M&S need help spreading kindness across the UK

The M&S Christmas advert is one of my favourites this year. The advert tells the tale of two fairies - Magic and Sparkle, who work at the fairy factory where they spend their time spreading festive cheer with little acts of kindness. My daughter LOVES fairies so was delighted when we were asked to get involved in spreading a little festive cheer of our own.

Magic and Sparkle have their very own twitter account ( @thetwofairies ) where you can follow them as they tweet in rhyme with the hashtag #FollowTheFairies as they grant wishes and spread their Christmas cheer around the UK. This week the fairies have set the children of the UK a challenge - to make their own Christmas decorations with their very own random act of kindness written down and attached. M&S sent us a lovely box of crafts to create our very own fairy peg doll (you can download your own instructions here).

Our Fairy Decoration

1- Create a pom pom fairy skirt

2 - Make some felt wings and draw your face

3 - Make your label featuring your random act of kindness and attach

In case you haven't realised, we aren't crafty AT ALL but we had lots of fun making these decorations together and remembering all of the kind things we have done for others. Heidi is keeping one fairy for her bedroom and we are taking the other one along to M&S tomorrow where it will be used by Magic and Sparkle for a very special cause (all to be revealed soon).

If you'd like to get involved too, all you need to do it create a Christmas decoration, attach your random act of kindness and hand the decoration to any member of staff at your local M&S store (excluding simply food) before 6pm on Monday 1st December.

If you miss the deadline, this is still a lovely Christmassy thing to do with your children so why not give it a go anyway. Heidi's random act of kindness today was letting her poorly daddy cuddle her brand new teddy bear. Bless!

Use #FollowTheFairies to find out what the fairies are up to next, I'm sure they have more surprises, magic and treats in store.

Follow Magic and Sparkle on twitter as they spread their Christmas magic throughout the UK.

Follow North East Family Fun on Facebook for more Christmas fun at home.


Join Frankie and Benny's for a #FrankiesParty this Christmas

Christmas festivities in our household are now in full swing - we have put our Christmas tree up, baked our Christmas cake and written our letter's to Father Christmas. So when Frankie and Benny's* invited us over to enjoy our very own Christmas #FrankiesParty we were delighted and booked a table for Friday evening.

On arrival, the children were all handed their very own Christmas fun packs which kept them entertained throughout the whole meal - Jack particularly enjoyed playing festive matching pairs with daddy.

First thing's first though, time to get mammy a cocktail! Frankie and Benny's have devised a VERY tempting Festive drinks menu this year. I decided to go for the Christmas Mint Cream which was recommended and I was not disappointed.

Frankie and Benny's 2 course Christmas menu is £16.95 for two courses or £19.95 for three courses and includes twists on classic dishes such as Chicken Christmas Pitta and Frankie's Christmas Dinner (served with chicken rather than turkey). As this was our first Christmas meal, Steve and I both chose the Christmas dinner followed by a Christmas slice. Our children ordered pizza and desserts from the regular children's menu,which considering they get a full sized pizza is a bargain at £4.25 for a main, dessert and unlimited juice.

Our favourite Christmas songs were playing in the background, our main's were served with unlimited jugs of gravy and cranberry sauce and our dessert's were rich yet moist with just a hint of rum. Perfect! 

Frankie and Benny's in one of the places I always feel 100% comfortable taking my children - it really doesn't matter if juice is spilled, your children are noisy or cutlery is dropped, nothing is ever to much trouble for the staff. I am not exaggerating when I say that Frankie and Benny's is the restaurant our children will ask to return to time and time again. If they're happy, I'm happy. We left Frankie and Benny's singing Santa Claus is coming to town with full tummies and smiles on all of our faces and were definitely feeling the Christmas spirit.

Follow Frankie and Benny's on twitter and use #FrankiesParty to join in the fun.


Fenwicks Window and Newcastle Continental Market 2014

Visiting Fenwicks window and the continental market in town during the last week in November is a little tradition of ours that really kicks off Christmas celebrations (you can remind yourself of last year's window here).

This year's window is themed around Alice in Wonderland. Here are our photos:-

Everyone enjoyed the window but I do hope it return's to a more Christmassy theme next year!

After the window, we always visit the continental market around Grey's monument. This year it was bigger and better than ever - we loved it, especially as they had a churro stall!

Next up on our Christmas calendar is a Festive feast at Frankie and Bennys tonight, putting the tree up and the arrival of elf on the shelf on Monday. Exciting!

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Me add three

Our perfect family holiday

We are a pretty adaptable family and have enjoyed all types of holiday from 5* all inclusive resorts to wild glamping on the coast of Northumberland. The location of our holiday doesn't really matter to us  (although I am partial to sunshine) - we will always make the most of our time together and have fun wherever we are.

We do however think that our perfect family holiday always contains five key ingredients - Good food, a chance to explore new cultures, time together as a family, time together as a couple and the chance to have fun trying something new.

We've been looking at old photographs and have re-lived lots of happy holiday memories based on these five key ingredients and would love to share them with you in this post. Let me know what you think.

1 - Good Food

Good food is hugely important to us as a family - it doesn't have to be expensive or fancy as long as it is fresh and tasty. Some of our happiest holiday memories have been created sitting around a table of delicious, local food and everyone digging in. 

Family meals are the time we all re-group and get the chance to re-connect and share what we've been up. We also have a soft spot for romantic meals for two on holiday which are the perfect way to relax and enjoy some grown up chat.

Chocolate brownie in a fancy restaurant

A Sunday lunch feast

Oysters during a date night for two

A visit to a Japanese restaurant

The time we all went for afternoon tea - so many cakes!!

Making our own pizzas
A snap of hubby on a recent date night

2 - The chance the explore new cultures

We aren't the sort of family who like to stay in our resort for the whole holiday - we will always plan at least one afternoon where we can venture out and visit the local sights. It is really important to us as a parents to introduce our children to as many different cultures as possible and we have been lucky that our children have always embraced experiencing new sights, sounds and tastes with us.

Heidi walking down Las Ramblas aged one

Posing outside La Sagrada Familla

Exploring the local food markets in Turkey

Looking out to Sea at Sitges

Some much needed Orange Juice in Marrakech

3 - Time together as a family

I work weekends and my husband works shifts so our time together as a family is really important to us - we love our family days out and creating new memories going on new adventures but equally if there is a park or beach around we'll use our imaginations to create our own adventures too.

Enjoying a walk by the sea in Spain

Taking part in craft club on a family holiday

The best way to cool down together in the summer

Playing together in the park - whatever the weather

Rockpooling and pirate fun on the Yorkshire coast

Working together to make one giant sand castle

4 - Time together as a couple

Having three children that are close in age can really test any relationship. We love our children dearly and our family days together are precious but it is very important for us to spend time investing in our marriage as well. We believe that happy parents=happy children and regular 'date nights' really are one of the reasons we are still happy after many years together.

We always make time to enjoy a date night just for us every couple of weeks - this could be a meal out, cooking for each other and watching a dvd or maybe a trip to the cinema or trying something completely new. We always try and make time for each other on holiday too whether this be using a kids club, taking grandparents with us to help with babysitting or simply putting the children to bed early one night and sharing a bottle of wine on the balcony.

Our trip to Glastonbury

Trying out the ice bar

Date night in Portugal

A night at Gidleigh Park

5 - Having fun trying something new

Our family lives by the ethos that 'you only live once'. We are given one life and really do want to live it to the full. We will honestly give anything a go once and our family and friends will often roll their eyes when we tell them about our next venture or idea (the latest one being camping in the UK in December!) but who cares what they think? We will throw ourselves into everything we try and will turn any new experience into lots of fun and create lots of memories whilst doing so.

Staying on a farm and learning to look after chickens

Getting very wet during a speedboat ride

Dancing in the mud when we went to a local music festival together

Preparing to take part in a battle against real life Vikings

Trying our hand at Moroccan cooking

Learning to trust a friend as we tried a blindfolded woodland trail

Staying in a wigwam and learning how to build a fire

So these are what we think are the key ingredients to a perfect family holiday. Do you agree? I would love to hear what you think.

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