Christmas with John Lewis and Tree Hilarity

John Lewis asked me if I’d like a new Christmas Tree and £50 of baubles to decorate it with…of COURSE I WOULD!!

Our old artificial tree was bought our first Christmas together as I’m allergic to read trees and after 14 years was looking a bit ropey. Also I had to weigh it down with the Argos catalogue, to stop it falling over every year because it never stood right – so classy!. We were thinking of getting a new tree for this year, when John Lewis’s generous offer came along.

I had the choice of a 6ft, 7ft or a whopping 8ft tree. Now I am bit of a small child when it comes to Christmas and I firmly believe that a tree should be much bigger than me or anyone else in the house. I have childhood memories of 30ft Disney Christmas trees at Disney World and I think I’m always trying to replicate that feeling of being small while the tree is massive!   I measured our ceiling and it’s about 9.5ft high, so I thought that the 8ft tree would be a bit too big, therefore I went for the 7ft tree.

Tree came in no time, and we put it up at the weekend. It’s much, much easier to put up than the old one. That had colours and you had to match the colours with the right bit of the tree – a right old faff. This one you just pull out, slot together and pull out the branches to fluff. So simple, and tree was up in under 10 minutes!

Except, I hadn’t measured right! I hadn’t taken the base into consideration! So it was a wee bit too tall!


After much laughter and my family, giggling at my inability to measure anything (I do have a track record for buying things way too big!). We took the bottom layer our and the tree was the perfect height! But when I get my imaginary next house with Victorian height ceilings it’s going to look amazing full size!

The baubles are lovely, I ordered mostly gold and red, as that’s pretty much tradition in our house. But I spoilt myself as this year as there are no toddlers or puppies in the house, I chose some glass baubles as well as non-shatterproof ones.   For £50 I managed to get about 60 baubles, 50 non-shatter and then about 10 more expensive glass ornaments and the tree topper.

I think this is my favourite, it makes me smile every time I see it


Here are a few of my other favourites, a beautiful mercury glass topper



Shatterproof sparklies!



Gold glass, just lovely!



Here’s the tree with the decorations on and our lights, it looks very realistic and so pretty!  Thanks so much John Lewis!


**Full disclosure I received a Christmas Tree and £50 of baubles from John Lewis**



Continue Reading

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Yep we are that annoying family who put their decorations up as soon as well can, but never before the 1st December.  This weekend we had a great time, putting fairy lights up everywhere, the tree went up and the stairs was also prettied, pretty much everything but the front door wreath. I need to get a plain one and then Miss L and I can decorate it to our own taste.

This years tree was purely decorated by Miss L and it’s gorgeous.  All I did was put the fake tree up.  We had been thinking about a real tree this year. But after my escapade last week with the asthma attack and as I was diagnosed by the allergy clinic in the summer with being allergic to trees, shrubs, grass – well pretty much the whole of outside, Paul thought maybe it best we stick with a fake tree. As much as I hate it he’s probably right 🙁

But after the tree was up we decided to start making our teacher’s presents for this year, we’ve gone with vintage tea candles. Dead easy for Miss L to make and a nice pressie to give.  Here’s my tutorial from a few years ago – this year Miss L has pretty much done them herself. I love how my little girl is becoming such an independent young woman.

If you need some more Christmas present ideas, pop over to Thrifty Christmas lots of brilliant ideas from lots of Thrifty Bloggers!


Continue Reading

Budgeting for Christmas

I am rubbish at budgeting, and given half a chance I’m a complete spendthrift that goes mad at Christmas…only I can’t anymore. We work for ourselves, contracts come and go and I can’t go blowing a load of money on Christmas that we don’t have.

So here’s how this year I’m doing my Christmas shopping:

1.  The Plan!

Make a list, re-check the list that everyone you need is on it and kick off anyone you can get by sending a card to.  A little harsh, I know but really think about who you are sending presents to.

Shop as soon as you can, don’t leave it to the last minute when the pressure is on and you feel like you ‘HAVE’ to buy something for someone because you can’t think of anything else – that’s when you end up spending too much.

2. Set a Budget

Now I don’t go for this whole £5 or £10 per head for everyone lark – some people I like more than others!  Some people I can get away with making a present for or getting something from a charity shop and popping it in a pretty box.  On your list put what you are buying each person and if it’s a homemade one put that by their names and then take them out of the budget. It’ll give you more money to work with, and thenwork out what you have left. Make the budget realistic, there is no point in telling yourself you’re spending £50 when it’s really going to be £500 and then being horrified when you’ve overspent.

3. Spending the money.

Ideally either do online Christmas Shopping or go shopping with Cash – it is much, much easier to keep track if you can see it on a screen in front of you or if you have no money left in your purse – it also makes you more ruthless.

My favourite trick is to  put everything you want to get into your online shopping basket, then leave it a day or two and then go back with a clear head. You might see stuff in there that you didn’t really mean to order, you just went a bit mad and then you can delete it out saving some money.

4. Shopping for Abroad?

Are you sending gifts to far flung places? Last year I was sending gifts the the USA and New Zealand, and I found that sending the gifts actually cost more than they had cost!

Thankfully you can send gifts in the USA via Amazon US using a British Credit Card & Billing Address – not all American retailers are so thoughtful though so check before you order. But Pottery Barn and Etsy are both good sources of presents for the USA & Canada as well.

New Zealand though didn’t have a massive amount of online shops and as I was sending British home comforts to some homesick friends so I had to post, but I learnt some handy hints from my local friendly post office lady!

Keep the parcel weight and size down

I had one large 2.2kg parcel to send. The nice post office lady weighed it for me and told me it’d cost (and this is from memory so forgive me if these number’s aren’t quite right) say £60 to POST it!  But if I took it home, re-wrapped it into two smaller 1.1kg parcels it would only cost me £30 for both. So that’s exactly what I did! A massive thank you to lady in the post office.

5. My favourite places to Christmas shop are:

Amazon – but not in December their delivery always sucks if you shop after early Dec.  But you can get pretty much everything here, cheaper than in stores and I tend to use the ‘forget the basket for a day’ trick here.

eBay – a godsend for people you really want to get a present for but don’t want to spend a fortune on.  iPhone cases for £2, Kindle case for £3, cute jewellery for teens, it’s all there and see if you can get a ‘Buy it Now’ with free delivery – perfect!

Homesense or TK Maxx – well they are pretty much the same shop. But Homesense I find is a bit better and less like jumble sale, so I tend to go there.  They have good books for kids and adults, toys, bubble baths etc and other unusual bits and bobs.  If I’m going there I try and take cash with me, it helps me stay in budget.

Online Photo stores – Calendars and photos gifts are always nice to send to relatives or friends especially if you live far apart.  There are loads of offers on at the moment, so I’ll be doing mine in the next week or so.

Other than that anywhere I have Clubcard points, vouchers, Nectar points or can get a discount.  Look in magazines for vouchers, and your e-mail spam folder I always have loads in there that I don’t otherwise notice.

Homemade and *gasp* charity shops gifts

I like to make homemade gifts, candles, soaps, chocolates are about my limit (I can’t sew or knit!), but if you are more crafty pop over to Thrifty Christmas or my Thrifty Christmas Pinterest Board there are loads of ideas from making presents to wrapping them!.

But I have been known to get presents from charity shops…it probably helps I know a lot of people who are into vintage. But this is a £2 gift I found in a local charity shop a couple of years ago:

It was a glass sugar bowl with a silver lid. Doesn’t look like it came from a charity shop, it looks like it came from an upmarket boutique once packaged up with tissue paper and in a shiny box.

Remember to use some imagination when you’re having a rummage, see some cute little vintage glasses, buy them and then pop them with a small bottle of port or a bottle of wine in a shiny box for a present.  My local Cancer Research shop does the most amazing crochet goods which are perfect for a kids room, Miss L loves all the bits I’ve gotten for her from there.  A thoughtful present doesn’t need to cost a fortune.

Above all 

Remember Christmas is supposed to be fun, most people will never remember what you bought them, they’ll just remember you cared enough to get them a little something. Don’t stress!

What are your favourite tips and tricks?  I’d love to hear them 🙂



Continue Reading

Half Term Glittery Fun

We’re on half term- hurray!  It’s so nice to have my girl home, and today we’ve been having fun with glitter, card and felt.  I bought some glitter glue, felt, cards and a ton of other craft stuff a few weeks ago in a sale and then hid them all away at the back of the cupboard so Miss L wouldn’t find them early and use them all up. She was so pleased when I got them out this morning as a surprise.

So as she’s older now I’ve pretty much let her do her own thing, and she decided to make Christmas cards for her friends and some Christmas tree decorations.  She’s been reading through Thrifty Christmas and gotten inspired, you should see the list of things we have to make this year!

The good thing about glitter glue is that it’s harder to get everywhere so much less messy than glitter and glue together – probably less fun for her but easier for me to clean up!

There’s lots leftover so she’ll have something to play with for the rest of the week. I think we’ll have Christmas cards for everyone in the school by Friday!



Continue Reading

Thrifty Christmas is Coming…

Ok don’t shout at me! I know we are only in October so I’m doing a soft launch of this year’s ‘Thrifty Christmas’ now. That way it’ll give people time to make their gifts over the next couple of months.  In fairness I’ve not written or made anything yet, but I’ve also been hording tea cups, buying bulbs from the market and looking at crafty kits on Ebay. I’ve also been Pinning some ideas for inspiration on my Pinterest.

You can see my Christmas Board here.  Just let me know if you like a Pinterest invite in the comments and I’ll send you one.

This year it will be a little different as I’ll be giving Thrifty Christmas it’s own mini site (*cough* in theory. Blog in Blog is not being my friend at the moment!) or something!. So not only will there be a linky for people to link their posts to, I’m also looking for guest bloggers to share their crafty goodness too.  All ideas are well welcome – Presents, Decorating and Recipes just leave me a message on the blog or mail me

And for those without the time or who aren’t crafty there will also be posts about inexpensive interesting ready bought presents. So if you see something a little different and you think it’s cool let me know and I’ll put it on the site.

I’m hoping to get the site up in the next week or so, sorry for the delay! I’m so looking forward to seeing everyone’s ideas 🙂

Continue Reading

Nearly December..

I’m currently working like a mad woman to get all my design work done before December 17th when Miss L, Mr VP and I all break up for the Christmas holidays.  I know I won’t be able to work after then until early January, so please forgive my lack of posting at the moment real life seems to get getting in the way!

But in the meantime here’s something to get you in the mood for the Christmas holidays – the Christmas Dr Who trailer. I can’t wait to see it!

Continue Reading

Thrifty Christmas is Coming…

Yes I know it’s August, and no I’m not my mother just yet 🙂

But I’ve been thinking and talking to people on Twitter, and last year I think I did Thrifty Christmas a little too late in October. Some people didn’t have enough time to make all the wonderful goodies (handmade/foodie/crafty ideas) you all suggested. So this year I’ll be launching it on September 17th and I’ll have a dedicated page, with new fancy linkys with images, and badges all ready to go!

I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

Continue Reading

White Christmas


It snowed!!

I can’t remember when it last snowed at Christmastime in the UK, but Friday morning we woke up to 5 inches here in East Anglia.  Two days later it’s still not showing any signs of going and we have more coming in tonight apparently.

Yesterday we thought the roads wouldn’t be too bad as it had been a couple of days, so went up to Norfolk to visit my parents….oh my word what a mistake! The roads were covered in ice it didn’t like they’d been gritted at all, and it was -6 degrees.  So it was very nice to snuggle in front of my parents log burner and be fed stew by my Mum when we got there. Miss L helped my parents put their Christmas decorations up and then had a snowball fight with my Dad in the garden – I think it was a draw seeing the state of them both when they came in 🙂

This is probably my last post now until after Christmas, I have tons to do this coming week wrapping presents, visiting friends and family, queuing at the butchers, and heading to the market for fresh fruit and veg – let alone making mince pies and keeping Miss L entertained.

So I’d like to wish you all a really wonderful Christmas with your loved ones.  Thanks to everyone who’s joined in with the Christmas Tour it’s been lovely having people share how they spend the holidays.

Happy Christmas!!

Continue Reading

The Nutcracker

The Royal Opera House (oh yeah get me, all cultured!) asked me if I’d like to join in with their festive interactive Advent Calendar. How could I say no with my own mini Angelina Ballerina at home – she loves it!

So here is a Christmassy ballet clip from The Nutcracker Suite enjoy!

Continue Reading

Silent Night

Yesterday we saw Miss L in what will be her final Nativity. I was the teary proud Mum in the second row, and they all did a wonderful performance. I know I don’t normally do video, but this is cute. It’s her year singing ‘Silent Night’ in German with their German teacher and they are all very good.

Continue Reading

Violet Posy Christmas Decorations Tour


The decorations at our house are up. Miss L and I decided that they should go up on the 1st December to make the most of the holiday season.  The tradition is that Paul and Miss L put up the tree and then Miss L and I decorate it.  This year we’ve gone ‘glamorous’ and Miss Miss L was in charge of choosing all the decorations as you can tell from it being full of baubles 🙂


Here are a few of our favourites


Miss L then went onto decorate the stairs with the remaining tinsel (I think we might need a bit more and some greenery!) and then she decorated the pink tree in her bedroom with some cute battery powered lights we found in the supermarket and lots of baubles left over from the big tree.

Happy Christmas to you all x

Continue Reading

The Christmas Decoration Tour Carnival


This is our house last year, but I promise to take pictures of this year and post them and hopefully they’ll be less blurry 🙂

So if you’d like to show off your decorations and join in the fun please link to your post below, it’ll be running from 1st – 25th December and I can’t wait to see them all.

Continue Reading