Monday, 28 November 2011

'Good' Xmas Presents for the Kids

Some sociologists and childless journalists berate modern working parents for the paucity of quality time that they spend with their offspring. This leads to Christmas becoming a guiltfest, expunged by the giving of ridiculously expensive and indulgent presents. This year, the signs are that the financial crisis will take the wind out of the sails of this tendency, putting a more economical model in place.
     I have a couple of suggestions for parents looking for ideas that combine thrift and quality contact time.
     The first comes from an unlikely source-IKEA, master of the flatpack universe. Their gingerbread house comes as you would expect, flatpacked in a see through plastic container with assembly instructions.  It consists of two roof panels, two sides, two ends and a cute four piece chimney. A screwdriver is not required! The whole thing glues together, either with icing or melted sugar. For convenience we chose the latter since it sets instantly but I had forgotten how dangerously hot it is so would advise using mobile icing if the kids are doing this bit. Decoration is then a question of self expression with icing for snow and small sweets for patterns. After admiring it for a few days you can then have a little party to eat it-yummy. All that for less than £3.
    The second comes from National Geographic in their Dinosaur Dig series. It's a set of plastic dinosaur bones buried in a friable clay martix. Tools are provided to dig out the bones one by one and gradually reveal the structure of the skeleton. Smaller children will need a little help with this stage.
The final assembly job gives a model for permanent display.

On the writing front I'm waiting for the galley proofs for the print version of The Stuart Agenda with fingers crossed that it will be available to order for Christmas.

The Stuart Agenda by Alan Calder- e-book at,, and Barnes and Noble 

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