Deck the Halls! Essex Mums Newsletter December 2016
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Christmas Shopping Guide *  Festive Fun *  Meet Father Christmas  *    Make your event 'Featured' for just a pound a week  *  We want to pay you for your ideas!  *   Essex Mums Awards  *   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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Feeling 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!

You'll see results sooner than you think!

Effective tuition puts your child one step ahead. It helps them to develop and make progress – and improves their focus, motivation and creativity.
Our dedicated tutors are educational professionals who have an outstanding track record in helping children achieve better results.

Whether you’re looking to catch up or extend we have a group for you from age 5-18 years. Prepare for SATs, 11plus, GCSE or A Level in Maths, English or Science.

Call today to arrange your free consultation and trial lesson.
Southend        01702 680400
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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 and look through 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 - 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 or use the online events submission page. Thank you!

Make sure you get your children booked in to see the big man in red. Whether you want to meet him at a local bazaar or go all out for a winter wonderland, you'll find it listed here. Keep checking our Meet Father Christmas page as more places announce when they will be visited by the one and only (ahem) Santa Claus this year.

Are you struggling to find the perfect Christmas present? Are you looking for something that lasts longer than a box of chocolates? Well if you have a friend or family member who would like to save money at over 80 family attractions in Essex, then why not buy them an Essex Pass?

The Essex Pass is now available as an app and there is a constant stream of new deals being added, allowing you to make considerable savings over the course of a year. As an exclusive Christmas 2 for 1 deal, the Essex Pass are offering 2 passes for just £10!

Simply click here, put two passes in your basket and use the code ESSEXMUMS to give someone a gift this Christmas that they can use again, and again, and again.

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. 
We want to pay you for your ideas!
Can you come up with good recipes, craft ideas and fun educational activities? Send them over to us and get paid!
We always need new ideas for the website and can pay £5 for every one we use. Just email over instructions and a photograph to and I'll let you know if we can use your idea!

Tyndalls Winter Wonderland has something for all the family. Come along and take a magical tour around the Winter Wonderland and visit Father Christmas in his Grotto.

Join us for our Opening Weekend on 19th – 20th November for some festive food & mulled wine.  We have 10% off everything in store – PLUS buy a Christmas Trees (which can be kept in the garden until ready) and receive a Free Family of 4 Ticket for the Grotto this weekend.  

The Winter Wonderland is Open until 24th December. Call for more information or visit our website: - 01279 792321
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! 
Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm
For us, the Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm has become an annual family tradition. This is the third year we’ve been and each year it gets better and better.
Click here to read Louise's full review
Great British Canvas Prints
Celebrate the Best of British with one of these nostalgic canvas prints – designed in Britain, made in Britain, and about as British Bulldog as you can get! This fab Great British Meals canvas has really put the finishing touch in my kitchen. You’re able to customise the wording to include any dish that you want! The dimensions are 12 inches x 24 inches and it is 40mm deep. It’s perfect size for any kitchen or diner as you can change its colour to match your appliances and decor.
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! Get some ideas for things to try, read their wonderful reviews and follow in their footsteps on your own healthy journey. 
Womentime: How to keep active in Winter
It’s only natural that we feel less motivated in winter because of the dark evening and the weather is wetter and colder. However, winter can do amazing things for your workouts, meaning you won’t find them such a chore!

Click here to read
Building A Business Around Your Babies!
ow would you like to increase your skills set, and earn your own income, whilst still being at home with the children ? Without having to get involved in “get rich quick” schemes, or pyramid selling, Inspiral offer women the chance to gain new qualifications that can then be used to develop your very own small business – totally on your terms !
Click here to read
Get Running with Rochford Running Club
The course is designed for absolute beginners with the aim of being able to run 3 miles. The course is designed for men and women of all shapes, sizes and ages that would like to start running.
Click here to read

Picture the scene: the morning post arrives with a special Santa letter for your child. Imagine their face as they open their own personalised letter from Santa. He knows their address, how old they are, even the name of their best friend.

Father Christmas Letters provides personalised letters from Father Christmas or Santa Claus to children and adults alike. We have been supplying our top quality letters since 2004 and they are the best on the market as is our customer service.

Click here to order and get £1 off! 
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:
  • AbiDashery: Tie dye fashion & gifts for the hippie at heart!
  • AHandmadeEmporium: Soy Candles Handmade with Love
  • Anne Fontenoy: Dress Designer/Maker & Visual artist
  • Apatchy: Bespoke lifestyle gifts with handpicked accessories
  • Behind the Magic Door: Magical bedtime stories
  • Bobtail's Boutique: Baby and children's clothing handmade with love & care
  • Carddies: Card People to Colour and Go
  • Coochie Coo Nappy Cakes: Beautiful Handmade gifts for babies
  • Kenzo Crafts: Beautiful bespoke gifts
  • Little Love by Susie: Beautiful hair accessories for bridesmaids and everyday
  • Nobby’s Nibs: Individually handcrafted fountain pens and rollerball pens 
  • The Pea Green Parlour: Creating handmade items for little people
  • Sgt Smith: Clothes with a good dose of British humour to ensure that when you wear sgt. smith, you'll also wear a smile!
  • Shutter and Sketch: London based pencil & photographic fine art portraiture.
  • Space Kids: Quality space dressing up costumes and adventure themed fancy dress for kids and adults, space and educational toys, astronaut food and other cool space stuff
  • Tin Design: A quirky mix of Scandinavian homeware, eclectic lighting, cool wallpaper, wall art and local artisan pieces
If you have a shop you would like to advertise on the Shopping Guide, please get in touch on
From superfood smoothies, to gluten free gooey chocolate puddings you will find your favourite recipe in no time. My meals in the TMH cook book are all delicious as well as being nutritious, which is perfect for the entire family. My recipes are simple, homemade and they have helped thousands of people live a healthier lifestyle.
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.

Our pregnancy and parenting articles will be on hold for a month or two while the section has a facelift, but here are a couple of favourite articles from the past!
Quiz: Which Playground Mum are you?
The school playground can be a fun place to meet other parents and rediscover the social life you may have lost since having children, or it can be a nightmare of cliques and feeling out of place that might take you back to the worst parts of your own school days. We thought we would take a light-hearted look at the different types of Mums (and Dads!) you might encounter in the playground
Take the quiz here
Avoiding Gender-Sterotyping with Children's Books
Do you tweet? When we became parents, we found it a quick way to read about interesting parenting ideas, really briefly, because we didn’t actually have time to sit down and read much any more. At first we tweeted individually as ourselves, but then after reading the brilliant book by Marianne Grabrucker There’s a Good Girl: Gender Stereotyping in the First Three Years – A Diary, it inspired us to keep a micro diary of our own on Twitter about our then 3-year-old girl and 4-month-old boy.
Read more
Can you choose your baby’s sex?
Is it possible to choose the sex of your next baby using natural, DIY methods? Some people think that they can at least sway the odds, so for couples anxious to balance their families, it could certainly be worth a try. Sex selection using medical intervention is illegal in the UK, but there are many natural, non-invasive changes that couples can make themselves that are thought to tip the odds one way or the other.  
Read more
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
Thyme and shallots roast chicken with celeriac chips
Roast chicken, is one of the easiest and straightfoward meals, but this versions has a healthier kick and a different flavour, but still very easy and relatively quick to make.

Read the full recipe here
Gluten- free cous-cous with chicken and spicy courgettes
An easy and gluten-free cous cous, made from millet, a not very well known grain (it is actually a grass seed). Similar to cous-cous and easy digestible, millet is great if accompanied by roasted vegetables and some grilled meat, perfect for lunch boxes and as easy dinner for the whole family.

Read the full recipe here
Sticky left over lamb sandwiches
Have some lamb left over from Sunday lunch? Don’t let it go to waste, use it for this ultimate comfort sandwich!

Read the full recipe here

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!
No-Sew Sock Snowman Craft
How cute are these? If you’re looking for a really simple Christmas decoration or even a fun gift from your kids, this idea from Easy Peasy and Fun is perfect! It’s also great for using up some of those stray odd socks we all have.

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 
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
Learning Doesn’t Have To Be Boring: Educational Trips In London And Essex
They say that travel broadens the mind. It’s true, too, and we can all agree that a voyage away somewhere exciting can be a real eye opener. With that said, it’s also true that you don’t need to get that far away from home to get some real benefits from your trips out. I don’t just mean in terms of fresh air and exercise, either. 
Read more
Your Own 12 Days of Christmas
A  fun and simple idea that the whole family can do together. We all know the 12 days of Christmas song? Well, why not write your own! Sit down with the kids and have them write their own versions based on things they like, things they would like for Christmas or even just things they think are funny. It’s sure to get everyone laughing and may even give you some ideas for Christmas presents!

Read more
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
Own the Experience - Food & Drink
Special Offers
Special offers for Essex Mums added this month!
25% off at Behind the Magic Door
Behind the Magic Door’s ‘Letter Adventure’ is no ordinary personalised book – it is so much more! This is the first book from the team at Behind the Magic Door and they have deliberately set the benchmark stratospherically high for this one!
Read more
20% off Christmas Afternoon Tea at County Hotel Chelmsford
Enjoy a lovely festive afternoon tea! 

Read more
15% off at Carddies
Carddies are Award winning British colouring sets encouraging creativity, pretend play, imagination and story-telling
Read more
10% Off at Little Magpies
Safe for Baby........Stylish for Mum. Little Magpies is the home of mum treats.
Read more
15% off at Angela Warwick Jewellery
Angela Warwick Jewellery is handmade with quality semi-precious Gemstones, Pearls and glass beads.

Read more
10% off at Sgt. Smith
For more than a decade now, deep in the heart of Yorkshire, England we have been producing the finest garments for young and old everywhere. 

Read more
10% off at Kenzo Crafts
We specialise in personalised gifts for all occasions including personalised wedding horseshoes, new baby keepsakes, friendship plaques, ceramic mugs, giant letters, cotton shoppers with your own wording and plaques for the home.

Read more

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!
Launch of common childhood illness guidance handbook
Local parents, grandparents and carers across mid Essex are now able to seek guidance from a new advice booklet for when their child becomes ill.

Read more
Essex education teams receive national recognition at Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Learning Outside the Classroom 2016
Two of this year’s national Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Learning Outside the Classroom have been won by inspiring people and teams working in education in Essex. 
Read more
Fire Angel’s portable carbon monoxide alarm: The winter holiday essential you might have missed
As the dark nights draw in earlier and Christmas songs begin to take over the radio, our thoughts are already turning to packing our bags and going away for a Christmas break or winter sunshine.
Read more

High quality, fun and functional children’s clothes.

From organic newborn outfits to smart children's coats that cleverly adapt to any weather. Polarn O. Pyret of Sweden have been making smart, functional and colourful clothes for babies and children since 1976.

Letting children be children is our philosophy - so look out for the kids clothes that can handle a stain busting hot wash, baby clothes that expand or roll down for growing room and durable clothes in distinctive prints and patterns that can be handed down from brother to sister.

Click  below for Christmas vouchers

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!

The Elf on the Shelf® Tradition is a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts a scout elf and gives it a name, the scout elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day's adventures.

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.

Parent and Toddler Groups
Groups for Older Children

The LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel — opening 1st July 2017

Every brick is bursting with LEGO® magic at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel! A hero’s welcome awaits you in the ultimate Knight’s room, and enchantment awaits all Wizard apprentices in the Wizard’s room.

Bookable now - opening 1st July. Click here for more information

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. 
Everything else
As always, please send any events, feedback, ideas etc. to me at 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

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. 

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