I’m delighted to join forces with Carlton Books for this exciting review and giveaway. Carlton Books have very kindly gifted me copies of four new titles from their Paperscapes series of children’s books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions within this review are therefore both honest and my own (or my son’s).
I also have a complete set of these lovely books to give away to one lucky reader. So stay with me whilst I explain why these books would be great for your kids!
What’s different about paperscapes books?
I must admit that I’m a bit of a fiend for novelties and things that are out of the ordinary. That’s why, when I saw these unique looking educational books, I just had to have them for my son. The Paperscapes series are beautifully illustrated hardback books for kids, with a twist! They can also, with a little craftiness, become a beautiful work of art.
These stunning books look like your average fact-based reference books. Until you open the first page to find this:
I have to admit that I was a little nervous about this concept at first. My generation was brought up to love and respect books. Scribbling edits into science text books at school (however funny they may have been) or tearing out pages, always ended in detention. There is also the fact that my son is a couple of years younger than the recommended age group for these titles, of 7+. At just turned 5, I wondered if this might end in disaster.
The conclusion being that younger kids, I would suggest 4+, could easily appreciate these books too, with just a bit more parental guidance. The result was beautiful and my son’s reaction was “Wow, it looks like the animals are in real life!” Another noteworthy point, which had concerned me prior to review, was the ‘post popping out’ integrity of the books. Well fear not, each page is constructed of more of a thin cardboard than thick paper. Even with an eager 5-year-old turning pages back and forth, the book’s integrity was, thankfully, not compromised by the loss of its edges.
Which titles are available in the series?
So, once you are past the amazement of books that are also a mini craft project, what do you get from these books? There are four new titles available from the Carlton Paperscapes range, which include:
They are all presented in a lovely simple format, which appeals to a wide age group. There are small concise paragraphs about each creature or topic, with bullet formatted facts picked out. They have chosen to highlight the type of facts that would be most appealing to primary aged kids. You know, the type usually accompanied with an “eeewww” or “woah!” reaction.
The illustrated maps and repeated familiar logo usage throughout, allows for easy fact comparison between pages. For example, each dinosaur has a little knife and fork next to the dietary information, so even pre-readers can recognise this and ask questions about what they see. At the same time, the language doesn’t pander to its youngest audience and I feel that this provides a great feeling of balance. The result being, a broadening of the age range these books would suit, which I would suggest as between 4 and 12 years.
I’m sold, how can I get some?
All four of these awesome titles were released in February 2019 and are available to purchase at a very reasonable £12.99 each from Carlton Books online, Amazon or your local book store. You can also visit their social media pages here to keep on top of new releases:
Or, if you’re feeling lucky, they have also very kindly given me a whole set, worth over £50, to give away to one of you lucky people. Just enter using the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!
Enter to win today and You too could create this level of amazement in your child (edit: not guaranteed – he’s a bit over dramatic, bless him)
Please note: There are some affiliate links on this page, this means that I get a small fee if you decide to purchase via them.This does not cost you anything and it allows me to continue to run my blog. Thanks for your understanding.
Do you need some extra cash? I’m currently desperately saving for spending money for the holiday I won earlier this month. We’ll hopefully be taking it in April, which doesn’t give me a lot of time. I’ve also promised my 5-year-old that I will redecorate his room, new bed, matching Minecraft theme, the lot. I can’t afford that!! It’s a good job we have internet access for comping and side hustles, right!?
What I’ve found this week
So yesterday, I came across these interesting new sites, in my attempt to make extra cash for the above goals. They are both free cash lottery/prize draw sites, 1 of which is destined to pay us to look at adverts. Yes, really! The other has a daily £1k cash draw. I’ve explained these in brief below for you. Although probably an obvious point, with new lottery type sites, signing up in the early days is highly recommended. You will have far more chance of winning the fewer members there are!
Gener8 is an excellent new concept of using advertising revenue to reward members. It’s currently still in beta testing stages, but they are giving out £100 per day to one lucky member regardless. You can sign up here or read on for more information.
The idea of Gener8 is simple and not entirely revolutionary. It has, however, been done very well and I think it will work. The basic concept is that you add their browser extension and choose your interest preferences in your profile. It then monitors how many adverts you see in a day and awards you tokens for each one. It’s important to know that Gener8 isn’t generating extra adverts. It’s just manipulating ones that you would see anyway to suit your interests.
It estimates a standard user could earn £20 to £40 per month, which is a great pay out for doing nothing. Also, as compers, you have to assume we are at the higher end of that estimate, given the amount of ads we see! The really interesting part is that in 2020, Gener8 have vowed to share their profits with the top users in the scheme.
The token value is not yet defined, so please don’t think they are cash value. For example, on the first day, I earnt 52.08 tokens – which clearly won’t be £52. They will announce the tokens’ monetary value when the reach 50,000 users. Tokens cannot be converted to cash until then. They encourage you to donate the earnings to charity, which is lovely. I would certainly do this for a percentage of mine.
All members of Gener8 are automatically entered into a daily draw for £100. You don’t need to do anything other than check your dashboard daily (this will be accessible from your toolbar). Extra entries to the daily draw are available though, through referring friends. Winning more than once is also possible!
Sounds great right, why wouldn’t you give this ago, nothing to lose as far as I can see!
My second valuable find of the day yesterday was Raffall. This is an app only free lottery and raffle provider, but can be used on both Android and Apple.
The raffle section is not of too much interest to me and honestly, I haven’t looked into it yet. The lottery however, is set at £1000 per day, as well as some smaller cash prizes! To get a token, just download the app, sign up and watch one short video per day. I’ve done this yesterday and today and both videos were shorter than 30 seconds.
Again, extra entries are available if you share the link on social media etc. Please note that the referral code resets daily though, so you have to do it each day to benefit. To be honest, I’m happy with one free chance to win £1k for a 30 second effort anyway.
My Money Saving Page
I think that both of the above could be very helpful in my quest for extra cash and hope you will find them useful too. Those of you who are regular readers will know that I live for holidays and family trips. I always research deals for these as it enables us to do way more. I’ve created a special page to share travel and fun deals and offers with you. It’s a bit sparse at the moment, but my intention is to update it as I find deals. So it’s worth keeping an eye on if you’re interested in saving money.
Dont forget I have a couple of competitions running on social media if you have not yet entered them:
So it’s January, and after the insanity of the December advent giveaways, comping really seems to die a death! As a compulsive comper, I often find myself scratching around for new competitions to enter at this time of year. Does anyone else ever end up half way through entering a comp and then second guessing their motives. I know it’s an addiction when I find myself asking if I would ever really use a hoverboard!? (I walk badly, with crutches)
As usual, I digress. The point is, I’ve noticed quite a lot of people commenting that they are similarly struggling to fulfil their personal comping quota this past week or so. I thought it would therefore be useful, to dig deep and provide you with some additional places to find competitions when the comping cup runs dry.
These 5 lesser known sites all have a great collection of competitions to enter and I highly recommended them. I usually tend to dip in and out of these whenever I have extra comping time anyway, but this month, I’ve been a daily visitor to them all. They have done a great job keeping me busy in the bleak January drought.
Twitaculous is actually a really cool little app (can be used on laptops etc, not just for phones) and the only reason I don’t use it more often is due to lack of time. I’m an incredibly methodical person and as I discuss in my top 5 competition sites post, I rarely get beyond those five. Nevertheless, January has found me wanting for more competitions and Twitaculous has been a great little source. It’s not a pretty format, but it’s easy to use and the service is free. As it’s clear a lot of time and hard work has gone into creating this platform, there is a small voluntary contribution that you can pay if you intend to use the service often. This seems only fair and it does offer VIP access (advert free).
To use Twitaculous, you simply create an account, connect it directly to your Twitter account and it lists available Twitter competitions, complete with a nice easy entry system. Each competition post has its own Retweet, Like or Tweet button, allowing you to enter right there, without following a link to Twitter. It has nice sort functions, including sort by category or the option I prefer, show only those you haven’t entered yet. This is very handy! I would definitely recommend this to those who like to enter Twitter competitions.
PrizeDeck is a nice neat little site that provides their own giveaways with a simple one click entry format. Once signed up and logged in, you literally just click enter on the prizes that you fancy. There are no links to follow and no additional information to input.
I spoke to Lon at PrizeDeck about their ethos. PrizeDeck was born of the desire to stand in opposition to the increasing number of prize draw promoters running unfair giveaways (especially on Facebook), with elusive or non-existent prizes, difficult entry methods and dodgy terms and conditions. In stark contrast, PrizeDeck only run their own exclusive giveaways in a fair, honest and compliant way. They always list winners, announcing them both on the website and across social media. The prizes are widely varied and they make great efforts to work with local British brands, particularly start-ups. I have to say that I really appreciate the sentiment of this website and their good nature makes me want to comp with them that little bit more!
PrizeDeck is a relatively new site and I have seen them grow quite significantly over the past year. The prizes are not added daily, but there are at least a few new ones each week and you can set up email notifications for these. The new comps are very obvious, as those you have entered will automatically show you with a big green tick. It couldn’t be simpler!
They also have a blog page, which generally focusses on points of interest in the comping community and their own giveaway sponsors. It’s certainly worth a look if this topic is of interest. Highly recommended.
Prize Ticker is a very new competition listing site, which went live in late 2018. It is a nice simple, but very bold and colourful format, with some basic sort functions such as prize category and one I don’t think I’ve seen before, Age group. This refers to the age group that the prize is intended for. Obviously some of this might be a bit objective, unless it’s very obviously baby related items, so I would tend to steer clear of this function for fear of missing things.
I spoke to Anthony, who administers the new site. His main goal is to provide a place for competition listings and promotions but without any of the adverts or spam. The website, although live, is still undergoing some development and he intends to add a directory page that links to other listing sites, which sounds very useful.
For bloggers and prize promoters, they offer a nice simple upload page where you can share your own competitions at the cost of £1 for 90 days. Whilst other listing sites don’t charge for this service, Prize Ticker guarantee no adverts around your listing and a direct link to your competition.
Snizl is an unusual format for a competition listings website. They are another relatively new site and offer prizes from predominantly small businesses in the East Midlands area, although most prizes are available nationally. I have been entering competitions with them for about a year now and won one of the first that I entered last year for a cute Easter bunny plush toy.
The entry method is simple, as all giveaways are hosted directly on the site. Once signed in, you can just click on the picture of the prize you want, which will go to the main comp page. Click on ‘confirm entry’ and there is the option to share each prize on social media for additional entries. New prizes are not by any means added daily and tend to come in peaks and troughs. They are also very long dated comps, usually with about 3 month entry periods. Still, it’s easy enough not to take up too much time and you might get a nice surprise when you had completely forgotten about it, 3 months later!
rosemary and pork belly (blog)
Rosemary and Pork Belly is a great blog with really varied content, but largely focusses around travel. If you’ve read my “About me” page, or actually any of my blog posts, you have probably got the gist that I enjoy travel. They also have an excellent discounts and deals section, again largely centred around travel. So right of the bat, this is a blog for me. You might be thinking, that’s great, but your post and blog are about comping!?
The format is beautifully simple, with a “new since …” section each time the feed is updated. The descriptions often go above and beyond any other comp listing sites, due to the blog format, so closing dates and terms and conditions are clearly laid out for you. There are not hundreds of competitions on here by any means, but they are great ones, often that I haven’t come across on the big 5.
I love this blog and highly recommend keeping it on your watch list if you are a fan of free holidays!!
Still not enough? Enter My Competition
So there are some of the great additional sites that I have been using to get me through the comping dry spell this January. Are there any new ones there for you? I’d be keen to hear your recommendations for comping sites that I haven’t mentioned yet. There are some that I don’t use because I either don’t trust them or don’t like the format (I’m a bit fussy like that). Please check out my post for comping site to avoid for further details.
If you still haven’t found enough, you can pop over to Twitter to enter my new giveaway, which you will find pinned to the top of my page. I’ve decided to change it up from the Gleam and Rafflecopter entry systems this time around, just to keep things fresh.
Terms and Conditions:
This giveaway is provided by Prizewarriors.com. Entries must be received by 31 Jan 2019 The prize is one Transformers shaped wall puzzle. Open to UK residents over the age of 18 only. Entry is via instructions on Twitter, with an additional entry for those that have commented on this post. The winner will be informed on Twitter within 48 hours of the closing date and have 7 days to claim. Please allow 14 days from claim for delivery of the prize.
Please note: There are affiliate links on this page, this means that I get a small fee if you purchase via my links. This does not cost you anything and it allows me to continue to run my blog. Thanks for your understanding.
As my old prize wins post was getting a little long, I’ve decided to start a fresh one for 2019. I’ll be using the same format as previous years, as I think bulleted lists are more easily digestible. I will however be linking to reviews etc of these prizes as the year goes on and hopefully, the prizes roll in. As I mentioned in my top wins of 2018 post, the start of 2019 is already looking pretty killer!
A T2 goodie bag full of tea and associated products
A madness special edition album and board game set
A box of 10 of 2018s best children’s books from Egmont publishing
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse – The Art Of The Movie
A Lightbox display with changeable letters
An Exit ladies watch worth £139
A 7 day all-inclusive 4 star family holiday to Port Aventura World resort!!!! I’ll be taking this in May 2019. Comping goal for the year achieved on 9th January – and yes I did have to go live on the radio (Heart FM) for this one!!! Post coming soon about stepping out of your comfort zone.
A Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 Smart Phone worth £500
A one of a kind illustration from How to Train your Dragon 3 signed by the director
A Transformers Bumblebee movie rubix cube style key chain
As with most of us, for me the end/beginning of the year has led to a bit of reflection. I had a decent year for comping, but I don’t feel that it was my strongest. I have much higher hopes for 2019. Join me as I explore how to get the prizes I want and share my ideas and tips along the way. As my year is already off to a good start, I have decided to begin a new “My wins” post for 2019.
Whilst not my favourite year of wins, I did still have some great ones in 2018, so I’ve picked out my favourites below. (You can check out the full list here) I thought I would use this opportunity to thank the kind prize givers and pay it forward, as let’s face it, without them, what are we all doing here?!? (In the comping community, not on earth – I’m not feeling that reflective)
A 7 night stay at Hafoty Farm Cottages in Snowdonia – Hafoty
So, whilst there were a few larger wins for me last year that came from big brand names, I would have to say that the majority of my wins were from small businesses. In fact, half of my favourite chosen prizes of the year came from small businesses and therefore I feel it’s only right to thank them properly.
I would like to thank Hafoty Farm Cottages for their super generous prize of a 7 night stay in one of their luxury accommodations in Snowdonia. I will be reviewing my stay in April, so please look out for that, but for now, here’s a bit about them.
Hafoty are a family run business, who own six picturesque barn conversions in Snowdonia, North Wales, nearby Anglesey, the Llyn Peninsula and Caernarfon. Their 4 star self catering cottages range from characterful, traditional cottages to stylish, modern conversions.
You can check them out on Facebook for some stunning shots of their properties and grounds. The local area is filled with stunning views and plenty of attractions suitable for all ages. It would make a great base for any family holiday, but especially for those with a penchant for action and adventure! On a personal note, I should mention just how helpful I have found them throughout the booking process. You can certainly see how they won “Best Holiday Cottage Accommodation – North West Wales” at the Welsh Enterprise Awards 2018.
Heating Style are a small specialist business, retailing high-end designer radiators and accessories. They work with industry leading manufacturers to bring you a large range of Vertical Designer Radiators, Designer Bathroom Radiators and Designer Towel Rails available in energy-efficient aluminium, luxury stainless steel or even glass!
Fancy radiators or towel warmers are not something I’d ever considered for my home, given their somewhat luxury status. With that in mind, I was really surprised to find that actually, some of their pieces are way more affordable than I’d imagined. If, like me, you have a passion for interiors and home styling, I would highly recommend you take a look. The designs are show stoppers and so varied that they could be the perfect finishing touch to any room.
In terms of customer service, the team are super friendly and helpful. They couldn’t do enough to advise me when it came to the specifications and fitting advice. My prize also arrived really quickly.
Another of my favourite wins was an adult sized Superman hoodie from Universal Textiles. My 5 year old son is a big fan of superheroes and when I saw the competition prize was a hoodie that was exactly the same as one he owns, the desire overwhelmed me to twin with him whilst he’s still young enough not to mind!
The hoodie arrive quickly, was well packaged and the quality is excellent. It’s actually quite a lightweight fabric, rather than the heavy sweater material I expected. For a women’s hoodie though, I felt that this made it hang much better. It’s also thin enough that I can wear it underneath a coat without looking like the Michelin man, which is a huge bonus!
Universal Textiles are based in Leicester, but supply a wide range of clothing, home textiles and work wear both nationally and internationally. They stock quality branded products at very reasonable prices and offer low delivery fees. If you pop over to their website now and sign up for their newsletter, you will be given a code for 10% off your first order! They also run regular competitions on their Facebook and Twitter pages, so maybe you will be lucky too…
So with 2018’s prizes reflected on, I’m looking forward to 2019. I’ve already got a feeling that I am going to have a MUCH better year of comping. Less than two weeks into the year, I have already met my comping goal, so I’m going to have to come up with some more! Check out my list of wins for 2019 to date to see why I’m such a happy bunny. I’d love to hear your comping goals for the year.
As a person who lives with many painful health conditions, I’m always on the lookout for new pain relief options. I feel very lucky, therefore, to be collaborating with Bristol CBD for this amazing giveaway (edit – Now closed) Before we get into that however, I’d love to share my experience of using Bristol CBD’s full spectrum CBD oil with you.
Who are Bristol CBD?
Bristol CBD are a specialist CBD oil supplier that deal exclusively in full spectrum CBD oils. They offer a range of 6 different strengths of oil, from 300mg right through to 2000mg. Each strength is available in a oil dropper or spray bottle. There is also a paste available if that’s your preference.
The company was created by two natural healthcare practitioners, inspired by the many stories they had heard about the amazing health benefits of CBD. They produce their own high quality CBD products, all of which are extracted from handpicked organic hemp sativa, using CO2 extraction. Each extract contains CBD (cannabidiol), and the full spectrum of healthy cannabinoids as well as terpenes and omega 3 fatty acids. The THC content is safely below the EU legal threshold of 0.2%. Lab reports for this CBD oil are available on their website, so you can be sure that you’re getting a legal, safe and high quality product. The product is also 100% vegan, which is something that is very important to me.
Bristol CBD are a small, independent company that are genuinely passionate about what they do. Their reviews on Trustpilot are glowing and they have a rating of excellent, which is no mean feat with the honesty laden online review culture. I was honoured that they chose me to write a review of their fantastic product.
What are the health benefits of CBD
CBD is a buzz word nowadays, but in the event that you’re still in the dark about it, please be assured, it’s not marijuana! CBD (cannabidiol), whilst derived from the cannabis plant, has such a minute percentage of THC (the psychoactive aspect of cannabis) that it cannot make you “high”. It is also perfectly legal in the UK and has been for some time. There is a very helpful blog section on the Bristol CBD website which has plenty more information on the subject.
The health benefits of CBD are many and varied. As someone with health conditions that remain unresolved by conventional medicine, I am a huge advocate for the use of CBD health products and cannabis based medicines in general, for the treatment of chronic and terminal illnesses.
CBD has been successfully used in the treatment of chronic pain conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and M.E, as well as epilepsy, anxiety and depression. It has also been very successfully used alongside cancer treatments. I won’t provide links to lots of case studies here, as a quick Google search will provide you with all you need to know.
I’ve tried and tested a quite a number of CBD products myself in the quest to find comfort from a life of continuous pain. This is why I feel that my knowledge and experience will provide you with a fair and useful review of this product. I would like to clarify that I am not being compensated for this review, however, I did receive a bottle of Bristol CBD oil for free in exchange for my honest review.
My experience using Bristol CBD Oil
As someone who understands the desperation of needing solace from pain, sleeplessness and anxiety, I feel ethically bound to provide an honest review to my fellow sufferers. I have no intention of providing false hope or miracle cure suggestions here. What I will give you, is a thorough report of my experience using Bristol CBD oil, which I really hope will help you to decide if this could be a good option for you.
Please remember that all medicines and health supplements, whether prescribed or complimentary, react differently in different individuals. My review is specific to my experience and you may not necessarily have the same one.
I don’t go into the details of my health conditions too much in my blog, however, for the purpose of helping others suffering with similar issues… Firstly there’s hypermobility syndrome. This caused sacroilliac joint dysfunction in my pregnancy and left me with frequently subluxating hips, which will eventually develop into arthritis, if it hasn’t already. I also have arthritis of the knees and my patella subluxate regularly too. As a result of these conditions, I live with severe hip, groin, leg and spinal pain daily and haven’t walked without the support of crutches for over 5 years.
Recently, I’ve also been diagnosed with endemetriosis and large polyps in the uterus, for which I’m due to undergo surgery. On top of this, I suffer from undiagnosed nerve issues including pain, regular foot drop in one or both feet and severe arm spasms. Samples of my nerves have been sent to the rare diseases lab at Oxford University to investigate this, but I am currently still in the dark.
Bristol CBD Oil Usage Diary
I received the oil today and was very excited to try it. I’ve read all of the literature and great reviews about Bristol CBD. Honestly, I am going into this with somewhat high hopes, so will try to remain level headed.
I realise that I’ve been supplied the 300mg CBD oil, which it suggests is for sensitive people and beginners. This causes some concern that I won’t feel any effects, as I am neither a beginner, nor sensitive to CBD.
At 11am I take the first dose. The information leaflet suggests that you take it 2 hours after prescribed medication (I take a lot of painkillers). I’m incredibly pleasantly surprised by the sheer strength of this oil. I have had CBD oils claiming to be 1000mg that haven’t had anywhere near the impact that this 300mg does. My main feeling is an overall sense of relaxation. Whilst it doesn’t kill the pain for me, it certainly helps me to deal with it.
At 3pm, I’m not quite as desperate for my next opiate intake as I usually am. This is really significant for me. This is definitely the best CBD product that I’ve tried to date.
I ended up taking 3 doses yesterday and definitely felt more relaxed and able to cope with my pain. The doses of my prescribed medication all wound up being spread further apart than usual, which was very satisfying.
I have no doubts whatsoever about the quality of Bristol CBD oil at this point and am really keen to adjust the dosage to my needs. It is lovely to be more relaxed and not itching for the next opiates, 3 hours after the last dose. But I do feel that this has the potential to go so much further for me, at the correct dosage.
I plan to up the intake to 4 times today, leaving the last dose until bed time. I’ve heard amazing things about the restful sleep CBD can bring, i’ve just not experienced it. With the level of relaxation I’ve experienced so far with this oil, however, it makes sense that this would be the case.
Ok, wow! Last night something very odd happened. I slept! I slept a normal human amount and went to bed incredibly early (for me). As someone who goes to bed between 2.30 and 3.00am every night (morning), I’m endlessly tired. Last night I fell asleep on the sofa at 10pm. My husband nearly died of shock, as he’s always in bed hours before I am, and I had to take myself off to bed at 10.30.
I got up this morning at 6, (I have a 4-year-old!) but this time, after having 7 HOURS SLEEP!! This is the most amount of continuous sleep I’ve had for about 6 years. I feel wonderful. Actually, I genuinely don’t remember this feeling of not being completely exhausted. I think we can say that the extra dose was a win. Just a remarkable transformation.
So, I’ve given Bristol CBD a thorough testing for 3 days and have to say that I’m stunned with the success. If such a small dose has this level of impact on my mood and ability to sleep, I’m genuinely excited to try a higher dosage and see where it takes me.
Obviously I have a lot of health conditions, most of which are here to stay. If you live with chronic pain though, you will understand that even a 25% reduction in suffering would be absolutely life changing. I highly recommend giving Bristol CBD oil a try if you have any symptoms or conditions that are similar to mine.
You can contact them in any of the following ways:
Thank you for reading and please feel free to ask any questions about my symptoms or the effects of the oil. If I can help anyone that is suffering to feel just a little better, it would make my day, as I know how much it means!
Is winning something that we can successfully do together?
Inspired by the newly found knowledge that 1 in 5 jackpot wins are by syndicates, I’ve been looking at the concept of winning together. I’ve joined forces with Lotto Social, who have kindly allowed me to share an amazing offer with my readers. Before I go into the details, however, the concept of Lotto Social has inspired me to look at whether “winning together” is something that would translate into the comping world. After all, whether it’s lotteries or competitions, the goal is the same, we all just want to win!
sharing winnings with others
The idea of winning together is not a new one for me. My Nan has been an avid comper for many years, so comping is in my blood. For as far back as I can remember, she’s bought the same magazines every single week, just for the competitions section. She spends hours completing the various puzzles and posting the little slips away each week, in the hope of bettering the lives of herself and her family.
As a child and even now, in my 30s, whenever I visit my Nan, she will always have a post-it note tucked away with a list of comping questions she needs help with. In reward, she promises to split the prizes with me. I love this idea of grouping together comping efforts and sharing prizes. I feel that it could potentially work well in the wider comping community, providing it’s easily shareable cash prizes on offer. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments, as it’s something I would seriously look at setting up for the Prize Warriors group, if I had enough interest.
How I discovered syndication
Perhaps the most common form of prize sharing is syndication. I’ve always thought the idea of lottery syndication is genius. It’s a simple but effective idea, more players equals more tickets purchased. More tickets purchased equals more chances to win. The jackpot is so ridiculously high for lotteries, that sharing winnings has never been a worry to me!
I first came to syndication in my late teens, whilst working in a factory painting police helmet plates. Each department where I worked ran a small syndicate, with 20-50 members, organised by an overly enthusiastic colleague.Being me, I joined up willingly and actually had a couple of wins too! It never amounted to much once divided into 50 of course, but any winnings were always a very welcome bonus to minimum wage. It was really exciting winning with a group of people, as the atmosphere was great and we’d often go out together and spend the winnings (usually in the pub!) The possibility of winning big together felt nice, it was a buzz and I certainly miss that.
How do Lotto Social help you to win together?
Lotto Social are a site that offer the opportunity for its members to join an online National Lottery syndicate. As someone who is always looking to up my chances of winning at everything, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to have a go, especially with their amazing sign up offer.
They have kindly allowed me to share this offer with my readers, just click on this link to take advantage. This gives you 10 lines in your first draw for just £1. They also currently have an additional bonus offer, I’m not sure how long for, but it worked for me. Just click the green pop up bubble on registration and for the same £1 you get:
10 EuroMillions lines
10 UK Millionaire Maker entries
5 FREE Instant win games – win up to £7k! (I actually got 10 free instant wins!)
90 Days No Win, Money Back Guarantee
Following this offer, you can choose to continue your membership for £5 per week, which will give you 10 lines in the draw on both Tuesdays and Fridays, or you can cancel any time you like. Another nice option they have is that they offer winnings as bonus funds. Bonus funds are offered at 4 times the value of the win and can be used to purchase more lottery tickets. I think this is a very attractive offer for small wins of a few pounds.
For me it was a no brainer to at least give the first week a try! For less than the price of a 1st class stamp, that’s a really good amount of chances to win. I’ll update you on how I got on once the draws are made! Please remember that you must be 16+ to become a member.
Free Instant Win Games
I was also lucky enough to get 10 free turns on some of the instant win games they have available. The instant win games offer further opportunities to win cash, however, unlike some simple win or lose games, these also give you the opportunity to collect points. If you win points instead of cash, these can then be redeemed against other instant win games. My 10 free turns actually turned into 2800 points, which is quite a few free games, all of which give you the chance to win real cash. At the moment I’m popping into my account every day for 5 minutes or so to play through some points. I haven’t won any cash yet, but I do win back a lot of points, so it seems that you will have plenty of opportunity to win for free!
Giving back whilst you win
This was another attractive benefit of Lotto Social for me. I am not by any means a wealthy woman, but I do love to find any way that I can to give to those less fortunate than myself. Lotto Social actually gives back a percentage of their profits to community based charities. November’s proceeds went to youth homelessness and anti-bullying charities, both very worthy causes. What’s more, as a member, you get a chance to help decide where this money is directed each month. This is a great way to help improve the lives of other, whilst trying to improve your own. So, I guess it’s also a form of ‘winning together’.
Please note: There are affiliate links on this page, this means that I get a small fee if you purchase a membership via my link. This does not cost you any extra and it allows me to continue to run my blog. Thanks for your understanding.
December is fast approaching folks, and for us compers, that means that advent competitions are just around the corner! This can be an exciting time for compers as there are way more prizes on offer than in any other month of the year. It can also be very stressful trying to keep up with it all. Whether you love or hate them, entering advent competitions can be fun and lucrative, providing that you make them work for you.
What are Advent Competitions?
In recent years, advent competitions have become a very popular and novel way for businesses to promote their range, whilst spreading a bit of Christmas cheer at the optimum time of the year for retail sales.
Most competitions are set up as an actual advent calendar, with prizes available behind every door. Each day you will have access to the prize behind the coresponding door. The most common entry method is usually name and email address, so they are nice and quick to enter. Most start on December 1st and run for either 12 or 24 days. The prizes can vary greatly in size and value depending on the organisation providing them. You will also find that some companies like to add in special offers behind some of the doors, rather than prizes, so unless it’s somewhere you were already planning to shop, I would avoid these.
My Advent Competition method
A great way that you can make advent comps work for you is to be selective. There are a couple of things that will happen if you try to enter all of the advent comps you find. Number one, you will become stressed and overwhelmed. Number two, you won’t have the time to enter the usual non-advent comps that are still available in abundance. And don’t forget, as many people focus on the advent comps, those regular comps will be receiving way less entries than usual, increasing your chances of winning!
I’m going to hold up my hands now and admit that I am a bit of a comping geek. Well, you would hope so considering I write this blog! But, even in my life outside of comping, I’m a planner. I plan and I research and I organise. This year I have decided to share my geeky method with you lucky people! Some of this might seem obvious, however, simply by being married to an incredibly non-organised person, I understand that won’t be the case for everyone.
Step 1: Research
Probably a bit of a bold term, research, but for want of another, it does the job. So, this year, I have discovered that the advent competitions have been announced even earlier than last year. I’m guessing we’re going to have a ‘Christmas music in shops’ type situation here and eventually they will be announced the same week as Halloween! Still, in this instance I won’t complain as I think it’s great. Both The Prizefinder and Loquax have their advent lists available and as of checking yesterday (19th November) the links on Loquax are already ‘active’. By active, I mean that links to the various advent websites are live, you just can’t enter the competitions yet. Update: As of 1st December Competition Database also have live advent links!
Have a real good look at what’s available outside of the normal comping sites too. I would recommend going to the websites of brands that you love to see if they will be doing one, as it may not be listed elsewhere yet.
Step 2: Selection
Be picky with these comps! As I mentioned above, there are a LOT of them. Bear in mind that a lot of them will run right up to Christmas eve, or day and therefore if you are looking to use the prizes purely for Christmas presents, you’re probably better disregarding them after a certain date (I suggest around 16th December). More than ever, with advents, I only focus on the prizes that I really, really want.
With the advent links available so early, you can save so much time. Most advent comps will start on December 1st, so if you can have already picked the ones you want to enter before then, you’re at a distinct time advantage!
Step 3: Build your collection
What I do from here is to build my own link collection. I have a folder on my toolbar which contains links to the advent comps that I am interested in entering on a daily basis. As they run for different periods of time, I rename the link to reflect the closing date. I don’t care what the prizes are at this point, as I’ve already decided it’s something that I want in the selection stage, so renaming it as just the closing date lets me know when to delete the link and focus my attention on the rest. Below is an example of what I have set up so far for this year.
Step 4: Enter and Update
This is the order I choose to do my competitions in, you may prefer a different order, but the main point is, have an order! I enter the regular comps closing that day first, then go through the links in my advent folder, followed by any new competitions if I have time. I would suggest keeping the links in each advent folder to a maximum of 15 and then selecting open all. This saves confusion and has a nice methodical feel to it. If you have more than 15 links, I would suggest numbering folders along your toolbar i.e Advents 1, Advents 2. Throughout December, I will follow this routine. It’s also worth noting that some advent competitions are not announced until the day that they open, so it’s certainly worth checking back through the advent competition lists available on the bigger listing sites to update your collection.
Don’t forget about the regular competitions. These will have way fewer entries due to the advents, thus making them easier to win.
Focus on locally based advent competitions, such as your local shopping centres and indepedent shops, as these will have far fewer entries than the bigger brands!
Use form filling software such as Dashlane to complete your entries quicker
Read Facebook notifications last! It’s an overwhelming part of social media comping on any day of the year, trying to read through every single tag notification. At advent time, it can be hellish! Don’t let notifications distract and confuse you, enter those in your collection first, read notifications later.
Have some sort of Christmas themed photo ready for competitions asking for one, and they will. If it has your kids dressed as Elves etc, that would be a bonus but the broader the appeal, the better as it can be used in different categories.
My Top Picks this year!
So here’s a little updae for you (3rd December). I’m really enjoying the advents this year, how about you? I thought I would to a round up of my top 10 advent competitions this year, let ,e know if you have entered any of them.
Travel Up – I love the look of this one and it has some amazing prizes, if you know me, you will know I love the travel and day trip based prizes the most!
Family Travel Association – Whilst the pay off vs. effort for this advent/game is meager, you have to love the idea! The puppetry video scenes of classic movies are hilarious.
Radio City’s Signature Living – The prizes are insanely luxurious hotel stay and I’m not sure if anyone has noticed, but all 25 days are available now. I’ve already entered for the month!
My Mail – You do need to register for an account for this one, but the prizes are HUGE. We’re talking holidays and £10k diamond rings!!
Vegan Life Magazine – I realise this is a slightly more niche appeal. However, after years of endless Christmas gift basket competitions that I can’t enter because they don’t cater to me, this is a welcome treat!
Scenic Tours – Another attractive calendar with great travel related prizes and mostly high value.
Keel Toys – Lovely toy based prizes daily, with the opportunity to win a huge hamper of toys on top of that on 19th December.
Dont forget, I still have a couple of my competitions open for this year, with one more to follow this coming Thursday (6/12). See Links below:
As much as it might seem a little bit neurotic or time-consuming to follow my above suggestion, I really do recommend it, as it will save you a lot of time and stress in the longer term.
I’m interested to know if you use any other methods to enter advent competitions and how it works for you. Also, let me know what you win! As much as I am a bit of a ‘bah humbug’ when it comes to Christmas, there’s something really fun about advent calendars. I used to love them as a kid and have desperately been trying to win myself a beauty advent calendar for this year! I love the thrill of seeing what’s behind each door. And who wouldn’t want a new surprise every day!?
Good luck everyone, enjoy yourselves and I hope you win big!
Every year at this time, there are a huge amount of new toys introduced to the market, that every kid ‘desperately needs’. As parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles etc, we often feel under great pressure to fulfil these ‘needs’. I, for one, am going to find it a real struggle to provide the thousands of toys on my son’s list! And, he’s an only child!
Which toys will be most popular for Christmas 2018?
So, with the above in mind, I want to try to help reduce that burden on you to buy EVERYTHING. Recently I’ve paid a lot of attention to articles created by the main toy shops and online retailers listing what they consider to be the top toys for Christmas 2018. Below, I’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be the top eight desired toys/categories of toys this Christmas, as a result of that research. For each toy on the list, I’ve provided as many links as I can find to competitions where you can win them.
Make sure to check back regularly for more opportunities to win the toys that your kids are asking for, because I’ll keep updating this post between now and Christmas.
At my top spot this year is LEGO. It’s surprising to me that a toy that has been around for so long remains as popular as Lego does. I do, however, really love that, at the number one spot, is a toy that encourages dexterity, design and concentration skills. This year, with lots of new sets available just in time for Christmas, including the sought after Harry Potter range, I’ve seen LEGO pop up on every single toy shop list I’ve read. In addition to a wide range of Harry Potter sets, new sets from the LEGO Friends range, Duplo range, Creator range and Ninjago range, all appeared in top 2018 Christmas toy lists.
Here are some links to LEGO competitions that are running throughout November and December. Please note the end dates at the beginning of each link. I will try to keep the list as current as possible, but some of them may close before I get the chance to update it.
Here are the links to the Barbie related competitions that I’ve found:
Currently all closed: Will update in new ones found…
I appreciate that this is a wide category of toys, but as STEM seems to be a real buzz word for parents and teachers at the moment, I felt it deserved its place on my list. STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, in case you were wondering. They are toys designed to make learning fun for kids and as someone who is currently arranging a science themed birthday party for a 5-year-old, I can confirm that they succeed. On the top toys lists, I came across many different types of toys, catering to a wide age range, that fell under the banner of STEM. Some of the most sought after ranges this year are Learning Resources including Botley the coding robot, the Nickelodeon Experimake range, such as Experimake Sludge and Slime and Gravitax sets from Ravensburger.
Here is a list of the awesome STEM toys that are available to win online right now:
As a huge Dr Seuss fan, we are very excited, in our house, that they have decided to revive this absolute classic. We were lucky enough to see the live performance of The Grinch last Christmas at Universal Studios in Florida. It was amazing! And yes, I did shed a tear lol. My son, who is almost 5, has the gorgeous young Grinch toy from Build a Bear factory on his Christmas wish list (aka hidden in my bedroom). I’ve also seen a plethora of related merchandise and clothing available for the Grinch movie. Unfortunately, the actual Blu-ray release is not until February 2019, which is a shame.
Here are some links to competitions where you can win Grinch related prizes:
LOL Surprise Eggs were huge last year, with parents being forced to pay way over the odds for items that had been bought up in bulk and sold on eBay at ridiculous mark ups. Well, they haven’t really lost much popularity in the mean time and this Christmas will see the launch of their LOL Biggie Pet Figure, LOL Bigger Surprise and LOL Surprise House ranges. These 3 items appear on a lot of the top toy lists, as well as the original range still having notable popularity, given the collectible nature of the toy.
Here are the links for LOL Surprise related competitions that I have found
Anyone with a child that watches YouTube will appreciate (or not) the popularity of NERF guns. In the US they’ve been popular for decades, but they’ve also become increasingly popular here in recent years. They also seem to interest kids from a very wide age range! Although intended for ages 8 and up, my son has been interested since his 4th birthday and I also know teens that still love NERF. This year, the new and sought after additions to their range are NERF Laser Alpha, NERF Rival Prometheus MXVIII-20K Blaster and of course, the Hauck NERF Battle Racer is still popular, particularly with younger kids.
Here are some links to where you can win NERF toys in time for this Christmas:
My Little Pony have been around since I was a little girl (I’m showing my age now!) and it was really nice to see that they have brought out a retro range this year that look just like the originals. These toys have had a real resurgence in popularity in recent years and this year is no different. Both the Ultimate Equestria Collection and Mega Collections appear in the top anticipated toy lists for 2018.
Here are some links that I have found to win My Little Pony toys:
Another very broad category here, I know. It makes me very happy though, that in these days of technology overload, the number of board games on kids’ Christmas lists continue to increase. Ironically, I’m pretty sure that YouTube is the culprit for the rise in popularity, due to the millions of unboxing videos, however as long as they’re still being appreciated, where’s the harm! There are a lot of board games from different manufacturers appearing on this years top toys lists. Here are a handful of the most frequently mentioned titles that I came across during my research; Pie Face Canon, Don’t Step in it, Fortnite Monopoly, What’s in Ned’s Head and Soggy Doggy.
Here are some links where you can win a whole host of different board games. They are actually one of the most abundant giveaway items this year, so if there are any on you kids’ lists then I would recommend starting here:
And of course, in addition to those links I have mentioned above, I must recommend the following pages’ toy categories. These sites have been very good to me in the past when sourcing presents, so I wish you the best of luck with winning some for yourselves. I would love to read your comments about what you are/were trying to win this year and whether or not you succeeded.
Please note: There are Amazon affiliate links on this page, this means that I get a small fee from Amazon if you purchase via my link. This does not cost you anything and it allows me to continue to run my blog. Thanks for your understanding.
Win a magical Christmas themed photo shoot for your children or pets
I have teamed up with Shadow Studio to offer you an awesome Christmas themed giveaway. Check out the gleam form below for your opportunity to win. The prize includes a free 30 minute photo shoot at Shadow Studio and a choice of 7 x 5 print from your shoot.
All about Shadow Studio
Shadow Studio is a professional photo studio near to Gloucester Quays, in the heart of Gloucestershire. They have two resident photographers, one of whom, Mark, has been a good friend of mine for over 20 years. They specialise in family, child, baby and pet portraits.
Mark is an excellent photographer who started as a hobbyist many years ago. I’ve followed his progress from the very beginning through to his current successful studio. He has taken photographs of my son, Zeke on numerous occasions and I’m always thrilled with the results. As a father himself, Mark is excellent with children. He makes friends with them and really puts them at ease for a shoot. Zeke doesn’t leave his side when we go out for the day, which gives me a nice break. Also, if you’re planning on having a photo of your pet, you should know that in our friend circle, Mark has always been known as Dr Doolittle!
Shadow Studio aim to cater to all tastes and budgets, offering a wide range of photograph styles and set options. They also hire out the studio for photographer camera club events, model photo shoots, projects with their makeup artists, student projects and some commercial photography. You can contact them via their Facebook or Instagram page for further details and prices.
Enter for your chance to win a themed photo shoot and print in time for Christmas
Shadow Studio have generously given me a prize package to offer to a lucky reader. The prize consists of a 30 minute photo shoot for either your child(ren) or pet(s) with a choice of magical Christmas themed backgrounds. You will also receive a 7×5 print of your choice from the photo shoot, to take home as a treasured memory of your day. It would make an excellent Christmas gift for relatives or even a nice holiday card image.
Simply enter via the gleam form below. Please note: Although this is a promotional piece, I am not accepting any payment or benefits in return, therefore it does not qualify as an ad post.