Christmas gifts from Geneva

Christmas gifts from Geneva

It’s time to think about the gifts. With kids room overflowing with toys, what can we get them? In this article you’ll see propositions of locally made gifts that make sense.

The list will focus on gifts that last, that bring value, and those that are not material products but experiences that will stay in memory as something awesome.

This Christmas list includes presents mostly for children, but you will also find ideas to please other members of your family!

It is the perfect time to support local enterpreneurs and local businesses. So why not?

CREATIVITY

Think Out Of The Box
a creative subscription

Join the adventure of creating something new every 2 months. You’ll receive all the necessary materials to create a masterpiece. The projects are always adapted to the season. You’ll all have fun discovering new surprises of good quality. The advantage is that these sets won’t have to create a lot of CO2 to get to your place, as everything is made locally. This is the gift that will last, that will occupy hands and spark creativity.

Check it out: thinkoutthebox.ch

RECRECREA
creative kits upcycling style

This is a highly eco gift idea. All Recrecrea does is creating from clean industrial waste that would otherwise end up at the recycling center. And all Bobine & Green does is pure beaty! Togeher they created these creativity sets that will please all tastes and that are as zero-waste as possible.

The range of possibilities is endless: color, glue and cut different materials to combine together to start or continue the DIY adventure at home. Kids receive the materials and create whatever they want or follow some instructions/inspirations. There 6 themes to choose from: Unicorn, Dinosaur,  Mouse, Princess, Jungle, Llama.

Check it out here: recrecrea.ch.

Funky Frames
Frames that live

Funky frames is a great concepts of framed illustrations that are not onnly pretty and fun but also – always go out of the frame. There is always one element that will peek outside in a silly way. You can get one frame and change the illustrations as child grows or changes passions. Why do I love it? Because it shows that coloring within the lines is not a rule, shows to think out of the box, to not be afraid of using ideas that do not fit in the current world.

Check them out here: funkyframes.com.

GOOD READ

KALEIO

How about a gift in a form of great read that comes to the mailbox every two months? Kaleio is a Swiss magazine for girls (and the rest of the world). Fascinating articles about every posisble field. Political science, biology, personal stories, emotions. You can read more about Kaleio here on Parentville. Every child (8+) will find something interesting to read in Kaleio. New issue comes out every two months. We love it here, I hope you will too.

More info: kaleiomag.ch.

Petite Salamandre & Salamandre Junior

Salamandre is a local nature magazine for adults. There is also Petite Salamandre for 4-7-year-olds and Salamandre junior for 8+. Salamandre magazines for kids come out once every two months (plus additional two special issues per year). It’s all about nature in a very children-friendly way. They will learn a lot, but the authors also offer ideas for activities, meals recipes, stories, challenges, and more. Their website is also incredibly rich in information and activities. Be sure to check it out.

Tichéri a les cheveux crépus
by Licia Chery

Tichéri a les cheveux crépus – An important and incredibly good book for all children, but maybe especially for those who are native English speakers and go to French speaking school. This book will not only help them to understand feelings of a little black girl, but also learn what words are racist in French. Despite the subject, the book is very light and not overwhelming. You can look it up here.
Big success at Parentville HQ. Licia Chery is a  singer, RTS presenter with a wonderful personality, you  may know her from RTS. She has recently also published a book, “Noir en Couleur”, a strong biographical story that evokes the history of his African ancestors and their slavery. Check it out here.

BTW I prepared a round up of BLM resources in the past, you can see it here.

Your Adventures at Cern: Play the Hero Among Particles and a Particular Dinosaur!
by Letizia Diamante

A very new book by Geneva-based Letizia Diamante about Geneva-based Cern! Created for kids. It’s a great book that presents the scientific world to children in a very fun and interactive way. The book is filled with facts, mysteries, games, and quizes. Great gift to spark curiosity! It is available on Amazon.

EXPERIENCES

COLOR TA VIE
Lausanne

A marvelous place for people of all ages, for families, kids, adults alone. The place is located in Lausanne and I assure you – it is worth the journey. So, what is it? It’s a big room, that you enter wearing protective clothes. Then it’s you against the canvas on the wall. You have many dofferent tools to your disposal: by jumping, dancing, splashing and giggling you will create a unique masterpiece. You can see how we had fun there here.

More information here.

SENSAS
Geneva, 7+

An unforgettable type of fun! Sensas is all about challenging all our senses – in dark rooms, in a special pool, and… nope. I will not spoil all the surprises. It’s a great place to organize a birthday party or to have lots of laughter as a family. We tried it and we will surely go back!

Check it out here: Geneva.sesnas.top

 

SOMETHIING NEW

Your child dreams of trying new sport? Ice skating? Horse riding? Wall climbing? Why not turning it into a Christmas gift? Or making a family adventure of it? Maybe your child loves swimming and would enjoy a pass to Vitam Parc?

Or maybe they are dreaming of learning to play an instrument? Thinking about constructing a robot? Everything is possible. Most places offer discovery classes, trial courses, and private one-on-one experiences.

You can start searching here.

REALFLY
SION, 5+

How about the first indoor skydiving simulator in Switzerland? It’s in Sion and it is a big thrill! It is a wind tunnel that allows to experience flying. I guarantee it will be an unforgettable experience, and one that you may be tempted to repeat regurarly.

Find out more here: realfly.ch.

ALAIA BAY
SION

How about surfing in Swiss Alps? It is possible in Sion over at Alaia Bay – the biggest artificial waves in Europe. Children must be at least 120 cm tall to try it out. Oh, have I mentioned it is also possible in winter? I repeat: a beach experience in winter in the Alps. Do you think your child would like that?

You can find out more here: alaiabay.ch.

Prêt à Parler – expert in online French courses

Prêt à Parler – expert in online French courses

What do you get when a French-Canadian opera singer lands in Geneva? (No, it’s not one of those jokes!) Quick answer: an expat-oriented, 100% online professional French language school. In other words: Prêt à Parler.

FYI: yes, your feeling is right – this is a sponsored article . But, as always, it is about a company/product I know, tested, and trust.

You know the story: you arrive as an expat in Geneva on a “short contract” only to realise 10 years later that you’re still here and still don’t really speak French well enough, especially when it comes to all those online forms, doing your taxes and even applying for a Swiss Passport. Add to that the stress of finding the time to get out of the house the same time each week to attend a French-language class, and of course getting through the notorious Geneva traffic, hunting for parking or navigating TPG. All while balancing the laundry, groceries, a job and a kid or kids at home. 

This is where Prêt à Parler comes in. My husband, P, has been using it and it has been brilliant. He can go about his day, work, child-care – you name it – and once a week he simply logs in for one-hour of French lessons. On the other side of the screen is one of the ‘Super Profs’ as they call them, waiting to start a lesson that will feel more like a conversation than schoolwork, where grammar finds its way in without you even realising it.

But hey, didn’t you say there was an opera singer? What’s that got to do with teaching French?

Ah, oui! The opera singer in question is Isabelle Nicolas-Johnson, the founder of Prêt à Parler. Her opera background has helped her become an expert in articulation and pronunciation, as she attended many diction classes (French, English, Italian, and German) as part of her studies. 

Over the years, she has developed special French pronunciation tips – and I don’t know about you, but this is where my husband and I struggle the most, especially with that French ‘r’.

About Prêt à Parler

Prêt à Parler brought digital education to Geneva way before COVID-19 forced everyone to move online. Isabelle launched her online programs back in 2017 when the word “corona” was only associated with a bottle of cold beer. (Don’t you miss those days?) Before she knew it, she was training a team of top bilingual teachers as well as her communication and IT support experts. 

Prêt à Parler is a local expert in online French courses. It offers one-on-one classes, webinars, and preparatory courses for the FIDE exam (soon-to-be obligatory for those applying for a Swiss C permit, or a Swiss passport). They also developed their own learning platform called French for Everyday Life and share a ton of tips and mini-lessons on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram (handy for someone like me who spends a lot of time on those sites!), so you can give the idea of an online French class a try. 

Benefit 1: Personalisation

Isabelle always knew that a one-size-fits-all approach would not work in education. We all have different styles of learning, interests, and reasons to learn a new language. Each course is personalised and adapted to your needs (meaning no two classes are the same!) 

Need helping writing a formal letter? They will turn it into a class. Didn’t understand the programme you watched yesterday? They can turn it into a listening exercise. You basically get to turn REAL life into a useful learning exercise.

Benefit 2: The teachers

All Prêt à Parler teachers have been carefully selected for their professional, technological and personal skills. Plus, they know everything there is to know about that (in)famous FIDE exam.

After a trial lesson (super helpful), my husband was certain he had finally found a program matching his needs. He scheduled his lessons at 9 pm. Yes, you read that right, 9 in the evening. What!? How!? Well, it turns out his teacher, Sandra, is a native French-speaker who currently lives in New Zealand. 9 pm here – 9 am there. That is the beauty of online training programs – both the teacher and the student can be anywhere in the world.

Benefit 3: Comfort and flexibility

We are all different, with different lives, and different chaos (aka work-life balance), yet many language schools are set up as such so that you have to adapt to their schedule. Prêt à Parler offers a flexible solution (side note, it’s also great for introverts like me who don’t love the idea of group classes with strangers each week!)

My husband’s lessons each last 1 hour. Not 1 hour plus 40 minutes commute each way. Not 1 hour plus anything. There is no stress about traffic jams, the bus being late, or finding a parking spot. Not only does he have his lessons tailored to his specific needs, but improving his French doesn’t interfere with his work-life or his family life. 

When it comes to scheduling your lessons, it can be late at night, early in the morning, or even on a Sunday. Your private classes can be rescheduled if needed within 24h. It means that no last-minute business trip, your child getting sick or vacation will be an obstacle in boosting your French! That is, as long as you have an Internet connection, of course. 

And this is all possible thanks to an opera singer from Quebec who moved to Geneva. After all, who better to understand and cater to expats than a fellow expat? 

PRACTICAL INFO

* This article is a result of a paid collaboration between Parentville and Prêt à Parler.

For parents of chronically ill children

For parents of chronically ill children

When her son was diagnosed with the type I diabetes at the age of 2, the whole life of Oksana and her family was turned upside down. Through her journey, she learnt about the massively positive impact of interactions with other parents. This is why she created a support group on Facebook – supported by HUG.

A HELICOPTER

It all happened in Ticino during a family vacation. Oksana’s son was hospitalized, she received an overwhelming amount of information about her son’s future and new routines. After that, she was placed in a medical helicopter with her little one.

The journey let her breathe and think. The whole way to Geneva, her boy was asleep. The beautiful views below calmed Oksana down. She started to ponder and wonder. What the hell could she do to help her child? It was then that she decided to change their lifestyle and her career. She got off the helicopter and started implementing the changes.

LONELINESS

One of the most challenging parts of this situation was loneliness. Her regular parents-friends could not relate to her family’s experience. None of them had kids suffering from any kind of family-life-influencing conditions. She lacked a sense of community. I guess it is the same feeling all parents have once their child does not fit the norm, no matter the reason.

THE GROUP

Oksana knew there must be other parents out there. This is why, with the support of the HUG (Hopitaux Universitaire de Geneve), she created a group for parents in similar situations. It is called Amazing Parents Geneva – Group For Parents Of Kids With Chronic Conditions.

The goal of the group is not really to exchange tips and tricks (although everybody is welcome to do so), but to promote self-care.

In an aeroplane, you are asked to put your oxygen mask first, before helping your children. The same goes for parenting. We need to care for ourselves. Otherwise, we may become too tired, frustrated, and unhappy, to help our little ones thrive.

SMALL THINGS COUNT

Not all parents cane change jobs, shift careers or introduce any big changes. Each family is different, so for each, a solution and tools will be different.

Not everyone can afford a relaxing day in a SPA; not everyone can find the time for a 2h walk in nature. But there is always something, even if small. That can make a difference.

Oksana’s group will help you figure it out.

HOW IT WORKS

The group is active on Facebook, but also organises meetings in Geneva now and then (participation is not obligatory).

If your child (no matter the age), suffers from autism, diabetes, Down Syndrome, cardiovascular disease, asthma, allergies, or any chronic condition, be it light, mild, or severe, this group is a place where you can safely vent, rage, laugh, or cry. You can share good and bad emotions, hopes, or frustrations. It’s where you will be understood, where nobody will judge. And it is where you will learn how to better take care of yourself.

PERSONAL

I am also a member of that group. Z’s health is now more or less ok, and to be honest, she has never suffered from anything very serious or severe. But when she was little, her allergies gave us a hard time and changed the way we lived. Luckily, I had a friend whose son was going through the same. Her presence helped me immensely. I now hope that now I will be able to help someone else.

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Home in Balance – Geneva’s smartest organizer

Home in Balance – Geneva’s smartest organizer

or about how finally I can dance in my basement

Things I had in my basement… a bag with 3 rocks, and a pot with dry soil, wires to who knows what, chargers to prehistoric phones, boxes of appliances we do not have anymore, clothes I forgot I had. But also good things, I finally found my business cards (in a random bag filled with stuff from my old car). How’s your basement?

No matter how hard I try, sooner or later the clutter is accumulating. I got good at hiding it though – especially in the garage and in the basement. It is quite simple: gather all the random useless objects, put them in a bag/box and off to the cave. Close the door, and forget. It seemed perfect, until I had to get the suitcases out of the basement… It took time and bruises to get them out. I probably would have been better off looking at something like prefab garages opposed to stuffing everything in my basement.

COLLAB EXPLAINED

Then I remembered about a friend, who started an uncluttering service called Home in Balance and we made a deal – she would help me unclutter the basement and garage, and if I am happy with the process and the result, I will use Parentville to promote her. And here we are.

SWISS ORGANIZERS

Inga, a member of Swiss-Apo (Swiss Association of Professional Organizers – yes! It is a thing!). A few years ago, she launched her business called Home in Balance. She helps people unclutter and organise their space in a practical way. Check Inga’s Instagram profile!

Her ability to know which box should go where, and which cabinet should stand in the corner and which shouldn’t, is impressive. She is full of positive energy, fresh perspective, and ideas!

ORGANISED UNCLUTTERING

Inga came in the morning, full of positive energy. She was very fast to get things out of the basement, give me tasks, and setting the rules: things for charity on the left, items for the decheterie on the right, give me back what stays etc.

The process was super fast, super smooth. The speed of it didn’t give me much time ponder on every single item. The question was simple: leave it or get rid off it? No sentiments, practicality. Well, with several exceptions.

GET IT DONE

Of course, for everyone, this will be a different process, and Inga knows it. She did not influence or question my decisions. She knows it is a very personal subject.

At the same time I was grateful it was not a Marie Kondo style uncluttering. I don’t want to say hello, goodbye, or thank you to my belongings. I don’t want to create a massive pile of clothes that would just overwhelm me. It was about getting it done. This is why Inga was just perfect for the job.

BYE BYE CLUTTER

She packed all the things for the charity into the car (it filled the whole car, every corner, every hole), and drove it to CSP in Meyrin. I hope many of these items, in perfect condition, will find new homes.

ROCK’N’ROLL

And now, I cannot only go into my basement but I even also dance inside!

KIDS ROOM

Next on my list is Zofia’s room. We declutter her room at least once a year. She needs to be involved in the process, so it takes a full day of playtime…

I asked Inga for some advice on how to limit the creation of the clutter in her room – you can find it at the bottom of the post, click on the images to enlarge/download.

Petit Marché, second-hand shopping made easy

Petit Marché, second-hand shopping made easy

When Anna moved to Switzerland with her two kids, she started searching for what she knew from Denmark – an easy way to buy and sell children’s second-hand clothes, toys, and gear, in other words, an app.

Searching

She found many ways to do it, but none of them seemed really easy. Facebook groups are difficult places to browse what we really need, posts get lost in overly long feeds, scheduling payments, appointments and reserving items can become a hustle. There are some websites out there, but not many people know about them, so the offer they propose is limited. She wanted a nice, easy to use app aimed at local families.

The solution

When she realised nothing like that existed here, she decided to try and do it. As a result, you can now download (iOS only for now) a beautifully designed app – Petit Marché, designed for the Geneva region families.

As it is designed by a Dane, it is as Hygge as an app can be. Nice, clean, friendly, easy to use.

Not only do we need to get rid of our kids’ too small clothes as no basement can hold it all forever, but we can also save money and our planet by buying second hand. Anna knows buying second-hand doesn’t seem the safe/cool way of shopping for everyone. That is why she created an app that answers all these doubts.

Buying & Selling

Within the app, you can browse through categories, buy and sell. The app solves many problems with already existing second-hand-shopping solutions. For example, once you find what you want you can click on “buy now” – the money on your credit card will be blocked but not yet transferred to the seller, it will only happen once you receive the item. You can also contact the seller directly to schedule other forms of payments.

Quality & Pricing

The app assures the high quality and reasonable prices of items being sold there, as Anna goes through every new selling post to approve it. This way you won’t waste time on going through worn off low-quality t-shirts put out there for a price of almost new.

Conciergerie

If you’re faced with Marie-Kondo-style pile of clothes to get rid off and don’t have the time/energy to photograph it all and manage the selling process, Anna can do it for you within the “Conciergerie” service! She will pick up the items, photograph them, put online with descriptions, meet up with buyers and coordinate every details od the selling process (commission: 25%).

Security

To assure people buying and selling within the app are serious and real, we all have to put in our banking details (IBAN) and the credit card number to start. Financial transactions are carried out by a professional payment provider securing the data and against fraud, so using the app is safe for everyone. If you only want to browse, no problem you can do it. Paying directly within the app though will financially support the app to grow further and assure even better service in the future with a tiny percentage of the sale going to the app’s owner.

I would be really grateful if you could spend a few minutes to download the app and check it out! Let me know what you think afterwards!

(And in any case – see you at the Petit Marché! I’ll be soon selling there Z’s clothes (sizes 5-6 years old) and looking for spring/summer clothes in sizes 6-7/122.)

The healing power of turning a hobby into a career

The healing power of turning a hobby into a career

Panic.

Alessandra had to stop her car on the highway. She was in so many tears and in so much panic that she couldn’t drive anymore. When her husband arrived to help her out, he saw only one way out of the crises: quit that job honey, he said.

And so she did.

A month before the company Alessandra was working for years, shut down its premises in Geneva. Forced to change jobs, she was commuting 1.5h twice a day. Combining career and family life seemed less and less possible. But also, she simply missed her children.

Peace.

Looking back, quitting was the best decision she made. She finally had the time for her kids, for her parents, for her husband, and for herself. But also, for crocheting, knitting, and sewing.
She’d always loved working with threads and fabrics, so now that she had all that time on her hands, she decided to up her game! Using the internet, Youtube notably, she kept improving her skills. With the trial and error method, in time, she become a confident creator.

Pleasure.

When she got pregnant with a girl (after two boys), she got lost in her crocheting-sewing hobby!

She had so much fun, she started making gifts for family and friends. She could see they were more and more impressed. At some point she was often being asked whether she thought about selling her creations for money, creating a brand.

It seemed funny at the beginning. After all, it was just a hobby, a relaxing pleasure that kept her hands and mind busy.

But the seed in her head was planted. She now looked at every piece she made with an eye of a customer. She kept improving her skills further, she wanted the clothes to be perfect.

Business.

It’s a difficult undertaking to become an entrepreneur, even for a person with a successful career like Alessandra. Working in an organization is a different world, as is entrepreneurship.  It takes courage, guts, and risk-taking abilities.

Launching Nouveauletta, Alessandra has proven to have all of these attributes despite all the self-doubts most entrepreneurs experience (though not all like to talk about it).

She created a website with an online shop, manages social media accounts, continuously develops her marketing skills, takes part in expos, pop ups, and other initiatives.

The fruit of it all.

What we found most amazing about the Nouveauletta brand is that it’s SO sustainable.

As a mother, Alessandra knows how quickly kids grow out of their clothes, and how difficult it is to part with your baby’s first pjs. She combined that knowledge with passion for sustainability and made clothes re-purposing one of the main parts of her business.

It’s changing trousers into shorts, too small dresses become tops or skirts, baby clothes can be made into family’s most precious bed quilts.

Alessandra didn’t stop there. Many of the clothes she makes are created using re-purposed fabrics from second-hand shops. She visits them often and looks for good-quality fabrics, soft textures, and interesting patterns.

Hand-made.

The other part of Nouveauletta is the result of her crazy crocheting skills. She makes baby shoes, clothes, hats.

Nouveauletta also offers custom-made clothes, adjusted to your needs, taste, and your child’s personality.

Alessandra’s online shop should be a go-to place for every-parent looking for sustainable, original, comfortable clothes. Whatever you buy at Nouveauletta.ch, you can be sure Alessandra put her whole heart into it!