How To Spend It Well At Christmas With Phillip Schofield 2019 – Episode 2, Toys

Phillip was back on Tuesday in episode 2 of his great show How To Spend It Well At Christmas in which he road tests gifts that you may want to buy for your loved ones. This week it was toys under the spotlight, so lets take a look at what Phillip thought about them.

Interactive toy pets

Interactive pets are getting more and more popular every year, and more advanced. Phillip sent 4 interactive pets to 4 families that had 7 year old children, to road test each of them. They were given a week to play with them, with cameras filming, so that the total amount of time each toy was played with could be calculated.

The more that the children played with the toys, the more features were discovered. To get those extras, these toys needed to be nurtured. Here are the toys, in reverse of the total number of minutes played.

In fourth place, with a total of 212 minutes of play time, was Juno the baby elephant. Priced at £90 (although as I write this is on a great reduction at Amazon), Juno has over 100 sounds and movements, including a playful trunk! The children liked this at first, but soon discarded it for the other toys.

With a total of 320 minutes play, the Nestlings Interactive Pet came in third place. The great thing about this toy was the surprise of extra toys to play with when they gave birth. Joint cheapest priced at £50.

Also priced at £50, in second place was Owleez Flying Baby Owl. The children loved playing with this, and the more they played the closer they got to making the owl fly. In total the children played with this for a total of 346 minutes.

The children tended to play with the other toys first, but as the week wore on Rizmo became their favourite, with an impressive 434 minutes play. This toy changed from a baby through to a fully grown extra terrestrial.

Interactive Glow Jumpers

Back to Phillips house and he and his wife were wearing the latest interactive glow in the dark sweatshirts from Illuminated Apparel. Costing £30, they have a white festive picture on the front (they were wearing a Santa face and a Christmas tree) on which you wave the light pen. You can do this from quite some distance, but obviously the closer you are the better the picture you can draw. When you are outside in the dark this drawing then glows.

This could be great fun for a novelty present, although they felt the sweatshirts weren’t very thick, and so you wouldn’t want to be outside in just a sweatshirt for long at this time of year. It’s better to do inside and then turn the lights off to see the design.

Family games against the clock

The next segment took a look at games for the whole family, that were games based against the clock. Our celebrity family playing were Leicester City footballer Jamie Vardy, his wife Rebekah and father Carlos, along with children Sofia and Taylor. The games were also tested by 5 other families, and they each got to rank them in order to find the favourite.

Let’s take a look at each, in reverse order:

In fifth place was Tap It! An electronic game, where the aim was to hit your coloured pod as many time as possible in the short time. There are 3 pother games you can play though, with the pods. The families found it pretty hard to set up, hence it finishing bottom of the 5.

In fourth place was What’s In The Box, an electronic version of an age old classic. Put your hands through the side to try and guess what object was inside the box before the timer goes.

Set the timer, spin the arrow to see where to wear your shaker, and see who shakes their Shake-ometer the most. Shake Off by John Adams looked great fun, although for those not so fit as Jamie Vardy maybe a little hard work.

If Shake Off was hard work, then the Slow Motion Race Game was the opposite! Put on the headband and music plays, then move slowly towards the prize. Move too quick and your headband lights up and buzzes. The fun of trying to win without going too quickly made this the second favourite game.

Playing as a team, which is a nice variation to most games, the aim is to follow the instructions so that each member of the team contributes using their tools to crack the bank vault within 5 minutes. The families agreed with the Vardy’s that Bank Attack by John Adams was the best of this selection of games.

Llama toys

Over the past few years seemingly every young girl ,and some boys, were into unicorns. But this year it appears that the must have toys are llamas! Phillip took a close look at the Hatchimal Wow Llalacorn.

Like all Hatchimal toys, this comes in an egg. To start with it rocks back and forth, but then hatches. As you take it out of it’s egg, you start to play with it, and more features come to life. Stroke it’s feet and it’s neck grows up into the air! It grows to an astonishing 32 inches in height. Priced at £80 it’s quite expensive, but as I write there’s a great reduction on Amazon which makes it much more affordable.

Stocking fillers

Phillip then visited a primary school where lots of noisy children were excited to see their school hall had been converted into a shop full of stocking fillers. Phillip had set up tables with different toys stacked on, but had removed the prices. Each child was allowed to choose 6 toys for their sack, although some seemed to have trouble limiting their haul!

The aim was to see which toys were chosen, from 3 different price ranges – under £5, £5-£10, and £10-£15. With the national average price of a stocking for children coming in at £71, what would Phillip’s testers come in at?

Here’s a list of some of the toys available:

So which of these proved the most popular, and just what was the average price of the children’s own selected stockings? There were 3 toys that were tied for the most popular – Roblox at £15, Goo Jit Zu at £10, and Stretchy Poop at £2. And amazingly the self selected stockings came in at an average of £55, which is £16 less than the national average.

Games with apps required

Regular to the show, Stacey Solomon and her kids Leighton and Zach, were testing out the latest games that require smartphone apps to fully play.

First up they took a look at Lego Hidden Side, where you make the Lego set, but then play with the game on the app. This seemed a bit sad really, almost as if you were casting aside the physical toy. There are 6 levels on the app, but to get to every level and feature you have to buy all the toys, which will set you back the best part of £400. But I guess as a collectible over the years it may be appealing to some.

To make this cloak invisible, first take a photo of the sofa you are sitting on, or wall you stand in front of. Wear the cloak, then when you turn it inside out by magic you disappear! This really is a great toy – who hasn’t watched the films and wanted to wear the invisibility cloaks? The Harry Pottter Invisibility Cloak is an official product too.

Even more fun in my mind is Pictionary Air, a modern twist on the old classic drawing game. One person draws in the air with a light pen, which shows the picture on the tablet screen, but they can’t themselves see what they have drawn. So that really tests their drawing skills and also their memory as to where they started! This was also Stacey’s favourite.

Christmas is all about the kids, so I hope your children enjoyed the show. And I hope it gave you some great ideas what to buy this year. But what were Phillips favourites? His top 3 were Bank Attack, Pictionary Air and Stretchy Poop.

How To Spend It Well At Christmas with Phillip Schofield – 2019 Episode 1, Gifts and Gadgets

I’ve been waiting for this show for ages, watching the TV listings avidly to see when we get to see what products are recommended, and what are frankly given a huge thumbs down. I now have 3 Christmas essential things to watch – films The Holiday and Love Actually, and How To Spend It Well At Christmas with Phillip Schofield.

To start with, Phillip visited a shopping centre and enlisted the help of 30 members of the public who joined him in a game comparing 4 products that we all like to give as Christmas presents to our loved ones. Each product had 2 versions which had had the labels or packaging removed. The volunteers were allowed to touch and smell the gifts, and were asked to guess how much each one cost. The answers were then averaged out before comparing them to the actual prices.

First up was ladies pyjamas, and Phillip had a pair from luxury brand Eberjey, and a similar looking pair from John Lewis. Without knowing which was which the public guessed the Eberjey set were priced at £30 (actual price £120) and the John Lewis pair at £39 (actual price £45). So whilst they were below on each, the John Lewis pair was quite close, but they thought this was the better quality pair rather than the Eberjey set that cost so much more.

Next up were slippers. Who doesn’t like to receive a lovely pair of slippers to snuggle up to in the middle of winter? Phillip compared two pairs of sheepskin slippers, one from Debenhams and the other from Ugg. The shoppers managed to get the Debenhams slippers spot on at £20 per pair, and easily identified that the Ugg slippers were more expensive. Whilst they guessed at an average price of £60, they did in fact cost £80. I’m not sure these are the same ones, but I found a similar looking pair on Amazon.

Whilst the show cut to other sections, I am going to continue with the game show comparison and take a look at the pink travel case. Unfortunately I can’t find an image for the two mentioned in the show – pink beauty cases from Kate Spade and Fenella Smith. The Kate Spade case was made from top quality leather, whilst the Fenella Smith one was made from vegan leather, which may be important to your gift recipient. The public guessed the Fenella Smith was £17 (the actual price a very close £18) and the Kate Spade at £25 (correct it being more luxurious, but way out at £75).

The final 2 products up for comparison were Paco Rabanne 1 Million and Axis from the Perfume Shop. The public managed to incorrectly identify Axis as the more expensive one at £49, with one young lady saying she would marry someone who wore this (I’m off to take a sniff myself). They guessed that 1 Million would cost £27 (check this link for the latest price on Amazon) when it actually cost £68, and Axis cost just £9.99.

These tests all go to show that sometimes we can all be fooled by packaging and labels at times.

Phillip and wife Steph then tried out a couple of high end beauty and relaxation products. First up was the Theragun G3PRO professional massager. They each tried this on each other but found it difficult as it was not a good feeling. Personally I felt that instead of trying it standing up that maybe they should have been laying down as if about to receive a massage – maybe it would have fared better? As it was they gave it a thumbs down, but do your own research.

They then moved on to one of the new face masks that are designed to reduce wrinkles in just a few minutes per day – the Spectralite Faceware Pro from Dr Dennis Gross. In just 10 weeks by using this mask for only 3 minutes a day you should be able to have visible results. They both liked this although at £430 hesitated before agreeing that they would buy this, Phillip even joking at the end of the show that he was off to make himself look 30.

After the ad break it was off to an indoor skate park with 3 gadget-mad Coronation Street actors – Colson Smith, Jack P Shepherd and Alan Halsall to take a look at 2 types of PLEV’s. What’s a PLEV, I hear you ask? A PLEV is an acronym for a Personal Light Electric Vehicle, the most common being an electric bike. An interesting fact from the show was that one manufacturer was reporting an increase of 50% in sales of electric bicycle’s this year.

However the boys were trying out the next 2 popular types of PLEV – hoverboards and electric scooters. Whilst they look really exciting to ride, it is important to remember that at present you are not permitted to use them on public highways.

First up was the hoverboards, and this was particularly amusing. Jack was testing out the best selling Hovertrax 1.5, priced at £329.99, and soon got to grips with this easily. Alan was testing out the budget Smart ST, priced at £149.99, and he too had no problems getting around. However Colson, on the top of the range Hover On Beast at £359.99, struggled to move far at all.

It was a case of nerves for Colson, who despite getting on ok struggled to feel confident enough to propel the hoverboard far at all. To move he had to lean his bodyweight forward or back, but if you struggle with balance then I can understand his fears. If you want to check out the latest best selling hoverboards on Amazon, head on over to this link.

After the hoverboards it was the turn to try out the electric scooters. Again Jack was on the best selling one, the Micro Merlin, priced at £799.95, whilst Alan was on the Xiaomi Mi M365, picture above, and priced at £398.99. Colson, who found the scooter a lot easier to manage than the hoverboard, although still a bit wobbly, looked as if he was having a great time. Phillip said he was riding the SwiftyOne-e scooter, priced at £1398, but when I checked the manufacturer’s website that is an electric bike. I think he was riding the SwiftyOne MK3 Tall scooter, which is priced at £599.

After all the fun they marked each to decide which they preferred, and not surprisingly, the e-scooter won over the hoverboards.

Phillip then had a look at the Ostrich Pillow Loop, which is designed to wrap around your head, shielding your eyes, and giving padding to your head, for the best nap. The fact that it allows no light in at all means that it is perfect for mindfulness and meditation. Phillip tested at work and in the back of a car, but did find that it pressed so tight on his eyes that it took a few minutes for his vision to come back to normal when he took it off. Priced at £31, he felt it was something he could buy but would probably use once in a drawer. Ostrich Pillow make a variety of travel pillows for neck support and to aid sleep – you can see some of their range on Amazon here.

Next up Clare Balding invited 5 dogs round for a party in the garden, with 5 different doggy Christmas treats on trial. To start with the dogs were given some Woof & Brew Champaws, priced at £3.99 for a bottle. This drink is made of herbs, vitamins and minerals, all designed to give your pet a treat. They all seemed to lap that down in no time.

Their second treat was some Fred & Ginger Mince Pies for dogs. A box of 2 mince pies costs £4.50 from John Lewis, so not the cheapest treat, but they were very popular. This was followed by Barking Bakery’s Cheesey Popcorn for dogs (surely this should be called pupcorn?), which was not that liked by the dogs but has some positive reviews on Amazon.

After this came some Crisps For Dogs from Best In Show which was enjoyed, but some of the owners were worried how sharp they were on the dog’s gums and throat. Finally it was time for dessert and Hatchwell’s Mini Christmas Puddings for dogs, and whilst popular they did look a bit like chocolate, which is poisonous to dogs, so maybe one to steer clear of to save confusing them?

The owners rated them as follows:

  1. Fred & Ginger Mince Pies
  2. Woof & Brew Champaws
  3. Hatchwell’s Mini Christmas Puddings
  4. Best In Show Crisps For Dogs
  5. Barking Bakery Cheesey Popcorn

One of the issues we all have at some point is making a cup of tea and then getting disturbed, only to come back and find it stone cold. I know I do – only today someone at work made me a mug but I was talking with a colleague over the other side of the room. 50 minutes later and it wasn’t it’s best… So, why not gift an Ember Mug this Christmas?

The Ember Mug uses a smartphone app to set your ideal temperature. Place the mug on the charging coaster and once charged the battery will enable you to keep your tea or coffee at your desired temperature for up to an hour and a half. Yes, this is a bit gimicky, and not cheap, but if you have the money and a tea or coffee lover in your midst, then why not?

Testing out Gift Experiences

In the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics Great Britain had a new hero – Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, who shot to fame with his attempts in the ski jumping. Since then he has gone on to appear on many TV shows over the years, something of a minor celebrity, but who better to test out some gift experiences?

Eddie was sent out to test out 4 gift experiences that you can buy for your loved ones. But he wasn’t told what they were until he arrived – nice twist! Obviously you need someone up for anything when that happens.

In 2018 we spent an amazing £1.6 billion on gift experiences! Here’s a link to Amazon’s gift experiences on offer.

First up Eddie was sent to Thruxton race track to test out a track racing experience. There are many out there, ranging from about £80-100, although some charge an extra insurance policy on the day – well worth checking out in advance. Eddie’s car was a Porsche Cayman, and first of all the instructor took him out for a couple of laps to show where to turn as he sped round the corners. Then Eddie had his chance, and was able to drive for 4 laps.

Whilst it was a great experience, he was rather disappointed that it lasted only about 10 minutes. Value for money that worked out at £9.90 per minute.

His second experience, indoor sky diving, turned out to be the most expensive at £20 per minute. He went to iFly, but there are several places you can go. After checking in, getting dressed, and undertaking a safely talk, he finally got to go in the chamber for his 4 minutes of flying time. Expensive but fun.

His third experience turned out to be his favourite, and it’s a relatively new one too. Eddie was sent to try out flyboarding, where a jet ski launches you up to 6 metres into the air using a pipe attached to your boots. Even Eddie, who is still pretty fit, found this hard work at first, and did wonder if someone not so fit would last the whole 30 minutes. But this gave him his biggest thrill. At £95 for half an hour this worked out at £2.70 per minute – much more affordable.

His final gift experience was also the best value for money. At £80 for 3 hours, or 44p per minute, his Bird Of Prey Falconry experience was a unique and special occasion. As he said, how often do you get the chance to get up close and personal to hawks and eagles, especially the huge Russian Eagle at the end?

Whether you are looking for a thrill seeking experience for your loved ones or maybe something a bit more sedate like afternoon cream tea or a pamper session, you can find plenty to choose from here.

They finished the show with a segment where they had selected personalised gifts for each other. To start with there was a personalised Toblerone, which at £12.99 I think is an affordable price for something that would put a smile on your chocolate loving friends. Continuing the food theme there was personalised marmite, at £5.49, and a very nice bottle of Bollinger champagne with a picture of the pair. I couldn’t find the one with a picture, but follow this link to an engraved bottle of Bolly. There was also a really pretty collage picture.

Finally Phillip produced a variety of products that he had managed to have his photo on as gifts for Steph – including an apron, laptop case, towel and a large pair of knickers! If you want to look for your own personalised gifts you can find a whole host of them of Amazon.

The next show, in which Phillip and friends will be looking at toys, was aired on Tuesday December 3rd. If you want to see what toys were featured in that show, then head on over here.

How To Spend It Well At Christmas 2018 – Episode 1 Toys

If you are looking for the 2019 shows, please click here for the Gifts and Gadgets show, and click here for the Toys show.

Phillip Schofield is back with his look at the best things on offer in the shops for Christmas – How To Spend It Well At Christmas. As per last year, episode one took an in depth look at toys for children. Along with some help from famous faces and members of the public, the latest toys were put through their paces and judged for our benefit.

The programme started with Phillip on one of the stars from later on, a ride on unicorn! It was an entertaining start in true Schofield style.

Board Games

The first category to be looked at was board games. Actor Simon Gregson, who has been playing the character Steve MacDonald in Coronation Street since 1989, was joined by wife Emma and his two eldest sons Alfie and Harry, and a group of families in Manchester to test 5 of the latest games. Continue reading

Decoupage: A Fun Way To Be Creative

Decoupage | Best Gift GuideKeeping the kids entertained on weekends and holidays can be difficult, particularly during the winter months when playing outside isn’t really an option. But there are so many wonderful craft ideas available to kids that this no longer has to be a problem.

Crafts helps kids use their imagination and art skills to make something they can treasure. Most often these treasures can be made using everyday household items and so are a cheap option too!

Continue reading

Advent Calendars For Men 2018

As we hit the middle of November we start to really think about Christmas, and the never ending present buying. Ok, we still have well over a month, but of course the 1st of December will be here before you know it. And on 1st we all like to start opening our advent calendars – the Christmas countdown is finally on it’s way.

Whilst advent calendars are great for the children in our lives, lets not forget the men in our lives too, and give them a daily treat to look forward to. Here is our choice of advent calendars for men.

Beer Hawk 2018 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Set

I have to start with the Beer Hawk Craft Beer Advent Calendar, because this is what I would want. (Yes, that is a massive hint…). Discover a new beer every day for 24 days, each from a different brewery.

If your man is a beer drinker then he will be thrilled to try some new beers. Chosen by Beer Hawk’s experts, these 330 ml cans will introduce some that you may have never heard of, but will open his eyes to something other than his usual.

Alternative – Blue Tree’s 24 Bottle Craft Beer Advent Calendar

Man’Stuff Mega Toiletry Advent Calendar

Each day reveals a new toiletry item for your man. As well as making them smarter in the run up to the big day, you will be pleased that this comes from a UK brand that adopts a cruelty free policy.

Alternative – Accentra Beauty Advent Calendar

Christmas Beard Oil Advent Calendar

Now this won’t be a fit for every man, but if you have a bearded man in your life, then this will be a hit. Open 24 different scented beard oils and smell lovely through December. Each bottle contains 2ml of scented oil – enough for several days use with many men.

I couldn’t find an alternative, but I did find this Christmas baubles beard set – please do not buy this, it looks awful!

Fragrance Advent Calendar

With 24 different fragrances is 15ml bottles, this advent calendar will give your man a chance to try new fragrances that may just become his signature scent.


Alternative – Technic Man’Stuff Toiletry 12 day Advent Calendar

Duerrs Jam & Marmalade Advent Calendar

Now I love jam and marmalade on toast in the mornings, although during the week I don’t often get time. So an advent calendar with 24 20g pots really appeals to me. Not only that, you get a mini jar of whisky and marmalade – yum! But the only downside is that you get 12 of the same strawberry jam, and 12 of the marmalade. Compared to the other calendars this seems a little disappointing in choice, but if you want jam and marmalade, then why not?

Alternative – C&T Organic Spices Advent Calendar

How To Choose A Hair Dryer

When it comes to personal appearances, your hair is one of the first things that people see, especially from a distance. So if you want to make an impression, you really want to try to look after your hair as much as possible.

Hair dryers come in a variety of models and have certain different benefits, so choose wisely. What’s good for someone with big curly hair may not be the same as for those with short spiky hair. Continue reading

Handbags And Gifts From Reclaimed Materials

More and more people are conscious of the effects our lives on the planet, are interested in using materials more than once and cutting back on waste. For example, single use plastics are so hot in the news nowadays, and this can only be good for the environment.

If you or your loved ones fit into this category, then you may like to spread the word, in a subtle way. I know many people make their own wrapping paper out of brown paper and decorate it. But if you aren’t quite so artistic (me included!), but still want to do your bit, you may be interested in sourcing goods that are made from recycled materials. Continue reading

Gifts For Coffee Lovers

1 cup coffee plungerFor Father’s Day back in June, my gorgeous girls bought me a 1 cup coffee plunger. Quite a simple present, and certainly not the most expensive, but it has been one of the best presents I have received in years.

Now, I am no coffee snob, but I do like coffee. However I would never bother to go to the effort of all those different machines – I am quite happy with a bit of (quality) instant. I know, I know… But having my new present has pushed me to us it, and I now look forward to a better quality coffee every morning. Continue reading

How High Should A Basketball Hoop Be?

basketball hoopWith school children coming towards the end of the school holidays, thoughts return to school, and if your child is sporty, can they get into the school teams this year. As a parent you will want to help them in their sporting endeavours, and if basketball is the sport for your child, then maybe you will be looking to buy them a basketball hoop to practice.

If you get a free standing backboard and net on a stand then you will be ok. But if you buy them a backboard and net that you need to fix to an outside wall so they can practice after school, you will want to know how high should a basketball net be so that you fix it at the correct height. Continue reading

Couch Coaster – as seen on TV

I do love to see small business programmes on TV – Dragons Den is probably the most famous. But tonight I have just seen another episode of Give It A Year, hosted by Karen Brady.

In this ITV programme Karen Brady meets new entrepreneurs who have an idea for a business, and have started on their journey to hopefully becoming a success. They discuss where they are, and what they want to achieve over the next 12 months, before she returns a year later to see how they progressed.

It’s fast action, as with 2 companies in a 30 minute show, it lacks the advice and in depth details that I feel it could give. But it does show what small companies need to go through, so you may find it interesting.

In tonight’s episode Karen met with Barry Freeder, a young man who had invented the Couch Coaster. He came up with the idea whilst watching Match of the Day with a beer in his hand. With his coffee table over the other side of the room, he felt there must have been a way to hold his beer bottle and so invented Couch Coaster (with a prototype starting from a pizza box!).

As you can see, the Couch Coaster is a long silicon product that drapes over the arm of your sofa. In the middle of the product is a holder for your cup, can or bottle, either hot or cold.

By choosing this holder you don’t need to position a coffee table nearby, or leave your drink on the floor where it is likely to be knocked over by pets, children, swinging doors or a forgetful yourself!


Available in 5 colours – brown, cream, grey (pictured), red and black – all designed to complement your sofa of choice. It has a slot for cup handles when drinking tea or coffee, but also comes with an adapter which you can insert to keep cans and bottle snug and spill free.

The buyers on Amazon that left reviews are very complimentary about the product – so many people giving it 5 stars. One person was even close to buying their 7th CouchCoaster – but only because their dog kept chewing them up! But seriously, I have rarely seen a product with almost all positive comments.

If your husband has a horrible knack of keep spilling their drinks, why not copy one of the buyers who bought one for their husband as a joke. He loved it! And has been spill free ever since.

If you have been looking for something to stop drinks spilling, this could be just what you need.