A Trip To Bruges At Christmas With The Kids

A few months ago it was Greg’s birthday and I just had no idea what to get him so in the end I ended up booking a hotel in Bruges and the Eurotunnel for us to go over to see all the Christmassy bits and the market. Booking the Eurotunnel was so easy and such a cheap way of getting there. As I booked a few months in advance it was only £130 return for the car. Before your journey you enter your API information and your number plate and that’s it. We turned up at the Folkestone Eurotunnel terminal 50 minutes before the time slot I had picked when booking, drove up to the booth which picked up my pre booked number plate, printed us out a ticket to hang on the mirror in the car. We stopped off quickly for a toilet break and a cup of tea and then drove through customs and straight on to the train. I honestly couldn’t believe how quick and easy the whole process was. Within 35 minutes we were in Calais.

When we arrived in Calais you literally drive straight off of the train onto the A16 which we then stayed on all the way through the Belgium border to Bruges. It only took one and a half hours (it is 74 miles). I had booked the Radisson Blu hotel in Bruges which is a beautiful new hotel and only a ten minute walk into the city. It also has a car park out of the front of the hotel which is only €3.50 a day. We parked the car and checked in and took our luggage to the room then headed into the town.

Bruges is just such a beautiful city. Straight away when you walk into the city it is full of small cobbled streets, beautiful buildings and the canals. Instantly the smell of chocolate and beer hits you when you are walking down the main streets. There are so many chocolate shops with the most amazing Belgium chocolates everywhere. When we got to the main market square we took a horse and carriage ride which was a lovely way to see the city and learn all about its history, it was a bit pricey, €50 for about 20 minutes and then you had to tip the man and his horse as well. Afterwards we looked around the market and headed back to our hotel to get ready for dinner.

The Radisson Blu Hotel is brand new and the family rooms (for 4 people) are lovely. We had two double beds, a lounge area and lovely bathroom. We had already booked Ellis Gourmet burger during the day so we went there for dinner. I would highly recommend as the burgers were great. It was roughly €70 for 2 adults and 2 children. It is lovely to walk around Bruges in the evenings at Christmas time as all the buildings are lit up and look so festive.

Breakfast at the hotel the next morning was lovely and then we walked back into the city. I didn’t rate the Christmas market, there wasn’t many stalls but there are some lovely Christmas shops around the city which sell beautiful decorations. We ended up buying a nativity scene as it is something we can keep forever.

Oscar and Archie really wanted to go on a boat ride around the canals which we found near to the Church of our Lady. We also went into the church which was beautiful! The boat ride cost €20 for the four of us and lasted half an hour and I am so pleased we did at as its a beautiful way to see the city.

We then had lunch at Otomat heavenly pizza which was really nice and again about €70 for four of us to eat and then we walked around the shops one last time and then headed back to our hotel to get the car. I had booked the 5.50pm slot back from Calais on the Eurotunnel but we were a bit early so they let us go on the train before for no extra charge.

I absolutely loved our couple of days in Bruges, we all really enjoyed ourselves and it is very Christmassy. It is such an easy city to travel to and with the kids as well was smooth and easy. It has defiantly made me think that travelling to different cities in the World for mini breaks is a lovely way for us and the boys to see some amazing places. Where next?

Get Ski Season Ready At AlexAndAlexa.com

Last week we took Oscar and Archie on a surprise trip to Rovaniemi in Finland to visit Father Christmas in Lapland. The trip had been booked for about 9 months but we managed to keep it a secret and then told them the night before at the hotel at Gatwick before we flew. I had seen from my weather app that it was going to be about -5 and could go as low as -12 so made sure we had everything we needed to stay warm. And with so many people going off skiing after Christmas and in the February half term AlexAndAlexa.com have everything you need to keep your children warm and stylish on the slopes. Thanks to AlexAndAlexa.com it was so easy to pick the perfect pieces for the boys, so we didn’t have to worry about them feeling the cold.

Firstly I picked their base layers, which without a doubt for any cold trip is a number one priority for any outfit. I picked them matching pairs from Tenson who sell a huge range of fantastic ski wear at affordable prices. Oscar and Archie’s came as a set and the Tenson base layers are currently in the AlexAndAlexa sale and you can use the code SHOP20 for an extra 20% off all sale items! I also chose Oscar some Tenson Moss Boots which come in either black or blue and they kept his feet lovely and warm. The boots are made from a warm and water-resistant material, which was perfect in the deep snow and the velcro closure made it easy to get them on and off. I was advised to get a size up to make sure they fitted in thick socks and this was great advice as they fitted perfectly!

For Archie I picked the Adidas Performance Blue Terrex Snow Boots. I loved the way they looked and knew Archie would love them as he loves anything blue. The boots have a waterproof climaproof® protection, PrimaLoft® insulation for maximum warmth for little feet and the adjustable strap over the laces gives a secure fit, while the grippy outsole offers added traction on snowy trails or sidewalks. Archie played in the snow for hours and the boots kept his feet warm the whole time. Under his boots he wore some Bart’s Snake Merino ski socks which not only looked great, kept the cold anyway and kept his little feet lovely and snug. AlexAndAlexa have a great range of ski socks in lots of fun designs.

When playing in the snow or skiing your hands can get so cold. When I put my hands in the snow last week stupidly without gloves on to make a snowball my lands literally throbbed, they were frozen. The last thing as a parent with your children in cold climates is them to get upset because they are cold. I knew we would be sledging and that Oscar and Archie would want to play in the snow so I picked some fantastic gloves for them from Molo. Oscar has the Molo Very Black Mackenzie Pro Gloves. Inside the gloves the lining is super soft and keeps your hands lovely and warm and on the outside there is a PU leather non-slip palm. They were easy for Oscar to put on and off on his own and I had packed hand warmers to use but we didn’t need them as these gloves are so good. I also picked a Molo pair for Archie, the Black Active Mack Gloves which again like Oscar’s were perfect and kept Archie’s hands warm whilst he played in the snow. Archie also wore his Molo Evening Blue Kate Hat which kept him so warm when we had to wear the snowsuits that were provided in Lapland.

On top of his base layers Oscar wore a long-sleeved t-shirt and then his AI Riders On The Storm Navy tracksuit. Oscar gets so many comments on how cool he looks when he wears this tracksuit, it is his absolute favourite. The AI Riders range is just so cool and with the goggles in the hood which are protective eye patches everyone asked where it was from. The tracksuit comes as two separate pieces; the sweatpants and the hooded sweatshirt. The tracksuit is super soft and is made from soft cotton and kept Oscar warm the whole trip. The top has added details as well as the goggles, a yellow pom-pom on the top and breathable hole designs for when your hood is fully zipped up. The sweatshirt is £119 and the sweatpants are £89. Loving the AI Riders range as much as I do I also got Archie a Winter coat too. We picked the AI Riders On The Storm Blue Down Navy Lining Goggle Hood Coat. Archie absolutely loves it and finds it so funny when we are out to zip it right up and show everybody. Again it has the removable protective goggles and the yellow pom-pom and has two zip up pockets as well. All of the AI Riders items come with a protective bag to store your goggles in when they are not in use. The coat is lovely and padded and wherever Archie wears it whether its in the snow or watching Oscar play football in the wind in the rain he is always kept warm and protects himself from the wind and rain with his zip up hood.

Under his coat, on top of his base layers, Archie wore the most adorable long sleeved top and jumper from the Moschino Christmas collection. These are all in the AlexAndAlexa sale at the moment and I have even brought it in the next size up all ready for next Christmas. The jumper and top are so festive and he has worn them to see Father Christmas at Harrods and to the panto and will be wearing them tomorrow on Christmas Day. He loves them!

Oscar wanted to chose his own coat so sat on their website for ages and in the end decided to be matching with me and picked a Moncler Black Bady Down Hooded Coat. It is SO warm with thick, cosy padding and a detachable hood. It looks great with a tracksuit underneath or when your off out smart in jeans or chinos. On the arm it has the Moncler badge on top of a small pocket and has two zip up pockets as well. This seasons Moncler ski range is to die for. I love the new Abeville coats and matching Salopettes, they will look great on the slopes! Oscar also has the Moncler Grey Maglia Lupetto Fleece which he wears all the time with Jeans and it is a smart jumper but keeps him lovely and warm too.

If you are going Skiing or venturing off to somewhere cold AlexAndAlexa.com will make kitting your kids out so easy. With their amazing sale on at the moment you can pick up some stylish steals! And don’t forget to use the code SALE20 to get an extra 20% off all sale pieces, but be quick before the sale ends!

 

This post is in collaboration with AlexandAlexa.com

 

Blogmas Day 13: Willows Activity Farm Santa Spectacular

On Tuesday morning we went to Willows Activity Farm in London Colney, St Albans as they are running their annual Santa Spectacular. If you have read my blog before you will know that we absolutely love Willows Activity farm and it is somewhere we have been visiting since Oscar was little. We are so lucky that we only live 15 minutes from the farm and visit at least five or six times a year.

Their Santa Spectacular is always amazing and a real fun filled magical day out for the whole family. What I love about Willows is the ticket price is what you pay, there are no hidden extras. Every activity, ride and experience is included in your entry fee. Archie always gets so excited when I say we are going to Willows, he absolutely loves it. We met my friend and her daughter at the farm at 10am when it opened and got our Santa Spectacular visitor guide, our Elf passport, animal feed, and three tokens. One for meeting Father Christmas, one for decorating a gingerbread man and one for making a cuddly toy. You also get given a free child return visit voucher to use in the new year between 5th of January to 15th February and the 25th March to the 29th March. We will making use of that for sure.

We decided to go and visit Father Christmas first before the farm got really busy. You walk through lots of decorations; from the Polar Express to Santa’s Sleigh, the decorations are beautiful. There is also a lovely spot on a log under lots of lights which is perfect for a photo. We went in to see Father Christmas, he was really lovely chatting to the children and in exchange for their token he gave them each a magic key to get into Santa’s toy shop. I love this idea so much, so instead of Father Christmas giving them a gift, the children can pick anything they want from his toy shop. It was absolutely full of toys, there were so many to choose from. Eventually Archie picked a Doctor’s kit. You can then also purchase your photo that you had taken with Father Christmas.

We then went to watch the 3D movie which was great. The gingerbread decorating was also in the same barn so we did that as well. It was nice to sit down and enjoy a hot cup of tea whilst the children iced and decorated their gingerbread men. You can also purchase snacks in the barn as well.

We walked back to the Farmyard and fed all of the animals and got to see the Reindeer. Archie always loves the Farmyard and last time we were there the piglets had been born and he couldn’t believe how much they had grown.

Next to the Farmyard is the Create-A-Cuddle Worskshop where you exchange your token and are given a empty bear, stuffing, pick a coloured heart, a birth certificate and a lovely bag for your bear to go in. We stuffed our teddy and put in the heart and then zipped him up. Archie has taken him to bed ever since, its a really lovely teddy.

We walked across the farm to where Tristan the Tractor is as he was ready to take us on a Festive Wood Ride. As we got on the tractor each child can choose some bells and throughout the ride he plays Christmas songs and Archie sang along and shook the bells. On the ride you can see the sheep, cows and pigs as well as festive scenes set around the route.

We headed to the Peter Rabbit adventure playground as the kids always love it. It is such a fantastic play area and Archie loves all of the interactive games and musical instruments. Mr Tod’s Lair is another great Peter Rabbit attraction that opened at Easter and for any little Peter Rabbit fan is great fun.

We went into Woolly Jumpers and got some lunch and a drink and then Archie and his friend played in the soft play. The soft play at the farm is huge and has different areas for different ages. I often come here in the Winter months, even on a rainy day as you can use the soft play and the Farmyard is covered too in the barn.

We went to go on the ice-skating but missed the time slot whilst we were having lunch. I think on the weekend it is open longer. We finished our day by going on the rides and then headed home to get Oscar from school.

We had a lovely day and you really do get so much for your entry price as well as picking a great gift from Santa’s toy shop. The prices for  the 15th-24th December 2018 is £22 for an adult, £38 per child, senior £21, under 2 paying (so they can take part in all the activities) £22.50 and disabled child with free carer £25 and a disabled adult is £12.50. You can save £2 off of those prices by booking online beforehand. It really is such an amazing Christmassy day out for the whole family to enjoy!

We were gifted the tickets to Willows Activity Farm Santa Spectacular event and had a wonderful time!

Blogmas Day 10: Rickmansworth Panto ‘Snow White’ Review

Yesterday afternoon we went to Watersmeet Theatre in Rickmansworth to watch ‘Snow White’ their pantomime this year. Oscar has been a few times before to watch the panto at Watersmeet with his school over the years but this was Archie’s first time to watch a pantomime. We picked to go to the 5.30pm show as there are loads of shows running from now until the 31st of December to choose from; morning, afternoon and evening performances.

I had seen lots of posters up around the town centre and knew that they had a fabulous cast this year. EastEnders and Dancing on Ice star Sam Attwater plays Prince Simon, the Prince from far far far away that comes to look for his perfect princess. Marvyn Dickinsonas Hector the Wicked Queen’s Henchman, who isn’t very hench at all and in the second half prefers to be a goodie instead. Snow White is played by Emma who plays the damsel in distress and falls in love with Prince Simon. Natasha Gray from Emmerdale plays the Wicked Queen who wants to prevent any Prince falling in love with Snow White and will go to any length and plans to end her life by tricking Snow White to bite into a magical apple. Dave Bibby has returned by popular demand as Herby the Huntsman. Oscar recognised him from last year and he brought laughter throughout the whole show and got the audience and the children all involved. Andrew Fettes plays the hilarious Dame Dolly who had the adults in stitches and all together the cast were fantastic. The wonderful Len Goodman also made an appearance as he was the person in the magic mirror.

Archie literally danced in the aisle the whole way through the performance and had so much fun. My favourite part was the rendition of the 12 days of Christmas from Prince Simon, Dame Dolly, Hector the henchman and Herby the Huntsman. It was so funny and everyone sang along and then at the last day it was 12 pints of water and yes you guessed it, the audience got soaked by the cast with water guns. You could see throughout the show that the cast were having great fun.

Oscar loved all of Herbie’s jokes and has been telling them to his friends all day at school. At the end of the show before Snow White and Prince Simon’s wedding Herbie got the whole audience involved as we all sang the Baby Shark song. He had two children on the stage as baby and Mummy shark and then got a grandma up on the stage to sing her part. All the kids loved it!

The seven friendly dwarfs were played by local children which was lovely and they did a great job!

From start to finish the pantomime was so much fun and we really had a fantastic time. The show runs for 2 hours 40 minutes including the interval where you can grab a drink, snack or an ice cream, which were all really reasonably priced. This panto is not to be missed, so book your tickets now and have a fun filled family treat at the theatre. Tickets for adults are £20, children are £18 or you can book a family ticket for four for £72. I can see this being a new family tradition for us to visit the pantomime at Watersmeet every Christmas.

We were gifted the tickets to the pantomime and we loved it!

Blogmas Day 9: Our Annual Visit To Harrod’s Christmas Grotto

Yesterday we drove into London to visit Father Christmas on our annual grotto visit to Harrods. It has become a tradition for us to go to the Harrods Grotto and we have been going since 2012. I booked our slot back in September. You have to have a Harrods reward card and depending on what you spend in store throughout the year you are then given a tier and the higher your tier, the earlier the email you get to book your slot. This year I had to pay £20 per child to book and every year previously it had been £10 per child and then you got the money back on your Harrods reward card to spend in store. We would usually let the Oscar and Archie pick a decoration each. This year though I asked when we arrived about the £40 going back on the card and I was told they had changed it and you didn’t get it back anymore. This surprised me but I thought maybe the gift would be different and maybe that is why you now have to pay double the amount per child and not get it back to spend in store anymore.

When we arrived we checked in and waited and then we were greeted by Robin the Elf who did a few magic tricks and jokes and then we went into the Fairy and Elf airport. The Elf’s taught the children some sign language which was nice, asked them what they wanted for Christmas and then all the children had to hunt for envelopes around the room and post them for them. Then we walked into a room with three giant swans in them. Each family sat in a swan and we watched a video on the walls of the room and time travelled to Christmas day and then back to December the 8th. The boys were then given a Fantastica grotto time pilot licence.

We then went in to see Father Christmas. The room didn’t look as Christmassy as usual but the boys didn’t notice. Father Christmas was really nice and chatty, asking the boys what they would like for Christmas and congratulating Oscar on learning to ride his bike this year and asked Archie about starting nursery. He then gave them a Harrods grotto gift bag with a 2018 teddy bear inside and a giant chocolate coin. We then had our photo taken with him. We went outside and chose our photo which cost £14.50 for a large photo and you get a download code so you can have it on your phone too.

To be honest I am not to sure why they decided to charge more as the gift was the same size as last year and the grotto itself was a lot smaller. Afterwards we headed to the toy department to have a look around then went for lunch at our favourite, Honest Burger. Overall Oscar and Archie had a lovely day and really enjoyed it. I thought it wasn’t as good as last year and over priced really. Would we go again, of course its a tradition for us now and I will book again next year so we can get our annual photo.

Blogmas Day 8: Making My Own Christmas Wreath

On Thursday morning I was kindly invited along with a few other Mum’s from school to go to our friends house for a wreath making workshop. I have never done anything like this before and have wanted to take part for a couple of years but now Archie is in nursery on a Thursday morning it meant I was child free and could join in.

We arrived to pastries, fresh juice and hot drinks and then picked between a round or heart-shaped wreath. I picked a round one as I was aiming to use it as a table centrepiece with a handle in the middle as I can’t attach a wreath to our front door as we don’t have a knocker and the door is too thick for a hanging hook. Annoying!

My friend had asked Emily from who is a local florist and she brought along Nordmann fir pieces from a local Christmas tree farm along with other exotic pieces, decorations and lights. She started as off by showing us how to attach the hanging hook and then how to place your pieces on and which way to go around the wreath using your copper wire to secure everything as you go. To be honest at the beginning mine looked shocking and I wasn’t very impressed with it but as I got further around it suddenly all came together. In the end I used the fir-tree pieces and gypsophila and few pieces of eucalyptus.

At the end my wreath was huge and I did ask Emily to secure the last bit of wire and trim it down for me. I then added little sticks of cinnamon, wooden decorative hearts and fairy lights. I am really pleased with the finished result and it looks great on my dining room table. It smells absolutely amazing!

This is a great Christmas activity to do at home with the girls and it was nice to do something at Christmas time that is more for the adults.

Blogmas Day 7: Swizzels Stocking Fillers & Festive Sweet Tub Give Away

I cannot believe it is only 18 days until Christmas, December is flying by. I have started preparing the boys stockings that they hang on the end of their beds on Christmas Eve. As well as filling it with books, games and little toys I always add a sweet treat. Swizzels have a huge range of amazing Christmas gifts and stocking fillers to make your little ones jump for joy on Christmas morning. From sweet shop favourites to bumper bags of your favourite sweets, there is something for everyone.

There are also fantastic retro sweet hampers that you can personalise which would make the perfect gift for my Dad. He loves sweets, retro ones in particular and the hampers are a bargain at £16.99! There are also vegetarian and vegan gifts available, so there really is something for everyone.

My absolute favourites are Love Hearts, Drumsticks and Refreshers, they just take me right back to being a child when my Grandad would give us a fifty pence piece every Thursday and my Brother and I would go to the local newsagent and spend it on them. Even now when Oscar gets given them at parties and especially on Halloween I always eat the drumsticks!

Online on the Swizzels website throughout the whole of December you can get 15% off everything using the code DEC2018. After looking through the website I also ordered our whole family a packet of personalised Love Hearts each to put on the Christmas table. I will share a photo with you when they arrive.

On the Swizzels website they also have fun Christmas recipes, quizzes, jokes, cracker making tutorials and Christmas crafts. Perfect to keep your little ones entertained up until Christmas. Oscar and Archie love doing Christmas crafts and baking so we will be making the Drumstick Squashies Rocky Road and printing off the colouring sheets.

So here’s something to set your jingle bells ringing! Thanks to the lovely people at Swizzels, to celebrate Christmas, I have two scrumptious Swizzels 5kg Party Sweet Tubs (RRP £24.99) to give away. They are filled to the brim with the finest Swizzels sweeties and each tub is enough to satisfy even the sweetest of tooth right through Christmas and into the New Year! They are perfect for sharing, filling multiple stockings, or even as a staff room treat, these tubs have been packed with all your childhood (and adulthood!) Swizzels favourites: Refreshers, Parma Violets, Mr Chews, Love Hearts, Fizzers, Fruity
Pops, Drumsticks, Double Lollies and more… It’s enough to make your mouth water!

To enter this fabulously mouth-watering competition all you need to do is enter below! Merry Christmas and Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is in collaboration with Swizzels.

Blogmas Day 6: Deck The Halls

As you will have seen on my Instagram our beautiful Nordmann Fir Christmas Tree arrived last Thursday from Pines and Needles and kicked off Christmas in our house. Traditionally for us the cheeky Elf On a Shelf’s Eddie and Ernie arrive on the 1st of December and bring the boys advent calendars and at the same time the Christmas fairies bring the rest of the decorations for the boys to wake up to.

We always have a artificial tree in the lounge, we’ve had this 7ft one for a few years now and it is so easy and quick to put up. I just need to get a new star as our usual one broke. On this tree as well as normal baubles are the ones the boys have chosen over the years from the Disney store as well as my collection of Harrods Bears. I have every bear from the year Greg and I met in 2006. I also had a decoration made of their joint school photo on Snapfish.

Under the tree we have our new light up presents which we brought a couple of weeks ago at the Ideal Home Show at Christmas. We also brought the light up snowman which is by the fireplace as well.

Our plush Father Christmas we brought in 2007 for our first Christmas at our last house. We got him from Ayletts nursery. They also have a lovely Christmas display each year and we used to visit there when I was a child with my parents and grandparents and always got to choose a new decoration for the tree.

Last Christmas I brought the NOEL nice and the Father Christmas Christmas countdown. The little silver candle holders and the berry candles were from a Christmas market in Prague that Greg brought me a few years ago.

Last Christmas I also brought the garland over the fireplace from John Lewis, four pine cone stocking holders from Amazon and our personalised stockings from Mr Mole Blankets. I absolutely love our fireplace!

In the hallway along with our Pines and Needles tree is my Santa in his rocking chair that I got from Van Hage last year and our giant snowman that lights up and sings from Costco. (Oscar and Archie chose this!!)

I always decorate the boys rooms and they wake up on the 1st with their Christmas sheets on, snow globes on the side and their stockings ready for Christmas Eve. I also have a selection of Christmas books in Archie’s room that we can read at bedtime.

Downstairs in the dining room where we will eat Christmas lunch I have a few decorations on the sideboard from Tilly B Handmade and am having a centrepiece made by Love Flowers like I did last year. At the moment my ball of pine cones is in the middle of the table that I brought last week. The wooden stars I brought back from Canada a few years ago.

I always love looking for new decorations or bits to add to the tree. If you have any websites you use let me know. And last but not least we have the Elves door that stays there until they go home with Father Christmas on Christmas Eve.

Outside the front door I have little light up trees that we brought from Waitrose.

Blogmas Day 5: A Fun Filled Christmassy December

If you haven’t guessed already, I blooming love Christmas! I am literally like a big kid and love to make it as special as possible for Oscar and Archie whilst they are both still young. Christmas in our house started last week with the arrival of our beautiful Pines and Needles Christmas tree. Then on the 1st of December our cheeky little elves, Eric and Ernie arrive and bring the boys advent calendars and stay with us until they fly home on Santa’s sleigh on Christmas eve. When the boys wake up on the 1st of December the Christmas fairies have also put the rest of our decorations up and our other Christmas tree in the lounge. The excitement was off the scale, they both woke up and their bed sheets had been changed to Christmas ones over the night then they ran downstairs to see if the elves had arrived!

This year our December is jam packed full of Christmas fun. We always visit Father Christmas at Harrods. This is something I did as a child so we are carrying on the tradition. I booked it back in September and we are going this week and every year it is so amazing! They have a different theme each time, the staff are so enthusiastic and the boys always choose a new decoration each and then we go out for something to eat afterwards. I can’t wait! This is where the boys put their letters to Father Christmas in the post box at the grotto and then they get a reply a couple of weeks later.

We are also going to the Pantomime this weekend to see Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. It is such a great day out at Christmas and fun for all the family. We are going to The Watersmeet Theatre in Rickmansworth and this year it is running from the 7th to the 31st of December and has EastEnders and Dancing on Ice star Sam Attwater playing Prince Simon. Come back on Monday to read my full review.

We also have Oscar’s carol service and Archie’s nursery concert to look forward to over the next week which I absolutely love. It is so sweet to watch them perform amongst their class mates. Then the boys both finish next Friday for Christmas for three and a half weeks which will be great fun!

The Coca Cola Truck is touring the UK like it has for the last few Christmas’ so nest week I am going to take the boys to our local ASDA store to see it in the flesh for a bit of fun. You can see all the dates and locations HERE. You queue up and have your photo with the iconic Christmas truck. In the afternoon when its darker and iuts all lit up it looks really good!

Before Christmas we are also going to Bruges to visit the Christmas market. Oscar is so excited to go on a little road trip and go on the Euro Tunnel. The photos people have posted online before of the markets are amazing and its something I have wanted to do for a few years but now Archie is old enough to enjoy it too. We have booked a hotel near to the main market square with parking to make it as easy as possible to get around.

Image result for bruges christmas market

We also have another trip planned before Christmas, but it is under wraps at the moment.

On Christmas Eve we always go to our close friends and the boys Godparents house for the most amazing pork baps and Christmas carols around the piano. The children are always so excited as its not long until Father Christmas’ arrival. Oscar is learning a Christmas carol on the piano and a few of the children who can play each do a little solo piece. Then the children sit down around our friends Dad in the chair who reads them all ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ story. Its always a lovely afternoon/evening and then we leave there and come home and leave the milk, carrots and cookies out for Father Christmas.

I would love to hear what you have planned and how you make your family Christmas as magical as possible?

Blogmas Day 4: Making A Family Christmas Dinner Easy!

Some people dread preparing and cooking Christmas Lunch but I always really enjoy it and over the years have mastered different tips to make it as easy as possible. After all its only a giant roast dinner! I make my shopping lists well in advance so that nothing gets forgotten.

  • Turkey for 12 – M&S
  • Maris piper potatoes
  • Goose fat
  • Parsnips – M&S
  • Mash – M&S
  • carrot and swede mash – M&S
  • brussel sprouts
  • carrots
  • peas
  • cauliflower
  • stuffing – M&S
  • pigs in blanket – M&S
  • sausage meat – M&S
  • stuffing – M&S
  • yorkshire puddings – M&S
  • turkey gravy
  • bread sauce
  • cranberry sauce

I always lay the table on Christmas eve and just have to add the sauces on the day out of the fridge.

Our Christmas lunch is always for a minimum of twelve people and I start organising it a few weeks before. I went online last week and booked my Turkey on the Marks & Spencer entertaining website and picked a date and time slot for when I will pick it up. This makes it so easy and you can pick your size of bird when ordering so you know you will always get one as big as you require, I ordered a 12-14 person British Organic Free Range Pembrokeshire Bronze Turkey. I also ordered two portions of their outdoor bred garnish selection which consists of stuffing balls and pigs in blankets. When I go and collect the Turkey I will also grab the M&S carrot and swede mash, Yorkshire puddings and parsnips. The parsnips I buy already prepared and they just go straight in the oven in foil trays.

I have also already booked a Tesco delivery slot for the 23rd of December where I have brought all the drinks, nibbles, vegetables, sauces and goose fat for the potatoes. I also buy Bacofoil roasting trays and cook the Turkey, potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and parsnips in and then they can go straight in the bin without any washing up.

I work out my cooking schedule the day before and stick to that and everything then runs smoothly. I use a Jamie Oliver recipe I found years ago for the Turkey and that goes in early in the morning. I remove the giblets, place a large orange, a lemon and a cooking apple inside the Turkey and cover the outside of the bird with unsmoked streaky bacon. The Turkey always stays moist and tastes amazing.

I also cook a piece of ham as well and that only takes 60 mins and has a honey glaze on it. Oscar and Archie prefer it to Turkey.

The Turkey comes out of the oven 30 minutes before serving and I cover it in tea towels to keep it warm. We have two ovens so everything fits in to cook, but this is a great way of making room to cook everything else by leaving your turkey out to rest.

Greg always carves the Turkey and starts doing this about ten minutes before we serve so that everything is cooked and all on the plates at the same time and kept nice and hot. I also make the gravy whilst the turkey is being carved so its ready to go. At the same time I warm the bread sauce and cook the Yorkshire puddings.

My Mother In Law always part cooks the Christmas pudding so we leave that to finish cooking whilst were eating our lunch. I also bake a chocolate cake on Christmas Eve ready and we have mince pies as well. Along with cream, custard and brandy butter.

  • brandy butter
  • cream
  • custard
  • mince pies
  • Christmas pudding
  • chocolate cake
  • ice cream

With all the throw away cooking trays in the bin, I wash up the cutlery and the plates and dishes go into the dishwasher straight away as I cannot stand a cluttered kitchen.

And that’s it, Christmas Lunch cooked for another year!