Essex Mums Newsletter December 2015
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Alternative Christmas Shopping Guide  *  Festive Fun  *   Make your event 'Featured' for just a pound a week   *   Getting Active  *   Product Reviews   *   New on the Shopping Guide   *   Pregnancy & Parenting Articles   *   Recipes   *   Craft Ideas   *   Educational Activities   *   Special Offers   *   Blog   *   Events   *   New Groups & Classes   *   Ad Rates   *    Competitions
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Starting to feel festive? Well if not, it's time to start. Lots of lovely Christmas events happening this month across the county - the countdown to Christmas really has begun. 

This newsletter will be focussing on all the fantastic festive fun there is to be had over the county, with a little bit about some pressie ideas too!
If you have something you'd like to add to the site, please use one of these buttons to get you there quickly!
 
At My Doll Best Friend, a doll is a gift for the imagination.

It's Christmas in a matter of days and you're looking for a gift for a child. Ideally something for them to play with for years. You want to show you have thought about it...
 
A gift for the imagination is an enduring and beautiful present.
 
"My daughter had always objected to dolls until I found her a doll she could relate to. She dresses her doll in her own unique style!"
Jackie.
 
"Great choice, fast delivery, informative emails, highly recommended. My granddaughter will be over the moon this Christmas. Thanks, Wendy".
 
"Phenomenal staff with exceptionally priced dolls of great quality. Will purchase from this store again" Nailah.
 
For beautiful dolls and helpful advice visit My Doll Best Friend.
www.mydollbestfriend.co.uk

Christmas Shopping Guide
Over the last month I've been lucky enough to add some absolutely gorgeous products and shops to the Christmas Gift Guide. Whether you still have all your pressies to buy or are just looking for a few last minute stocking fillers, take a look at our fantastic range of shops selling interesting, original and somewhat different ideas and save yourself a trip to the High Street!

You can search by category or look through a full list of all our lovely shops here. If you want some product ideas then take a look at the Product Guide which has a range of gorgeous goodies for you to browse or search by category. Keep an eye on the homepage for some of my product picks for different ages which change every few days, or just click the categories below to get started:







If you're interested in a listing for your shop or product, get in touch at louise@essexmums.org - listings start at just a pound! 
Festive Fun
As always, we've been searching high and low for months now to bring you the widest range of Christmas events in Essex available on the internet, and I think I can safely say we're pretty much there! There is absolutely loads to do this December, whether you're looking for a place to meet Father Christmas (for the kids, obviously, I'm sure you don't make a habit of sitting on strange men's knees. Ahem.), some wintery outdoor fun or somewhere to shop, you can find it all here.

We've made it even easier to find out what's on by listing all the events by type on the links below, and by area underneath that! On the off chance you know of an event that isn't here, please email me with details on louise@essexmums.org or use the online events submission page. Thank you!








Make your event 'Featured' for just a pound a week
Perfect for a bit of extra promotion for that festive event, or if you want to promote your class for next term, why not make it 'Featured' for just a pound a week

List your event by filling in the form here, then choose the subscribe option below the 'Add Your Event' button to start the Featured ad running, or pay via the Online Ad Payments page. It's only a pound a week, with the amount being charged on a weekly basis, so there is no need to pay the full amount upfront, and you can run the listing for as long as you like. When you want it to finish, simply cancel your subscription. 

Once you've listed your event and subscribed, send over the wording you'd like (around 100 words) and I'll get you added. 
Getting Active
We still need reviewers for our Getting Active section - we have lots of great things that need reviewing but need more people to do them! Getting Active is  all about getting you and your children fit and getting goinh. We will be putting various products and activities to the test and thoroughly reviewing the pros and cons of each, to give our community the best advice and ideas to get them in shape.You can see the first few reviews here and we'l be adding more as they come in!

If you are involved in any of the following businesses and are confident that your product or service can help with weightloss, fitness or general good health, or if you would like to join our team of reviewers, please get in touch!
  • Exercise classes for Mums
  • Sports and exercise sessions for children
  • Weight-loss products
  • Nutritionists/Healthy Eating
  • Personal trainers
Get cosy with a Wigwam Holiday at Lee Valley Caravan Park, Dobbs Weir this winter. After a day exploring, whether taking in the sights of London or the natural beauty of the Lee Valley, snuggle down with a DVD, pop on the heater and enjoy a festive getaway with the family. Our range of Wigwams sleep up to 4 people (2 adults and 2 children) and come complete with fridge, kettle, kitchen and seating area as well as a TV (with DVD player) – relax with home from home comforts at this picturesque campsite.

Visit our website for more details and to book
Product Reviews
Want to find out what's worth buying and what's worth missing out on? Where is good to go and where to avoid? Then consult our crack team of Essex Mums product reviewers before making your purchase! Click on each reviewer on the Product Reviews page to see all of their reviews, or click here to browse the reviews or search by categories such as age range and type of product.

Here are the product reviews added this month! 
intu Lakeside Christmas Grotto
We were greeted by a very friendly elf who showed us some fun games to play while we waited for Santa. There was a Gingerbread Man Game, A story time Quiz and a Naughty or Nice machine. There was also a machine to whisper a wish to Santa in.  The elves were very engaging and friendly and entertained my three cherubs while they waited.
Read Michelle's full review here
360 Play, Basildon
Yesterday we were lucky enough to try out the new 360 Play in Basildon. It officially opens today so the kids were super-excited to try it out early.  360 Play is based at Festival Leisure Park in the building that used to house the Ikon and Diva clubs (for anyone who is unfortunate enough to remember them!). 360 Play already have centres in Leicester, Milton Keynes and Stevenage and espouse the idea of being ‘a revolution in play’ which is an intriguing tag line! 

Read Louise's full review
Elfie Selfie
I was very excited to review this product as I adore Christmas and taking too many photographs! I browsed the website and being spoilt for choice I picked the Rudolph one: they come in all sizes and pictures.

Click here to read Michelle's full review
Getting Active
Find out how other Essex Mums and their families are getting fit and fabulous in our Getting Active section! Read their wonderful reviews and follow in their footsteps on your own healthy journey. 

Here are the new reviews added this month! 
Women Time
Women time is a Sport England funded project run by Chelmsford Council providing affordable opportunities for women to be more active or try a new sport, in a friendly and non-competitive environment.
Click here for more information
Forever Living C9 Detox Programme
I’m fairly happy with my health, and weight, and know I am within my healthy BMI: but as a working mum of 2 small children I often find that I can get into a rut of not eating as healthily as I should, and not taking care of myself.
Click here to read Jillian's full review

66% off Kids Pass
Kids Pass are offering an amazing deal for Essex Mums. Purchase an annual kids pass for  just £29:99 (RRP £75:00  â€“ a massive 66% off )

Use the promo code KPCESSEX at the checkout on the kids pass website www.kidspass.co.uk/join
 
WHAT IS KIDS PASS?
A Kids Pass Membership gives you access to the most Incredible deals at 1000’s of Attractions and Restaurants across the UK.

As well as restaurant and attraction savings, you’ll also have complimentary access to Cinema and Theatre Benefits as well as many more offers:
  • Up to 60% off at 100’s of the Top UK Attractions
  • Up to 40% off at over 420 Nationwide Cinemas including: ODEON, Cineworld, Showcase, Empire, Reel and Vue Cinemas.
  • Kids Eat Free at Family Friendly restaurants Nationwide!
  • Up to 60% off Theatre Tickets Nationwide.
  • 25% off Experience Days with Virgin!
New on the Shopping Guide
Looking for great gifts, fairtrade or handmade toys, clothes that are a bit different to what's on the High Street, or just something to treat yourself? You'll find it all and more on the Essex Mums Alternative Shopping Guide! Browse shops on the guide by category, or search the product guide for that perfect buy! 

New this month:
  • Art Adventure: An exclusive collection of kids wall art providing unique room décor that your children will adore.
  • ILU: Your Colour, Your Style, Your Mood
  • PhotoFairytales: Designed from the heart for those you love
  • Trolley Dolly: The world's first, patented reusable eco bag kit
If you have a shop you would like to advertise on the Shopping Guide, please get in touch on louise@essexmums.org
Pregnancy & Parenting Articles
The Pregnancy and Parenting section features fantastic information about different aspects of pregnancy and parenting written by our very own Essex Mums: everything from trying for a baby to raising teenagers. This section is a work in progress so check back regularly for new topics.
Buying a Cot Mattress
Your baby is going to spend a lot of time sleeping and therefore it is important that she has somewhere both comfortable and safe to sleep. You may have a cot, Moses basket or crib for your baby to sleep in and it does not matter which, however, it is vital that the mattress fits snugly into the space and is firm.
Read more
Hip Hip Hooray - Raising Money for Hip Dysplasia
Hip Dysplasia also known as 'Developmental Dysplasia of the hip (DDH)' is a condition that affects the hip joints in babies, young children and some adults. 
Find out here
Bronchitis
Bronchitis is an infection or inflammation of the bronchi, and is one of the most common chest infections which most people can expect to develop during their lifetimes. 
Read more here
Mind-boggling Christmas gifts for the seriously curious
 
Children can lose themselves in 14-billion years of history laid out on a beautifully illustrated giant timeline.  With over 1000 fascinating facts connecting just about everything from the Big Bang to the present day – perfect for KS2 & 3.
 
‘WOW!’ sums up how brilliant, amazing and interesting this book is!”
Jenny, Essex Mum Reviewer

Designed for inquisitive children aged 7 to 14 years, there are five titles to choose from: The History of the World, Science, Nature, Sport and Shakespeare.  Each book contains a pull-out timeline, newspaper style reports, a quiz and a Wallbook pocket magnifier

Sign up to the What on Earth? Book Club for a £5 gift voucher to use against any online purchase
  
 Each Wallbook costs just £12.99 or Buy the Ultimate Gift Pack for just £45 (Contains all 5 Wallbooks plus a Magna Carta Chronicle)

Recipes
Take a look at our recipes section for some tried-and-tested family-friendly feeds! Do you have something you would like to add to this section? If so, please share it here. If anyone is interested in becoming a regular contributor please get in touch
Festive Christmas Tree Fun Plate 
For little ones who want something savoury to nibble on – why not try our finger food and dip fun plate of tasty corn puffs with raw veggies and hummous.

Read the full recipe from Organix
Slow Cooked Sweet Potato Chilli
Super-simple and really healthy. Can be eaten with rice or in wraps. Add sour cream, guacamole, salsa and cheese to make it even tastier!

Read Louise's full recipe
 
Creamy Chicken Tikka Masala
Straightforward and tasty slow cooker curry

Read  the full recipe from Slow Cooker Crockpot Recipes
 
Craft Ideas
Our Craft Ideas section features arts and crafts for children of all ages. Just click on the image to find out how to make it! If you have any ideas, or would like to write a regular feature for this section, please get in touch! louise@essexmums.org
Sticky Monsters
A simple idea sticky back plastic. Create your own crazy monster and decorate your windows! You could also make this a bit festive and make a reindeer or Father Christmas instead!
Read more 
Salt Dough Tree Decorations
An easy-peasy way to get crafty with the kids and make some festive decorations at the same time!

Read more 
Do you and your family enjoy playing family games at Christmas, ones like Charades or Guess My Name?
 
Ever felt your artistic side has yet to be revealed? How about being in a pantomime?
 
This pantomime is slightly on the unusual side, it’s a 1½ hour audio pantomime play, and not only does it star your entire family there are also riddles, clues and games along the way.

Any similarity to the pantomime ‘Cinderella” is purely intentional. Oh, no it isn't. Oh, yes it is! 
 
You will need people, young or old, relatives or friends, dragged off the street or otherwise; gather them up in a room, one with a sound system in, and enjoy playing this truly unique game. 
 
Light and easy to post. Ideal as a ‘family to family’ gift. 

www.actingtheparty.co.uk

Educational Activities
Our Educational Activities section features ideas to get your kids learning and help them with their homework. We really need some contributors for this section who can come up with some simple ideas, so if you would like to become a contributor or just have a few suggestions, please post them - anything is welcome, no matter how simple
Christmas Poems: Inside and Outside
A fun festive idea to get thinking about poetry and how using certain words can evoke a wintery, Christmassy feel. 

Read more
Special Offers
Special offers for Essex Mums added this month!
10% off Poppy Red shoes
Poppy Red is a boutique shoe store based in the spa town of Ilkley, West Yorkshire.  We stock a wide range of exciting and fashionable shoes including Lelli Kelly, Mini Melissa, Livie & Luca, Froddo, Kickers, SunSan, Angulus and many more.
Read more
66% off Kids Pass
Kids Pass are offering an amazing deal for Essex Mums. Purchase an annual kids pass for  just £29:99 (RRP £75:00  â€“ a massive 66% off )
Read more
2 Months Free at Everyone Active

Read more
10% off What On Earth Books
What on Earth? Wallbooks are perfect for kids that never stop asking questions.  Curious children can lose themselves in 14-billion years of history, laid out on a series of beautifully illustrated two metre long timelines, with answers to just about every question the adults don’t know. 
Read more
Two free classes at Essex Choi Kwang Do
Self defence/ martial art classes in Little Dunmow. 

Read more
Pennies Nannies
At Pennies Nannies we are committed to helping you find the right nanny for your family. Pennies is a family run company with over 25 years experience in childcare including our award winning Day Nurseries in Kent 

Read more
St Mary’s, Colchester: A happy, academic independent school
  • Sunday Times ParentPower 13th highest achieving independent school without a sixth form in the UK
  • 95% GCSE passes in 2015   
  • Success in SATs and 11+
  • Superb music, art, drama, sport
A flying start to education at St Mary’s Kindergarten for girls and boys aged rising-three to four, a fun and positive learning environment at our Lower School for girls aged 4 to 11 and a dynamic, high-achieving Senior School for girls aged 11-16.

Please contact our Registrar for more information or to arrange a visit at a time to suit you.

www.stmaryscolchester.org.uk   
registrar@stmaryscolchester.org.uk  
01206 216420  


 

Blog
The blog features posts from me as well as from guest bloggers, so if you have something you would like to write, please get in touch!
Do you know a deserving family who need a truly magical Christmas?
Do you know anyone who deserves this magical treat from Jimbo the Partyman and Marsh Farm’s amazing Father Christmas Experience?
Click here to read more
Events
Lots going on this month! You can find full listings on the Things to Do section or search by area using the links below. Make sure you take a look to find fun things to do for your family, and let us know when you try something good. Oh, and remember to say you saw it on Essex Mums!
NJ Theatre Academy is a friendly school based in Coggeshall, providing training in all aspects of Performing Arts from ages 5 to adult. Classes taught by skilled professionals, are divided into three age groups consisting of one hour of Drama, Dance and Singing.    Lessons are based on the emphasis of having fun, while at the same time learning self discipline and focus.    With annual productions in Theatre’s, students get the opportunity to showcase their talents in a professional environment. Every pupil gets the opportunity to take LAMDA acting exams. NJTA is linked to a children’s acting agency. Call 077803345885 for your FREE TRIAL DAY!

www.njtheatreacademy.co.uk

New Classes and Groups

A selection of new information about classes and groups added this month.  Some are brand new to the site, some just have updates about new venues, details etc. Take a look at the Things to Do section for complete listings.

Classes
Parent and Toddler Groups
Children's Centres Sport
 
Ad Rates
If you'd like to consider advertising on the site, take a look at the Ad Rates page. There is a range of ads to suit all budgets, and if you want to hear how advertising on Essex Mums has worked for others, take a look at the Testimonials page. I am always happy to put together packages that suit you and are normally discounted so get in touch if you have a few ideas about where you'd like to be on the site and we can work together to find something that suits you. If you would like help putting an ad together, we can provide this service free of charge.

If you are interested in being informed of special ad offers, let me know. Offers this month: Buy one get one free on all ads, Halloween/Half-Term ads and Christmas advertising.
Everything else
As always, please send any events, feedback, ideas etc. to me at louise@essexmums.org. I love hearing how people use the site and ways I can improve it. The normal newsletter will be back next month - I hope you've enjoyed this overview of the website!

I hope you have a lovely month and that I'll get to see you at a meet-up soon.

Kind regards
Louise
Fortnum and Mason
Notonthehighstreet.com
Competitions
Fantastic things to win! Enter one of our great competitions or get in touch if you would like to run something yourself. New competitions are always being added so make sure you check the competitions page for new giveaways, and get in touch if you'd like to run a giveaway yourself. 
Smyths Toys HQ
News UK & Ireland Limited
LuxDeco Luxury Christmas Shop
The Cambridge Satchel Co.
TOMS (UK)
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