Christmas Shopping Tips

Endless mince pies, steaming cups of mulled wine and twinkling trees… if only Christmas was that simple. Unfortunately, if you’re a parent, the pressure of making this ‘the best Christmas ever!’ for your family can turn a magical time into a stressful one. Organising Christmas dinner, festooning the house with decorations and gift shopping for all the family is enough to send even Santa over the edge…

But don’t fret! There’s no need to be a Scrooge. Our Christmas shopping tips will help you save time, money and above all, your sanity, allowing you to whiz down your Christmas to-do list faster than Old Saint Nick himself. So go ahead, grab a cup of gingerbread latte, sit back and read on…

Make a List

Make a list, check it twice, find out who’s…. you get it. Life is easier with lists – even Santa knows this. Make a note of everyone you need to buy a present for, concentrating first on immediate family and close friends.

Create a Budget

Who doesn’t overspend at Christmas? With all the shops tempting you with sparkly gifts and cute stocking fillers, it’s easy to blow your budget before you’re even halfway down your list. This year, it’s time to be a savvy spender. Create a spending limit and divide it amongst each person on your list. E.g. £100 on your daughter, £50 on your spouse, £20 on your nephew and so on. Your bank balance will thank you come January.

Start Early

‘Tis the season to be organised. Start early and buy a few bits each week to spread the cost. By mid-December the majority of your present list will be ticked off, leaving you with plenty of time to spend with your loved ones and enjoy bottomless glasses of Baileys. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? (Spending time with family, not the Baileys…)

But Hold Out for the Sales too…

Buying early can help lighten the load come December, but hold out for some of the bigger, more expensive items and wait for the sales. If Black Friday and Cyber Monday bring you out in a sweat, most brands have sales or discounts before Christmas. Be sure to sign up to your favourite shop’s newsletters and keep your eye out for last minute promotions.

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Buy Quality over Quantity

Ten presents may seem better than five, but buying your children lots of small toys can be a waste. Most kids are bombarded with gifts at Christmas and the smaller, less important presents are sure to be ignored. Larger gifts with longevity, such as a virtual reality headset, an awesome cabin bed or the latest pair of Nike Air Maxes are bound to be cherished for longer than a selection of small toys and accessories for example.

 

 

3 tips to help you get back to sleep

Lying awake in the middle of the night can be so frustrating. Whether you’ve been woken by a noise outside, a snoring partner or a child suffering from nightmares, when it comes to nodding back off the struggle can be very real indeed. Next time you or the little ones are finding it difficult to drift back into slumber, try these tricks to get you there faster.

Don’t reach for your phone

Our first instinct upon waking can often be to reach for a mobile phone to check the time. Not only will the light of your screen confuse your brain into thinking it’s not bedtime but watching the clock can also hinder your efforts to return to the Land of Nod. Obsessive clock checking tends to make us feel worse about the fact that we’re awake too, causing anxiety that in turn means it’s harder to sleep. And round and round it goes. Then of course there’s the small fact that you might be tempted to check messages or look at social media when your phone is in your hand, which only takes away from those precious moments of rest.

Don’t lie and count sheep

If lying in bed and keeping your eyes closed isn’t cutting it, try being low level active to distract yourself from your sleep worries. When you’ve been awake for more than twenty minutes or so this can help reset you for sleep so you can start again. You could try some light reading or listen to some relaxing music. It’s always a good idea to pop to the toilet too but avoid turning on any bright lights if you can. The aim is to stay fairly relaxed and keep you body in a sleep friendly mode. So getting out of bed then climbing back in could help.

 

Use breathing and relaxation techniques

While counting sheep won’t necessarily help you drop off, following relaxing breathing methods or even using self-hypnotherapy techniques is always worth a go. Try and slow down your breathing naturally and picture yourself in a relaxing spot or perhaps even sleeping. Many people swear by the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Rubbing your ears or rolling your eyes upwards can also help bring on a sleepy state.

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Have a go at indoor camping

As the school holidays come to a close you may be running out of ideas to entertain the kids. If you’ve already been out and about all over the place there’s a good chance they may have exhausted the fun fund too! If you’d like to try something new and inexpensive that’s not weather dependent, have you thought about indoor camping? Our day beds are fantastic for sleepovers in bedrooms dressed as the great outdoors or you could go the whole hog and set up a campsite in your living room. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Setting up camp

Children love the creativity of setting up and decorating their own campsite and it can really spark their imaginations. If you’d like to set up a family camp in a communal space, play tents or a tepee can make a great starting point. Don’t worry if you don’t have any fancy kit though, it’s easy to make tents out of light sheets or blankets flung over chairs and other furniture and weighed down so they stay put. Sleeping bags are great to cosy up in if you have them but snuggly blankets and pillows or cushions can be just as comfy.

Add some sparkle

One of the best bits about camping outdoors is having a view of the stars, so if you have a conservatory it can make an ideal spot for indoor camping. If you don’t you can fake it with some fairy lights. And of course, no camp would be complete without a fire. We don’t suggest you build a real fire in your living room but you can craft one out of red, orange and yellow tissue paper or arrange some LED tea lights in a circle.

Fun and feasts

Once your site is all ready to go, it’s time to start your traditional camping activities, whether you love singing around the camp fire, telling stories by torch light or eating all those yummy camping foods, you can do it all without leaving the living room! When dinnertime comes around indulge in hotdogs, jacket potatoes and chilli. And with the promise of hot chocolate with plenty of marshmallows before bedtime, you may find that everyone is keener than usual to snuggle up for the night.

Indoor camping can be a good family activity that appeals to kids of all ages, what things does your family love doing together indoors over the holidays?

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How to make more of your box room

Is your little box room a dumping ground for items you can’t decide whether to keep or not, and piles of laundry? A few simple storage solutions and furniture heroes can transform this area into a useful space that works for you and your family.

Try not to waste this valuable space – you could be using it to its full storage potential!

Up high

With such a small floor space to play with, why not use the wasted area on the walls for storage? Installing shelves along the perimeter of your walls will give you space to store books, toys and whatever else you need a home for.

Even if you have an oddly shaped room – L-shaped, rounded walls etc – there is always wall storage options at your disposal. Do you have a huge jewellery collection? Use wall storage to display your finest pearls, costume jewellery and hair accessories. Is there a tie obsession on the go? Use the walls to display a spectrum of colours, fabrics and styles that are easy to reach.

We love this idea on Pinterest, using your door frame as a space to put shelving! So clever. There’s also this ingenious idea from Heidi to place specialised shelving in the space behind your bedroom door – not an inch of space wasted here…

Seating storage

A little stool with internal storage or a window box can also double up as storage for your bits and bobs. For the stool, you could keep old records, photo albums or craft supplies tucked away. For the window seat, this could be an excellent way to keep spare bedding, books on your reading list or other important items that don’t currently have a home. In such a small room, you should choose furniture that has multiple purposes.

Everything in this space must fight to be there – ask yourself: is it useful? What can I store in/on it? If the item in question is barely justifying one use then it’s worth reconsidering.

An extra bed or two

Here at Noa and Nani, we have a beautiful selection of day beds that are perfect for your spare/box room. They can be used as a comfy seat during the day and a bed come night time. We also offer day beds that come with a trundle bed underneath, giving you two spare beds for friends and family to stay over.

Your box room could become a sanctuary for quiet reading while relaxing on a day bed, a place to enjoy some meditation or simply an area to get away from the hustle and bustle of family life. When you open the door to this room, you don’t want the stress of seeing junk and clutter that you haven’t got around to sorting – instead, make this room work for you and your family.

Isabella Day Bed with Pull out Trundle in White - Noa & Nani cropped

What’s your school holiday sleep routine?

School will soon be out for summer, which means lots of time hopefully enjoying new things as a family. Whether you’ve got some day trips scheduled in or even visits to family and friends, chances are you’re usual bedroom routine will come unstuck at some point.

The Huffington Post recently published an article detailing 7 Ways to Keep A Sleep Routine in the School Holidays. If you missed it the premise of the piece is that it’s important to fight nature and the will of the kids in order to keep a bedtime routine in place. This is of course easier said than done, even with helpful hints and tips. So where do you stand on the topic? Do you

Reasons to stick with structure

All the excitement of the summer break tends to make for very tired children, even if they’re not so keen on going to bed a their usual time. While you can’t use the argument that they will be too tired for school the next day they may well be too tired to get up for any activities you have planned or may be a little grumpy if they do. Encouraging children to be excited about the fun you have lined up is therefore a great way to persuade them to stick to a routine if that’s what you’d prefer. Of course the most obvious reason for trying not to deviate too much from the usual bedtime is that doing so can mean a real struggle to get it back in place by term time. There’s also a good chance that Mummies and daddies might miss out on valuable time as a couple if the kids want to stay up late.

Reasons to loosen off

Animals change their sleep routines during the warmer summer season so it’s only natural that little ones want to follow suit, right? And, there’s just a small chance that if they go to bed a little later they’ll lie in a little later, and longer in bed can be a really amazing treat for the sleep deprived parents among us. Then of course there’s practicality, sometimes travel to and from theme parks or the seaside don’t leave enough time for the full shebang when it comes to dinner, bath and bed but a day spent running around more than necessitates a dip in the bath. In short, sticking to a routine just isn’t always possible.

children playing

What approach will you be taking to bedtime over the school holidays? Do you loosen things off a little then rein it in as school term approaches? Perhaps you have a few nights each week when the children know they go to bed a little later? We’d love to hear what works for you.

Making Dad feel special this Father’s Day

On the day made for all father’s around the world, spend some time making yours feel special with some sweet gestures and thoughtful gifts. Think about all the things your Dad does for you – for one day, you need to make him feel spoiled and appreciated!

Even if you won’t be with your Dad on Father’s Day itself, having something planned sometime afterwards will still show you care. It’s the effort put in that really makes it…

An afternoon out

Planning an afternoon out as a surprise is sure to put a smile on your Dad’s face, especially if you’ve planned something fun for the two of you – or the other siblings too if you like – to do.

How about a long walk in the countryside? The National Trust has a great selection of cool summer walks for wherever you live, so you can stretch your legs and enjoy some quality time together. For something more fast-paced, a bike ride and picnic is a good shout, giving a sense of achievement racking up all the miles.

Or you could have an entertaining trip to the cinema with all the trimmings – hotdogs, popcorn and slushies. Remember that the film choice has to be something your Dad likes, to be prepared to sit through something that you might not like…

Record nook

Is your Dad into music? Give him a piece of furniture to store his beloved records and CDs such as this solid oak sideboard from Noa and Nani. As well as becoming a home for his favourite songs and albums, it also has plenty of draws to hold all his odds and ends including classic ‘man draw’ items such as screws, allen keys, old receipts, take away menus, batteries and string etc.

When a home is full of people, it can hard to carve out a place that’s your own. Even if there isn’t one room that is solely his, at least he has a nook of his own to store his favourite things.

Vermont Solid Sideboard in Natural Oak - Noa & Nani cropped

Scrumptious food

A home-cooked meal shows real effort. Browse through the BBC Good Food archives for three courses that are sure to impress. Go for a light starter, a hearty main and a rich dessert so that everyone’s waistlines are busting. Don’t forget his favourite tipple too!

An example meal could be:

Starter: Slow cooker ribs (small portion)

Main: Beef, mushroom and mustard pie

Dessert: Giant cookie

Or, if your Dad is more of a breakfast man, you could lay on a lavish brunch for the whole family to start of the day right. Put on a big selection so it feels like a posh hotel breakfast but in the comfort of his home. He can even rock up to eat in his pyjamas and slippers!

 

 

Creating nap nooks

nap nooks

The National Sleep Foundation says that more than 85% of mammalian species are polyphasic sleepers – meaning that they sleep for short bursts throughout the day – while humans are in the 15% of monophasic sleepers whose days are defined by a sleep period and an awake period.

However, napping is a strong part of many cultures as well as something young children and elderly persons make part of the daily routine.

The benefits of napping

A short nap during the day can restore alertness and enhance performance – giving your body and mind the chance to gain back some energy to continue the day with. As adults, naps can help to reduce mistakes and accidents, helping to keep you at your most efficient and alert. As babies and young children, naps help to achieve the 12 to 14 hours they require each day.

The benefits of napping are endless, but the key to doing this effectively comes down to creating the ideal environment for slumber.

The perfect nap environment

To drift off for a nap, you need to make sure several variables are in play. Firstly, you need to get the temperature right. Too warm and you’ll be too uncomfortable, too cold and you’ll be preoccupied by that to drift off. There is no recommended temperature as everyone is different – play around with the thermostat until it’s just right.

Next up is light. The napping area should be as dark as possible. Black out blinds might be a little much, especially for such a short time but making the area (or areas) as dark as possible will help you fall asleep much easier.

Lastly, you need to invest in some inviting textiles. Chunky throws, comforting blankets and lots of pillows for little and big heads to rest on. Think of it as an interiors expedition!

Nap nooks

Thinking about the above elements for the perfect nap environment, try to envision where in your home you could have these placed. Little nap nooks could be in your living room, in the bedroom or even in the kitchen depending on the layout of your home.

At Noa and Nani, we have a selection of day beds that are nap-ready at a moment’s notice. Why not try out one of our day beds with a pull-out trundle? They are ideal for nap time and can be hidden away very easily.

All that’s left is to make sure you schedule in the time for naps for you and your little ones – if you’ve had a busy day (which is more than likely) then there’ll be no need to count sheep!

Quick-fire nap tips

Timing: 20 to 30 minutes

Alarm: A must if you don’t want to overdo it

Sounds: Zero! Total silence is required

nap nooks

Fun and functional home features for kids

How annoying is it when the kids just won’t budge from their bedrooms when you call them down to dinner? We recently came across this story about a 20ft slide that runs directly into the kitchen from the bedrooms of the children of the house. This fun and functional home feature reminded us of our own themed cabin beds, which can be great tools in persuading reluctant bed-goers to head upstairs. Then we started thinking about other fun and functional additions that we could make around the home to give a bit of a ‘wow’ factor. Here are some of the kid-friendly ideas we came up with that we thought may make life easier for all of the family….

A playroom

A space dedicated to play is sure the most fun and functional thing you can add to a home? Plus it has the added benefit of keeping mess and noise in one spot! We’ve talked about the comeback of the playroom before in the post Does your home need a playroom? If you already have one, we’re sure the fun and laughter that fills it makes it the best room in the house. If you don’t have room for a dedicated playroom, could a kids’ nook be a more space-saving solution?

A kid’s only bathroom

Hands up who has to regularly share the bathroom when they’re showering? If the kids aren’t popping in to go to the toilet there’s bath toy buckaroo to contend with. Not every home comes with an en suite on the master bedroom, which makes a kids’ only bathroom a fun and functional feature that is surely on the lust list in many homes?

A grow your own plot

If you asked the kids what they’d like to put in the garden, they may well suggest you build a swimming pool or add a secret treehouse. If those aren’t realistic options, how about allocating them a small plot in the garden as a mini allotment? Introducing children to gardening at a young age is a great way to get them interested in nature and in food and cooking too.

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What are the best child-friendly upgrades you’ve made in your home and what would be your ultimate fun and functional adaptation?

The politics of bunk beds

bunk beds

As anyone who shared a room with a brother or sister will know, this is both an awesome and drama-filled experience. While comforting (and often fun) to always have someone around, siblings will begin to grate on one another, prompting some disagreements and rules being set!

If you have opted for a bunk bed for your little ones, be aware that there will be some politics involved in the sharing of this space…

The benefits of bunk beds

Having bunk beds in your children’s room is fantastic for freeing up floor space. This space can be used for playtime, for the hoard of toys they have or for more wardrobe space for their clothes. Bunk beds are also handy for sleepovers or to free up room for a desk.

By using a bunk bed, this clever use of space can turn a relatively small room into something more than adequate for two children. Noa and Nani have a great range of bunk beds including single and triple bunk beds!

They are also a great solution for children who aren’t quite ready to sleep alone.

bunk beds

Getting territorial

Once a bed has been assigned – either through mature discussion between he children (yeah, right!) or through an adult ruling – there can be no going back. That bed is now the property of the child and will be protected at all cost.

This is where some indisputable politics will arise. As long as you can help each child to believe that they have the best bunk then you’re winning! For the top bunkers, they can feel like ‘king of the castle’, looking down on the lowly bottom bunkers. For those on the lower bunk, they don’t need to climb anywhere to head to the loo, and, with the top bunk above, they can create a little fort of toys if they like!

Older sibling rules

It is an unwritten rule that the older sibling gets the top bunk. They have been around longer, they are better-equipped to climb a ladder and (as they will tell you) it is their birth right. This can cause some disagreement, especially if your little one has their heart set on top bunk life. However, if your youngest is under six-years-old, it’s actually not advised that they climb up to the top.

After this age, it will be harder to state your case for the youngest but you can give it a good go…

Annoying bunk bed incidents

Here are some bunk bed happenings that could cause some drama – watch out for them!

  • Dropping items from the top bunk on to the bottom bunk
  • Duvets hanging down from the top bunk to the bottom bunk
  • Prodding the top mattress from the bottom bunk
  • Snoring or loud breathing
  • Talking while asleep
  • Sitting on the other one’s bed