Danielle Wilkins

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    LaCoqueta1

    The luxury Spanish brand brings its designs to the capital’s Ledbury Road for 2018

    Nestled in the hub of West London, La Coqueta’s second store is the sister of its flagship store in Hampstead Village and will boast high quality pieces for boys and girls aged up to 10 years. The brand is a reported favourite of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, with both Prince George and Princess Charlotte being previously spotted wearing the label’s garments over the last few years.

    LaCoqueta

    Founded in 2013 by mother of five Celia Munoz, the brand channels a Spanish vintage aesthetic and craftsmanship into modern, wearable designs for little ones. For more details, visit lacoquetakids.com or pop into the store at 61 Ledbury Road, London W11 2AA.

      The-Wells_1

      A luxurious city break for families with mini travellers in tow is now easier than ever, thanks to The Wellesley’s new Little Explorers package. Danielle Wilkins checks in

      With a prestigious London location, brilliant views of Hyde Park and a restaurant that offers up some of the best Italian fare in the capital, I already knew we were in for a treat when we visited The Wellesley. But what I hadn’t realised before was just how much the five-star Knightsbridge hotel welcomed families – with plush two-bedroom suites and a new package to make even the youngest of guests feel at home.

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      And ‘at home’ is the only way to describe the feeling, as you sink into the sofa in the spacious lounge area of your park-view suite. The finishing touches – like the generous fruit platter, stocked mini bar and piles of magazines – and the cosy, art deco interior are enough to leave you ready to hole up inside for the weekend and leave the hustle and bustle of the city firmly on the pavement outside.

      The-Wells_5

      There are 36 rooms in total. The vibe is elegant and opulent, with 1920s-inspired artwork on the walls and an ample, Italian marble bathroom complete with Hermès toiletries, but it’s also a space that you and the kids can relax in, particularly when they discover the child-sized plush robes and slippers that have been thoughtfully left on the bed for them, alongside a selection of Burt’s Bees kids’  bathroom goodies. Your very own twinkly-eyed butler is there to cater for your family’s needs 24/7, and there are complimentary movies on demand. There’s no doubt, The Wellesley has all the luxury of a grand art deco hotel, but the comfort and cosiness of a family guest house. It exudes class and charm, without a single ounce of pretension.

      The-Wells_3
      Enjoy dessert or a nightcap in the adjoining Jazz Lounge

      With Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Gardens and the sights and sounds of Knightsbridge all within easy reach, The Wellesley is perfectly placed for exploring London with the children on foot, or by using the hotel’s complimentary Rolls-Royce drop-off service. But if you’re checking in for date night, you can’t go wrong with dinner and a glass of something chilled and fizzy at the hotel’s intimate Oval Restaurant, before ending with a nightcap in the Jazz Lounge or Cigar Terrace. Follow that with a full English and continental buffet with the kids back in the restaurant the following morning, and you’ll be ready to take on the capital all over again.

      The Little Explorers package is priced £1,395 per night for two adults and two children. Visit thewellesley.co.uk

        hacks
        The turkey’s ordered, the tree is up, the Christmas shopping is almost done… It’s time to cut yourself some slack already. Georgie Blaskey shares her top tips for time-poor parents during the festive season

        Laundry panic button
        Between dropping off the kids at school, working your high-pressure job, buying last-minute presents and stocking the house for Christmas, the last thing you want to do after a busy day is tackle that pile of laundry! ihateironing, the UK’s first on-demand dry cleaning and laundry service, has the perfect solution. The company is launching a ‘laundry on demand’ button, which when pressed, signals a driver to pick up the whole family’s laundry and return it cleaned and beautifully pressed in 24 hours. Place your order by the evening of 22 December for freshly cleaned clothes back the next day, ready to pack or fold away.

        Eyelash enhancement
        No one wants to greet their house guests looking washed out with puffy eyes, and while lash extensions can be amazing, they can also look a bit OTT over a dawn o’clock cup of char with your father-in-law. Thankfully, the Mylash lift treatment creates the illusion of longer, thicker lashes without the need for extensions. The effect lasts for six weeks, so well in to New Year you’ll look awake and bright-eyed even when you don’t feel it. Call Queens Beauty (SW11) on 07506 876745 for the perfect flutter.

        Oven fresh
        When it comes to feeding — a crowd, some friends, even just yourself — nearly homemade is more than good enough. By all means make like Nigella and whip up a feast on Christmas Day, but for the days in between, stock up the freezer, put the oven on, sit back and watch the Michael McIntyre Christmas special instead. cookfood.net

        Peace be with you
        If your Christmas break involves a certain amount of time with family, it can be intense. Be honest with yourself and upfront about who pushes your buttons about what and how you are going to cope. If there are hot spots, discuss them with your partner first so you can stick together and support one another. Areas it’s wise to avoid (especially if alcohol is freely flowing) are politics, child-rearing, and money. May the force be with you!

        Wrappers delight
        Amazon has long been a household favourite, then we discovered Amazon Prime and our shopping deadline dreams came true. Now there’s yet another string to the online department store’s bow. Wrapping. As in, they wrap for you! Normally in a pale gold, unisex, tasteful paper with a gorgeous bright red bow. Who knew a brown cardboard box could hold the key to our hearts?

        Christmas cards you don’t need to write
        It starts around card 10 with a small finger pain from gripping the pen too tightly, but by number 25, arm ache has set in good and strong. Visit Moo for an amazing selection of groovy graphic designs and have your inside message printed. Now all you need to do is write the envelopes. If you have older children, what about paying them 5p per envelope written? So you can put your feet up and open that bottle of nicely chilled prosecco?

        Get your glow back
        Within days of school breaking up, your skin starts creasing as it slowly dehydrates from central heating, unusually high alcohol consumption, too many salty canapés, lack of sleep and harsh cold weather. Invest in a facial oil to see you through. We love Rosalena face oils because they’re packed with powerful antioxidants to revitalise and brighten your skin at a great price. “Best of all, you can layer them with your existing skincare routine or even dab a bit on your cheeks — over your foundation — for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up,” says founder Helena Chapman.

        Podcast blast
        Let’s be honest, all the extra household chores are just so boring. But why not use the extra time to listen to some brilliant podcasts to pass the time? Plug in your ear phones and the bed-stripping and mince-pie making will fly past. For a blast of brain food we love Freakonomics, for fashion fun, The PanDolly Podcast, for inspiration, Ted talks, and for comedy Go Super Ego.

        Good hair day, every day
        Knock them out with a great hair day every day over the festive break and invest in a clip-on hair piece. Put your preconceptions on hold — fake hair has come a long way. An instant, sleek ponytail made from true-to-life, realistic faux hair fibre measuring 20 inches in length, the piece from Hair Rehab London is an easy-to-use design applied within minutes using a simple wrap-around motion of the attached strip of hair to the ponytail hairpiece.

          Xmas-eve-sleep 

          We know little ones can get very excited in the run up to Christmas – here’s how to make sure they actually sleep the night before the big day

          From leaving midnight snacks out for Santa and his reindeer to late-night carol singing, there are lots of reasons why bedtime routines might fall into disarray on Christmas Eve. Getting children to go to bed (and stay there) can be challenging at the best of times, without all the excitement of the following day. With that in mind, sleep expert and co-founder of Sleepio, professor Colin Espie from the University of Oxford, shares his tips for getting the little ones off to sleep before Santa arrives.

          1. Be active during the day
          There is plenty of evidence to suggest that regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night, and for children that is no exception. “One Australian study found that every hour a child spends inactive adds three minutes to the time taken to nod off,” says Espie. “Take a break from Christmas movies and head to the park to help expend excess energy in good time before bed.”

          2. Stick to bedtime routines and rituals 
          A consistent bedtime routine before lights out will signal that it’s time to go to sleep: “If you’re staying away from home, find ways to recreate parts of the routine, even if they are happening later than usual,” says Espie. “Preparing for bed in the same order each night (such as bath, brushing teeth, stories, goodnight hug) will help with readiness for sleep, wherever you are. Bringing familiar bedding, toys and books will help them relax and feel secure away from home.”

          3. Act before they get overtired
          Young children are often reluctant to admit they are tired – even more so when the alternative to bed is playing with shiny new toys. “Look for signs of sleepiness before your child starts to be overtired, which is often the driver for ‘hyper’ behaviour,” says Espie. “Try to start the bedtime routine at a consistent time. If they really don’t feel tired, they can play quietly in their bed with the lights low. If you notice your child is often overtired at night, experiment by shifting the whole bedtime routine forward by 15-30 minutes.”

          4. Give plenty of notice
          Let them know in advance when bedtime is coming up – then stick to what you’ve said, for example, ‘In 10 minutes the cartoon will end and it’ll be bath time, and then we’ll have time for two books.’ A timer which rings when playtime runs out could be a useful signal that it’s time for bed, too.
          “If your child refuses to stay in bed, try to avoid giving extra attention for bad behaviour,” says Espie. “Be as neutral and uninterested as you can as you return your child to bed, even if you have to do this a few times. Consistency is key – even at Christmas – to help the whole family sleep well.”

          5. And if all else fails…blame Santa
          “With a house full of guests, your little one may understandably feel as though they are missing out on all the excitement by going to bed. If you still find you have a stubborn and weary young one – hanging onto the bannisters in protest – the suggestion that Father Christmas only leaves presents for children who are asleep might just be enough of an incentive to encourage lights-out. At least that’s what the elves told me…”

            Festive fashion for your dancefloor divas

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            (From left) Ella wears top, £9.99, Zara. Skirt, £63, Stella McCartney Kids at Childrensalon. Kayla-Mae wears pinafore dress, £40, Peacheyboo. Hooded top, £30, Kingdom of Origin.

            FASH_4

            Roman wears shirt, £76, and sweater vest, £65, both Paul Smith Junior at Childrensalon. Jeans, £65, Vingino. Trainers, £43, Converse. Kayla-Mae wears sweater, £69, Abercrombie & Fitch. Skirt, £59, Stella McCartney Kids at Childrensalon. Socks, £3.99, Next. Trainers, £30, Chika 10.

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            Ella wears sweater, £54, Noé & Zoë. Pinafore dress, £65, Kingdom of Origin. Tights, £5.99, Next. Boots, £51.99, Little Diva.

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            Kayla-Mae wears coat, £39.99, Zara. T-shirt, £35.80, Someday Soon. Leggings, £36, Noé & Zoë. Shoes, £45, Enrico Coveri. Roman wears blazer, £25, H&M. T-shirt, £89, Moschino at Childrensalon. Jeans, £75, John Galliano at Childrensalon.

            FASH_5

            Kayla-Mae wears top, £91, Givenchy at Childrensalon. Skirt, £45, Agatha Ruiz De La Prada at Childrensalon.

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            Clothes all as before.

            Photography: Amber Eggleden
            Styling: Alicia Aparicio
            Hair and make-up: Kylie McClelland using Aveda and Jurlique
            Models: Ella at Kids London; Kayla-Mae and Roman at Grace and Galor

             

              We round up some of our favourite places to unwind with the kids this festive season

              Photography: Instagram/@peggyporschenofficial
              Photography: Instagram/@peggyporschenofficial

              Best for: Meeting Father Christmas 
              Belgravia – and in particular Elizabeth Street – is always beautifully lit up around the festive period, and this year it is launching its very first Father Christmas in Residence, in partnership with award-winning cake designer Peggy Porschen. Father Christmas’s newest residence promises to be an authentic adaptation of his North Pole abode, with a gloriously nostalgic living room complete with roaring log fire, lavish sofas and an opulent Victorian Christmas tree. Families can kick back as Father Christmas reads one of his favourite Christmas tales, and enjoy festive treats from Peggy Porschen, plus a surprise to take home. And don’t forget to have your photo with the big man himself! There will also be plenty of free goings-on happening on Elizabeth Street from Sunday 3 December, including craft stalls, children’s entertainment, choirs, brass bands and seasonal food and drink.
              Father Christmas in Residence from Saturday 9 to Wednesday 20 December; £5 per child and accompanying adult. All proceeds will be donated to the national children’s literacy charity Beanstalk. Visit 141 Ebury Street, London SW1W 9QW

              5_BY-THE-RIVER

              Best for: Crafts and carols 
              Christmas by the River in London Bridge City will not only showcase a brilliant festive market this month, but there’s a schedule of themed workshops happening, too. Jumpers For Joy will be hosted by Brixton fashion boutique Make Do and Mend, giving you the chance to jazz up your sweater with a range of materials and a sleigh full of tools. Families can also join the pro musical improv team from The Nursery Theatre to write their very own Christmas carol. Talk about finishing your day on a high note…
              Jumpers For Joy, Friday 15 December at 1pm. Christmas Carol Writing, Wednesday 20 December, 1pm. Both workshops are free, simply sign up online. Visit The Pier event space, London Bridge City SE1 2DB

              2_SKYLIGHT

              Best for: Rooftop views
              Enjoy a family weekend skate while taking in the sights at Skylight at Tobacco Dock. As well as the brilliant ice rink, there’s ice hockey, delicious cheese and chocolate fondue, seasonal cocktails, areas to cosy up in for lunch, and a whole lot more.
              Open for families 12pm to 6pm Saturday and Sunday. Skating from £10 each. Visit Tobacco Dock, Pennington Street Entrance, Wapping, London E1W 2SF

              3_SAVOY

              Best for: Those with a sweet tooth  
              London’s iconic hotels are a dream to visit at Christmas time, and The Savoy is no exception as it’s transformed into a festive wonderland for December. Begin your visit by spotting its extravagant Christmas tree decorated by British perfume house Penhaligon’s, and the standout gingerbread hut created by pastry chef Ludwig Hely. Then take a trip to the hotel’s in-house gourmet coffee counter Melba for a mouthwatering selection of decadent hot chocolates and sumptuous toppings, including crushed macaron, cookie dough and crunchy chocolate pearls. Drinks can be finished off with a drizzle of chocolate or salted caramel sauce. And if you can manage one of its éclairs (ahem…we’re sure you can), check out the new sherry trifle and dark chocolate, and mulled wine flavours.
              Melba is open daily until 7pm, excluding Sundays. Visit The Savoy, Strand, London WC2R 0EU

              1_IMAGINARIUM

              Best for: A eclectic grotto 
              For a ‘parallel’ world where Christmas has been cancelled and St Nicky is leading the revolution, head over to the Imaginarium – a pop-up arts space in an old Victorian warehouse on Southwark Street. Embrace the anarchy with creative collage fun at the topsy-turvy world of St Nicky’s Drawing Centre, have a go at beeswax candle making and shop the festive market for quirky gifts, such as neon signs, hand-drawn illustrations and ceramics. There will also be immersive theatre, live jazz and blues music for adults.
              St Nicky’s Drawing Centre workshop, Saturday 9 December, 1pm to 3pm. Candle-making workshop, Saturday 2 and Sunday 10 December, 12pm to 1pm. Visit 32 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TU

              4_EIS-HAUS
              Photography: Alexander Mourant

              Best for: Date night
              Back to Christmas by the River in the capital’s London Bridge City now, and Eis Haus brings its ski-inspired ice bar to the banks of the Thames for five weeks. The urban alpine resort will showcase everything from whimsically lit-up ice carvings to live DJs, gondolas and a full programme of events, all wrapped around a sub-zero bar. Recline on the ice throne while you sip drinks from frozen glasses, warm up outdoors with a hot toddy, and take in the festive sights, sounds and smells of the free Christmas market around you. A super-cool nightspot that adventure-seeking couples will love.
              Open daily, 12pm to 10pm. Experience tickets from £15 each; the Apres Ski Bar and entertainment are free. Visit London Bridge City, 2A More London Riverside, London SE1 2DB

                LITTLE-MISS-MAIN

                There’s a new, 39th Little Miss joining children’s favourites Little Miss Sunshine, Little Miss Brainy and Little Miss Chatterbox. And she’s out just in time for International Women’s Day on 8 March 2018. But who is she?

                Joining the literary stable next year is Little Miss Inventor – an intelligent, ingenious and inventive character who turns her ideas into extraordinary inventions in a shed at the bottom of her garden. As well as inventing things for herself, she also invents things for friends, whether it’s a chatter-natter hat for Little Miss Chatterbox or a back-pack-snack-attack fridge for Mr Greedy.

                With her launch coinciding with International Women’s Day and British Science Week, Little Miss Inventor is destined to become a feminist icon and an inspiration for girls interested in STEM subjects.

                LITTLE-MISS

                “It was fun coming up with lots of crazy inventions for Little Miss Inventor’s home and silly ones for all her friends,” says author of the series, Adam Hargreaves. “It’s also been nice to write a story that promotes a positive role model and to challenge a stereotype, if only in a small way.”

                Little Miss Inventor (£3.99, Egmont Publishing) is out Thursday 8 March 2018.

                  Bullying

                  Today sees the start of Anti-Bulling Week, and a new poll shows that children in England still worry about being seen as ‘different’ 

                  Campaigners this week are urging schools to celebrate what makes pupils unique during Anti-Bullying Week (13-17 Nov) as new research reveals that 40% of children said they would hide aspects of themselves for fear of being bullied. In addition, 61% of those who would hide aspects of themselves said they would change the way they look to avoid being picked on.

                  More than 1,600 eight to 16 year olds were polled by the Anti-Bullying Alliance at the National Children’s Bureau. And while 96% believe it’s important to ‘be yourself’, over half of children (52%) worry about being seen as different from others. Worryingly, 64% of children polled have come across someone being bullied because they were different, with children in primary school only marginally less likely to have done so than those in secondary school, suggesting that bullying behaviour can start from an early age. The research also found that 41% of children would stay quiet if someone else was being bullied because they didn’t want to be bullied themselves.

                  During Anti-Bullying Week this year, children in schools across the country will be sending the message loud and clear that they are All Different, All Equal.

                  Even Anti-Bullying Week patron and children’s TV star Andy Day is getting children to celebrate their uniqueness by encouraging them to wear odd socks for the week, and raise money for anti-bullying charities.

                  “[Children] worry about many things that might make them ‘stand out’, including their appearance, disability, culture or religion,” says Martha Evans, coordinator of the Anti-Bullying Alliance. “It is so important that we learn to celebrate the things that make us all different, and are clear that it is never OK to bully someone.

                  “We hope to provide a platform for children, teachers and parents, to raise awareness of what to do if you are being bullied or see it happening to someone else. We are delighted to be working on such a positive campaign.”

                  Find out how to get involved at anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/antibullyingweek, and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #AntiBullyingWeek #AllDifferentAllEqual

                    Because it’s never too early, right? Here are five family goings-on that will both warm your heart and get you stupidly excited for the big day

                    _DORCHESTER

                    Indulge their sweet tooth at The Dorchester
                    On Saturday 18 November, The Dorchester will be unveiling its giant gingerbread hotel replica, giving families a tasty insight into the hotel like never before. Be sure to get there for the big reveal, and stop by the hotel’s magical Sweet Emporium on the way out to stock up on candy canes, giant swirl lollipops and flying saucers galore, as well as plenty of other classic English sweets. Don’t forget to snap yourselves next to the life-sized Nutcracker soldiers welcoming you outside!
                    Available to visit daily until Friday 5 January.

                    _SOHO-HOTEL

                    Enjoy films and fun at The Soho Hotel
                    If you find you’ve got some last-minute shopping to finish, drop the kids off at The Soho Hotel for its ‘Christmas Special’ children’s film club for a fun-filled day of movies and crafts. Children’s party specialists Sharky & George will be there to keep the little ones entertained with festive games and crafts, including DIY tree decorations and Christmas cracker gift boxes to take home. After all the activities, a buffet brunch and drinks will be provided, followed by a special screening of How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
                    Sunday 17 December. £45 per child for the whole session, or £10 per person for the film only. 

                    _STORYTELLING

                    Listen to festive storytelling at Fortnum & Mason
                    Father Christmas returns to Piccadilly’s Fortnum & Mason this December for a magical storytelling session. You’ll be greeted by his elves as you enter a mini Winter Wonderland, complete with seasonal games and music. The big man himself will be reading Fortnum & Mason’s very own Christmas story, before handing out party bags filled with festive treats. The store will also be hosting children’s gingerbread house making and decorating with The Amazing Art Cart at the Cook Shop Events Kitchen on the first floor.
                    Father Christmas Storytelling; Saturday 2 December, Friday 8 to Sunday 10 December, and Friday 15 to Sunday 24 December. £25 per person. 
                    Children’s Gingerbread House Making and Decorating; Saturday 2 December, 10.30am to 11.30am and 2pm to 3pm. £20 per person. 

                    _SEVEN-DIALS

                    See the lights switch-on at Seven Dials
                    Get your Christmas shopping started early with an exclusive 20% off across stores at Seven Dials, as well as a whole host of family friendly activities to be enjoyed on the night. There will be free wreath making, a free s’mores bar, free Swedish Glögg from the pop-up bar by Nordic Bakery, street food tacos from Monmouth Kitchen, and music from fabulous 400-piece choir Some Voices. Also opening on the night is the Seven Dials Loves Christmas pop-up, where you can shop everything from edible festive garlands to English tea in baubles. There will also be various workshops continuing over the next three weeks, including calligraphy, fashion illustration and Christmas cocktail-making.
                    Thursday 16 November, lights switch on at 6.30pm. Register for your free ticket online.

                    _GAILS

                    Get your Christmas bake on at Gail’s 
                    Artisan bakery favourite Gail’s will be hosting its free Christmas gingerbread baking classes for children under 10 years at selected stores in the capital, including Battersea Square, Pimlico, Blackheath Village and Highgate. Armed with rolling pins and cookie cutters, using the bakery’s popular speculoos biscuit dough, little ones can create their own festive treats by hand. Once baked, they’ll love decorating them with icing and taking them home to share with family, along with a whole bunch of other Gail’s goodies.
                    Tuesday 12 December at Pimlico, Barnes, Blackheath Village and Battersea, from 4pm.
                    Wednesday 13 December at Highgate and Seymour Place, Marylebone, from 4pm.

                     

                      This season, all the cool kids are rocking preppy layers and mismatched prints. Just add an oversized bomber for extra style points

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                      (From left) Tia wears dress, Wild & Gorgeous. Lily wears top, Wild & Gorgeous. Albie wears shirt and sweater, both Rachel Riley

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                      Lily wears sweater vest and skirt, both Marie-Chantal; top, Lilly + Sid. Tia wears dress and jacket, both Little Marc Jacobs at Flannels

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                      Albie wears t-shirt, Someday Soon; jacket, Rachel Riley. Lily wears dress, Fendi at Flannels; coat, Marie-Chantal

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                      Tia wears top and pinafore dress, both Kingdom of Origin. Albie wears jacket, Little Marc Jacobs at Flannels; trousers, Wild & Gorgeous

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                      Lily wears coat, Burberry Brit at Flannels. Albie wears jacket and sweater, both Rachel Riley; t-shirt, Someday Soon

                      Photography: Nale Michela 
                      Styling: Joanne Mulcare

                      Special thanks to…
                      Models Albie, Tiarna and Lily from Grace & Galor

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