DIY Christmas Table Runner

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We’re midway through December and that means it’s nearly time for our Sunset Strip mini-Christmas! As Imogen is going to be taking on the huge task of cooking a roast for five people (in a tiny kitchen!) and completely bossing it – I thought that I would bring something to the table that doesn’t rely on my awful cooking skills!

Inspired by this gorgeous picture on Pinterest, I decided to make a very simple table-runner to compliment all that amazing food.

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Source: here

I used some plain white fabric for the table runner – but if you want yours to be more durable or washable than mine, it might be worth looking into something a little sturdier. That being said, I plan to cover mine with a clear plastic tablecloth if it’s in any danger of spills or stains, and the rest of the time use it as more decorative than functional.

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First, cut your fabric to the length and double the width that you want your finished runner to be. A little longer than the table is ideal so that it drapes nicely at both ends, with enough width to write your text. This done, I laid it out on top of some cardboard, and then got to work stamping the gold star design. I simply cut a few differently sized stars from craft foam, affixed them to a flat surface (I use a glass baking dish so that I can see where I’m stamping), then used gold metallic paint to cover the material in stars. I had them grouped randomly and overlapping in some places so they looked nice and constellation-y.

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After stamping, I let the material dry and then got out my sewing machine for the next step. For this bit, you’re going to be sewing the material as if you were making a pillow case. Fold it in half along the longest edge, with the pattern on the inside- and then sew around the three open edges, leaving a small gap in one side.

Tie off, and then use the gap to turn the material right-side out again. This should leave you with a nice double-layered piece of fabric with tidy edges. Ta-dah!

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You could leave your table runner just like this, or add some words for an extra detail. Because I used a simple Sharpie for this bit, I used the little hole I’d left in one of the edges to slip some plain paper inside the runner so that the words did not bleed through onto the back piece of fabric. Mark with pencil first, or get started very carefully with your sharpie. Just be careful – it would be so easy to get your ‘near’ and ‘dear’ swapped around in this quote, and that would be so annoying!

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After you’re all finished, remove the paper, sew up the gap and then lay your table ready for festive cheer with your near and dear ones.

I’m excited for our Christmas – I’ll definitely share some photos of our meal and our table. I hope you’ve got lovely plans this week, it’s getting close now!

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PV x

Christmas Cards

What’s nicer than a Christmas card? (apart from a Christmas card that’s made of food)

How about a sweet handmade card with a secret punch of glitter and a personal hand delivery service? You got it!

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I feel like it’s a bit late in December to be sending out the actual christmas cards (you know, the ones you buy in November and send out to lots of people in your address book), but it’s just about the right time to be thinking about a limited run of special glittery cards to slip in with your christmas gifts or send off to your bestest buds.

I had very, very ambitious plans for these cards and, I’m not gonna lie – I completely failed. But on the bright side I think my super simple hand drawn cards are kind of cute, and make that secret glitter envelope liner even better. I’m totally in love with the glitter, it’s so cool and also really easy – here’s how I put these together…

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I bought these plain white envelopes along with plain white pre-folded cards from Amazon, they were really inexpensive and a fantastic investment. (Just don’t ask me for stock market advice any time soon) ;)

I traced the shape of the envelope (with the flap open) and then measured in 7-8mm on all sides to create a shape just smaller than the envelope (I also made it much shorter, so that the glitter insert finishes just below the part where it gets covered up by the front of the envelope. Then simply cut out this shape, and slip it into the envelope, using double sided tape to secure it in the centre of the flap. Close the envelope and crease the lining so it folds easily when the envelope is opened and closed. And you’re done!

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For the cards themselves, I kept it super simple with an easy wreath design and some festive lyrics. I know that drawing a design like this might seem hard to do, but keeping it as simple as possible will help – I think that’s half the charm of these cards anyway – and it’s what you write inside that really counts!

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PV x

36/52 – The Wellcome Collection

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I’ve been wanting to visit the Wellcome collection since it opened quite recently, but I never found the time the trek all the way over to Euston (North London is basically the edge of the earth for me) so when, as part of my degree, we had to take a trip to a museum, I was excited to see that the Wellcome Collection was one of the options, and jumped at the chance to go.

The Collection plays host to a number of temporary exhibitions which change throughout the year, and also puts on talks and ‘live art’ events alongside the exhibitions. It’s a lovely space (I believe the upstairs rooms are used as a location for conferences) with a colourful gift shop and café tucked into the roomy atrium – a perfect place to spend the afternoon with friends exploring the exhibits (or if nobody leaps at the chance to accompany you to a museum, it’s an awesome place to hang out by yourself and indulge your curiosity, going around at your own pace, and spending hours in the gift shop reading all the cool books they have!)

[The nearest station is Euston and you want the South or Gower Street exit]

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The exhibition I had to study for my Victorian Fictions module was ‘The Institute of Sexology – Undress your Mind – A free exhibition that lays bare the big questions of human sexuality’. The leaflet describes it as ‘a candid exploration of the most publicly discussed of private acts, featuring over 200 objects spanning art, rare archival material, erotica and film photography.’

As if anything with a title like that could fail to be interesting! It was so so good, and very well curated, with artefacts and photographs presented alongside the research and results of practitioners and doctors, I found so much that I can write about for class, and of course was fascinated by the way that our society has changed its attitude towards sexuality from the early Victorian period to the modern day. It was all presented, of course, in such a professional way, and it was quite funny to be looking at all of these things as objects of historical interest (which of course they are – and very important ones to the way we understand society!), and just sort of wanting to giggle at the same time (but of course I didn’t because I’m a #seriousadult). The exhibition isn’t open to under-18 year olds because of the naturally explicit nature of some of the objects, but if you have an interest in, for example, how female sexuality is treated in the Victorian Era (this is what I was focusing on for class) then it’s a great resource with lots of inspiration for further research. You definitely don’t have to go with a certain interest in mind though – I feel like ‘the big questions of human sexuality’ should be interesting to everyone, and you’ll definitely come out thinking a little differently about something!

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While I was there they were running a ‘Cruising for Art’ project alongside the exhibition, where visitors could choose to wear a coloured bandana while they explored the exhibits, and then anybody wearing a bandana could ‘spontaneously be chosen to become part of a one-on-one performance with a member of the ‘Crusing for Art’ team’. When they offered me the bandana I explained that I absolutely did not want to be talked to by anyone and if someone touched me I would absolutely not be having it, so they advised me not to wear one ;) I did see other ‘performances’ going on though – some were a simple conversation, one man was lying on a yoga mat in a corner being massaged by two performers (probably wondering why he ever agreed to wear the bandana), and one lady was sitting quite happily on a bean bag with a performer making, well, making things out of play-doh. Oh my.

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The space is still being developed and won’t be complete until Spring 2015, but there was one other exhibit, ‘Medicine Man’, which was really fun to explore (apart from a preserved ‘slice’ of a human body which made me want to vomit – seriously who makes these things?!)  And this exhibit turned out to be the source of all of my pictures as we weren’t allowed to take photographs inside Undress your mind

I spent a long time in the gift shop, which was just full of loads and loads of really good (fiction and non-fiction) books, as well as some really nice (and really pricey) small gifts and bits and bobs.

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I have definite plans to return soon – it’s well worth a second visit, there’s so much in the exhibit that is of interest, you’re sure to find something new and intriguing each time you visit!

PV x

p.s.
Next week we have to do a short presentation in class about our museum trip and what we think about the curatorial decisions – in other words, what we think about how the museum chose to put together the exhibits. I’m going to talk about the strange combination of the formal museum setting with the erotic or sexual items which would normally not be on display. I’m also going to talk about the section of the museum where the work of Freud and Marie Stopes is displayed and explained. Freud and Stopes both investigated sexuality, Freud by looking at the mind and Stopes by looking at the body. It’s all very interesting, and then suddenly – playing on a loop on a small television screen – ‘a home video of Marie and her beloved son playing on a beach’. What?! I mean that’s very sweet and all but it really had no place in this exhibit – it’s completely irrelevant to Stopes’ work – and there certainly weren’t any family portraits or intimate artefacts belonging to Freud. The video says that Stopes is a mother first, a woman second, and a scientist last, while Freud is presented as nothing but a scientist. It sort of reinforces the point made by the rest of the exhibition about a social preoccupation with women as maternal creatures, and of female sexuality (female agency, female life, female desire, etc..) as a device for the propagation of children before all else.

You are more than welcome to disagree with me, of course, and I think the great thing about this kind of exhibition is that it encourages discussion and thought. You’ll have to visit the exhibition yourself to see what you think about it all (and while you’re there, definitely try the brownies!)

Gift Guide #2

How’s the present-buying going? Really really well? Well I hope you’re doing better than me anyway! It’s so stressful buying gifts – especially gifts for guys, right? What do they want?

Because the perverse little creatures rarely publish gift guides for themselves, I’ve spent a very long time searching the internet for gifts (while casually shopping for myself – most of these gifts are not just for guys!) and I think I’ve managed to come up with a nice selection, and hopefully you’ll be able to find something that fits just right, or at least something that inspires you to find the perfect gift!

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Above: 1: Wallet Ninja Multi Tool, £8.99, here 2: Bulldog Skincare Gift Set, £12, here 3: How to swear around the world book, £8.99, here 4: iPad mini case, £12, here 5: Portable Phone Chargers (shaped like milk cartons – how cute is that?), £14.99, here 6: Grow your own chilli kit, £5, here 7: Burgers Recipe book, £7.99, here 8: Gent’s Moustache Wax, £5, here 9: Tight Wallet, £21.99, here

I asked Rob to pick out some stuff from any shop that he would really love and he went straight for the Ninja multitool and the book about how to swear in any language. I will never understand boys. The good news is he also loved the rest of the stuff shown here, so that’s at least one man that’s given this a thumbs up! If my thumbs count for anything here, the portable charger is definitely a useful gift (and really nicely designed), and I’m pretty sure that if you buy somebody a recipe book it means they have to cook you dinner. Not sure, but it’s what I heard…

I feel like if you don’t want to get somebody a gift that they won’t end up loving, the best thing is to find something they’ll want to use everyday. Easier said than done, but something like this clever wallet, or an iPad case (and maybe even the ninja multi tool or a really nice moisturiser), will be a thoughtful gift that ends up getting used all the time (and every time they use it they’ll think of you and what a fantastic friend/daughter/girlfriend/buddy you are. Win-win.)

Guys 2Above: 1: Superman Cufflinks, £10, here 2: Stormtrooper mood light, £14.99, here 3: Social Photography book, £9.99, here 4: Personalised Song Soundwaves print, £25, here 5: Cardboard smartphone projector, £15.99, here 6: iPad mini case, £12, here 7: Moleskine Notebooks pack of 3, £5.99, here 8: To Kill a Mockingbird, £14.29, here 9: Anchor Keyring, £8, here

Got a guy who loves photography? Got you covered! Need a way to say ‘you’re my superman’? Say it with cufflinks! A guy who loves watching youtube videos on his phone? That phone projector is actually so cool (and also useful for sharing photos, films and even ad hoc presentations if you’ve got a really important point to make). I hope this selection has sparked some ideas, and don’t forget it’s the thought that counts, really.

Happy gifting, (and if you really can’t find a present, guys love socks) ;)

PV x

#SmallBizSaturday

December the 6th is Small Business Saturday – and a great day to remember all of the small businesses (in our home towns and further afield) when buying Christmas Presents.

My dear, dear friend Kati has her own small business, personalising ceramics and selling the gorgeous pieces from her Etsy store. In honour of the day, she dropped by to tell us a bit about her business, and share her story.

PV: How did you first get into your Small Business?
Kati: It started out during my first year of uni at Bristol – I’d been feeling a bit down and stressed with moving away from home and all the work. I was sat in a café with my friend Kaye and there was a lovely calligraphy poster on the wall. She was saying that it’d be so cool to be able to write like that so I whipped out a piece of paper and gave it a try. I loved the way the words looked on paper and thought that they may look cool on ceramics too so I got a sharpie and made my first mock-up. Making the mugs gave me an outlet for my creativity and I had so many ideas in my head for cute designs. I made one for myself, my flatmate Cecily suggested I should try and sell them and here we are.


PV: How has it grown and where are you hoping to go with it? 
Kati: It’s grown massively actually; I’m so surprised and happy with the way it’s turning out. For the first month or so after opening it was a very slow process but after my first sale in mid July I knew it was worth it. I spent a lot of time editing my listings to make them more accessible, I bought advertising from Etsy and I’ve now hit 40 sales. Over the Christmas period I’m hoping to be really busy and my new plan is to extend my stock: I hope to make home décor and shirts! In the long term it’s something that I would love to keep going alongside my studies and, hopefully, my future career.


PV: Have you learnt anything cool in the process? 
I’ve learnt that pretty much anyone can be good at art if they want to be. I was never any good at drawing or painting and I always thought that I wasn’t particularly creative. My first calligraphy efforts were quite stilted and over the six months my shop has been open I’ve improved drastically. I would say practice really does make perfect and I would encourage anyone to pursue creative ideas.

PV: What’s your favourite custom order you’ve ever made? 
My favourite was probably a pair of mugs bought as an engagement present. It was for a long distance couple, she was in Brazil and he was in England, and as I’m in a long distance relationship too it really tugged at my heart strings. They slightly edited one of my existing designs and added the words ‘I miss you’ to the back. Their plan was to move in together over the coming months once visas were organised and I just thought it was a really gorgeous love story!

PV: Can you recommend some mugs to give as gifts this Christmas? 
One that’s been selling an awful lot in the run-up to Christmas is my ‘you’re my favourite’ design: a perfect gift for a boyfriend, girlfriend or family member.

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 I also have three separate Harry Potter fan designs but this one is probably my favourite:

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Custom mug orders are also always popular. I’m really enjoying the busy Christmas period and hoping that I can break that all-important 50 sales mark!

 Me too! Thanks Kati for dropping by and for being so awesome, you can explore Kati’s shop by clicking this link, and I definitely recommend it if you’ve still got Christmas gifts you’re looking out for!

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This is the perfect solution if you love to give handmade gifts but just aren’t that good at, you know, painting your own ceramics (it’s okay – happens to the best of us) I love hearing about all the different custom orders Kati gets to do, all of her lovely designs are such beautiful and personal gifts

I’ve done a bit more exploring on Etsy and below I’ve featured a few more shops that are well worth a look! Etsy is a total wonderland so have a good old look around – you’re sure to find just what you were looking for (and you’ll often find that you’re supporting a small business too!)

Darwin and Gray – ‘Handmade Pennants and Scatter Cushions’

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Teacup Piranha – ‘Retro Fantasy Travel Posters’

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Draw me a Song – ‘Music and visual art fusion prints’

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Two more small businesses worth a mention: Exit Left Apparel (a small clothing company actually run by a guy that used to go to my college), Rob has loved these t-shirts for years, and it’s so nice to have clothing that’s not your normal high street stuff! I once tagged these guys in a picture on Instagram (of me and Rob wearing our ELA t-shirts in Turkey) and joked that I needed an extra small because it was like a dress on me. They commented and offered to print an XS shirt just for me – customer service at its very best (and it’s one my favourite t-shirts of all time <3 )

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Social Print Studio (also Prinstagram, although due to Instagram trademark law, currently ‘the site formerly known as Princetagram’) I have loved this little printing company for a long long time, they print your precious Instagram pics and are committed to the highest standards of quality for your treasured photos. They do all sorts of things nowadays – including photo books, calendars and framed prints, all with lots of care and personal lovin’ (plus their newsletters are hilarious).

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I hope you’ve got some inspiration for ways to support your local (and internet-local-sort-of) small businesses! Don’t forget your local independent butcher and grocer too for your Christmas food goodies. And definitely don’t forget that the lovely Kati does custom mugs that would just be the perfect gift! She’s seriously good you guys, I’m drinking from one of her mugs right now and my tea has never tasted so good ;)

PV x

p.s. Order soon because Christmas shipping is a nightmare and lots of handmade gifts may take time to put together and post!!

Gift Guide #1

Not long ’til Christmas! If you’re not quite done with your christmas shopping (or if you haven’t even started *slaps wrist*) don’t worry – I’ve got you covered!

For these little gift guides I’ve done my best to choose things which are not only lovely to look at and receive but also genuinely useful, or at least something that your recipient will want to keep around long after the Christmas decorations have gone away. This list is primarily for girls, and I’ve sort of divided it into three parts, but of course – you do you, and I hope these mini guides spark up some inspiration for your own gift giving.

Gift Guide Red & Green jj

Above: 1: Hazel Nicholls Pack of 12 Notecard Set, £13, here 2: Kelly Brook Dark Red and Dark Green Nail Polish, £2.99, here and here 3: Christmas Pudding Purse, £4.99, here 4: This Works Dream Team (natural sleep remedies), £10, here 5: Cooler than everyone else Card, £3, here 6: Heart and Stripe slipper socks, £3.99, here 7: A Christmas Carol, £11.99, here 8: Let it Snow Jumper, £24.99, here 9: Russian Doll Highlighters, £3, here 10: Shimmer Clutch, £16, here 11: Grey Fleece Onesie, £28, here 12: Christmas Pudding Pyjamas, £18, here 13: Benefit Primping with the Stars makeup set, £26.50, here.

I think these gifts are the kind of thing my sister would really, really like. Lots of colourful and cosy fabrics and patterns, and plenty of thoughtful details like that ‘This Works’ set – such a nice gift to make sure your loved ones gets a good night of sleep! The Christmas pudding purse (or the matroyshka highlighters) would be perfect for secret santa or as little stocking stuffers to surprise your buddy (not in an alarming way – in a cute way).

Gift List Gold and Blue jj

Above: 1: Kelly Brook Gold and Silver Nail Polish, £2.99, here and here 2: Ritz Glitz Bay and Amber Candle, £10, here 3: Small gold clutch, £14, here (psst, if you like this check back later in the month for a DIY you’re gonna love!) 4: Ponyhair effect Make-up Bag, £15, here 5: Ponyhair effect Wallet, £10, here 6: Gold Hummingbird Mother of Pearl Earrings, £22.50, here 7: Hologram Makeup Bag, £10, here 8: Jane Eyre, £11.99, here 9: Benefit the Bronze of Champions makeup kit, £26.50, here 10: Hazel Nicholls ‘It’s What’s Inside That Counts’ Canvas Pouch, £19.95, here 11: Neon yellow fountain pen, £16, here 12: Fairisle jumper with collar, £35, here 13: North Pole Dancer T-shirt, £18, here 14: Unicorn Ring Holder, £10, here 15: Pineapple Frame, £12, here

Oooh! All the gold!! Can you tell who I had in mind when I was putting this little collection together? Those Hummingbird earrings are so elegant and even though they’re on the pricey end of this selection, I think they’re really reasonable for such a lovely gift. I think I’ll definitely be gifting that beautiful hard cover copy of Jane Eyre, but I might save the North Pole Dancer t-shirt for myself, it’s so funny I love it. I’m pretty sure any of these things would put a smile on your friends’ faces – you can’t go wrong with anything that’s shiny and/or gold, right?

Gift list White and Pink jj

Above: 1: Black Amber Candle, £10, here 2: Miss Étoile Fragrance, £6, here 3: Benefit Sugarlicious makeup kit, £25.50, here 4: Statement Gold Ring, £8, here 5: Kelly Brook Pink Glitter Nail Polish, £2.99, here 6: Gold Beaded Scallop Clutch, £19.99, here 7: Moon Necklace Bauble, £5, here 8: Pink fleece onesie, £28, here 9: Sparkle Clutch, £16, here 10: Baby it’s Cold Outside Sweatshirt, £20, here 11: Topshop Lipstick, £8, here 12: Models Own Neon 5 Piece Brush Set, £10, here 13: Benefit 6 Piece Skincare Set, £14.50, here

For the glamour-baby in your life! Sparkly everything, and lots of pink and white for that frosty Christmassy feeling! I was thinking of Rob’s little sis Emily for all of these things, I know she’d love that onesie, and the Benefit makeup sets are always so gorgeous, this one has some really lovely pieces. Plus, I really want to give a candle as a gift this year. I feel like that’s what grown ups do, right? Give each other candles and stuff? I don’t know but I’m going to try it – and this candle smells like heaven so it’s a win-win.

If you’re still looking out for presents for Dads, brothers or boyfriends, good news! I’ll be back soon with another gift guide and some ideas – I think Rob is the most difficult person to buy for in the whole world, so these are gonna be good!

PV x

Christmas Haul!

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I’m so so happy that it’s finally December, and so excited to jump into all of the Christmassy goodness I’ve got planned! I’ve got a girls and guys gift guide coming up for those tricky people you still can’t find the perfect present for, and maybe even some fun recipes (if I manage to use the oven without causing a major incident), and of course loads of DIYs which are gonna be perfect for last minute gifts, secret santas and all your other Christmas needs. First, just to kick off December and make sure that anybody who is not totally in the Christmas spirit starts feeling festive immediately, here’s my little Christmas haul of all of the goodies I’ve tucked away ready for this, the most wonderful time of the year. Can you tell how excited I am for Christmas? I’m really really excited! ;)IMG_8642

Since the festive accoutrements have started appearing in shops, I’ve been so happy to find that everywhere is embracing Glitter this Christmas. I’ve been embracing Glitter (on and with everything) for years and years and properly indulged myself with glitter madness this year because there was just so much to choose from! (and because if you can’t do glitter at Christmas, when can you?!)

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Above: Glitter cocktail sticks from HAMA, Glitter Gift tags from Paperchase (and only £1.75!), Glitter fawn also from Paperchase, Glitter Candles from ALDI (thanks Mama), and Glitter tape from TIGER. I initially bought one roll of this glitter tape and then got so anxious that I would use it all up that I ran out and bought A LOT more – let’s just say that I have way more rolls than are shown in this picture. Crazy, I know, but I’ll be the one laughing when I’m ninety eight years old and still have five rolls of glitter tape to wrap up all my grandkids Christmas presents ;)

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Above: More glittery goodness, Glitter wrapping paper also from TIGER (seriously considering buying eight more rolls this stuff is so good), and Christmassy stick on nails from Primark.

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Above: The cutest fake ‘seal’ stickers with heart design from TIGER, Christmas socks from Primark (I used these last year as ‘stockings’ for my flat mates – I tied some thread through one sock to use as a hanger, filled it with the other sock and some sweeties, and then hung them on their door handles for when they woke up, it was so fun, but I also discovered that my flatmates were basically nocturnal and I had to wait until, like, 4am for them all to be asleep so I could creep around and spread good will ;) ) Christmas tissue paper from ALDI, Silver straws from HAMA and wooden heart gift tags from TIGER. Because I’ve gone so bright and bold with all of my glittery wrapping paper and tags, I’ve picked up some simpler red and green pieces to tie it all together. Those tags from TIGER are the cutest, and I might steal them back from all of my gift recipients and use them again next year (not sure if that’s considered polite or not – haha)

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I can’t wait to wrap up all of my presents (and leave a trail of glitter in all of my friend’s homes and all over their treasured possessions, but first I have to finish getting all my gifts (agh!) unlike my Mum, who has normally finished her Christmas shopping by September, I’m still busily collecting all of my gifts. If you’re the same then check back soon for my gift guides, (in plenty of time for Christmas postage, don’t worry!) to get you all inspired for the final (or maybe the first, if you’re super disorganised ;) ) gift-buying push.

Happy December people, it’s going to be a good one!!

PVP x