31 Oct 2014

Keep Kids Entertained At The Table - Roll of drawing paper or brown paper

I saw this idea on Pinterest by Simply Sweet Soirees and thought it was such a good idea to keep kids entertained whilst at the dinner table.  It also makes them feel more special about sitting away from the adults.  Below is Simply Sweet Soirees beautiful example.  Ikea sell a roll (30m) of kids drawing paper for £3, you could also use brown paper, reverse side of old excess wall paper or wall paper liner.

Put lots of pens of the table and let the kids get creative.  Could set them tasks e.g draw your favourite dinner, decorate your cracker hat or put cheap clay on the table and ask them to mould something.  Doesn't matter about the mess simply tear off and recycle!

Last year I put a finger puppet in each of the kids crackers. They named their puppets and made up stories with them.  These are just 80p each from Ikea.



30 Oct 2014

Ted Baker Make Up Bags, for those who are hard to buy for

For women who are hard to buy for Ted Baker makeup bags are a really lovely option. They look beautiful, come in different sizes, look great together and on their own. Makeup bags are something women never really buy for themselves. Has anyone carried on using the clear sandwich bag they give you at the airport for your 100ml liquids?

These are all available in Boots and start from £8 - £18. I think they're well worth it. I've had mine 4 years!


House Of Fraser Up To 30% Off Brands!


If you need to get any big brand gifts now is a good time to do so. House of Fraser have...

up to 50% off selected Homeware

up to 20% off selected Shoes & Boots

up to 20% off Electricals

up to 30% off selected Womenswear, Menswear, Kidswear & Handbags


Might be worth a look.

I certainly think some Calvins may appear in my man's stocking this year!

29 Oct 2014

Royal Mail Letter To Father Christmas Reply Service - This year Santa can write back to you!

If you post your child's letter to Santa to this address...


Santa/Father Christmas,Santa’s Grotto,Reindeerland,XM4 5HQ

Then Father Christmas will write back to you!



You need you put a stamp on your letter and make sure you include your child's full name and return address.  I'd recommend keeping a copy for a memories box, will be sweet looking back in years time.

Must post the letter by 6th December for a reply.

Click here to read more funny children's wish lists. Crack up!


28 Oct 2014

Personalised Nike Trainers and Bags - NIKEiD customising starts at £70

You can choose your own colours, material and styles from £70 for bags, £85 for trainers and free delivery.  You can get names and initials put on too.  Pretty cool eh?

Lots more examples on the website NIKEiD, here's just some examples...

Womens




Mens




27 Oct 2014

Marshmellow Snow Pops - Really Cheap and Easy.

If you haven't got the time or kit to make cake pops these are a really good (cheap!) alternative.  Dead easy and fun for kids.

You will need to make 20-30


  • Marshmellows - 85p (Asda)
  • White Chocolate - 60p (Asda)
  • Desiccated coconut - 96p (Asda)
  • Skewers or lolly sticks - kitchen cupboard?
  • Sweets and cake decorations - kitchen cupboard?
  • Cardboard box covered in foil to make a stand (I used an old taco shell box) - kitchen cupboard?

All you need to do is...
  1. Put something heavyish in the box to stop it blowing over, then cover in foil. Punch holes through the cardboard along the top of the box with a skewer.
  2. Melt the chocolate over boiling water.
  3. Put a marshmallow on the top of a skewer and dip it into the white chocolate, make sure the whole marshmallow is covered.
  4. Shake off excess chocolate drips before dipping into a bowl of desiccated coconut.
  5. Put the skewer into the stand to semi dry and repeat stages 3, 4 & 5 with more marshmallows.
  6. Leave them 10 mins is to dry off a bit, but not completely set, then get creative. I tried using cake decorations but the colours weren't strong enough so I cut up some Harribo with scissors and used other sweets to create the faces and accessories. Just use the semi-runny white chocolate as glue to stick the extra bits on.
How about personalising each snowman to look like friends and family?

26 Oct 2014

What Clan's Your Man?

Know anyone Scott(ish)? For those men who are hard to buy for try looking at Heritage of Scotland

to find out what Scottish clan they've come from and buy a scarf in their family tartan, from £10.99 and really original!

Also do pants, corsets, beanies, bags.


24 Oct 2014

Ted Baker Beauty Set Half Price

This Ted Baker Beauty Set at £19 Boots! (half price) A very good deal.  It has...

2 x nail varnish

2 x eye crayons

Lipstick
Lip crayon
Eyeliner pen
Mascara
Bronzing compact
2 x illuminating liquids
Eyelash curlers
Kabuki brush

Works out about £1.50 an item!

Could even spilt up the items and use them as cracker presents, stocking fillers and gifts from you to you too!

23 Oct 2014

Fluffy Socks, Foot Cream and Foot Soak - Baylis and Harding just £3.50!

Tesco have half price on lots of their gift sets. The best I've seen is £3.50 for this Baylis and Harding one. They have great mens, womens, teens and kids sets.  Better then 3 for 2 offers I've seen other shops offer.  If you're interested in any of them I'd get them now.

21 Oct 2014

Sock Drawer! Great Dad present!

What the hell do you get your Dad for Christmas? Every year I struggle with this.  One of my 4 sisters always comes up with a great idea leaving me like 'Damn why didn't I think of that'.  This year one of them (Robyn) has done it again.

She's gonna get Dad an entire new sock drawer, so on Christmas day he can throw out every single pair he currently owns, as I don't think I've seen him wear a pair without holes...ever.  (If you do this don't bin the socks, keep them as polish cloths, they are the best thing I've used.  Dusters and kitchen roll leave fluff behind, old washed and washed and washed socks don't - trust me. If you have enough polish cloths donate them and any clothes that are too knackered for charity to clothes recycling).

You can make someone's new sock drawer as pricey as you like.  Why not fill it with some...


Everyday Next ones
Nice dress occasion M&S ones
Funny Christmas ones
Walking ones
Welly boot ones
Fluffy slipper ones
Trainer ones
Cashmere ones
Fancy Paul Smith ones

Who knew there were so many different types of socks!  You could lay them all out in a large shoe box to look like a sock drawer, maybe even throw in some draw lining paper too? Or a little home made lavender bag?



19 Oct 2014

Chilli Tequila

Much better when not 3 yrs old!
Great for booze hounds and for those who like a challenge.  If you're struggling to get a gift for a drinker or a uni student, this is a winner! My fella and I had it in a Mexican restaurant, he loved it, I hated it - with a passion.  It was so hot!

I asked the guy if we could buy a bottle, it was his home brew so we couldn't but he did teach us how to make it...

You need a chillies, tequila and bottle with an air tight lock - check the picture, not sure what it's called!  I got mine from M&S for about £2.50. It was filled with pink lemonade, drank the lemonade and soaked it in warm water with fairy to get the labels off and then refilled.

(The picture is of my nearly 3 year old tequila, the chillies looked fresher before! Each year we added new chillies and tequila, but it's so lethal now and looks a bit minging - time for the bin).

  1. Get some long skinny chillies in different colours, need to be skinny enough to get through the bottle neck.  How many you put it depends on how hot you want it.  I think I started with 4-5.
  2. Score the chillies length ways, don't tear them to shreads just lightly.  
  3. Push the chillies in the bottle gently.
  4. Fill with tequila.  Leave for about 2 weeks to get all the hot chilliness out. 
Job done!

Cheapest tequila I've found it at Tesco. Oh and you need to keep the tequila topped up covering the chillies, otherwise it will do what ours has done in the picture.

Homemade Christmas Crackers

Crackers can be quite expensive and a lot of the time contain naff prizes.  I think it's much better to make you're own.  They're much more personal and are dead easy to do.  You can spend as little or as much as you like on the gifts inside, chances are if you've picked them, they're gonna be used and appreciated a lot more then whatever rubbish (giant paperclip maybe) is inside a standard box of crackers.

Get a 'do it yourself' pack from HobbyCraft, poundshop do them as well (picture shown) but I they designs I don't think are as nice.  Each pack has the cracker body, joke, hat and snap, all you need to buy are the prizes.

You need to label up each cracker once you've made them so you know whose is whose. I used brown luggage tags before.  Your named crackers will also double up as name place cards too.

When shopping for the cracker presents I would take a cracker template with you, or have a rough measurement of the length and circumference, it's very easy to buy things too big for the crackers!

Here's some ideas I've used before
For the girls....
  • Nail Polish
  • Lipstick 
  • Lip balms
  • Lush do some mini samples
  • MAC I think any woman who likes make up would love anything that will fit in a cracker from here!
  • Mini hand cream
  • Mini Chocolate (winner with kids)
  • Hair bands
  • Hair clips
  • Mini hair products - I love Batise dry shampoo
  • Travel size products Superdrug do 3 for £3 (could mix and match with guys gifts)
  • Fake eyelashes
  • Mini perfumes (could ask the perfume counters for some testers)
  • Any jewellery bits
For the guys...(warning I find men are particularly hard to find cracker presents for!)
  • Tin of mints
  • Bottle opener
  • Lip Balm
  • Mini Chocolate
  • Mini saving foam (Superdrug do 3 for £3 on travel size products)
  • Fold away tooth brush
  • Mini aftershave
  • Glasses cleaner (It was desperate times for Granddads gift!)
Kids...
  • Any toy that will fit into a cracker!
If you can think of anymore - especially for men, please comment, I need help!  Definitely worth asking perfume, makeup and chocolate shops if they have any free samples.

Cheap Cinnamon Sticks

Tiger are selling cinnamon sticks for £1, by far the cheapest I've seen.  They're great for...

  • Making mulled wine
  • Making decorations 
  • Making your house smell great
  • Adding to food.

18 Oct 2014

Aldi Bargin Buys - My hamper full of Christmas treats grows!

Went to Aldi's for the first time today to see what Christmas treats I could find for my hamper.  Unless you're after lots of branded goods they have some really good deals.  They don't have a lot of Christmas bits in yet, but apparently will get more and more each week.  I picked these up to add to my hamper...

  • Popcorn - 85p
  • Cheese straws - 86p
  • Turnocks tea cakes - 87p (even cheaper then I'd seen previously)
  • Chocolate coins - 50p
  • Nut and raisin selection - 56p!!!

15 Oct 2014

Homemade Sweet Shop - Really Cheap!



Great for kids and much cheaper if you do it yourself.  Get some small jars (4 for £1.50 in Ikea). Fill with colourful sweets, different shapes work well, the 3 for £1 packs you get it supermarkets are great, flumps are always a hit, but you need a bigger jar for those. Get some sticky labels for the top of the jars and write on some prices (2p, 5p etc). You can get a cool play till from the early learning centre, but they're not cheap. Poundshop used to do fake money but no till. If you put all this in a shoe box the kid can unpack everything, turn the box upside down and put jars on the top of the box, on the top of the lid and on the table top. 3 different heights perfect for a pretend shop. I made this for my little sister a few years ago and she absolutely loved it. It cost me no more then a tenner (she already had a till). Always good to give them the left over sweets for their re-stocking. I couldn't find scoops sold separately so I got some tongs used for ice buckets instead and they work great.

Chocolate Box

I never know what to get my Granddad, but last year I got him a present he loved. He's got a massive sweet tooth so I got him different flavoured chocolate bars and put them all in a nice box. Green and blacks do a tasting box, it's on deal for a tenner at the moment in Sainsburys. Can get fancy ones from Selfridges or Liberty's and mix it up with some cheaper options (Lindt flavoured bars are often on deal in supermarkets). Greenwich market have a great selection, really good if you're doing up a hamper. If you are in Greenwich market though you HAVE to get a Churrio, half and half (chocolate and dolce lech - I've probably spelt that wrong!). They are literally AMAZING, a fresh, hot, deep fried, sugar and cinnamon covered donut. No matter how full you are, get one, you will not regret it.

Experiences as gifts

Wowcher/voucher e-mails can be really when they bombard your inbox everyday but if you're thinking of getting someone an experience for Christmas it might be good to sign up now. Assign it to your work email, so when your bored of reading work stuff it's like a little treat!

It's not all weekends away, you can get half price afternoon tea, 2 for 1 in restaurants, cheap tickets for shows etc.  It's great to get something like this for people you don't see that often, go with them to share the experience.  If you need to put in some Nan time get on wowcher. My Nan always prefers doing something with us then getting a gift.


14 Oct 2014

Hobby Boxes

Hobby boxes are really sweet and thoughtful gifts and they don't have to cost a bomb.  You can fill a plastic storage box with lots of goodies related to a hobby.   John Lewis  have a lot of starter kits if you haven't got the time to make one yourself but if you have here's some ideas I've tried...

Baking Box

When I made one of these for Steph I went to the poundshop and filled it with Jane Asher
 baking goods: tins, whisk, bowl, cake cakes, baking paper etc. They do a range of colours and the quality is good. Wooden spoons from Wilko (35p ish!). A timer (Wilkos too but there's loads of fun ones around). A recipe book, I got mine in TK Maxx.  It's a really sweet thoughtful gift for beginner bakers or new home owners.


Painting BoxI made one of these for my friend Jo and she loved it.  I got a sketch pad in TK Maxx (randomly!), some oil paints and pencils from a local art shop (smaller local shops should be better at advising you about different brands and types of paint, you pay more for it but I like to go to smaller chains if I can).  I also got a rubber and pencil sharpener to bulk it out a bit!


Knitting box
I made a knitting box for my friend Lisa, I got the needles from an online craft shop, the wool from a local sewing shop (it was good to go in a feel what types of wool there were) and a knitting bag from paperchase which was really cute. Oh and most importantly a how to book from the sewing shop, the ladies were good at advising me which was the most basic.

Sewing Box
Hatty loves making fancy dress costumes so for her birthday a couple of us chipped in to get her the ultimate sewing kit. We went to House Of Fraser and got some great odd buttons and ribbons lengths, they were dead cheap. They had a sale on so we got her a sewing box from here to, but was only big enough to fill the needles and threads in (I don' think all House Of Frasers have a sewing section but all John Lewis's do).  If you're getting this for someone who really wants to get into sewing it's better to go for a tool box. It's not as pretty but definitely practical, lots of little compartments. We went to John Lewis too and got some beautiful off-cuts. If you have a little more to spend I'd go in and around Soho, they have the most amazing fabric and button shops everywhere. Email me if you want more specific details.

Kids Crafting Box
For kids you could do a crafting box. Head to early learning center to stock up on cheap glue and paint then Wilko for bobbles, pipe cleaners, shiny papers etc they have a great range and really reasonable. 

Gym one/yoga 
Not done this one but you could fill this box with a cool water bottle, mini shower kit (shampoo, body wash etc). Maybe a workout mat, a workout cd, workout DVD, a stop watch for gym fanatics. My boyfriend recommends the gym boss one and he loves Mark Lauren's 'You Are Your Own Gym exercise book. It's like his workout bible. He says it's the best thing I've bought him, I think it was about £12 amazon. 


I think these are really lovely gifts to give and receive, you could do lots of different hobbies.




Kids Chocolate Christmas Scene

For kids at Easter I've started to buy the small chocolate shaped animals instead of one big egg.
  1. They can play with the little figures before they eat them.
  2. They don't eat a whole egg at once, parents can ekk the chocolate out a bit.
This Christmas there's loads of these little figures about




Why not put a few of these together with some pens and paper and get the kids to draw a Christmasy scene to play with them on.

There's loads of different types but shop around, randomly I often find Superdrug has the cheapest.


I saw this on idea on Pintrest and I thought it looked great.  I might make a Santa sledge to go with my Christmas scene.





Lindt Tree Decorations!


Just seen Lindt are doing edible tree decorations this year!  God I love Lindt.

Tesco are doing £2.50 a pack
Asda are doing £3 a pack
Waitrose are doing them £3.49 a pack

They have Lindor red and white bells or these little teddies.

Christmas Treats

I like to start a Christmas treat box early so I don't miss out on any deals.  It probably means I end up eating more treats but hey it's Christmas.

I put them in a Hamper basket because I can hide it away when I'm feeling good and bring it out when I'm feeling naughty.  It looks great when you have people over, cracking out a big treasure chest of treats then going hunting around in carrier bags.  Don't pay more then you need to. Big tins of Roses, Celebrations and Quality Street are a must, most places sell them for a fiver and call it a deal.  Some weeks Tesco Asda have dropped them to £4, wait till then to get them and buy yourself a Terry's Chocolate Orange to reward your bargain hunting skills, make sure you don't pay more then a pound for it though!  Below are the cheapest deals I've found

So far I have...

  • Christmas Tree Shaped Tortillas! (£1 Sainsburys)
  • Twiglets (£1 petrol Station)
  • Christmas tree shaped mini cheddars (£1 petrol station)
  • Matchmakers - orange and mint (2 for £2 Sainsburys)
  • Christmas shaped animal biscuits (£1 petrol station
  • Cadburys chocolate fingers - Large pack - (Poundshop)
  • Terry's Chocolate Oranges (Poundshop)
  • Turnocks teacakes - (£1 - Tesco)
  • Tins of chocolate (£4 Asda)

I'll update you as my treat box doubles/triples in size!

13 Oct 2014

Christmas Eve Box



I love this idea, I saw on Pintrest. A Christmas Eve goodie box! You fill a shoe box (or something similar) with lots of little treats and give it to someone on Christmas Eve. Probably good for kids and teenagers, as I think the older you get the more you have to do on Christmas Eve, no time for snuggling and movies, or like me you've done it all and are out getting far too merry for the inevitable 6am Christmas Day start.  I think I'm going to make these for my 14 and 11 yr old sisters this year. Secretly hoping my boyfriend will read this and make one for me too... Packed with paracetamol.

Here's some ideas I've had....






  • Pj's - a must
  • Hot chocolate 
  • Marshmallows
  • Christmas Movie 
  • Popcorn 
  • Book
  • Fluffy socks - I think the Primark ones are great (£2 for 2pairs) but if you can splash out Joules do great knee length ones - ultra warm (£7.95)
  • Slippers 
  • Lavender pillow spray - even adults get too excited to sleep at Christmas. Boots and M&S do some, not tried them though.
  • Fresh tooth brush - random I know but may slightly tempt kids towards bed. Who doesn't like a new tooth brush.
  • Reindeer food - Companies can rip you off for that. Seriously they sell it. Will do a separate post on how to make your own.
  • Bath bomb - Lush do some amazing ones which will make the whole package smell amazing.
If you have any more ideas please comment.  I'd do the parcel up in a shoe box covered in wrapping paper.  Chuck in some tissue to bulk it out, some sequins to jazz it up, then cover the whole thing in cellophane (Tiger  do 5m for £1).  Put a big bow on. Beautiful.   

12 Oct 2014

Gift ideas - Homemade flavoured sugars, so easy! Hobbycraft and Tiger Stores ribbon and hole punches.

Today I went to Hobbycraft to see what Christmas ideas they had.  They have lots of ball balls you can fill yourself (pack of six £3), or ones you can paper mâché (starting 50p) great if you've got the time or kids to entertain. They also had some ones you could paint.  I picked up their Christmas catalogue and saw a cool gift idea.

Find a recipe for cookies flap jacks or brownies etc, measure out the dry ingredients and put them into a jar in layers (see right).  Decorate the jars with ribbons, bells, bows and stickers.   They look really cute and would be great for kids if you're staying somewhere for a few days, will help keep them busy.


Sugars would also be great in these jars. My favorites are vanilla sugar and cinnamon sugar. Vanilla sugar is great sprinkled onto berries, in cakes and in coffee. Cinnamon sugar is great on pancakes, in cookies and in coffee too.

All you need to do is get some caster sugar (you can use any but I prefer caster). For vanilla sugar you'll need 1 vanilla pod for each 225grams of sugar (doesn't need to be exact). Spilt the pod open, running your knife along it lengthways. Put half the sugar in the jar, add the vanilla pod and contents, then add the rest of the sugar.  Shake shake shake, leave for about 2 weeks to fully infuse.

For the cinnamon sugar, for every 100grams of sugar you need 2 tablespoons of cinnamon.  Mix the sugar and cinnamon and shake shake shake.  Great if you can tie some cinnamon sticks to the tag too.

These work great in hampers or as table presents.

The picture above shows some nice label designs. I've included the prices. Checked these in comparison to Ebay and Hobbycraft seems really reasonable, especially the ribbon.

Tiger Stores is a great place to find cheap ribbon and luggage labels too.  Their Christmas range isn't in store yet but can get some lovely satin ribbon 15m (£1!) Curling Ribbon (£1) and the must have - shaped hole punches (£1) I have a star and heart, I'm hoping the Christmas ones will come out soon.  I did buy a snowflake one on ebay today. There weren't many sellers who had them for £1.  Will let you know what they're like.


11 Oct 2014

Christmas Music

Here's a selection of my favourite tunes, please comment with any of your favourites.



Prepare!

I know lots of people find Christmas very stressful, I think I have something to help though! A Christmas book.  I've used one for the last few years and it's been amazing.  It's too hard to remember everything at Christmas time so write it down.

Get an A5 ish sized book, easy and light enough to chuck in your handbag or back pocket.  Keep it with you at all times.  If you're techy I'm sure you could do it on your phone, I just like it all written down.


I have 4 sections to my Christmas book...

1. To Do
2. Gifts
3. Food
4. Other

1. To Do
Pretty self explanatory!


2. Gifts
On the first page I make a list of everyone I need to buy for and tick them off when I've got their gift.
For the next few pages I write each persons name on the top and ideas of what I can get them underneath.  You can tick off things as you buy them and then tend not to over buy.  When I see gift ideas in catalogues/shops, I write the page number/shop in the book too. Then I never forget.

3. Food
On the first page I make a list of all the meals I need to buy for.  In the following pages I head each page with a date/occasion and then write recipe ideas I've seen underneath.  I tend to get carried away and bake far too many treats so this food planner helps me 1. Not over spend on food and 2. Make sure I've planned to use all the amazing recipes I've found.

4. Other
In this section I jot down ideas for wrapping and decorating.