I pop to London every now again for work and while I love hurtling through the countryside on the train and having a couple of hours of peace and quiet to tap away at my laptop or read a magazine, train stations are not my favourite place to hang out, especially if there's a delay. However, when I was at Euston back in January, I spotted the bright lights of Dutch lifestyle retailer, HEMA, and was so enthralled by their cute, affordable products (SO affordable!) that I almost missed my train. Think gorgeous bits for the home, swoon worthy stationery, cool clothes and crafts for kids ... it's almost like a mini department store! Believe me, you might pop in not planning to buy anything but the brilliant designs will soon have you reaching for a basket or two to fill.
With two little boys who are rather partial to crafts and chocolate, I knew the new Easter range would prove too hard to resist. To search out the best in crafts and gifts, I sat them in front of the computer and asked them to pick a few favourite things. With prices from £1 up for colouring books, marker pens, ribbons, chocolate eggs and decorations, it means that you can basically plan a whole day's worth of arts and crafts for a mere few pounds.
Here's what they chose and what we did with them:
1. Chocolate egg gift jars
Firstly, my eldest son wanted to make some gifts for his friends and these mason jars seemed like the perfect things to fill with chocolate eggs ... two gifts in one! He decorated the jars with fun stickers and added ribbon for a final flourish. They look really good and I wouldn't mind receiving one myself!
Both boys love colouring and were thrilled to spot these Easter themed placemats. You get 5 in a pack for £1.75 and they come with three mini colouring pencils (I added an additional £1 pack of twelve larger colouring pencils to their online shopping basket to save any arguments). Two hours spent colouring and chatting at the dining table for just £2.75 in total. Not bad, right?
3. Easter tree decorating
We are that family who hasn't quite got round to putting their Christmas decorations back up in the attic yet but instead of raising an eyebrow at us, let's just agree that we're great at forward planning because doesn't our little birch Christmas tree look brilliant as a newly decorated Easter tree?
The boys picked out a pack of twelve wooden decorations. You'd never believe that they were just £3. They look super cute. All HEMA products are designed at their headquarters in Amsterdam and go through rigorous quality testing so while they might be affordable, it's not at the expense of quality, trust me.
4. Chocolate egg gift bags
These gorgeous gift bags are my favourite things from all that the boys ordered. They cost £1.50 for four and we decorated them with washi tape and stamps before popping chocolate eggs in to them. They make the sweetest, little Easter presents.
5. Egg hunting
And finally, there's nothing more fun than an old fashioned Easter egg hunt, is there? I hid little chocolate eggs all over the house and the boys collected them up in their chick and egg-covered bowls.
I think it's safe to say that Easter has arrived early in the Southern household. Fun for the boys but not so good for my waistline. I must work on my willpower!
If you'd like to get involved and join in, HEMA has some lovely in-store and online activities planned this Easter. From today (April 3), all children who visit a HEMA store can participate in an egg hunt. Pick up a map and locate all of the egg-shaped stickers dotted around the store and once you find them all, exchange the map for one of four foldable colouring sheets. More for grownups, on the online store, if you can locate the hidden Easter eggs, you can bag yourself a £5 discount. Now, what would you buy with it? I'd recommend the chocolate eggs!
This post was written in collaboration with HEMA.