Get Crafty this Christmas With Our Handmade Advent Calendar

As December approaches, thoughts turn to the final Christmas countdown. But rather than buying the same old chocolate advent calendar this year, why not get crafty and make your own? Or this could be a perfect pre-Christmas gift for your loved ones.

We’ve teamed up with Emily Quinton from Makelight to share with you a step by step guide on how to craft your way to Christmas day.

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To make this handy homemade calendar, all you need is:

  • Candy striped sweetie bags
  • Doilies
  • Two different patterns of decorative washi tape
  • Small pegs
  • Treats for your calendar

Now you’ve sourced your festive supplies and put on a Christmas playlist, let’s get started!

Step 1

Using your decorative washi tape, stick a doily in the centre of a candy striped bag. Repeat this until all your bags are adorned with doilies.  

We’re going for a granny-chic calendar here, but feel free to ditch the doilies to keep it modern. If you’re the arty type, use colourful pens to doodle festive scenes on your bags. Or step it up a notch with sparkly glitter. This is your chance to get those creative juices flowing!

Step 2

Using your second washi tape, create a number on each doily to correspond with the dates counting down to Christmas.

Step 3

We hope you haven’t eaten those treats just yet, as now it’s time to pop them in your bags. We like to give ourselves an extra treat on Christmas day, to make it all the more special.

Stuck for ideas? You can fill your advent calendar with sweets, chocolate, drawings, notes and small gifts for you or your loved ones.

Step 4

Finally, decorate the pegs with washi tape to give them a festive feeling, and use them to seal your finished bags. Voila!

These goody-filled advent calendars are perfect as a gift for yourself or to put in your family’s bags before work or school. If you want to display your hard work proudly, simply use the pegs to hang your calendars to a piece of string running along a wall.

Have you got any Christmas crafts you’ve been creating lately? Share some inspiration with us on  Facebook and Twitter. And don’t forget to tag us in your washi tape creations on Instagram.

 
 

Creating your signature Christmas, with Abigail Ahern

By Abigail Ahern,retailer, designer, blogger and best-selling author, abigailahern.com

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What is your signature style at Christmas?

My festive decorating style is pretty simple. It’s all about adding rich colours, glittering lights and plenty of sparkle. I overdose on fairylights and scatter tealight candles everywhere. I also love to decorate with mossy branches, ferns, foliage, mistletoe, berries and wreaths. It’s all very natural and woodsy.

What would your recommendations be for creating a signature style? 

Keep it simple and find a colour palette you love. Whether you’re going with winter whites and greenery, or want to embrace kitsch fun with purple and silver tinsel, the trick is to be consistent and rein in the colour palette. That way you can mix and match with abandon, but it’ll still all look pulled together!

How can the Nutcracker inspire festive decor, and why do you think this is such a popular theme that keeps coming around?

The Nutcracker is a timeless inspiration because it combines all the best qualities of Christmas; it’s magical, joyful, adventurous and of course includes a whole menagerie of animals – my favourite decorating accessory at any time of the year!

What would be your dream Christmas? 

My dream Christmas is very simple – relaxing with good food, long walks with the dogs and spending time with family. I tend to veer away from parties and pubs, I much prefer PJs, fires and candlelight. We have a few family traditions I treasure, such as all meeting up for a stroll in one of the Royal Parks on Christmas Day. Then coming back to cocktails and champagne on the terrace (if it’s warm enough), Christmas dinner and then hovering around the outdoor fire pit sipping warmed cocktails. Perfect.

What do you most look forward to at Christmas time? 

It’s been an absolutely manic few months in the business, so all I want for Christmas is some time off! A log fire slowly burning in the grate and a good book – simple simple things.

Which is your favourite Christmas decoration? 

My sister Gem oversees all of our faux botanicals and makes the most stunning wreaths – I love mine so much I actually keep it above the fireplace all year round! The best thing about fauxs is that they can be reused year after year. Mine gets upgraded with copper string lights for Christmas, but it’s not going anywhere come January.

What is your Christmas soundtrack? 

I prefer something jazzy to most Christmas tunes if I’m honest. I’m famous in the office for being a bit of a Christmas music-phobe, and I stick with my favourite French radio FIP for most of the season. Although I can’t stand hearing Christmas jingles as early as October or November I have been known to steal Christmas playlists for the big day! A bit of Eartha Kitt and the lovely Carols from King’s help to set the tone.

What is your favourite memory from Christmas time?

My favourite Christmas memories will always be the excitement, anticipation and thrill of Christmases when we were kids. The very best ones were when my grandfather was alive. After a late Christmas lunch he would start a bit of a fight with all the leftover Christmas cracker paper. It would start off quite slow and lighthearted, but would always inevitably lapse into a full on food fight, with him wrapping mince pie grenades in tissue paper and flinging them across the room. I loved it, and it still makes me laugh thinking about it! Silly, chaotic and fun – isn’t that what Christmas should be?

What advice would you give for styling your home at Christmas?

Don’t forget scents! They’re so intoxicating and evocative. In keeping with my “winter forest” theme I’m using our We Took To The Woods scented candles this year. They summon up the magic of tramping through a damp pine forest on Boxing Day! I also like to dot fragrant bunches of fresh pine, thyme and rosemary about the place to make sure the whole pad smells incredible.

What inspires you during the festive period? 

How festive London looks for the season is constantly inspiring! It conjures up a truly magical Dickensian Christmas, and nowhere more so than the food markets. I adore visiting Borough market in the week leading up to Christmas, and queuing outside Neal’s Yard and Monmouth. The market food shopping is my absolute most favourite thing to do – it feels so festive and abundant.

 
 

Gift Wrapping Made Easy with Jane Means & 3M

Whether you like to cosy up with a festive drink in front of the fire or if you restrict the use of the dining room (Read: downstairs) while you run around like an elf, gift wrapping at Christmas is essential.

The art of wrapping is certainly an acquired skill, and everybody knows someone with all of the tips and tricks up their sleeves to make their wrapping as spectacular as the gift itself.

It’s time that we started to embrace the task of wrapping by learning some handy hacks as we team up with 3M and professional gift wrapper and widely acclaimed gift wrapping guru, Jane Means.

Beautifully wrapped present stack

If you’re giving a collection of gifts this Christmas (how lovely of you), this beautifully wrapped present stack may serve as inspiration. A lovely idea for families or favourite people, the gift stack looks great under the tree or even as a table centrepiece – and that’s before you’ve seen their faces after opening. Collect your supplies and gifts around you, and prepare to create a stunning gift stack.

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You will need:

  • Gifts!
  • A selection of complimentary seasonal wrapping papers
  • A selection of ribbons
  • A Christmas decoration or two – such as some glass baubles
  • Scotch Pop-up Tape Handband Dispenser

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How to:

  1. Select your papers

Papers in the same colourway such as monochrome work well, as do a variation of patterns and colours. You could also use a selection of wallpaper remnants.

162. Each item should be wrapped in a different paper.

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3. Place the parcels on top of each other, beginning with the largest wrapped gift first.

424. To add extra strength, loop over a strip of Scotch Pop-Up Tape and place the ‘double sided’ tab on the bottom of each parcel.

225. Tie the stack together firmly with a ribbon.

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6. Add the finishing touch – tie in several loops of a different ribbon and add glass baubles.

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How to tackle tricky-to-wrap chocolate tins this Christmas

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If you’re anything like us, you’ve never quite finished the Christmas shopping and there’s always something else that someone you know would love. We often like to pick up some last minute biscuit or chocolate tins, but the circular tin is often a difficult shape to wrap elegantly. This next guide from Jane Means illustrates the best approach to wrapping tins this Christmas.

You will need:

  • Circular tin containing gifts
  • A sheet of seasonal wrapping paper (Strong works best)
  • Christmas decorations including a bauble and ribbons
  • Scotch Pop-up Tape Handband Dispenser

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How to:

  1. Ensure that you have enough paper to go around the tin and include a small overlap. Measuring both sides so that they are just over the centre point will ensure you have enough fabric to work with.

172. Wrap the paper around the tin, securing with Scotch Pop-Up Tape.

23 (1)3. Lightly fold one of the ends inward and gently sit the tin up on a flat surface.

334. On the other side of the tin, begin to pull one edge of the paper into the centre with a little tension so it forms a small neat pleat. Repeating this process numerous times the whole way around the tin will create a stunning folded effect.

*Christy top tip*: The folding stage is tricky, so make sure you dedicate the time to create a neat fold, it’ll pay off in the end.

535. Cut away excess paper and secure with Scotch Pop-Up Tape.

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6. Now turn the tin over and repeat the same process on the other side.

7. Finish your gift wrapping by tying a ribbon around the tin.

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8. To add a flourish, add decorations such as a Christmas bauble and decorative tubing.

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What is the trickiest gift you’ve ever wrapped? Share your wrapping wins or nightmares with us on Twitter and Facebook, us tag us in your finished creations on Instagram.

 

 

 
 

Fairytale Beauty for an Enchanting Christmas

 

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By Grace Fodor,  leading beauty expert and the founder of cult beauty brand, Studio10Beauty.com

The wonder of the festive season is in it’s magic, and nothing is more spellbinding than that Christmas classic ‘The Nutcracker’. This year, catwalks and red-carpets are awash with balletic beauty, and where better to get your inspiration from then this most sparkling of fairytales. Think plush jewel tones and rich sumptuous fabrics.   Gold brocade and intricate beading are all in-vogue for party style. The ongoing love for all things Nordic is also coming into play, with pretty fake furs wrapped around bare shoulders, and skirts worn full and below the knee for absolute femininity.

Of course, the perfect dress requires the perfect makeup and this look requires special attention to balance the drama of the clothes. The look starts from the skin – lit-from-within radiance meets shimmering, glowing features and sparkling, glittering eyes. Imagine coming in from a winter-wonderland, made of glitter and spun sugar and you’re almost there.

Step 1.

Perfect:

Blur flaws with a tailored-to-your-skin palette of age-correcting balm concealers and redness correctors.  The lightest layer of foundation with a radiance finish is all you need for this look.  Buff into the skin with a flat-topped brush using a circular motion.

Lift:

A warm-gold highlighter adds luminosity to the skin, giving features an instant lift. Apply to the top of the cheekbones, and anywhere that naturally catches light.

HIGH-STYLE PRO TIP: Mix a crème highlighter with your foundation and blend not only across the face, but also the collarbones, décolletage and anywhere else the light touches.

Sculpt:

Subtle contouring creates natural shadows, not obvious lines. Key areas are the hollow of the cheek, the jawline and around the temples for drama and depth.

Colour:

The cheeks are a high-point of this look.  Using a peach toned blush (not pink), pat in a circle shape to the apples of the cheeks – don’t blend too heavily for a doll-like finish.

Define:

Focus everyone’s eyes with a wide-eyed, ingénue effect.  Keep shadow light and smudge a liner in grey or brown across the top and lower lash line.  Add a dab of pearly white or bone coloured shadow to the very inside of the eyes and finish with lashings of mascara.

HIGH-STYLE PRO TIP:  Switching up to a rich peacock blue or green liner can add extra depth and richness to the look

Finish:

Balance your features and keep it fresh by applying a nude toned lip-gloss. Look for one with light reflecting particles for extra plumping.

 
 

Etiquette tips for an Enchanting Christmas

 

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By William Hanson, the UK’s leading expert and coach in etiquette, http://www.williamhanson.co.uk

Less is very much more when it comes to decorating your home for Christmas.  There is too much pressure, nowadays, in outdoing the neighbours and often good taste is forgotten.

My principle for keeping it ‘classy’?  Keep it simple.

A Christmas tree is a must, of course (ideally real, however expensive and designer that faux one you’ve been eyeing up is).  There’s nothing nicer than white twinkling fairy lights, if you ask me.  Multi-coloured ones are a tad 1970s – I’m surprised people even still consider them.

Once the tree and lights are up, time for the baubles and assorted decorations.  Personally, I try to pick two or three colours for the baubles, rather than chuck on anything of any hue.  A few wooden or china decorations can add visual interest, too.  Nutcrackers, soldiers or snowmen being more traditional choices.  

Let’s not discuss tinsel.  It shouldn’t even exist, as far as I am concerned.

Elsewhere around the house, you could consider a wreath (for main entryways, usually) or perhaps a footed glass bonbon-jar full of sugar plums (ideally real, but here a plastic alternative is permissible).

A small vase in each guest bedroom with a sprig of holly with berries is a nice touch, too, if you have visitors staying.

For the kitchen table (often forgotten), gently shove all the other fruit in the fridge or elsewhere and have a large porcelain fruit bowl full of satsumas for passers-by to help themselves.

 
 

With visions of sugar plums dancing in our head we look for the perfect festive beverage – Enchanting Cranberry Mulled Wine Recipe

Mulled wine, a classic warming drink that is a favourite of anyone who loves the Christmas season. Every year, we wait for the right time of year to add those much loved spices to our favourite red wine that magically transform the everyday ordinary into the perfect dreamy accompaniment to our favourite festive activities..

Luckily, our friend Fritha Strickland from Tigerlilly Quinn  is here to give us a fun twist on an old classic with her recipe for cranberry mulled wine. Simply follow her yummy recipe, and you’ll be onto a winner with this crowd pleasing Christmas tipple fit for a mouse king!

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To make your own cranberry mulled wine, all you need is:

50g caster sugar
2 x cinnamon sticks
10 x whole cloves
2 x star anise
5 x allspice berries (optional extra, not essential)
2 x oranges (peel and juice from one, the other sliced to serve)
100g dried cranberries
500ml cranberry juice
250ml ruby port
500ml red wine
Fresh cranberries to serve (optional)


Once you’ve gathered all your ingredients together, simply follow the instructions below:

In a medium/ large saucepan combine your sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, allspice berries and orange peel and juice from one orange. Pour over enough of the cranberry juice to just cover the ingredients. Heat, stirring frequently over a medium to high heat until all the sugar has dissolved and you get a slightly thicker looking ‘syrup’. Add the remaining cranberry juice and the dried cranberries and continue to cook over a medium heat for a few minutes.
Add your port and red wine and warm through for 5-10 minutes. Be careful to not let the mixture boil and when warmed through, carefully ladle into glasses taking care not to include any cloves etc! Garnish with an orange slice and some fresh cranberries before serving.
Most importantly, enjoy!

Have you tried out this recipe for yourself? Tell us how it went over on Facebook or Twitter. Even better, send us a picture of your finished creation on Instagram, we’d love to see how you got on #DreamChirsty.

 
 

Planning for Christmas with a Nod to the Nutcracker #DreamChristy

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Here at Christy, we truly love everything about Christmas. We love the inexplicable excitement that fills the air, we love the endless stream of fairy lights that seem to line every street and home, but most of all, we love preparing for the most magical day of the year.

This year, we’re on a mission to create an enchanting Christmas with a twist, giving a nod to our favourite festive story, The Nutcracker. To us, The Nutcracker celebrates all things mysterious, dramatic and magical, themes which have inspired our #DreamChristy Christmas this year.

So, to celebrate the countdown to Christmas, we are transforming our blog into your dedicated hub for all things festive and fun. Over the coming weeks, our blog will become your one-stop shop for everything you’ll need to prepare for this Christmas, including craft projects, delicious recipes, top tips and creative decoration ideas.

With the help of some of your favourite bloggers, industry experts and our own designers, we will be posting regular articles so that you are fully inspired and prepared to make 2016 your dream Christmas.

Be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for some extra tips and treats along the way. And if you’ve been inspired by any of our Christmas blog posts, let us know using the #DreamChristy hashtag.

Merry Christmas!

Love, Christy

 
 

How to host a Halloween Party, by Bubblegum Balloons

Halloween is great fun for people of all ages, particularly if you really embrace the event and host a party. In our latest guest blog post, Sally Hodge, director at Bubblegum Balloons, shares her tips on how to make the most of the spooky festivities.

Halloween is one of the most exciting events of the year, especially for children.

Whether you’re throwing a spooky shindig or simply dressing your home for trick or treating, here’s a few tips on decorating and throwing the ultimate Halloween party.

Party pumpkins

It wouldn’t be Halloween without pumpkin carving. Get some inspiration for a scary face from Pinterest or paint them as an alternative. Put candles inside and place then by the front door or around the house for the perfect Halloween accessory.

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DIY decor

The kids will love turning your home into a haunted house. Hang fake spiders, creepy crawlies and cobwebs, and keep young ones busy by making creepy ‘Beware’ and ‘haunted house’ signs.

Sweet tooth

Sweets are a must if you want to win over little ones. Provide plastic buckets decorated with spooky stickers for kids to take their haul home with them.

Creepy cocktails

Conjure up a kid friendly punch to keep them refreshed. Serve in a punch bowl surrounded by creepy crawlies and cobwebs, and draw their attention with Halloween-themed helium balloons.

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Game for a laugh

A party isn’t a party without games. Kids will love a Halloween-themed party game of pass the parcel – use spooky wrapping paper and small gifts hidden in each layer. Apple bobbing is a time honoured tradition at this time of year, and pass the balloon is a firm favourite all year round.

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Bubblegum Balloons has a spooktacular range of Halloween themed party balloons priced from £6 to £30. Visit the fang-tastic Halloween themed party range at http://www.bubblegumballoons.co.uk.

 
 

COSY HOME, HAPPY HEART: THE BENEFITS OF HAVING A FIRE IN YOUR HOME

Since the leaves have started to turn and there is a noticeable chill in the air, we’re looking ahead to the Fall Winter months and our favourite ways to enjoy the dark evenings. We love sitting fire-side during the colder months, and being warmed by the crackling heat and cosy settings. Brian Irvine, CEO of Firemizer explains more.

How often do you gather with your family and friends, and relax in the living room with the fire ablaze? Take some time out, unwind and surround yourself with the ones you love. Not only is family time important, but having a digital detox and really focusing on being in the moment is a healthy step in the right direction. Rediscover the art of conversation and enjoy the comfort of hearing all your family’s news at the end of a busy day.

Of course, there are many benefits of having a fire in the home – here are just a few to get you started:

Romance

There’s always a scene in a romantic movie, where a happy couple cosy up in front of a dimly lit fire, sipping wine and laughing. Well, this doesn’t just have to be fiction. Make this your reality and have your very own movie moment with the one you love. What’s better than being snuggled up in front of the fire when it’s cold outside?

Comfort Food

Cook your dinner on a wood burning stove, saving money on the heating and electricity bill. You’ll have a delicious meal and a warm home, perfect for a social get-together or quiet night in. You’ll often find if you have a tiled floor in your kitchen, that it’ll be chilly in the autumn and winter months, so using the wood burning stove will also help to heat them up nicely.

Heart of the Home

Having a fireplace, mantel or open fire in the heart of your home creates a focal point for family and friends to gather, providing a perfect alternative to sitting in silence watching the TV. Socialising with your family creates a calm and cosy atmosphere and with a fire lit in the background, there’ll be the perfect amount of warmth too.

Staying Eco Friendly

Lighting a fire in your living room can save you money, look great, and give a cosy but traditional feel to your home. But, staying eco-friendly is often the worry. You can become even more eco-friendly and reduce your carbon footprint with Firemizer. This device sits at the base of your stove or hearth and makes sure all the fuel is burnt thoroughly, allowing you to enjoy your fire for even longer whilst also limiting emissions by up to 72%.

Decorative Focal Point

A mantelpiece can sometimes be overlooked and becomes a little unsightly if you don’t look after it. Once cleaned and refreshed, it can become an impressive focal point in your home (rather than the TV!) Pinterest is awash with ideas and inspiration on how to decorate your mantelpiece so it reflects your interior style season to season. Get pinning and make your mantelpiece a real focal point in your home.  

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A Summer of Sports

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This summer has already played host to some amazing sporting events, including Wimbledon, where we saw Serena Williams bagging the winning title (with Beyoncé and Jay Z watching from the side lines).

So, now that’s over, what else can we look forward to?

Well, of course, the Olympics are due to start on August 5th in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The sporting event will bring together the biggest and best athletes in the world for nineteen days with events such as diving, marathon swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, track and field and much, much more.

Much like Wimbledon, the Olympics are an event that brings people from all walks of life together. Whether you’re a sport lover or not, there’s bound to be a sporting category you can’t wait to watch.

The games this year will consist of 42 sport disciplines, spread out over 306 events with an impressive 2,488 medals up for grabs; 812 gold, 812 silver and 864 bronze.

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Historically, the US has won the greatest number of medals since the Olympics began in 1896, with a total of 2,406 medals to date, that’s 878 more medals than 2nd place, Russia.

Here are the top four countries and their respective number of medals:

Rank Country Total medals won
1 United States 2,406
2 Russia 1,528
3 Germany 1,305
4 Great Britain 779

And just when you thought the Olympics were over, the Paralympics come to the rescue with the increasingly popular tournament taking place between the 7th – 18th September. The Paralympics has brought us inspirational names such as Trischa Zorn, who famously won 46 Paralympic medals between 1980 and 2004, 32 of which were gold.

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To celebrate this summer of amazing sporting events, why not throw a viewing party for your family and friends with sports themed drink, decorations and food (pictured above) with the Olympic games taking centre stage. We’d recommend a viewing party to watch Michael Phelps compete for his 19th gold medal, or Simone Biles, the 3 time world gymnastics winner who is aiming to make history this year at Rio.

Lucky for us, Rio time is just one hour ahead of Eastern time, so you can watch the games live without the fear of those pesky spoilers.

So, are you looking forward to the Olympics? And which events will you be watching? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

 
 

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