Ways to make your baby's first Christmas special

7 ways to make your baby’s first Christmas special

Christmas is a magical time for children of all ages, but there is something especially special about your baby’s very first Christmas.

The twinkly lights, the festive smells, the rustle of wrapping paper and the fun of stockings all add up to something wonderful when you get to see it all through the eyes of your baby.

Things might not be quite the way we thought they’d be this year, but if it’s your baby’s first Christmas then there are still loads of things you can do to really make it special.

 

1. Make your own keepsakes

In a few years time you’ll find it hard to believe that your baby was as small as they are now.  So making some keepsake ornaments using their hand or footprints is a really lovely way to record how tiny they are for their first Christmas.

You can make them really easily by making up some salt dough and gently pressing their hands or feet into it.  Then once the dough has cooked and cooled you can paint it or decorate it with glitter.  Just remember to make a little hole at the top with a skewer or a straw before baking if you want to be able to hang it on the tree.

 

2.  Read Christmas stories in the run up to Christmas day

If you have a ‘bath, book, bed’ routine in the evenings, then get some new Christmas themed books that you can read at bedtime in the days around Christmas.

You can then pack them away carefully in January and bring them out again next year to enjoy all over again.

 

3. Put together a Christmas eve box

Chances are you’ve seen this tradition shared online, and if it’s one you want to do with your family then why not start it for your baby’s first Christmas.

You can keep it simple when they’re babies, with something like a new Christmas sleepsuit, a new special Christmas book to read at bedtime, and some reindeer food and a special plate to leave a treat out for Father Christmas.

 

4. Get them a special Christmas outfit. 

Depending on how old your baby will be at Christmas you can get them a simple festive babygrow to wear, a little Christmas jumper or a full-on fancy outfit.

If you really want to mark the occasion of their first Christmas though you can get an outfit with ‘baby’s first Christmas’ written on it.  And you can top it all off with a special festive bib for their first taste of Christmas dinner.

 

5.  Take plenty of photos

Once you’ve got them dressed up in their Christmas clothes (but before they tuck into their dinner) make sure to take plenty of photos.

If they can sit up on their own then take some photos of them sitting up in front of the Christmas tree.  And it they’re still too little to do that then you could still get some lovely photos of them lying down among the gifts under the tree.

Other than that, just keep the camera on hand throughout the day so you can snap all the little, special moments as they happen.

 

6. Make a memory box

When Christmas is over and you start taking down your decorations and packing things away, take a bit of time to pick out a few key items to tuck away in a special memory box.

It might be the special sleepsuit your baby wore on Christmas eve, or their bib from Christmas dinner.  You might also include a few cards or gift tags from special people in their lives.  Another really lovely idea is to saw a round off the trunk of your tree (if you have a real one!) and write the year on one side as a special memento of baby’s first Christmas tree.

 

7. Keep presents simple but get them one keepsake gift

Babies really don’t need much for Christmas.  I know it can be tempting to get carried away with buying them presents, but they really will be more interested in the wrapping paper and the boxes than the things wrapped up in them.

Of course if you want to splash out then go for it, but honestly on their first Christmas my advice would be to keep presents nice and simple.

To make things that bit more special though you could get one, lovely keepsake gift.  This could be a special bauble that can then be hung on the tree each year, a piece of jewellery to tuck away for when they’re older, or a personalised book for them to cherish as they get older.

 

Christmas won’t be the same this year, and we might not be able to celebrate in all the ways we normally would, but hopefully the ideas in this post will help make your baby’s first Christmas extra special for all of you.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Choosing the right loft ladder for your home

Choosing the right loft ladder

If you’re looking to get more out of the space in your home, you may consider adding an extension or conservatory to your property. This provides an additional room for you to relax, entertain guests or store away the clutter that’s been getting in the way. Another potential option that you have is to utilise your loft space (if you have one). 

Lofts are often neglected as a result of poor access, meaning a lot of space that could be getting used often goes to waste. To make the most out of your loft, ensuring you have a quick and easy way to access it is vital. This is where a loft ladder comes in.

Loft ladders provide you with a safe and secure way of entering and exiting your loft, giving you the opportunity to use the space however and whenever you want. But with so many types of loft ladder to pick from, which do you choose? Here we take a look at your options and find out which is the right ladder for you. 

The Different Types of Loft Ladder

Sliding Loft Ladders

These are the traditional loft ladders that the majority of people will be familiar with. As many of the modern homes in the UK are built with loft hatches wide enough to support this type of ladder, finding one for your home shouldn’t be much of an issue. 

Typically manufactured with either aluminium or wooden material, a sliding loft ladder does as its name suggests and slides out of the loft hatch to grant the user access. The wooden-styled ladders are a little quieter than their aluminium counterparts and are also a little sturdier. This makes them the ideal choice for any homeowner that accesses their loft on a regular basis or have elderly people living with them. 

Although aluminium loft ladders are noisier, they are extremely lightweight, which makes them the perfect choice for light usage scenarios. 

Staircases

One way to make greater use out of your loft is through a staircase. Now, we know this might trigger alarm bells in your head but there’s nothing to worry about. Staircases do not always have to be installed with a loft conversion, which can be quite the expense. You are more than capable of installing a staircase to access your loft without having to fork for an entire attic renovation. 

Loft staircases offer users a safe and stylish way to access their loft space, often complimenting the surrounding décor of your home. They provide wider steps than a sliding loft ladder so you should feel more comfortable climbing up and down from your attic.

Concertina Loft Ladders

This type of loft ladder is perfect if you find you are a little limited when it comes to space. When unfolded, concertina loft ladders take up virtually no space, making them the ideal type of loft ladder for smaller lofts and landings. 

their space-saving qualities, concertina ladders can look and feel a little flimsy but when you order from the world’s top brands, you can rest assured that they will allow you to access your loft place safely and efficiently. 

 

And there you have it, three types of loft ladders that allow you to make more out of your attic space. Before purchasing any loft ladder, however, it is important to be mindful of the following things:

  • The maximum load that the ladder can hold 
  • Whether or not you’ll require an additional handrail to allow even easier access
  • How the ladder is going to be installed 

Once you have decided on these things, you will be ready to make your purchase – good luck!

 

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Simple kitchen tips for Christmas time

Simple kitchen tips for Christmas

When preparing for your festive celebrations, one of the most important things you should do is consider the food. Making food for the whole family is one of the great joys of the festive season and sharing it with the ones you love is a special part of Christmas Day. 

However before you start cooking this Christmas it is important for you to clean and prepare your kitchen as well as learn how to make the most of it. There are a few things you will want to do in the kitchen this Christmas to up your cooking game and we want to take you through them. 

Have a clear out 

Before you even think about making the most of the kitchen at Christmas you want to consider the space itself. If you have an old looking kitchen that has seen better days, you may want to consider a contemporary look for your kitchen and revamp it before the big day.

Another important thing to do is have a clear out of mess and clutter in your kitchen to make room for all of the cooking you’ll be doing during the festive period. 

 

Utilise the freezer 

The freezer is your best ally during the festive period and it can save a lot of work as well as waste. It is a common mistake for people to make to think they have to cook everything on Christmas Day because this is not at all the case.

You can prepare vegetables beforehand, mash and freeze potatoes and swede, make pigs in blankets and freeze them, and even cook the meat itself and portion it up. There is no reason to put yourself through stress at Christmas for the meal so try and do a few things ahead of time to take pressure off you on the day.

You will also want to use the freezer after Christmas to freeze your leftovers! 

 

Prepare vegetables before the day 

As we mentioned above – you can prepare a lot of your Christmas feast before the day and make your life a little easier. If you are making a tray of roasting vegetables to go with your feast for example, you can easily peel and chop all of the vegetables and leave them in a bowl of cold water to soak overnight before you cook them.

This will save some time and make your life a whole lot less stressful. 

 

Make your own gravy 

If you use gravy out of a box for your Christmas feast; we are here right now to tell you no. Gravy is an artform and you should never have to pay to have gravy on your roast dinner! When roasting your Turkey or beef joint, be sure to place some aromatic vegetables such onion, garlic, and carrot underneath the meat as it cooks. The juices will drip onto the vegetables and they will cook through and go soft. Now you can mash all of this up, strain it into a pan, and simmer with some cornflour to make the most amazing gravy. 

 

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How to ensure elderly relatives live comfortably in their senior years

How to ensure your elderly relatives live comfortably in their senior years

Many people don’t like to admit that they’re getting old, but you can’t always deny what your body tells you. Besides, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with ageing. Provided you look after yourself and have a loving support network around you, you can continue thriving well into your senior years.

That support network can be made up of many people, but it’s family members who are usually at the heart of it all. Their love can really make a difference, as can all the little things they do to try and make things easier.

If you have a parent or grandparent who you love, it’s worth seeing what you can do to help make their lives more comfortable. You might be amazed by the effect these little bits of kindness can have.

 

Go with them to appointments

The seniors in your life may be entirely self-sufficient. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t want someone to hold their hand sometimes.

If you’re able to go with your parent or grandparent to an appointment, especially one that isn’t just a routine health checkup, try and make the time for them. Travelling is problematic for many elderly patients, so simply being able to drive them to and from their appointment could make a huge difference.

 

Don’t overcomplicate things

Do you know how hard it can be for someone to use a smartphone when they were born decades before they existed? While plenty of seniors are getting to grips with modern technology, some of them move at a far slower pace than others. Instead of pressuring them to get their head around this stuff because “you can do video calls,” just work with what they’re comfortable with.

You can browse through an excellent range of phones for the elderly at Audilo. These hearing specialists prioritize seniors in many of their products, so whether you’re looking for a phone, hearing aid, or something similar, you ought to find something to meet your needs.

 

Do what they want

When you spend time with elderly relatives, it can be hard working out what to do. You might not be sure what will be fun for everyone, while they might say they’re just happy to do whatever you want. In these instances, try to find out if there’s anything your relative misses doing, or if there’s something new they want to experience.

As long as it’s safe and possible to do what they suggest, make it happen. Even if that’s just sitting around talking about the past, letting them decide how you spend your time together could really put a smile on their face.

 

Send letters and pictures

Given that your elderly relatives grow up with the technology that we have now, the chances are that they’d be just as happy to receive a letter from you in the post as they would to speak on the phone. Millions of older people are lonely, and something as simple as a letter from a loved one can turn their mood right around. Imagine how surprised and delighted they’d be to discover that you’d written to them, especially if you slipped some pictures into the envelope too.

Sure, you shouldn’t stop calling them, especially if you live far away. However, it’s nice to change things up every now and again.

There are so many ways to ensure that the elderly relatives in your life enjoy the years they have left with you. Hopefully, these suggestions have given you some ideas of what to do for your own family.

 

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Entertainment ideas to make your party unique

Live entertainment ideas to make your party unique

When planning a party, you likely want to make it as unique and memorable as possible. One of the best ways to do this is by hiring live entertainment to perform for your guests. However, not all forms of live entertainment are that unique, as options like musicians and dancers can actually be quite common and boring.

So how can you use live entertainment to spice up your party and make it more interesting for guests?

Here are some live entertainment ideas that you can use to make your party more unique. 

 

Comedians

One of the best forms of live entertainment you can hire for an event is a comedian. Comedians are relatively unique at live performances, adding some excitement and flavour to the party. However, comedians aren’t that outlandish or crazy, finding the perfect middle ground for your party.

Comedians are fantastic at getting your guests into a great mood and laughing, something that is perfect for a party setting. In addition, comedians usually have lots of audience interaction, something that can form connections with the audience and draw them into the show. If you want a unique live entertainer at your party, but don’t want to go too overboard, then hiring a comedian is the perfect solution. 

 

Hypnotists

Another great and unique form of live entertainment that you can hire for your party is a hypnotist. Hypnotists are extremely unique and are probably unlike any other form of live entertainment that you have experienced. Hypnotists usually call upon guests to participate in the show, meaning they have plenty of interaction with the audience.

A hypnotist will hypnotize the volunteers, having them believing some of the most hilarious and crazy things. For example, a hypnotized individual may start clucking around like a chicken or may believe that they are under the influence of alcohol and act drunk. Hilarity often ensues when a hypnotist is involved, making them a blast to have at any party. 

 

Fire Dancers

If you really want to get unique when hiring live entertainment for your event, you can look into hiring a fire dancer. Fire dancers can bring some familiarity to a live event, as most people are familiar with dancers and the accts they perform. However, as the name suggests, fire dancers add a unique twist to their routine.

The entire time a fire dancer is performing, they are manipulating fire as it swirls around them. Seeing a fire dancer in person is truly a sight to behold, as it is an interesting mix of dance moves and dazzling fire tricks. Some of the visual effects you’ll see out of a fire dancer are truly unique and can add a lot of fun and excitement to your party. If you’re looking for a truly unique form of live entertainment for your party, try finding fire dancers for hire

 

Cultural Entertainment 

An often overlooked option for party entertainment is cultural entertainment. Cultural entertainment can be a fantastic option for your party, especially if you have strong connections with your heritage. Having cultural entertainment at your party is a great way to show off who you are and where you came from while still adding a lot to the party. For example, Hispanic people may want to hire a mariachi band, while someone with an Egyptian heritage could hire belly dancers. Having cultural entertainment at your party is a fantastic way to make it a unique event and allows you to put your own personal touch and flare on the event.

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chocolate chip Welsh cakes recipe

Simple chocolate chip Welsh cakes recipe

I’m sure there are people out there who’ll shout at me for calling these Welsh cakes, when I should probably call them chocolate chip griddle cakes or something.

If you’re looking for a classic Welsh cake recipe then I do have one of those, but these are a delicious, chocolatey take on them that are perfect for anyone who likes the idea of Welsh cakes but isn’t all that keen on raisins.

They’re just as simple to make as normal Welsh cakes and are the perfect sweet treat for any time of day.

 

If you want to give them a go yourself, here’s what you need to know:

 

Ingredients

  • 220g (7.5oz) self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 115g (4oz) butter (plus a bit extra for the pan)
  • 85g (3oz) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • Handful of chocolate chips
  • 1 egg
  • Splash of milk (if needed)

Equipment

  • Mixing bowl
  • Scales
  • Heavy based frying pan
  • Rolling pin
  • 6cm round cutter
  • Spatula to turn the welsh cakes as they cook

 

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Put the self raising flour and butter into a big mixing bowl.  Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Stir in the cocoa powder, mixed spice, sugar, and chocolate chips.
  3. Add the egg and bring the mixture together into a soft dough.
  4. If it’s too dry to come together properly add a splash of milk.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured worksurface and roll it out to about 1/4 inch thickness.
  6. Cut circles out using a 6cm round cutter.
  7. Lightly grease the pan and then put on the hob on a medium/low heat.
  8. Cook the Welsh cakes a few at a time, for 2-3 minutes on each side.
  9. The Welsh cakes should be lightly browned and slightly risen
  10. Once they’re cooked take them out of the pan and sprinkle them on both sides with caster sugar.
  11. Enjoy!

 

These Welsh cakes are so good when they’re still warm from the pan and the chocolate chips are all still melty and gooey.  But they’re also perfect the next day when they’ve cooled down.

You can store them in an airtight container and they should keep for up to a week, if you can stop everyone from devouring them straight away.

Chocolate chip Welsh cakes

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Cuisine: Welsh
Keyword: Chocolate Welsh cakes, Welsh cakes

Equipment

  • Scales
  • Mixing bowl
  • Rolling Pin
  • 6cm round cutter
  • Heavy based frying pan
  • Spatula

Ingredients

  • 220 grams self-raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 115 grams butter plus a little extra for cooking
  • 85 grams caster sugar plus a little extra for sprinkling
  • 1 handful chocolate chips
  • 1 egg
  • 1 splash milk if needed

Instructions

  • Put the self raising flour and butter into a big mixing bowl.  Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. 
  • Stir in the sugar, cocoa powder, mixed spice and chocolate chips.
  • Add the egg and bring the mixture together into a soft dough.
  • If it's too dry to come together properly add a splash of milk.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured worksurface and roll it out to about 1/4 inch thickness.
  • Cut circles out using a 6cm round cutter.
  • Lightly grease the pan and then put on the hob on a medium/low heat.
  • Cook the Welsh cakes a few at a time, for 2-3 minutes on each side.
  • The Welsh cakes should be lightly browned and slightly risen.
  • Once they're cooked take them out of the pan and sprinkle them on both sides with caster sugar.
How do you buy your neighbour’s land

How do you buy your neighbour’s land?

Whether it is a small patch of their garden, an access path or a significant acreage, how do you go about buying land from your neighbour? 

Whilst buying land essentially involves the same process you would follow for a property transaction, depending on why you want to buy the land (i.e. your intended use), where it is located and who actually owns it, there can be some additional complications.  

What do you need to do before you make an offer on a piece of land?

Most importantly, you need to ensure that your neighbour actually owns the land before you offer to buy it from them. If they own the property on a leasehold basis for instance, the actual owner would be the freeholder.

If you were to purchase either the leasehold or freehold (with your neighbour retaining their leasehold rights to the land), ownership and access rights can then become more complicated.

For shared ownership properties, unless your neighbour has increased their share to 100% ownership and purchased the freehold then, again, they would not own the land that their property is built on.  

 

You may even find that your neighbour does not actually have a right to the land at all if it has been unofficially subsumed into their garden by them or a previous owner.

‘Adverse possession’ dictates that if the land has been treated as their own for more than 10 years that they may be classed as the legal owner, but this is a complex issue and you need to ensure that you are buying land from the person who has the authority to sell it to you.

 

You can find out if the land you are interested in buying is registered and who the registered owner is via the HM Land Registry website for a small fee. Where land is not registered, your neighbour will need to provide you with sufficient evidence to confirm their ownership before any money changes hands. 

Whether your neighbour has suggested the sale or you have decided to enquire about buying the land, before you make an offer you should have the land valued to ensure that your offer is fair to both parties. This can be done by an estate agent or chartered surveyor.

In most cases, a valuer should be able to discretely appraise the land from your own property and seek any additional information online, but if not, do ensure that you have asked permission before traipsing a stranger across your neighbour’s property! 

 

When it comes to an enclosed space such as a garden, it can be tricky to put an exact monetary value on the land when the value lies in its individual importance to you in terms of quality of life.

For example, by allowing you to extend your home, house pets or livestock or provide the opportunity to run a business. A valuation of the land will therefore give you a useful figure to base your negotiations on, in consideration of the following factors: 

  • Its location.
  • Its condition.
  • The size of any existing garden.
  • The value of the house next to it.
  • Whether car parking would be possible on that land.
  • The relative scarcity of land for sale in the area.
  • Other local competition factors.

 

However, be prepared to haggle because your neighbour will obviously want the best offer possible in the knowledge that the land is important for you, even if it is of little value to them. Equally, you do not want to pay more than you need to, particularly since there will be other costs involved in buying the land. 

 

Depending on your plans for the land, you may also need to do some additional research before making an offer.  

For instance, if you hope to buy the land with the intention of extending your own property, it would be useful to see if planning permission has been sought previously and if this was granted or whether there are any special covenants in place which restrict how the land is used. Contact your local planning authority for more advice.

If near neighbours have had similar extensions, taking a look at their planning applications will show whether there has been any opposition to the build and how plans may have been adapted for successful approval.  

 

Buying the land 

As we have mentioned above, the process of buying land is, in essence, the same as buying a house. You will need the assistance of a good conveyancing solicitor or conveyancer to undertake the legal aspects of the land transfer in the same way they would act for you when you buy a property.

You would also generally be expected to cover the costs of your neighbour’s legal fees, so bear this in mind when it comes to budgeting. As long as both parties agree with the principles of the sale, the same conveyancer can usually act for vendor and buyer, which can be more cost effective.  

 

Once you have agreed the price you will pay for the land, your conveyancer needs to arrange for a plan to be drawn up showing the land being sold so that the Land Registry can formally update their records for both your land title and your neighbour’s.

As part of this process they will also undertake the necessary local searches and arrange for the official transfer of monies and land. This includes the Transfer of Part documentation, and this will include any stipulations your neighbour has in relation to the sale, such as how the land will be used in future.   

 

If your neighbour has an outstanding mortgage on their land and property, they will also need to ensure that their mortgage lender is happy to amend their mortgage agreement to remove the charge for the land which you are buying and has updated their policy accordingly. If you proceed without this agreement from your neighbour’s mortgage lender, you may have to forfeit the land if your neighbour falls behind on their repayments.

Your neighbour’s mortgage lender may also request that your neighbour makes a partial repayment of the original amount borrowed, particularly if they are selling a significant amount of land which will have an impact on the value of their property.    

 

Of course, it is important to remember that if you are making the offer to buy your neighbour’s land out of the blue, they may say no! In which case, ask if they could keep you in mind for first refusal if they do ever decide to sell the land, or indeed the entire property, in future.

Whilst it is a more long-winded and costly way to do things, you could always buy the property and then resell minus the land you wish to acquire.    

Issues relating to land and property boundaries can normally be agreed informally with your neighbour and will not require a land purchase. For more information on boundary agreements, head to https://www.gov.uk/your-property-boundaries/boundary-agreement-neighbour. 

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post