(AD) Christmas Shopping with Intu Derby.

Eeeek, Its almost December! How ready are you? We tend to work better under pressure and chances are we will get the majority done in the final few weeks, ha! But I am here to tell you about our experience with Intu Derby, we have worked with the centre in the past and as our local centre we champion it all year round but we especially appreciate what it has to offer this time of year. Last year saw the launch of the Festive Forrest which was such a god send when shopping with the kids, but this year Intu Derby asked us to document some of our time in the shopping centre and encouraged us to see how much of the things we needed were covered right here. So we will be sharing a few places we have visited, we will try and offer some real life experience, advice and telling you about some services also.

I think its always important this time of year to remind people that everyones idea of Christmas is different, I know the past few Christmases for us have been a struggle. Daniel is self employed full time and I have spent previous Christmases on Maternity leave with very little spare money. The pressure of keeping up with others is so apparent, the forever growing lists when the little ones see all the Christmas adverts on the TV, its tough. Just remember that Christmas is what you make it, this year we have made a pact to spend what we know is sensible and do able. Quality over quantity is what we are striving for and we have spoken with family & friends about buying gifts that are ‘needed’ not just ‘wanted’! Christmas has always been and will always be about time spent with each other. Its the only time of the year that the kids have a solid 2 weeks with their Daddy at home. But of course its so natural for parents to want to spoil their kids, Children are the magic of Christmas so we will be buying all of toys we see fit for the kids, however again this is what we have made a pact to be mindful and financially sensible about.

So, making life easier when shopping with kids?

Theres a few things I think are super handy when we take the kids shopping, first of all is knowing where all the toilets are. This is a must when we go shopping, not sure about you! But no, in all seriousness Intu Derby have a handful of great changing facilities some equipped with play spaces, microwaves, breastfeeding areas and a gated area too.

Secondly, There is also the Fun Buggies which mine are obsessed with, you can hire a single or double car which makes the trips in and out of shops much more fun for them, just be careful to not clip anyones ankles!

Thirdly, getting them involved helps! I often create a list for Oakley to tick off or ask him to help me pick presents out, perhaps getting him to select a colour he prefers etc. It may only be for a short while but distracting him from the mundaneness of the task at hand even if for a few minutes seems to make the process easier. Much less moaning!

The holy grail… Play areas! Intu Derby have the Festive Forrest which will be open until January, but they also have a play space located on ground level outside Clarks Shoes. This area is a great way to break up long shopping trips, it has soft play, interactive games and sensory play too.

Finally there is the Family club, this is a free service to join that gives you a an exclusive discount card for Families. You can use this across selected stores & eateries through out Intu Derby which can be a handy way to save some pennies this time of year.

Eating Out at Intu Derby

Well its safe to say that this may be one of our favourite ways to keep everyone happy on Christmas Shopping trips, Intu Derby is not short of places to fill little ones tummies. Along side the food court which is great for convenience and time saving, there is a great variety of restaurants to choose from. Our favourites when we are shopping as a family are Byron Burger, Nandos & Pizza Express.

On this occasion we went with Byron Burger as I love that both parents and children are catered for. They serve up mini versions of the adult meals which is perfect for my food obsessed Olive & then the also have a simpler option for my fussy eater Oakley, then although I am not fussy I know that I can order a ‘Skinny’ burger which still feels naughty but comes with salad instead of a bun. Its a sure winner when you want to enjoy the holiday season but without too much indulgence. Eating in the restaurants instead of the food court isn’t always possible when rushing around but doing this collaboration with Intu Derby has encouraged us to make a family day out of our recent Christmas shopping trips.

Time to get shopping…

So with baring the above in mind we are almost ready to get ticking some family members off our shopping lists. What I LOVE about this campaign is that its encouraged me to really notice ALL the stores under one roof, its so easy to head to the larger department stores and in doing so I had forgot about some of the smaller ones. The variety is so vast and when I really took the time to source gifts I knew my family would love it became clear to me that I can actually get it all under one roof, from Cheese & Wine to Jewellery or from Toys & Books to Electronics.

So going back to that idea of purchasing items you ‘need’ rather than ‘want’ I ran with this theme and headed into Accessorize, I always find this store high quality & also high fashion without a huge price tag. Things like slippers, socks, hats and stationary are always such a good idea at Christmas time because I find people are less likely to spend money on theses essentials for themselves. So below are a few of my top picks, you can tap the image and any that are in stock online have been tagged & linked for you. I went a little wild in the Unicorn section as my niece is Unicorn obsessed! I am really impressed with the purchases I have made in here, especially as I the girls section swell as the adults so could shop in one store for a range of ages.

The Kids favourite shop…

I bet this doesn’t take much guessing? Its a shop filled with fluffy toys, cute costumes and a really cool and interactive concept! Whats not to love for any child? Let alone a 3 year old. The only problem I had in this store was convincing Oakley that the things we were buying were for his Cousin and not him, oops!

Build A Bear always seems to have fabulous offers on this time of year, you can often buy one Bear and receive another at a discount or my favourite is when you can add on a gift voucher for a fraction of the price. These are such valuable things to consider! As they may save money in the long run. We have a little boy in our family who’s is a Peter Rabbit Fan, The Build a Bear Factory have a lovely bundle where you receive all you need for the Ultimate Peter Rabbit gift so we headed in store and completed the whole process of stuffing, dressing and creating a certificate with Oakley so he can give a special gift to his younger cousin this Christmas.

Getting our home Christmas ready with Intu Derby…

Don’t get me wrong, all this Christmas shopping is enough to get me feeling festive but nothing makes me feel festive like decorating our home with a touch of Christmas. Since Oakley’s been born we have had an extra little tree in the house so we can over the years collect lots of fun decorations and remember past Christmases by, lets face it sparkly dinosaurs will be ‘so not cool’ in years to come when Oakley’s grown up but we can use them every year to remember the magic of the past years and all our celebrations. Plus this way, I can keep my sophisticated adult tree clear of all things bright and crazy!

This year we decided to check out Debenhams selection of home decorations, made even better by the 3 for 2 offer which was widely spread across most things in the home department. The children lost their tiny minds at all the options that were available to them, we decided on some new family members in the form of a Festive Flamingo & a Reindeer in a striped scarf. We also made the most of the 3 for 2 offer and bought a matching ‘Merry Christmas’ garland, along with lots of alternative baubles for their own tree, all of which were so fun! They enjoyed this part of our shopping trips the most, infant we headed back to Debenhams on the few trips we have made as there is always more room on the tree for a Christmas Sloth apparently.

Festive Lhama Decoration- £30, Pom Pom Wreath- £30, Colourful LED Garland- £15, Green Wire Cactus- £15, Pink Flamingo Head- £15, Grey Reindeer Head- £15, Merry Christmas Garland- £10 (in store), Blue Stag Ornament- £10, Flamingo Snow Globe- £20, Pink Glitter Swirl Tree Ornament- £10.

Hanging Bauble decorations available in store, starting from £3.99 and all in the 2 for 3 offer.

This collaboration with Intu derby has been a great chance to turn what can normally be a logistical nightmare this time of year into some nice days out with the kids. Its a busy time of year for everyone, getting childcare for shopping trips is difficult, so being encouraged to bring the kids along and discover how much of a destination our local shopping centre is has been just what we needed. I know that realistically shopping plus kids can still equal a stressful time but being forced to take it slow, eat at restaurants and use the services & tools that are actually at our finger tips actually created a nice atmosphere to shop in. We had definitely started to take for granted what was on offer to us locally so this opportunity was a nice reminder.

This Blog post is a paid partnership. Images and words are my own, but some content was created to a brief.

Ainsley GrayComment