All posts tagged “Christmas

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Last Minute Local Gift Guide

For most people, last weekend was the final attempt to get all the festive shopping done before the big day; this week is for relaxing with the kids, getting those last minute plans together and wrapping up the presents.

But for a small minority of highly disorganised people (aka ME) comes the dawning realisation that Christmas is THIS BLOODY SATURDAY and it’s probably time to panic. What with the Post Office striking an’ all, last-minute internet shopping is out of the question – it’s time to get local.

Here I’ve compiled a handy gift guide of some of my favourite businesses doing awesome things in the Bristol area, whom you can visit this week in your panic-buying frenzy. Read More

natural history museum at christmas
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Meandering Around Grey London Town

I don’t often find myself in the capital with time to spare. Usually trips to London are to do something, to see something, or generally to rush about without so much time as to stop and catch a breath. It was for this reason that I didn’t used to like London very much; I never took kindly to the fast pace of everything, I was very much settled in my Bristolian ways, thank-you-very-much.

I’ve had a bit of a change of heart of late. I’m not sure if it’s because Bristol is becoming a bit of a mini-London in itself, but I’ve begun to tolerate the capital a far lot more than I used to. So when, after my gift wrapping masterclass on Saturday, I found myself in London with a few hours to kill, I was a little bewildered. What to do with my new-found freedom?! I had a travelcard burning a hole in my pocket, which I wasn’t about to let go to waste.


After the workshop, myself and Alice stopped off at itsu for a bit to eat (another London chain making its way to Bristol!) and were surprised by thousands of people walking down Camden High Street dressed as Father Christmas, as ya do! We soon found ourselves in the midst of this crowd trying to get to the tube station, where a chatty tube chap told us that this is a Christmas tradition in ol’ London town; it’s a massive festive pub crawl which ends up getting pretty messy by the end of the day. Note to self: come and join in next year.

After saying farewell to Alice at Piccadilly Circus, I decided to take myself to the Natural History Museum for a spot of nerding out. I always get a bit emosh walking up to that stunning Victorian facade, and it looked particularly beautiful this grey Saturday afternoon, decked out in festive glory with an ice rink and carousel outside.

natural history museum at christmas

Unfortunately for me, the queue was bloody massive (obviously – it was a Saturday two weeks before Christmas) so I decided to call it a day, and starting making my way to Paddington through Hyde Park, stopping off to say hi to Albert first.

royal albert hall
prince albert memorial
hyde park in winter
albert memorial from hyde park

Soon I was safely stowed on a train bound for Bristol after a teeny tiny adventure in a minute portion of the capital. I’m more than aware that there’s plenty I need to see (cereal cafe, for example, plus numerous exhibitions) but I just didn’t have time to do it all that day! Until next time, London. Keep being massive and intimidating.

how to wrap gifts like a pro
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How to Wrap Presents Like a Pro

This post is in collaboration with Cabot Circus.

I don’t know about you, but I am pretty terrible at organising myself at this time of the year. We’ve not done too badly at the old present-buying so far, but one thing I haven’t even considered is exactly how and when I’m going to organise myself to wrap the small pile of gifts that are accumulating in our front room.

I’m not usually too bad at gift wrapping – I used to take great joy at buying matching paper, ribbons and gift tags but in past years the standard has slipped a little; sorry family. Just when I thought I’d lost my wrapping mojo, I was invited along to a masterclass with gift-wrapping guru The Wrapper Snapper.

Before popping along to the event in London, I needed to hit up Cabot Circus for some bits and pieces to take along and wrap for my dear loved ones. Without giving too much away (hello mum if you’re reading), the first stops were Hotel Chocolat and Kiehl’s in House of Fraser, followed by a quick whip round Oliver Bonas, and maybe a cheeky li’l peep in the brand new Monki store for gifts for myself 😉 If you haven’t been to take a look at it yet then you need to get down there PRONTO, it’s amazing! It’s the only Monki store outside of London, and I am over the moon that it happens to be in Bristol.

wrapping gifts with the wrapper snapper and em sheldon

Loaded up with presents and safely on the 07:30 from Bristol Temple Meads, I headed to the Big Smoke to learn a thing or two about how to wrap presents the proper way. The Wrapper Snapper, aka the lovely Jo, has been wrapping gifts professionally for 5 years, even picking up some famous clients over the years. She runs a pop up in London in the run up to Christmas every year, where you can take the hassle out of wrapping your own gifts and get Jo to do a beautiful job for £2.50 a pop.

After a much-needed cup of coffee, myself, Alice and Em tried our hand at wrapping our gifts, under the watchful guidance of Jo. While you may think that wrapping gifts isn’t exactly rocket science, there is absolutely no way I could get my gifts to look half as stunning as some of these.

the wrapper snapper
wrapper snapper wrapping gifts
pleated gift paper

One of my favourite little tricks was making a concertina effect, which looked fantastic on patterned or glittery paper, and would do wonders jazzing up plain ol’ brown paper (which is what I’ve got this year) with a big beautiful bow. The method is much like when you used to make a paper fan at primary school, but then the back of the folds are secured with tape and brought to the front of the gift. Add a jazzy embellishment and you’re good to go!

A photo posted by Lily Doble (@lilydoughball) on

Jo was also full of top takeaway tips for wannabe wrapping pros, so if you’re wanting some tips on how to get jazzy with your gifts this Christmas, take note.

How to wrap your gifts like a pro this Christmas:

  • Don’t buy cheap paper – it completely defeats the point! You want something with a bit of weight to it, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot.
  • Push down the sides for clean edges – the trick to getting a clean, crisp edge is to push firmly down the edge of the paper, making a ‘triangle’ which you can then fold in neatly.
  • Trim excess paper – the number one culprit for messy wrapping is using too much paper, and not trimming off the excess. You want just enough to cover the gift (although it’s best to start with too much than too little!)
  • Use double sided tape – keep tape hidden and presents looking neat by using the double sided stuff.
  • Wrap bottles in cellophane and tissue paper – Jo taught us a nifty trick of layering up patterned cellophane and tissue paper and pinching it upwards towards the bottle, then securing with a ribbon. You can do the same with small, awkward shaped gifts (like in the picture at the top!)
  • Buy in bulk – a lot of wrapping materials can be bought in bulk off eBay, Etsy or Amazon. Even at short notice!
  • Embellish, embellish, embellish – there is no better way than making a gift look extra special than by dangling a Christmassy ornament or jingle bells from a ribbon. Jo says she visits pound shops and craft stores looking for bits and pieces to jazz up a gift, like that giant gold leaf in the photo above.

I hope I’ve given you some handy tips and some inspiration for getting festive this weekend, if you’ve got any tips I’d love to hear them!

This post was in collaboration with Cabot Circus. A massive thank you to Jo aka The Wrapper Snapper for the one-on-one class and her fantastic expertise.

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Bristol’s Best Bits: The Made in Bristol Gift Fair

Bristol is never one for doing things conventionally, and there is no exception when it comes to Christmas gifts. Having done something of a declutter recently, I’m being much more careful about what I’m buying other people for Christmas, and my ethos for festive shopping this year is buying as much as I can from local independents rather than handing my cash to the big guys.

Last weekend, I popped down to the Made in Bristol Gift Fair at Colston Hall to peruse the makes of local artists and traders, all whilst sipping on a hot chocolate and listening to some beautiful tunes being played in the foyer. Bliss! No shopping stress or queueing here.

made in bristol gift fair colston hall
made in bristol gift fair colston hall
ceri ellis at the made in bristol gift fair
made in bristol gift fair
fat poppycat at made in bristol gift fair

The Made in Bristol Gift Fair is now in its 8th year, taking over the entire foyer of Colston Hall with makers and traders which change weekly in the run-up to Christmas. There’s something for everyone here, with homewares, handmade clothes for little’uns, stunning jewellery (my favourite was by Ceri Ellis), and soaps and skincare made in some very clever people’s kitchens.

I love the idea of an entirely independent Christmas – it helps to support people who are passionate about their craft, rather than lining the pockets of retail giants, plus you’re more likely to find something completely unique that will be more cherished than the usual stocking filler.

I don’t mean to panic anyone, but there’s only a few weeks left til the big day, so if you’re anything like me and haven’t started shopping yet, you’d better get your skates on!

This weekend is a Christmas market extravaganza in Bristol, and the Made in Bristol Gift Fair will be setting up shop on this Saturday 3rd December, and then the following weekend on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th December at Colston Hall.

Find out more info on their Facebook page here. Happy shopping, folks!

I was invited by the Made in Bristol Gift Fair to preview the event in exchange for this review but all words and opinions are my own. You know me, I love Bristol, and I’ll do owt to help support local artists.

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Christmas Gift List for Tea Lovers

christmas gift guide for tea lovers

Ahh, tea. On a chilly day like we’ve had today, there’s nowt better for warming your cockles than a piping hot brew. If you’ve got a loved one or distant family member who is also a fan of a cuppa and you’re stumped as to what to get them for Christmas – don’t panic! Here I’ve compiled some of my favourite bits and bobs for that special someone who, like me, is a big fan of ol’ Rosy Lee. Read More

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Christmas Gift Guide: Ali and Joe’s Christmas Trees

ali and joes christmas trees bristol

Pinch punch, second of the month! Hmm… doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

Now that it’s finally acceptable to get excited about Christmas, Instagram seems to be a relentless onslaught of festivity, with people sharing their advent calendar goodies, pets dressed as Father Christmas, and more importantly… THE TREES!

Since moving to Windmill Hill just over a year ago, we know there’s only one place to go to buy a Christmas tree in Bristol, and I’m here today to tell you about the lovely Ali and Joe’s. Read More

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Christmas Gift Guide: Chatty Feet

chatty feet novelty socks andy warhol

Uh oh, did I just mention the C-word?

This month, I’ve decided to replace my usual Bristol’s Best Bits posts and have chosen to dedicate the next month’s weekly slots to that most wonderful time of the year… Christmas! The plan is to share with you bits and bobs from the little guys – local folk, growing businesses and start-ups, so you can support local and small trade this Christmas, and stop giving all your money to the big guys. Read More

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What I Got For Christmas

I feel compelled to follow everyone else’s lead here and apologise for being MIA for a week or so, but to be perfectly honest it’s been quite nice having a little break, getting up late, stuffing my face and figuring out how many Cadbury’s Roses are too many Cadbury’s Roses.

In the spirit of the season, and without meaning to shamelessly gloat too much, I thought I’d share with you lot some of the treats I got for Christmas. I always find it’s nice to see what other people got under the tree, and I got some right crackers this year which are too good not to share.

loads of Lush Ltd goodies
books and illustration pens
urban decay naked 2 palette and vaseline lips tin
urban decay naked 2 palette
thug kitchen book and matryoshka measuring cups

I think my family know I’m a bit of a fan of Lush, judging by this pile of treats big enough to sink a small ship. Among them was the Rosie and Happy Daze gift sets with a multitude of amazing treats including my favourite Rose Jam shower gel, a Pop in the Bath, Hot Toddy shower gel and amazingly glittery Space Girl bath ballistic. I’d better get bathing if I’ve any chance of using these beauties up before my birthday!

I usually get a few awesome books for Christmas, and this year was no exception. As well as an interesting title – “We Are All Weird” – I got a book by hero history lady Ruth Goodman on how to be a Victorian, as we all know I was born in the wrong time period. I also got some new pens for doodling, as I hope to do some more illustration type things this year!

I know I’m a little behind the times, but in my stocking this year is the one item which is a must have for any bona fide beauty bloggers – the Urban Decay Naked 2 palette. To be honest, my want for this palette has simply stemmed from my being incredibly lazy, and having a multitude of go-to shades in one handy place seemed ideal for me. The colours range from light to dark, matte to shimmery, and they’re all beautiful. I’ll need to have a bit of practice with some YouTube videos but I’ll let you know how I get on. My sister also got me this Vaseline set, which comes in the most amazing tin!

Last but certainly not least is a cookbook I’ve had my eye on for ages. I’ve been following Thug Kitchen for about a year on their Facebook page and have always had a little chuckle at their sweary yet delicious looking recipes. Finally they have brought out a cookbook, like a vegan hipster bible, packed to the brim with awesome photos, amazing recipes and plenty of the f-word. I was even given these adorable little Russian doll measuring cups in order to make sense of the baffling American quantities inside. I’m going to be eating well this year.

What did you guys get for Christmas? Let me know!

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How to Avoid Boredom on Train Journeys

How to Beat Boredom on Trains

Ah, Christmas. As well as all the festive tidings and heaps of presents, for people of my age group there is the inevitable Christmas Eve dash home to the parents, for a week of stuffing your face with cheese, cake and Pringles which you didn’t pay for. Woo, mid twenties!

Sadly, though, for me and Tom this year it’s slightly complicated. Our car took a turn for the worst a couple of weeks ago and we are just a bit too poor from buying all those Christmas presents to fix it, so this year it’s going to have to be a mad dash on a train. As much as I love getting the train in normal circumstances, I am preparing myself for the worst on Christmas Eve, and so have compiled this handy go-to guide to keep you from boredom and/or madness on the journey home.

Beat Boredom on Trains - pack a rucksack

Pack a knapsack filled with things to prevent you losing your mind and take you away to your own happy place – a notebook for writing things or potential blog ideas, a sketchbook and pens, a mini paint set, play doh… whatever tickles your fancy. Get lost in your own little world and forget everyone else’s festive stress. Alternatively, transport yourself into a Christmas wonderland by making a festive playlist. Ain’t nothing like bopping away, humming along to Jona Lewie and the Pogues to get you in the festive spirit. Make sure you’ve got some snacks in that backpack – you don’t want a sugar slump in a carriage full of people.

How to Beat Boredom on Trains - take a Kindle

The obvious option is of course to read a book. I’m currently still battling through Game of Thrones – it’s not that it’s a bad book, in fact it’s a pretty amazing book, but I’m a really slow reader, and I kind of already know what’s going to happen. If you’ve got the attention span of a child, like myself (hey, don’t worry, it’s nothing to be ashamed of), then another option are short clips and films on some variety of portable device or tablet. My iPad mini is never too far away on a long journey, and he’s served me well over these last couple of years.

Beat Boredom on Trains

An excellent choice for both entertainment and short attention spans are Channel 4’s series of Shorts, available on 4oD. These little bite-sized nuggets of joy are perfect for this kind of situation – being only a few minutes long you can fill your boots on whatever takes your fancy, plus you’re sure to not miss your stop from not paying attention. My personal favourite are the ‘Two Players‘ clips – different faces from the world of gaming and comedy kicking back and playing a video game or two. It’s like Gogglebox, but for gaming nerds. Awesome!

It being the festive season and all – they’ve only gone and made some Christmas Specials! Seriously, if you are a hardcore gamer, an over-the-shoulder player like me, or even if you just want a giggle then check it out. My favourite is from indie game creator Mike Bithell and Charlie McDonell which I’ve posted below – I have no idea what that narwhal game is, but it looks amazing!

[just a word of warning, most of the Two Players clips are definitely NSFW – this one below is a-ok though :)]

Other gems from the Shorts line up also include Taxi Gags, where a series of comedians share their jokes, stories, rants and confessions all in the space of a cab journey, and Craic Addicts, two Irish chaps who found fame on the internet, picking apart the best and worst current cultural phenomenon. As previously mentioned, these clips are all pretty close to the knuckle, but they sure are guaranteed to make you giggle.

I’ll most definitely be charging up my iPad to the max before stepping on any trains this Christmas – I think it’s the only thing guaranteed to make me forget all the commuter stress and put a smile on my face!

{images 1 and 3 via Unsplash}
{this is a sponsored post}

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Gifts for Brothers

Gifts for Boys
Gifts for Boys
Gifts for Boys
Gifts for Boys

Boys are difficult to buy for at Christmas. Luckily I’ve got Tom’s present sorted, but I’ve also got two older brothers, 5 and 7 years my elder, and I seem to find that it’s more and more difficult to buy them something year upon year. I’ve exhausted the list of possible gifts and run out of ideas 🙁

Thankfully, in steps ASOS. Alongside their huge range of awesome fashions for all occasions this festive season, they’ve also got a wealth of stocking fillers, most of which are under a tenner. Bargain! I also happen to be a Premier member, meaning for only £10 a year I get free unlimited next day delivery. Double win!

I was kindly sent these little gems to wrap up and give to my brothers this year. Among them there is a diddly little harmonica (*), a desktop pool set (*), a book of spectacular beards (*), and a little wind up car puzzle (*). I always find that it’s the little gifts that you can play with on Christmas morning that get the most attention, and I reckon this little selection are perfect.

It’s not just the boys they cater for, though. Why don’t you get a little treat for yourself for completing all that Christmas shopping? I love this little moon necklace, or how about some unicorn slippers?!

I really can’t wait for Christmas now, we put our tree up this afternoon, and I’ve nearly finished shopping! Have you?

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Turtle Mat Christmas Jumper Competition

Turtle Mat Christmas Jumper Competition
It was a bit windy on the harbour today. Me hat nearly blew off.
Turtle Mat Christmas Jumper Competition
Turtle Mat Christmas Jumper Competition
Turtle Mat Christmas Jumper Competition

To celebrate the launch of the very festive themed new range of products (hooray!), the lovely folks at Turtle Mat set us crafty bloggers a challenge of creating an eye-catching Christmas jumper with a blank canvas and a budget of £5.

After much head scratching, and some Pinterest trawling, I settled on the idea of a polar bear, and so bought as much white fleece as I could with my little budget, and fashioned this curvy-looking chap on the front of the jumper supplied to me by Turtle Mat. After drawing a vague shape, cutting it out and badly sewing it to the front of my jumper I then took up my trusty embroidery floss to give this guy a nose, eyes, and fill in his teeny tiny little ears a bit.

I’ve never actually owned a Christmas jumper before (I KNOW!), so I’m pretty pleased that my very first one is something that I’ve fashioned myself. Me and my new pal David (Tom decided to call him David for some reason) went for a very blustery walk up and down the harbour this afternoon, and I had to hang on to my hat!

Do you like my creation? What would you do with a blank canvas and a fiver?!

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M&S Christmas

Marks and Spencer Christmas Event Cribbs Causeway
Marks and Spencer Christmas Event Cribbs Causeway
Marks and Spencer Christmas Event Cribbs Causeway
Marks and Spencer Christmas Event Cribbs Causeway
Marks and Spencer Christmas Event Cribbs Causeway
Marks and Spencer Christmas Event Cribbs Causeway
Marks and Spencer Christmas Event Cribbs Causeway
Marks and Spencer Christmas Event Cribbs Causeway
Marks and Spencer Christmas Event Cribbs Causeway
Marks and Spencer Christmas Event Cribbs Causeway
Marks and Spencer Christmas Event Cribbs Causeway
Marks and Spencer Christmas Event Cribbs Causeway

The week before last I was invited along to a special Marks & Spencer Christmas event in Cribbs Causeway – a chance to catch up with some of my favourite bloggers and share a drink whilst scoffing a sausage roll or two!

I think it’s fair to say that Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a bit of ‘magic and sparkle’ from Marks, and they most certainly won’t let you down this year – as well as sampling the absolutely delicious treats they have for the Christmas dinner table it was a chance to catch up with the season’s latest trends… there’s a lot of gold and glitter! There was also a beauty bar where I got my nails painted a very festive shade by Leighton Denny, and Emily had tested out a new shade of lippy.

We were also all entered into a draw, and I was pretty shocked to find my name read out! It was my job to be one of the M&S Christmas fairies, and pick out gifts for a charity of my choice. Enlisting the help of Emily, Lyzi and Megan, we wandered off around M&S to pick out some special toys (including a 1D puzzle, which no Christmas would be complete without) which I then chose to donate to Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal.

All in all it was a very festive evening, and it was so lovely to catch up with blog friends, and meet new ones too. Thanks to Marks and Spencer’s for such a lovely event, and for letting me be a fairy for the evening!