Category Archives: Christmas

Smiggle- Gift Voucher Giveaway

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I was invited recently to the Smiggle branch in Bluewater to open the next window on their Christmas advent calendar and see what treat could be waiting for me.

Anyone that has been to a Smiggle store will know it’s an explosion of colour and a total must for all stationary lovers. The store there is not huge but is very well stocked with both lots on the shelves and underneath the display tables ( so I cannot see you having any trouble getting a particular item you may be after).

At the moment they have lots of their fabulous Christmas Advent Stockings, that retail at £28. That may sound a little extravagant but is in line with Lego or even Yankee candle (if you buy yourself one!). However, the goodies that are in the advent would cost around £40 if they were bought individually, so a bargain when you consider that and also a great alternative to just more chocolate.

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There are the typical colour assumptions, pink for girls and blue for boys, but there are also lots of alternatives that can be gender neutral. Some of the bits can work out quite expensive but there are also some fabulous gifts that would be perfect for Christmas presents that work out at just £10-15 which is very budget friendly.

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I particularly liked this design on a black background and perfect for little monster lovers!

There is also a wonderful little colouring area set up in this store which was in use most of the time I was in the store and it was constantly busy in there. I was given the chance to peel off the next advent sticker from the window outside to get the next prize ( which I will include with the gift voucher giveaway as a little extra, it’s a Goo Glopper………………!

The store manager there, Linda, has a great manner about her and she will find out if it’s your birthday and get the whole store to sing Happy Birthday to you, I heard the singing even before I reached the store as I came down the escalator towards it. You will recognise her as she has a huge whistle hanging around her neck and she’s not afraid to use it- so be warned.

So I have a lovely £25 gift card and my Goo Glopper from behind the advent to giveaway to all you lovely stationary loving peeps. All you have to do is comment below with what you would use the voucher for and fill in the normal Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Festive Afternoon Tea at the Marriott Hotel Bexleyheath

This week I had the chance to go and review the Festive Afternoon Tea ahead of it’s launch at the Marriott Hotel in Bexleyheath, it will be available from Wednesday 23rd November and will cost £23.50 per person.

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Christmas on a plate as far as I am concerned!

Christmas on a plate as far as I am concerned!

 

 

We were treated to a little festive starter of a cup of gorgeous mulled wine and a mini mince pie ( my first this season for both) and instantly I was feeling festive regardless of the fact it is only mid November.  I will say though this is not mentioned on the menu card and makes me think this was for my benefit rather than what is included, but it was delicious non the less…………

As you van see no mention of mulled wine or mince pie, however, there is an option to add a glass of champagne if you feel like celebrating!

As you van see no mention of mulled wine or mince pie, however, there is an option to add a glass of champagne if you feel like celebrating!

When the food arrived we were advised that there was a recommended order to eat both the sandwiches and the cakes! Being good law abiding citizens my friend and I followed the rules and to be fair with regard to the fillings of the sandwiches the order really worked. They were nice thought about flavours with assorted breads and they seemed to work well together as a whole. The festive theme worked here with the inclusion of cranberry bread, turkey, brie and a delicious spiced apple chutney to name a few ( and no not all in the same sandwich!!).

The scones were wrapped in a napkin to keep some heat in and were as expected beautifully fresh and crumbly. The cream and strawberry compote were presented in gorgeous little individual jars which gave a uniqueness to the presentation itself.

A gorgeous individual look

A gorgeous individual look

The cakes also had a recommended order in which to eat them…………..who are we to argue! They consisted of a strawberry tart, a bite sized stollen, a raspberry mousse ( which was my absolute favourite), and a chocolate yule log. Now I don’t know about you but a strawberry tart instantly makes me think of summer so I was a little surprised to see one on there. Do not get me wrong all of the food on the afternoon tea was absolutely delicious, there was nothing I didn’t like ( apart from the stollen, but that’s my individual taste buds- I dislike marzipan), all the flavours worked wonderfully, however, if it is advertised as a ‘festive’ afternoon tea I would generally expect the cakes to be Christmas/ Festive themed. So perhaps if a mince pie is not included, then it should be, there is also scope for maybe something gingerbread or Christmas cake styled instead of the summer flavours of strawberry and raspberry.

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The staff in there are lovely and we were offered refills on our teas and our cream and jam if you needed any. We were not rushed in any way and the bar area we sat in had a wonderful relaxed feel to it with music playing in the backround and we felt we could sit there most of the afternoon.

I did check with the manager there if this afternoon tea was the same throughout all Marriott hotels but we were told that each hotel chef had free reign to interpret the festive flavours in their own way. So you may see pictures of other Marriott hotels serving theirs in a very different way, for now I can only comment on the Bexleyheath branch. This will be what you will get for your money at this particular hotel.

I would say although I thoroughly enjoyed the food and couldn’t fault any of the sandwiches, scones or cakes individually ( they were each delicious in their own right), I would however, feel that the afternoon tea itself would be much more festive if mulled wine was offered as an extra instead of champagne, and that all the cakes were Christmas themed/ flavoured. I would have been slightly disappointed myself to have paid the full price and not had, what I consider to be festive essentials, included.

This afternoon tea will be available from Wednesday 23rd November through to Thursday 12th January and will cost you £23.50, with the option of adding a glass of celebratory champagne for a further £6.50. Afternoon teas are perfect for friends to get together for a good catch up, or for treating yourself to a relaxing afternoon for a special occasion or family to get together. It’s a total indulgence…………………………….so go on……………………..indulge yourself!

Well it would be rude not to!

Well it would be rude not to!

For more information check out their website here

Preparing your Home for Christmas Entertaining

 

 

Christmas_tree_bauble for Ida article

The festive season is always a very exciting one and many people look forward to being able to spend quality time with friends and family over this period. This is a time of year when we tend to go out more than usual with everything from office parties through to family meals out, nights out with friends, and other festive activities to enjoy.

 

This is also a time of year when we often tend to have guests over far more than usual, whether it is for a fabulous and fun-filled Christmas dinner or simply tor a few drinks and to exchange gifts and cards. With this in mind, it is important to ensure that you are fully prepared by getting your home ready for the Christmas period and for entertaining your guests.

Some of the important preparations

There are a number of key preparations that you should make in order to have your home Christmas-ready for your family as well as any guests that you will be entertaining over the festive period. One of the things you should do is to ensure that your home is always clean and tidy at all times. While we all have periods where we may become a little lax with the cleaning, this is not the time of year to do that! You never know when guests may drop in over Christmas, so keep on top of the cleaning as much as possible.

 

You also need to ensure that your home is warm and comfortable, as the last thing you want is your family or any guests having to wrap themselves in layers because of the cold. Make sure that the heating you use is not only effective but also reliable, as trying to get a professional out to fix faulty heating over Christmas can be both extremely difficult and very expensive. Opting for something along the lines of the stand alone electric radiators from Verismart is an excellent option, as these provide superior heating, are modern and attractive in design, are extremely reliable, and very cost effective to run. Your family and guests can then enjoy warmth and cosiness in any room in your home over Christmas.

 

Of course, Christmas wouldn’t seem like Christmas without turning your home into Santa’s grotto, so one of the most important preparations is getting your decor sorted. You can really go to town with tinsel, paper decorations, and fairy lights, all of which will add that final magical festive touch to your home. You can even look at making your own Christmas decorations if you are on a budget – something you can get the kids involved in for some festive fun.

Once you’ve got your home ready for Christmas, you can look forward to a magical and vibrant atmosphere, warmth and cosiness, and a home that both your family and friends will be delighted to spend time in over the festive season.

However you choose to spend your Christmas and new Year I wish you a very happy one- have fun!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

This year I vowed I would be super organised and to be honest I have been ‘more’ organised but still find myself sitting now a week away from the big day with a huge ‘to do’ list and the panic is starting to set in.

I know this year a lot of people seemed to be putting their Christmas trees and decorations up towards the end of November and although it was nice to see the pictures I am a true December girl and mine always go up in the first weekend or week in December. However, I did start present buying mid November in an attempt to get ahead.

At the end of November I was lucky enough to attend the Ideal Home Show at Christmas which was a first for me. My friend and I had a fab time, bought lots of Chrismassy bits and pieces and had our first mulled wine of the season. It really did get me into the Christmas spirit and gave me lots of ideas for pressies along the way. The place was beautifully decorated and we had groups of carol singers and performers helping with the Christmas spirit.

From the minute you step off the tube you are in a Christmas world

From the minute you step off the tube you are in a Christmas world

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There were some gorgeous food stalls, a wide range of companies were represented there and there was even a Greg Wallace restaurant that you could book into.

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In fact there was so much to get around I probably could have done with another afternoon there to get around them all. However, I have to say my friend and I certainly gave it a good go, so much so that we felt the need to pop into the bar there for our first mulled wine at the end of the day before our journey home.

I loved the idea of this- an afternoon tea along with a London landmark tour!

I loved the idea of this- an afternoon tea along with a London landmark tour!I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the top deck

This is the top deck

The food looks amazing!

The food looks amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did buy a few new Christmas decorations and signs for this year from a fab stall that I could have spent a fortune at! Now I have to find just the right places for them. We weren’t lucky enough to see any of the celebrities as we attended on the Wednesday but there were different people there each day doing demonstrations throughout the few days.

I will definitely try and get back next year, but when I do I will start from upstairs in all the food stalls and work my way back down so I really do not miss anything……………………..mind you that may mean I spent a lot more. Although the bar is on the top floor so I may not see anything after a few mulled wine’s in there. Roll on next year.

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The Ideal Home Show at Christmas in London

This I am very excited about and thankfully only have a week to wait. This years Ideal Home Show at Christmas will be taking place at Olympia London for the first time ever. The UK’s biggest Christmas exhibition will be open from the 25th – 29th of November to provide everything you could possibly need in the run up to the festive season, from over 600 exhibitors showcasing top Christmas shopping inspiration, a plethora of celebrity appearances and a Christmas bandstand hosting live entertainment……………c’mon you Christmas lovers what more could you need?
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I’m feeling festive already and cannot wait to see the venue transformed into a winter wonderland. There will be exhibitors across 7 sectors, as well as a host of festive favourite celebrities including Gino D’Acampo, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Olly Smith and Katie Piper who will be making her Christmas show debut and  experts will be on hand at the show offering their own festive hints and tips to make your Christmas Ideal.

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There will be live entertainment for visitors to enjoy as they shop, a wide range of expert talks and advice,  a food & drink theatre featuring top tips from celebrity chefs, and even a champagne bar as well ( so that’s me sorted then!).

The Ideal Home Show at Christmas sponsored by Gocompare.com has everything you could possibly need to create the perfect Christmas all under one roof! So, for a chance to be part of history and experience Christmas for the first time at Olympia London, get yourself a ticket!

Tickets

To book tickets log on to www.idealhomeshowchristmas.co.uk or call 0844 209 7330.  For Group bookings call: 0844 412 4650

Weekday Adult £12.00
Weekend Adult £14.00
Weekday Concession (Over 60’s) £10.00
Weekend Concession (Over 60’s)     £12.00
Children (Under 15) go free when accompanied by an adult      

Timings for Ideal Home Show at Christmas:

Wednesday 25th November 2015 10am – 6pm

Thursday 26th November 2015 10am – 9pm

Friday 27th November 2015 10am – 6pm

Saturday 28th November 2015 10am – 6pm

Sunday 29th November 2015 10am – 5pm

I am looking forward to spotting some lovely new Christmassy bits to add to my ever growing collection that I manage to add to each year. Our decorations go up at the start of December and I love the festive run up to the big day itself. However, I do think my OH may disown me if I buy any more fairy lights for him to put up…………………………………… so watch this space.

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