December 2016 archive

The Nutcracker Garland Tutorial, by Laura Pearson-Smith

By Laura Pearson-Smith, founder,

Here at Christy, we think that Christmas is the perfect excuse to get your scissors out of the drawer and get crafting. Luckily, so does our friend Laura from A Life With Thrills. In this blog post, Laura provides an easy step-by-step guide for making a Nutcracker themed garland, decorated with ballerinas, snowflakes and sparkling beads, perfect as an afternoon activity with the kids.

To make this sparkly festive garland inspired by The Sugar Plum Fairy, you will need: a selection of white, gold and silver ribbons, thin gold elastic, pink A4 card, silver A5 paper, snow and Christmas-themed die-cuts, white pompoms and some small bells. It’s a great way to utilise left over ribbon, tags and decorations from wrapping your presents.

Step One

Cut your collected ribbons and cut them to the length that you would like your garland. Lightly twist them together then tie the ends with your gold elastic.

Nutcracker Garland 1 Nutcracker Garland 2

Step Two

You are going to make your own Sugar Plum Fairy. I’ve put one of these in the centre of the garland, but you can make as many as you want, in whatever size you want. Fold your pink card in half and on the fold, copy my outline of one side of the ballet dancer. When you cut this out and unfold it, you will have a complete body. Next, make one of the paper snowflakes that we all made in school (fold up a square piece of your silver paper then cut designs out of it and unfold), make a slit in the centre and pull down over the top of The Sugar Plum Fairy to resemble a ballet skirt.

Nutcracker Garland 3 Nutcracker Garland 4 Nutcracker Garland 5 Nutcracker Garland 6

Step Three

With your gold elastic and left-over ribbon, tie on your Sugar Plum Fairy, die-cuts, bells and snowballs along the length of your garland, then hang up on your wall.

Nutcracker Garland 7


Looking after guests this Christmas

One of the best things about Christmas is the time spent with family and friends. We teamed up with Aerobed and asked Kate from My Family Fever to share the best ways to make your guests feel comfortable while they’re at your house. Here’s what Kate suggests:

It is imperative that guests get a sufficient and quality night’s sleep – sleeping on uncomfortable surfaces such as the floor or sofa or even a poor mattress can lead to pain and discomfort.


It can often be difficult to get a quality night’s sleep when staying away from home, therefore here are a few tips for your guests that could potentially help:

  1. Try to avoid sleeping on your front. The spine will never be in alignment in this position as one has to severely turn the head in order to breathe and usually the pelvis is in torsion with one leg lifted up.
  1. Always have a pillow – or something that can be shaped into a pillow to support the neck. Even if sleeping directly on the floor, having a supportive headrest will immediately relieve the pressure placed upon the upper region of your spine – and where possible travel with your own pillow from home.
  1. If suffering from any discomfort in the low back, place a spare pillow or cushion between your knees (if sleeping on your side) or under your knees (if sleeping on your back) to relieve the pressure on the lumbar spine area.

As well as providing a comfortable sleeping area, there are other things you can do to make your guests feel comfortable. Make sure you provide them with everything they might need during their stay, from soap and shampoo, to jugs of water and soft fluffy towels.



It’s important to make the guest room as homelike as possible, and add in little touches to make your guests feel welcome, such as books to read, pictures on the wall, thick blackout curtains and clean fresh bedding.


Is there anything else you do to make sure your guests have a happy stay? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter. We’d would love to hear your ideas!


Be Guest Room Ready

Blogs by Marie

You’ve ordered the Turkey, wrapped the gifts and decorated the tree, but there is more to being the perfect hostess than hors d’oeuvres and pretty place settings.

Making overnight guests feel right at home requires a few thoughtful touches to the spare room. Here are our top five tips to get yourself “guest room ready”

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  1. Dress To Impress – Freshly laundered, good quality bed linen is the fastest way to make your guests home away from home feel (but with a little added 5 star treatment!) A quick spritz of fragranced linen water when ironing leaves a clean and fresh scent that will linger throughout their stay.

A Flat sheet under the duvet and Extra blankets allows guests to be in control of their temperature.


  1. Hanging Out – Clear a little space in the wardrobe or a drawer, and add a hook to the back of the door or if space allows a freestanding rail so guest have somewhere to hang their clothes.


  1. Midnight Feast – Leave a jug or bottle of fresh water and a glass on the bedside table (along with a good book and a simple sprig of foliage or single stem flower)

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  1. Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush – Don’t neglect the bathroom. Drying off with a fluffy towel is one of life’s little luxuries. A bath towel and two hand towels per guest is ideal. A bathrobe and even some slippers give that at home feel. Stock up on toiletry supplies and leave them neatly arranged but visible and easily accessible. A simple toothbrush and toothpaste is often appreciated too.
  1. Tech savvy – It maybe the season of rest but god forbid we can’t have a quick nose at our emails or check out what your third cousin twice removed is up to on Facebook! So leave your guests a little note with wifi details, or print it out and frame it for a hotel touch.

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Create Your Very Own #DreamChristy Bow


With Christmas creeping closer and closer, and your to-do list getting longer and longer, we thought we would share a quick and easy craft that will only take minutes to make, but are sure to receive lots of compliments on Christmas day.

To make your own #DreamChristy Christmas bow, simply download our template and cut around your favourite fabric/texture to create these beautifully unique and festive bows!

Now, what could be simpler than that?

Click here to download



How To Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake

By Nohreen Sloan, Spa Sweethearts WI Committee Member and food blogger at

Christmas has to be my favourite time of year. It’s not because of all of the presents (although that does help) but because it gives me an excuse to make. I get my Christmas craft on well in advance of December, making anything and everything from decorations, gifts, baked goods and pretty much anything else I can add glitter or tinsel to!

There’s a tremendous sense of gratification that comes from making, whether it’s for yourself or someone else, even more so when the item is edible! There are two food items that I think everyone should make at Christmas time; mince pies and fruit cake. Keep reading to find out my top tips and tricks on how to get a perfect bake this Christmas.

My secrets for the perfect mince pie


Whilst mince pies can be quite easily done with pre-rolled pastry and jarred mincemeat, making a fruit cake from scratch can be a little more daunting. Here a a few tricks that will help you to get it just right:

– Tie a thick layer of newspaper around the outside of your cake tin. Put another thick layer of newspaper on a baking tray, and place the cake tin on top. This will prevent the edges of the cake from the heat of the oven and cooking too quickly.

– An electric whisk will make the process of creaming the fat and sugar easier, but using a wooden spoon will do the same job-it just takes a little longer. You can check if your mixture has been creamed enough by placing a little blob of mixture into a bowl of cold water. If the mixture floats, it has been sufficiently creamed (the process of creaming adds air to the mixture).

– Eggs at room temperature are best to use, as they will be less likely to curdle the mixture. However, if it looks as though it is beginning to curdle, add a tablespoon of the flour.

– Make sure that your cake mixture is level when putting it in the cake tin. Make indentations all over the surface of the cake mixture – this will prevent the cake from rising in the middle, and give a nice flat top instead.

– Before placing in the oven, fold a large piece of greaseproof paper (larger than the top of the cake tin), fold in half and cut a small circle out of the middle (about 2cm diameter). Placing this sheet carefully over the top of the cake tin will prevent the top of the cake from cooking too quickly, also helping to retain the moisture of the cake.

Amaretto and Orange Christmas Cake, with Cranberries and Cherries


The recipe below is for a 9″(23cm) cake tin

Ingredients (stage one):

500g currants

225g dried cranberries

200g candied peel

200g dried apricots

150g raisins

100g glace cherries

75g sour cherries

150ml amaretto

zest and juice of 2 oranges

zest of 2 lemons

juice of 1 lemon

Method (stage one):

Wash, dry and quarter the glace cherries. Chop the apricots and sour cherries to the same size. Place all the dried fruit, amaretto, zest and juice into a pan. Bring to the boil, stir, cover and simmer for 5 mins. Pour into a bowl, cover and leave overnight.

Ingredients (stage two):

soaked fruit mixture (above)

275g dark muscovado sugar

275g soft margarine

5 medium eggs – beaten

275g plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

50g ground almonds

150g chopped almonds

1 tbsp black treacle

1tbsp marmalade

METHOD stage two

Preheat your oven to 140c/120c(fan)/gas 1.

Grease and line a 9″ cake tin (see above)

Cream the fat and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the beaten eggs little by little, beating in well each time.

Fold in the sifted flour, salt, spices, soaked fruit mixture, chopped and ground almonds, treacle and marmalade until combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, levelling then indenting on the top.

Place your large piece of greaseproof paper with the hole over the top of the tin.

Bake on a low shelf for about 4-5 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Mine took about 5 and a half hours, but I checked at regular intervals after 4 hours of cooking.

Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool before removing from the tin. Carefully remove the lining paper and wrap up in some clean greaseproof paper, and then foil. Store in this way until you are ready to decorate.

If you wish to make the cake a little more boozy, insert a skewer into the base of the cake several times, and drizzle over (or brush with a pastry brush) a tablespoonful of your chosen liqueur once a week prior to decorating.


Create A Simple Scandi Inspired Wreath by Marie Nichols

Blogs by Marie


Minimal Wreaths are big news this festive season, which is great news because they are also super easy to make. These simplistic Scandinavian inspired wreaths can be whipped up at the last minute with minimal fuss but create maximum impact.

You Will Need


Wooden Embroidery Hoop


Florists Wire



Decoration (optional)

Less is most definitely more for this look, so you don’t need to go overboard on the foliage select a few springs (branches / sprigs with a bit of a curve or kink tend to work best)

Place your wooden hoop on the table in front of you and start simply placing the foliage on, playing with the arrangement until you’re happy with the positioning. Remember the aim is not to cover the entire hoop. Think about off-centred and a-symmetric designs.

Wreaths_Making1Use the florists wire to attach the sprigs to the hoop, twisting and bending over on the reverse of the hoop.

Wreaths_Making2Tie a loop of ribbon through the screw at the top and if you wish to add a decoration you can


These look great hung as a single wreath, as a group or even hanging a smaller wreath inside a large one.


How To Make Your Own #DreamChristy Christmas Crackers


Looking for some extra festive fun in the lead up to Christmas? Making your own Christmas crackers is not only easy, but it’s fun to share with the whole family.

All you will need is:

• Your favourite wrapping paper
• Scissors
• Ruler
• Ribbon
• Glue
• Cracker snaps (these can be bought inexpensively from most craft shops.)
• 3 Empty Toilet Rolls
• Token gifts, handwritten jokes and christmas hat

Firstly, roll out your wrapping paper and cut a landscape rectangle measuring 20cm (across) x 30 cm (down). Take your rectangle, turn face down and measure 10cm in from each end. Mark the 10cm point, by drawing a line from bottom to top, firmly with a sharp pencil.

Next, take one of your Cracker Snaps and affix with a dot of glue at either end in a straight line across the top of the rectangle.

You should end up with something like this:


Using your pencil markings, place 3 used toilet rolls in the columns drawn out. Delicately roll the toilet rolls so the wrapping paper wraps around and covers them. I like to add a dot of glue in the centre to hold the paper together nicely.

You’ll now have a wrapped cylinder. Pull one of the end toilet rolls out very slightly. Gently twist and push the end back inwards to make a crease – this will become your first end. Grab your cut of ribbon and tie in a neat bow around your newly made crease. Once you’ve got it to look exactly how you want, remove the toilet roll altogether.

Take your gifts, hand written joke, Christmas hat (and anything else you want to throw in for that matter)  through the opposite end, then repeat the last step (ensuring none of your inner items fall out in the process).

You should now be looking at your final cracker. Now you can really get creative and decorate further using nameplates and co-ordinating bows.

Share your cracker creations with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, we’d love to see how you got on!


How To Prepare Your Guest Room This Christmas


It’s nearly Christmas, which means the food shopping list has been made, the presents are gathering under the tree and the guests are imminent. Everything is ready and waiting for the guests to descend but there’s no chance that you’ll be relaxing just yet – not until everyone has a drink and multiple food options. Vol au vent anyone? Champagne?

If you’re accommodating family or friends overnight, then we’ve got a simple trick that’ll make your home synonymous with hotel quality luxury – perfectly folded towels! Watch the video now, and fold your way to spa style luxury with resident Christy towel designer Julia Hewitt.

Wishing you a very merry Christmas season from all of us here at Christy.


“When a dream is not just a dream”

By Shaherazad Umbreen, founder, 18 hour heels


For years I’ve loved the story of the Nutcracker; its elegance, its magic and its spine-tingling mystery. For me, it embodies everything that Christmas is about which is the opportunity to imagine a brighter and more magical world, one in which every step seems to be an effortless dance. The only problem with this is that the Nutcracker dream always ends. Happily, it ends in a safe and happy place but I’m always left wondering what if the dream was not just a dream? What if the magic could be captured and danced every day?

I’m a 39 year old footwear designer and I’ve learned over the years, that luxury is something which shouldn’t be saved just for special occasions. To truly enjoy life it makes sense to enjoy a little luxury every day. I realised this, when one cold November day I decided to wear a beautiful cream suit which I normally save for the theatre, a suit which makes me sparkle in a “look at me” kind of way.  As soon as I put it on, I could imagine myself in the audience of the ballet, watching Clara dance through Christmas. And it was then, suddenly, that I realised that a dream doesn’t have to be just a dream, that it’s possible to capture luxurious happiness every day, if only we let ourselves.

So, this December, whilst I’m busy buying gifts for friends and family, I’ve also decided to treat myself to some new little luxuries which will dreamily carry me through 2017 with grace, poise and elegance. There are two things which I’ll be investing in before this year’s Nutcracker performance comes to town.  

The first, is Christy’s Isabelle bed linen. It has an intricate jacquard weave in a sophisticated silver grey with a subtly lustrous finish. In this bed linen I know I will fall asleep in refined luxury and wake up truly refreshed.  


The second, is a brand new pair of 18 hour heels. These heels are perfect for wearing to the boardroom and then to the bar, so I’m sorted for the office Christmas party, as well as ensuring I’m sparkling all day.



A dream doesn’t have to be just a dream. This Christmas, I’m insisting that Clara’s dance doesn’t stop at Christmas.

This post was written by Shaherazad Umbreen, founder, 18 hour heels.



Get Crafty This Christmas With Washi Tape Cards



Handmade Christmas cards are the perfect opportunity to show your loved ones that you care and can really help you get in the festive spirit. Many people are put off the idea because the idea of crafts seems time consuming and tricky, but these simple cards from our lovely blogger friend at Mathilde Heart Manech can be made in a flash. Despite their simplicity, the end result looks like you spent hours labouring, leaving all the more time for a cheeky glass of mulled wine and a mince pie (or two!).

You will need

Washi tape in a variety of designs


Card stock

Letter stamps and ink


  1. You’ll need five pieces of washi tape cut to your desired size (depends on the shape of tree you would like). Tip! Make a sample tree on a piece of paper to use as a template.
  2. Stick to your card stock, starting with the base, leaving two spaces for your Christmas message.
  3. Stamp your Christmas message inside the two gaps. Leave to dry.
  4. Fill your card with lovely messages for loved ones!

Do you have any Christmas crafts that you’d like to share? We’d love to see some inspiration on our  Facebook and Twitter pages. And don’t forget to share your finished washi tape cards with us on Instagram.


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