Check this page for our latest blog including news, seasonal tips and useful articles for families in Cheshire, Manchester, Liverpool, Wirral, Wrexham & Flintshire.
Did you know that if you use Royal Mail to write to Santa, he’ll try to write back?
Get your Letter to Santa in the post with Royal Mail’s new Christmas stamps by Friday 7th December 2018 and he’ll do his best to reply to you:
Send your letters to:
Make sure you attach a stamp and don’t forget to include your name and address!
If you liked this article, take a look at our other blog posts
Visit a seasonal ice rink for some active family fun this Christmas and New Year 2018
Kids can get a bit over excited and stir crazy over Christmas and the New Year. Taking kids ice skating is a festive treat which gets everyone active and into the fresh air.
Visiting a family-friendly ice rink might also be the answer to what to do with kids when Christmas is over and before term starts again in January, especially that tricky few days between Christmas and New Year.
Don’t worry if your kids are young and can’t skate, just look for a rink which offers skating aids – often skating penguins that small children can hang on to until they get their balance.
So to help get you and the children out of the house, here’s our listing of where you can find family friendly festive ice rinks in the North West this winter.
There are lots of magical and original places to see Father Christmas in Manchester, Cheshire, Liverpool, Wirral, Wrexham and Flintshire.
Whether you are looking for a free place to see Santa or a traditional Santa’s grotto with a gift to take home, we have some great suggestions for Santa’s grottoes near you.
Traditional grottoes with a gift
Keep it old school. There are lots of traditional Santa’s grottoes where you can pay to visit Father Christmas in his Grotto and receive a gift. Some also feature storytelling from Mother Christmas and Christmas crafts & activities with Santa’s little helpers, the Elves. Don’t forget to tell Santa what you want for Christmas!
Have a ride and see Santa
For a different experience why not take a steam train ride or a boat trip to See Santa? Taking a special trip to see Santa will build the excitement and leave a lasting happy memory. It might also give older, slightly reluctant, children the excuse to see Santa one more time.
Santa’s grottoes for animal lovers
Some Father Christmas grottoes have real reindeer – what a wonderful way to fire up your child’s imagination! Real animal lovers can even visit Santa on a farm where there will be a whole variety of animals to see and learn about.
Rather than going to see Father Christmas, why not dress as Santa and raise money for charity? Most towns now have a Santa Dash where even young children can dress as the big man himself and take part in a fun run in aid of a good cause. It’s a great way for all the family to start the Christmas season.
Find out where you can see Santa this Christmas …
There are lots of pantomimes and family-friendly shows this Christmas in Manchester, Cheshire, Liverpool, Wirral, Wrexham and Flintshire. It’s great to get together and take the family out for a treat over the festive season. And there are plenty of Christmas family shows to choose from.
Everyone loves a panto! Oh, yes they do! What could be more traditional than the annual dose of songs and silliness which is the Christmas panto. Kids love the daft jokes and shouting out “behind you!” And, if we’re honest, so do we grown ups! There are the large popular pantos with t.v. celebrities dressed in lavish costumes taking place in major theatres across the North West. Or you might prefer to support your small local theatre company putting on a panto in your local micro-theatre or town hall. If you fancy something a bit different, try one of the fabulous local rock and roll pantos. You won’t find reality t.v. stars but you will find a very talented cast of multi-tasking musicians and comic actors.
Family Christmas Shows
If you would rather find an alternative to pantomimes, there are a range of family shows taking place this Christmas. Traditional family favourites such as The Wizard of Oz are being put on the stage as well as family-friendly musicals including Dr Dolittle and Wicked.
Another lovely idea for a family treat is to book tickets for one of the specially designed family-friendly concerts taking place this Christmas – perfect if you like a singalong. The Hallé’s Family Concert is always a delight with gorgeous music, popular family tunes and lots of audience interaction. And if you’re a Raymond Briggs fan, catch one of the family screenings of his classic and beautifully animated tales accompanied by a live orchestra.
If you’ve never been to a festive family show before, why not start a new family tradition this Christmas? Some shows sell out early, so take a look now:
Does the long school holiday seem to be getting more and more expensive? Don’t worry, we’ve got some great ideas for things your kids can do which won’t cost you money.
Here are ideas for free children’s activities to do at home, free things for kids to do face-to-face with friends & family and ideas for places to go which cost nothing. And all these kids’ activities are unplugged. So if you want to know how to get your kids off their phones, tablets and Xboxes, take a look at this list for some free school holiday activity inspiration.
Not sure you can convince your lovely child to put down their device and try something more creative? How about getting them to pick three things off this list they’re willing to try and set a day and time to do them. Or agree a time each day (afternoons?) when they’ll switch off their Snapchat notifications and try something new.
Here’s the ultimate 100 free things for kids to do this summer. And all without an electronic device in sight!
With this glorious weather where better to take the children than these nearby fabulous family-friendly beaches?
Summer is here so it’s time to dig out that bucket and spade, stock up on sunscreen and cool drinks and head to the beach. Beaches make the perfect family day out with opportunities for building sandcastles, swimming, playing beach games or simply sun bathing.
Here in the North West of England and North Wales we are blessed with some of the best beaches in the country. We have beaches with nature reserves and sand dunes, traditional seaside beaches with piers, amusement arcades and fish and chips shops, beaches with lighthouses and rockpools and even a beach with a world famous art installation. Whatever your taste there’s a beach to suit your family within easy reach.
So here are our suggestions for the best beaches for families with children near Liverpool, Manchester, Wirral, Cheshire, Wrexham and Flintshire.
Ideas for things to do with grandparents, parents and children of all ages
So you’re hoping to have a family day out which will keep grandparents happy and will be fun for children too! You need ideas for activities will work for all generations. Happily, we’ve pulled together some great suggestions for things to do that will keep all the family happy! Plus some tips for things to consider when planning a day out for family members of different ages.
Top tips for a successful multi-generational day out.
- Make sure there’s something to interest everyone.
Your child may love a theme park but will your elderly parents feel the same way? Why not look for an historical house and garden which has plenty of interest for adults but also has a play area and a schedule of family friendly activities.
- Focus on food.
Toddlers can’t go too long without eating, teenagers get grumpy when they are hungry and grandma loves a cup of tea. So check your destination has a cafe or remember to take food with you.
- Take your time.
One thing toddlers and their grandparents have in common is that they generally don’t like to be rushed. So don’t try to cram too much in. Just slow down and let everyone enjoy the moment.
- Avoid too much walking.
If you have very young children or anyone with mobility issues think about how much walking will be involved and plan accordingly.
- Keep an eye out for family friendly events.
Don’t just look at permanent attractions. Scour what’s on listings for family friendly events near you (see links at the bottom of this page). Events for families are usually geared up to have something to engage everyone.
Here are some great suggestions for family activities all generations will enjoy
Things Dad and the kids will enjoy doing this Father’s Day
It’s Father’s Day on Sunday 17th June. You may have started thinking about Father’s Day presents but have you decided what you’re going to do together as a family to celebrate? What would Dad enjoy doing which the kids will find fun too? Something that will create lovely memories and not a family argument! The trick is to come up with something centred on dad’s interests but which will keep children entertained too.
Here are some suggestions for family friendly activities to make Dad’s Day special.
How to plan a kids’ party which will appeal to both boys and girls
So you’ve got a children’s party to organise and there are going to be girls and boys coming. What kids’ party theme will work well for mixed genders? You could go down the dual theme route such as knights and princesses, but the chances are that one half of the theme won’t work as well as the other – it’s a lot harder to dress up as a knight than a princess! You need to find a kids’ party theme which is truly gender neutral and will appeal to everyone equally.
Gender neutral fancy dress ideas
If you’re planning a mixed gender fancy dress party, the theme should provide lots of options for both boys and girls to dress up as simply or as fancily as the children (or more probably their parents) wish. So it’s a good idea to pick a party theme which has a broad scope. That’s why World Book Day is so popular, it gives the opportunity for all sorts of different outfits to suit every child’s taste. Not all kids like dressing up so choose a theme which allows minimal dressing up for children who prefer normal clothes.
Budget friendly mixed gender parties
Unless you have a very healthy bank balance, you will probably want to keep costs down. (Take a look at our blog on keeping down the cost of kids’ parties.) You can save money by making home made decorations and fancy dress outfits but then you’ll need to consider how practical your planned party theme really is. A Star Wars party would be cool and there is lots of themed party ware available online so that would be an easy option. But how much it will all cost? Making a homemade death star or stormtrooper outfit might be beyond your creative talents. And consider what you are asking of the other parents. A space-themed party could be great but no one is going to thank you if they have to fork out for a full astronaut outfit for their six year old!
Professional party entertainers offering parties for both girls and boys
There are lots of good quality professional party entertainers creating great parties to suit both genders. Most of the better general party entertainment companies will offer a wide range of bespoke themes and can use their expertise to advise what will work best for your age group and gender balance. Active parties are good. Play centres are popular and offer good value deals while some of the out-of-school sports clubs offer activity parties with age appropriate games and competitions. Older kids might enjoy going to a climbing wall, high ropes course, trampolining or sports venue. Most kids will love a dinosaur themed party or even a real animal encounter party where they’ll have fun and learn something too! Science parties for kids always go with a bang! A craft party can appeal to boys as well as girls especially if it involves something messy like clay or slime! If you’d prefer to provide your own entertainment you might still consider hiring a bouncy castle which will keep kids happily occupied for hours.
To find local contact details for a wide range of party entertainment and hire companies, see the links at the bottom of this page.
Here are our suggestions for the top six gender neutral party themes for a kids’ party at home
There’s something for all ages and interests this May half term
Wondering what to do with the kids this May half term? We’ve picked six of the best family friendly events and there’s something to please everyone.
The Amazed by Science festival has events all across Cheshire, including at the world-famous Jodrell Bank, perfect for scientists of all ages. Turn your little ones into nature lovers by taking them to see the ducklings at Martin Mere. For something a bit grander, check out the Tall Ships Festival in Liverpool which has lots of family friendly fun on offer. There’s a choice of medieval fun with “Joust, Tournament & Mellee” at Beeston Castle and the “Knights and Princesses Weekend” at Chirk Castle. And finally, families with very young children can take their teddies “down to the woods today” at Dunham Massey’s Teddy Bears’ Picnic.
5 of the best family friendly events this early May Bank Holiday weekend.
Hooray for the early May long bank holiday weekend, and there’s lots happening for families!
From traditional May Day events in Knutsford and Liverpool to muddy charity obstacle races in Warrington to steam engines in Bolton and family bluebell walks in Cheshire, there really is something for everyone.
If you’ve been wondering what’s on this bank holiday weekend in the North West, here are five of the best family-friendly events to enjoy with your children.
This Easter holiday there are lots of Easter themed fun events planned for families across the North West.
Of course there are dozens of Easter trails and Easter egg hunts. Head off to a National Trust property in Cheshire, Wrexham, Flintshire or Liverpool and you can take part in one of their Cadbury’s chocolate Easter trails. Or get outdoors at Martin Mere in Lancashire and help them find their missing giant Easter ducks.
If you prefer dinosaurs to ducks then book the Dino Disco Challenge – an interactive event for all the family taking place in Manchester this Easter.
For something a bit messier, release your inner slime monster at one of Kraftynoon’s Easter slime workshops.
Or swing through the trees at Go Ape Delemere in Cheshire.
Whatever your idea of Easter family fun there’s something for all ages happening this Easter holiday …
Mother’s Day this year is on 11th March 2018
Mums deserve a treat this Mother’s Day. But free Mother’s Day treats are even better! There are some great family friendly places offering free entry for mothers this Mother’s Day.
So, if you are looking for a cheap family day out in the North West this Mother’s Day, take a look at our suggestions … More
World Book Day this year is on 1st March 2018
We all know that World Book Day is a wonderful thing. It encourages children to read by firing up their imaginations, they have fun dressing up as their favourite fictional character and they even get a World Book Day token to spend on a book.
So it’s sad that World Book Day strikes fear into the hearts of many parents because they feel have to make the best costume!
World Book Day isn’t a parenting, sewing or dressing up competition, it’s about inspiring kids to read. So wave goodbye to your guilt and competitive streak. Don’t spend money on outfits, spend it on books!
If you are brilliant at making costumes then that’s wonderful, but if you are a World Book Day cheat who can’t sew and doesn’t want to spend a fortune, here are some very easy ideas for children’s book character costumes you can put together at home (even last minute!) using clothes and items you already have.
Our suggestions for things to do with children this February half term include Chinese New Year Celebrations in Manchester, Liverpool & Chester, excuses to put on your wellyboots in Lancashire, Cheshire and Liverpool; family snowdrop walks in Wirral, Cheshire and North Wales, lovely warm indoor craft centres all across the region plus a few inspirational ideas for something completely different to do with the kids at half term.
So, if you’re wondering what to do this February holiday, take a look at our pick of some of the best ideas to get outdoors with the children or try a new family-friendly activity indoors if it’s cold and wet (as if it would be!) …
Cooking is an important life skill so it’s important to get children excited about trying cooking for themselves. Luckily most kids love food and adore getting sticky so you’re already off to a great start. Plus, kids’ cookery is something you can do with children at home without too much expense or preparation and can be a great way to use up a rainy afternoon.
Learning to cook is not only enjoyable but if your children develop the skills and enthusiasm to cook for themselves from scratch then they’ll be on track to a healthy and cheaper life as they grow up.
Here is Kidsguide’s top ten tips for making cooking fun for kids: More
Did you know that when you research “planning a children’s party” online one of the initial responses is a 37 point checklist? Follow that with hundreds of “tip” pages, themed Pinterest boards, ads, even apps!
Have you got time to plan a kids’ party in that detail? No? Thought not! Let’s stop fuelling the madness, take a deep breath and focus on a shinier, sharper top 5 ultimate party planner to do list:
Basic pancake recipe
110g (4 oz) plain flour sifted
2 medium eggs
280 mls (1/2 pint) milk
splash of vegetable oil
Whisk together ingredients till smooth. Pour one ladle-ful into a hot non-stick frying pan. Cook till golden both sides.
7 best quick pancake toppings kids will love:
It may be cold out there but it’s time to get the kids outside for some fresh air. Wrap up warm and take your children for family walk this winter. To make it more appealing, we’ve put together some some great suggestions for family friendly walks and places to go outdoors in Cheshire, Manchester, Liverpool, Wirral, Flintshire & Wrexham.
Sometimes you just need a way to entertain the children at home without any expense, preparation or mess.
Here are some easy ideas for fun activities kids can do on a rainy day which don’t require you to spend any money or take hours planning or clearing up. Why not bookmark this page for when you hear those dreaded words “I’m bored! What can we do?” More
The Pokemon Go craze is sweeping the world. If you children haven’t played it yet, they soon will.
This article tells you what exactly Pokemon Go is and gives useful advice on the risks to your children and how you can help them enjoy playing Pokemon Go safely.
Karen Gee from Cycle Sprog shares a few of the best places in the North West to get pedalling with the kids:
Local parks – even the smallest parks usually have space for cycling. Bigger ones, such as Everton Park, have dedicated cycle routes running through them.
Old railway lines – flat and straight, disused railways are a great place for young riders to gain confidence and pick up speed. Kids will love the Chester Greenway, Wirral Way or the Fallowfield loop.
Forests – great places for all year round cycling, forests such as Delamere in Cheshire provide welcome shade on hot days.
It’s exciting to have some special treats for a kids’ party but it’s even better if they are easy and fun to make so your child can be involved too.
Here are five fun ideas for kids’ party snacks that are easy enough for small children to help prepare:
Chocolate sprinkle bread sticks
Half-dip mini breadsticks in melted chocolate then decorate with a selection of sprinkles. Tip – stand them in a mug to dry.
Mini pizza biscuits
Place round cheesy biscuits on a baking tray. Spread a very little tomato puree on each biscuit, then sprinkle with grated cheese and a little dried herbs. Heat in the oven till the cheese has started to melt – only takes a few minutes so watch carefully!
Marshmallow funny faces
Use a food colouring pen to draw silly faces on multi-coloured marshmallows. Keep the designs simple – use emoticons for inspiration!
April Fool’s Day tricks for children.
Hide a strip of bubblewrap between the toilet seat & the bowl so when your victim sits down it goes pop!
Carry an empty mug really carefully with both hands as if it’s over-full. When you get close to your victim pretend to trip so they think they are about to be soaked.
Dissolve some More
Kids love growing their own veg!
We aren’t all blessed with spinach loving angels but almost all kids enjoy growing veggies themselves. And once they have grown their own vegetables they are more likely to eat them and they’ll have learned a bit about where food comes from. Plus you’ll be confident about the lack of pesticides on their food and justifiably smug about the lack of food miles!
What do you need for your kids to grow vegetables? More
These pancakes are really tasty but just happen to also be healthy plus gluten and dairy free! Perfect if you have a child who can’t have wheat or lactose but doesn’t want to miss out on pancake day! These simple pancakes are suitable for vegans as well. And they’re so yummy that everyone else in the family will love them too.
The recipe is very easy and takes about 10 mins. They keep very well in the fridge so you could make these pancakes the day before for a quick & healthy breakfast.
19 practical tips to encourage young and older kids to love reading and to love books.
Even very young babies love playing with books, being cuddled and having stories read to them.
Keep it fun
Don’t be embarrassed to act out the story or use silly voices and actions. Stop before your child gets bored.
Engage your child with the story
Let them finish the lines, turn the pages, ask and answer questions.
Set an example
Make time to read yourself. Let your child see that you read whether it’s books, newspapers or magazines. More
The new term is starting so now is a great time to think about enrolling your child in a new club. But why bother, they already do lots at school don’t they? Or maybe your child is still very little and you don’t see the point. In fact, a well-run after school club or pre-school class can really enrich your child’s life in many ways.
For a start it’s not school or home. The atmosphere and culture will be different. Being introduced to another way of doing things will help them develop flexibility and cope with new situations later in life. More
A picnic can be a great way to entertain the children cheaply, and get some fresh air at the same time. It all sounds easy enough but if you don’t do a little basic planning, it can all go horribly wrong – no one wants burnt noses, insect bites or cold, wet toddlers. To make sure your family picnic is one for the scrapbook rather than the scrapheap, we’ve put together a quick checklist.
1. Check the weather forecast – don’t be put off if the weather isn’t perfect, just make sure you have the right clothes/umbrella/windbreak.
2. Choose somewhere with built-in entertainment – a sandy beach, a stream to throw pebbles in or a nearby playground would all do nicely.
3. Take sunscreen. Put some on before you go and take more with you for topping up. Don’t forget the sunhat!
Talking to your child about how to stay safe from sexual abuse can be difficult. More
Thinking of a present to give Dad on Father’s Day can be a challenge!
Here are 10 ideas for simple gifts children can make for Dad on Father’s Day. They hardly cost anything and Dad will appreciate them much more than something bought in a shop. More
We’ve all seen those magazine-perfect photos of tables laden with hand-piped cupcakes and vegetables carved into crocodiles. And it’s always presented on expensive themed party ware, of course. Well, don’t even think about it! What your child needs is a calm, relaxed parent who hasn’t worn themselves out before the party even starts.
So, here are a few tips for keeping it simple. Your child will thank you (not literally of course!). More
“Let’s get out of the house and go for a walk kids!”
“NO! We want to stay inside.”
Does this sound familiar? Well, there’s one surefire way to get unenthusiastic children out for a walk. Try geocaching with the family. More
Building a bird feeder can be quick and easy when you know how. Kids will love helping you make the feeder and will be delighted when the first little feathered friend comes to visit!
Follow this simple step-by-step guide.
What should the children get for Granny and Grandad this Christmas? Most grandparents don’t want any more possessions. And let’s face it, Christmas is expensive enough. The perfect answer is a home crafted present which Nanna and Grandpa will treasure for ever. More
Meet other parents and carers, develop your child’s social skills and 7 more reasons to give your local toddler group a go!
1. Getting out of the house
Being at home on your own with More
The long days of summer are a fantastic opportunity to get out and enjoy a bike ride with the kids. Whether you’ve been inspired by Le Tour de France, or fancy something a bit more leisurely, the whole family can enjoy cycling together.
You’re never too young to go on a family bike ride!
If your children are too young to pedal themselves they don’t need to be left out of a family bike ride. Trailers, bike seats and More
These party games always go down well with kids and take little preparation and almost no mess. As each game has an animal name they work equally well for boys’ parties or girls’ parties or parties with boys and girls! And, if it’s an animal themed party, it’s perfect! More