19 Dec 2016

New York New York

Sorry for the radio silence over the last few days, I'm in New York getting swept up in the madness, rain and snow. Will have lots to share when I'm back in the homeland. 

As the last week approaches make sure you've made a list and checked it twice. Pick up any non perishable foods, order any last minute pressies. Try and do as much as you can this end of the week so you have time to relax before the big day.

12 Dec 2016

Christmas Playlist Keeping Teenagers Entertained

Help make teenagers feel involved by asking them to make a playlist with requests from everyone coming to Christmas. It's especially good if they don't know some people that well. Bit of an ice breaker and an easy talking point.

9 Dec 2016

Picture Time

Try to document your Christmas's by taking a picture of you and your guests either in front of the tree or at the dinner table each year.  I only started this 2 years ago but it's great looking back to remember each one.  There may be new relationships, new babies and sadly missed faces but the pictures still  capture great memories.  


6 Dec 2016

Liberty's Personalised Ball-balls: Great for a family gift and for those who are fancy!

These Liberty's personalised are divine.  Perfect for any foreign visitors who are into the very British thing, fancy friends or if you have to buy for a whole family and you're on a budget. You could get the family name printed on the glass.

I haven't seen them in the flesh yet but as they are from Liberty's they're bound to be good quality and beautifully wrapped. 

£15.95 each

They no longer have pictures online but you can still get them in store.



30 Nov 2016

Green & Blacks Tasting Selection Half Price In Tesco £5.50

This Green & Blacks tasting selection is half price in Tesco just £5.50.  I've picked up one for my Granddad and one for me! (Naughty I know).  You get 2 of each mini bar, 12 different flavours, and one of the 70% dark bigger bar.  For £5.50 it's an absolute steal if you can get to Tesco.

24 Nov 2016

Record Your Own Message Biscuit Tin £5!

This pretty biscuit tins are filled with gingerbread (not just any old gingerbread - M&S gingerbread!) and you can record your own message into it AND they are half price, just £5 at the moment.  I thought they were so good I bought 3! I’m going to send 1 to an Aunt in Scotland, I’ll get the whole family round to record the message. One to a couple of friends in Oz and another to a friend in Canada, they’re missing home so I thought a voice recorded message would go down a treat. 

23 Nov 2016

Make Your Own Library Gift Set

Some young kids love organising and doing 'work',  usually before they start getting homework from school! If you need to buy for a child who loves reading and/or 'working' what about a 'Make your own library' set.

I got this idea from someone at work who was gifted library set when he was a child and he loved it. You can buy a set ready made from The Literary Gift Company (pictured below) or make your own.

It's cheap and will keep them entertained for ages stamping in and out all of their books. 


You'll need...
  • A-Z Card file
  • Lots of spare cards
  • An ink pad
  • Rubber stamp 
  • Pens and pencils
  • Labels 
  • Note pad




You could print personalised labels for the inside of their books with their name on to add a special touch. I'm going to do this at home with one of Microsoft Word's templates.

21 Nov 2016

Fancy Looking Bath Cream For Those Who Like Pretty Things

Marks and Spencer £14 bath cream is great for anyone who's like my nan and keeps bottles out in the bathroom just because they look pretty.



19 Nov 2016

Dram & Smoke Scottish 5 Course Menu £45 Christmas Pop Up

Dram & Smoke is the perfect gift for any Scots living in and around London as a pre Christmas treat.  Or anyone for that matter! My Mum is a Scot and so is her best friend, both living in Kent and missing home.  I bought them this as a treat last year and they loved it.

"You'll be welcomed in from the cold with a warming hot toddy and, as ever, we’ll have communal tables, the theatre of an open kitchen, a party atmosphere and a fully stocked bar that’s open late. We're not in the business of contributing to turkey overload at this time of year, so you'll find dishes that celebrate the best of Scottish produce and bring big festive flavour with a twist."

The amazing 5 course Scottish menu (and cocktail) for £45 is shown below.  Really unusual and amazing value.  I’d highly recommend it as a Christmas treat.  It's based in near London Bridge as a Christmas Pop Up.




17 Nov 2016

20% Off In Seven Dials Covent Garden. Dr Martens, Cath Kidston, Urban Outfitters And More!

20% off in all these fab places tonight in Covent Garden (Seven Dials) 5pm - 9pm.  You need to print your ticket to come (it's free).  Great Christmassy atmosphere and loads of shops give out free drinks!



Know a kid that loves Batman? This Batman light projector/nightlight is bound to be a winner.  £19.99 from Hawkin's Bazaar.

15 Nov 2016

Hand Paint Your Own Baubles From Aldi, 100% Profits Go To Banardo's Charity

This is by far my best Christmas find so far.   Ceramic baubles from Aldi.




They are far too cheap (£1.99) for what you get...



  • 6 baubles - either round or heart shape
  • Brush
  • Glitter - gold and silver
  • 6 paints
  • Ribbon to hang them - gold and silver
They are such good quality too, I dropped one about 2 foot and it didn't break.  The paints weren't really in my colour scheme so I used some of my own bronze paint and red gems, but everything else came from the pack.  The glitter is fantastic, really fine and so sparkly.



I can't recommend these enough.  To top it all off 100% of the profits go to charity.




13 Nov 2016

Coffee Lovers Gift

Coffee lovers

Thought this was a great gift for any coffee lover who uses a cafete. You grind your beans straight into the jar. Keeps your coffee fresh and you can shake out just the right amount you need.

Team it with a bag of coffee beans for a star gift. £19.99 from Dunelm.
 

Microphone Hairdryer - For Any Aspiring Bedroom Singer

I can't believe they've invented this. It's a hairdryer with a microphone. For those who love singing and watching 'Hairspray' or 'Grease' a lot! From designedforhair.com

11 Nov 2016

Gingerbreath Wreath Display

Gingerbread Wreath

Once you've made batches of shortbread and gingerbread it's hard to know how to display them. Try forming them into a circle to make a wreath. You'll just need a large bow at the top for a finishing touch.

Easy peasy!  
 

9 Nov 2016

Christmas Tree Lights

Sounds crazy but now is the time to check your Christmas tree lights. Last year I was gutted when I bought my tree, went to decorate it and half of my LED lights were out.  I won't make the same mistake again.Also timer plug sockets are great, means you can have your lights come on when you wake up and turn off when you leave for work. Then back on when you're home again.


LED's


LED's are great because they last forever, cheap to run and you don't have to replace bulbs. Here are 'warm white' and 'bright white' options...














Candle bulb lights

Candle bulb lights look great, they a give a more warm and cosy feeling then LED's do. However they get hot and sometimes need bulbs replacing. If one goes they can all go.  Again here they are in 'warm white' and 'bright white'

















Which ever you buy get the cord to match the colour of your tree. I bought I clear cable for a green tree and it really stood out.I found this great chart which gives a good indication of how many lights you'll need for your tree.






Make Your Own Advent Calendar

I'm a massive fan of making your own advent calendar. This year I'm making one for a friend at works daughter, who is 5 and the cutest thing! I bought the calendar from Tiger Stores for £10. I had a budget of £25 to fill it. This is something you can start early as there's not really many deals to be had on these little things...




Here's what I filled it with...

Christmas sound machine
Mini pen
Mini pad
Mini rubbers
Mini sharpener
Hair bands
Bracelets
Stickers
Frozen figurines
Flavoured lip balm
Perfume
And of course chocolate coins!



8 Nov 2016

Personalised Christmas Decorations

Whether a friend has just moved in, got married or had a baby a Christmas decoration is a great gift. Maybe a special one from a handmade market, a fancy shop like Harrods or a personalised one.

Lots of places can personalise decorations in an instant, you'll find the stalls at Christmas markets or places like the South Bank and Winter Wonderland. They pretty much just write on the decoration with a paint marker. Great if you want a personal, thoughtful touch in a rush. 




Every year I love to paint my own decoration at a ceramic pottery place, great for kids too. The only downside is that you can't take it home with you on that day. You have to wait for them to be fired in the kiln but they're worth the wait. They look utterly gorgeous when they're finished. It's really fun to keep the kids entertained for a couple hours too.



6 Nov 2016

Non Chocolate Advent Calendars For Kids

There are just so many out there to choose from!

I'll do a separate post on make your own as I've done mine already (I know it's early!).  But for those who don't have the time (or can't be bothered) there are loads out there to choose from.


Lego



Playmobil


Gem Stones



Smiggle (stationary)



Play-Doh



Accessories (kids jewellery)

4 Nov 2016

Charity Christmas Cards

I know post about this every year but please buy your Christmas cards straight from a charity shop.  Check the back to be sure they get 100% of the profits.  Some "charity cards" get as little as 5p per pack.  I went to Scope and got these beauties...


2 Nov 2016

Organising Christmas

Pen and paper at the ready! 

Treat yourself to a little pocket size pad to keep track of all your Christmas spending, or start a list on your phone. It's essential if you're like me you can never remember what you've got for everyone, if I don't write a gift idea down I'm sure to forget it.

Here's what my Christmas note book is filled with...


1. A list of people I want to buy gifts for


2. Each person has their own dedicated page on which I write gift ideas and things that I've bought for them already as well as how much the gifts were so I can keep track of my spending

3. At the bottom of each page in my 'gift' section I jot down how much I've spent on that person

4. A Christmas card list

5. To buy list for everything other than food and gifts (i.e stamps and wrapping paper)

6. Food section, in here I jot down recipe ingredients (I take a photo of the recipes) Christmas themed food bits I want to buy, like Asda's Christmas tree crumpets

7. I also write down a list of meals I need to prepare and the things I need to buy for each meal.
For example...
Uni girls Christmas dinner
Christmas Eve nibbles
Home girls Christmas cheese and wine night 
Boxing Day starter, main and dessert for Adam's family 
NYE nibbles 

The list goes on!

It's important for me to know what I'm cooking when and which recipes, otherwise I buy far too much food.

8. On the back pages I write my to do's like post cards, drop off presents to Nan etc it's so satisfying seeing the list get ticked off.

1 Nov 2016

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

Hello Everyone,

Welcome back.  It's been far too long.  But at last it's time to talk all things Christmas.  I'll be sharing all my tips, advice, best buys, best bargains, inspiration and everything else Christmas this season.  Love to hear from you all.  Please feel free to comment and share your best bits too.

Merry Christmas! 

Megan

22 Dec 2015

The Best Christmas Biscotti Recipe, Great Home Made Present

This is the best biscotti recipe I've tried and everyone seems to love it.  Biscotti is a great homemade treat to bring to someone's house as a 'Thank you for having us', or just as a lovely Christmas present.  The best thing about it is you can make it days in advance and it lasts for weeks.  Keep it in an airtight container and I'll guarantee you'll have eaten it all before it goes soft.

I don't dip mine in chocolate, I leave them as they are but feel free to if you have an extra sweet tooth!

Here's the link to the site I got the recipe from...

19 Dec 2015

Presentation Idea When Giving Tickets This Christmas

If you're getting someone a trip away this Christmas try putting the tickets in a document holder or passport cover.  I always think people know what's coming if you hand them over a card.  Or if it's theatre tickets why not put the tickets inside the case of the show's DVD.  This way people will have no idea what's waiting for them under the tree.

I think this Ted Baker case is beautiful but quite pricey at £40.

16 Dec 2015

Spread The Load This Christmas - Come Dine With Me Special

I love playing hostess at Christmas and I love everything being 'just right'. I want everyone to feel welcome in my home and looked after, but it's very stressful to do. This Christmas I'm spreading the load. 

3 other couples (friends from Uni) are coming to my house for our own version of Christmas this year and instead of trying to cook and wash up after 8 adults one of the girls suggested we do something similar to 'Come Dine With Me'. Each couple will take it in turns to cook for the rest. One couple will handle breakfasts, another couple lunch and the other two dinners. 

Instead of them bringing all the ingredients they need on the train I've set up an Asda online shopping basket. Each couple can log in, add all the ingredients they need to the basket and it will all be delivered to the house the day before they all arrive. 

This really helps lessen the stress puy on one host to do it all. 

I for one can't wait!

14 Dec 2015

Money Off John Lewis Decorations and M&S Gifts and Wrapping Paper

Martin Lewis has a great Christmas Deal Predictor and he's estimating this week there will be up to 80% John Lewis Christmas decorations and up to 50% off M&S gifts and wrapping paper.  I'll let you know as soon as I see it with my own eyes.  Get in touch and let me know if you see it first!

12 Dec 2015

Give The Gift Of Giving, Give Charity Gifts This Christmas

This Christmas instead of giving presents on top of more presents why not give the gift of giving?

Through Unicef you can buy gift aid presents, called inspired gifts from £8.  You can buy vaccines, clothes, food and other emergency gifts for children and people in need all over the whole.  When you buy them online you choose your gift and a card that you write your own personalised message in.  Would be a great gift for someone who has everything or someone who says they don't need anything.

They also sell ethical, fair trade, hand made gifts starting at £1.95.  I really like this hare necklace, it's £19.95 which is a great price and you can feel good about buying it.

9 Dec 2015

Soap and Glory gift set half price this Friday @Boots

Get the legendary Soap and Glory gift set from Boots this Friday half price for £30! 


It includes....
  • 'Clean On Me' moisture shower gel 500ml, norm £6.50 each at Boots.
  • 'The Scrub Of Your Life' body buffer 200ml, norm £7 each at Boots.
  • 'The Righteous Butter' body butter 300ml, norm £10 each at Boots.
  • 'Hand Food' hand cream 125ml, norm £5.50 each at Boots.
  • 'Heel Genius' foot cream 125ml, norm £5.50 each at Boots.
  • 'Thick & Fast' mascara 10ml, norm £10.50 each at Boots.
  • 'Peaches & Clean' wash off cleansing milk 350ml, norm £8 each at Boots.
  • 'The Righteous Butter' tinted body lotion 200ml, norm £8 each at Boots.
  • 'Sexy Mother Pucker' lip gloss in Rose & Shine (new pink shade) 4ml, norm £7 each at Boots.
  • Make-up bag, not sold separately, next cheapest similar, £12 at Boots.
It smells delicious, looks great and are fab products.



8 Dec 2015

Mulled Rosé From M&S - Nice For Those Who Don't Drink Red. Fancy Liqueurs On Offer Too.

M&S are doing bottles of mulled rosé for £4.50.  It's a lot lighter then red, unusual and a thoughtful gift to bring to someone's house or put in someone's hamper who doesn't drink red. They also do a still milled cider.  


They are also doing a 6 bottles of Christmassy flavoured liqueurs in a set.


  • Cherry Brandy
  • Cassis di Dijon
  • Christmas Cake Liqueur
  • Black Forest Gateaux
  • Elderflower Luqueur
  • Christmas Cake Liquor
They have £10 off at the moment which makes them £50 for the 6.  Comes with free delivery too.  Could be a nice Christmas set for someone hard to buy for who likes a drink... Granddad!

7 Dec 2015

Royal Mail Last Dates For Posting

Get writing your Christmas cards and wrapping your parcels the last dates for posting are coming...

Friday 4th DecemberAfrica, Middle East
Monday 7th December Cyprus, Asia, Far East, Japan, Eastern Europe (ex. Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia)
Tuesday 8th DecemberCaribbean, Central & South America
Thursday 10th DecemberGreece, Australia, New Zealand
Monday 14th December Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland
Tuesday 15th December Canada, Finland, Sweden, USA
Wednesday 16th DecemberAustria, Iceland, Ireland, Portugal, Spain
Thursday 17th DecemberFrance
Friday 18th DecemberBelgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Switzerland
UK services
Saturday 19th December UK 2nd Class and Royal Mail Signed For®
Monday 21st DecemberUK 1st Class and Royal Mail Signed For®
Wednesday 23rd DecemberRoyal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed®

4 Dec 2015

Christmas Wrapping Tips

Here’s my tips on making wrapping presents as easy as possible…

1. Buy a sellotape dispenser, poundshop ones are great.  Don’t spend time fiddling about with trying to find the end.  £1 dispenser = a lot less stress.

2.  Get out…
  • Tape
  • More tape
  • Labels
  • Pens (a few because you alway loose one), I bought a gold, silver and bronze marker park for 89p from Aldi
  • Scissors
  • Another pair of scissors for when you can’t find the other
  • Ribbons and bows
  • As many rolls of wrapping paper you have

3. If you have time to decorate your presents with ribbons and bows buy a plainer looking paper.  If you don’t have the time or the money just buy a pretty patterned paper, glittery £2 rolls from Tesco are great and on 3 for 2.

4. Have a rubbish bag out for price labels and sellotape scrag ends.

5. Give yourself as much room as possible.  Do it on a table if you can, bending over whilst sitting on the floor can do your back in after a while.

6. Listen to music, if I wrap whilst watching a film it takes twice as long.

7. Drink a large glass of mulled wine as you go!

2 Dec 2015

Morrisons Bakery - My Number One

Out of all the big supermarkets Morrisons' bakery is always a winner for me.  Their Chocolate Panettone is absolutely divine.  Sliced and toasted just enough to make the chocolate melt, oh my it's truly delicious.  Great to take to someones house for afternoon tea and just £2.

Another one of their great bargains is their £2 Tear and Share Christmas Tree Panettone.  It is packed with sultanas, currants, mixed peel and glacier cherries.  It's a little more dense then their Fruit Panettone but still tasty.  It's a really cheap way to make a wow centrepiece if you have people coming over.  Each tear and share piece is about the size of a scone so generous too and good for those who aren't fans of sugar loaded iced cakes.  However if you did want to sugar load it you could give it to the kids to decorate.  I'm sure they'd have fun covering it with sprinkles.

They are also doing a box of festive gingerbread men shaped like Father Christmas and Snowmen, 30 for £1 which I think is such good value too.  Morrisons definitely have the best bakery this Christmas.






30 Nov 2015

£5 Secret Santa Present Or Stocking Filler. A Grow At Home Birth Flower.

NotTheUsual has different grow your own plant pots.  I really like these birth flower ones at £4.99 each.  They are really personal and could be a sweet secret santa gift.  You can get a grow your own Christmas tree for £3.99 which looks cute too.



29 Nov 2015

Kids pictures on pillows. Great for Mums, Dads, Nans and Granddads

This is a really sweet, personal gift.  LukeDrewThis print children's pictures onto T-shirts, bags, iPad cases, hot water bottle covers and cushions.  All £twenty-something.






27 Nov 2015

Black Friday Codes

Don't battle the Black Friday/Saturday/Sunday and Monday crowds, use these codes instead!

BooHoo
30% off and free delivery
No code
Friday - Monday

Missguided
20% off
CYBER20
Friday - Monday

All Saints
30% off
CYBER
Friday - Monday

Asos
20% off
CYBERWKND20
Friday - Tuesday

French Connection
30% or 40% 
30FCBF or FC40B
Friday - Monday

Whistles
30% off
No Code
Friday

Gap
50% off
BLKFRIDAY
Thursday - Friday

24 Nov 2015

Charity Christmas Cards

Sending Christmas cards is a lovely tradition I don't want to ever die out.  Whether it's old uni friends, an aunt far away or a friend in another country everyone loves to receive a Christmas card.

If you're planning on writing Christmas cards this year I recommend starting now before all the madness begins.

Buy direct from a Charity shop to make sure they get 100% of the money.  Supermarkets that sell 'Charity' cards, donate as little as 10%.

Scope always have lovely cards and of course the money goes towards a great cause.  Here are some of my favourites.

The blueish one below folds into a pyramid.  I've never seen that before.

23 Nov 2015

Alternative Advents

A great Christmas present is an early one. Why not give someone an advent calendar so they get a treat each day leading up to Christmas instead of another present to open on Christmas day.

Because not everyone likes or can have chocolate, I've made a little list of the alternative ones out there.

You can get advent calendars that you can fill yourself such as the beautiful wood one to the left from John Lewis £30.

If you're on more of a budget you can get advent pegs.  The ones to the right are from John Lewis £6.95, the Poundshop do Christmas pegs too (£1 of course!) but they aren't numbered.

Once you have the advent calendar it's time to fill it!

Here are some ideas as an alternative for chocolate...


  • Teas - you can make you're own with individually wrapped tea bags or buy a pre filled calendar. There are some really cute ones starting from £12.50 on Etsy


  • Liquorice - Good if you have boxes to fill, not so good with pegs! Holland and Barrett, Sainsburys and Ocado sell Panda liquorice, it's a natural and sweet, great for any health freaks out there (my partner!) I've bought a mixed bag so each day he gets a different flavour or shape.


  • Ginvent- the pre-made calendars can be pricey but gorgeous.  The Ginvent calendar below from GinFoundry comes in at £114.95


  • Minitures - If you can't afford the pre-made why not make you're own?  Fill a calendar with these little miniatures, you can tie them into string and add your own labels if you haven't got a calendar with big enough cupboards or pockets.  You could even do the 12 days of Christmas instead of 24 making it much more affordable. 


  • Seed Calendar - For those budding gardeners this is a really cute one from NotOnTheHighStreet for £29.99



  • Candle calendar - Yankee do a great candle advent calendar.  Debenhams have 30% off it at the moment making it £17.49, at Clintons it's £18.74 but if you sign up to their news letter you get an additional 20% off.  There are 3 different styles and all went to half price on the Yankee site but have sold out already.



  •  Bath products - again you could make your own and pick n mix with holiday mixtures (3 for 2 in Boots) or you could indulge in the Lush calendar £49.95 but the products are amazing.


  • Beauty calendars are always a winner and this Boots No7 (25 days at £38) and Benefit (12 days at £39.99) ones aren't filled with hair bands and yellow nail polish (I used to find these sort of boxes were filled with things they couldn't sell). They seem to be packed with some real treats.



Remember you can make an advent with whatever you like and if you want it just to treat yourself then wait till 2nd December ish, if there's any left they are going to be at least 25% off, most likely 50%.