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  • Giving the gift of reading. Why a book is extra special at Christmas

    I love getting books at Christmas. My husband, Matthew, and I always buy each other books so I purposely don’t buy any in the lead up to the festivities – then when I undo the wrapping paper I get really excited to see which one I’ve got. I feel like a big kid really.   I love giving the gift of reading, too – knowing the recipients are going to get so much pleasure from opening up their book and immersing themselves in the story inside.

    Giving the gift of reading is a great way to get children into books. It makes books feel extra-special when they’re wrapped up as a present and given with love. And the Christmas holidays are the perfect time for children to snuggle in and enjoy their new books. They can visit exotic countries, join in exciting adventures and discover new things to learn – all in one place.

    giving the gift of reading, kids books, gift of reading, tidy books, book box, book storage box Unwrapping books this Christmas. Photo credit @tthese-beautiful_thingss

    In Iceland, they’re as enthusiastic about reading at Christmas as I am. They have a tradition there called Jolabokaflod, or ‘The Christmas Book Flood’, where around November time every household is sent a book catalogue and people order books as gifts for family and friends. Then, on Christmas Eve, when it’s traditional to exchange presents, people stay in to read their new book, accompanied by a mug of hot chocolate or glass of jólabland, a mix of fizzy orange and ale. It’s brilliant that books are such a big part of their life, and that at Christmas time parents and children can spend time together reading.

    If you like the idea of having a book-filled Christmas, our Book Storage Box is a great way to keep all your kids’ books in one neat and tidy place. It’s portable so you can take it into the living room during the day then pop it upstairs ready for bedtime reading. It’s like a little moveable library so your children always have their books near them and they can dip in and out to read whenever they like. When my kids were younger, we used ours all the time.

    My two children may be in their teens now, but I still love sharing our reading. Later I’ll be popping into a book shop to buy my daughter a Christmas present. She’s into crime thrillers, which isn’t a genre I read, so I’ll have fun browsing the shelves, checking the reviews and finding out more. Who knows, I may discover a fascinating new world we can explore together this Christmas.  

    * Are you doing a Secret Santa at work this Christmas? A great idea from Beanstalk, the national literacy charity that we support, is to give one of your books as a gift and donate the money to them.  It's one more way to be giving the gift of reading!  Find out more  

    geraldine grandidier, tidy books

    Geraldine is Tidy Books’ founder, designer and CEO, as well as mum to Adele and Emile.   She started Tidy Books in her violin workshop because she couldn’t find a good bookcase for her kids.  Now her Tidy Books bookcases and storage designs are encouraging independence and a love of reading in kids all over the world.

  • It’s time to swap quantity for quality

    It always amazes me that just when Christmas is over and you realise how much money you’ve spent on cards, presents, decorations and food the New Year sales come along. It’s hard not to be seduced by all those huge discounts – but, really, do we actually need more stuff?  Is it time to buy less and choose well?

    Don’t get me wrong – I love a bargain as much as the next person. If I spot something I’ve got on my list to buy and it’s reduced in price that’s a real bonus. But I’m not into buying things I don’t really want or need just because they’re on sale.

    I hate that over-buying contributes to so much waste. As you’ll have read in my last blog, I only ever give my children three Christmas presents (it’s sort of a French thing!) and hopefully they like them as much as they tell me they do. But according to one report, around 50% of Christmas gifts get binned within a year. Even more troubling, a survey last year found that one in ten unwanted Christmas presents will probably end up in landfill. That’s really bad news for our planet.

    Like a lot of people, I try to be eco-friendly and it’s certainly a big part of Tidy Books. I’ve never been interested in designing trendy products that quickly go out of fashion and are then disposed of to make room for the newest model. I recently had a customer who told me she’d had her Tidy Books bookcase for 15 years and that made me really happy. I love that my company makes timeless, well-made products that will never look dated or need to be replaced, so that our customers can buy less. Their longevity means they can be passed down to younger siblings, not thrown on the scrap heap.

    tidy books, bookcase, quality, buy less, kids furniture The Tidy Books Personalised bookcase. Photo credit Les Enfants a Paris

    “We still have our original Tidy Books - now at least 15 years old and only slightly the worse for wear having survived x 2 owners and x 2 long distance house moves!” Alison, one of the first Tidy Books customers

    I take the same eco approach to manufacturing . Everything in the Tidy Books range is made with sustainable, FSC-certified wood and doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals.

    As a consumer myself, I’m careful about what I buy. It’s not that I forced myself to become a conscious shopper – it’s simply that once I understood how buying too much or buying the wrong things can affect the planet I lost my desire to over-consume. It really wasn’t difficult to shake off that ‘Buy, Buy, buy’ mentality, I just naturally started to shop differently, and I can buy less without worry.

    I think that when I buy less and choose better has made me a calmer, happier consumer. So, if you do spot me in the New Year sales, I’ll be the serene shopper looking for quality, not quantity – but, of course, still holding out for a bargain!

  • When less is more at Christmas

    I remember one of my first Christmas Days in England. We were at my sister-in-law’s house and I couldn’t believe the amount of gifts her young daughter was getting. She’d unwrap a present, throw the paper to one side, open another present, throw the paper... and on and on until she’d got through about a dozen presents.

    Coming from France, this was completely alien to me. When I was growing up, I’d receive one main Christmas present – a doll perhaps – and a couple of little things to go with it. This wasn’t just my experience – other French kids got pretty much the same deal. That’s because in France children only receive gifts from Santa Claus. So there was never any issue with relatives struggling to find bigger, better, pricier presents – it was all down to Father Christmas!

    Unlike France, it seems that families in the UK are under huge pressure to buy kids’ Christmas presents. Recently it was announced that British children under the age of 12 will receive on average 11 toys for Christmas this year. The money saving expert Martin Lewis believes that young children ‘want what they want – whether it costs £2 or £200’ but that many parents can’t stop at one small present because they feel guilty that they’re not spending enough on their kids.

    It’s tough when you’re bombarded with messages about ‘must-have toys’. And it can be particularly difficult for relatives who live far away and want to show their love through a big gift. One solution could be for everyone in the family – parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles – to club together to buy one special present. Something that’s not this year’s fad but a gift that’s thoughtful and memorable – and will last beyond Boxing Day.

    christmas, christmas gifts, Tidy Books, reading, books, bookcase Dive into books this Christmas

    Of course here at Tidy Books that’s something we firmly believe in. We make products that your kids can get years of enjoyment out of and that they can continue to use as they grow. And our products don’t need batteries either!

    I absolutely love giving gifts at Christmas – and after all these years I still believe that less is more. Don’t tell my teens, but this year, like every year, they’ll only find three gifts under the Christmas tree!

    What will your children find under the tree this Christmas?

  • Christmas is coming – and this year it’s personal!

    Are you getting stressed about Christmas gift buying? Well I think we’ve all been there. You start thinking about what presents to buy for friends and relatives but as soon as an idea pops into your head the anxiety sets in. What if it’s the wrong colour? What if it’s not really their thing? What if they hate it?   

    People can be so worried about getting it wrong they end up buying a ‘safe’ present like chocolates or giving vouchers or a gift card. The trouble with presents like that, though, is they’re not very exciting. For the person receiving the gift, it can be a real letdown when they tear off the wrapping paper and see what they’ve got. And it’s not great for the gift-giver either as they lose out on that lovely warm, satisfied glow of knowing they’ve bought something special with that person in mind.

    It actually makes giving and receiving presents rather joyless – and certainly doesn’t make a memorable gift to cherish. That’s why I think a personalised present is such a wonderful idea. For the recipient, it shows that your friend or family member has taken the time to pick something meaningful to you. And for the giver, it’s an opportunity to buy a unique gift that shows your thoughtfulness.

    Tidy Books, bookcase, kids, children, personal, furniture, reading Donnie loves his personalised Tidy Books bookcase!

    That was certainly the idea behind my Tidy Books personalised bookcases and bunk bed shelves. I wanted to put a smile on children’s faces when they saw their name in colourful wooden letters. And I wanted parents and grandparents to be able to buy a long-lasting gift that they could be proud of. It’s the sort of gift that really brings the giver and receiver together, I think.

    The personalised bookcases and bunk bed shelves make a great present for children aged 1-5. It’s like giving them their own little library that they can fill with their favourite books. And with their name on it, it will feel even more special. Of course, you can enjoy their present, too, watching the kids have fun tracing their fingers around the letters and getting to know the alphabet.

    I like to think that my personalised products will bring families lots of wonderful bonding moments and memories that will last for years. And that’s got to be better than a box of sweets and a voucher, hasn’t it?

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