Christmas Holiday family traditions

christmas decorations

The reserve fridge in the garage has been switched on… I repeat… the reserve fridge in the garage is now on.

This can only mean one thing in our house, it’s Christmas and we shall be entertaining the troops – hence the switching on of the other fridge. My husband gets stupidly excited about this as he fills the shelves up with bottles of different beers, wine, champagne and of course food. He is a meat lover and I often find him slipping out to the garage with one excuse or another, simply to take a look at his festive bounty.

I guess, you could call this one of our family traditions. Having the larger house we are able to put family up and this year both of my brothers are coming to join us with their families; that’ll be a total of 10 on Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve

Twins christmas 2014
When they really did believe in Santa

They all arrive on Christmas Eve – one brother and his partner are taking care of Christmas Eve dinner – and there is a long list of cocktails and festive ‘must haves’ including a brand new Mincepietini (I think that’s what it’s called?)

The evening will be spent playing games and drinking alcohol. Our village scout group have a traditional Father Christmas parade that works its way around the streets and we’ll all pop out to wave him on as he passes by.

The girls asked earlier this month for the truth about Santa, I wrote the letter I found on Pinterest years ago and they were very happy to know the truth and be treated like ‘grown ups‘. It hasn’t ruined any fun, actually, it’s made life easier as I can now wrap whilst they are still awake but not allowed in the room.

first christmas - kids
The twin’s first Christmas 2008

Will they still let me put the plate out for Santa though? And the carrot for Rudolf…

Bedtime this year will change. I used to hurry them into bed so I could finish my wrapping but this year they’ll stay up a bit longer. I had a go at the Happy Beds Christmas Wake Up Calculator it predicts the twins will wake up at 7.15am. I’ll take that!

Christmas Morning

They will be sleeping in our room this year as the family are staying over so wake up will mean opening the stockings in our bed. Baxter will be allowed on the bed for the occasion too. Happy Beds have officially claimed that children will wake up at 6.44am, I am hoping we get to sleep a little bit longer to be honest but you know how it is, the moment the eyes open, that’s it.

There will be lots of paper to pick up, lots of oohs and aahs as they get to each gift. It’s best for me if they open the same gifts together so surprises aren’t ruined but inevitably one is faster than the other.

Then, of course, they will want to se the tree and open the BIG presents so we’ll trundle off downstairs in our pyjamas and with fresh tea to hand, the opening ceremony will begin.

Christmas day 2012
Gosh – Christmas 2012!

I get a bit OCD at this point. I will have black sacks to the ready and will spend more time catching everyone’s trash than concentrating on my own gifts!

Whilst the family take it in turn to shower, Bloody Mary’s will be served. This for me is one of my personal highlights. I LOVE Bloody Mary’s.

Lunch is a long traditional meal at my beautifully laid table and then there’s the clearing up.

Christmas table

The afternoon will be a mix of playing family games – I’m so excited as I’ve bought Boom Ball for us to play this year and it looks hilarious! Then someone will start getting out cheeses and pates ‘in case anyone is feeling peckish’. No one is but I bet we all tuck in regardless.

It will be a late night but the twins can catch up on sleep another time. I shall rejoice in having my family around me and sharing – the most wonderful time of the year with them.

Have a wonderful Christmas all,

Mari xxx

Top Tips for budgeting at Christmas

budgeting for christmas
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Only a matter of days until Christmas is here and, I don’t know about you but, I keep on remembering small things I have forgotten so off I go to get them or add them to my Christmas delivery order. The original Christmas delivery order started off at around £60 and has since doubled! I find the excuse that ‘It’s Christmas‘ gets thoroughly stretched and distorted and all manner of items make their way into my basket.

I have up until midnight tonight to sort it out and eliminate all odds and ends that I don’t necessarily need! I’m sure my christmas table will be as laden as ever – just more thoughtfully this year.

Gifts – that’s another shady area to keep an eye on. I start with a short list of my nearest and dearest. I vow to stick to it and not waver but as I trundle around shops, malls and supermarkets my eyes are caught by shining offers and incredible ideas – I know so-and-so would love that! Boom, it’s in the basket and the cash is flowing out of my purse faster than the Niagara falls in the springtime.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Will I ever learn?

Yes, I did! I made myself learn this year. A bit of willpower and common sense has seen a much tighter control on my purse strings but all helped along by a plan and a wonderful list…I do love a list. I share my top tips for budgeting at Christmas with you and if it’s too late for this year then take a look further down the post for some more excellent advice on how to get out of debt.

Top tips for Christmas budgeting

Make a gift list

…and stick to it! I started back in November, I wrote down everyone who we normally buy for and budgeted for each person, including ideas of gifts I know they’ll be pleased to receive. My list included all family members, teacher and TA gifts, Girl Guide leaders (2), Netball club leaders (2)

Along the way, I added a Secret Santa which was set at £10 and a couple of gifts for Guide leaders who hadn’t been accounted for. I also crossed off all non-essential gifts – do we really have to give something to EVERYONE to prove we like them?

Set a spending limit

…and stick to it. Husband and I only give token gifts at Christmas now and set a spending limit of £10ish. For every member of the family set your limit and go and have fun seeking the perfect gift. Do Not Be Tempted to go higher, they won’t love you more for it

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Pay in cash – no credit card

I have set aside a small amount of money each month to cover stocking fillers and husband has done the same too. This is worth remembering in January. Set up a savings account for this purpose, with as little as £25 a month going in you’ll have a nice £300 to spend which goes a long way when it comes to carefully budgeted gifts.

If you are sensible and stick to your plan, you’ll get through Christmas without creating massive debts to ruin the new year.

Hunt for bargains

This is also an area which needs forward planning but can shave off pounds here and there that go to helping you stick to your budget. The first sales to consider are September sales when Argos does a special toy sale. Find out when the big supermarkets do there special offers and of course pencil in Black Friday – we got quite a few bargains that weekend. All pound stores are heaving with great ideas for stocking fillers and keep an eye out in every store you visit for any sales, end of line discounts and so on that can help out with your gifting.

Don’t go crazy!

Sometimes I feel, we get dragged into a social world where everyone else is doing so much more and giving their loved ones everything on the list but is that truly the most sensible thing to do? Are we creating materialistic monsters. Do my Instagram photos have to make me look like I’m a billionaire or rather a happy family who has enjoyed the thinking and giving of small gifts.

Debt helpline

It’s all very well for me to sit here and chat about budgeting at Christmas time but I did learn the hard way and so I share my tips with you because they worked for me. If you did get yourself into debt this year, first of all jot down all the tips for next year and start budgeting ahead. You’ll thank me for it come December next year.

Secondly, be aware that there are places where you can get advice and help if you are in debt. Creditfix is one of those places who offer advice on handling personal debt and getting out of trouble in the quickest and easiest manner.

This is a collaborative post but the tips are mine and they do work!

Laying the table for the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Christmas table

What an autumn this one has been! I haven’t stopped to take a breath  (not even over half term) and now I am begging for the winter break to hurry up so I can put my feet up, catch my breath and make plans for 2019. Is anyone else feeling the same way?

I’ve talked before about cooking Christmas dinner and about which wines to choose for Christmas in fact, I have a whole category labelled Christmas with all of my favourite things in there but today I am concentrating on how to make my table look wonderful.

Being a Wayfair Home Expert means I get to stay up to date on all of their fabulous products (and there are tons of them!) One of my favourite posts was the bedroom wall art and I still really enjoy this corner of my home. Wayfair was recently looking to peek inside blogger’s houses and see what preparations they made for Christmas. I replied that for me, my dining table takes centre stage and enjoying good food and wines with my family.

table food stand

There will be 12 of us this year on Christmas day, both of my brothers with their crew are joining us and it’s always a day filled with love and laughter. The brothers are excellent chefs and everyone in the family has grown up appreciating good food and learning to cook it. This year will be no exception. Everyone will be bringing some of their favourite products to the table and our eating starts on Christmas Eve and goes through to Boxing Day breakfast, that is a lot of eating!

I mentioned this in my email to Wayfair and they were curious to see what I would come up with to make this feast as enjoyable and memorable as past years have been.

They gave me a budget of £75 and I started to browse their shelves.

My first choice was for a new white tablecloth as my old ones are looking tired and the stains are refusing to budge – there are only so many things you can place on a table to disguise them! I was delighted to find this option and in different sizes too.  I went for the longest as my table extends to seat 12 people. It’s perfect and although you can’t see from the above photos (as I prepared the table for 6) it really will look the business on the day. Total cost £23.16

My second choice was for a tiered food stand. It’s a wooden frame with two removable slate shelves to place your food on and we have already had so much fun with it. We had a girl’s night in and filled it to overflowing with sweet treats for pudding, it was the perfect choice for two mums and their three daughters, chatting and eating sugary delights. I

In my Christmas photo, I dressed the stand with antipasti and I am planning all sorts of uses for my new centrepiece. Cheeseboard, condiments, more puddings and even a sushi evening! One other thing to mention is how easy it is to clean, just a quick wipe over with soapy water and air dry – Ii’s already ready for its next outing. £23.99

wayfair pot holder

My final choice was for a rather lovely pot holder. The shape caught my eye and the good quality of the wood. It will be the proud holder of the turkey on the day. £23.99

What do you think? Which product do you like best? Here’s wishing you the most wonderful Christmas this year.

Simple Things to Make For a Memorable Christmas

christmas decorations

It may feel like autumn has only just arrived, but before we know it winter will be knocking at the door, bringing chilly nights, cosy coats, and – of course – Christmas. It’s never too early to start planning ahead on how to make the most of the festive season. Especially when you’ve got the little ones to think about. It’s a truly magical time of year for children, and there’s so much you can do to make it even more memorable for them.

Letters to Santa

This can get your kids beginning to think of what they would like from Santa. Though the chances are they’ll probably have a number of different drafts before November rolls around. If you have a fireplace, you could leave the letters in the grate and tell your kids they’ll magically be delivered to the North Pole overnight. It creates a little bit of spark, rather than getting them to write it down and saying you’ll put it in the postbox.

Festive Baking

festive baking

Getting the kids in the kitchen is a great chance to make some family festive memories. After all, Christmas is known as a time for carbs and indulgent eating. A fun activity, which is so easy to involve the children. You can keep it simple and bake biscuits, and leave plenty of time for decorating them. You could see who can make the best Santa in icing. Or make the biscuit in the shape of a tree and get silver ball bearings. You’ll probably end up enjoying yourself as much as the kids.


christmas lights

Christmas brings so much joy during dark and dreary winter. Homes across the country light up, and everything feels that little bit cosier. So why not get your own home involved with this? You can go beyond the fairy lights on the tree. Cox & Cox offer a fantastic range of both indoor and outdoor light decorations. They’re perfect for bringing a little extra sparkle into your home this festive season. Whether you want to go for strings of stars for the ceiling or a reindeer for the garden, you’ll find a perfect piece.

Homemade Decorations

There are some families who are meticulous when it comes to the tree. There are certain colour schemes, strategic ornament placing and tinsel is a no. It tends to sap the joy from it. You and the kids could spend an afternoon making your own Christmas tree decorations. It could be as simple making a cotton ball snowman or cutting felt into stars. These pieces will soon become treasured traditions – things you’ll hang up on the trees in many years to come and remember the afternoon you’ve spent making them. A Christmas tree should reflect the family of the home that’s it in.

Disclosure: Collaborative post

How to make a Merry Grinchmas door wreath

how the Grinch stole christmas

‘Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more’ 

There is a tiny part of me that completely resonates with the Grinch. Like him, I too raise my eyebrows at people who put their decorations up way too early (the first of December is early enough) and people who seem to buy every single product out there to give their loved ones at Christmas, overkill. In fact, the Grinch is one of my favourite Christmas books and films that I enjoy watching on the run-up to the big day.

This year, The Grinch is celebrating 60 years of being one of literature’s most iconic seasonal characters and Mari’s World has been chosen to be one of the Grinchmas bloggers – an accolade I am incredibly proud of.

Harper Collins has put together a fabulous Grinchmas hub full of wonderful Grinchy ideas and I decided to make a Merry Grinchmas door wreath to add to their pot of Grinchmas fun. Don’t panic as it really is quite simple, you should know by now that if I can do this – then anyone can!

How to make a Merry Grinchmas door wreath

merry grinchmas door wreath

What you’ll need

1 polystyrene ring
Dark green tissue paper
Assorted coloured ribbons
1 large green bauble
Red Felt stars
Light green deco mesh
LED lights
Card for the sign
Red and white pipe cleaners for the candy canes
Box of pins

  • Start with the polystyrene hoop and cover it with dark green tissue paper.
  • Wrap a red and white ribbon around the hoop until you are back where you started.
  • Wrap a string of LED lights in the same way and secure the battery pack with a tight knot that will enable you to get to it and change the batteries as and when required.
  • Glue on the felt stars and add bows made from assorted ribbon (mine are in gold). These can be pinned in place.
  • Take the large green bauble and draw on the features of the Grinch with a permanent marker. I started with the nose and eyes. There are plenty of drawings online to work from. The yellow eyes were painted using a nail varnish! Hang the Grinchtowards the top of the hoop and pin the ribbon or string in place to prevent it moving.

merry grinchmas door wreath

  • Cut large strips of the deco mesh and roll holding it tight in the middle, tie the middle with two kinds of ribbon to hold firmly in place. I used the red and white ribbon plus a snowflake version. Pin your deco mesh bows across the top.
  • Using red and white striped pipe cleaners form a couple of candy canes and glue into place.
  • Lastly, take a piece of cardboard and with a pencil, draw on the Merry Grinchmas and the small arm with the bauble. I found lots of examples online and copied directly from one of them. I then painted it and glued it in place on my door wreath.

merry grinchmas door wreath

What do you think?

I am really pleased with it and I shall hang it in our classroom from the 1st December.

Talking of classrooms, I’ve taken a look at the Grinch Classroom Lesson Plans too on the Grinchmas hub and I think we can have a lot of fun with them. Do pop by and take a look, you can have endless fun Grinchifying yourself like this…

Mari Grinchified


There are some wonderful ideas on how to grow your heart three times bigger, activity sheets to download and a 12 days of Grinchmas to join in too.