Fire Safety

clock Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 11:03AM

Thursday's Watchdog concerning the flammability of children's costumes is very serious and alarming. Our hearts go out to Young Matilda the daughter of Claudia Winkleman. We are a family business and our youngest daughter is only 5 and is always dressing up. We are very concerned at what we have seen tonight and will be immediatly reviewing all the children's costumes we sell.

One of our main suppliers is Smiffy's who have released the following statement:

At R H Smith & Sons we take safety very seriously and invest heavily to ensure the integrity and safety of all our products.

​Our dedicated in-house team ensure that all of our fancy-dress costumes are manufactured and rigorously tested to comply with the European regulations. This is particularly important for children’s costumes, which are defined as Toys under EU regulations as there is an implied hazard due to the “play factor” involved whilst wearing dress-up.

Children’s costumes must comply with stringent flammability requirements that do not apply, by law, to children's clothing with the exception of some sleepwear (night dresses and dressing gowns). There are very few legal requirements dealing with the flammability of everyday children’s clothing. Many clothing items can catch fire and burn when exposed to naked flames and some manufacturers only voluntarily add "keep away from fire" warnings. However, children’s costumes and dress up is regulated and must comply with flammability requirements.

All of our children’s costumes and accessories are tested to make sure they comply with the EN 71 set of standards in conjunction with our nominated safety partner Intertek - a worldwide recognised safety testing bureau. Every order is batch tested and verified as compliant at source by Intertek; unlike other suppliers our safety certificates are continually updated. All children’s costumes including Halloween, are further batch tested once received in the UK Warehouse to guarantee quality and safety assurance.

EN 71 is a Europe-wide standard for toy safety and is in 12 parts. Part 2 specifically deals with the flammability potential of a toy. This of course is paramount for a fancy dress costume. To perform the test a 40mm flame (similar to a flame from a match or a candle) is applied to samples of the component materials under controlled conditions. Depending on the type of material, where it appears on the costume and its surface area, either the flame spread rate or its self-extinguishing properties are measured against the requirements set-out in the standard.

Specifically with regards to children’s fancy dress costumes and capes the official guidance is as follows:

Toy disguise costumes and toys intended to be worn by a child in play. The rate of spread of flame of the test sample shall not exceed 30 mm/or the test sample shall self-extinguish. If the rate of spread of flame is between 10 mm/s and 30 mm/s, the appropriate part(s) of the toy and the packaging shall be permanently marked with the following warning: “Warning. Keep away from fire”

As a responsible supplier, we take the precaution to label all of our children’s costumes with fire warning: "Warning. Keep away from fire" irrespective of the burn rate within the regulatory limit. Furthermore, all Toys that are sold within the European Union are required to bear the CE mark. This is the manufacturer’s declaration that the product meets the European Toy Safety Directive (2009/48/EC), and has undergone a variety of product tests to ensure that it is safe for use.

Do not buy cheap dress-up from unrecognisable importers and do not trust counterfeit goods. These will not have had to undergo the processes as listed above. Check the label or packaging contains the manufacturers name, address, postcode or phone number and a registered trademark. Ensure the product is accompanied by instructions and safety information. CE markings can be faked by counterfeiters, check the logo is correct, sometimes the wrong logo is used entirely, check the middle line of the E as it should be shorter than in other parts.

Other manufacturers may not be as vigilant about safety as we are, cutting corners to save cost; they are not prepared to invest in safety procedures and testing standards as we do. To make sure you are buying a verifiable safe product, check that you are buying from an authorised re-seller. Prior to purchase check that the packaging contains the appropriate warnings and safety symbols, and the costume is labelled with the CE mark and fire warnings.


Gay Pride

clock Monday, May 18, 2015 at 09:59AM

Gay Pride, is a series of events celebrated in the month of June, it is a time to acknowledge the LGBT (lesbian,gay,bisexual,transgender) community and the history behind it.  The principles of the event are to demonstrate the continuation of improvement within the community, celebrate human rights and the ability to love whoever you want. It also commemorates those that support the gay communities or are a part of them. It is recognised in June due to the Stonewall Riots, 1969. This was a a defining moment in history and a huge turning point in the struggle for acceptance of same sex relationships. 

Many around the world honour this event with street parades, parties, public speeches and festivals. Europe's most popular occasion is the Pride In London- an annual event that allows the freedom to stand up for equality. Celebrations will take place this year between the 21st and 28th Of June 2015, with the parade being on the 27th. The parade passes through Oxford Street, Regent Street, Trafalgar Square and ends at Whitehall. Last year a staggering 750,000 people attended the event and 30,000 joined the parade. This years theme for the parade is "Pride Heroes"; those that have made a difference in the LGBT community. These could be celebrities, fictional characters, an organisation or a less well known individual. The best entries are rewarded, some of the categories for these awards include: 'Pride of Parade' which is awarded to the most engaging and inspiring group, ' 'Best overall pride hero themed group', and the 'best hero costume'. 

The rainbow flag is the symbol for the gay community and the rainbow colours are used as a representative for them. Supporters wear fancy dress costumes, displaying bright colours and banners to illustrate their declaration of acceptance. Like many festivals and carnivals, floats are decorated with vibrant colours and stages provide live entertainment such as music concerts. Sports events and a variety of stalls are also present on the day. 

So be sure to have your costumes ready!


Wig Wednesday 2015

clock Monday, May 11, 2015 at 10:58AM

Wednesday the 20th of May 2015 is Wig Wednesday, a fundraising day for the CLIC Sargent charity. CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people and their families, providing clinical, practical, financial and emotional support to help them cope with cancer and get the most out of life. Wig Wednesday sees businesses, individuals and children and teachers in schools wearing wigs and taking part in fundraising activities to raise money for this worthy cause. This year one of the official partners are Smiffys who manufacture a huge range of wigs for men, women and children. They stock everything from neon 80s wigs, colourful clown afros, mullets and celebrity styles. They have recently released The Fever Wig Collection which uses professional adjustable quality wig caps and heat-resistant PET fibres, making them washable and style-able, using heated appliances up to 120 centigrade.

CLIC Sargent was formed in 2005 after the merge of two charities, CLIC which stands for Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood was founded in 1976 and Sargent which was named after the late Sir Malcolm Sargent was founded in 1968.

If you would like to donate please follow this link: http://www.clicsargent.org.uk/content/donate

To sign up for Wig Wednesday please follow this link: https://www.clicsargent.org.uk/forms/sign-wig-wednesday

This is a great chance to see your colleagues or classmates as you have never seen them before! Get involved in this event and raise money while having fun! Don’t forget to tweet your #wigselfies to #WigWednesday and get sponsored to wear your wig all day including the journey to and from work or school! Have a wig themed bake sale, a wig quiz with hair based questions with teams entering for a small fee, or take part in the sweepstake here to guess how many wigs are in the official poster.



The Best Book Day Costumes

clock Friday, February 20, 2015 at 10:42AM

All kids love to dress up, and with World Book Day coming around every year, there’s a perfect opportunity for children to immerse themselves in their favourite characters and play the parts they have been reading about for ages.

While many adults like to stand out and be a bit different to the crowd, younger children prefer to fit in, and so the range of costumes usually includes the most popular characters around for the previous few years. Nobody seems to have tired of Harry Potter and his friends Hermione and Ron, and so if your kids love a bit of Hogwarts inspired fantasy action, a tried and tested Book Day costume would be one of the fabulous Harry Potter costume ranges available for children (and adults, if teachers want to join in the fun too.)

Book characters can provide so much inspiration for fancy dress, and  that’s why dressing up for World Book Day is such a popular way to celebrate the day. Another wonderful inspiration for dressing up is Roald Dahl, whose imaginative characters like The Fantastic Mr Fox, or Willy Wonka have delighted kids for many decades. Parents enjoy reading the stories and much as their children love to dress up as Charlie Bucket, Matilda or even the BFG.

Little children are still entranced by the wonder of traditional fairy tales, so it can be fun to get them all excited and dressed up as Little Red Riding hood – “Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” And what little girl wouldn’t love to dress up as a fairy tale princess? Cinderella will be the belle of the ball in a fabulous outfit – but she’d better not hope that anyone else has dressed up as one of her ugly sisters or she’s never going to make it to the ball…Don’t forget Snow White or Rapunzel if you have a fairy tale fan in your midst, too.

If you have a little boy (or girl) whose main reading material is the Beano annual, you can always stay true to character and get them kitted out in full on Dennis the menace gear – as long as they promise not to misbehave. Or for any child obsessed with The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings, a Bilbo Baggins outfit would be the perfect way to indulge their imaginations.

The costume your child feels most comfortable in ultimately reflects their own favourite books, and personality, but choosing a costume for World Book Day is a great way to get talking about books and reading, and get your little ones involved.


Best Book Day Costumes for Boys

clock Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 03:14PM

It can be hard getting boys to sit still long enough to read a book, or in some cases it’s even harder to get him away from the gadgets and get him nose deep in a story or two. Some of the characters that appeal most to boys haven’t changed much in the last few decades though – apart from the fairly recent addition of Harry Potter, who is destined to stick around for a very long time in books, films and dressing up costumes for World Book Days for years to come.

What sort of stories does your son like to read, or write? Does he enjoy a bit of Pirates of the Caribbean? You could introduce him to some good old fashioned pirate tales, and he could dress up as Blackbeard or Long John Silver for Book Day. There’s even a Jack Sparrow costume if that’s the only pirate your boys could ever imagine pretending to be.

All kids are naturally drawn to tales of naughtiness, so if your boy loves to hear about Dennis the Menace or Horrid Henry, why not indulge him with a costume that will give him endless pleasure in the playground?  The books and comics are something that most boys will love to identify with, and as long as they don’t take their role play too much to heart, it would be a fun way to get boys into character and interested in taking part in all the Book Day events.

Horrible Histories are also appealing to little boys who love to hear about anything gory and a bit revolting. If your son has his nose permanently engrossed  in one of the Blood Curdling box sets, why not go one step further with it and dress him up as a Tudor executioner, a revolting peasant lad or even a scary Henry VIII? There’s so much variety if your children are history buffs and books like Horrible Histories have made the subject much more fascinating for children who would turn their noses up at a traditional history book.

With so many different subjects, stories and characters that could be played on Book Day, there’s bound to be a costume that will get your sons involved in the fun!


Get your Child Loving World Book Day

clock Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 02:44PM

Reading is something that some children seem to take to from an early age, yet others resist with all their might. If you want to encourage your child to enjoy books, and to take part in World Book Day with gusto instead of feigning a temperature to get the day off school, here are a few tips.

Try reading to younger children as much as possible, to stimulate their imagination. If they get used to hearing you telling them fun stories, eventually they will want to hear more and more stories and hopefully become more interested in reading for themselves, as they get impatient to find out what happens next.

Try missing chunks of often told stories out, and see if your child notices…if it’s a favourite story this soon becomes a game and you can encourage them to read it to you instead!

Encourage them to imagine the scenes and characters for themselves. If you’re telling the same story for the umpteenth time, introduce a few questions, ask why the character might have done that, what the wicked witch looked like, how the princess might have felt and what your child thinks he or she should do next. Immerse them in the stories and feed their imagination.

This leads to encouraging role play – get the dressing up box out and have fun acting out different roles, either with brothers and sisters or with you. Make costumes, crowns, wands, and accessories, and buy ready-made children’s costumes for Book Day and other events so that you’re constantly encouraging your child to use their imagination. If you spring a Book Day dress up on them out of the blue, when they’ve never really thought about the book or its characters, it will be so much harder to get them involved in and enjoying the fun at school or other events around Book Day.

See if you can get the films of their favourite books on DVD to watch and talk about them with your children. Ask questions; was the Wicked Witch of the West as scary as you thought she would be? Is that how you imagined Hogwarts? Was the princess as pretty as you imagined her in the book? 

It’s a great idea to spend time at your local library in the holidays and at weekends, too. It’s not just about borrowing books, although being surrounded by free books might ignite a bit of love for reading too. Many libraries have storytelling sessions and events laid on for kids which might appeal to them and get them reading for themselves, out of choice.

It’s all about getting children to almost interact with their favourite books and develop a love for the characters that they will enjoy talking about, exploring and even dressing up as for Book Day.


Get your Child Loving World Book Day

clock Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 01:32PM

Reading is something that some children seem to take to from an early age, yet others resist with all their might. If you want to encourage your child to enjoy books, and to take part in World Book Day with gusto instead of feigning a temperature to get the day off school, here are a few tips.

Try reading to younger children as much as possible, to stimulate their imagination. If they get used to hearing you telling them fun stories, eventually they will want to hear more and more stories and hopefully become more interested in reading for themselves, as they get impatient to find out what happens next.

Try missing chunks of often told stories out, and see if your child notices…if it’s a favourite story this soon becomes a game and you can encourage them to read it to you instead!

Encourage them to imagine the scenes and characters for themselves. If you’re telling the same story for the umpteenth time, introduce a few questions, ask why the character might have done that, what the wicked witch looked like, how the princess might have felt and what your child thinks he or she should do next. Immerse them in the stories and feed their imagination.

This leads to encouraging role play – get the dressing up box out and have fun acting out different roles, either with brothers and sisters or with you. Make costumes, crowns, wands, and accessories, and buy ready-made children’s costumes for Book Day and other events so that you’re constantly encouraging your child to use their imagination. If you spring a Book Day dress up on them out of the blue, when they’ve never really thought about the book or its characters, it will be so much harder to get them involved in and enjoying the fun at school or other events around Book Day.

See if you can get the films of their favourite books on DVD to watch and talk about them with your children. Ask questions; was the Wicked Witch of the West as scary as you thought she would be? Is that how you imagined Hogwarts? Was the princess as pretty as you imagined her in the book? 

It’s a great idea to spend time at your local library in the holidays and at weekends, too. It’s not just about borrowing books, although being surrounded by free books might ignite a bit of love for reading too. Many libraries have storytelling sessions and events laid on for kids which might appeal to them and get them reading for themselves, out of choice.

It’s all about getting children to almost interact with their favourite books and develop a love for the characters that they will enjoy talking about, exploring and even dressing up as for Book Day.


What is World Book Day?

clock Monday, February 16, 2015 at 10:28AM

World Book Day, which will take place on 5th March 2015, is a day designed to celebrate the wonderful world of books, writers and imaginations! It’s an annual event that celebrates the joy and pleasure of losing yourself in a good book, exploring other worlds and finding out about the world you live in, all from the comfort of your home or classroom…or wherever your children love to read.

World Book Day has been running for an impressive 18 years now, and has become the biggest celebration of its kind. The day has been officially designated as a global celebration of books and reading by UNESCO and it’s celebrated in over 100 countries worldwide.

The main focus of World Book day is to get children of all ages to discover the joys of reading, if they haven’t already. In the UK, kids are encouraged to really explore the pleasures of books, and many schools like to make a big party of the day, giving out book tokens and free books, and encouraging children to dress up as their favourite book characters and really get into the party spirit.

There are events running all over the country; you can see if there’s anything in your area by going to the official World Book Day website and searching for something near you.

The events are supported in the UK and Ireland by sponsors like National Book Tokens Ltd, publishers and booksellers, which means that millions of book vouchers get sent out to children across the UK, last year over 14 million were sent out in total, which means there was something for every child under the age of 18.

The vouchers can be used to buy one of a selection of specially chosen books  for just £1 –  and there’s a selection for nursery school age children, junior and secondary so that nobody misses out.

If your child is a fussy reader and  doesn’t want one of the books on offer, children are also able to use their vouchers to get money off of books and audio books at participating bookshops.

The idea is to get children to explore the books they already love in more detail, talk about their favourite books and introduce them to authors, stories, genres and subjects they might not have come across before, and basically just get children reading!


Book Day Costume Ideas

clock Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 04:16PM

We love to encourage our kids to lose themselves in the fantasy world of a good book, and every year we have World Book Day to remind us of just how vivid our kids’ imaginations can actually be!

It can be tricky to come up with something original, and for any of us who aren’t craft-minded or handy with a dressing up box, the annual stress of finding a costume that’s not going to break the bank OR get your child bullied is easily resolved by a trip to a costume emporium like All Fancy Dress.

You can always start by having a look around the kids’ bedrooms to see what might already be lurking in the dressing up box, and can be adapted or added to. Have you got the makings of a witch costume – well with a few tweaks you can turn your offspring into a Worst Witch or The Room on the Broom. If you have a tutu hanging around, with a little imagination you can make an Angelina Ballerina.  Even school uniforms can be upgraded with some choice accessories to make a St Trinians or Hogwarts costume.

It’s surprisingly affordable to hire a costume for World Book Day if you don’t have anything immediately to hand. If your children were totally obsessed with all thinks Hogwarts and cried when Dobby the House Elf died, try a Harry Potter themed Book Day costume;  you could create a fantastic Harry or Hermione with a costume from All Fancy Dress.

If your little darlings are complete bookworms and love their literature, they might enjoy thinking outside of the dressing up box and dressing as Juliet, or Oliver Twist, bound to get all their classmates wondering which book they are dressing up as. It could even stimulate a bit of interest in the more classic tales, instead of the usual kid’s favourites that pop up every year.

If Roald Dahl is constantly on the bedtime reading list in your house, why not opt for a Willy Wonka or Fantastic Mr Fox costume – every child loves a bit of Roald Dahl. There’s hours of fun to be had with a ‘Where’s Wally’ outfit too…

If you can’t get your unruly boys to sit down long enough to read a book, have a bit of fun with a Dennis the Menace or Horrid Henry costume, they’ll enjoy being able to play up to their namesakes and blame it on Book Day.

Whatever your children want to ‘be’ for book day – have fun!


2014: A Year in Google searches

clock Monday, January 5, 2015 at 10:45AM

 

How do you measure a year?

12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes?

How about Google searches?

Below are a list of the most popular Google trends of 2014. These are the things that shaped our year into what it was, the losses, the victories, the charity, the competition and the game that got everyone a little too addicted.

 

Top trending searches:


1. Robin Williams

On August 11th 2014 news broke that Robin Williams had taken his own life after struggling with depression for many years. Hugely admired and loved the world over, Williams left a legacy in movies, comedy and kindness.

During his lifetime not only did he give us some of our favourite characters in Mrs Doubtfire and Genie in Aladdin, but he performed to over 100,000 troops in fighting abroad and raised millions of dollars for charity.

 

2. World Cup

The 2014 World Cup, hosted by Brazil, came to its climax on 13th July when Germany took on Argentina for the title, Germany leaving victorious with the world cup in hand after a 1-0 win.

The competition gave us the all-time highest-scoring semi-final, with Germany beating the hosts 7-1.

With 64 games, 171 goals and over 2.2 billion Google searches, 'world cup 2014' was the third-highest searched in 2014 and the most searched sporting event in history.

 

3.Ebola

Ebola fever

An infectious and generally fatal disease marked by fever and severe internal bleeding, spread through contact with infected body fluids by a filovirus ( Ebola virus), whose normal host species is unknown.

The first cases of Ebola were reported in Guinea back in March and quickly began to spread to neighbouring countries, but it wasn’t until cases hit outside of Africa in August that searches began to hit a global scale.

Early in November, The World Health Organisation announced the formal trial of a Canadian experimental vaccine, which cured two Ebola patients in the US. 

 

4. Malaysia Airlines

On 8th March this year Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 lost contact with ground control 1 hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur. After 5 hours without contact the aircraft was reported missing.

The search for the flight has been expanded to cover 60,000km2 with conspiracy theories running wild after another Malaysia Airlines Flight, MH17, was struck down by a missile over Ukraine in June.

9 months on the search continues, with ever growing support and prayers around the world.

#PrayforMH370

 

5. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disorder that damages nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. In August over $100 million was raised for the ALS Association and related charities, with celebrities from David Beckham to Oprah Winfrey taking part and donating. 

 

6. Flappy Bird

Developed in Vietnam by Dong Nguyen, Flappy Birs started gaining popularity peaked in February, at which point the developer took the game off of the market after worrying about its over addictive nature. Phones with the original game on them sold for thousands online, while dozens of copy cat versions appeared on the Android and Apple stores, such as Happy Bird, Floppy Bird, Clumsy Bird and Flappy Fish. 

 

7. Conchita Wurst

May bought us the 59th Eurovision Song Contest. 37 countries participated in the competition held in Copenhagen but the winner this year came from Austria.

Conchita Wurst stole the show and left us all talking after her performance of Rise Like a Phoenix. Often refered to as the bearded lady, She has become an LGBT Icon.

She has been quoted saying "The beard is a statement to say that you can achieve anything, no matter who you are or how you look." And since winning Eurovision, album and concert ticket sales soared.