an idiot’s guide to ethical christmas shopping

Last month, a Facebook status from a friend, asking for ideas as to how to shop more ethically this Christmas, confirmed the desire I’d had for several weeks to blog on this issue. It’s clearly something people want to talk about!

Of course, ‘ethical’ is a sliding scale. We can be ‘more’ or ‘less’ ethical in our lifestyles – but, as a result of sin, we will never be able to live our lives with a zero carbon (or any other) footprint. And it seems that just as we’re trying to be ‘more’ ethical, we hear of yet another company whose ethics are questionable. Earlier this year, even Fair Trade food companies came under fire. I find it helpful to consider how I would justify my decisions before God – He knows of my situation, my limited finances, my knowledge of injustice, as well as my lack of knowledge. So, please, rather than feeling guilty at the word ‘ethical’, instead be encouraged by Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:8-10:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Now, our family lives on a fairly limited budget for most of the year – but Christmas, giving gifts to others, is an excuse to spend some money, to invest in the economy! But there’s a choice here: do I invest in the large companies, the high street shops and supermarkets? Do I contribute to lining the pockets of Amazon directors? Or do I want my money to be invested in businesses where people come first? My pound can do an awful lot of damage – or an awful lot of good. Let’s be encouraged that God has prepared ‘good works’ in advance for us to do, rather than focus on things we aren’t able to be so ethical about. We can actually do some good!

There is no right or wrong approach, I merely offer some ideas from my own experience. I would love to hear yours (please do comment!). And apologies for non-York residents, when I mention local shops; I’ve tried to offer general, nationwide ideas too.

* Firstly, I start with the Fair Trade companies. They have limited gift ranges, so I prioritise their catalogues to maximise the money spent with them. I use the fantastic Fairer World shop here in York, but elsewhere Fair Trade shops can often be found in cathedrals and large churches, or there are one-off fair trade markets and stalls. Shared Earth shops can be found in Liverpool and York (and you can buy online). If you can’t get to a shop, why not look up the Created and Traidcraft catalogues online. Both companies also sell beautiful Christmas decorations which I love.

* Next, I look for other local social enterprises to support. In York, these include the fantastic Bike Rescue Project (which employs and trains ex-offenders and others struggling to get employment and experience), York Disabled Workers Cooperative (beautiful woodwork) and, my personal favourite, Mermaid and Miller – frustratingly not open at the moment, due to change in premises, but still hoping to open later this month :) Mermaid and Miller employ adults with learning disabilities, and train them in a variety of crafts. What they sell is beautiful – and much of it is old second-hand pieces lovingly upcycled into something quirky and different. Very reasonable prices too. Go check them out!

* Then I widen the net to other local, independent businesses. And boy are we blessed with those in York! (Non-Yorkies, feel free to ignore the following paragraph – you’ll have your own local places to support!) I love Shine, Snow Home, Love Cheese, Look What Mum’s Made, Blossom & Walker, Collection Box and York Cocoa House to name but a few. OK, so I don’t know the working conditions of those making the products, or whether the raw materials came from sweatshops overseas (although chances are that most of these products are made in the UK, many even made locally). I do know, however, that the presence of these shops in our towns and cities makes life better. I want to support them. I want the people who make these lovely, unique items to be able to make a living from being creative. And they’re just much nicer gifts! With lots of family and friends living far away, a gift which has ‘York’ on the label, or which simply wouldn’t be found anywhere else in the country, is pretty special in my opinion.

* Finally, when I need to use large retail outlets or websites, I choose carefully. In my family, there are lots of Christmas Lists. Some of the items – specific books, games, DVDs or toys – are impossible to buy from independent businesses. So – what to do? I try to avoid Amazon at all cost. Not always possible, but I try. I like using play.com. Who knows if they’re any better? Again, we do what we can given our circumstances, and trust God’s grace for the rest. For a book I bought recently for a birthday present, I used Waterstone’s online. If I can’t make it into town, at least I can invest some money in a high street retailer by using their website – which I think is preferable to an exclusively online shop. And of course there are companies like John Lewis, known for their ethical values.

Quite often, the ethical choice is pricier than its alternative, something which often drives us to the supermarkets, with its heavily-laden aisles of cheap gifts. But, as someone who’s on a budget (yes, even for Christmas), I want to reassure you that the ethical alternative can and does work. I spend the same as I would have done – but buy less. (Who needs more rubbish at Christmas?) It’s better quality, though, and will probably last longer. There’s more value, I think, in the uniqueness of the present – a gift, after all, should say something about the giver, and the relationship between giver and recipient. This Christmas, let’s make our pounds do some good.

play through the bible – a review and a GIVEAWAY!!!

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Over a decade ago, as my friends and I were approaching the end of university and the start of Real Life, I remember asking one particular friend what she wanted to do in the future. “I’m not sure exactly,” she started – and then her eyes lit up: “but I’m just so excited about the Bible, and I’d love to be able to share that with people.”

Perhaps, I thought, my friend would do a PhD and teach academically, or take on a teaching position within a church or Christian organisation. However, her calling was to be greater than that: Alice Buckley has written a book which unlocks the Bible not for lofty academics, but for preschoolers – and I genuinely believe that it has a thousand times more potential for changing lives than any of the weak-by-comparison suggestions my mind played through. Why start teaching the Bible at 18 when you can teach it from birth?

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Play through the Bible works like this: There are 20 stories from Luke’s gospel. Alice suggests that you take one story per week, the daily repetition helping kids to remember it. She has expertly rewritten each story with language simple enough for a very small child to understand, as well as plenty of opportunities for them to join in – and, of course, there are numerous suggestions for actions, signs and voices you may like to use, as well as props (all of which can be found around the home). The suggestion is that families find a few minutes each day in which to tell this story – perhaps over a meal (we do ours over breakfast). However, anyone who’s even been within five miles of a preschool family knows that there will be a plethora of reasons why this might not always happen – but Alice is so grace-filled in her approach “Let’s agree not to guilt-trip when we miss a day (or week, or month!)…Deal?” she offers, reassuringly.

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Lois trying to ‘fix’ a ripped sheet of paper. Jesus can fix us when we’re poorly!

And then, the genius: every story comes with multiple play ideas related to the theme. Again, Alice is realistic, suggesting families concentrate on just one or two things. As a mum of three young children, she knows what fits easily into our lives, and recognises that each child learns differently. There are ideas for craft and cooking, things to spot or do when in the park or walking down the street, active games to play in the home and outdoors, and ideas for bringing Jesus naturally into the conversation.

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Lois making her scrapbook.

In week one, when we heard about Jesus being God’s son, we used Alice’s idea of making a scrapbook to illustrate the point. Lois had been given one for her birthday, and loved filling it with pictures of her favourite Disney characters and other random colouring pages! Once made, it became an integral prequel to our telling of the Bible story: we would go through the book asking: “Is this my daughter?” with the kids responding “NO!” until we reached a photo of Lois at the very end – “YES!”. In the same way: “Is John the Baptist God’s son?”, “Is Jesus God’s son?” – you get the idea!

Week 2 was about Jesus being tempted in the desert, and how he listened to God, not the devil. My children’s favourite activity from the selection was playing ‘Simon Says’, which we played at the breakfast table each morning with no props or preparation – and yet it clearly brought home the point about listening!

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Jesus’ healing miracles – poorly toys!

Last week, we looked at Jesus’ healing miracles. As luck would have it, I took my kids for their flu vaccinations last week: it was a great opportunity to reinforce the story through talking about how Jesus heals – that he heals through medicine, but also that he can heal just by touching people, without any need for medicine. It wasn’t a long, deep conversation – it wasn’t onerous, and it wasn’t hard to remember to do – it was very natural, because we’d been thinking about healing all week. This week, we’re onto Jesus and the fishermen – and Joel’s already looking forward to a fish-and-chips dinner later on this week!

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This week’s story…complete with sieve/’net’ and cardboard fish!

The suggested age range for this book is 2-7, but we’ve been using Alice’s ideas (from her excellent blog) since Joel was 2 and Lois was a baby. Who knows what Lois was taking in, but it certainly wasn’t harming her to start hearing God’s word played out in a fun way! The very first time I saw Lois respond to God’s word was when she was around 16 months. She had very few words, and a handful of signs – but when, sometime shortly after Christmas, I mentioned the name ‘Jesus’, she signed ‘baby’. A small gesture, but a miraculous one: Lois was demonstrating that she’d taken in something from the Christmas story – Jesus being born as a baby! There really isn’t a start age for teaching God’s word. The problem is that most ‘preschool’ resources up until now have focused primarily on the 3-5 age group, i.e. children with some amount of verbal communication. Play through the Bible is unique in reaching children with God’s word before they can verbally communicate.

I knew this book would be incredible, because Alice’s ideas have been tried and tested in our family over the last three years. What I didn’t know was how beautiful the book would end up looking. It’s fab! Bright and colourful, with lovely illustrations and photos. Whilst the words are aimed at grown-ups, the book is enticing enough to have open on the breakfast table. My kids love looking at the pictures and trying to guess all the ideas we may (or may not!) get round to doing in the week!

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Joel trying to fix a broken toy: Jesus can fix broken people :)

This book has the power not just to change children’s lives, but the attitude of us parents, as we step up to the responsibility God has given us for teaching our children His ways. It’s not only a great resource in itself, it opens up a dialogue about how we can teach our children about the God who loves them. Think what priceless treasures we’re passing on to our kids if we’re able to teach them God’s word right from the start of their lives!

If you don’t believe me, why not check out SparklePetal’s review here? And, while you’re at it, you can view Alice’s promo video for the book here!

Now – who would like a free copy? Type a comment below and I’ll put all the names into a suitable receptacle on Sunday evening (Nov 9th) – the winner will receive a copy in the post at some point next week. Even if you don’t have young children – why not enter anyway? I’m sure any family you know would be totally blessed by this surprise gift! I’ll announce the winner on Facebook (as well as letting them know personally).

Disclaimer: No payment has been received for this review, even though it’s ridiculously positive, and reads like there’s been some secret commission exchanging hands. I did not receive a free copy to review – Christian book companies do not have money to burn – although perhaps if enough of you order the book, Alice may buy me a drink if we ever meet again.

falling – a review

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They say that you should write about what you know best – so it’s no surprise that a psychologist with experience in the police and military forces should choose to write a psychological crime thriller. Emma Kavanagh’s debut is gripping and enticing, drawing you into the worlds of four different characters, each with a story to tell.

The crime/detective/thriller genres are not usually my scene, but that’s the beauty of getting to review a new book: it opens you up to things you wouldn’t have touched before. And I’m very glad I touched this. It is immensely readable – and by ‘readable’, I’m thinking of it being 1am, and you’re holding your eyes wide open with your fingers, willing yourself to focus on the page before you, because you cannot physically put this book down, even though you’ll be up again in six hours and shattered is not even the word.

What makes this book so readable is that it is about people. Yes there is a plane crash, and a murder, and questions about how each of them happened, and whether they are linked. But, mainly, the book is about Cecilia, a thirty-ish-old air stewardess, pushed into marriage and motherhood too soon; Jim, a retired police officer, grieving for his murdered daughter; Freya, the eldest child within a dysfunctional family; Tom, a police office investigating a murder whilst more-or-less playing single dad to his nearly-three-year-old, as his mother struggles to cope with her role.

I particularly enjoyed Kavanagh’s distinctive writing style and use of flashback. Each chapter is headed with the character from whose point of view the words are written, followed by a specific date and time. This accurate, precise approach is highly suitable to a book set largely in police stations and crime scenes. Within the chapter, there are then flashbacks to the previous day, or week, or even earlier the same day. If you’re going to be specific about date/time, why not just write as the action is happening? Because writing about it later, even just a few hours later, gives the character time to reflect and process the events. It makes for a fascinating read, partly because often the flashback and real time are interspersed paragraph by paragraph, but also because you’re seeing how the past is affecting the present, and how the present will affect the future. I’ll be honest, this approach led to a bit of confusion in an early chapter, when I had to backtrack a few pages to check when things had happened, but I soon got into the swing of it, and loved the way past and present interacted.

It goes without saying that a book about people, about how their minds work, how their lives have been shaped, will give you sympathy for pretty much every one of the characters, as you get to know their complexities, their grey areas. Each one has been so carefully developed that there is no room for black and white judgements. There was only one person I had no sympathy for – I’ll leave you to read the book for yourself and guess which one that was…although I’ll tell you now it wasn’t the murderer!

As a relentless ‘happy-ender’, I guess I would have liked a tighter, ‘…and they all lived happily ever after’ type finish to the book. But this wouldn’t have made good literature, just a happy desertmum. The book closes with the main ends tied up, hope for a changed future for the main characters, and a sense that, really, this novel has just been a two-week snapshot into a few people’s lives, albeit an eventful two weeks.

I loved this book, and would recommend to all – but especially if you don’t think you’d like it…

(Disclaimer: this is a review for Mumsnet, on behalf of Arrow Publishing, who kindly sent me a copy of ‘Falling’ free of charge. I received no payment for the review, and all views are my own.)

storytime sounds – a review

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Although I know the value of imaginative storytelling, I’ll be the first to admit that it doesn’t come naturally when I’m with my kids – so I jumped at the chance to review this new, free app from notonthehighstreet.com. Launched in the summer, ‘Storytime Sounds’ aims to “bring an extra element of fun to story time for families with kids aged 3-7″. It’s designed for iPhone, but works equally well on iPad. The app was launched with five story themes (Pirates, Lost World, Fairytales, Space and Monsters), but a new Halloween theme was added recently.

I was interested to see whether the app helped me become more imaginative with storytelling, and also to see how my 3-year-old and 5-year-old engaged with it differently. Whilst we don’t own an iProduct ourselves, our kids love playing with Nanny’s iPad whenever we see her, and we’re not always sure that what they’re doing is particularly educational. I was keen to download something which could lead to more creative interaction on the iPad, something which we could enjoy together as a family – rather than the more isolating batch of individualistic games our kids often play on it.

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Firstly, did this app help me to make up stories with my children? Yes, it did. I was slow at first, but soon got the hang. Each theme contains nine sounds – enough for a decent story, not so many to become perplexing – and are wide-ranging enough to allow for a variety of characters and situations. They are also – this is important for a music teacher – decent sounds. Not bad at all for a free app. A small but important feature is that the sounds can be used simultaneously – so, for example, you can simulate the sound of not one but three witches cackling. You can have galloping horses and a fanfare. Again, with my music teacher’s hat on, this creates some very interesting textures within a story’s soundscape: moving from quiet, sparse sounds to busy, dense bustles of noise as the action develops. Some sounds were more of a struggle than others to get into a story (air lock, anyone?), but this is a minor niggle.

Secondly, how did our children use it differently? The three-year-old enjoyed sitting and listening to Mummy’s made-up stories (less discerning than the five-year-old perhaps?), and enjoyed joining in by pressing the sounds that I pointed to. The five-year-old started to make up his own stories – not long, not particularly coherent, but that’s not really the point is it? Both children also enjoyed simply playing with the sounds, experimenting, without the need for a story.

And thirdly – does this app have the potential to engage our whole family as we use the iPad together? I think it does, yes. We will be able to tell new stories, developing them and lengthening them as appropriate for our growing kids. Of course they will become more proficient at telling us stories, too. And I expect we’ll also be able to use the sounds to tell familiar stories, those from books or films.

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Those who designed the app were particularly keen to know how we enjoyed the Halloween sounds. Those of you who know me, or have read enough of this blog, will know that we don’t celebrate the darker side of Halloween in our family (and yes, there is a light side: more to come later this week!), but I have to say that I found the Halloween sounds imaginative and well-chosen, and certainly wasn’t uncomfortable using them to tell my children a ‘scary’ story. It verged on the darker side of a fairy tale, that was all. So thumbs up to the Halloween sounds, too.

I would love to see an Android version for those of us who haven’t yet sold our souls to Apple. It would also be brilliant to be able to mix and match sounds from different story themes, to further the weird and wonderful possibilities! Altogether, a great free app: why not download it now? (And, when you’ve done so, those helpful peeps at notonthehighstreet.com have even written a short story to start off your own storytelling – if you’re as hopeless a storyteller as I am, why not have a read?)

things i have learnt since sending my son to a school in special measures

This post, explaining why we were confident about sending our son to a school in special measures, provoked a big response this summer. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, why not have a look now? It will make more sense of the following!

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So we’re already half a term in to our son’s school career. Forget what he’s learnt – I feel like I’ve been on a hugely steep learning curve since term began. And already God has graciously affirmed the decision He led us to make regarding our son’s schooling – time and time again. Here are some of the things I’ve noticed. (Please forgive any unintended arrogance/offence/political incorrectness caused by the words I use, and instead remember that I come from a position of naivety, having been in a pretty middle-class bubble my whole life.)

Those from tougher backgrounds are often more open than those from more advantaged backgrounds. We who have been lucky enough to have more advantages in life do feel the need for a facade, don’t we? All through life – whether on UCAS forms, CVs, in job interviews, on dates, and in social situations – we learn (indeed, we’re conditioned) to hide our flaws and promote our positives. This term, I’ve had people I hardly know share pretty deep and personal things with me during a brief exchange in the playground. I’ve had to learn how to hide my shock at what I may have been told, and replace with sympathetic nods and words. There is no facade, no pretending that life is OK when it’s not. I find it refreshing. I’m learning how to be open about my weaknesses, my mess, my falling apart. As new friends start to enter my home, I’m remembering that mess and dirt are OK – they’re the reassurance that I don’t have it all sorted. And hospitality (search the blog for more on this!) is the ultimate display of our vulnerabilities.

I’m suddenly embarrassed by all the Stuff. Exacerbated by the onslaught of new Stuff from the kids’ birthdays, I’m seeing afresh just how much we have – not just the quantity, which we try and keep on top of, but the quality. I’ve never been one for designer brands, and mainly buy my clothes from charity shops, but walking through the playground in my Hunter wellies while my kids ride their expensive scooters does make me realise how privileged we are. I wouldn’t go back to leaky wellies, or heavy, hard-to-manoeuvre scooters – but where do I find a sensible balance?

Difference doesn’t matter – integrity does. There is no shying away from it: I look different to a lot of the other parents. On weekdays the ones who look like me trundle past our house to take their offspring to the More Middle Class School Down The Road. But perhaps I’m not so different to the other mums I’m meeting after all. I’m not going to dress differently, disguise my non-local accent or pretend I don’t live in the huge house opposite the school (although I will remind people, ad nauseum, that we don’t pay for it, it comes with the job). To do any of this would be ingenuine – it would be an insult to those I’m meeting, as if I were saying to them You couldn’t possibly want to be friends with someone like me. How arrogant and patronising. If I’m open to getting to know other mums, then they will want to get to know me too. We will find there’s more in common than we thought.

A simple greeting breaks the ice. I’ll be honest: there have been times when I’ve stood in the playground and felt like some weird social experiment – a misfit, an oddity. What am I doing here? I imagine the worst of those standing next to me: they’re looking at me weirdly, I’ve offended them, they hate me. If I’m brave enough to be the first to smile, the first to say hello, then I discover no such thing. In fact – perhaps they were thinking the same about me? We break the ice, we connect.

I can refer to Al as ‘my husband’, and not as ‘the kids’ dad’. This is actually a Thing. Our kids are so lucky to have an amazing dad who lives with them and is fully invested in every part of their lives. End of.

I bet your kids have been learning loads at school this half term – but what have you learnt? Do share your thoughts…I’d love to hear them :)

35th ‘breakfast-themed’ birthday party

Hubby turned 35 the other day. Seeing how this is halfway to 70 (of which he bizarrely keeps reminding me) and therefore very important, we decided to engage in a bit of celebrating. I let him choose the theme, and he chose a nice, streamlined theme of ‘breakfast’.

After being pounced on by our children at whatever o’clock in the morning, we headed down the stairs for an exciting treat awaiting us in the dining room. (Last night’s dishes, to clear away before festivities could begin.) We enjoyed a small amount of party food – I think Lois had rice crispies, and I went for toast. We sat on real dining chairs. There were some cards and presents, which hubby quickly got stuck into opening. Presents from the kids were going to be a day late because, you know, I hadn’t had that much warning about hubby’s birthday popping up on the exact same day as it does each year.

There were no games, because I felt that, to stay true to theme of ‘breakfast’, and seeing as we don’t usually play games at breakfast, there should be no games.

There was no music, because – again – we don’t usually have music at breakfast, so why break the theme?

We did a little open-ended craft activity. I gave each party-goer a drink, and let them get creative. Unfortunately it wasn’t much of a success – only Lois really engaged with this, and made a lovely milky pattern all over the tablecloth and floor.

We did, however, have decorations. A couple of limp balloons left over from Joel’s birthday, a nearly-dead orchid on the sideboard, and some mess on the floor.

I could have made a card, but ran out of time. Ditto cake.

There were no photos, as we wanted to savour the special moments being created by this wonderful family time together. Why live life through a lens, right?

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Can you guess that, by October, I’m partied out?? Apologies Al, I’ll make it up to you at Christmas.

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(With thanks to the wonderful Marilyn and Derek, who prompted this post.)

 

peter rabbit 5th birthday party

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Each year, my kids get to choose their party theme. So far, this has resulted in much more interesting and quirky ideas than I could have thought of. Usually I hit Google with the themes they’ve chosen, and a variety of supermum blogs come up trumps and give me the ideas I need. But this year, Mr Internet was not my friend. Type in ‘Peter Rabbit party’, and you get baby showers, christening parties, and 1st birthdays. You even get Prince George’s 1st birthday celebration, which is a delight to read about, but not very helpful in this instance. A baby’s birthday is all about the cuteness – the decor, the food and the cake. A boy’s 5th birthday party is all about activity: lots of running around and games and getting messy. So, my challenge: create a Peter Rabbit-themed party perfect for a 5 year old boy and his friends. It’s such a wonderful theme, with lots of endearing characters as well as dark moments – surely it should lend itself well to a morning’s worth of fun activities?

(Advance apology: I’m very sorry for the poor quality of these photos. I’ve been having camera issues. I may enjoy organising parties, but I sure as heck can’t do anything else – like get a camera fixed – at the same time. Hopefully you’ll get enough of an idea.)

We kept the decorations simple: white, blue and gold/brown balloons, to represent Peter Rabbit’s colours, and some garden tools at the entrance. I dressed as Mrs Rabbit:

Al as Mr McGregor:

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and our fantastically thespy friend Sam as the Naughty Fox:

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Like Lois’ party, we held this one in our church hall, not our home – so there had to be some open-ended activities that the children could get stuck into when the games weren’t happening, in the absence of any of our toys. It was good to have a variety of options, as small children are quite often very determined about what they Will and Won’t do. So there was a craft table, where the kids could make rabbit ears or fox masks:

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There was a digging trough, full of carrots, radishes and onions to find:

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There was an area in which to build as tall a tower as possible out of flower pots:

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And, because it’s always more fun to make something you can eat than something you can’t, there was a biscuit decorating table:

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The biscuits were gingerbread rabbits, baked by me and Lois a couple of days previously. Because there is always a huge amount to do in the evenings, after the kids go to bed, I love it when I can not only tick off a job during the day, but turn it into a fun daytime activity to do with one or both kids :)

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I also set up a little ‘chill-out burrow’ with Peter Rabbit themed toys and books – this was mainly for the younger siblings of Joel’s friends, but it’s always good to have an option for kids who are just getting a little overwhelmed by ‘activity’.

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Of course you think through all these ideas in advance, but it’s impossible to tell what will actually work until the day itself. Given this, I was really pleased that all the activities seemed to go down well – particularly the biscuit decorating and vegetable digging. There was also plenty of putting fox masks on and running round the room roaring at each other! (Whoever knew that foxes roared?!) It was so lovely to see Joel reunite with lots of friends he hadn’t seen since the summer, all considerably more grown-up after a few weeks at school.

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Games-wise, we had five: Pass the Parcel (obviously!), Mr McGregor’s Footsteps (like Grandmother’s Footsteps!), a wheelbarrow relay in teams:

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Pin the tail on Peter Rabbit (using cotton wool tails, of course!):

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and a vegetable hunt in teams. I printed out three each of ten different vegetables onto card, cut them up and hid them round the room.

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The kids had to find them in teams – with the added challenge of not being allowed to collect more than one of each type of veg. This ensured that it wasn’t simply the fastest/strongest child who got to do all the hunting and finding!

Once the games were done, we brought out the cake, for the sake of some friends who had to leave early. It was my first attempt at sugarpaste, and I was fairly pleased – PR looks a little fat, but he’s recognisable, right?!

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The Peter Rabbit sugarpaste success made me want to sugarpaste all the veg, but I decided they’d look more enticing made out of sweets, so that’s what I did. (We are very blessed with sweet shops here.) They may look less accurate, but they were a heck of a lot more yum to eat :)

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Then lunch. Very standard party food – but served in plant pots, of course. If my favourite restaurants can serve food in plant pots, why can’t I?

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I cut the sandwiches into rabbit shapes – because if you’d invested 79p in a rabbit cutter for gingerbread rabbits, you’d want to get the most out of it too, right?

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The table was laid simply – pale blue gingham tablecloth and napkins from Asda, blue cups from Poundland, and Peter Rabbit plates from an online supplier.

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As the children left, sugar-happy and Peter Rabbitted-out, they each got to pull a ‘carrot’ from a tub of soil.

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These were cone-shaped gift bags, lined with tissue paper to look like carrots, and containing a few little treats:

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Joel loved the party, and had a great time seeing friends and playing silly games with them. His chosen theme didn’t disappoint…although he’s already started thinking of the theme for next year!

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