unless you live in Samoa…

Wishing you a very Happy New Year! xxx

Family trip to Cape Town South Africa – departing & arriving

We are all off to South Africa, immediate family, extended family and friends. Why you ask? Well my oldest son is getting married and South Africa is the venue. He is marrying a lovely South African girl and we are all very excited.

We left London on Thursday evening on an overnight Virgin Atlantic flight.

On our way...

On our way…

While we were in the air the Hertfordshire Business Awards night was taking place and Holiday Tots were in the finals, we would not hear until we arrived in Cape Town if we had won.

The flight was good, although my youngest (5 year old Freddie) kept me awake all night with his fidgeting. I think I drew the short straw sharing a double seat with him as everyone else seemed to sleep!

We arrived at our villa in time for lunch. In the meantime I received congratulations’ messages saying we had WON Online Business Of The Year 2014! Whoop whoop! More on that story in another post…

We are staying in our villa for one week before moving to our hotel for week two. The villa is actually a penthouse villa accessed by a funicular with magnificent sea views. Please note that I would NOT suggest families with young children stay here but for us it is perfect. A full review on the villa will follow but here is a view from our bedroom, I just had to share it!

Camps Bay View

Camps Bay View

For our first lunch we munched through some ‘Soul Food!’ lovely highly recommended restaurant in Camps Bay.

FullSizeRender

Followed by a wine tasting choosing the wines for the wedding in the villa. and the winner is…

tasting

Looking forward to a good night’s sleep and waking up to this amazing view!

sunset 1

 

Be back with more updates on our family trip to South Africa soon…

Totseat meets Paddington!

One of our favourite travel items has had a new makeover with one of our favourite bears.

 

Paddinton meets Totseat

Paddington Meets Totseat

Totseat creator, Rachel Jones, has had a love affair with Paddington Bear since childhood: this cute little bear arrived in Rachel’s life when she was just 8 years old and became a dependable companion.

Rachel's Old Friend Paddington

Rachel’s Old Friend Paddington

The merging of Rachel’s old and new love is a success, and the three new designs are fun and perfect for any Paddington Bear fan.

Totseat Paddington Ecru

Totseat Paddington Ecru

The Totseat is one of our must-have accessories when out and about with young children. It is a fabulous invention, not only for use in restaurants and cafes but also when visiting friends and relatives for lunch or dinner who do not have provisions for toddlers at the dinner table. We found ours indispensable.

The Totseat has come a long way, the first ever was made using a wedding dress! The new Paddington Bear design will be available from the end of November. There are three variations in colour, Duck Egg and Ecru and are ideal for toddlers from about 8 – 30 months.

Duck Egg Paddington Totseat

Duck Egg Paddington Totseat

Fully washable, squash able and they fit any style of chair!

For more information visit the Totseat website

Lollibop review 2014 – Entertainment for the next generation of Festival goers!

 

Lollibop, Hatfield House 2014

We arrived back late last night from our holiday: our return flight was very delayed and Freddie didn’t get to bed until nearly midnight. As I sieved through the two and a half weeks’ worth of post I was delighted when I opened our guest passes for Lollibop…….but would Freddie last the day… You can bet he did! He loved every minute of it, I had to drag him away when it finished!

What is Lollibop?

Dubbed by its creators as ‘Glastonbury for kids’ Lollibop is a festival for children under 10 and their families, and it’s jam packed with kids activities and shows.

This year the Lollibop festival headed to Hatfield House in Hertfordshire (it is usually held in London), one of our favourite places to visit especially ‘Bloody Hollow’ but that’s another story! There are Lollibop Zones: Lollibop Live, hosted by Cbeebies Alex Winters, Lollipalladium, Lollibooks, Active Zone, The Meadows, Join in with Southbank, The Discovery Zone and Meet and Greet.

Alex Winters of Cbeebies doing the Hokey Cokey!

Alex Winters of Cbeebies doing the Hokey Cokey!

Looking at the programme for 2014 the children’s entertainment seemed endless, and it was! With lots of shows featuring Cbeebies favourites, Mister Maker, Justin, Mr Bloom, Lazy Town, Andy Day and more plus favourites from CBBC including Horrible Histories.

When we arrived there was something happening on the main stage (we quickly found out that there was nearly always something going on here!), ‘It’s the real Mister Maker, mummy!’ squealed one child and then the fun began.

lollibop mr maker

We actually could have spent two days here as we missed a few things that we would have loved to see or taken part in, the day was fun packed until the end. Here are some of our highlights…

Andy Day was his usual energetic self, visiting his past by re-creating his bedroom and showing the audience some of the things he loved when he was a kid. There are lots of chances for audience participation and the kids loved it. My funniest part was when a couple of dads were invited on to the stage and had to stomp and roar as dinosaurs, Andy makes these moves look cool, sorry dads yours just looked extremely funny!

Andy Day's Show

Andy Day’s Show

There are lots of opportunities to meet a variety of characters and have pictures taken with them from Dennis the Menace to Fireman Sam, Chris and Pui to Poppy Cat! Freddie was very excited to meet a Horrible Histories character as we had just returned from a holiday with friends whose son is absolutely addicted to Horrible Histories and he couldn’t wait to get a picture taken with him to send back.

Freddie with cast member of Horrible Histories - For you Alex, Ruby and James!

Freddie with cast member of Horrible Histories – For you Alex, Ruby and James!

The festival layout is great with loads of space for picnics, if it doesn’t rain!

Lollibop 2014 Map

There are lots of opportunities to dance and sing, get creative or just listen to some great stories. Everything is free (apart from food and drink) including face painting – even for us adults and T-shirt making.

lollibop fp f klollibop fp s l

 

For the older kids there is the football area managed by the Tottenham Hotspur FC Global Coaching team (another of Freddie’s favourites)

lollibop thfc

And the Skylander Arena where you will get a sneak preview into the new, not yet released, Skylander game.

lollibop skylander

One of my favourites was the Southbank Centres children’s program with lots of activities to keep any child (and adult) entertained from Big Sing Workshops and Hip Hop Dance with Zoo Nation to a
Pirate School and more!

It’s so hard to cover everything in a short blog, so why not visit yourself? There really is something for everyone…

Lollibop runs from 15th – 17th August 2014 at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire from 10-6 – it’s a fabulous family day out.

Website: www.lollibopfestival.co.uk

Thank you for a fab day Lollibop! xxx

Babyski in the Languedoc-Roussillon France – Sking for 3-8 year olds no experience necessary!

Situated in the South of France is The KITHAU centre established in 2003. It is located in the Languedoc Roussillon area, in Marseillan (near Montpellier), a village on the edge of the Thau lagoon this family-friendly holiday centre has a kite surfing school, wakeboarding, babyskiing & babywake. There are canoe and paddle rentals, a dining and relaxation area, a small beach, children’s games and a skatepark…

The amazing thing about this palce is the Babyski or Babywake.

With the  babyski or babywake, children from 3 years to eight years can give water skiing , apparently even if they can’t swim!

I would like to think I would be brave enough to let my 5 year old do it but I am not sure… take a look at the video and let me know what you think?

 

If you are having a family holiday in the Languedoc Roussillon in France, why not give it a go? But do let us know how you get on!!!

http://www.kithau.com/en/beach_culture_babyski_babywake.html

 

The Holiday Tots Top Ten Toddler Travel Items for Summer 2014  

Here are our favourite toddler travel items for this summer. In no particular order…

  1. Snoozeshade

If you want protection from the sun and a nice dark environment to aid a longer sleep for lazy sunny days, the Snoozeshade is perfect., Brilliant for baby and toddler day naps when out and about.

Snooze Shade

Snooze Shade

  1. Konfidence – Neoprene Beach Boots

We tried these and love them! They are our must have item wherever we go, perfect for hot sand, pebbly beaches and general splashing and running fun in the hot or colder weather. Great also by the swimming pool as they stop slipping on the concrete or decking and also in the grass where little biting insects might lurk!

tech-boots

  1. Bebe au Lait nursing cover

If you have babe in arms this cover is indispensable! I used this with my youngest (wish I had had one with the older kids too). It was a godsend in busy places, not only for the discreetness of it but also it stopped him being too nosey to feed and was great on the beach or out and about (as it provides a fabulous sun shade too).

If its good enough for Gwen...

If its good enough for Gwen…

  1. Tot Seat

So we were at lunch at a friend’s house, they didn’t have a high chair but it didn’t matter because we had our Tot Seat – it folds small and can be used on just about every design of chair. So even though all of the holiday properties on Holiday Tots have high chairs we still would recommend taking along a Tot Seat for those lovely lunches over-looking the sea or in quaint villages.

Tot Seat - for babies who lunch!

Tot Seat – for babies who lunch!

 

5. Skip Hop Zoo Trolley Case

We love this trolley, it’s friendly and spacious, and ideal for overnight stays or for the plane or car. It is essentially a pull along trolley but has clever detachable shoulder straps so adults can carry hands-free. The front zip pocket is ideal for smaller more accessible items like snacks or fav books. It is 46cm high x 32cm wide x 16 cm deep. There are fun animal designs: we have the monkey as it goes with Freddie’s lunch box… The Skip Hop Trolley is so cool the little ones might actually want to pull them themselves, I know our little man never lets his go! You can buy them from Kidstravel2 or other reputable retailers

SH_ZooLuggage_PocketDetail_lo_ (1)6. First Aid Kit

I can’t make my mind up on this one so you have two choices!

Boots Pharmaceuticals St John Ambulance Travel First Aid Kit

Brilliant kit at a good price and you get your Boots points. Lots of goodies inside for basic accidents, cuts, grazes stings etc. A bit big for your handbag but good for the glove compartment or suitcase.

Boots Pharmaceuticals & St John Ambulance Travel First Aid Kit

Or

Baby Aid

A lovely compact kit so small it can fit in your nappy bag or handbag. Included are the basics for cuts and grazes and burns and there are some Brave Little Star Stickers too! When I received mine to review (which will follow) I fell in love with its cuteness!

Baby Aid

Baby Aid

The Boots family travel first aid kit is probably best value for money at £11.99 but the BabyAidis just so sweet and compact (15cm x10cmx5cm) and the bag is good quality. It is priced at £16.00 – would be a fab present. Don’t forget to add your sachets of Calpol, you never know when you might need them…

7. Carddies

This is a brilliant and simple idea. Carddies are little card people to colour in and play. There are lots of sets to choose from. They are really good quality, made in the UK, and each set contains: card people, a card scene (all artwork drawn by hand), high quality colouring pencils and plastic stands for the little people and animals all housed in a neat little box. We use them regularly and you can read our review here http://theholidaytotsblog.co.uk/2014/03/27/carddies-knight-set-an-excellent-childrens-travel-toy-promoting-imaginative-play/

Carddies on the farm

Carddies on the farm

They cost £8.99 per pack visit their website for stockists http://www.carddies.com

8. Music CD

A trip would not be complete without a little music, there are lots of children’s music CDs on the market we recently received a copy of Little Big Songs, a nice CD for young children and worth a listen, the songs are catchy and easy to relate to (review to follow) but still our firm favourite is ‘Singable Songs for the Very Young by Rafi’.We have listened to this on our travels (and at home) for the last four years and love it. The great thing about it is not only that the children enjoy it but it is one of those children’s CD’s that is easy on the ear to adults and we all sing-along….

Rafi songs for the very young

9. Stickytape and sticker books

Stickers, stickers and more stickers, they come in many shapes, sizes and books. We always take some along with us wherever we go but our real favourite is sticky tape, white masking tape is the best! We draw on it, stick to paper, toys, bags, books, cards, aeroplane seats and even each other. The fun never stops!

masking tape10. Note book and pen

Our little boy loves his note book and pen. It really is just a basic note book and biro. When we go out for dinner he doodles and now as he is getting older the doodles and writing are getting more legible! He’s on his third note book and it’s great to look back at the older ones. We play drawing guessing games too, the fun is endless and he has always thought he is important with his own biro!

 

 

We hope you get some inspiration from our Top 10 Travel items for toddlers – if you have anything you would like to share feel free to contact us, we would love to hear from you!

Latest news from a favourite luxury micro-resort in the Languedoc-Roussillon…

Some of you may have been fortunate enough to stay at one of these luxury child-friendly apartments or villas in the Languedoc-Roussillon. Located just 10 minutes from the sandy beaches of the Languedoc and a day trip to Barcelona, owners Phil, Emma and their two children, Anya and Austin offer the perfect family luxury break with an array of activities including: heated enclosed swimming pool, twice-weekly maid service, drop in kids club for 3 years up, 2 nights babysitting as standard (more can be arranged at extra cost), 2 evening meals included, breakfast basket every morning, gym, bikes, skateboards, boules, play park, Pilates, relaxation classes…

child friendly holiday resort

child friendly holiday resort

This child-friendly holiday micro-resort already boasts enough to keep any family happy, so what is new…?

They now offer “Gentle Touch” for their health and fitness packages  – bronze, silver and gold.  All guests have the bronze package included, which gives access to the heated salt pool, the jacuzzi and also a Pilates class each day.   Silver and Gold packages are optional but give great value massages – including Hot Stones and Indian Head – as well as bonus stretch classes on the 100-m2 roof terrace, overlooking the wine chateau and the Med.

Enclosed swimming pool

Enclosed swimming pool

We are also excited to announce the opening of their new 2 bedroom air conditioned apartment, which is proving already to be a great success.  It has 3.5m high ceilings, bath and large shower and two terraces.  It also stays lovely and cool during the hot summer days and is ideal for the kids as they have instant access to the play park at the back. This brings their holiday accommodation to a total of four holiday homes, two 2 bed apartments, a 3 bed apartment and ¾ bed luxury villa. All of the properties are ideal for families looking for holidays with babies, toddlers and children of all ages and the resort promises to be a relaxing holiday haven for parents too!

Toddler friendly holiday apartment

Toddler friendly holiday apartment

And finally… the arrival of their giant squirrel.  Pictured with owner Phil, he is made of resin and is about to become a new feature within the grounds! Let’s hope he doesn’t steel all the nuts!

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You can see all of their holiday properties and more information on our Holiday Tots website.