Monday, 30 April 2012

A Guest on Monday - Bridget Wilson Hall

Today's Guest on Monday is the lovely Bridget Wilson Hall from Arbonne. Here's what Bridget had to say.

"Guess what the news is in our house?!

No, it's not me who's pregnant, it's my daughter...

And talking to Maxine about what I would write about in my guest blog I suddenly realised that instead of trying to “think up something” I could write about, I could do what they always tell you you should do in a blog – write about what you know.

Suddenly I can see so many connections in my life, between my home life as the mother of a young woman who is expecting her first baby, (I'M GOING TO BE A GRANDMA!! - excuse my shouting but I am VERY excited!), a business woman, and a priest. What?! You may say, how on earth can you connect those? And add in Life's a Celebration into the bargain?...

 Well, let me tell you a little bit more about myself (did I mention that my daughter is pregnant?!)... My business is Arbonne International, and we sell the answers to people's skincare issues... And the newest skincare issue in my family is the skin of my new grandchild. As you will know if you have been a parent, once you know you are preparing for the birth of a baby, you want to provide only the best for the baby, in every aspect, from feeding to the pram. And believe me, as a Grandma to be, this feeling is massively magnified.

As a skincare consultant with Arbonne I ask people to think about what they are putting on their skin as much as what they put in their mouths when they choose healthy eating. Many of the best known skincare products contain by-products of the petrochemical industry (look for mineral oil in the ingredients) as well as animal by-products, or are tested on animal. Our products are only tested on human volunteers and are certified vegan, with no petrochemical ingredients.

This is what I want for our baby! A nappy cream that uses zinc oxide, with its deodorizing and antibacterial properties, avocado and peach. A baby oil that instead of mineral oil uses safflower, sunflower, jojoba, soybean and shea butter oils... Wouldn't you? 

If you're waiting to hear about my life as a priest, let me direct you to My favourite day as a priest was doing a blessing ceremony for my next door neighbour's 2 year old daughter. Can you imagine the celebration over my grandchild?!  

We will certainly be using Maxine's site for our party in a box – be it baby shower (with lots of Arbonne skincare on the list!) or christening... 

You can find out more about all our solutions for skincare issues from baby care to the signs of ageing at"

Hope you like what Bridget has to say. I think we should all join together in wishing Bridget congratulations on finding out that she's going to be a Grandma. Please post your messages below. Don't forget that if you've found out that you're going to be a Grandma then why not look at our delightful baby shower party boxes.

Speak to you all soon.


Monday, 23 April 2012

A Guest on Monday - Kate Johnson from Smiley Booth

A Guest on Monday - Kate Johnson from Smiley Booth

Today's guest blogger is the lovely Kate Johnson from Smiley Booth. I had chatted to Kate so many times on Twitter and then we actually met in person (I know - actually meeting a real person!) recently at the Theo Paphitis #SBS winners event. It's always really great to meet like-minded business people so when she asked to guest blog for me I jumped at the chance. Kate runs a business called Smiley Booth which rents out photo booths for private and corporate events. Here's what she has to say.

"I was lucky enough to meet Maxine recently at the Small Business Sunday winner’s event hosted by Theo Paphitis and Ryman Stationery.  The room was alive with some 200 plus businesses that were exciting, engaging and fun!  That’s exactly what business in 2012 is all about.  Whether you are a business or a consumer the advent of the many different forms of social media platforms has levelled the playing field and enabled people to interact with businesses of all sizes. You really get to see inside the business and to learn about who’s running it, it’s like we host our own fly-on-the-wall documentaries on a daily basis.  It’s also a giant club, the world of small business and self-employed individuals used to be a lonely one but now it’s the best of both worlds and its growing every day.  
For Life’s a Celebration and Smiley Booth it gets even better because our businesses are in themselves fun.  Throwing a great party or event is about entertaining your guests, taking the stress out of the organisation and creating great memories to last a lifetime which is what Maxine does so well and what we strive to achieve at Smiley Booth too.

Smiley Booth is a photo booth hire service for events such as weddings and celebrations and corporate events.  We rent a photo booth to the host and guests have unlimited use and receive 4 photos on a traditional strip or a modern grid format.  These can be personalised with the event details and you may choose to have a guest book where by guests can leave a duplicate copy of their image along with a hand written message.  We also offer green screen background to transport your guests anywhere from under the sea to at the top of the Eiffel Tower and video recording options such as video messaging and the all new ‘videoke’.  
Whether or not you own your own business yourself it is now really easy to find fun, unique and exciting businesses out there that are rewriting the rules.  The old adage that people buy from people is truer now more than ever.  If you are a consumer look for the business that stands out, that’s doing things differently, that lets you get to know them and treats each and every customer as a friend.  And if you are a business? Well you better be prepared to do business with a smile!"
If you want to have a chat with Kate about what Smiley Booth can add to your special event then you can tweet her @SmileyBooth or you can email her on Or you can leave a comment below and I will happily pass on anything that people want to say.

Keep smiling my friends (ooh and don't forget about Life's A Celebration for that ultimate party in a box!)


Monday, 16 April 2012

A Guest on Monday - Ann Williams - Maughan

Today's guest blogger is Ann Williams - Maughan from Education Takeaway. Education Takeaway provides a range of educational games, books, puzzles, magnets and charts to promote essential literacy and numeracy skills for primary school children and their parents.

Here's what Ann had to say;

"Jolly Phonics is a thorough foundation for reading and writing. It uses the synthetic phonics method of teaching the letter sounds in a way that is fun and multi-sensory. Children learn how to use the letter sounds to read and write words.

In Jolly Phonics the 42 main sounds of English are taught, not just the alphabet. The sounds are in seven groups. Some sounds are written with two letters, such as ee and or. These are called digraphs. oo and th can each make two different sounds, as in book and moon, that and three. To distinguish between these two sounds, the digraph is represented in two forms. 

Each sound has an action which helps children remember the letter(s) that represent it. As a child progresses you can point to the letters and see how quickly that can do the action and say the sound. One letter sound can be taught each day. As a child becomes more confident, the actions are no longer necessary.  Children should learn each letter by its sound, not its name. For example, the letter a should be called a (as in ant) not ai (as in aim). Similarly, the letter n should be nn (as in net), not en. This will help in blending. The names of each letter can follow later.

Parental support is important to all children as they benefit from plenty of praise and encouragement whilst learning. You should be guided by the pace at which your child wants to go. If interest is being lost, leave the teaching for a while and then come back to it later. Not all children find it easy to learn and blend sounds. Extra practice will lead to fluency in reading and help your child manage at school."

If you want to know more about the Jolly Phonics range and all the other products in Education Takeaway's range click here to see Ann's website.

Hope you've enjoyed today's guest blogger. Please feel free to leave a comment for me or Ann. We would be happy to hear from you.

If you want to chat with me directly about any parties you have coming up then just drop me a line!

Look forward to chatting with you all soon.


Saturday, 14 April 2012

Having a Jubilee Party

Hello my friends,

Well the first of the Jubilee Party Boxes have been despatched and the first customer feedback says

"Wonderful party box has arrived from I am sooo impressed. Thank you xx"

Anyway, if you're looking for something to do on the extended Jubilee Bank Holiday then I don't think you can go far wrong with having a massive party (but I'm bound to say that aren't I?).

So if you are looking to have a celebration make sure you have all your boxes ticked and all the necessary regulations are covered.

There are hundreds of website out there that provide you with all the information you need to make sure you don't fall foul of the law. A good place to start is

There is some good info on there about holding a small street party and directs you to the different places you may need to go.

A Jubilee party is a great way to get your community together so make sure that everybody is involved as early as possible and that everybody knows what they are doing.

If you're thinking about having a party in the garden then make sure you have all the supplies you need. Obviously this is when I plug my Jubilee Party Boxes. You will find everything you need in there to make sure everybody has a great time. Not only do they include all the party supplies (bunting, flags, plates etc) they also have a games pack in there and also some recipe ideas. So make us your first port of call. They are genuinely so straight forward that once you've ordered your party box you can relax knowing that you won't have to be dashing round the shops and trawling the internet for all the supplies you need. If you want to chat with me about these further then just get in touch.

Make sure you have a Plan B just in case our glorious English weather lets us down. If you're having a garden party then it might be sensible to get a gazebo or something alternative to shelter in!

If you're opening up your garden to neighbours, families and friends then make sure that everybody knows about any potential hazards there might be in your garden ie ponds etc.

I think the Jubilee is a great way for families, friends and communities to get together and celebrate. So make sure you have lots of fun and enjoy it.

I'm sure that I'll think of more Jubilee hints and tips as we approach the big event so expect more blog posts from me on this.

But in the meantime keep smiling and I'll speak to you soon.


Friday, 6 April 2012

With a Little Help From My Friends (Part 2)

Hi all,

Last August I wrote a blog about how I had made some lovely friends since starting the business. Today's blog is really an extension of that.

I was made redundant last August and embarked on starting my party business. Since then I am absolutely amazed at how far I've come in such a short space of time.

The business has launched a new website courtesy of the wonderfully talented Mark Martillo (can't claim him as a new friend though - known him for a LONG time!), expanded the product range, moved from working in the dining room to working out of my own premises and all culminating in meeting Theo Paphitis last week.

Throughout all this process I have met so many new people and have picked up a lot of new friends along the way.

I love every minute of running the business and although I did think that working for myself with only the dog for company (currently sat behind me in the office!) would be a lonely existence it really isn't. I have built a great networks of contacts who are all really supportive and as most of them also run their own businesses they totally get it! So on those really bad days (for those of you that run your businesses you will know all about them!) they're there to pick you up and then on those really good days when the deal machine (that's the telephone!) never stops ringing they're there to high five with you!

So for any of you out there that are thinking about starting your own business make sure you have a good network of support as you'll find it invaluable. More importantly it also works in reverse, you have to be there to support those of your business colleagues that need a pick-me-up or a high five.

In conclusion thank you to all the new friends I have found. You all know who you are! Here's to a lifetime of high fives with each other.

Keep smiling to all my friends old and new


Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Getting to Meet Theo Paphitis

Hi All,

Just thought I would write a few words about meeting a dragon last week.

As you may or may not know Theo Paphitis from BBCs Dragons Den holds a weekly competition on Twitter which he calls Small Business Sunday or #sbs. Each week he retweets his 6 favourite businesses. If you're not a Twitter user then this is probably all gobbledy gook but anyway it's a big deal!

He invited all the winners of #sbs to an event at Edgebaston last week so me and my friend Carrie drove there to meet the man himself.

When we got to the car park at Edgebaston there was, what can only be described as, the world's shiniest car parked up! Here is a picture of me by this car!

Theo's Car
Anyway once we were in the building we were treating to the warmest hospitality from the Ryman staff.

I was stood chatting to some people when we got up to the room and next thing I knew Theo Paphitis was stood next to me asking if we'd had a good journey. To say that I was star struck and tongue tied is an under statement.

Anyway to cut a long story short he spent all afternoon talking to people, answering people's questions and generally being a very charming man.

We all had our pictures taken with him and so here is me with Theo.

All in all I had the best day. He is a genuinely lovely guy who took the time to speak to people and have their photo taken with him.

Anyway to say thank you to him for inviting me to his event I have sent him the official invite to my birthday party in May. Do you think he'll come? I'll let you know.

Don't forget that our party boxes have had the seal of approval from a dragon. Why not check us out and see if we can help you with your next celebration. Drop me a line if you want to chat!

Keep smiling my friends


Monday, 2 April 2012

A Guest On Monday - Diana Saxby

Today's guest blogger is Diana Saxby a Civil Celebrant. Here's what she had to say!

"My name is Diana and I’m an Independent Civil Celebrant from Grace the Day. I’m trained to conduct wedding ceremonies and baby naming, renewal of vows, Commitment and Civil Partnership ceremonies and I consider I have the best job in the world!

I’ve earned the reputation of the South’s Leading Independent Wedding celebrant and I’m known for my elegant and achingly romantic ceremonies.  You can see one of my outdoor ceremonies on YouTube

I trained for this work after a career as a legal PA and then a spell in PR.  I love working with people and as a life-long hopeless romantic, working in the wedding industry I feel I’ve found my vocation!

I design and conduct bespoke wedding ceremonies for couples who want to celebrate their marriage without restrictions imposed on them by registrars.  I won’t dictate what readings they can choose or the music they can have.  One of the most beautiful weddings I conducted had a very beautiful bride enter to the strains of Ave Maria, which totally suited this very serene, beautiful and delicate bride.  It was incredibly moving to watch her graceful entrance down the aisle. 

I also design and conduct baby naming ceremonies, renewal of vows ceremonies, Commitment and Civil Partnership ceremonies and Celebration of Life/Funeral ceremonies.

I’ve conducted weddings and other ceremonies in some very beautiful places, such as a secluded cottage garden, decorated Jane Austin style with homemade bunting, with private water frontage on the shores of Poole Harbour; in the secret garden of the only medieval manor in the UK with a working drawbridge and moat, an August bank holiday wedding on the sand of the exclusive Sandbanks beach and I have several candle-lit evening ceremonies booked for this year and next.

I also exhibit at wedding fairs which gives me the opportunity to speak one-to-one with couples and explain my work.  It’s something no-one else can do for me, because couples are buying me, my words, my voice, my presentation, my delivery and my experience and professionalism.  Nearly everyone I speak to is enthusiastic about my work yet most have never heard of celebrants.  I also give after dinner and networking talks to raise awareness of celebrant-led ceremonies generally.

My website has been my biggest, but my wisest investment and is viewed across the globe. I receive enquiries and bookings from a number of overseas couples who either want to be married in the UK or have their wedding blessed amongst family and friends in the UK.

Naming Day ceremonies are also in demand and I have conducted several double ceremonies for siblings, including one for 8 month old twin girls, which was very special and concluded with a release of butterflies, which was incredibly poignant. I’m also finding my brides from previous years are now coming back to me to ask for naming ceremonies for their newborns which is lovely for me.

Many of my couples and families leave beautiful comments and testimonials on the Guest Book page of my website:

Diana Saxby"

Diana and I would love to hear from you so please leave your comments below. If you have a celebration coming up then don't forget that we have a huge range of party boxes for all occasions. We can also put together a party box just for you so if you don't see what you're looking for then just get in touch and we'll chat about what you need.

Keep smiling my friends



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