Monday, 21 October 2013

How to Choose the Best Christmas Wreaths and Christmas Garlands

One of my very favourite times of year is when the days get shorter and we start getting the Christmas decorations out.  Decorating our homes for the Holidays is a time for all the family to come together and help to create something beautiful for the festive season.  It is a time for special memories when those hand-made decorations, tinsel and baubles that have been treasured down the years are taken out and hung around the house.  But some of the decorations that really bring the holiday spirit into the house are the Christmas wreaths and garlands. If you choose fresh wreaths and garlands you also get to enjoy that wonderful fresh scent of fir and evergreens in your home over the holidays.  If you prefer artificial wreaths that you can keep and use again for Christmases in the future, you can find some very attractive ones and you can even get artificial ones that are pre-lit and decorated for you. One of the best places to find a wide selection is online, so if you are thinking about your Christmas decorations for this year why not check out the great range available on Amazon today.

History of Christmas Wreaths and Garlands

People have been bringing evergreens into their homes in the darkest part of the year since ancient times. In ancient Persia, Greece and Rome wreaths were given for achieving victory in war or in the games, and were made from laurels, evergreens, flowers and branches.  Before Christianity arrived in Europe, in December every year the Germanic tribes used to bring wreaths and garlands of evergreens into their homes and light fires to remind themselves that the spring and the sunshine would eventually return. These traditions were retained when Christianity spread through Europe, and the wreaths and garlands were hung during Advent to symbolise that the birth of Jesus was imminent and that light would be returned to the world. Traditionally in Germany the wreaths would be made of evergreens with four candles set in it, with a fifth candle placed in the middle.  A candle would be lit each week during Advent, with the fifth middle candle being lit on Christmas Eve. In more modern times, wreaths began to be hung on front doors as a festive welcome, and garlands of fir and evergreens are hung from mantelpieces and around banisters.

Fresh Christmas Wreaths

If you really love to have your home scented with the fresh, outdoor smell of evergreens and firs during the Holidays, you might be surprised to find out that you can choose them online.  There is a fantastic range available and there are fresh Christmas wreaths in many different sizes and made of lots of different evergreens.  These beautiful decorations are usually circular in shape and can contain cedar, pine, balsam, berried juniper and other fragrant evergreens.  You can choose a simple, undecorated fresh one if you are looking for festive simplicity or use one to add your own decorations and create your own look. Of course, there are also many pre-decorated ones to choose from and the most popular decorations are festive red bows, pine cones, red berries, and flowers.  There are even pre-lit fresh wreaths, if you like the idea of twinkling of lights in your festive evergreens. If you need one, you can also buy fresh ones that come complete with a wreath hanger.

Artificial Christmas Wreaths

If you want to be able to enjoy your wreath for more than one Holiday season, then an artificial one is for you.  There is a huge variety of artificial wreaths that you can choose online, and one of the first things that you have to decide on is what colour do you want your wreath to be. You can buy in the traditional evergreen, and also in white, gold, silver and red.  Select a simple, undecorated artificial one to be able to add your own decorations and colour scheme.

However, there are many decorated artificial Christmas wreaths that you can buy. Favourite decorations are scarlet bows, glass balls, fruit, berries, pine cones and artificial snow.  Twinkling lights are always a welcome sight during the Christmas season, and there are also many lighted artificial Christmas wreaths to choose from, with either plain white lights or lovely coloured lights. One of the joys of an artificial wreath is that they are very durable and can withstand the elements, and so are perfect for hanging on your front door as a festive welcome to your home.

Christmas Garlands

If you have got a fireplace or banisters in your house, what could be more beautiful than hanging them with festive garlands during the holiday season? As with the wreaths you can opt for fresh evergreens in your holiday garland to enjoy that wonderful smell of fresh pine and mountain air.  There is also a great range of artificial Christmas garlands available online, with a huge choice of decoration and pre-lit garlands.  There are also more unusual ones that you can buy, such as garlands composed of poinsettia, tinsel, berries and pine cones. Whatever theme that you are using for your decorations this festive seasons, there will be Christmas garlands online that match it.

So look online today to find your perfect Christmas wreath and garlands to hang on your front door and decorate your home.  Amazon has a great range, with a huge amount of choice, and ordering today will ensure that your home is decorated to perfection for the upcoming festive season.

Christmas Wreath image Richard Croft Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.0 Generic

Sunday, 20 October 2013

How to Choose a Great Santa Claus and Mrs Claus Costume

Why Dress Up as Santa Claus?

It is Christmas Eve and the house is shrouded in darkness.  Everyone is in bed, and even the excited children have finally gone to sleep.  The lights are twinkling softly on the Christmas tree and the snow softly falls on the lawn outside the frosty windows.  Suddenly, there is a gentle thump as two black-booted red velvet clad legs come down the chimney and land in the fireplace.  A large gentleman clad in bright red velvet trimmed with white fur, with a huge white beard and moustache and red velvet cap steps into your living room, carrying with him a large sack filled with festively wrapped gifts.  Santa Claus has arrived on his annual trip to leave Christmas gifts for all the children who were nice rather than naughty during the year.  He arranges all the presents under the Christmas tree, drinks the milk and eats the cookies left out for him and takes the carrots up to the reindeer, off to the next house to go through his same Christmas routine.

Santa Claus
Santa Claus

Choosing a Santa Suit

Now if in your house, you leave milk and cookies out for Santa and try to lie awake to hear him landing on the roof with his reindeer. You would be very upset if he did not arrive and you did not wake to find your presents under the tree, now wouldn’t you? So just maybe you need to get a Santa suit this Christmas just to make sure that nobody gets disappointed. Usually in the household it is Dad who gets to dress up as Father Christmas, hanging Christmas stockings on the end of the beds and putting presents under the tree, so luckily there is a huge range of Santa suits available to choose from.  The traditional Santa outfit is a red velvet tunic edged with white fur, red velvet trousers kept up with braces, shiny black boots, and a red velvet hat, worn with a curly white wig, beard and moustache.  A variation on this traditional costume is a long red velvet cape trimmed with snowy fur, with a hood drawn up over the head.

Santa Suits for Men

You can buy a lot of different designs in Santa suits for adult males, so there is a Santa outfit out there to fit all Dads!  You can buy Santa suits in red velvet, velour and plush and there are costumes to fit all budgets.  Don’t forget that traditionally Father Christmas has a very large stomach, so make sure that if you are on the slender side that you buy a suit with enough room to plump out your tunic with a cushion!  If you already have a Santa suit but need to get a beard, wig, hat or boots, don’t worry as you can buy all of these accessories separately. So this Christmas Eve, even if one of your kids does wake up, your dress up will ensure they believe that what they have really seen is Father Christmas leaving their gifts!

Mrs Claus Costumes

Now we can’t leave the Moms out of this dressing up for Christmas!  Santa Claus is a married man, and lives at the North Pole with Mrs Claus, the reindeer and the helper elves.  So why not dress up as Mrs Claus this Christmas?  You can choose to dress up as a traditional Mrs Claus, with a long red dress, white apron and mob cap, or you can get an altogether sexier Mrs Claus costume.  A sexy Mrs Claus costume comprises of a tight, short red velvet frock, long black boots, red velvet hat, all trimmed with lashings of soft, white fur.  There are lots of Mrs Claus costumes to choose from, so let your imagination run riot this Christmas, as you channel your inner Mrs Claus!

Baby and Children’s Santa Suits

What can be more adorable for a baby’s first Christmas than a baby Santa suit?  Choose a baby Santa suit for your newborn’s first Christmas morning, and help to bring the true spirit of Christmas into your home.  Santa baby suits are red sleep suits edged with white and with a little red cap, with maybe some white fur trimmings.  If the older kids in the family want to help distribute the Christmas gifts you can also get mini-Santa suits in all kids’ sizes.  These suits for kids are ideal for those special fancy dress parties over the festive season, and for present opening on Christmas morning itself. It could be the first opportunity that you ever have to see what your little one looks like in a beard and moustache.  For little girls, you can also buy a cute Miss Santa costume.

Christmas Elves and Dog’s Santa Suits

Now if the family would rather dress up as Santa’s helpers or Christmas elves, there is also a great range of Santa’s helper and elves costumes available online.  Santa’s elves costumes are made up of a green tunic, green elf cap, green tights and little green boots with curled up toes.  Just what you want to dress up in if you need to help feed the reindeer or help to hang up the Christmas stockings!  Even the family pets can have the chance of dressing up as Santa this Christmas.  There is a cute range of dog Santa suits that you can get for your best canine friend, so that they can join in the festive fun. The dog Santa suits are  little red tunics, with white edging and black belt details, with a little red Santa hat, and you might even be able to get them to put some of the presents under the tree!

So, as you see, there is a great Santa suit available online for every member of the family from Dad all the way through to the family dog!  Have a browse through the great range of Santa suits at Amazon and make your choice today. Have a happy Christmas Eve dressing up and make sure that that you make it really seem as though Father Christmas has visited, by drinking all that milk and eating up all of the cookies!

Santa Claus image Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

Why Choose Organic Toys for Your Children?

Everyone wants the best for their children, so when getting them toys as presents why not choose organic toys where possible?  There are lots of reasons why buying organic toys makes good sense; they are healthier for your children, kinder to the environment and the materials used are produced in a much more ethical manner.  By choosing organic toys you are cherishing your children and looking after your planet.
Organic toys are manufactured from materials and fabrics which have had no toxic substances or pesticides used in the process, have been grown ethically and are from sustainable resources.  All children’s skin is sensitive and should not be put in contact with harsh chemicals and irritants, but if your child suffers from allergies or skin sensitivities this is even more important.  Toys can be made from organic cotton, wool, hemp, wood and even organic plastics.

Toys - Wooden Blocks
Toys - Wooden Blocks

A lot of organic toys are made from organic cotton, which is far more environmentally friendly than non-organic commercial cotton.  The production of non-organic cotton is very damaging to the environment.  . Organic cotton production is much safer for the cotton farmers as they do not have to work with the very strong chemicals used in the production of non-organic cotton, the use of which can be potentially fatal.  Also it means that the chemicals are not polluting the air that the local communities have to breathe or leaking into the water supplies or contaminating the soil.  Critics say that organic cotton uses a lot more water than non-organic cotton to produce, but this is not necessarily true and, in any case, the benefits of choosing organic cotton toys far outweigh the negatives. The production of organic wool is also kinder to the environment and the sheep that are used are also treated better.

You have to be more careful with buying organic toys than with organic food, however, as currently in the UK it is not compulsory for non-food organic products to be tested and certified.  However, many of the top manufacturers of are voluntarily going through the certification process to prove that their products are truly organic.  Another thing to watch out for is that a toy could be made with 100% organic cotton, but that fabric could have later gone through a harsh bleaching or dyeing process that compromises its purity.  There are several bodies that offer certification for organic toys and these include Global Organic Textile Standard, Institute for Marketecology, Organic Trade Association, Demeter and Control Union, so look out for toys that have been certified when you are shopping.

There are now many good-quality wooden toys to available in the shops, ranging from blocks, jigsaws, train sets to bigger items such as rocking horses and baby walkers.  Wooden toys are free from the dangerous chemicals found lurking in plastic toys, and if you choose organic wood, you will be avoiding any contamination from pesticides and chemicals.  When buying wooden toys ensure that they are made with solid wood, and not pressed wood as that tends to contain formaldehyde, another nasty chemical.  When you purchase your organic wooden toys, ensure that they are made from organically farmed trees and from sustainable resources.  In addition, if they are painted or decorated, the paint and any varnishes should be non-toxic.

As all children enjoy being creative, try to ensure that they are using non-toxic crayons, paints and pencils, that have been made from organic or natural materials from sustainable resources.  Try to buy drawing paper and colouring books made from organic paper that has also been produced from sustainable resources.  As small children tend to put crayons and pencils in their mouths, it is very important that the ones you buy them do not contain dangerous chemicals.

Toys made from organic plastics are not so common, but there are compelling reasons not to give your children conventional plastic toys..  Organic plastic has not been made from non-renewable petroleum products, and so does not contain dangerous chemicals such as phthalates, lead, cadmium and BPA.  It is the phthalates (PVC) that make the plastic soft, so currently most soft plastic toys for infants and toddlers contain these dangerous chemicals.   As they are used a lot in teething rings and other toys designed to be sucked and chewed, it makes it even more likely that your child will ingest these highly unpleasant chemicals. Small children are far more vulnerable to poisoning from toxins in their environment than adults, as they have very small body masses and their skins are very absorbent.  The chemicals absorbed can lead to cancers, failure of the reproductive system to develop and kidney problems.  Organic plastics are made from renewable plant sources, such as sugar cane, and therefore are free from the dangerous chemicals associated with petroleum-based products.  If these plants are also grown organically, there is also no contamination possible from pesticides and chemical fertilisers, and they have the added benefits of being biodegradable and, unlike ordinary plastics, will decompose in landfill sites.

So, as you can see, there is a wide range of organic toys to choose from when buying gifts for children.  Whether it is for Christmas, a birthday or just as a little treat, make sure that whatever you buy keeps your children healthy, looks after the planets and has been produced ethically and fairly.

Building Bricks image Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 unported