Archive for the ‘Seasonal’ Category

Perfect present wrapping for Christmas

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

The countdown to the big day is well underway, and this year we’re feeling pretty organised with our present buying. There’s still one hurdle to overcome, though; all our lovely presents still need wrapping. We’ve been looking at techniques, ribbons and wrapping paper to give our gifts the presentation they deserve.

We think there are three main ways to go this Christmas with the wrapping – gorgeous, individual quirky paper and a plain ribbon (or no ribbon at all, just a tag), plain paper and some special ribbon, or the foolproof gift bag or box. Here’s our pick of perfect present packaging:

Wrapping paper

This festive wordsearch wrapping paper almost counts as an extra present, and might have a chance of keeping junior members of the party occupied until the Queen’s Speech. Available from The Letteroom, priced at £2.50.

This candy stripe paper is so versatile – accessorise it with a plain fabric ribbon for a sophisticated gift, or go over the top with sprigs of real holly or sparkly tinsel string. Available from Berry Red, priced at £1.50.


Real fabric ribbon always looks more stylish than plastic parcel ties, and The Contemporary Home have some beautiful designs this year, all £4 for three metres. We love this printed ‘Merry Christmas’ ribbon - use it with plain wrapping paper or even brown paper for an understated effect.

Alternatively, how about this retro Nordic-inspired paper ‘ribbon’, just £1.99 for 10 metres from My Gift Tree? With the judicious application of a bit of sticky tape, you could also use it to make old-fashioned paper chains.

Gift Tags

Tags are essential if you’re giving lots of presents wrapped in the same paper – you may think you’ll be able to remember which is which, but someone will definitely end up getting the wrong thing!

We love this beautiful robin tag from Sophie Allport, £3 for six – the cheeky robin on it looks like he’s got something on his mind!

Alternatively, these traditional-style tags by East of India are simple and charming. £3.99 for six from Mollie and Fred.

Gift bags and boxes

If you really can’t face wrapping your presents or have simply run out of time, gift bags and boxes are always a useful standby. It’s worth having a few on hand anyway, to deal with any oddly-shaped or fragile presents on the list.

These cute house-shaped gift boxes are perfect for small pressies such as soap or homemade biscuits, and also make great table place markers. They’re also small and light enough to be hung on the tree, tied with a ribbon loop and filled with chocolates. £2.75 each, from Hunkydory Home.

These little knitted gift bags are a bit unusual, and would be perfect for small delicate items such as jewellery, or as table favours. £3.75 each, from My Gift Tree.

Wrapping tips

To get a professional-looking finish on your parcels, use as little wrapping paper as possible, as chunky folded-over edges look bulky and untidy. Overlap the paper by no more than an inch or so, and trim off any excess. Use as little sticky tape as you can get away with, and for a really neat finish use double-sided sticky tape inside the paper itself.

Use a length of ribbon to cover the long seam of the paper, and tie it in a knot on top of the parcel. If you’re using an extra decoration such as a dried flower or sprig of fresh holly, lay it across the ribbon knot and tie a bow to secure it in place. Add a gift tag or name label to finish.


Decorate your windows with winter themed seasonal window stickers

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Winter Christmas window decoration

Are you decorating your windows for Christmas?

All these window stickers are available from Cox and Cox and will help evoke a seasonal and wintery theme in your home.

You can’t go wrong with snowflake stickers. They’re easily removable and can be used again. A pack of 13 costs £5.50.

We particularly love the look and design of the midwinter street stickers, which allow you to create a snowy scene on your windows. You get four reusable stickers and can cut them to size. They’re £9.50.

Or opt to have leaping deer on your windows, for just £5.50 per set.

Frosted effect light up twig Christmas trees

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Contemporary modern indoor twig xmas tree

Following on from the outdoor twig Christmas trees we recently featured, here are some indoor trees that look effective too.

The modern twig trees are available in two sizes – the small one looks really sweet and ideal for the centrepiece on a table or windowsill – and the branches are dusted with a light frosted effect. They’re pre-lit too (mains powered) and the branches can be gently bent to the shape you require.

Adorn them with a few Christmas decorations or leave the branches bare for a more natural effect.

The frosted light up trees are from Cox and Cox and are priced from £40.

Outdoor contemporary twig style Christmas trees

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Snowy paper prelit xmas tree

Over the last few years we’ve been loving the contemporary twig style Christmas trees that have been available. They’re sleek, stylish and more minimal than a traditional bushy fir tree and a good option for contemporary and modern homes.

Lots of the twig Christmas trees are designed to be used indoors only, but if you fancy having this style of tree in your garden, on your patio or lighting up the entrance to your home, there are some lovely outdoor versions available too.

They’re a good alternative if you can’t bear to not have a traditional tree indoors, but love the style of these. Get the best of both worlds by having one of these outside your home! Being artificial they also have the bonus of longevity and should last longer than one season (assuming they aren’t subject to bad weather!).

Here’s a selection of some of the best outdoor Christmas twig trees currently available.

Pre-lit multi-function snowy outdoor paper tree

Outdoor lit snowy paper twig tree

John Lewis have a pre-lit multi function snowy paper tree available in several sizes. The 6.5ft tree is fitted with 144 soft white LED lights which you can have in static or flashing modes. It’s priced at £85.

Snow white xmas twig tree garden decoration

The smaller 4ft version of the snowy paper tree has 48 white LED lights and the same snow dusted branches. It’s £50.

White outdoor pre-lit paper tree

Contemporary xmas garden tree lights

If you’d prefer your tree looking like it’s caked in snow or frost, then there’s the white outdoor pre-lit paper tree. The 6.5ft version has 120 soft LED lights and is £95.

Snowy paper tree garden light decorations

Again, the outdoor pre-lit paper tree is available in a 4ft version, with 48 lights. It’s £60.

Prelit white outdoor blossom Christmas tree

Xmas blossom tree light

If you’ve got space for a 7ft tree, then the prelit outdoor blossom Christmas tree is a beauty. Designed like a tree filled with spring blossom, the twig tree is adorned with 600 LED bulbs in removable petals. The tree comes in two parts and is easy to put together. This one is £150.

A slightly different design, 5ft in height and with 200 lights, is available for £80.

Pre-lit coloured Christmas blossom tree

Best contemporary twig Christmas trees Contemporary twig xmas blossom tree

If you’d like an outdoor twig tree to emit a bit of colour, then the blossom Christmas tree is also available in pink and blue. The pink evokes feelings of spring blossom, whilst the blue looks suitably icy for a winter wonderland.

The 7ft trees each have 600 LED lights and are £150 each.

Osaka cherry twig Christmas tree

Contemporary Christmas garden lights

The premier Osaka cherry blossom tree will light up your garden with its 400 LED lights. The twig tree is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use and measures 215cm. This was £250 at House of Fraser, but is now reduced to £175.

If this one is a bit big or out of budget, then a smaller 150cm version of the Osaka cherry tree, with 200 lights, is available for £63 (was £90).

Snow dusted twig tree

Contemporary Christmas garden decorations

The premier snow dusted twig tree comes with 40 white LED lights and 101cm in height. It also has a little birds nest added in. It’s designed for sheltered outdoor use only, such as on a front porch. It was £75, but is currently reduced to £52.50.

Pre lit outdoor blossom twig tree

Outdoor Christmas twig tree light decorations

Very have an outdoor pre-lit blossom twig tree available. It’s got 200 white LED lights on its leaf-free branches and it measures 1.5m in height. This tree was £59, but is currently reduced to £35.

Five reasons to buy a contemporary twig Christmas tree

If you’re still debating whether or not to buy an outdoor twig Christmas tree, then here are five reasons why they can be a good buy.

1. Multifunction. Although these trees are designed for outdoor use, there’s no reason why you can’t use them inside sometimes too. So you get better value for money than decorations that are bulky and only suitable for using outside.

2. Design. A lot of the twig trees are beautifully designed with a lovely natural look to them, so they blend in well with your outside space.

3. Ease of use. If you want to add some form of seasonal lighting to your garden, but hate having to faff around with hanging lights or other decorations, then a pre-lit tree is an easy option. Just put it together, plug it in and, voila, there’s a lovely lit tree in your garden.

4. Alternative. The twig style Christmas trees are a nice alternative to a traditional, green fir tree style xmas tree. If you’re looking for a contemporary or modern option, then this form of tree fits the bill.

5. Year round use. The blossom style trees look so good that you could easily use them all year round at home or at special events. For example, as a garden lighting feature at a barbecue, or to help decorate a wedding or party venue.

Contemporary maypole tube design outdoor Christmas tree light

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Contemporary outdoor Christmas light decorations

If you’re looking to light up or decorate outside your home this Christmas, then here’s a rather nice tree light idea.

The contemporary style maypole tube Christmas tree is 6ft high and simply consists of an array of white LED lights which look brilliant lit up on a dark night.

There’s no fiddly light stringing to do (we hate that bit!) – just put the tree together, plug it in, switch it on, and hey presto, you’ll have a bright white sparkling Christmas tree in your garden. It’s even got a star on top.

For an instant and attractive garden decoration, we think this is a simple, but lovely idea.  The maypole tube tree is from John Lewis.

Christmas home decorations: Life size polar bear

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Polar bear Christmas home decor

Christmas decorations come in all shapes and sizes, and this is definitely one of the larger options.

If you’ve yearned to decorate your home with a life size polar bear, Selfridges can help your dream come true…

As part of their Christmas range, they’re selling a realistic standing polar bear, with a faux fur effect, so you can transform your home into your own winter wonderland.

And if one’s not enough, there’s a polar bear cub available too.

Winter wonderland christmas home decorations

Of course, neither polar bears are cheap.  You’ll need a spare £1599 for the standing polar bear and £559 for the cub….gulp. We suspect they won’t be making an appearance in our home this year.

Top 10 ideas for a stylish Bonfire Night party

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

A Bonfire Night party doesn’t have to revolve around charred baked potatoes, burnt sausages and discomfort – here are our top 10 picks for creating a November 5th celebration with a little flair.

1. Honey Tree: Personalised invitations

Let everyone know from the start that this is going to be a party with a difference. These stunning invitations are printed on high quality card and can be personalised with your choice of illustration, wording and font. Prices start at £1.95 per card from, minimum order eight cards.

2. Hunkydory Home: Bangers and mash cushion

This cushion makes us smile, with its bold, unequivocal declaration of love for British food. It’s perfect for giving your sitting room a bonfire night feel once the cold air has chased your guests indoors. Designed by Liz Foster and available from, priced at £52.

3. Baker and Bell: Dutch oven

If you want your bonfire night fare to have that authentic outdoor flavour, what about this cast iron Dutch oven from glamping specialists Baker and Bell? You can use it directly on the fire, or suspend it with a tripod and chain. Priced at £82 for the oven and £37 for the tripod, it’s sure to see plenty of use after November 5th as well.

4. Alexander & Pearl: Metal stacking stool

The secret to a great party is making sure there are enough seats to go round! Solve a temporary seating crisis with these stylish metal stacking stools – they’re sturdy and waterproof for outdoor use, and when you’ve finished with them they can be stacked neatly away. £60 each from Alexander & Pearl.

5. Prezzybox: Mulled wine warmer

Combat the British weather on November 5th with this mulled wine warmer. Handing freezing guests a mugful on arrival will help any party get off to a good start, and the tealight under the stoneware jar will keep any remaining contents hot until required. Available from Prezzybox, priced £27.95

6. Broste: Danish handleless mugs

These handleless mugs are a Scandinavian design, created in Denmark. They’re specially designed so that you can wrap your hands round them and warm yourself up, so they’re perfect for serving mulled wine. Available from Very Nice Things, £4.50 each.

7. Just Slate: Blackstone platter

Made from natural materials, this stylish platter is the perfect way to hand round your party food, from baked potatoes to parkin. Complete with servers, it’s priced at £60 from Just Slate, Britain’s largest slate homeware producer.

8. Tinderbox: Baker and Bell

We’re really excited about this tinderbox, which is the stuff of fairy tales. So much more stylish than a box of matches, the kit contains everything you need to light your bonfire including a steel and flintstone. Do practice with it before November 5th, though, as striking the spark takes a little practice! Priced at £29 from Baker and Bell.

9. Annabel James: Picnic Blanket

This ‘kissing stags’ picnic blanket, with its striking modern design, is extremely versatile with its waterproof backing. Use it for table protection, as an extra impromptu seating area or just to wrap round yourself for extra warmth. Available from Annabel James, priced £35.95.

10. Lily and Lime: Lantern

When it’s time for your guests to leave and negotiate a dark garden path, this bargain miners’-style lantern will be invaluable in helping them get to the gate safely. Several lanterns dotted around the garden will also help illuminate eating and seating areas, and add a little extra ambiance. Available in a range of colours, priced at £10 from Lily and Lime.

By Sara Walker



Living Etc designer Christmas bauble charity auction

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Designer charity fundraising baubles Christmas 2012


Fancy a designer bespoke bauble for your Christmas tree? Head over to eBay and bid on one of these gorgeous baubles, which are being auctioned off by Living Etc to raise money for the charity Crisis.

Each of the 12 baubles has been specially designed and there are creations by Jonathan Adler, Clarissa Hulse, Lee Bloom and Rory Dobner, amongst others.

The auctions close at 10am on Wednesday 19th December, so get bidding!


Contemporary alternative cardboard leaf design Christmas wreath

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
Best alternative fresh design home Christmas wreaths

Contemporary leaf wreath

There are some brilliantly designed contemporary Christmas wreaths available and this leaf design one, from The Original Pop Up Shop ticks all our boxes.

The alternative wreath is made from cardboard and features intricately cut pine, maple and oak leaves. There’s a bit of DIY involved, as it arrives flat packed, but you can rest assured that full instructions are provided to help you piece it together.

We like the natural look, but if you’re feeling creative, you could get crafty and add your own colour, glitter or decoupage effect to it.

The cardboard leaf wreath costs £35 and is available from MyDeco (as a bonus, there’s a free postage offer on at the moment).

For more alternative wreath ideas, check out some of the contemporary Christmas wreaths we’ve featured previously.

Contemporary wooden table top Christmas tree

Monday, December 17th, 2012
Contemporary Scandinavian wooden Christmas tree decorations

Wooden bell tree

This cute wooden contemporary Christmas tree is simple yet sophisticated.

We love the pared back wooden tree, which has a slight Scandinavian feel to it, and it’s simply decorated with mini bells in green, white and red.

The wooden tree is designed as a tabletop decoration and it can be flat packed after use, so you can store it away for next year.

For the ultimate in contemporary minimal Christmas decorations, you could get away with just having this out on display, but it would also go well used alongside other Christmas decor.

The wooden bell tree is £18 from John Lewis.

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