christmas presents

Since Christmas is just around the corner, we need to start talking about the big holiday shopping and all the expenses that come with that. Naturally, the most significant money “eater” in this case is gift shopping. I bet you have a lot of people around you that you wish to pamper with excellent gifts, but all that sums up to big spendings after the holiday.

To help you out a bit, and, in fact, reduce spendings radically, I gathered a few very handy tips you are welcome to use! They do work if done right, and so – that guarantees big savings, discounts, and smaller spendings for sure. Don’t believe me? Then read the article bellow and learn it all by yourself!

Shop now

Why wait the last minute before the Christmas Eve if you can shop right now calmly and a lot cheaper too! It might be hard to notice, but some retailers tend to make prices get bigger before the big holidays, rather than lower it. And so you can avoid being robbed by simply shopping now – just about the month before the Christmas. Furthermore, you will be able to enjoy smaller masses of people and get in touch with the salesperson a lot better if you need some help of pieces of advice. 

Shop online

You might be surprised how much you can save if you just simply shop for gifts online. Especially if those gifts don’t need to be checked or touched before being bought – you will inevitably save tons of money because of that! Moreover, online you can use many great services that will help you find the cheapest price on every item there is. Also, there are tons of coupons as well. Just check special coupons websites. With various online coupons, you will save for sure! Combine it with shopping a month before the big holiday and you will save even more! Simple and efficient! 

Get a budget

Of course, every time you wish not to overspend (and I bet that is all the time) you need to have a pretty strict budget! Try to count down how much you are going to spend on every person’s gift and then do everything that it takes to fit into a budget. Coupons, which I mentioned before, might be very handy. Also – plain self-control. But be honest and include everything that you are going to need for presents – even holiday cards, bows, and wrapping paper. This is the only way how you can work effectively with your budget. 

Maybe DIY?

If you are crafty, are a good cook or just like to make things by yourself, consider embracing your hobbies while looking for gifts too. Handmade gifts will be excellent for sure. It will show how much you thought that gift through and how much time you spend doing that as well. If you are not very crafty yet, but wish to be one someday – online is just full of various DIY manual you can watch or read and learn super fast.

Priorities first

And finally, just make some priorities first and then head to a store. Better buy gifts first for those people you care the most about – family members, husband or wife, kids, and just then think if you wish to buy something for the whole office. On the other hand, you can also try to ask people to throw in some money and purchase a group gift for someone. For example, your whole family can buy one great gift for your parents-in-law or cousin’s family. Just get a little bit creative, think outside the box and make priorities. Maybe you won’t need to pamper so many people with small value gifts then you can pamper your closest ones with great presents instead.  

 This post is written in collaboration with Chameleon John.

 

Swig hip flask

The people at SWIG got in touch recently and asked if I’d like to review one of their hip flasks. I clicked on the website to have a look and I was really taken back at how gorgeous they are.

I clicked through the various possibilities and spent quite some time working out which one was my favourite.

Luckily for my younger brother it was birthday time of year and of course he kept popping into my mind as he is quite difficult to buy for and I never know what would really make him smile. I had a feeling that a SWIG hip flask would do just that.

swig hip flask

He is a man who appreciates an object of beauty, one that has good design and attention to detail. He is also a practical person and a hip flask would fit very nicely indeed in his life, for music festivals, weekends away and many other occasions where it is fun to take a swig of your chosen tipple out with you.

When the package arrived I opened it and knew immediately that he would appreciate it. Presented beautifully in a black box with red ribbon, it can’t fail to please.

swig hip flask

I love surprising people, don’t you? When we were in London to celebrate my niece’s 16th birthday early August, I passed over my gift and apologised he’d had to wait so long for his present. I watched as he opened and could see that he really liked it.

For once I got something for him without asking if he ‘needed’ anything. You see nobody needs a hip flask but once you’ve got one it’s like you always had one.

swig hip flask

I asked him a few hip flask questions

What’s the best occasion to use a hip flask?

I am going to use it to take a drop of the good stuff up to the boat. The size is perfect for a weekend break. Instead of lugging a heavy 0.75 lt glass bottle. I’m always trying to lighten the load we carry.

What’s your favourite tipple to fill your SWIG?

I think I might christen it with a nice nautical rum like Kraken I have just seen a really cool ginger beer as well. Or it would be a malt whisky like Dalwhinnie.

Who would you buy one for?

I think all guys like a hip flask so any of my mates.

Disclosure: I received this beautiful SWIG hip flask for the purpose of this post, all opinions are my own – or my brother’s.

Spicers of Hythe

I know, I know you’re expecting posts on West Bay in Dorset and Folgaria in Italy and they will come I promise. What you are not expecting is for me to talk about Christmas as… well it is taboo to mention the word before November. People will frown and tut at me. They will ask me if I have gone mad and the answer is absolutely not.

The very kind people at Spicers, who have been in the grocery business since 1926 when great grandfather Percy opened up his store in Hythe, have sent me a Christmas hamper to review. It arrived in between holidays (that makes me sound so VIP) but hang on in there as I really want to let you know about my hamper because, these guys put them together for all sorts of occasions; birthdays, weddings, get well and every occasion you can think of. Mother’s day, Father’s Day and even Valentine’s Day.

There’s even one that would be perfect for my beer loving husband.

Spicers of Hythe

Price

The beauty is there is a wide price range and a huge selection to choose from, The Belmont for the ‘all singing and dancing hamper’ comes in at £115 whereas the lowest is priced at £15.95.

Interesting fact #1: There are 55 luxury hampers within the specialist Christmas hamper range.

What’s included?

I have just munched my way through a packet of The Dormen chocolate raisins, in the name of reviewing of course and they were delicious stating on the packet ‘perfectly pampered chocolate raisins.’ I’m glad Spicers included these as I haven’t heard of them before.

I have biscuits, fudge, toffee, chocolates, tea and coffee. I have preserves, crisps, wine and a cordial (Belvoir which I adore) I have mulled wine, shortbread and cake and I also have Rhubarb and Custards, which I have not had in years by Monty Bojangles. Try saying that with a Rhubarb and Custard in your mouth!

There is also a very interesting relish by Scarlett & Mustard intriguingly called Auntie Frog’s Lime & Chilli Dressing, ‘A zingy, piquant and aromatic dressing.’ which I am looking forward to trying out.

Interesting fact #2: 3500 pallets can be held in the Spicers warehouse

Spicers of hythe

The packaging

My hamper arrived in a box. A box in a box. A beautiful big, red cardboard box with a printed black and white lid on top depicting vintage scenes of Spicers shop in the olden days. Gorgeous, and much to my husband’s dismay I shan’t be throwing the box out as it’s way too pretty to depart with.

The bottles are carefully wrapped in corrugated cardboard and all of the products are protected from bumps and knocks with lots of those polystyrene bits that shops used to use for their Christmas snow displays.

Interesting fact #3: Santa’s sleigh would need to travel at a speed of 2,340,000 mph to reach every home in the world in one night. Spicer’s have a 24 hour courier service to UK mainland.

Verdict

A big thumbs up from me. I love the choice of products selected as they are all special and unique. I would be very happy to receive any of their hampers as a gift. I love that this is a family business grown internally since 1926.

Disclosure: I have received the above mentioned hamper in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

Visit Santa Broadditch Farm

How many years have we got left of believing that the Big Man is real? I’ve been asking lots of mum’s recently when their children cottoned on as I can’t remember with my older two the exact point that they passed from believer to understander.

Broadditch Farm is where we booked in this year for our annual trip to Santa. We went there a few years back, in the snow and it was the perfect Santa trip. Over the years we have tried others, one was very disappointing, for me and dad – long queues, short time with Santa, expensive photo and shuffled through a trail that left dad and I a bit slump shouldered, even the gift was cheap.

When that happens you feel like you’ve lost an experience that you can’t get back.

bessie

It has to please mum and dad more than the kids, that is my answer. If the parents come away thinking it was brilliant, it was.

Broadditch Farm Visit Santa

Visit Santa Broadditch Farm Southfleet Kent

We arrived at Broadditch Farm in good time for our 2.30 appointment and made our way to the reception tent. Lots of other visitors were already there but the elves were taking very good care of the young and old. There was a table with lots of different pictures to colour in to take to Santa which helped distract the younger members whilst we waited our turn.

Santa tractor Broadditch farm

Silly Billy Bunting arrived with his tractor and trailer all decked out with tinsel to take us on a journey to meet Santa. We all climbed on and sat down on the benches very excited to be on our way and the coloured in pictures in mummy’s handbag.

Broadditch farm elves

Sparky and Tinsel the elves accompanied us and we sang, When Santa got stuck up the chimney and Jingle Bells as we made our way to Santa’s lodge in the woods.

Broadditch Farm visit Santa

We arrived to a fabulously lit up area that took our breath away. Lights, animals, Christmas tree cutting areas and an elves crossing led us to Santa’s lodge. Once there we stood outside and the elves told us Santa was sleeping so we had to shout loud to wake him up and get him to let us in.

Santa selfies

Santa was very pleased to show us some selfies taken with him, including the Queen herself! He said people are always asking to have a photo with him but he was very good and told us he doesn’t charge like some others do ;) We saw photos of him with Clint Eastwood, David Beckham, even the Grinch!

broadditch farm Santa grotto

He then read us a story about his elves and the trouble he had finding helpers before deciding on elves. All of the children were gripped. He then stood up and said he would allow the children ONE present now, any others would be delivered on Christmas Eve.

The Elves handed out the gifts according to age and each child walked with a massive smile out of the hut towards Silly Billy Bunting with his special tinsel tractor. We sang ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas,’ to Santa before departure and he danced for us! I must admit his dancing was a bit odd and lots of the children thought he was hilarious.

Twins christmas 2014

At the last part of our return journey Silly Billy Bunting had to reverse his tractor so it would be in the right position for the next visitors but his ‘beep beep’ was broken so the elves asked us all to beep for him. Great fun!

Verdict – LOVED it. The best Santa we have been too so far. I will most definitely be booking up this one again for next year.

The gift was a Maze Ball for children over 7, the next gift down was 3 – 5 and I thought it might be too young for the twins so I put them down as 7 year olds. We allowed them to open it  and it kept them amused for ages. Even dad asked to have a go. Top quality gift that will provide amusement for years not just a moment.

Maze ball

Cost

Children £10 (worth it considering the gift and experience)

Adults £6 – worth every penny, I was a child again for a moment.

I didn’t see any unhappy faces.

Tips

Dress up warm as both times we have been it has been cold – last time there was snow!

Arrive early so the children can colour in a picture to take to Santa

Other Visit Santa trips include

Millbrook Garden Centre – needs writing up oops!

Shorne Country park

Bluewater

mini christmas pudding trifles

What to do with all the remnants of the year’s biggest feast?

Well the classic Turkey and ham pie goes down a treat and is always welcome on a cold January night, plus it’s freezable.

Any cheese leftover will make a very tasty Cheeseboard quiche always a favourite of mine which is good for lunch or dinner. And if there is any Christmas Pudding leftover, then these mini trifles are delicious, look good and are suitable for the whole family.

christmas pudding leftovers

They take minutes to make and can be kept in the freezer, plus they’ll use up any custard, brandy sauce and cream you have lying around too.

The Handpicked Collection invited me to browse their site and choose a couple of items to review. I fell in love with these gorgeous glasses and teaspoons and decided to use them for my mini Christmas pudding trifles.

handpicked collection

Important to remember is this is quite a filling pudding as it is rich so the smaller you make it the more likely it will be eaten.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Mini Christmas pudding trifles - leftovers!
 
Prep time
Total time
 
How to use the leftover Christmas pudding in a stylish and delicious way
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Ingredients
  • Leftover Christmas pudding broken into crumbs
  • Custard
  • Whipped cream (I used a canister of spray cream)
  • Sprinkles if desired
Instructions
  1. Fill a third of a small glass with the broken bits of Christmas pudding.
  2. Top with a good layer of custard
  3. Complete with a squirt of cream and chill in the fridge or serve immediately.
 

Disclosure: Handpicked Collection sent me the mentioned items for the purpose of this post. A word of warning – the glasses are NOT dishwasher proof, all of the beautiful colours came off :(