Reviewed by Keith Ashworth
Being an older chap without the benefit of female influence when choosing Christmas gifts for my children and grandchildren, I do tend to rely on being told what to buy for the kids. I have, once, attempted handing them an Argos catalogue and pen but that descended into utter chaos with items circled such as a ride on toy car for ages 12-36m, by my 7 year old granddaughter, and a very expensive iPad Pro was requested by the 4 year old, alongside a pink toilet seat because apparently the one they have a home was boring.
I was therefore really pleased to be sent a small selection of gift ideas to try out and write about.
The first items we were sent was a personalised story book each from My Kingdom Books. The story in both of them is the same, but because the book is so beautifully personalised, and the details change, they both have a totally unique book.
The book tells the story of a gutsy princess and her quest to restore some fun back into the kingdom after the evil witch has removed it all. The book’s illustrations are beautiful – they certainly evoke feelings of the princess having real girl power. This is not a passive princess who waits for a handsome prince to save the day – she’ll do it herself.
The kids loved the personalisation, and the way that the story is told, with focus on the letters of the child’s name was great for the 4-year old who is just starting to learn to read and write, so loved pointing out the letters to spell her name.
The paper in the book is lovely quality and I think this is a really special book, and an ideal one for a grandparent to buy as a Christmas gift. RRP £19.99 (includes free worldwide delivery), for more information or to buy visit www.mykingdombooks.com.
We were also sent a couple of board games to try out. The first one we were sent is Dr. Eureka from Paul Lamond Games, which is a lovely little logic game for ages 6+. Initially, there were two reasons why this game appealed. This first is that it doesn’t take batteries, I have no idea why, or if it’s an age thing, but I have an irrational dislike for games that need batteries. The second immediate positive is that it is a game that requires thought. My daughter has commented that so many kids’ games seem to be purely chance based, and don’t actually require any skill as such to win. And there is no reliance on knowledge that younger members of the family might not have.
Dr. Eureka is a fantastic game – each round takes about 20 minutes to complete so it is one that can be played in the evening before bed without having to invest too much time for set up and play. The game requires some logical thought as well as some gross motor dexterity and we loved it. It’s one that the 7-yr old can play without adult help when her friends come round, or can be played as a family when the 4-yr old wants to join in. RRP: £25 and available to buy from Paul Lamond here.
We were also sent Escape the Room: Dr. Gravely’s Retreat also from Paul Lamond Games. This is a game for over 13s, so was passed on to my daughter and she got it out one evening following a meal with friends. She’s really into going along to actual room escape experiences as a night out with her friends, so this is a natural game for her to try out.
It’s a much longer and more involved game than something like Dr. Eureka, taking around an hour to complete. But this is an ideal game length for an after dinner game as she thought it would be an ideal game to play after Christmas dinner or during the Christmas period when friends and family would be over. RRP: £20 and available to buy from Paul Lamond here.
The puzzles were great fun, challenging and really different. No general knowledge is required, and the game is played cooperatively so it’s really great fun to work together. It’s a fantastic gift idea to give as a family gift, or just to take along to a family gathering instead of a bottle of wine and a bunch of flowers.
Of course, Christmas isn’t just about buying for small kids – you’ll still want to buy something for your adult children too. I was sent a bottle of Olverum Bath Oil, which is a lovely present for a mum (or dad) who might just need to unwind after a very stressful lead up to Christmas, preparing everyone’s food and generally making everyone else’s day special.
My daughter was delighted with the bath oil – she’s not into floral scents, and said this was a lovely, herbal and unisex type product; very relaxing and feels lovely on the skin. It’s the kind of scent that is great for clearing the airways and helping with congestion and also feels really luxurious on the skin.
It is beautifully packaged, and at around £26 for a 125ml bottle (enough for 25 baths) and £48 for a 250ml bottle (enough for 50 baths) is towards the luxury / treat end of the market but means it’s the kind of thing that she wouldn’t necessarily spend the money on herself so was really appreciated. Can be bought online from the Olverum shop or from Harvey Nichols, Liberty, Fenwick and www.houseoffraser.co.uk.
Finally, I was sent a little Santa box of Dairy Milk Chunks and a pack of four Dairy Milk Snowballs. The kids loved these and they’re available from most supermarkets very reasonably, so are ideal to pop into the trolley ready for the Christmas stocking and inevitable chocolate eating feast at 7am on Christmas morning.