Styling Your Christmas Post Brexit
So, it's been a bit of a shocker of a week. As if Brexit hadn't been traumatic enough, our American friends have a new leader so unlikely, he was spoof predicted by The Simpsons. Am considering emigrating but apparently all flights to Australia from both Britain and the USA are fully booked. Dammit. But hold on! We've forgotten that amongst all the political malarky, there is a shining beam of light on the horizon. It's only 41 days until Christmas 2016.
If you are one of those people who don't like discussing the 25th December until the 24th, I apologise in advance. For me, come the 1st December, it's out with my kitten wearing a Santa hat jumper and it's festivity all the way. We take it seriously in our house. Leading up to Christmas, Saturday night is party food night and we buy, taste and critique one supermarkets offerings per week, starting with Iceland and finishing with Waitrose. By the time the big day comes, we've eaten our entire body weight in filo prawns and mini quiches and could give you an in-depth composition of a duck spring roll.
The first weekend in December, we head off to the tree yard to choose the tree, even though that means it will be dead by Christmas Day. We're not bothered. In my opinion, the run up to Christmas is FAR more fun than the actual event which is spent in a frenetic, stressed state of sprout boiling for a small country, steaming a Christmas pudding for hours despite nobody eating it and throwing away presents by accident whilst collecting wrapping paper. Fuelled, of course, by starting on the Prosecco at breakfast which means a hangover by four.
So what I'm going to do is list some handy tips to make your Christmas month run a little smoother when it comes to, what I would call, the 'administrative tasks'. And how to do it as economically as possible. Obvs.
Deck The Walls
I am presuming that most of you have tree decorations that you have collected over the years and just add to them. More than once I have mentioned to Joe that I'd like to buy a full set of new decorations for the tree but that always ends in an argument about excessive expenditure for the hell of it. So concentrate on the rest of the decor. Plan your colour scheme in November. Decide on your colours and head to eBay. I have already bought 40 paper tassels, 40 pom poms, 24 honeycombs and eight paper lanterns for the totally bargain price of £38 all in. It used to be that you had to wait six months for them to arrive from China but some clever eBayers have set up shops in the UK importing, so they are with you within a few days. Banners, for me, are also a Christmas winner and, quite frankly, can be used all year round. I have a Pop Fizz Clink gold banner in my dining room that hasn't come down since I put it up last year. Etsy is the place for these - lots of the sellers can do custom orders too.
Home Bargains also have their decorations in from October and it's worth checking them out. They have wooden Christmas signs ranging from £1.99 to £3.99 and they look far more expensive than they actually are. Lighting wise - fairy lights, marquee lighting - they are also onit like a car bonnet and it's good to get in early before they sell out. Currently they have a wire fairy light wall mounted stag head for £12.99.
Forage In The Foliage
My friend Pandora has already booked in a wreath making night where we all bring foliage to create our own. This is not an excuse to eat Christmas canapés and drink copious amounts of wine IN ANY WAY. I'm also sending Joe out this weekend to the woods. Not to lose him in a Blair Witch Project kind of way (although obvs that is tempting) but to have him find me a couple of long branches from which I can hang paper decorations. Handy way to attach said branch to wall if you have picture rails: buy some of those over the picture rail hooks, attach twine either end of branch and tie to hook. Simples.
Get Wrapping Honey G Style
I am not a great fan of traditional Christmas wrapping paper. Good quality that doesn't rip is bloody expensive. TBH, I enjoy wrapping the presents and getting creative even more than I like giving them. Once I printed musical note sheets from the internet and wrapped small presents in these. True story. You can imagine Joe's reaction to this. Brown paper is my go to at all times - again, on eBay you can buy an absolutely huge roll that will see you all the way through Christmas. In the past I've decorated with metallic stars bought from The Range, rubber stamps and gold pen to decorate the parcels. The Christmas stamps are a good investment as you can use them year after year. This year I've bought three rolls of wallpaper from B&Q in the sale reduced to £3 each - they are all really thin papers and perfect for wrapping, plus you can use them year round. At the moment they've got Arthouse rainforest wallpaper reduced to £1. Seriously. In previous years, I've stuck paper doilies to wrapped parcels by sliding them under the twine. Excessive? Possibly. Let's just say I like wrapping parcels.
Tie It Up, Baby
One thing I do invest in at Christmas is decent sellotape. I have a slight obsession with patterned tape and have always bought it from Pearl & Earl. I like the effect of it against the brown paper and I love a mix of pattern so it works both ways. It's never a good buy getting cheap sellotape as there is nothing worse than seeing your packages coming undone when the heating is on. Added to the fact that Buddy goes ballistic when he sees the tree, so if the presents survive until the big day it's a bloody miracle anyway. All wrapped packages need twine or ribbon so for this I head to eBay. Bakers twine comes in loads of different colours to match whatever scheme you choose and looks cool too. Jute twine is another winner. eBay has a huge selection of grosgrain ribbon which is more expensive but looks fab on small presents. Homesense have also gone all out as usual and have loads in stock.
Labels Of Love
This is one of my favourite parts of Christmas. A few years ago I found photographs (whipped from Facebook) of my gift recipients, cropped them to Instagram squares so they could be used as gift tags and printed them off on the printer at home. They looked totes amazeballs although annoyingly, it prompted much discussion amongst family as to how, as a freelancer, I had found the time to do it when I should have been working. How rude. Paper luggage tags are also a winner, you can buy them in various sizes and use stamps or gold pen to decorate. Last year I bought white feathers and tied them to the gift tag. I think I need to start an Present Wrappers Anonymous group. If you can't be arsed to be crafty, Homesense have an amazing range of tags by the French brand Merci which totally covers this.
The Joy Of Giving. Or Sending By E Mail
I am absolutely shit at sending Christmas cards. For the last two years, I haven't sent any apart from to our mums and that was only under duress. E mail and Facebook Messenger are my homeboys. I design my own online and send it out that way. Individually, because there's nothing worse than being on a group chat for a Christmas card when your phone just pings constantly with complete strangers wishing you Happy Christmas. Now, I have a very handy hint for doing this at no cost to yourself whatsoever. There is an American online card company that has designer cards which, if you are on your iPad, you can customise for your own. And then screenshot. And crop. And save. I'm not sure it's legal. Enough said.
So here's a few links that may help you on your way to making your Christmas calm, creative yet budget friendly.
Honeycomb Decorations: eBay seller fendi-flowers
Tissue Paper Pom Poms: eBay seller beckyonline13
Paper Lanterns: eBay seller beckyonline13
Paper Tassels: eBay seller kangshen.lin
Brown Kraft Paper: eBay seller globe_packaging
Christmas Rubber Stamps: Not On The High Street
Brown Luggage Tags: eBay seller shoplocker
Coloured Bakers Twine: eBay seller frenchmanscreek
And finally, the absolutely BEST way of getting totally prepared for the big day is to read my Christmas Gift List. Next week on my blog I will be showing you my Top 30 Christmas Gifts for £30 and under, all purchased online from the best and most beautiful independent Instagram stores. Why struggle through the sleet, wind and rain after work when you could be sitting on your sofa in front of the fire doing your Christmas shopping with a large glass of red? You can't get more Hygge than that. Perfect. And you'll be buying from UK based, small independents rather than the High Street big guns which, in our post Brexit and Trump economy, is a VERY positive way forward.