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Christmas

Christmas

The Christmas Gift Wrapping Guide: 2018 Edition

monochrome christmas gift wrapping

 

Most of you know will know by now that to me the wrapping of a present is just as important as what’s inside. Aside from decorating the tree, Christmas gift wrapping has to be one of my favourite tasks of the entire year.

After last year’s semi-rustic brown paper wrapping scheme I wanted something really different for 2018. There was a brief moment everything almost went green. Very brief, but it was there. I found the paper, I could see it all taking shape in front of me… and then I came back to earth. I’m not ready for that level of colour just yet. So, as you may probably have guessed from the abundance of imagery, this year’s scheme is entirely monochrome.

 

monochrome christmas gift wrapping

Choosing The Paper.

It all began back in September when I spotted this textured white paper arrive on The White Company’s site. White paper is tricky, not many shops actually do it without it being drenched in glitter, something I can’t say I’m a fan of – see ‘A word on glitter’ below for further details.
When I’m deciding how to wrap my presents generally I pick a hero wrapping paper that’s a little more expensive, in this case the textured white one and then look to find ones that compliment it. Usually this means a trip to IKEA, I’m a big fan of their wrapping department. The black craft paper you see here is from IKEA, priced at £1.75 for 5 metres. You can also find great little boxes and packages for those difficult to wrap shapes. If you’ve never thought to check IKEA for your wrapping needs, you’ve been missing out.

 

monochrome christmas gift wrapping

 

To wrap the presents I alternate between the white textured paper and the black one, so there’s a good variety going on. Every now and then there’s a hint of another paper, generally left over ends of rolls I might have in my Wrapping Paper Basket, which yes, I do unashamedly own.

Generally each present also has a ‘belly band’ of contrasting wrap. Dreadful term for it but there you go. To make these I simply fold a contrasting piece of paper into a long strip and then fold over the cut edges. Stick in place with clear ‘Magic Tape‘. Don’t go to all the effort of making your wrap incredible and then stick on some horrid shiny tape people. Think of the big picture.

 

monochrome christmas gift wrapping

Ribbons & Twine.

I always purchase my grosgrain ribbon from eBay. It is simply the cheapest way to do it. Here there are two different grosgrain ribbons, a 6mm and a 10mm. I layer them over the top of each other usually, so it’s nice to have a contrast both in colour and sizes. The grosgrain used here comes on a 25 metre roll with prices from £2 a roll. Buying you ribbon from high street stores is likely going to cost you a fortune, eBay is a great way of helping you keep costs down.

The monochrome twine was a last minute addition. It all felt like it was missing something, so back to eBay I went. It won’t appear on every present, but it’s a nice little addition that brings both colours together perfectly. It’s also very handy for adding on your gift tags and any little extras you might want to add.

 

monochrome christmas gift wrapping

 

The fun bits.

This is where the fun really is. Once your presents are wrapped and you’ve negotiated the tricky task of tying bows with double ribbons, you can start to add all the amazing little extras that will make them really unique. Last year I included origami paper stars with my presents (you can find out more about how I did those here) and my gift tags were luggage tags stamped with the recipients name.

 

monochrome christmas gift wrapping

 

2018 however, is a little more jazzy. I’ve been a prolific buyer of Christmas tree decorations over the years, unable to say no to a pretty bauble should my eyes rest on one. There’s too many to feasibly use even on my gigantic tree, so I decided to put them to good use, adding a glass bauble here and there with some twine. You’ll also see my origami talents have been put to good use again. I used up scraps of white paper from last year to do this, but if there’s an expensive paper you have your heart set on but simply don’t want to have to buy rolls and and rolls, it’s a great way to incorporate it still.

The little glass baubles here were from H&M Home. They’re not online currently but I’m sure you’ll find them in store if you take a trip!

 

monochrome christmas gift wrapping

 

I also used the twine to thread porcelain stars to the bows, writing the recipients name on the underside in gold pen so they could perhaps be used again. The porcelaine stars I used here are from Hobbycraft and have ended up on my gifts purely out of a change wander into a store.

They have been created to support the charity Together For Short Lives, with half the sales of each and every star going to the charity to help families and children for whom Christmases will sadly be in short supply. They’re sold out online currently but they are still available in store if you have one locally.

 

monochrome christmas gift wrapping monochrome christmas gift wrapping


A word on glitter.

You’ll notice that there is some white glitter paper used in the wrapping scheme here. I bought it a few years ago from The White Company and due to glitter going absolutely everywhere when you unrolled it, didn’t really use it. Glitter on paper actually stops it from being recyclable. At the time this wasn’t something I knew.

I decided it shouldn’t go to waste and have used it here simply to not be wasteful. It’s something to keep in mind however as you choose your paper this Christmas period, even the faintest hint of glitter or foil and all those mounds of discarded paper come Christmas Day have to go in the bin rather than the recycling.

Last year I used a series of three brown printed papers from IKEA to create a really striking, cost effective way of making your presents the best dressed. That paper is still available on the site so it’s just as relevant now as it was then! If you need some further inspiration you can check it out here.

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Christmas, Fashion & Style, Shop

The millergrey Christmas Gift Guides 2018. Him, Her, Them, You

 

Full disclosure here: I start my Christmas shopping in January. In fact if truth be told, I never really stop it. Throughout the year I pick up pieces as and when I see them, as ideas pop into my head or as I’m visiting somewhere. For some the very idea of that is enough to turn the stomach I’m sure.

I love Christmas. I always have. I love buying presents, I love wrapping presents and I love giving presents. Generally if someone receives a present in my family it’s indirectly come from me, being that I’ve been tasked with my entire family’s Christmas shopping since I was a kid.

So without further ado, I put forward my gifting advice for the season ahead. The millergrey Christmas Gift Guide 2018.

 

Him.

 

I’m all for monogramming. I’m all for dapper pyjamas. Combine the two I’m near ecstatic. Soho Home’s festively green robe (1) can be personalised with initials embroidered to the chest and positively reeks of gentlemanly cool.

Anything from Jo Malone London and I’m happy personally. This Whisky and Cedarwood (2) cologne is by far my favourite. The bottle’s a beauty too. Mast Chocolate (10) doesn’t just taste amazing, it looks amazing. Stack them up, tie in a velvet bow and please even the most design-conscious folk.
House Doctor recently launched this Instagram-worthy metal toolbox (3). If you’re the kind of person to furiously yell at the fact you keep finding DIY implements around the house (yet continue to redo just about every room in your house) let’s at least give them somewhere aesthetically pleasing to be returned to upon said yelling.

 

 

|1.| Ned Bath Robe, £75 |2.| Whisky & Cedarwood Cologne, £120 |3.| Metal Tool Box, £42 |4.| Leather Card Holder, £25 |5.| Roll Neck Jumper, £79 |6.| Toast, Hash, Roast, Mash, £13 |7.| Bluetooth Speaker, £45 |8.| Gypsy Water Shower Gel, £34 |9.| Leather Tote, £125 |10.| Gourmet Chocolate Bar, £7.95 

 

Her.

 

Gucci Soho Disco Bag (3), just ‘cause. Slouchy Arket Knit (9), again just ‘cause. My love of personalised things at Christmas is apparent. This wool sleep mask from Soho Home (6) can again be embroidered with up to three initials, whilst these leather stick-on letters from Anya Hindmarch (2) are just plain fun. If she’s the type to also love a good notebook or diary, I’d suggest a nice new leather one to go alongside them. If you’re buying jewellery, keep it classic and keep it timeless. This beautiful circle necklace from Daisy London (above) is as classic as they come.

Diane Keating’s coffee table tome, The House That Pinterest Built (4), is an excellent piece of evidence that sometimes time spent on social media is indeed productive. Elevate their commute with this incredibly stylish travel mug from Royal Doulton (7). The red plastic number they bought whilst food shopping may be practical, but it certainly isn’t as chic is it?

I like the idea of passing on your love for something; so why not gift someone your favourite book and tell them exactly why you love it on the tag. If they never read it, it’s unlikely to have cost you a fortune. If they do, maybe they’ll love it too. Out Of Africa (10) is one of my personal favourites, I’ve passed it on to several people over the years.

 

|1.| Estee Lalonde Necklace, £99 |2.| Leather Letters, £15 each |3.| Soho Disco Bag, £805 |4.| The House That Pinterest Built, £30 |5.| Facial Cleanser, £40 |6.| Wool Sleep Mask, £12 |7.| Travel Cup, £25 |8.| Linen Bath Robe, £34.99 |9.| Slouched Jumper, £135 |10.| Out of Africa, £7 |11.| Candle Set, £35

 

Them.

Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries II (4) is a beautiful book. If they’re keen cooks it’s a wonderful walk through a year of eating. Complete the gift with some organic olive oil (9) and artisan coffee (5). I couldn’t create a gift guide without a few nods to the environmental issues I continually push; this Soho Home jute shopping bag (8) is truly one of the classiest reusable bags around. Fill it with foodie treats and add a tag.

People say candles or diffusers can be a boring gift, I couldn’t agree less. Make sure you take some time to think about the kind of scent they’re going to like; this Goop candle (7) smells like roaring fires and incense.

 

 

|1.| Martini Gift Set, £145 |2.| Coffee Maker, £40 |3.| Reed Diffuser, £59 |4.| Kitchen Diaries II, £17 |5.| Brazilian Coffee, £5.50 |6.| Jacquard Thow, £55 |7.| Church Candle, £66 |8.| Jute Tote, £12 |9.| Organic Olive Oil, £35 |10.| House Bird, £155

 

 

You.

The festive season is a busy one. You spend all of your days buzzing around thinking about everyone else, so it’s important you treat yourself every now and then again too. This edit might also come in handy if you’re looking for those little extras to send someone’s way as a subtle hint.
Long soaks in the bath, preferably with a book or an episode or two of Brothers & Sisters are my favourite. Goop’s G’Nite bathsalts (11) my turn your bath a strange camel colour, but the results are stellar. Susanne Kaufmann Winter bath oil, included in this kit (1), is what Christmas would smell like if it were a liquid. Christmas Eve in the tub sorted. Bring the Broken Heart Gin (6).

You’ll need a party outfit (or two) so buy separates to mix and match and make the most of what you have. This sequin skirt from Zara (9) is epic and will inevitably also serve you well when that friend announces their birthday is ‘Great Gatsby’ themed next year.

Going to be spending a lot of Christmas Day in the kitchen? Give yourself a fancy pants apron (10), let’s elevate the gravy stains.

 

 

|1.| Bath Oil Set, £21 |2.| Orange Bitters Cologne, £96 |3.| Colour Block Jumper, £69 |4.| The Christmas Chronicles, £9.99 |5.| Reindeer Biscuit, £3.99 |6.| Broken Heart Gin £37.80 |7.| Cocoa Mask, £20 |8.| Handmade Face Earrings, £15 |9.| Sequin Skirt, £49.99 |10.| Cotton Apron, £25 |11.| G’Nite Bath Salts, £30

 

Stuck for ideas?

If you know someone’s a reader, or perhaps even that they want to be reading more than they are, books are one of my favourite presents to give. Each year I deliver my Grandma and Mum a stack of books I’ve spent the year buying for them. It’s a relatively inexpensive way of giving a gift that has a lot of thought behind it, showing you’ve spent time selecting things you think will interest  – Grandma likes anything to do with the war or European history, whilst Mum generally gets a selection of the ones I’ve seen winning awards or receiving amazing reviews!

Keep your eyes on sites like The Works, quite often you’ll find them do five books for £10. Place them in a nice neat stack and tie in a bow. Go all out and add in some cashmere bed socks and some gourmet hot chocolate, their own personalised winter start kit.

 

 

I always like to provide a baked good or homemade chutney with presents. Handily enough you’ll find the recipe for a quick and easy biscotti here. Baked a few days before, fill a jar and write a little note. They’ll be good for a week or two if the container’s air tight.

Don’t underestimate the pre-made gift. A whole host of brands are now producing ready made gift items; from chocolate filled baubles to sleep inducing sprays concealed in patterned crackers. They’re a great (and easy) way to add something a little extra to a gift.

 

Recently I discovered Evolve Beauty via Deliciously Ella’s Instagram. Their Radiant Glow Mask features in the You edit above, the same product that is also included in this beautiful little cracker, £20. It’s made of Cocoa and coconut and whilst it might take ALL OF YOUR MIGHT to not just eat the thing, the results are great. The brand’s organic and ecological credentials make it a firm favourite of mine.

And now to wrap them. Looking for some ideas? Check out last year’s wrapping guide, crafted with paper from IKEA. Cheap, chic and sure to look perfect beneath the tree.

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Christmas, Shop

The Edit. This Year’s Best Luxury Advent Calendars.

Luxury Advent Calendars

 

My family isn’t overtly religious, but there’s enough of an undercurrent of belief there with my mum to mean as a child we had the kind of Advent Calendars that didn’t contain a foil wrapped chocolate treat behind each square but rather a picture of an object vaguely related to the Nativity. “Oh look Mummy, it’s a sheep!”

As we got older my Grandma would buy me and my brother a chocolate calendar each year (mum was livid) and finally we were able to experience the odd tasting milk chocolate that only a Woolworth’s Advent Calendar can ever really give you. Now, as an adult of 31, I’m unashamed to say I buy my own each year. Generally always Milkybar.

If you’re a little bit more sophisticated in your purchasing habits than I, 2018’s luxury advent calendar options are epic. If you needed any help in deciding exactly which one to treat yourself to, or perhaps which link you need to send on to your other half, look no further. I’ve got you covered.

 

The White Company

Beauty Advent Calendar, £150
Available from Wednesday 17th October

The White Company’s 2018 offering is more than a little bit epic. Behind each door you’ll find a treat from their extensive fragrance, beauty or skincare ranges. I’m not one to ruin a surprise but that includes everything from votive candles of their latest scent, Ginger, to Eau De Toilettes, lip balm and facial cleansers. Last year’s didn’t stick around for long so it’s probably best you get sending that link across to where it needs to go to…

 

The White Company Advent Calendar

 

John Lewis & Partners

Beauty Advent Calendar, £165
Available now

The packaging on John Lewis & Partner’s 2018 calendar receives my full seal of approval. As does the fact it includes treats from Diptyque, REN, Laura Mercier, This Works and even HERMÈS. The only down side here is the fact each treat sits within in an unsealed drawer. There’s not a chance I wouldn’t be peeking pre-December 1st.

 

John Lewis Beauty Advent Calendar

 

Green & Black’s
Luxury Chocolate Advent Calendar, £10.99
Available now

If you’re going to go chocolate, go chocolate. Green & Black’s Luxe edition has already been purchased and sits in my spare bedroom at present, nestled atop a pile of Christmas presents. Yup. I have already started shopping and there is already a pile.

 

Green & Black's Advent Calendar

 

 

Diptyque – exclusively available at Selfridges

Luxury fragrance Advent calendar, £320
Available from Monday 15th October

Yes, that is a £320 Advent Calendar. Festive perfection unfortunately does not always come cheaply. Behind the 25 doors you’ll find 15 votive candles of the brand’s most popular candles (including Baies, my all-time favourite) as well as body creams and perfumes. It most definitely isn’t for those looking to have a thrifty Christmas, but if you feel you deserve a daily dose of Diptyque, much like with the daily dose of gin, we won’t be judging.

 

diptyque advent calendar

 

 

John Lewis & Partners

Gin & Tonic Advent Calendar, £95
Available now

I would probably go as far as to say I despise the taste of both gin and tonic so this one is well and truly not for me, personally. It is however perfect for the 99.9% of the population who seem to be gin worshippers. There’s potentially something a little incorrect about receiving a miniture bottle of alcohol each morning, so perhaps open it on an evening after you return from work? Granted that will make for a boozy December, but there’s no judgment here. Do as you must.

 

Gin Advent Calendar

 

Jo Malone London

Luxury Advent Calendar, £300
Available from 1st November at Jo Malone London Boutiques & Online

When it comes down to it, Jo Malone London will always have been heart. As saccharine as it may sound, as a brand it’s just one I invest into wholeheartedly. Their array of fragrances teamed with their stylish delivery of just about every single aspect of their offering gets me every time. Their epic Luxury Advent Calendar is filled with their most famous creations; colognes, votive candles, body cremes, you name it and it’s present. All beautifully presented in the classic Jo Malone London Townhouse.

 

Jo Malone London Advent Calendar 2018

Kikki.K

Stationary Advent Calendar, £90
Available now

I know many a person for whom the thrill of a new notebook is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Kikki.K’s addition to the Advent Calendar edit provides notebooks, candles, pens and more. For me personally, no matter how perfectly brass-toned it may be, a paperclip is perhaps not what I’m looking to get come December 15th. But that’s just me.

 

kiki.k advent calendar

 

 

Kiehl’s – exclusively available at Selfridges

Kiehl’s x Bannecker Advent Calendar, £110
Available from Monday 15th October

I think this could be the one for me. The product of a collaboration with artist Andrew Bannecker, the calendar features just about every cult product in the brand’s repertoire. If you’re duo I’d say this is one of the most shareable of the bunch. As a general rule Kiehl’s products are wonderfully unisex, although the dedicated men’s collection does make an appearance in there too. Be smart however. There’s 25 days, make sure you look after number 1 and select to open the odd numbers.

 

Kiehl's Advent Calendar

 

 

Net-A-Porter

25 Days Of Beauty Advent Calendar, £150
Available now

Very little ever compares to the luxury of shopping with Net-A-Porter. Their arsenal of beauty and skincare brands is unparalleled, so it’s no wonder their addition to this year’s advent calendar offering is suitably spectacular. Behind each door you’ll find a product by one of their bestselling brands. From Scandinavian shampoo to Eyeko eyeliner, you’re bathroom and your make-up will thank you in equal measure.

 

Net-A-Porter Advent Calendar

 

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Ate, Christmas, Made, Recipe

A Last Minute Gift. Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti.

Last year I made a pact with myself to start making more of the presents I was giving in an attempt to reduce the amount of things I bought at Christmas. It’s not that I don’t love the huge array of things out there to buy, but that it just feels so much more satisfying to give someone something you’ve had a part in creating. It doesn’t need to be something grand or all that elaborate, I think it’s just nice for it to be something you spent time on.

 

Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

 

Each year I make large batches of chutney to include with my friend’s and family’s Christmas presents. I try and do this a few months in advance to a) get it out of the way, b) make use of particular fruit being in plentiful supply and c) allow the flavours to mellow. As Christmas starts to draw closer and the presents start to be given I like to add some kind of baked good in there too.

Through trial and error over the year I’ve settled on biscotti being the perfect gift. Some years I’m in the mood for something citrusy and others for something involving a little more chocolate. (Next year’s is going to be chocolate orange, I’ve already decided.)

 

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

 

It keeps perfectly well for days and when combined with a tin of tea leaves, a bag of freshly roasted coffee or a bottle of something is the perfect last minute gift for someone. No matter how hard we try there’s always someone we didn’t think we’d see but now seemingly will or maybe even someone who got you a present you entirely weren’t expecting. This is where the biscotti and the coffee come in.

This year I played around with adding herbs to the mix before finally settling on Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio. When you’re done simply add a good handful to a bag, tie up with string and add a label.

 

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

 

These little brown paper bags are from IKEA and perfectly match the wrapping paper I went with this year. If you’re into your wrapping you can take a closer look at that here.

 

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti

150g plain flour

125g caster sugar

2 tsp baking powder

Zest of 2 lemons

100g dried apricots

150g unshelled (and unsalted) pistachios

A handful of thyme sprigs

2 eggs

2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees fan.

In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest. Once this is done set it to one side and roughly chop the apricots and pistachios – you want to be able to see the colours from both as you slice the biscotti. Pick the leaves from the sprig of thyme and add them to your flour mixture and stir in the apricots and pistachios.

In a separate bowl lightly beat eggs and milk together before adding to the dry mix. Fork through until it starts to clump together before getting your hands in and bringing together into a dough. If it feels a little too sticky add a fraction more flour.

Tip the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and need briefly to make sure all of your fruit and nuts are combined. Split the dough into two equal balls, roll into a fat sausage and place each on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Once it’s on the sheet you can perfect the shaping, don’t worry. You’re looking for them both to be around 20cm long and 6cm or so wide. The mixture should be playable so shape as you will.

Bake the biscotti in the oven for 25-30 minutes. In this time you’ll see it will have risen and spread out slightly, along with taking on a soft golden colour.

Remove from the oven and careful transfer the loaf to a chopping board by just picking up the greaseproof paper. With a serrated bread knife cut the loaf diagonally into 1cm thick slices.

When both loaves are slices, lay the pieces out flat on the baking trays and return to the oven. As you do turn the temperate down to 130 degrees fan and bake for 10 minutes before flipping the biscotti over and baking for a further 5 minutes.

When you take the biscotti out of the oven it should be firm and crisp but when pressed still retain a slight toast-like texture when pressed. Transfer to a rack to cool down before packaging up the biscotti in little bags or glass jars.

 

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

 

 

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Christmas, Interiors, My Home

The Perfect Host. Getting The Guest Bedroom Ready For Christmas.

Soak & Sleep Jacquard Bedding

 

When I made the move back from London two years ago I was adamant I had to have a place with a guest bedroom. There was going to be long weekends, filled with friends who’ve made the journey up to Newcastle to visit. I’d make them epic breakfasts, they’d revel in the glory of the soft guest towels and it would be an all round glorious experience for all involved. The reality is somewhat different it has to be said. In those two years the room has been used just twice as a guest room. The rest of those days have seen it filled with everything I didn’t want to appear anywhere else in the flat. From hoovers to Christmas wreaths and mountains of shoe boxes, it’s been a little abused.

Upon receiving the message to say someone was coming to stay I was stupidly excited. I do love to play host. Rather quickly however the dread set in. Where would the hoover go? Where would I put those ladders I had to buy to paint the hallway without realising I wouldn’t be able to store them anywhere afterwards? Exactly where had I stored the spare pillowcases?

 

Soak & Sleep Bed Linen

 

I think to some extent we all like to play the host. Inviting someone into our home and doing our best to make them feel welcome isn’t just about making the guest feel good, but it’s about the desire to make sure you’ve made someone else happy. I don’t think that’s ever more the case than at Christmas, so when a Christmas guest is coming, it just makes it all even more exciting.

After a ruthless clear out involving equal quantities of charity bags and bin bags, I set about preparing the room for the arrival of its temporary inhabitant. I first like to start with making sure it smells welcoming, which you may think is a little odd, but to me scent is one of the most important things about a home. The room is unused for the most part so there’s always going to be the familiar smell that goes with a forgotten room. Light a candle or bring in a diffuser a day or two before so it has time to alter the room’s scent. If (again, like myself) you haven’t had the radiator on in there in a while, make sure you do it a few days before. Even the most thorough cleaners can’t get rid of the scent of a disused radiator kicking into action. If anyone was to make a candle of this unpleasant scent I imagine it would be entitled ‘Scorched Dust’.

I plump the pillows that have now been extracted from their vacuum packed storage beneath the bed and jostle with the feather duvet. There’s nothing like sinking into a squishy cloud of a bed. When it comes to bedlinen, I’m picky to say the least. I like things to remain white or neutral so everything feels as fresh as possible. This beautiful jacquard set from Soak & Sleep are a soft oatmeal in colour, flecked with a light grey slub.

 

Soak & Sleep Bed Linen

Soak & Sleep Bed Linen

 

I team them with white sheets and layer with a grey waffle bedspread. A throw or bedspread is essential in my eyes – we’re all very different when it comes to temperature. I find myself cold approximately 99.7% of the time, never more so than when in bed. Folding it neatly across the bottom of the bed allows your guest to adjust as they see fit without having to ask.

 

Soak & Sleep Jacquard Bedding

I’ve still not quite got around to buying a full set of furniture for the room so a bedside table arrives in the makeshift form of a stack of magazines. They’re satisfyingly white and if my guests can’t sleep, there’s something to read. A win/win. As it’s Christmas – and I have an abundance of decorations I’ve still yet to find a home for – I add a simple felt stocking and the star garland I spent the night before making. Having just discovered exactly how to make the stars I’ve now thrown them at just about every surface, present and person I’ve come into contact with.

 

Soak & Sleep Bed Linen

 

Finish with a carafe of water (I hear guests like to be hydrated) and a set of your fluffiest towels. Giving guests a set of white towels always makes me slightly nervous, 1. because I’ve seen the level of eyeliner some of my friends adorn themselves with and 2. because I know it also makes them feel nervous as they too know the level of eyeliner they adorn themselves with. With that in mind, my guest towels are always grey. Let’s preserve both of our nerves.

The bedding featured in this post was kindly gifted by Soak & Sleep

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Christmas, Shop

How to add a touch of style to your Christmas wrapping.

I’ve often thought that my true calling in life was actually as a present wrapper. The reality of this not really being all that much of a feasible profession has held me back from pursuing the dream. In an attempt to make up for this I go all out with my Christmas wrapping. There’s even an annual theme that everyone has to follow.

Some may say I have too much time on my hands, I prefer to think of it as just a very real dedication to making sure everyone feels pretty darn special upon receiving a gift.

 

Christmas Wrapping With Origami

 

Last year I went monochrome (a surprise, I know) with a bit of brass thrown in there in form of a metallic polka dot. The majority of the wrapping was done with a relatively cheap white Kraft paper, the polka dot serving as a highlight here and there. The ribbons were varying widths of black and white grosgrain, with the gift tags being the main event. I found the embossed ‘Ho Ho Ho’ tags in M&S and knew immediately they were me in a gift tag. Sadly for 2017 I wasn’t able to find anything quite so cool on the tag front.

 

Monochrome Christmas Gift Wrapping

 

And so without further ado, I present to you this year’s Christmas wrapping. For 2017 I’ve based it around a set of three papers I found in IKEA (the purveyors of great wrapping paper), each with a painted white design on. For the glorious sum of £4 you’ll find yourself with three different designs – 21 metres of paper in total. Unless you’ve got a really rather large family, that’s probably going to do your entire haul.

 

Contemporary Chiristmas Gift Wrap

Contemporary Christmas Wrapping Idea

Origami Paper Christmas Star

Gift Wrapping For Christmas

Contemporary Christmas Gift Wrapping

 

To contrast the brown paper I’ve used white Kraft and folded in into strips, as well as using it to create some origami stars to neatly tuck beneath the white and grey grosgrain ribbon ties and subtle touches of jute twine. Whilst trawling Berlin’s homewares scene earlier in the year I came across some wooden Christmas decorations, printed with a copper feather. I’ll be using them as a tag on some presents, with stamped luggage tags everywhere else.

 

Contemporary Christmas Wrapping Idea

Handmade Stamped Gift Tag

 

As a kid I remember having so many Christmas cards that we struggled to find a home for them, pinning them to ribbons that hung down the walls until they were so heavy they inevitably fell down. Today I get just one or two, but I still make sure I send them out none the less. This year I have two different types; a beautiful embossed snowflake card from Smythson and a contemporary bauble design from one of my favourite brands, Mark + Fold.

 

Smythson Christmas Card

Smythson Christmas Card

Mark + Fold Christmas Card

Mark + Fold Christmas Card

 

If you tend to find Christmas wrapping a little too much of a chore to be all that enjoyable I’ve put together my six tips on doing it like a pro. If none of these work for you, I’m available for hire.

 

  • One. If it’s an awkward shape, box it.

    ‘Awkward’ I suppose can be altered to match your own wrapping abilities; cylinders aren’t exactly fun but they can be done. Teddy bears however? Buy a box. When it comes to wrapping, like most things, I like neat edges and crisp shapes. This can mean the thought of wrapping irregular shapes makes me wince. If you think it will be difficult to wrap then there is no shame to be had in boxing it up. Whether it’s a gift box you buy or simply one you reuse (and preferably cover with paper), it’s going to make life much easier.

 

  • Two. Never underestimate the power of brown paper and luggage tags.

    I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve wrapped with brown paper. It will never fail to look good and forms the perfect backdrop to a contrasting patterned paper or even just another colour. Luggage tags work perfectly as gift tags, especially if you’ve opted to use brown paper too. Tie them on with some twine and stamp the receiver’s name on to make it personal. Or just write it nicely, I’m aware not everyone will want to spend as much time as I do on a gift tag.

 

  • Three. Invest in a good paper and use it wisely.

    Sometimes I find myself falling for a wrapping paper that comes with a somewhat hefty price tag. This year I found some beautiful handmade papers in my local Paperchase, but at £2.75 per A2 sheet, they aren’t too feasible for wrapping a tree’s worth of gifts. So instead, buy a sheet of each to slice up and use as narrow bands over brown paper wrapping. Or, if you’re feeling particularly crafty, fold it neatly into origami stars to decorate each package. You’ll get a whole stack of stars out of a sheet and they’ll work perfectly with a presents wrapped in a plainer (and somewhat cheaper paper).

     

    Handmade Paperchase Wrapping Paper

  • Four. Magic Tape is your friend.

    It’s invisible and far less of faff than double-sided. You notice how I only mention those two types, that’s because those are the only options. General shiny Sellotape is not okay guys.

 

  • Five. Take your time and do it bit by bit.

    If you try and do it all in one go you’ll burn out and end up with some questionable Christmas wrapping by the end of it. Just take it easy, wrap a few whilst you watch the TV each night. It’s far less painful.

 

  • Six. Use eBay.

    All of my grosgrain ribbon, Washi tape, Kraft Paper and jute string comes from eBay. I assure you it’s the most affordable source for the extra pieces. You can find every width and colour of grosgrain or satin ribbon imaginable on there, all available in larger volumes.

     

    Origami Paper Christmas Star

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Christmas, Interiors, My Home

The first Saturday in December.

Decorating The Christmas Tree

 

Like clockwork my Christmas tree always goes up on the first Saturday of December. It’s a ritual I’m very particular about and I take it very seriously. I’m going to warn you of this from the get go.

The week leading up to Saturday I begin to dust off the decorations from their resting place beneath the bed and take stock of what, if anything, needs to be replaced or added to. Most of you will more than likely now be over the shock of discovering my tree doesn’t consist of white decorations, but rather a sort of clash of any kind of burnished metal I’ve been able to lay my hands on. If this is brand new information for you, head to my blog post on baubles and decorations here.

 

Vintage Glass Christmas Baubles

 

I would tend to think of myself as a minimalist who occasionally dabbles in the idea of a very mild and strictly moderated form of excess. This dabbling happens rarely and you’ll most likely see it appear in the way of clusters of vases or candles, or in the volume of cushions I pile onto my relatively modest sofa. At Christmas however it surfaces much more prominently. Whilst my Christmas decorations perhaps aren’t too minimal, I’m going to confess that I do actually remove a lot of other objects from my rooms over the period to make everything feel a bit less cluttered. Clutter unnerves me. Vases, candle holders and even books find themselves packed away into large boxes and slid unceremoniously beneath the bed for the festive period.

At Christmas I also find myself making an unusual journey into a style that’s a little bit more traditional than I might normally go for. For me, the tree has to be real. I appreciate I have the luxury of not having the worry of whether an animal or child will send it flying, but fake tress just don’t do it for me. Too uniform in their appearance and unnatural in their silhouette; I just can’t substitute them for a real one. You can’t take the smell of the pine needles that will invariably find themselves attached to everything you own, although Jo Malone London definitely do a good job at trying.

 

Decorating the christmas Tree

 

As Saturday the 2nd of December arrived I was pretty giddy and entirely unashamed. Having spent the evening prior rearranging my living room to make way for its arrival, I was all set. On my way home I’d called in to purchase some mince pies (a mid-decorating coffee break essential) and a new blade for my saw. Last year – after my local farm shop sold sold the last 6ft tree despite my reservation – I ended up with a 9ft tree that required an hour’s worth of sawing to simply make it fit in the stand. I’m not even going to pretend to you I didn’t first try a bread knife because I did. I swiftly realised this wasn’t my best idea and I needed to purchase a saw. This year I was determined to be prepared for every eventuality.

The music goes on (a dedicated playlist created for this exact that you’ll helpfully find below for your listening pleasure), a winter-scented candle is lit and then it all can begin. First the lights, so here’s a good two hours of your day. One probably to untangle and drape them around the tree, the second to rearrange until they’re near perfect. With having such a big tree I tend to always need two sets of lights and with that in mind I purchased a set of 500 bright white lights from Dunelm. If you’re considering this yourself, don’t. Despite having 500 bulbs, they are arranged on a relatively short flex and are all of about 2 mm apart from each other. I’m sure most people won’t notice the difference between the lighting sets, I however will. Every single day. They also revert back to flashing mode whenever you turn them off, so for the first five minutes of them being on I’m mostly just trying to stop the rave occurring in my front room.

 

 

Next the larger, heavier baubles find themselves spaced intermittently around the tree. These can always prove to be rather tricky I find, particularly with the more vintage styles. Their immense weight just pulls the branches down in a rather ungainly fashion, so the ones that will house these little treasures need to be picked very precisely.

 

Vintage Glass Christmas Bauble

 

Once they’re safely in place and I’ve performed my test (a quick, sharp knock to the trunk to see if anything is a little to precarious),  it’s time for the medium ones. On my tree these baubles are varying shades of matte silver that came as part of an amazing set from Rockett St George a few years back, sadly they don’t seem to produce them anymore. Their dull finish breaks up the copper and bronze tones to stop it becoming too monotone before the smaller ‘filler’ baubles and decorations go on. You’re now becoming aware of how seriously I take this aren’t you?

 

Handpainted Christmas Bauble

Vintage Glass Christmas Bauble

 

Despite several years of looking I still haven’t found a tree topper that can come close to being described as ‘the one’, so instead the top of the tree is adorned by two paper stars I quickly made the night before with a little help from YouTube. I say ‘quickly’, there was nothing ‘quick’ about it I assure you. The recycling bag is filled with the failed attempts. Origami is apparently not my forte.

 

Decorating The Christmas Tree

For the first time this year I also decided to also purchase a second tree. This one’s a little more modest in its size. At a mere £10 from Sainsbury’s it just had to be brought home with me. The ugly black plastic pot it came in however wasn’t going to find a place in my home so needed to be hidden. I wrapped the pot in a plastic bag to hold in any water then set about wrapping it in brown paper and tying it up with twine. The white porcelaine stars from The White Company that decorate it make it all feel rather Nordic – something I’m absolutely okay with. The little orb lights were a much more successful Dunelm purchase: these I can and will recommend.

 

Nordic Christmas Tree

 

Happy weekend of tree decorating people. May it be filled with the scent of pine needles and warm mince pies.

Modern Christmas Tree Stand

|1.| Harbor Housewares Tree Stand |2.| Jo Malone Scented Decoration |3.| The White Company Fir Tree Scented Candle |4.| Ferm Living Tree Topper |5.| Ferm Living Tree Stand |6.| Brass Christmas Tree Candle Holders |7.| Jo Malone Pine & Eucalyptus Scented Candle

 

 

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Christmas, Interiors, Shop

Life without tinsel. The Contemporary Christmas Edit.

Vintage Glass Christmas Baubles

 

As a child our Christmas trees were what you might call ‘eclectic’. A riotous collision of decorations crafted from lolly pop sticks and Dairylea containers, with vivid green ornaments we’d received with the Happy Meals at McDonald’s. You know the ones, Christmas baubles emblazoned with The Hamburglar and Ronald himself. When I think back to the Christmas trees of my childhood it isn’t without fondness, there’s just a little tinge of shame in there also.

We always had the best time decorating the tree each year, all three of us doing it as a family whilst listening to the one Christmas CD we happened to own. My brother and I would fight over who got to throw the shiny silver strands of ‘Angel hair’ over the branches, and kick up a stink if we weren’t the one to place the star atop the tree. Whilst the fondness for the task is still very much there, the enjoyment of a chaotic array of colours and the zealous use of tinsel is most definitely not. Over the years those decorations have been lost to clear outs and decoration culls, making way for a precise colour scheme that presents an all together more adult version of Christmas at our family home.

My own tree is a collection of baubles and ornaments I’ve collected over the years I’ve been living outside of the family home. I like to think of the tree as something that evolves over time, the collection of decorations something that expands each year as you add in something new to the mix.

 

Copper Glass Christmas Bauble

 

I like objects to have a memory or event attached to them. I’ve often said I can pinpoint events and times in my life to items and objects and perhaps none more so than the glass items that hang from the branches of my Christmas tree. This year I visited Berlin for the first time and returned with three handcrafted baubles from a little boutique in Mitte. Each time I hang those decorations on the tree I’ll think about where I found them and how they came to end up on the tree. There’s only one of each (due to budgetary constraints), which does generally break my rules of three, but in a way, I quite like that. They’ll stand alone against the crowd.

None of this is to say I am in anyway averse to the purchasing of a bauble from the high street. Trees should be eclectic, even when there’s a scheme in place. Shockingly my tree isn’t an all-white affair but rather a clash of metallic tones. Coppers, brass, matt silver and clear glass… with one of two grey decorations in there for good measure. There’s odd baubles picked up in the January sales from the John Lewis home department and hand-painted shell spheres from Toast that were excitedly unearthed in an Outlet; all sitting alongside the more token ornaments that arrive to the branches with a memory in tow.

A tree is a work in progress. Each year buy something new and add to the scheme. Look further afield than your usual High Street giants and you might find the most amazing little pieces. Most importantly of all, remember that tinsel is not something I can in any way endorse. Even ironically. It’s time in the festive spotlight is over.

 

The White Company Glass Christmas Decoration

The White Company’s Spun Glass Baubles feature tiny strands of spun glass beneath a perfect glass sphere.

 

Gold Christmas Decorations

 

Stylistically I sit between the traditionalist and the contemporary camps. I avoid anything that might be considered ‘twee’ and too traditional, yet I’m not quite ready to commit to life fully as a Christmas minimalist. There’s beauty to be had in a really minimal Christmas that’s for sure, but I just can’t help but want a little bit more excess. It is Christmas after all.

If you find yourself leaning towards the more contemporary of schemes, then you’re in luck. I’ve pulled together an edit of my favourite contemporary ornaments. Go forth and invest in something you’ll treasure for years to come.

 

Contemporary Christmas Bauble Edit

|1.| IBen Bach Studio Brass Ornaments |2. & 3.| Ferm Living Brass Ornaments |4.|H&M Home Glass Baubles |5.| House Doctor Brass Decorations |6.| The Conran Shop Glass Bauble |7.| Zara Home Matte Baubles |8.| COS Die Cut Decorations

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Christmas, Fashion & Style, Made

A conscious effort.

As summer was coming to a close and the first signs of autumn were beginning to rear their head my mind started to wander towards Christmas. This is certainly not an unusual occurrence; my mind can quite happily spend a great deal of time thinking about Christmas. On this occasion however I was thinking about what it was I would begin to look for to give to those around me and it was there, right then, on that wet Sunday afternoon in September that I decided to try and make as many presents as I could.

For me to gift things that I have made is not all too unusual, in the past it has mostly been a mixture of biscotti, marmalade and chutney, with only the occasional alternative. For Christmas 2016 I wanted to do something different – give something truly different. I quickly had my heart set on making my closest friends their own linen dressing gowns, each completed with their initial to the chest. I won’t lie and say it was an easy task because quite frankly, it wasn’t. After cutting the pattern and producing several rough iterations of the gown, I began work on the final product.

Washed linen in a soft grey hue meant the kimono-like silhouette draped perfectly, its pebbled surface offering an almost dappled effect. Deep cosy pockets and a generous belt, I hope, give it an inviting look overall. Finally an embroidered initial sits to the chest, a series of three tonal grey threads embroidered separately to a raw-edged patch.

This Christmas I made the conscious effort to make things people will hold onto hopefully for a lifetime however they weren’t the only presents I gave, I did purchase many things to sit under the tree. For Christmas 2017 I plan on making absolutely everything that I gift. If the dressing gowns are anything to go by then I have about a month’s rest before I’ll need to dust off my sewing machine.

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Christmas, Made

Black, White & Hint Of Brass.

The wrapping of Christmas presents deserves a long Sunday afternoon. Christmas songs should be playing, a mince pie should always be on hand and a large pot of coffee must be handily positioned beside the magic tape.

This year it’s all a bit of graphic monochrome. With a touch of brass polka dots.

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