Christmas : It’s kind of like marmite…

Christmas. The other, much dirtier ‘C’ word.

For many of us, it’s a time of year to get really excited about; Cosy fires, festive drinks, a haze of gluttony and food comas, carols, drinky-poos and of course, presents and Christmas day with your family all around you.

For others, those very same things can induce dread so debilitating it can cause a hernia. Aside from the fact that high-street stores can start off with festive window displays and carols as soon as Halloween is over (what about bonfire night? At least give some recovery time, please?!?!?) Christmas can be a financial strain for some, who tumble into a spiral of over commitment and debts in order to fulfill the happiness and gift giving quota that society seems to demand of us these days.

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My little tree!!!

I’m the first to coo over beautifully arranged Instagram photos of the PERFECTLY wrapped gifts, luxury brand gift bags, and impossibly beautiful living room Christmas trees. But in the back of my head there’s a tiny voice that scoffs and says, ‘well that’s all well and good if you want to sell off a kindey AND don’t have a day job. Or children. Or cats….’.

Christmas has become a commercial frenzy. We all know this. I thought I would list my top favourite things about this time of year that I cherish, that don’t really cost a penny, alongside the things I wish didn’t matter, and would banish.

Cherish

That feeling I get in the back of my throat when I hear Nat King Cole or Ella Fitzgerald croon out a big band classic Christmas song. They don’t make ’em like that anymore. I can’t help myself from welling up!

Banish

Gifts from Santa? NO! As a parent, you can still maintain the magic of Christmas and the legend of Ol’ Saint Nick, but still take credit for the gifts you spent hours in shops picking out (and hours at work to pay for them). Kids are bound to get a little present-crazy when Christmas morning comes, but it’s important for them to understand WHO they came from and HOW they came to be there – through hard work and through kindness and thought.

Cherish

Family traditions and rituals around Christmas time are the things money can’t buy. Whether it’s getting everyone together in early December to put up the tree with carols on in the background, or whether it’s going carol singing in your local church. Do you make sure you all sit around the table to breakfast together? Keep them. Trust me, they matter the most, especially when loved ones move away, or pass on.

Banish

Shops selling to us as early as October. I know it’s because people start their shopping that early, but if believes about how tall a gift pile needs to be weren’t perpetuated by marketing ploys, we’d all consider gifts by their merit and not their quantity. I can’t stand the “that’ll do” outlook some people have, but then I can’t blame them either. They’re conditioned to feel stressed.

Cherish

Snow! It falls so rarely around this time of year. Get wrapped up and get out there and make a snow man.

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Cherish

Cheesy Christmas movies are all about the Christmas spirit – being with your family, all warm and loved when it’s so cold outside.

Banish

you have to spend as much on gift wrap as the present itself, right? WRONG! my top tip – everytime you get a gift bag, keep it, and reuse it next time you had out a gift. Buy your cards and wrap on sale in Jan for the year after, taking all the stress away when you realise you don’t have any, and also dramatically reducing your spend.

 

Do you have pet hates at Christmas? What are your  treasured Christmas traditions? Leave me a comment below!

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Christmas books

To me,  it’s not Christmas unless you get books! Last year I got a kindle from my parents but I do still like getting paperbacks. Nothing will ever replace the book in my heart!

This year I got 3 amazing books from family. 

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A classic in a new and beautifully designed hardback cover- The Wizard of Oz!

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A book for the adventurous cook- that’s definitely not me really,  but it might coax me into being a little more adventurous in the kitchen! This book is cute because it has pink edged pages too!

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from the author of ‘the Hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared’,  I’m really excited to read ‘the girl who saved the king of Sweden’.  If you’ve never heard of the former it’s an amazing read! A wonderfully refreshing tale of adventure through hour history as we know it….

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and got the books you wanted,  too!

Jess xxx

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Christmas Gift Idea – Custom Stamped Bookmarks

My husband commented casually the other day that he didn’t have anything he could use as a bookmark – we are not heathens and we do not fold page corners! (I jest of course).

… so I consulted the only place I could trust – Etsy.

The lovely Lauren at MauveMagpie based in Scotland has an Etsy shop specialising in stamped bookmarks and bracelet cuffs. I had a smile on my face browsing through her selection of items – geeky references galore! I adore that sort of thing. There’s really something there for everyone, and if there’s not, Lauren can probably make it!

I spotted a bracelet that had the words on I wanted and within a day Lauren had agreed to created a special bookmark just for me bearing said words. The delivery was insanely quick, and I am very impressed with the item – My Husband is going to love it! I chose a blue ribbon to reflect the football team he supports. The bookmark is made of stamped Aluminium metal.

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This in an ideal stocking filler too, coming in at just over £14.00 inclusive of delivery. Pop over to her Etsy page, or follow MauveMagpie on Twitter!

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Here are a selection of my favourite items from her shop, aside from my special item, of course!

Do you think my husband will like it? x

Lily-Flame : My favourite Candle Maker

its sort of a tradition in my house that my husband buys me a Lily-Flame candle from Christmas – even with frequent use it usually lasts me all year!
Stocked in John Lewis,  they are powerfully Scented candles in cute little tins. Favouring florals over fruity generally,  though there’s the odd notable candle which  packs a fruity punch!

The wonderful team down in Somerset have been very lovely to me on Twitter (follow them at @Lily_Flame)  and I recently offered to help them out in testing new scents.

This morning I received  package from them with two new scents I haven’t had before –  Daisy Dip and Rose Petals.

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Aren’t they the cutest designs!

Daisy Dip has a pleasant undertone of grass,  warm floral notes and hint of something sweet that reminds me of honey!

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The wax itself is a nice fresh white with a touch of pink.

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Rose Petals is as you might expect! It reminds me of a freshly cut wild rose –  a very heady intoxicating scent,  there’s nothing delicate about it!

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What I love about them (aside from the scent of the candles themselves,  and of course their adorable packaging and little descriptions on the tin) is how affordable Lily-Flame candles are. They come in at about £8 a candle. I believe they also sell Reed diffusers as well,  which I’ve never tried out.

Pick yours up from

John Lewis

or their online shop! Order now in time for Christmas.  Buy British and buy hand made!

Xoxox