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  • Dreaming Of A White Christmas? Top Snow Play Alternatives

    There’s plenty on the blog about sledges, winter play ideas and snow-based fun, so we thought you’d be all set this December for icy activities. And then we saw the weather forecast.

    The long anticipated white stuff doesn’t look like it’s putting in an appearance anytime soon. For young children addicted to Frozen and conditioned by movies to believe it isn’t Christmas without a blizzard, this may come as a crushing disappointment.

    We can’t squeeze snow from the clouds, but we can help you cushion the blow with these top ideas for faking that wintery wonderland feeling.

    #1 Marshmallow Snowballs

    Marshmallows make a great snowball substitute. You can keep it simple by giving each player a small bag of fluffy marshmallows and letting them go all out. Or for older children (and adults, who will definitely want to be in on this game) set up a dodgeball-style game, where anyone hit with a marshmallow or has their throw caught, switches to the other team. Regardless of how you play, set a rule about not aiming above the shoulders. These are soft and fairly painless, but anything hitting you in the eye hurts so is best avoided.

    #2 Or Paper Snowballs This is a top game to play on Christmas afternoon. Take all that leftover, ripped, screwed up wrapping paper and put it to good use. Assign each player a stack of paper and allocate a set amount of time (5 or 10 minutes for them to create their own paper snowballs). Then let the mayhem begin.

    #3 Make A Snow Scene This is best done in a large tub, old splash pool or a water play table. Use some cheap bars of soap and grate to create realistic snow. Add dolls and action figures, those around 5 inches tall work best, to create a snow scene. Then your children can play in the snow on a small scale. #4 Fake Snow Sensory Bin This one also calls for a tub or similar container. Mix 3 cups of bicarbonate soda (you can buy it by the sack load online, much cheaper than buying from the baking aisle), with ½ cup of cheap hair conditioner to create fluffy, squishable, moldable snow. Add arctic creatures, and glass pebbles or marbles that have been cooled in the fridge to create a multi-sensory experience.

    #5 Sledge On The Beach Thanks to the long and slender nature of our island, a good number of our readers are positioned near to the coast. If your children are desperate for a sledge ride, and you have good upper body strength, head to the beach. You should be able to pull a sledge along the sand provided it is dry and not too stony. To really tire them out, get your children to team up and pull you along.

    For more fun and festive blog posts, go to the rest of the Wicken Toys blog.

  • Creative Ways To Make It Look Like Santa’s Been In Your Garden

    In an ideal world, the Night Before Christmas, we’d receive a heavy sprinkling of snow, thus providing the perfect canvas upon which you could create plausible Santa footprints.

    But we all know that’s not going to happen.

    A genius idea I have seen on Pinterest shows snowy white footprints inside the house. Carpet powder (you do the shake n vac, to get the freshness back…) or talc is dusted around a wellington boot, giving the impression snow has sprinkled from Santa’s footwear and onto the floor.

    It looks magical.

    But alas is deeply flawed.

    If there’s no snow outside, how did Santa manage to bring snow inside.

    If he picked up the snow on his boots at the North Pole, why didn’t the heat from his feet cause it to melt.

    If the snow was sprinkled on the carpet by Santa visiting at midnight, why hasn’t it melted 6-7 hours later when the central heating has been on all night.

    So as festive as the sprinkled talc may look, it’s not fooling anyone over the age of 3. Worse still it’s likely to generate a whole load of questions you are just not ready to handle yet.

    In a bid to bring the presence of Father Christmas to our back garden, I have been on a research mission.

    Here are the top three clues to search for in your back garden, that prove Father Christmas has paid you a visit.

    #1 Mud. Lots Of It The ground is wet. Reindeer, a sleigh and a portly gentleman in wellie boots is sure to leave some lawn damage. For an authentic Santa landing use an unloved mug, turned upside down, to make hoof dents in the lawn. Then turn it the right way up and drag two lines about 5 feet apart, running backwards from the hoof prints to show where the sleigh landed. A nice scraping of mud on the back door mat will prove Santa was courteous enough to wipe his feet before coming in.

    #2 White Fur Trim Father Christmas is a jolly fellow, who likes to play as much as any child. If you have a climbing frame or swing in your back garden, chances are he had a little frolic on it before re-boarding the sleigh. A little white fluffy material caught at the top of the slide, or on the swing chains will be just the evidence you need to show your children.

    #3 Carrot So you put a carrot on the kitchen table, next to the mince pie and glass of milk. In the morning, there’s just the top left, proving beyond reasonable doubt that Rudolph has enjoyed a delicious snack. Wrong! Firstly, the reindeer are not coming in your house to eat. The carrot must go out to them. So why would Santa come back in the house, to put the leftovers (by now covered in reindeer dribble) on your lovely clean plate. Secondly, have you ever seen how messy it is when a reindeer eats a carrot? Make up some reindeer dribble with a little cornflour mixed with water, then add a sprinkling of carrot, and splosh onto your patio to recreate a realistic reindeer dining experience.

    For more fun, festive and frolicking ideas, check out the rest of the Wicken Toys blog.

  • How To Give A Climbing Frame As A Gift This Christmas....

    …...because you know you can’t just wrap it up right?

    The Ideal Christmas Gift for Grown Ups

    A climbing frame makes a wonderful Christmas present.

    For starters you don’t actually have to bring it inside your house ever. This means that when all your friends are bravely attempting to exile old, damaged toys to make room for the new consignment of plastic arriving on Christmas Day, you can kick back, relax, sip some mulled wine, safe in the knowledge that the biggest Christmas gift received this year, will not be obscuring your carpet or invading your living room.

    Secondly, your school holidays have just become a whole lot easier. No more frantically planning play dates, trips to the park, or expensive excursions. Just open the back door and fling the children outside. This climbing frame will keep them occupied for hours. And they’ll be active, and using their imagination, so you can feel a little bit smug that they are spending their time doing something wholesome.

    So now you’re fully convinced to buy one, head over to see our range of metal and wooden climbing frames, buy one, then come right back to find out how you go about giving this jumbo gift.

    Flat Packed Or Fully Assembled The first decision you need to make is whether you are giving this gift in its raw, flat packed form, or unveiling it in the garden in its fully assembled state.

    Take it from someone who has spent Christmas Eve assembling a climbing frame, leaving it in the box is the easiest option. It is also far easier to invent a plausible story about how Santa managed to transport it to your house (more on that later).

    But the chances are a cardboard box with a photo of a climbing frame on it does not deliver quite the same ‘wow factor’ as a garden full of play equipment ready to be enjoyed.

    The Art Of Disguise While it’s in the box, the climbing frame can be stowed away in your garage. But if you decide to assemble it, it’s going to be much harder to hide. Waiting until the children have gone to bed on Christmas Eve is a no-no. Erecting a climbing frame in the dark is no fun at all. Ideally you should ask a friend or family member to take your children out for the afternoon, put the frame together in their absence, then when the kids return, whisk them straight upstairs to bed. Direct any Santa searches and scattering of reindeer food outside the front of the house. Repeat over and over that Santa lands out the front - that way it’s easier for him to reach the neighbours. This should discourage any peeking into the back garden.

    A Plausible Story Finally, you need to agree a plausible story about how the climbing frame made it to your garden, then attach ribbons, wrapping or transport hooks as appropriate.

    Your backstory will depend on the location of your property, difficulty gaining access, and whether you’ve put the climbing frame together or not.

    Options include: Santa has a harness that swings under the sleigh - he attached the climbing frame, then gently lowered it into the garden. A separate North Pole elf-staffed delivery service handle the transportation of large goods. Santa oversees their installation while he is delivering the smaller parcels. Santa delivered the box, then a small army of elves arrived and worked all night to put the climbing frame together.

    Whichever story you go with, make sure all significant adults are in on the plan, and deliver it with absolute authority.

    For more Christmas related posts, follow the Wicken Toys blog.

  • Top Tips To Help Your Back Garden Feel Festive

    Imagine what this time of year is like for your back garden. All through the spring, summer and autumn months you have lovingly tended to it, tidied it and bestowed it with your presences, In return it has provided a safe, peaceful environment in which your children can play freely.

    But now the cold dark nights are drawing in, you close your curtains as soon as you return home, and your back garden is well and truly out of sight and out of mind.

    If that wasn’t painful enough, you then erect a tree, an OUTDOOR thing, INSIDE the house, and decorate it lavishly with lights, baubles and tinsel.

    What is a garden to think?

    Happily, Wicken Toys are here with some top tips for getting your outside space into the festive spirit without causing any further damage to your bank balance (beyond what buying up half of the toy shop has anyway).

    1. Santa Pots Paint a flower pot bright red, wrap one length of black electrical tape around the middle, then use a silver pen to make the buckle. You have a santa pot.

    2. DIY Signs Want a cute little sign asking Santa to ‘Stop Here’ or pointing the way to the stockings waiting to be filled? Make one for yourself. You’ll need a stick of bamboo, or similar supporting pole, a scrap of wood (take care to sand down the edges) and some outdoor paint. No need to stop at helpful signs. Feel free to knock up a faux snowman or realistic Santa face to go alongside them.

    3. Paper Mache Models Do you know how easy it is to make giant 3D models from paper mache? Pretty easy. And I should know. I’ve made a 6ft killer whale and two 5ft sharks.

    Cut out the shape of the creature / person you want to create from a piece of cardboard. OK, so it’s looking pretty flat to begin with, but we’ll work on that. To create the 3D shape, scrunch up balls of newspaper and tape (with masking tape) down onto the cardboard. To build the skin layer, soak strips of newspaper in watered down PVA glue (about 50:50) and drape over the scrunched paper. Leave to dry. It should feel pretty solid once the glue’s set. Next you want to create the outer later. You can do this either by repeating the last step with coloured tissue paper, or use white paper and paint to the chosen colour.

    Finally when everything feels dry and solid, apply a layer of waterproof varnish. This creation isn’t going to survive a hurricane, blizzard or flooding, but in a sheltered spot of the garden it should at least see out December.

    4. Just Add Baubles Use plant / wire ties instead of string and you should be able to secure your baubles to any plant in need of a festive makeover. Try to choose one in a more sheltered position, and steer clear of tinsel and ribbon which will quickly go soggy.

    5. Outdoor Christmas Tree There’s no reason why Christmas trees must live indoors. Invest in a tree with a root ball, plant it in your garden and you can watch it grow from one Christmas to the next.

    For more Christmas-inspired posts, follow the Wicken Toys blog.

  • Christmas Present Ideas To Inspire Outdoor Play

    It's the last day of November so by now you should be aware of the mominous tick-tock of the Christmas countdown clock.

    Is your Facebook feed stuffed with smug mum's celebrating Christmas shopping victory?

    Is your house already bursting at the seams with toys?

    Do you fear that the addition of another truckload of play things this festive season will cause your carefully organzied playroom storage system to buckle under the weight?

    Put your feet up with a nice hot chocolate and panic not - Wicken Toy have got this.

    This blog posts contains a list of ideal Christmas gifts for 2014.

    'What makes them so ideal?' - I hear you ask. Clever how the Internet works, isn't it? You think you're reading this in the privacy of your own home, when in reality I'm anticipating your every thought. Now where were we? Right, back to the idealness of our presents.

    1. They will make your kids go 'wowwwwwww' when they see them on Christmas morning. 2. They live in the garden / shed outside. Not inside your house. They'll be outside. Not taking up any space, because they are outside. 3. You can buy them by clicking a button on your computer. No need to drag your bones around the shops, elbowing other frantic parents out of the way in pursuit of the best bargain. Just point and click. And then your new outdoor toy will be delivered to your home.

    So enough with the tempting warm up waffle, here's the list.

    New Set Of Wheels


    In the colder weather, the trick is to keep moving, for parents and children. A new trike or balance bike gets children outside in the fresh air, and Mum & Dad have no choice but to trot alongside, so they get a good work out too. When it's time to come indoors and warm up, the bike / trike is stashed away in the garage or shed, taking up zero space inside your house.

    Messy Play


    Yes, that's a photo of a water play table, and no I haven't completely lost my mind. It's a little too chilly to be splashing about in the garden, but a water play table is a very versatile piece of play equipment. A water table can be used as the base for a range of different sensory activities. You can fill it with mud, sand, or even dry foodstuffs like pasta, lentils and barley. If you want to use it for water, bring it into the kitchen, then banish it back tot he shed when playtime is over.

    Their Own Home


    A playhouse stays out of your house and therefore requires no space at all. If you already have a toy kitchen, dinky table and other miniature version of real-life equipment, you can even migrate these toys into the playhouse and rediscover your living room carpet (briefly, before all the other new Christmas toys integrate with your existing collection).

    Got older children to buy for? Don't worry, we've got that covered in our next blog post.

  • Trampoline For Christmas? Great Gift Wrap Ideas

    It may seem a little odd to buy an outdoor toy as a Christmas present, but there are a few reasons why, for your family, this could be a really good idea.

    A good quality trampoline is a significant investment, and will bring hours of pleasure, but deciding when to buy one can be difficult. You basically have three options: i) Just buy one for absolutely no reason because you are such an awesome parent. This will make the children happy, but the parents financially poor, and runs the risk of encouraging the children to expect such treats. ii) Blow the entire birthday budget for one child on a trampoline, and face years of 'he's not sharing the trampoline' / 'she won't get off MY trampoline' moaning. You will also have to match the spend on sibling's birthdays which could prove to be expensive. iii) Spend a good chunk of your Christmas budget on a trampolines as a joint present between your children.

    For peace and harmony to rain supreme in your home, option iii) makes the most sense.

    So now you're sold on the idea of investing in trampoline for Christmas, you'll need a plausible cover story for how Father Christmas is going to wrestle it into your back garden.

    With careful planning you can deliver a magical present unveiling on Christmas morning, and preserve the magically plausibility of Father Christmas.

    1. Straight Forward Box Wrapping The simplest way to present this gift on Christmas morning is by gift wrapping the box, but also the most boring. Besides the disappointing lack of creativity, there are a few other downsides to this method of gift-giving. It will be some time between receiving the gift and being able to use it, and when you are attempting to erect the trampoline, there will be a small person 'helping'. Also, it seems unlikely that Father Christmas will have been able to fit this huge box in his sleigh.

    2. Gift Wrap The Erected Trampoline With a few rolls of bargain basement Christmas wrapping paper, you should be able to cover an erect trampoline. Of course, there's no way this will be arriving by sleigh. Tie the corners of an old bed sheet to the trampoline to look like a parachute, then Convince your little ones that the reindeer pulled the trampoline to your house, then gently dropped the trampoline to the ground. This is a lot of work, but is likely to produce the best Christmas Day reaction to capture on your home video, and leaves no question unanswered about how Mr Claus managed such a feat.

    3. Gift Wrap The Door If the thought of wrapping an entire trampoline fills you with dread, wrap the back door instead. Cover whichever door you normally use to access the garden. This is an easier task than wrapping the whole trampoline, but still gives a great unveil moment. Plus the trampoline is ready for use as soon your little one has wrapped up warm enough to go outside.

    So there you go, every question answered, every doubt quashed. You can buy a trampoline for Christmas, and Santa's reindeer are more than capable of delivering it.

  • The Christmas Rush – some advice from Wicken Toys


    For the past two months we have been blogging about toys and of course the odd Christmas blog hasn't gone amiss.  It’s been a long build-up to the biggest day of the year, particularly for children. But now Christmas is literally a few days away and the question is; are you ready? Continue reading

  • Snow days ahead at Wicken Toys

    Snow Days ahead at Wicken Toys

    Outdoor toys aren’t just for summer time contrary to what some may think. In fact, there’s no single season that kids don’t consider a good time to go out and play! So at Wicken Toys, we cater towards their needs all year around.

    As the winter approaches with the possibility of snowfall a major likelihood, if last year was anything to go by, we have to start thinking about preparing the kiddiewinks for some safe snow playtime! While all the adults in the country will groan as the winter wonderland of ice and snow freezes us into gridlock again, the children will surely rejoice. There’s nothing quite like a snow day.

    And what are the best outdoor toys for a snow day? Sledges of course!

    For beginners and for intermediates, Wicken Toys has an enviable collection.

    Sleds for childrenIf your children have never gone sledding before, introduce them to My First Sled made from a toughened plastic with a connecting rope, this is perfect for children or teenagers. It’s easy to operate and good to practice in, hence its name!

    Super Sledge Firecom RedFor the children that have done a bit of sledding previously we recommend them hopping aboard the Super Sledge Firecom Red – the ultimate sledding experience. The word super is not an exaggeration as this sledge has been designed for both children and adults with wide plastic runners ideally suited for snowy, slushy and icy conditions. Just make sure you wrap up warm when using it. Adult supervision is preferable when this sledge is being operated.

    The option to go really old school is always open at Wicken Toys.Back in the days when sledges were at their peak of popularity there was no fancy colours and overly elaborate designs. The sledges were simple, practical and for intents and purposes, the most satisfying to use. Take this Mountain Sled 100 wooden sledge as the pride and joy of the Wicken Toys sledge range.

    It’s a traditional wooden sledge hand built in Germany with the strongest emphasis on durability. They are guaranteed to last throughout this winter and many winters beyond it. Perfect for deep snow sledding experiences and are suitable for one adult with a child to take it for a spin.

    Snow Suttle BlueAlternatively, another 2 seat sledge that is much sleeker in its design and appearance is the Snow Shuttle Blue. While it is inspired by traditional toboggan designs, it is very much a modern looking piece of sledging mastery. It can be adapted for safe use for younger children with the addition of the all round seat.

    This winter give the kids an adventure in their own back garden and local parks by getting them a sledge for the snow days ahead. Wicken Toys has a wide selection to choose from so feel free to take a browse on our site to find the right fit for your family.

    At the time of writing there are only 80 shopping days left until Christmas! Santa Claus is coming...

  • A castle to call my own - Children's playhouses for Christmas


    A castle to call my own – Christmas playhouses for children


    It’s hard to believe that Christmas 2011 is two months away. From September or October time, children start to get the red and green mist of Christmas; they begin to see the new toys and games filtering through on the TV and their little minds work overtime with lists for Father Christmas.

    Christmas is such a special time for little ones. The magic is an almost tangible thing and they get so excited about Christmas Day that they can’t sleep. Christmas gifts are difficult things to get right, but Wicken Toys can guide you on buying your children a perfect Christmas gift.


    My home is my castle

    Playhouses can give children endless fun and games as they tumble through childhood. It’s a private little kingdom for them to call their own, where their minds can conjure up all sorts of weird and wonderful adventures.

    As proud owners of the UK’s largest outdoor toy display, Wicken Toys in Milton Keynes gives you the unique opportunity to come down and see the toys in real life before you decide on your purchase.


    All Out Play Tower

    Does your son or daughter fancy themselves an elven warrior fighting on the plains of Middle Earth? Does your daughter imagine herself as a shield maiden fighting legions of gruesome warriors? The All Out Play Tower playhouse gives your children a refuge away from the house and their own little castle tower to play in.

    Shaped like a turret and made from strong, sturdy wood, the All Out Play Tower would make a perfect Christmas gift for children looking for real adventures at playtime. They can imagine themselves holding the fort of a castle, preparing to do battle against an army or they can make a comfortable den in there.

    It’s the adventurer’s choice.


    The All Out Play Castle playhouse

    Their home will be their castle this Christmas if you choose the All Out Play Castle from Wicken Toys. This wooden castle can become a fairy palace, the castle of valiant princes or princesses, a fort for cowboys from the wild west or the fort of a brave warrior.

    The All Out Play Castle is decked out with arched doorways like a real castle; it has arrow slit windows for an authentic castle feel and internal hanging bars for children to play on inside the castle.

    Castle playhouse for children This playhouse even comes with a flagpole, so you and your children can sit and create a flag for the play castle together for some quality family bonding time together. This is the ultimate Christmas gift for brave and adventurous children.

    Wicken Toys is like a dreamland for children, where they can shop with their families and see an amazingly rich world of outdoor toys and games. Children deserve as many magical Christmases as possible and these playhouses are a fun little piece of adventure in a world of pure imagination.

    If you have any questions about any of our toys or you’d like to see them in the real world, come down and visit us. Our address details are here.

  • Bouncing towards Christmas with Wicken Toys

    Bouncing towards Christmas with Wicken Toys

    As we go bouncing towards the festive season, Wicken Toys is giving you a whole host of gift ideas for energetic children of all ages. (And even adults...) The Wicken family can provide the very best of outdoor toys at very competitive prices, whatever your needs might be.

    Christmas is a time when children come alive with even more energy in anticipation of the visit from Old Saint Nick on Christmas Eve. They need Christmas toys that can keep up with them; they need toys that they can pour their energy into and use for years to come. Trampolines might seem like a strange toy for Christmastime, but they are fun, enduring and great for children.

    Start small with the TP 8ft Star Trampoline

    We thought we’d start small with this popular trampoline for little stars aged 3 years and up. The octagonal frame of this trampoline guarantees a perfect vertical that will keep them entertained as they wear out their batteries in the back garden.

    The TP 8ft Star Trampoline comes with a soft surround, a cover net and an anchor kit for extra safety and comfort.

    TP 10ft Capital Trampoline

    Designed to TP's specification, the 10ft Capital trampoline is huge fun for children over the age of 6. The quality of the trampoline at a highly affordable price. At 10ft and a seemingly expansive circular shape that draws the bouncer – or bouncers – into the centre to avoid any mishaps around the edges of the trampoline. This is a fun trampoline to get for your kids; one that will have them reaching for the stars with every bounce.

    Buying the TP 10ft? Don’t forget the TP 10ft trampoline mat cover to keep autumn and winter’s debris off your child’s trampoline.  Caring for your trampoline like this will help to keep it in the best possible shape for a long time. 

    If your children are too small to reach the trampoline by themselves, you can also purchase a TP Trampoline ladder to fit any trampoline. It means that they can get on and off without Mum and Dad's help

    The Super Tramp Wallaby

    Super Tramp Wallaby trampoline is a serious trampoline. Heavy duty and tough, this trampoline suits everyone age 6 and up – including adults. It’s the trampoline choice for avid bouncing and even acrobatics.

    This would be a perfect Christmas gift for your son or daughter if they are serious gymnasts and wanting to hone their skills. It offers serious athletic performance at an unbeatable quality and value for a home trampoline.

    The Super Tramp Wallaby is quiet, extremely bouncy and durable. It can withstand tough punishment from your child or teenager as they practice their skill sets for competitions.

    Trampolines are fantastic outdoor toys because they are fun, healthy and durable. They encourage children to have fun being active outside and they are great for burning off energy. (Much healthier than a games console!)

    Whatever your child’s needs for Christmas presents, Wicken Toys is at hand with exceptional gifts at great prices. Wicken Toys are fun toys for the whole family – from children all the way to parents.

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