The reality is I've been planning Christmas at Cottontails for a few months now - oh the insanity of retail, pouring over Christmas decorations during a heatwave - but I try to keep it quiet during the summer months.
However, September is here. There's a nip in the air, the children are back to school and.... well, I'm going to take a deep breath and quietly mention a few of my favourite picks for the festive season ahead.
A lot of my customers are incredibly well organised so I know they'll be thinking about this already, and may even have a present or two squirreled away in the wardrobe.
And for those of you more like me in their Christmas shopping approach (think very last minute) perhaps this is the year for us to do things differently... Remember last year and the stress of shopping in the week running up to Christmas, when you swore you would never again leave things to the last minute? Well here's our chance to start doing things differently.
So, in the first of a series of posts, here are my top picks from Moulin Roty's ever inspiring 'Memoire d'Enfant' catalogue. Think quirky, creative, thoughtful design... nothing plastic, nothing electronic, just engaging, traditional toys.
The kind of thing that every childhood needs.
1. Cinema Box
This creative little box set contains everything you need to open your own picture house.
At the heart of the gift set is a Story Book Torch which projects images via a series of insert discs. The gift box opens up to double as a projection screen, and also included in the box are cinema tickets and 'Now Showing' cards for your to complete and decorate.
All beautifully illustrated of course and presented in 25 x 18cm gift box - I think it would be a really nice idea to give this as a gift with a bag of pop corn!
2. Super-hero Shadow Makers
New to Moulin Roty's eternally popular Shadow Maker range is a collection of super heros.
The shadow makers are such a simple but effective idea - little black cut-out shapes are mounted on to sticks and used to cast shadows on the wall.
Lovely for interactive bedtime play and making up stories. The new Super-hero collection joins the existing range of shadow makers - dinosaurs, fairy tales, and circus.
3. Traditional teddy bear
This chap is a classic - and looks like he could have been made in Victorian times (but with lovely contemporary softness and safety of course). Fully jointed, he will turn his head to look at you, sit nicely and so on.
He is quite a substantial bear (but 'just the right size') measuring 40cm from head to paw and has a sturdily stuffed round tummy.His body fabric is lovely, soft and fluffy, his face is embroidered and he has soft velvet pads on all four paws. He is wearing a soft check shirt and fleecy cardigan - both of which come on and off.
He is, quite simply, a classic.
4. The Once Upon A Time Music Hall Toys
Not a single toy but a collection, I just had to include these new arrivals to the Moulin Roty family.
Inspired by the characters of old music hall, this quirky - and incredibly detailed - collection of creatures really captures the imagination.
Each individual character is a lovely standalone toy, or if you have access to an unlimited bank account, buy the collection and let your imagination run wild with stories, plays and performances.
5. The Parisiennes Ragdolls
And in at number five, the oh-so-French range of Parisienne rag dolls.
Delicate little dolls, measuring 25cm in height, with slim bodies and elegant long limbs. They all wear pretty outfits with which they can be dressed and undressed, and have lovely embroidered faces with pink stars on their cheeks.
Oh just imagine one of these little dolls poking her head out from a stocking on Christmas morning....!