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Valentine’s Day Glowing Crafts – free downloads

Valentine's Day Glow Stick Crafts

We've put together 2 designs which can be used with our 8 inch Glow Stick Bracelets for Valentine messages which are perfect for children and adults. Each page is A4 size so will print on standard home printers and has 6 images included.

They are a great and inexpensive activity for children to join in, making them ideal for school and nursery craft activities; perhaps the children can make them to take home for their parents or give them to a special friend or relative?

We also have a bright idea for PTAs that are running a Valentine disco:
For young children you could advertise that each ticket includes a small Valentine gift. Make them up in advance (but do not activate, save that bit of fun for the little people), and display them in pretty jars or pots, and give one to each child when they arrive. For older children's parties, you could sell them individually along with your other glow party accessories, so that the children can give them to their Valentine during the party. Cute!! Its also a great way to use up any left over glow stick bracelets that you didn't use for your Christmas parties. Such a quick and easy fundraiser!

Of course we are not forgetting the adults either. These are a really sweet gift to give out to those who are special to you to let them know you are thinking of them. If you normally give your children a little something, then these are perfect. If you're getting together with a group of friends, or maybe you want to send some anonymous love to a few people who could do with feeling special on this day - it doesn't have to be all about romance - again these are quick to make and much less expensive than buying several cards.

Its really simple. Download your preferred design, and print. Each A4 sheet makes 6 labels. For best results print on card stock.
Cut out the designs leaving a white border around each square frame.
For the "Heart Glow" design, make a slit on the lines above the heart and under the scroll on the border.
For the "Light my Life" design, slits are made at the top and bottom of the light bulb.
TIP: To make the slit, vertically fold the paper without creasing and use scissors to cut a small slit.
Thread an 8 inch glow stick Bracelet through the slit and its ready to go.

Valentine's Day LED Light Crafts

Our little Glow Stick crafts got us thinking about how we can make something using LED lights for a brighter glow; you know, if you really want to make an impact! These are good for kids too, but definitely something that is also be a bit more grown up, and the first one "Marry Me", is obviously for adults (and is super romantic!!)

We've come up with 3 designs, each one uses one of our LED Finger Lights to really make these cards stand out and they can be used in so many different ways.

Firstly, you can print them out, assemble, and pop them in an envelope ready to post. If you're buying a bunch of flowers, ask the florist to provide you with a card stick/pick (called a cardette holder) and display one of these cards in the bouquet. If you want to be really romantic you can use them with a single, triple or a dozen red rose bouquet, attach it to a bottle of the finest champagne or luxury spirit, or pop it inside a box of their favourite chocolates. For added wow hand deliver, switching the light on just before you give it.

Personally, I think these are really special when framed and the prints are standard frame sizes for this reason (more details below), you can use a normal frame and attach the LED Finger Light to the outside of the glass. If you are thinking about popping the BIG question then consider choosing a box frame to display the assembled "Marry Me" print. With a box frame, you can attach the print to the inside of the glass, and attach the finger light using hot glue to the back panel in line with the light bulb. Before you present your proposal, switch the light on and put the frame together, then lay it inside a beautiful gift box lined with tissue paper or shred, and tie with a big bow. The effect is BEAUTIFUL! Long after the light runs out on the finger light, this frame will be a perfect keepsake of the magic moment, so the magic glow will last lifetime!

To make, get your printer ready - we recommend good quality card stock, printable greeting card blanks or photo paper.
The "Brighten my Day" Design prints at 4x6 inches and looks best with a white LED Finger Light positioned on the cord of the drawing.
The "Light My World" Design prints at 5x7 inches and looks best with a red LED Finger Light positioned on the red torch with heart glow still visible.
The "Marry Me?" Design prints at 5x7 inches and looks best with a white LED Finger Light. You can position this anywhere on the print pointing the light towards the bulb, or position behind the print as mentioned.

However you decide to share some love this Valentine's Day, we hope that it is, of course, reciprocated.

Wishing all the little people lots of fun at the parties, and to all the big people, lots of Valentine gifts, cards and secret admirers!
Most importantly, if you are asking the big question, we hope the answer is yes, and if you're waiting for a proposal, we hope that you get the most glowing gesture ever.

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Chinese New Year 2020 – Year of the Rat

According to the legend of Jade Emperor’s party, the Rat tricked the Ox into carrying him, and as they arrived the Rat launched himself from the Ox landing in front to make him the first over the finish line, hence the Rat is the first sign in the Chinese Zodiac. In Chinese culture, the Rat is seen as a sign of wealth and abundance, and couples hoping for children are known to pray to the Rat due to their prolific reproduction.

People who are born under the year of the rat are said to be likable, optimistic and energetic. Keen to save and they are also known to hoard, however, they are kind and sensitive, with a clever mind and the ability to adapt to new environments.

This year, the Chinese New Year begins on Saturday 25th January lasting until Saturday 8th February, and is popularly celebrated throughout the world, not just in China, as the Spring Festival brings with it many customs and traditions to bring good luck and prosperity for the year ahead. We like to join in with the celebrations, even adding a little bit of glow to the festivities where we can. Check out our top picks for joining in with our craft ideas and tips below.

Chinese Rat Lantern

Last year we also made the traditional Chinese Lantern and added the Chinese word for the Pig – this year we have upgraded our design – we now have a complete downloadable and printable template to make this smart little Rat Lantern.

This craft is super easy, just click on the download link here or by clicking the image opposite. Download, open and print the 2 page document, and follow the very simple instructions on Page 1 of the template. Aside from the template, all you need is a glow stick (or an LED candle for displaying the lantern standing on a shelf or table), a bit of string (if you want the rat charms to dangle below the lantern), a pair of scissors, and sticky tape. We used one of our 6 inch Regular Glow Sticks.

Help your child to cut out all the pieces and use the sticky tape to assemble. To hang the glow stick inside, we used the included lanyard and attached it to the inside of the lantern. You can even attach the charms to the other end of the lanyard instead of using string. But don’t worry if you have misplaced your lanyards, you can simply sticky tape the glow inside the lantern, the effect works just the same.

Origami Rat (Glow Stick Wand)

Last year we made little Origami Pigs and turned them into wands with our 8 inch Glow Stick Bracelets. This was a really popular craft with schools and children’s groups, and a great way to use up your left over glow sticks from Halloween and Christmas parties.

So we set out to create an Origami Wand for this year, beginning with searching various tutorials from talented paper craft enthusiasts to find an Origami Rat we liked. Our favourite Rat Origami design was found on YouTube – its a little more complex than some others out there, but it is a rat, not the simpler mice origami that populated most of our searches.

So with special thanks to Era Art over at YouTube for this great tutorial. To Transform your paper rat into a glowing wand, you’ll only need a glow stick – either a 8 inch bracelet, or one of the 6 or 12 inch Glow Sticks – and a bit of sticky tape, and attach the stick to the underbelly of the rat. We used a 6 inch Regular Glow Stick to make our wand this year.

So if you’re going to join in with us here at Glowtopia with a little Chinese Spring Festival of your own to celebrate the Rat, we hope you have a lot of fun. If you create any of our craft ideas we would love to see them, so please feel free to share your pictures on our Social Media Pages, or drop us an email to media@glowtopia.co.uk

Happy Chinese New Year!

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Christmas and New Year Deliveries 2019

Here at Glowtopia we’re remaining open over Christmas and New Year, giving you plenty of time to get orders in for any celebrations!

Please remember the following key information:

  • Our same day dispatch cut off remains at  2pm apart from Tuesday 24th December and Tuesday 31st December our same day dispatch cut off for orders will be 10am.
  • We are open on all working days over the festive period although if collecting from our warehouse please ensure you call us beforehand to arrange a collection time.
  • All delivery times are given assuming there are no delays outside of our control with the postal system/couriers. We always recommend getting orders placed as early as possible to allow for any possible disruption to delivery services, the postal system and couriers are very busy this time of year which can lead to unforeseen delays outside of our control!

Glowtopia Christmas Delivery Times 2019

  • Monday 23rd December: Last date for Christmas deliveries, order by 2pm and select next working day courier (DPD or Parcelforce) at checkout for delivery on Tuesday 24th December.
  • Tuesday 24th December: Same day dispatch cut off 10am (N.B. No Parcelforce collections this day). Any orders sent via next working day courier (DPD) on Tuesday 24th December will be delivered Friday 27th December. Parcelforce orders will not be dispatched until Friday 27th December for delivery on Monday 30th December. Our offices will close at midday this day.
  • Wednesday 25th December: Closed & no orders dispatched.
  • Thursday 26th December: Closed & no orders dispatched.
  • Friday 27th December: Dispatch as normal.
  • Monday 30th December: Last date for New Year deliveries, order by 2pm and select next working day courier (DPD or Parcelforce) at checkout for delivery on Tuesday 31st December.
  • Tuesday 31st December: Same day dispatch cut off 10am (N.B. No Parcelforce collections this day). Any orders sent via next working day courier (DPD) on Tuesday 31st December will be delivered Thursday 2nd January (excluding Scotland which will be delivered Friday 3rd January). Parcelforce orders will not be dispatched until Thursday 2nd January for delivery Friday 3rd January. Our offices will close at midday this day.
  • Wednesday 1st January: No dispatch.
  • Thursday 2nd January: Dispatch as normal.
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Christmas Tree Decoration Competition 2019

Glowtopia is getting into the festive spirit with a Christmas Tree Decorating Competition!
Post a picture in the comments section of our pinned Facebook post of your decorated Christmas tree, to be in with a chance of winning a glowing Glowtopia voucher worth £20!
This Facebook-only competition will be the perfect time to display your lovingly and fabulously decorated Christmas tree, while entering for a chance to win some great vouchers ready for the New Year.
(You need to Like the Page and Share the Post for a valid entry, please read the terms and conditions below)

Entry Rules:

  1. In order to make a valid entry, participants must take a photo of their decorated Christmas tree in their home, office, garden or on their own property.
  2. The photo must be uploaded onto the Glowtopia Facebook page - ONLY on the Christmas Competition post pinned to the top of the page.
  3. Entrants must Like the Glowtopia Facebook page and share the competition post in order to complete the valid entry.
  4. You may not use commercial images of Christmas trees - the tree must be your own.
  5. Competition closes at midnight on 22nd December 2019.
  6. Winning entry will be announced on 23rd December 2019.

Terms & Conditions:

  1. Entry is open to residents of the UK except employees of Glowtopia, and any other companies associated with the competition.
  2. Entrants must have a registered account on Facebook.
  3. Entrants do not need to make a purchase to be eligible to enter.
  4. Prizes are subject to Glowtopia's terms and conditions.
  5. The promoters reserve the right to reject entries from entrants and remove posts from the page if they are unsuitable or inappropriate for the audience. Such entries will be disqualified from the competition.
  6. Competition terms may be modified at any time.
  7. The winning entry will be selected at random from all the valid entries submitted on .
  8. Confirmation of the prize will be notified to the winner(s).
  9. The winner(s) must claim their prize by contacting Glowtopia directly by phone or email with their details within 7 days of the announcement.
  10. Reasonable efforts will be made to contact the winner(s). If the winner(s) cannot be contacted, or are unable to comply with these terms and conditions, the Promoter reserves the right to offer the prize to the next eligible entrant drawn at random.
  11. By entering the competition, you agree for your entry details (including name and Christmas photo) to be used by Glowtopia.
  12. By entering the competition, you agree to receive promotional material from Glowtopia.
  13. Where applicable, the decision of the Promoter is final.
  14. The voucher will be sent by email and will be be provided as a single use voucher code to be redeemed online in a single transaction.
  15. The voucher prize will be valid for 6 months from the date of delivery.
  16. Failure to respond and/or provide an address for delivery, or failure to meet the eligibility requirements may result in forfeiture of the prize.

 

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SAMHAIN – what is it and how is it celebrated?

The Origins of the Halloween Festival

I'm yet to meet anyone or go anywhere where Halloween is not a thing. Certainly in the western world, Halloween is big business, but how many of us actually know what it is or where it came from?

Well, it's origins go all the way back to celtic traditions some 2,000 years ago, with the festival "Samhain", pronounced SOW-IN ("ow" as in "cow") when pagan folklore in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Northern France governed the beliefs and ceremonies of the people. Celebrated on the 1st November, the pagans believed this to be the most important of the fire festivals as it marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of the dark nights which consumed the winter months.

 

Interestingly, this is where the dressing up tradition began. The Celts believed that during this time the gateway between this world and the "Otherworld" would be penetrable, thus allowing fairies and creatures to cross over. In an attempt to protect their families from any evil doing or tricks, they would prepare a feast for these creatures and leave it outside the village boundary, and would dress up as animals and monsters so they would not be kidnapped or harmed if they were to encounter the creatures.

However, not only monsters and fairies were able to breach the boundary between worlds, but the Druids also believed that the night before, their ancestors would return to visit them. There would be bonfires and a communion to welcome the dead, and ancestors were invited to the celebration and entertained with children's games and news of the year that had passed.

With the conquering Roman empire and the spread of Christianity in the 9th Century, many Celtic traditions were blended and replaced with Christian celebrations. In 1000AD All Saints Day, or "All-hallowmas" (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) was moved from 13th May to 1st November and introduced into Celtic culture to celebrate the sacrifice of Saints and Martyrs by continuing the same celebrations of bonfires, feasts and costume parades. However, the Celts continued to celebrate their dead and so the 2nd November became the Christian celebration of All Souls Day. Undeterred, the Celts continued their traditional festival of monsters and fairies on 31st October, thus the name "All Hallows Eve" was adopted and eventually over time, the celebration became known as Halloween as we know it today.

Over time, more traditions began to emerge. Carved pumpkins for example, originated from the Irish Celtic tradition of carving beets and turnips into lanterns filled with coal. At the early celebrations, candles and lanterns were lit to help guide the spirits back the Other World after the festival. As time progressed, fruits of the harvest were carved into scary faces as a deterrent to ward away evil spirits, which eventually became a legendary, Halloween tradition with the story of "Stingy Jack"  and the birth of the iconic "Jack O' Lantern" we all know today.

Since the 1980s, as a revival in pagan and wicca culture and traditions has been resurrected, the original festival is finding its way back into our modern celebrations. Over the 2 days of 31st October to 1st November, there are celebrations which focus on the death of the Summer and gratitude for the harvest. Death is a central theme in the festival as modern pagans celebrate the dead and invite them to join in with the celebration with communal bonfires and feasts. It moves away from the modern ideology as death and spirits are not to be revered, but a welcome and necessary part of life.

So as you celebrate Halloween this year, when you're dressing up and carving out your pumpkins, you now know where the traditions originated hundreds of years before. Maybe you can incorporate some of the pagan traditions and celebrate with family and friends with a feast or bonfire to pay homage to the ancestors of one of the biggest festivals of the year?

We think it's amazing that we continue the Samhain traditions year after year, and have done so for centuries.
Whatever you do and however you celebrate Halloween or Samhain, we hope you have lots of fun. And stay safe.

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World Space Week

“The General Assembly declares 4 to 10 October World Space Week to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition”

UN General Assembly resolution, 6 December 1999

What is World Space Week?

World Space Week is an international celebration of all things SPACE. It is the largest space event on Earth with a proud claim to more than 5,000 events celebrated in over 80 countries across the World! It even has its own dedicated website: https://www.worldspaceweek.org/ and a board of directors that help to ensure that there is a whole heap of resources available to help make the most of this extraordinary, cosmic event.

 

How do we get involved?

World Space Week encourages and supports ANYONE to create space education and outreach events.

With so many organisations, educators and families getting involved, it is an amazing opportunity to come together as a community of interested individuals to arrange and participate in such a large scale event. There's no strict rules about what you should be doing, as long as its space themed then its a celebration.

Check with your local council and clubs if there is an event near you. Many places of interest, such as parks, woodlands, museums, theme parks and public spaces with visitor centers etc often run events, especially for children and families so its worth looking around for any events that they may be holding. Everyone can get involved, schools, clubs and organisations, but if you can't find an activity that is happening near you, why not plan your own?

Any space related activity will do, from a drawing activity to big group quiz. You can create your own crosswords or write a story about your trip to the Moon! Build a space den, create an experiment, eat some space food... There are so many free resources available on the internet... all you have to do is explore the possibilities!

What did we do?

Well, as I am sure you may have guessed, we did not want to be left out of the Space Party!

So, we got our heads together and decided to do a Glowtopia Space Week event. Now, we had every intention of building a rocket, but honestly, we just didn't have enough cardboard to build a vessel we could all fit inside! We thought about trying to make our own miniature moon, creating a model solar system or even a life size planetarium... but in the end, the little people at Glowtopia outvoted us all.... and so fancy dress day it was!

And yes, you guessed it... if Glowtopia are doing a Space Week fancy dress day, it's going to be glowing!

Well, we were already off to a flying start with our Alien Eyes Headbands! We couldn't exactly have a space themed dress up and leave those out of the equation. I thought it would be a great idea to make the kiddies' heads the alien, and then have their bodies as the space...  The kids decided they HAD to have the Light Up Crazy Hair (it seems all aliens have a squiggly, coloured, tentacle type things spilling from their head!) that was easy...

Obviously it wasn't enough lights! We picked up some metallic star, planet and alien stickers, and the kids had great fun sticking them all over their black tops and trousers, but to make sure they really stood out, we had to get some "dazzling" stars on there too... So, we went and got our LED micro lights and wrapped them around them T-Shirts. If you do this at home, please be careful! DO NOT wrap the light strings anywhere near the neck area, we wrapped ours in an X around the front and back going over the shoulder and under the arms so as not to move around and get caught up. DO NOT leave children unattended while wearing the string lights!

Now that we had finished with our space outfit, Alien eyes and Alien hair, it was just the facepaint left to go. We copied the eyes from the headbands on the eyes of the kids, making wide white circles on the whole eye area, and with their eyes closed we painted coordinating coloured pupils and iris to match. We painted an alien body shaped design over half of the face in colours that matched the headbands, gave a few space spots to the aliens, and painted little white alien claw feet (a bit like a crab).

Nope.... still not enough! So we added some highlights with our UV Neon face paint and used our new chunky glitters to add a bit of detail to the faces and just like that, with the speed of light (well not quite) we have 3 mega little martians ready to celebrate World Space Week!

We really hope you join in the fun this World Space Week.... and beyond!

Whatever you do, wherever you go, take that giant leap for mankind and always reach for the stars!

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Stay Safe This Halloween!

Halloween is one of the most eagerly anticipated nights of the year for children, but with an excess of sugary sweets and excitement it’s a good idea to have a safety plan in place!!

Check out our top tips on how to stay safe this Halloween…

  • Never decorate costumes with fairy lights. These can overheat and can even catch fire. Glow sticks are a safe and fun alternative!
  • Avoid placing candles around your home. These are especially hazardous when you have young children in the home. Try LED candles instead, they are a fun and safe alternative and like our pillar candles, some are very realistic!
  • Make sure costumes are the correct size and opt for short designs instead of long trailing outfits, this will reduce the risk of trips and falls.
  • Be pet aware! Keep anything your pets should not be gnawing on out of their reach and especially be careful of sweets and goodies, and well meaning little monsters who want to share their sweet loot with the moggy or pooch!
  • If you need to pop out in the car after dark DRIVE SLOW and keep your eyes peeled for little witches, warlocks and the like that might run out into the road without looking.

    If you’re trick or treating….

  • Carry torches, glow sticks and wear reflective strips to ensure that children can be seen.
  • Plan your route: choose well lit, familiar streets that are not on busy roads, avoiding alleys and shortcuts that may be potentially dangerous.
  • Only go to houses with the lights on, preferably with Halloween decorations visible, and make sure your children know NEVER to go inside!
  • TOP TIP! Feed your kids before they go so there will be less room to overload on a whole tonne of sweets on the night (yes you’l thank us later for this one!)
  • Wear comfy shoes!
  • Above all ALWAYS always supervise your children when trick or treating.

Continue reading Stay Safe This Halloween!

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How to wear Neon – funk up your look for the ultimate fashion trend and party wear guide

In case you missed it, early 2019 fashion trends saw a massive revival of the 1980s Neon fashion statement with high street clothing retailers adding bright bold accessories and clothing lines to liven up the winter days and long nights. Of all the 80s fashion trends, it is undoubtedly the neon craze which left an unrivaled imprint on us back in the day, and throughout the decades as seen in all our 80s style cos play and themed dress ups. It has remained a staple statement for all rave wear, hen parties and charity dress ups and has continued to make an appearance in sportswear ever since, but this year it has made a come back on the catwalk and on the streets and doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon.

So, we wanted to get a head as we move into Autumn with our brand new neon range of clothing accessories – and what better way to launch the range then with some top tips on how to wear neon to rock your look with a fresh new vibe.

Our Top 5 Tips to a contemporary Neon Style

  1. Add a Splash of Colour!

    If you’re looking to follow the bright and bold neon trend but don’t know where to start, or you are a bit reluctant to incorporate a dramatic overhaul of your core wardrobe, we recommend adding a little bit of neon drama with a striking accessory (or 5)!  Go with a neon accessory for a bright statement piece to stand out against your neutral outfit. We love a neon oversized bag, clutch or purse to compliment your look whether you’re adding a pop to your daytime outfit or going for the wow factor on your evening attire. And when you’re feeling a bit braver, pair it with some chunky neon costume jewellery, a hot wide neon belt and either killer heels or funky pumps in matching neon shades against your monochrome or neutral outfit.

2. Suit Up with Sass!

Whether you are looking to stand out at work or you want to liven up your formal occasion with the neon edge, we think that a neon suit will be making waves. An oversized blazer, or a wide leg pant suit in stunning pink, blue or orange will get you noticed combining chic with sass for a striking combination. Worn with a simple white vest or blouse will not over-complicate the look, but if you’re not quite ready for such a dramatic statement, you can add a little bit of drama to your white, black or grey two piece with a bright neon blouse or vest, a neon scarf and neon stilettos or block heels.

 

3. Be Bold with block colours

Your neon wardrobe will have a more dominating feel when you go for block colours without patterns. If you’re feeling bold treat yourself to blazers, blouses and bottoms in single neon colours that can be mixed together with other neon shades for a colour blocked look, or wear with muted and neutral colours in your closet to add a punch of colour to your look.

We love neon wide leg trousers, cosy coats, and bright blouses paired with black for a chic, polished look which is ideal for the office or a night out on the town.

4. Inject colour in your make up routine.

The Makeup Look of 2019 trending on Instagram is neon green eye shadow. Until earlier this year, the “no makeup makeup” was the hottest trend but now we are ready to inject some colour, and inspired by the neon dress code a range of hot neon photos and tutorials are filling up our news feeds.

To really get the look right, you need to focus on your eyes. Keep your skin dewy and natural, and give your eyes the attention they deserve with blended neon shading on the eyelids fanning out with a fading glow across the brow and even framing the cheekbones, complimented with a striking eyeliner in contrasting colour. We have found that a lot of the neon eyeshadow shades are just not strong enough to give the bold colour we like, so we have opted for UV neon paint sticks. These apply in dense, bold colours that can also be blended to a fade giving the perfect cosmetic design that is streaming right now, and not only do they give an intense look in normal light, when you’re out in clubs and bars with UV and black lights the effect is outstanding.

For a daytime look, swap the big bold eye makeup for a simple neon lipstick in pink or orange shades, and for a big night out where only the hottest look to get your noticed is called for, combine both neon eyes and lips in coordinating colours which compliment or contrast with your neon outfit.

5. Party like an 80s throwback!

No top tip list for how to wear neon would be complete if we didn’t include how to rock your neon party look. Whether you are rocking the rave scene, pumping the party, hustling the hen night or funking up a “Flashdance” fancy dress outfit, and you’re wondering what to wear then read on. Neon is the perfect get up for a glow party, black light party, or when you just want to stand out under the nightclub UVs. Generally, the more colour you can add to your outfit the better, and a multitude of accessories are a must – less is definitely not more! If you can, go for a bright neon background colour to your outfit, like fluorescent yellow or green and then pile on the accessories from there. If you can’t find a hot outfit in those colours, go for white – it will give you an all over glow so you can bust out some shapes that will still be seen in the dark. For the accessories, think bold. Boys look great with a sharp neon hat, braces and neon socks and pumps, and the ultimate get up for girls has got to be a neon tutu with fishnets and legwarmers. For girls, if you’re not brave enough to team up your tiny tutu with fishnet tights, opt for leggings and wear fishnet gloves instead. Depending on the occasion you can team your tutu with neon block heels and legwarmers. If a group of you are hitting the town try to coordinate your outfits together for a polished group ensemble.

However you decide to get your neon on this Autumn/Fall, we hope you find our tips helpful to ensure your look radiates wherever you are.

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Glowtopia’s Guide to Surviving the Summer Holidays!

For most of us, we are almost approaching the half way point of the long School Summer Holiday break. Many of us would have packed our bags and had our Summer vacation as soon as the children break up from school, and the rest of us are either still waiting for the big holiday or trying to keep sane while saving the pennies for a holiday later in the year or beyond. Whatever your situation, as we get half way through there's always that burden of running out of ideas to keep the kids occupied, or finding the cost of taking time off work, childcare and keeping them entertained is starting to eat away at the funds and our rationality.

Here at Glowtopia, we have put together some fun, free and cost effective tips and tricks to get you through the second half of the holidays. We couldn't help to add a glowing twist to some of the ideas, because.... well that's just what we do.... and we figured that if you are working in the day, it will give you some ideas of things to do when it starts to get dark.

 

Top Tip 1. Plan it all!!

I strongly recommend you print out a planner for the holidays and stick it to the fridge or pin it on the notice board for all the family to see. It takes so much pressure off the holidays if everyone can see what days things are planned and what days are "pyjama days", "chill days" or "home days". If the kids are in holiday clubs or you have to work, put those dates on there too, as well as the fun stuff. It helps everyone to adjust to the lack of routine and it will give focus for counting down to all the days out you do have planned.

That said, you can take it a little further.... Whether you are taking the kids and the dog for a walk, or you're packing up for a week's camping, take a little time out to plan ways to make it a bit special. Obviously, if its a holiday, the level of planning is going to resemble a military operation, but if you're just taking the kids to the park, put it on the planner and discuss with them before you go on ways to make it more of an adventure. Can you meet up with friends? Can you bring things with you? Maybe organise a couple of activities such as a bug hunt, treasure hunt, or simple family games like "What's the time, Mr Wolf". You'll be amazed at how much fun you can have if everyone contributes to the ideas and builds a little anticipation for fun, family bonding before you go. It also actually helps to teach children some important life skills such as prioritising, making arrangments, time-keeping and if you're planning as part of a group, it also teaches them how to compromise!

Top Tip 2. Embrace the Boredom!

Yep - I am serious!

Aside from the fact that teaching the little people that the bank of mum and dad isn't an infinite pot of money and there is a limit to the days out and expenses that one can afford over the Summer, it is actually quite good for small people in other ways too. If managed well, when children get bored it can open the mind to opportunities to fill that empty time with something creative and imaginative. So first up, make your family a boredom jar - it really couldn't be any easier.

All you need is an empty jar, any jar or container will do, and sit down with the family to make a list of some jobs and activities. I used lolly sticks from a craft store when I made my first boredom jar as it was easier for little hands to pull out a stick, but now we write our tasks on a piece of paper, fold them and pop them inside the jar. Our boredom busters include activities for indoors and outdoors - from lego challenges, story writing and singing.... but also chores and jobs like cleaning their room, sweeping the floor and feeding the fish. If you click on the pictures below, you'll find links to our favourite templates on Pinterest!

And whilst I fully sympathise with the parental pains that accompanies those endless cries of "I'm bored!" there is plenty of evidence that being bored has its benefits for children (check out this article). Being bored will actively trigger the imagination to try and fill that empty space in time. So even though it may sound as though the siblings are going to argue for an eternity, or the tantrums and whining may feel like it's spiraling to a new level, their creativity and imagination will (eventually) kick in and will teach them a bit about resourcefulness and how to entertain themselves - a really important ability for growing minds and for fostering a healthy attitude to different situations.

Top Tip 3. Build a Den

All kids love building dens, and with so many possibilities, its such a versatile activity for all the family.

You can plan a trip to the woods, many of which like the National Trust Parks run den building sessions, or you can search online for den building tips before you go. If there's an abundance of large sticks and branches you can build a den that you can get in yourself, but if you can only find little sticks and twigs, build a hedgehog house instead.

If you're stuck indoors on a rainy day you can create a den in a bedroom or even on the sofa using blankets, sheets and pillows. Give your den a theme such as a reading den, games den or movie den, or if you're feeling really adventurous, make it a sleepover den and bring a friend. It's a great family bonding activity for afternoons and evenings if you have had to work during the day and want to spend some quality time with the kids.

If you have the supplies, you can always make a den in the garden. A tent would work well, but don't let it stop you if you don't have one. You can use tarpaulin, blankets (if you don't mind them getting damp overnight), play tents or really get to grips with the DIY and build one from scratch like this tutorial from the Eden Project.

And if we're talking dens, well the best time to get the most out of your garden or indoor den is when it starts to get dark... and the best thing for dens in the dark has got to be some glowing stuff! It doesn't matter what stuff, but as long it glows you will keep the kids occupied for hours.

Our ultimate favourite den must have has got to be our Interactive Glow Pillows - if any home accessory was made for camping, dens and sleepovers it has to be this!! All dens need a comfy pillow, but with a dual purpose, glowing aspect that you can create your own games and designs on, you won't regret treating the kids. Play tic tac toe, draw pictures and write secret messages that will glow and fade so you can start again.

If you have any glow sticks floating around, you can use these to make an ambient light source that you can hang inside the den. If you're using a tent, tie some to the guide lines so they can be easily seen. You can also stake a few sticks around the outside so it can be easily seen. They are lovely when you pop one in an empty jar to make a decoration for the den. You can use LED string lights to drape around the outside and hang inside the tent to add some gorgeous illuminated decorations too! We also love colour changing LED lamps - they also release a beautiful, calming ambient light which changes colour automatically. They make perfect night lights so they are ideal for sleepovers in a den, but if you wanted to it to feel a bit more traditional and old fashioned, you could use LED candles instead, they do look beautiful!

Top Tip 4. Go Outside

We all know the British weather has its ups and downs, but one of the best things to do with the kids is go to outside. Whether it will be sitting in the garden, taking a stroll, or getting to the beach, it really is important. Check out your local on What's On Guide, local newspaper and those little family magazines that usually turn up on your doorstep or in your child's school bag near the end of term.

There are generally lots of free activities you can join in with in your local community. There may be local fun days, council funded events such as firework displays and Summer sports for all events. You can find volunteer groups that will go on conservation activities such as litter picking or park and pond care, which is an excellent opportunity for educating children in a community spirited and fun way. If you search the internet you'll certainly find free, downloadable bug hunt packs, bird watching tick sheets, foraging and exploring ideas and outdoor crafts, but if getting about is a problem, there are garden activities you can do together, whether that be adapting the park ideas on a smaller scale, playing games, having a picnic, creating a vegetable patch or even some messy play and a paddling pool. The main thing is getting outdoors in the fresh air and giving the little people a break from TV screens and devices. It's good for the health and the mind, and you'll be thankful when the kids go back to school that you spent that time with them. We love Glow in the Dark games and there's lots of ideas where you can adapt your favourite games and add a glowing spin such as Glow in the Dark Hoopla (using glow stick), Light Up Tennis (using LED balls), Glow Ker-Plunk, Glow Bowling and many more! (Check out Pinterest for inspiration)

Top Tip 5. Make Memories that will last a lifetime!

We never forget our best holidays, and the Summer Holidays are so long there's always so much excitement, but when we get back to the normal school routines those memories can quickly fade. So this Summer, make a conscious effort to talk about the holidays and things you have done. Ask the children to keep a diary and to write about the best things they have done and why. Not only will this give them something to look back on and makes a special keepsake in their childhood memory boxes, but its also a good, practical way to keep their minds active and continue the writing practices that they do at school so they can hit the new school year running. Take lots of photos and collect lots of little keepsakes and treasures from your adventures, and then on those rainy days you can print the pictures and make family collages and a photo montage of the holiday, and make a memory box to store all the little valuables.

So whether you are going abroad, having a staycation, or enjoying the comfort of your home surroundings this Summer, fill it with as much fun and family time as you can, and make those special memories that you will always look back on in years to come with a smile.

Happy Holidays to you all, from all of us here at Glowtopia!

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