How To Spend It Well At Christmas with Phillip Schofield 2020 – Episode 2, Gifts and Gadgets

So Phillip was back last night with the second episode in this year’s series, looking at Gifts and Gadgets that you can buy for your loved ones this Christmas. Having dealt with toys last week, he was again joined by some famous faces and members of the public to see what companies have brought out this year.

Decorations

First up we headed off to Cardiff to meet 3 neighbouring families to check out different ranges of Christmas decorations were on offer to light up your house and garden. Each family was given the same decorations – a polar bear, 5 sets of string lights, 2 stars, icicle lights, a wreath and some cluster lights.

Each family was given a set from one of the following – The Range (total price £191.89), John Lewis (total price £360) and Cox and Cox (total price £600). With over 3,000 lights for each house, it was definitely going to be a bright street!

First of all they looked at wreaths. The Range wreath, priced at £13.99, had pine cones and berries; the John Lewis wreath (£35) had mixed branches and the most lights; whilst the Cox and Cox wreath (£60) came with 30 larger bulbs.

Each family was also given 2 conifer trees in post to decorate with string lights. The Range string lights (£14.99) came with 600 lights each, whilst the John Lewis string lights (£28) only had 480 lights, although the strings were longer and so would cover a wider space. However the Cox and Cox lights (£55) had the most of all – 750 lights per string.

The stars varied immensely in price from The Range at £3.99, John Lewis at £30, and Cox and Cox at £35. In fact the John Lewis star was that family’s favourite item and certainly the bet of the three. The polar bears also varied – The Range at £39.99 (the family’s favourite item), john Lewis not much more at £50, and Cox and Cox at £75 – although that was somewhat disappointing!

Once each house was finished, all the neighbours from the road came out to view the lighting, and to choose the best decorations. And they voted for the budget decorations from The Range as their favourite overall.

Home Fitness

We’ve all spent much more time at home this year, and our exercise has been limited to working out at home and walking, running or cycling in your neighbourhood for a large part of it. You can’t escape from hearing about people like Joe Wicks, who ran online PE classes for children (and adults!) every day for months.

So Phillip decided to enlist the help of 3 couple to test some space saving home gym equipment – ex-footballer and TV personality Chris Kamara with his son Jack; Team GB Olympic gymnasts Becky and Ellie Downie; and pub landlord Graham and musician Sharon. These were all very small so wouldn’t take up much room at home – I mean, how many of us has room for big exercise machines at home?

They were each sent 4 home workout gadgets for different types of exercises to test and evaluate, then rate them from best to worst.

Core exercises – Mirafit Core Exercise Sliders

The Mirafit Core Exercise Sliders (RRP £7.95) are a very simple design of 4 discs, designed to improve balance and the core of your body. The idea is you do a range of exercises whilst standing and leaning on the discs with your hands. They work on a variety of surfaces, so should be ok for almost everyone.

Each pair really found these good, and were very impressed with the simple design.

Strength exercises – Jaxjox Kettlebellconnect 2.0

The Jaxjox Kettlebellconnect 2.0 (RRP £229) is one kettlebell that is designed to replace having to store sets of kettlebells. It changes to 6 different weights electronically!

Obviously it’s pricey, but just a little more than the cost of 6 different kettlebells, and in a fraction of the space – perfect for working out from home. It connects to an app to count your reps too.

Co-ordination exercises – Beast Gear Premium Boxing Reflex Ball

The funniest and weirdest looking section was the co-ordination exercises with the Beast Gear Premium Boxing Reflex Ball (RRP £17.97). It’s a headband with a ball attached to a string, which you are designed to punch to improve your hand/eye coordination. Thank goodness it comes with safety glasses! Chris Kamara was not impressed but the other 2 couple liked it.

Warm down and stretch – The Morph Collapsible Foam Roller from Brazen Life

After every workout you should warm down and stretch, so Phillip included the Morph Collapsible Foam Roller from Brazen Life (RRP £59).Whilst you can get foam rollers for just a quarter of the price, this one collapses down in size and as such is much easier to store in a smaller space.

They all like it but Chris Kamara was particularly impressed – it’s good for us oldies, he said.

The Verdict

So which of these came out top in their votes? In 3rd place was the Beast Gear Premium Boxing Reflex Ball; joint 2nd was the Mirafit Core Sliders and the Jaxjox Kettlebell, and the Morph Collapsible Foam Roller came out on top.

Dog Toys

Phillip asked animal behaviourist Ali Taylor from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, along with her colleague Jane Warden, to test out dog toys designed to launch for games of fetch. With almost 30 years experience, Ali certainly qualifies as something of an expert in the field.

Man’s Best Friend Ball Launcher

First up was the Man’s Best Friend Ball Launcher (RRP £19.99). The pair were quite disappointed with the distance it sent the balls, although they felt it was a good design and strong – in fact a bit too strong to pull back the trigger. But the balls that it came with were destroyed by the dogs chewing very quickly and they felt this could be dangerous.

Nerf Dog Stomper

Nerf is a well known name in toy guns and launching, so it’s no surprise they have come up with a toy for dogs either. The Nerf Dog Stomper (RRP £14.99) claims you can launch the balls up to 75 feet, but the ladies were very disappointed as at first they just popped out a few feet away.

Eventually with a great deal of effort Jane managed to get it going about 30 feet. Again, the balls started to come apart fairly quickly, although not as bad as the Man’s Best Friend Ball Launcher.

Ruffwear Hovercraft

Next up was a frisbee type toy, with a moulded foam material which is designed to be soft on dog’s teeth. The Ruffwear Hovercraft (RRP £25.95) is the most expensive of the fetch toys that were tested, but it also floats in water, and with many dogs loving to jump in rivers and lakes that’s a great feature.

The ladies thought it was a great design and safe to the dogs, but far too pricey.

Kong Wavz Bunji Ball Medium

The cheapest came last – advertised as a long distance fetch toy the Kong Wavz Bunji Ball (Medium) is priced at just £5.99. It’s basically a ball on a string with a handle – so you need to do the hard work of launching it yourself. The one downside they had with this was if the dog is one that will fetch but doesn’t like to give their toy up – the handle part may hurt when wrestling it away. This was the only toy that they guessed the price too high, so were very pleased with it’s affordability.

So which dog fetch toy was best?

Ali and Jane marked each toy based on price, the dogs’ reaction, and their own enjoyment. They put the Man’s Best Friend Ball Launcher in 4th place, with The Nerf Dog Stomper in 3rd, and The Ruffwear Hovercraft in 2nd. They awarded first place to the Kong.

Dog Beds

After a hard time playing fetch, they headed home to test out the latest dog beds. Dogs can spend up to 14 hours a day sleeping (why am I jealous?), so a dog bed that is comfortable can be a great buy, and save your sofa for the 2 legged members of your family!

There were 3 beds on offer to the dogs to test out. First of all the ladies had a good look and whilst they didn’t know the prices, they felt the mid-range bed was the best. They then let the dogs in 2 at a time to see which they preferred, before letting in all 8 dogs at the same time.

Amazonbasics Pet Sofa Lounger Bed (L)

The Amazonbasics Pet Sofa Lounger Bed priced at £81.79 has polyesters sides to create a wall round 3 sides. It has a water resistant liner, and you can unzip the cushion so that it is washable – always handy to help remove dog odours.

Bedsure Orthopedic Dog Mattress (XL)

The Bedsure Orthopedic Dog Mattress (size XL) (£33.99) is a flat dog bed, made of orthopedic egg crate foam. They felt it was warm and snug, and were impressed that it too unzipped for washing.

Ralph & Co Balmoral Nest Dog Bed – Herringbone (XL)

The luxury option was the Ralph & Co Balmoral Nest Dog Bed in Herringbone, priced at £129.99. It is made of recycled polyester fibre, and although it has walls too the cushion does not unzip, so if you want to wash it you would need to put the whole cushion in.

Which dog bed will the dogs choose?

We’ve already seen that Ali and Jane liked the Amazonbasics Pet Sofa Lounger Bed , but which would the dogs like? As they were let in 2 at a time, Ali and Jane watched on from another room using the hidden cameras. Each pair of dogs settled on the Ralph & Co Balmoral Nest Dog Bed – the most expensive of the 3.

But then the ladies let all 8 dogs in at once. They all seemed happy to try all of the beds, so it was quite clear that each of the dog beds was good enough.

Gifts for food lovers

With the amount of time that we’ve all had to stay at home in 2020, it’s no surprise that cooking has become a favourite past-time for many. So Phillip sent 3 food making kits to author, broadcaster and restaurant critic Grace Dent to test with her friend Tom.

Honeywell Biscuit Co Rosemary and Cranberry Bread Wreath

First up was the Rosemary and Cranberry Bread Wreath kit from the Honeywell Biscuit Company. Priced at £15.00. you’ll need 3 hours to make this. It comes with the dry ingredients packed in brown paper to make the dough, but not the oil.

First of all the dough is made and then left for an hour to prove. The cranberries are then added and mixed in, before it’s divided up into 18 even pieces which are made into balls. The kits suggest buying a camambert cheese and using the cardboard base to shape the pieces into a wreath.It needs 30 minutes for it to rise, before being baked for 15 minutes.

After this brush with butter, and add the camambert in the middle before going back into the over for it’s final bake. Once out the tasting began and they loved it, especially with the gooey camambert. They were a bit shocked that it cost so much for what is basically bread, but felt it was delicious.

The Ultimate Cheese Making Kit

The most expensive gift was The Ultimate Cheese Making Kit, price ad £36.50, although you can make 40 batches of cheese, with 10 different types. They made the ricotta which takes around 1 hour. It comes with all the herbs required and a thermometer – the only thing not provided is the milk.

Stir (in an up and down motion) and when the milk reaches 85 degrees the curds begin to separate from the whey. Then cover it and leave to call for 20 minutes. After this separate the curds from the whey by using the muslin provided. Then the cheese is put into the basket moulds and left to set.

They loved tasting the cheese and Grace felt that you could use it for a dinner party without people realising it was homemade. They felt it was loads of fun and with 10 different cheeses good value for money.

Fudge Kitchen Fudge Making Kit

The final kit that Grace and Tom tested out was the Fudge Kitchen Fudge Making Kit, priced at £30 and taking around 30 minutes to make. This offers 3 different flavours -toffee, chocolate and plain.

Pour the ingredients into a saucepan and heat. Using the sugar thermometer that comes with the kit make sure it doesn’t rise above 235 degrees (not over 250 like Grace).

Pour out the hot liquid onto a chopping board and fold over using the paddles provided. After a few minutes of working it soon looks like fudge. When tasting they enjoyed it, but felt it was very sweet. They weren’t sure though of the price, although with 3 different flavours then it was judged to slightly give value for money.

But which did they choose as the best? Not surprisingly they both plumped for The Ultimate Cheese Making Kit .

Kitchen Gadgets

Phillip was joined by chef Matt Tebbutt again this year to test out 3 kitchen gadgets that are all under £10 and designed to save time in the kitchen. Normally matt is highly unimpressed but will that change this year? First, he has to guess the use of each item just be seeing it.

NamePriceUseDid Matt guess?
ChefN StemGem£7.49Strawberry stem removerYes, eventually
Culinare Magipull£4.49Ringpull OpenerNo
Dexam Orange Peeler£1.00Orange peelerNearly – he guessed lemon peeler

Matt was not impressed with the ChefN StemGem strawberry huller, especially the price, and felt that using a knife would have been easier. The Culinare Magipull Ringpull Opener was given a better reception, it would be good for people who struggle with ringpulls on tins.

But the Dexam Orange Peeler actually got a thumbs up. It has 2 parts, you slice the peel all the way round with one end, and then with the other you separate the peel from the orange and it should slide off in two halves. Saves getting orange peel under your nails!

Portable Coffee Makers

In the UK we drink 95 million cups of coffee a day apparently. Manufacturers have targeted the growing market for making coffee in all scenarios, and so have designed something to give us our brews anywhere.

Phillip set off in a cute blue coffee van to meet up with 3 sets of campers to test out portable coffee makers. Each family was given 3 machines to test, and the same ground coffee beans.

Hario V60 Dripper

The cheapest one was the Hario V60 Dripper, priced at just £6. The ground coffee beans are placed in the teacup looking top in a filter – note the filters are not provided and cost a further £6 for 100 filters. Pour the hot water on top and after 3 minutes it has brewed.

All the campers liked it – it is simple to use, doesn’t take up much space, easy to wash up, and makes a nice cup of coffee.

Barista & Co Brew It Stick

Next up was the Barista & Co Brew It Stick at £11.99. They all laughed at it’s appearance, reminding them of a toilet brush! To use fill the basket two-thirds with coffee and place in the mug, pour the water over it slowly, and brew for 4 minutes.

The coffee was nice, but not all enjoyed it. They felt the price was just about right.

Aeropress Go

The Aeropress Go was the most expensive tested, at £31.99. It comes in several parts which slot together inside the cup. It took quite a while for each of the families to work out how to construct it. The filters attach to the chamber, then add coffee grounds and hot water before stirring.

You can plunge immediately, there’s no need to wait for it to brew, which is one advantage. The campers liked the coffee, but felt it was far too complicated and expensive.

Which is the best portable coffee maker?

The campers voted the Hario V60 Dripper as the best – cheap, simple design, and made good coffee. In second place came the Barista & Co Brew It Stick and in third place the Aeropress Go.

Technology Gadgets

Technology always plays a big part at Christmas, and so Phillip was joined by technology journalist Georgie Barret to bring her best buys on offer this year.

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 Camera

Her first choice was the Instax Square SQ1 camera, made by Fujifilm. It’s a retro camera like an old polaroid. It is pretty basic but with immediate photos could be great fun. It doesn’t have a zoom feature but does have a selfie mode – turn the camera to face you and look in the small silver mirror on the front to line up the shot. I was a bit shocked at the price of £120 though, although it could be fun at a party.

Simplehuman Sensor Mirror Hi-Fi

The Simplehuman Sensor Mirror Hi-Fi is a mirror perfect for doing make up. It gives 5 times magnifcation, and has a light surrounding the mirror that replicates daylight. You can adjust this light with touch controls on the side to maybe soften down to candlelight. So this would be great for make-up artists – priced at £350 it is quite an investment. It also comes with a built-in speaker and Alexa.

Oculus Quest 2 VR

Phillip has the first Oculus Quest already, but this is quite a step up with 50% more pixels. cameras on the outside of the headset communicate with the 2 hand controllers. This version does not rely on being connected to your laptop or computer, which can be a real pain. With top of the range VR headsets going up to £1000, the Oculus Quest 2 is a great entry level VR headset at just £299.

This was Phillips favourite of the 3 technology gifts whilst Georgie opted for the Instax Square SQ1 camera .

Gifts you can post

The final section introduced Holly Tucker, founder of Not On The High Street and a big supporter of small businesses. With 2020 being such a difficult year, small businesses have really had to get creative, and being small they are more often able to adapt a lot quicker than their bigger rivals.

Many of the gifts that you can find on Not On The High Street are highly personal and you can get wording made just for the intended recipient. Some of the gifts that they detailed are below:

The Drifting Bear Co – Personalised Signpost Couple Ceramic Tile – £32.00

Parkin & Lewis – Personalised Leather Couple Bottle Tag – £7.75

Clouds and Currents – Personalised Special Memories Photo Keepsake Box – £40.00

Bread & Jam – A Little Pocketful Of Comfort Reassuring Messages – £14.95

So that was the end of the show. Hopefully you found plenty of gift ideas to check out. What was my favourite? Well, this year I am seriously tempted to gift the Cheese Making Kit. How about you?

Don’t forget to check out the Toys episode here.

How To Spend It Well At Christmas With Phillip Schofield 2020 – Episode 1 Toys

I wasn’t sure after the year we’ve had that Phillip Schofield would be back with his show How To Spend It Well At Christmas, but as bad as 2020 has been, it can’t take this away from us!

Episode 1 this year was on Toys – and for all the parents out there this one always helps us choose, especially if you have kids like mine who don’t seem to have a clue what they want. Every year I ask them and every year I get the same response… “I don’t know”. They just don’t appreciate that leaving it the last minute is not helpful!

As usual Phillip was joined by children, celebrities and experts as he looked at what the toy companies have brought out to make the end of the year a highlight. So let’s take a look…

Looking for the Gifts and Gadgets show? You can find that here.

Retro Classics with an added twist

In the first section of the show Phillip was joined by schoolchildren to test some old classic toys against their own updated versions for 2020.

Rubik’s Cube versus Rubik’s Tilt

The Rubik’s Cube (RRP £12.99) is a 40 year old classic. I remember well when they burst on the scene, selling over 100 million in the first 3 years. I even have one myself – a present for my 50th a couple of years ago! I still struggle with it though. One of the children had learnt during lockdown how to complete it in under a minute – where was YouTube when I was a kid? The children in the main enjoyed this, although there were a couple of girls who struggled and got frustrated with it – I’m sure we’ve all been there.

Up against the Rubik’s Cube was the new game, Rubik’s Tilt (RRP 29.99). In order to play this game you need to tilt the handheld game, and press the buttons on the side to complete the cube on the screen. It wasn’t particularly clear from the show how easy it was, but to me it looked just as hard as the original.

Whilst both the Rubik’s toys were enjoyed, the clear favourite was the original – the Rubik’s Cube.

Lego Classic v Super Mario Lego

Next up for the children to play with was a Lego Classic Bricks and Houses set, RRP £17.99. As always happens with Lego, the children were soon fully engrossed in constructing with the set. It was strangely peaceful!

The Lego Adventures Super Mario Starters Course is best used with an app that you use on a tablet, which allows Mario to race around a track that you build with the Lego from the set. First you need to build the course, and then you collect the coins as you go round.

It’s an interesting concept to bring forward and combine toys, but again, Lego Classic was the favourite to the children.

Plasticine versus Plasticine Movie Maker

The final classic versus new showdown for these children was Plasticine FunTUBulous Modelling Clay (RRP £6.99), that old modelling favourite of children (but maybe not parents and carpets). Phillip created his version of a Santa, which one of the children called scary! This set comes with 8 sticks of modelling clay. Again, soon enough the children were soon playing and creating, although one of the boys felt it was hard to mould into shapes.

However they much preferred the newer version, Plasticine Movie Maker Studio. As well as the Plasticine to model, it comes with 2 movie backgrounds, props, and a tripod to prop a tablet or phone in. Make your star of your movie out of the plasticine, place on the background, add props, take a photo. Then move slightly, take another photo. And so on. Before long you could have the next budding Nick Park on your hands. The children were thoroughly engaged with this, and preferred the movie making aspect over the basic tub, despite it coming with less plasticine.

After playing with each set for an equal amount of time, the children and Phillip voted for their favourites out of all 6. Phillip voted for the Plasticine Movie Maker Studio whilst the children said their favourite was the Lego Classic Bricks and Houses.

Games

In the past year sales of games have grown over 200% – clearly in lockdown children need to be entertained and games are always a good alternative to keep screen time from increasing too much.

Four families that are neighbours and friends were joined by Panto legend Christopher Biggins to test out family games. There were 4 games on trial, and the families were allowed 30 minutes on each game to understand the instructions and play. 

The first games was Drone Home (RRP £19.99) – the first game that includes a real drone in it. A game for up to 4 players, the aim is to lift your aliens to safety by firing them into the drone in the centre, although they can be knocked off the drone by others! Whilst everybody appeared to be having a great time, one boy said he felt it was a one trick pony.

This was followed by Pose Off, where the aim is for players to adopt a yoga pose whilst standing on a small circular mat, and answer questions. The aim is to be the last person standing that hasn’t fallen off their mat! You’ll need balance for this one!

Hands Full was the most expensive of the games and reminded me a little of Twister combined with Simple Simon. Each player holds the game at the same time and it’s voice tells you which coloured ball to hold. But don’t let go or you’re out! Whilst one father felt it was hard to learn, he said that he could see them going back to it often. Although another father felt that it was expensive and didn’t offer enough value.

Finally Christopher Biggins modelled Pencil Nose game, which does what it says in the name. One person dons the game’s glasses with the special pen holding nose section. Much laughter here, whilst the person draws on the special plastic screen and the other players have to guess what has been drawn.

The families awarded marks for ease of setup, challenge satisfaction, and family appeal. And the clear winner was Pencil Nose – clearly fun and laughter wins the day!

Inclusive dolls

An amazing fact I learnt from the show was that 1 in 6 people have a disability – I would have never know it was that many. Thankfully doll makers have started to acknowledge this and have made inclusive dolls.

Phillip was joined by actress and disability campaigner Sam Renke (you may remember her from a maltesers advert), a journalist, and also 7 year old Harmonie-Rose Allen, who is the first junior ambassador for Meningitis Now, along with her Mum Freya.

Harmonie-Rose brought along her own prosthetic doll – Freya explained that when she was 2 that they brought a normal doll and had to send her to America for her to be converted into a doll with prosthetic limbs.

But now the UK is catching up. Barbie Fashionistas (RRP £12.99 – £16.99) have become big sellers though this year, with a Barbie in a wheelchair being this year’s number one selling doll from the range.

Also in the range are a doll with no hair, a doll with Vitiligo, which is where the skin loses pigment cells causing discoloured patches on the skin, and a doll with a prosthetic limb.

The journalist explained how she had brought her twin daughters the Barbie Sparkle Styling Head for Afro Hair (RRP £39.99) as when she was young she had other children questioning why her hair was not normal. She explained that her daughters self esteem was improved so much just by having something they could relate to as a toy.

Other dolls that are inclusive include Wildlife Photographer Mia (RRP £22.99) from Lottie, who has a cochlear implant, and the My Little Muslim Friends range from Desi Dolls.

It’s great to see doll makers finally catering for all needs. Phillip asked Harmonie-Rose which would be her favourite and she chose the Barbie Fashionista with Prosthetic limb, as it was just like her. He gave her the doll as a present, although this made Sam Renke very jealous!

Interactive Toys

One of the favourite sections each year is the interactive toys, designed to help young children learn to interact and come out of their shell. To test the latest interactive toys for 2020 Anjelica Bell headed to a primary school where she met up with a class of Year 2 students.

Anjelica has 2 young children of her own and knows how dear these interactive toys can be, so wanted to help parents find the right toy for their child, rather than making an expensive mistake.

Whilst they played with each of the toys they were watched via video link by their teachers, Miss Miller and Mrs Addison. They were checking which toy had the children playing and engaging with the most.

Little Live Pets Gotta Go Flamingo

Little Live Pets always come up with a gem of a toy, and this year is no different with Sherbert, the Gotta Go Flamingo (RRP £32.99). Feed Sherbert his Magic Flamingo Food and watch his neck wiggle and wobble. The children loved playing with this, especially when he starts to sing his song “Uh Oh, Gotta Go”, and starts pooping into the toilet.

Who doesn’t love a bit of toilet action when it comes to toys? Thankfully you can scoop up the poop and it instantly dries out back to it’s Magic Flamingo Food state, so is reusable for hours of fun.

Baby Alive Baby Grows Up

The girls in particular took to nurturing the Baby Alive Baby Grows Up (RRP £49.99) interactive toy immediately, but it didn’t take long for all to join in. As you cuddle and nurture the new born she grows into a baby, and then she eventually becomes a toddler. She grows 10 centimetres in height and makes 75 different sounds and words.

There’s two different dolls – Happy Hope and Merry Meadow. But you don’t know which you have until she has her first bottle and then opens her eyes. Take her hat off to reveal her hair colour.

Star Wars The Child

For die hard Star Wars fans who could resist a baby Yoda? Star Wars The Child (RRP £59.99) intrigued the children for a while who were obviously aware of the Star Wars films, but soon found out that despite have 25 sounds and motions, it was somewhat limiting. Pat it’s head three times to start up, raising it’s arms, close it’s eyes and sighing as if in contemplation.

Squeakee The Balloon Dog

The final of the four interactive toys looked lots of fun! Squeakee the Balloon Dog RRP (£59.99) looked just like it had been blown up by a balloon artist in front of your eyes. Pet his ears and he starts to play, showing off some of his 60 interactive sounds and movements.

He was the most lively of the interactive toys, and whilst plain in colour, a bright red still makes it attractive to children. The children were really playing with this lots and learning through trial and error.

So, having played with all the toys which were the favourites? Well, the teachers felt that Squeakee the Balloon Dog offered the most for the children, the children themselves did in fact vote Gotta Go Flamingo the top toy – seems you can’t beat toilet humour!

Advent Calendars

Advent calendars are a big thing every year – they help build up excitement for the big day with little treats throughout December. But they are not just for children – adults are catered for in a bag way too now.

Phillip was joined by consumer journalist Harry Wallop (love that name!) to take a look at some of the latest advent calendars available. He advised that some of the more expensive calendars are good value, where you get more goods than the calendar costs, whereas some others prove to be more expensive than buying the goods on their own.

For young children, you may wish to take a look at the Paw Patrol Advent Calendar with 24 collectible pieces. If you are looking for something that can last for years then the JoJo Maman Bebe Advent Calendar House is a reusable advent calendar – it’s lovely but obviously you need to fill the drawers with your own choice of gift.

Beauty companies have really jumped on the advent calendar bandwagon, seeing at is a great way of getting small samples to prospective customers of the larger versions in the New Year. Phillip and Harry were looking at the Next Mens Premium Beauty Advent Calendar – whilst it had an RRP of £69 the company believes that there are well over £200 of goods.

Other companies that like to sell advent calendars for adults are food and drinks companies. Beerhawk have brought out a Beery Christmas Advent Calendar with an RRP of £85 but beers with a value of over £100. The final advent calendar came from Naked Marshmallows, with 24 different flavoured marshmallows, RRP at £15. Sounds yummy to me!

STEM TOYS

Phillip was joined by Dallas Campbell, an expert when it comes to all things STEM and a TV presenter of The Gadget Show and Bang Goes The Theory. You may ask what does STEM mean? It’s an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – so therefore STEM toys are educational toys that will hopefully inspire children to further their interest in these areas.

Dallas headed off to his favourite place, the Science Museum, to test out the four toys. Also testing out the toys that were on offer were a group of children who are social media influencers, unboxing toys, playing with them and discussing their merits.

Vtech Kidizoom Studio

The Vtech Kidizoom Studio (RRP £59.99) comes with a camera, tripod, green screen and different backgrounds to create great mini films – fancy being chased by a dinosaur or partying at the local disco? Designed for children aged 5 upwards, this is a great toy for the budding TV presenter. You can take snaps and there’s plenty of emojis that you can add. The children loved playing with this, and Dallas could see the benefits even if it wasn’t as much interest for him.

Sphero Mini Activity Kit

Dallas loved the Sphero Mini Activity Kit, RRP £79.99, which you move by waving your hand over the top, or by connecting to your tablet by bluetooth and dragging the shape in the direction you want it to go. His only complaint though was that there were 2 modes – Sphero Play and Sphero Edu. He felt that they should be joined together as one – he questioned whether children would stick to the fun Play mode. In Edu mode you use an app on your tablet to program the code for the ball’s movements – Beau the child tester coded the ball to make a square in the film.

Polaroid Play 3D Pen

3D printing is proving to be a great invention in so many ways, and the Polaroid Play 3D Pen (RRP £30) is bringing that technology to youngsters to inspire them to create great things in the future. Having said that, 14 year old Getriya felt that it was quite difficult to master and fairly flimsy. A good introduction to the topic, and I’m sure with longer to use then it would be better.

To use, feed the printing material into the top of the pen. Then using stencils on the app trace your design. It dries really quickly and peels off easily, but although a good introduction to the technology it wasn’t liked by either of them.

Kano Disney Frozen Coding Kit

The Kano Disney Frozen Coding Kit (RRP £29.99) is recommended for 6 plus, and is clearly aimed at younger children compared to some of the others that were featured. 6 year old Skye was the child tester for this.

First of all you have to build the kit – something that Dallas struggled with but Skye found easy. Sensors track hand movements, but wave your hand over to create crystals. You can also do some coding on a tablet to play with the other characters – Elsa, Anna, Sven, Olaf and Kristoff – and scenes from the film.

Dallas ranked them in order – 4th was o Disney Frozen Coding Kit , 3rd the Polaroid Play 3D Pen , 2nd the Vtech Kidizoom Studio , but his favourite was the Sphero Mini Activity Kit .

Inline Skates

As usual there was a section for outdoor toys, and this year it involved some very big kids! Dancing On Ice professional skater Matt Evers was joined by 3 former contestants from the show – Love Island’s Maura Higgins, magician Ben Hanlin, and winner Joe Swash.

Each of the 3 show contestants tried out one pair of skates, with Matt trying them all out and giving his professional advice.

Roller Derby Aerio Q80

Maura was testing the Roller Derby Aerio Q80 inline skates and wasn’t too happy with them. They are a soft shell skate for extra comfort, she didn’t feel they were comfortable at all, although Matt did. Due to the soft shell they gave little ankle support, although Matt did think they gave a smooth ride. Maura mistakenly felt they were the budget skates when in fact they were the middle of the range, with an RRP of £99.99. matt rated these as the worst of the skates. Pictured below are the Q90 skates.

FR Skates FR2 80

Ben quite rightly guessed he was using the top of the range FR Skates FR2 80 inline skates, with an RRP of £224.99, although if you wanted a set with built in brakes they cost another £15. Both Ben and Matt found them comfortable and gave a lot of support, which meant they felt safe. However Matt felt that they were noisy! Matt rated these as the best pair! Pictured below is the FR 3 80 skates.

Oxelo Fit500

Joe may have won Dancing on Ice, but he was given the cheapest set, the Oxelo Fit500 inline skates at an RRP of £64.99. Matt felt they were an excellent beginners set, smooth and quiet, but gave little ankle support as they are soft shell. Joe correctly guessed that they were the cheapest of the skates. Matt ranked these as the second best set.

Footballs

Phillip was joined by the boys from AFC Henley under 10’s to test out the latest footballs. When I was young this would have been me – I remember going out in Christmas Day for a kickabout with my friend Ralph in our matching Celtic kits that we both unwrapped that day.

Wicked Mega Bounce XL

First up was the Wicked Mega Bounce XL (RRP £20) – supposedly the world’s bounciest football, and at 2.5 metres in circumference it’s huge! The boys loved this, especially when seeing how many headers they could do together without the ball dropping to the floor.

Kickerball

Next was the cheapest of the 3 balls tested, the Kickerball (RRP £14.99). This football is designed to bend more than a usual ball, so great for practicing free kicks and deceiving goalkeepers!

Smart Ball Speed Ball

The Smart Ball Speed Ball is the priciest of the three balls, with an RRP of £24.99. It’s unique selling point is that it has a built in speed monitor and when you kick it. It has a voice that counts you down and then you kick it as hard as you can. Once you’ve ran off to fetch it you can find out how quickly it travelled.

The boys enjoyed playing with each of the three balls tested, but then as football mad youngsters then that’s no surprise. But they had to choose a winner and that was the cheapest, the Kickerball. Maybe a good option for your young football fan this Christmas?

Toy Trend Expert

Finally, Phillip caught up with toy trend expert Rob Taylor-Hastings to see his favourite toys in 3 price brackets.

Laser Battle Hunters

In the over £50 category Rob chose Laser Battle Hunters, with an RRP of £59.99. Comes in a set of 2, these remote controlled cars have the ability to not only move backwards and forwards, but also sideways! With laser cannons on top you can fight each other with a friend, although if you have friends with them too, up to 8 cars can fight.

Junko Core Zoomer Kit

In the mid-range price bracket Rob chose the Junko Core Zoomer Kit, which looks a really innovative way to teach youngsters about re-using rubbish whilst crafting toys to play with. Use rubbish from around your house such as yoghurt pots and small drinks cartons to create models. The rubbish is held together by clips made out of recycled plastic. I particularly like that there are several themes so you could buy a different kit for birthdays if they enjoy using.

Pillowfight Warriors

Finally Rob had chosen Pillowfight Warriors, an upgrade to actually having a pillow fight. Both Rob and Phillip were armed with a shield and a sword, and looked ready to have a great play fight. Not much to add to this, a fun way of updating an old classic game we’ve all played as kids.

So that’s it for toys, but if you are looking for the gifts and gadgets you can find it here.

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

If you are looking for the 2020 programme, you can access that here. But don’t miss out on the great toys below too!


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

If you are looking for the 2020 Gifts and Gadgets show, you can find that here. But don’t miss out on the details below for 2019 – still lots of gifts.

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