Friday, September 16, 2016

Our Day At FunFest 2016!

Let the fun begin...

Last weekend we were lucky enough to win tickets to FunFest 2016. I had heard about FunFest before but had no idea what to expect. Winning tickets was amazing and we immediately booked our hotel and prepped the kids for their day out to play with toys!

I was really nervous about going, but do you know what? It was the most fun day, it was completely laid back, we were totally spoilt with treats, stuffed full of food and everyone was lovely. I can't wait to go again next year and literally came straight home and booked tickets for the next blogger event in London! Truly inspired.

The day was hosted by MiPR Global, a PR firm that handle clients such as The Entertainer, Topps, JCB Kids and many many more which I will come to shortly.

On arrival the fun started immediately with the biggest balloons I've ever seen and a venture to the super fun cresche area where a selection of toys, activities and crafts had been set up for the children to enjoy, as well as several ladies to look after the kids while us grown ups (I use that term rather loosely in our case) got stuck into the speeches and discussions going on in the main room. 

We were all given refreshments and stationary to take notes. I began to play spot the blogger and got to meet some of the lovely people I had been talking to on the other end of an email which was great.

I met a couple of my favourite bloggers and it was so funny seeing people in the flesh that you have only ever seen on social media or online. First up was Laura Summers who I unfortunately didn't get a snap with, but was so nice to chat to and kindly lent us some bits to keep the kids occupied - organised mama right there!

I also met Vicki from Honest Mum who was just as bubbly and lovely as I had hoped and really helped me with some burning blog questions as well as massively boosting my confidence in blogging. Her speech which was all about knowing our worth and having confidence in ourselves and our blog was really inspiring. The main messages I took away from this talk was that we should surround ourselves with people that bring us strength and help us blossom, to learn from rejection and keep going. 'Being you is what's powerful' and hashtag 'crack on' really stuck in my mind.

I met so many lovely bloggers and had really nice chats with the lovely ladies from Ginger Mum and Ambitious Mamas amongst others - can you tell I'm hopeless with names? 

All the talks were brilliant on the day and so much better than I had imagined. As well as Vicki's talk there was a panel discussion on whether or not it was right to include our children in our work and I loved hearing the different opinions on this, so much so I will be writing a post on it shortly but the main point I took away from this is that we just need to use common sense, respect our children's wishes and think before leaving a digital footprint for our kids, as we have no idea how it could affect their future.

We also had the chance to listen to Sam Johnson from JCB who told us all about how this 70 year old brand with over 12k employees has moved into the licensing of products for children such as their brilliant toys and clothing. We have worked with JCB before so it was really interesting for me to listen to Sam and learn more about the company.

Then there was the awesome Shadia, a blogger herself since 2005 that introduced us to kids so cool I literally felt like I was about 85. The IT kids are a group of massively successful Vloggers that are confident, bubbly and really friendly too, I'm not surprised they do so well!

Next up was the lovely Joe from Slummy Single Mummy. This is one funny lady, her dry humour was not wasted on me and I really enjoyed her talk which was all about how to make money from your blog with 11 helpful tips. The tips were fab and the main thing I took from Jo's talk was really again to have faith in your work, play to our strengths, blow our own 'super professional' trumpet and basically be nice! The perfect advice.

Lastly was the brilliant Saija Mahon from Mahon Digital. Saija gave us more brilliant tips which were really useful in terms of getting an insight from the 'other side' and ideas for more technical tips such as mobile optimising. Typically the kids played up at this point so I didn't quite catch everything, but the main tips I picked up here were to tell a story, inspire and create happiness with our blogs. I also came away with a whole list of social features I need to check out!

I learnt so much from the talks and I will summarise those separately as I really want to share the other side of FunFest which was meeting the toy companies and playing! It's a tough job huh?

We were given an epic lunch first which me and Vicki gracefully ate picnic style with our families, while the kids eyed up the mini puddings and built up even more energy for the monster play session that was to follow.

The first thing we were greeted with was a huge balloon dragon (it was a costume with an actual person in!) and we then made our way round the rooms to meet all the PR guys, the toy companies and of course, get stuck into play time.

The first room we went in had the guys from Topps with their range of products as well as some very cool cut outs of superheros and a giant Starwars card that people could get in for a photo op - Adam (aged 32) was the most excited by this by far.

This room also had Jumbo games, famous for their jigsaw puzzles but also with a huge range of toys for tots to enjoy like giant puzzles, bath toys and wooden toys too. The kids had a whale of a time here and would quite happily have been left there all day I think! Soph loved the magnetic fishing game best of all.

The next room had KD UK toys such as the infamous Little Baby Bum toys and my favourite which was a little TinyBoo lantern amongst others such as Mini Masters games, golf clubs with figures that kick or swing for their ball via a little trigger, very cool.

The next room was amazing, The Entertainer store pretty much in one room with everything on offer to try. Soph immediately honed in on the toy pram and Alf finally got to play on Pie Face which he has been begging me for for months now, he loved it! We had so much fun with The entertainer, the kids got to meet their life size Jack (in the box) and one thing I really liked were the little Pom Pom Wow packs, I'd have loved those as a kid.

Another room had a far more chilled out vibe and was aimed at a younger market with more baby focused items such as the Motorola video monitors, Tuck n Snug a great invention of sheets with side sections to tuck in, and Suncrest with their beautiful baby toys, our favourites being squeakers Meiya & Alvin, the most perfect new baby gifts.

Next up was JCB kids, Soph well and truly made herself at home there and even took up residence in their little toddler bed, she was well ready for a snooze by this time. The kids were also whizzing round on a whole host of motorised vehicles in this room, even a super cool Vespa! Soph loved the ball pool in this one which was part of a selection of Thunderbird inflatables.

We then moved on to a room with the biggest selection of creative dough and accessories for the kids to enjoy from Addo, they also ran a competition making cakes and doughnuts out of their dough which we were later informed Alf won, so we can't wait to play with his prize when it comes.

There was a cool selection of bug packs and butterflies from Insect Lore which had the kids fascinated, especially the lady bird house which we have never seen before! We will definitely be growing our own butterflies to release next summer they were so beautiful.

We then got to meet the Star Monsters and Alf was instantly drawn to these as he is already a little collector with his 'special shelves' in his room. We were given a very special Star Monster made for the day and Alf's collection was born. We've since added to it and I can see it growing rapidly!

Last up was the Qualatex balloon room which was pretty spectacular, with displays from superhero parties to a full size hot air balloon. The kids got to take home a huge balloon each which is still going strong nearly a week later, I'm pretty sure these will last forever!

The kids were also treated to goodie bags, a few toys and a packed lunch to enjoy before the drive home. We were given Pimms, teas and coffees and all kinds of treats throughout the day too, it was a fab family day out for all. Needless to say the kids were shattered and slept really well and have enjoyed going through the goody bags all week too! Thanks for having us FunFest, see you next year.