Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Christmas Gift Guide 2014 (For Him & Her)...

I can't believe it's that time of year, AGAIN! It doesn't seem like two minutes since I was writing my Christmas gift guide last year and now I'm a married woman! This is one of my favourite posts to do and also one of my favourite posts to read. I like to find gift ideas for my post that relate to people but are also that little bit different, so finding other unique gift ideas on other blogs that maybe I haven't come across is fab too.

I hope you like the ideas I've come across. Some I've sampled, others I've not, but these gift ideas have been chosen from ideas I've researched myself and ideas that have been sent to me. I had quite a few gift ideas to go through, so these are those I thought were worth mentioning and would make great gifts for this Christmas. I'm going to categorise the gifts within subject rather than price and there will be inexpensive items and more pricier items within each. You will see that most of the ideas will be suitable for males and females, aswell as for varied ages.


Beauty Gift Ideas

1. For the beauty lovers in your life, this high quality, elegant Silver Chic Holiday Set is sure to appeal. This set comes from Tweezerman, the beauty tool experts and contains essentials to add a bit of glamour to a beauty regime. A white and silver sparkle ornamented mini slant tweezer and a matte silver finish eyelash curler are included, both perfect for at home or whilst on the go. I actually have a Tweezerman mini slant tweezer and as I pluck my eyebrows myself at home, it's great having a quality product that has been hand filed to ensure the tips grab every hair that isn't wanted. This would be a lovely stocking filler or a gift for a female friend! This set is available from Selfridges for £32.

2 & 3. Hair styling tools tend to be used quite often and so Christmas is a fab time to buy items like this to replace those that may be on their last legs. If you are buying for someone who is all about their hair, these two products from Diva Pro Styling are current and of a high quality. They are from a new range called Chromatix which are high performance tools available in bright, bold colours. The Chromatix 3400 Pro Hairdryer is powerful and lightweight and has 4 heat settings (including cool shot) and 2 speed settings. It also has ionic conditioning which means faster drying, reduced static and frizz, aswell as added shine. What more could you want from a hairdryer? It also comes with fast dry and slim precision nozzles. The Chromatix Intelligent Digital Styler is a lot more than just a straightener, it'll also create curls and waves. The Korean ceramic floating plates are infused with Argan oil which offer a snag-free, super smooth finish. Both of these items are designed to be long lasting, so they are definitely an investment! They would be great for those already into beauty but also for those that are yet to have their very own hairdryer and straightener. There are so many features to these products that I could go on and on, but if you use the links above for each product you can read more about them there :). The hairdryer is £39.98 and the straightener is £59.99 but you can currently get both products for £80 from Sally Express - what a bargain!

4. This Curling Wand Gift Set from the Total Hair Experts collection is exclusively available at Tesco. I love this curling wand! I have many different curling/waving wands, some big, some small and some different shapes but this is the only one of this shape and size that I have and I absolutely love the curls and waves that it creates! They are so perfectly defined and last such a long time, even without hairspray! Normally when I curl my hair, I have to use quite a bit of hairspray as my hair tends to just drop, but since I've been using this I haven't had to use as much hairspray to keep the curls in and I've been able to take the hairstyle through to the next day where my hair has a lovely, beachy wave to it. Normally, after all the hairspray, my hair is a right mess when I wake up the next day and I'm straight in the shower to wash it, so I was pleasantly surprised! I'm not sure why this seems to be the case, but it is :). The ceramic coated wand adds a lovely shine to the hair and the set also comes with an accessories pack, consisting of three hair clips, a tail comb, a compact mirror and a protective glove all kept together in a black, quilted zip case. There's lots more info here and you can buy this set for £25.00.

Food and Drink Gift Ideas


1. Domaine de Canton is the world's first ultra premium ginger liqueur. It's handmade in small batches by hand and therefore isn't mass produced, making it a really unique and special gift. I love ginger in general, but especially within drinks. The warming feeling you get from a ginger drink is so comforting whether alcoholic or non alcoholic. This liqueur would be lovely in small amounts over ice but my preferred way of drinking it is within a cocktail. Each bottle should come with a little booklet which hangs off the bottle lid. Inside it gives you lots of cocktail recipes so you can experiment and find your favourite way of drinking this liqueur. My favourite is the Strawberry Ginger Martini, which consists of Domaine de Canton, vodka (or gin), strawberries and a lime wedge. On the product website it even gives you ideas for ways to include it in food recipes! Males and females alike, if you know someone who has a taste for ginger, then this will more than likely be a pleasant surprise as a gift and something they probably haven't seen before whilst out and about. The liqueur is currently £31.75 at The Whiskey Exchange.

2. Merangz 'Christmas Decadence' Bites Box is a luxury and indulgent box of 6 dipped merangz. These aren't just any old meringues, this limited edition version, created especially for the Christmas season contains 6 yummy merangz that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and have been dipped or topped with layers or sprinkles of Irish whiskey gold, dark chocolate and Sicilian orange, brandy soaked fruit Christmas pudding, vanilla sherry trifle, praline champagne mousse and peppermint dark chocolate. The quality of the merangz matters to the company, which is why they work with local farmers for the best quality eggs and separate the eggs by hand, before whisking in gently heated sugar and adding natural flavours, essences or reduced fruit and slow baking. The first time I saw these I was delighted as not only do I love meringue in general but I'd never seen anything like this before and I instantly knew they'd be great for my gift guide. Not only would these make a great gift but if you're having a Christmas party, I think having them on display for people to taste would definitely make your party food stand out from the rest. You could even take them to a party and wow the host! The dark chocolate and Sicilian orange is my favourite. Chocolate and orange is an amazing combination but mix that with meringue and it's on another level. They have lots of other options that you can check out here, but you can currently get two boxes of this variety for £12 from The Little Round Cake Company.

3. A fresh wasabi gift is definitely something different for the foodie who already has everything else. The Wasabi Company sells wasabi which is produced by the only wasabi farm in Europe. There is lots of different options available on The Wasabi Company website where you can purchase wasabi or wasabi rhizomes on their own or you can build your own box where you can include all the things you need to become a wasabi expert overnight. A Wasabi Plant is available to buy, which the recipient can grow themselves. This will result in the plant producing large, heart shaped leaves which can be finely chopped into salads, sauteed or used as wraps and garnishes. The stems can also be chopped into salads like spring onions. After a couple of years, wasabi rhizomes will appear which can be grated into a paste. So, although a long process, you'll get a lot from this gift idea! Wasabi has a crisp, clean heat and is great with sushi, in marinades for steak, in salad dressings and even with ice cream! I love how unique this idea is and if you do know someone who likes wasabi, they are sure to be thrilled with this. Prices vary according to the size of wasabi you want to buy or the gift box you want to create, so have a look here and you can see the different prices.

4 & 5. These two beautifully boxed gifts are from a company called Biscuiteers and are absolutely perfect for the upcoming festive season. Firstly, the Iced Christmas Biscuit Tin contains 9, thickly iced Christmas themed all spice biscuits. The image doesn't do this little beauty justice to be honest. If you were to see the tin, it's something you want to be careful with, it's not something you want to just rip open (not that you can rip open a tin, but you know what I mean :)). The delicious biscuits are encased in tissue paper and fill the tin in layers, they aren't just thrown in. You can tell a lot of time has been taken to ensure these biscuits are not only made perfectly but packaged just as well. I love that the icing is made from icing sugar (my favourite type of icing!) and not roll out icing. It's melt in the mouth, sweet icing but not sickly which I often find roll out icing can be. This kind of product is not only great for a gift but also to have available at a party or just if you're going round someone's house during the festive season. It's gorgeous! This biscuit tin is available from the Biscuiteers website for £39.50. The second product is the Say Cheese! Biscuit Tin and if Christmas Day evening isn't the perfect time for a cheese board then I don't know when is! Again, this is a perfect gift or a little something to take round to someone's house for everyone to try. This tin contains one pack of 10 Caraway & Parmesan hand baked button biscuits, one pack of 10 Rosemary & Parmesan hand baked button biscuits, a sealed heart of creamy organic cheddar and a jar of hot pear chutney. Mmmm! Some people will like this just for the tin, ha ha, it's so sweet with the little mice with their cheese, biscuits and wine. This biscuit tin is £35.00.

6. For the tea lovers in your life, Teastorks offers single or subscription boxes of real tea. They source top quality loose tea from around the world, put them in pyramid bags which release the flavour perfectly and send your tea in a box that fits through the letterbox. You can choose just a one off box as a gift for someone or set up a subscription so that your chosen person receives a selection of chosen teas weekly, every other week or monthly. The choice is yours! This is so appealing to me, I love tea! I like regular builders/breakfast tea but also lots of herbal varieties too. My favourite selection of teas from this brand is 'enlightenment', which contains 5 inspiration chai teabags, 5 meditation sencha green teabags and 5 peppermint eclipse teabags. I like all of these varieties so this would be my perfect choice. They even have popcorn tea! Prices start from £4.95 but vary according to your selection and whether you're buying a single box or a subscription. You can view the different options here on their website and read more about their teas before you make a decision here.

7. This Sweet & Savoury Christmas Selection from The Bay Tree Food Company contains 7 individually portioned jars which are sure to get the recipient alone or their family too through the festive season. I love these little jars as they aren't too much to just be sitting in the fridge for weeks, they are like little taster jars which encourage you to try something new. The jars in this selection are cranberry sauce, spicy tomato chutney, onion marmalade, cider and horseradish mustard, raspberry jam, morello cherry jam and whisky marmalade. All have been made in the West Country. I could imagine this being a fab gift for a mom, dad, nan, grandad or someone who has a few people within their family. There's products in this selection that can be used for breakfast (morello cherry jam on toast), lunch (cider and horseradish mustard on a sandwich), dinner (cranberry sauce with a turkey dinner) and even dessert (raspberry jam with sponge). You can get this set for £7.29.

TV Themed Gift Ideas

1 & 2. Doctor Who fans or just people that love to collect teapot sets are going to love these items. The teapot, milk jug and the sugar bowl are all separately sold items, they don't come together. The detailing of the three items includes the famous police sign. The teapot is made of light china for ease of use, whilst the milk jug and the sugar bowl are made of high quality stoneware and are more recently released than the teapot. The teapot holds just over two mug-fulls of tea, so perfect for a couple of hot drinks in one go, which is often what you fancy as the first one always seems to go too quickly! You can buy these items from the BBC shop, with the teapot priced at £19.99, the milk jug priced at £8.99 and the sugar bowl priced at £14.99.

3 & 4. DVDs are great gifts at Christmas and are often greatly received. Miranda Hart is one of those comedians that doesn't mind making fun of herself and I personally loved her series 'Miranda'. A stand up show wasn't something I was necessarily expecting from her but something I was definitely interested in having a look at. Miranda Hart: My, What I Call, Live Show is something I'm actually getting for my sister this Christmas, as it's something she's asked for. I expect it to be fun, silly and just chilled out, easy comedy that you don't have to think too much about. A fab gift for those that love comedy, stand up shows or the Miranda series. You can buy it from the BBC shop for £13.49. Him & Her - The Wedding (Series 4), sounds like it's just a one off special but as the title shows, it's actually the last series of Him & Her. This was another one of my favourite shows when it was on. It sounds boring, as it's basically about the lives of Steve and Becky, a couple who are young, unemployed and lazy. However, it's actually a funny situation comedy. It's hard to describe but it's just simple, easy comedy that you won't be able to stop watching and having a giggle at. Becky's sister Laura is definitely my favourite character, she's one of those characters that you love to hate. She is rude, spoilt and mean but she plays the character so well it's hard not to love her. I don't think it's essential that you watch the other three series before this one but it will help as you'll get to know the characters and I'd recommend it anyway for the laughs! This DVD is actually based on Becky's sister Laura's wedding to her Fiance Paul. It's funny from start to finish with Laura being a real bridezilla and Steve getting up to no good with plenty more going on in-between. It's available from the BBC shop for £13.99 or using the link above you can buy series 1-4.

5. The Top Gear Winter Gear Box Kit is perfect for anyone that has their own car, especially if they are a fan of Top Gear too! This 5 piece set includes, screen-wash, de-icer, an ice-scraper, demisting pad and a headlight sponge. This will be perfect for the cold months ahead. I love it when I see novelty but useful gifts like this and have people in mind that I know will love it :). It's available from BHS for £12.

Home/Lifestyle Gift Ideas

1. For anyone that loves London, these prints would be perfect! Place in Print was established by Ed in 2013 as a spin-off of South London Prints, a design studio specialising in the creation of limited edition artwork, depicting landmarks and other features of South London. Ed wanted to build upon the successes of SLP and create new collections and ranges beyond the limits of South London. I love London, it's one of mine and Si's favourite places to go. They have lots of prints on the website, including London typographic maps and London Underground stations but some of my faves come from the London visual puns range. Although all the prints are fab, I think these would definitely grab someone's attention when they were to walk into a room where one was displayed. Above you will see the Wimbledon print and the Westminster print, cool huh?! They have plenty more of these in the 'place names' section on the website. The prints are priced at £35 for just the print, £40 for the print to be mounted and £50 for the print to be in a white, black or wood frame.

2. These tea towels by Nicole Phillips are unique and will definitely stand out from any other tea towel the recipient may have. I love the slogans and they have many options on the website to choose from, including rhubarb and custard, large fish and chips and strawberries and cream. All are similar to the ones above where you have images and words that just match together so you know exactly what is being stated. I love the Yum or Yuck tea towel above and I must say it's definitely yuk for me, what about you? The other one above, as I'm sure you've all guessed is Sage and Onion Stuffing. I haven't seen tea towels like this before and they just stood out to me, so I wanted to share them with you. I'd love to know which one is your favourite from her range! Nicole's products are made in Great Britain and feature hand painted artwork offset against a stylish stripe background. Tea towels are £12.95 and are made of high quality fabric.

Hobby/Interest Gift Ideas

1. For those people that love cooking or want to learn how to cook better, the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School has lots of different cooking courses on offer. You can see what they have to offer here and you can purchase vouchers as a gift, whether it be for a full course amount or part amount so the recipient can choose their own course. Vouchers are valid for 12 months from the issue date. When I was considering this for my gift guide, the course that stood out to me the most was the 'Getting Ready For University Course'. I can imagine everyone knows someone who will be starting university in the coming year or even moving into their own place for the first time. This 5 day course covers basic healthy cooking, including basic cooking techniques, how to choose ingredients, how to use leftovers, how to budget and manage money. Anyone on this course will leave with an apron and a folder of easy, cheap but nutritious recipes. Participants will cook both individually and in pairs and will be shown how to plan and cook cheap, delicious, nutritious, filling meals. They will cook their own lunches and have prepared dishes to take away with them at the end of every day. Sounds fab doesn't it?! The course is currently being updated on their website so there isn't a current price, but you can contact the school for more information as advised here. As you probably guessed from the name of the school, it is based in the heart of Edinburgh city, so it would be ideal for those who live near to the cookery school or are able to travel.

2. Don't be fooled by the simple image of some cuff-links as these aren't just any old pair of cuff-links. These cuff-links are made from parts of a recycled skateboard. Thrashion Ltd is a 100% skater owned and run diy business. They make jewellery, accessories and homewares from recycled skateboards which are used in their original state, so every scratch and ding is incorporated into the items to represent the character of the deck, meaning each piece is individual and unique. I love companies like this that recycle one item to make a completely different one and I think these pieces would make great gifts for the skater boy or girl that you know! They have necklaces, rings, cuff-links, bracelets and more on offer. Check out their range. When explained, I think a gift like this will really wow someone :).

3. Dogs seem to be a favourite and much loved pet and I'm sure you know someone who owns a dog that you want to buy a gift for this Christmas. This Off The Leash Diary is published by Frances Lincoln with Rupert Fawcett designing the artwork. This week to week layout diary, with plenty of space for notes too, features black and white illustrations throughout and are sure to keep the recipient amused...they sure made me giggle! The diary is flexibound and is really well made, definitely something to be proud of having and writing all your important dates and notes in. You can purchase it for £9.99. There are two other products in the Off The Leash range, which are a Postcard Book (£6.99) and a Chunky Notebook (£7.99).

4. Vinyl Me, Please is a monthly record club where each month you get a 'must have' record sent to you, along with a cocktail recipe and an exclusively commissioned print. In addition, you'll also get access to The Standard, which is a weekly music digest highlighting the best new music and gear from artists and brands that you need to know about. Each month, they also give away music prizes to one lucky member via their Golden Ticket Giveaway. If you know someone who has a record player (although this could be another gift if you're feeling extra generous :)) and is open to the kind of music that they listen to, this would be such a lovely, unique gift. You can choose to purchase a 3, 6 or 12 month subscription and have the first box delivered to you as the buyer. You can then change the address on the website so the recipient receives the rest of their subscription first hand. Prices vary according to which subscription you buy, but you can find out more about buying a Vinyl Me, Please gift here.

5. Retouch Power is the world's first cosmetic power bank that you can use to charge your smartphone and tablet on the go. Two designs are available, a lipstick and a blush. Both are capable of over 500 cycles of charge. These are sure to amaze as someone reaches into their bag for their sleek make-up inspired charger. There is also a mirror inside of the blush unit, perfect for any last minute touch ups! The Kissable unit is £29.99 and has 2600 mah (milliamp hour - strength of the battery) and will recharge most smartphones and tablets at maximum speed. The Blush unit is £39.99 and has 4200 mah, so you can recharge over 2-3 smartphones from a single full battery, an Iphone 5/5s nearly two times from a single charge and even recharge Ipads, other tablets and USB devices at fast speeds.

So there you have it lovelies, my Christmas gift guide for this year. I've worked really hard on it so I hope you like it :).

What is your favourite gift idea from those featured above?

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

Comment below, I'd love to hear what you think!

Thanks so much for reading!
Gem XxOo
* Images courtesy of Tweezerman, Diva Pro Styling, Tesco, Domaine de Canton, Merangz, The Wasabi Company, Biscuiteers, Teastorks, The Bay Tree Food Company, BBC, Place In Print, Nicole Phillips, Edinburgh New Town Cookery School, Thrashion Ltd, Frances Lincoln, Vinyl Me, Please and Retouch Power.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Alternative Advent Calendars (For Everyone!)...

I've seen a fair few posts showing alternative advent calendars recently, especially beauty ones. I've been thinking about doing a post like this for a while, so I thought now would be the perfect time as the 1st December will be here before we know it! I've gone down a different route and not included any beauty advent calendars but calendars that are a little bit different.

1. 12 beers of Christmas contains 12 craft beers created by award winning UK Microbreweries that have all been approved by the Best of British Beer tasting panel. The name suggests that the beers are designed to be drunk during the 12 days of Christmas which starts on the 25th December and ends on the 5th January. However, I do feel that as it's sometimes so hard to find unique advent calendars and even gifts for men, that this was too good an idea not to include. Of course, it could be used whenever really, so it could be started 12 days before Christmas day if you really wanted. The beers are delivered in a robust card Christmas tree, with each beer securely held inside. You can also include a message on a gift card for no additional cost if you wish. This is available from Not On The High Street for £49.50. There is another beer themed advent calendar on that website that is for the full 25 days in the run up to Christmas but this is a little bit more pricey at £115. Another option would be to hand make something like this whether it be bottles of beer in a crate with numbers covering the top or a handmade box. It might work out a little cheaper if you can get a good deal at your local supermarket. Overall, I think this is a great idea for a boyfriend or husband that drinks and likes to try different beers!

2. Advent Christmas Tea Gift Set contains a collection of 25 tea bags packaged in individual paper envelopes. The packaging for the tea bags are super cute containing Christmas themed quotes, sure to get you in the spirit for Christmas. The teas are sourced from well-known British tea companies, which I love! You can choose which flavours you want to be within the advent calendar, so you can match the calendar to the taste of the person you're buying it for. Although there are 25 individual tea bag packages, they aren't mounted like a traditional advent calendar but you can order a gift bag or a gift box with the calendar if you would like one. They are pre-made but I love that the company that makes and sells these are willing to work with you if you would like specific colours, designs or text. I love tea, so something like this would be right up my street. I'm sure there are plenty of tea lovers out there who would agree! You can get this from Not On The High Street for just £19.50 (edit: the exact advent version of this set doesn't seem to be available any more as of a couple of days after this post was published. The link I've included is for basically the same thing).

3. Lebkuchen Schmidt Advent Calendar is a luxurious biscuit advent calendar that is really rather special. It contains 25 biscuity treats that are packaged in individual boxes within a larger box that forms the calendar. There is a rip along section towards the bottom of the calendar that you open and the gorgeous little boxes appear showing their number. As you take boxes out each day, another box drops down with another number so you can just pick the corresponding number for each date in the run up to Christmas. It's such a lovely advent calendar and would appeal to so many people, both male and female. Who doesn't like a nice biscuit with a cuppa tea?! This is available for £35.99 from Selfridges.

4. Jelly Belly Advent Calendar contains 24 pyramid bags of Jelly Belly beans, a great alternative to chocolate advent calendars. I think it's especially good for those that can't have chocolate or prefer sweets over chocolate. I love this and would be so happy having this as my advent calendar. It looks so well put together, even down to the Father Christmas image on the front being made up of jelly beans. This calendar is just £15 from John Lewis, which I don't think is bad to be honest considering alternative advent calendars aren't always cheap anyway.

5. Wera Tools Advent Calendar is a fab alternative advent calendar for men as it contains tools! However, it doesn't mean that it isn't good for those women who like to diy ;). It contains 24 high quality tools including a screwdriver, bottle opener, Rapidaptor bit holder, mini-check etc. Wera is one of the leading manufacturers of screw driving tools operating worldwide so you know these are going to be high quality tools that will be useful and last a long time. I think this would be great for someone who needs new tools or someone that has just moved into their own house and doesn't yet have any tools. It would be great for so many people for so many different reasons. You can get this from Amazon for £49.95.

6. Personalised Scratch Family Activity Advent Calendar had to make an appearance in my post because I thought it was such a sweet, novelty idea for the whole family to get involved with. The calendar is based on a sturdy piece of card with 24 scratch circles. Each circle reveals a challenge, craft or activity to do on the countdown to Christmas. For those of you that have children that can't have chocolate this is a great alternative that will still make little ones happy. One example of an activity is to have a fancy dress dinner! You can choose to personalise your calendar if you wish for a little extra meaning it will include your family name instead of just saying 'Our Family Advent Calendar'. You can buy this calendar from Not On The High Street for just £8.50. I'd say this would be something that you could hand make for your family and put peelable stickers or paper flaps over the activities, but I think it'd be quite cool for the activities to be a surprise for parents too. That way you can all talk about the activities together based on your first impression of each one and for the price at least you know it won't break the bank.

7. Hotel Chocolat Truffle Advent Calendar is a little bit different to the traditional chocolate advent calendar as it's designed to be shared. There are 24 windows and behind each window are two baby truffles, so 48 in total. The flavours sound amazing, they include salted caramel, gingerbread, mulled wine and cinnamon. I think this is such a sweet idea and I can imagine me and my hubby enjoying this together. I can imagine this being lovely for parents, two friends who live together, siblings etc. This one does contain alcohol in some of the truffles, so you might want to bare that in mind. You can buy it from John Lewis for £26.

8. Fortune Cookie Advent Calendar consists of a 24 day countdown to Christmas with handcrafted fortune cookies made in delicious flavours. Flavours include apple pie, chocolate and chilli and strawberry and mint. The fortune cookies are all free of artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. The company that makes these air dry their own zests, grind their own spices and enjoy creating new flavour combinations, so you know you're getting a good quality product. Each fortune contains a double sided traditional, festive or fun message and you can choose the combination of messages (not the exact messages, so nothing will be spoiled) before you order. The fortune cookies come in individual clear bags sealed with the date at the top and these are all packaged in a larger box. You can purchase this from Not On The High Street for £32.99.

9. Nutcracker Advent Charm Calendar I think would make a great alternative to sweets and chocolates for young girls. It comes as a jewellery box style calendar with a cute little pop up Nutcracker theatre scene which is revealed when you open the top of the box. There are two trays inside the box, each with 12 compartments which hold a silver coloured bracelet and 23 charms. How sweet! I can imagine little girls being thrilled with their new bracelet and being able to add a charm every day in the run up to Christmas. You can buy this from Not On The High Street for £16.95.

I've noticed alternative advent calendars being talked about a lot more this year on Twitter and I think it's great that brands are all trying to re-create their own each year. I remember a time when it was just those simple solid chocolate advent calendars and nothing else. They've come such a long way and it's great and adds another element of excitement to the whole run up to Christmas.

What alternative advent calendars have you seen?

Are you having a traditional chocolate advent calendar this year or something a little bit different? 

Comment down below, I'd love to know!

Thanks so much for reading!
Gem XxOo
*Images courtesy of Not On The High Street, Selfridges, John Lewis and Amazon.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

A Day To Remember...

Hi there lovelies! It's been a while since I last blogged, but those of you that follow my blog or follow me on Twitter will know that me and Si got married in September, in Cyprus! The few weeks prior to us flying out were manic as we were putting the final touches to everything and making sure everything was organised. Not only did we have our normal holiday things to pack, we also had our wedding things to pack. So as you can imagine it was all go!

Here I am blogging to you as a married woman! :). It's taken me a little while to get back into planning my posts and getting back into the swing of things. Post wedding/holiday blues occurred for a while, for a few people within our party actually, but you just have to think that there is plenty more to look forward to and get back to day to day life.

I didn't want to just start blogging about random things without mentioning the wedding and sharing a few things with you as obviously I was blogging about wedding related things beforehand so I thought it'd be nice to finish it off post wedding :).

Here are a few snaps from our special day:

I thought I'd share a few things that I brought for our wedding that I didn't want to share before the wedding or couldn't just in case anyone who was coming saw things on here. The main reason for me wanting to do this is to provide ideas for those planning their wedding as I know it can be really overwhelming thinking about where to start and narrowing down choices.

Firstly, I thought I'd show you the gifts I brought for people within our wedding party. We stuck to the traditional people that gifts are usually brought for, so we had my mom and Si's mom, my dad, our two bridesmaids and our two witnesses (not sure if it's traditional to buy for the witnesses but we found a lovely gift idea that we wanted to give).

These are the mother of the bride and mother of the groom gifts. We'd read somewhere that it was traditional for the gifts to be from the bride, so we thought it would be nice to follow this (aside from the witnesses gifts which are from both of us), so when looking for gift ideas I tried to look for things that were a little bit different.

For my mom's gift, I wanted it to be something from the heart and really personal. I found gift ideas online showing a nice message sewn onto a handkerchief. I liked the idea and to make it even more personal and special I made it myself. I purchased a couple of nice, vintage handkerchiefs from Ebay for a couple of pounds from an auction and I made a few notes of what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. It took me a little while to get the right wording but when I did I started to sew using purple thread to match our wedding colour scheme. I have a little sewing kit of my own so I didn't have to purchase any of that, I just had to use my imagination. I brought a couple of handkerchiefs which was a good idea as I messed up the first one, so luckily the second one went well :). I was really happy that I'd made it myself and my mom thought it was a lovely thing to do, especially with it being so personalised and unique. I brought the silver gift box from Card Factory for just under a couple of pounds I think it was and the handkerchief fitted perfectly within it.

The mother of the groom gift was a little bit harder to choose. Pinterest was really useful when it came to looking for wedding party gift ideas, so I spent quite a while having a look around on there before I started searching the Internet for gifts. It narrowed ideas down so it wasn't so daunting in regards to where to start looking for gifts. I'd definitely recommend it for any type of gifts you are looking to buy or make. I found this keyring on Etsy, both me and Si liked the wording and again the personalisation of it. I started communicating with the lady who makes these on Etsy and described exactly what I wanted, mentioning that I'd like purple and ivory beads to match our colour scheme and my name and the wedding date in purple too. She was really helpful and made the keyring to my exact specifications. We loved the finished result and the mother of the groom loved it too! The keyring cost me £17.47 in total, including shipping from Canada to the UK.

I found these mirrors for my bridesmaids on Not On The High Street. I wanted something practical that they could use, that was personal to them but something that I could say thank you on too. I found these initial mirrors and liaised with the lady who makes them regarding the letters that I wanted along with the colour of the letters and hearts, what colour stitching I wanted, the message I wanted etc. It was so nice to hear that she was willing to work with me in regards to what I wanted. Buying the gifts was one of the most fun things we did during the planning of the wedding, I think it's because we found such lovely ideas and companies who were willing to work with us and provide exactly what it was that we wanted. The two mirrors cost me £27.03 including delivery to the UK and they are gift wrapped free of charge. They start off at £9.90 and the price increases depending on what mirror colour you want and also the amount of words you'd like on the mirror pouch. My bridesmaids loved their gift and I hope they get lots of use out of it!

It was my mom that first suggested maybe getting the witnesses a gift and so when I started looking for personalised gifts for them it was between a mug or a pen. I thought the mugs would last longer and be of more use. I found a company on Ebay that sold these and I asked if I would be able to have the witnesses names in purple as they were orange on the website. There was no problem with this being done for me. I just had to tell them the witnesses names, our married couple surname and the date of our wedding. As you can see they have the hearts at the top for females and hats for males. In total, it cost me £15.58 for the two mugs including postage to the UK. They are thick, well made mugs, so you know they will last a long time and you don't have to be ridiculously careful with them. I thought they were really good value to be honest, considering they are personalised too. Our witnesses weren't expecting a gift, so it was a nice little thing for them to have to remember what they did for us on our special day.

I found this frame for my dad on Etsy. It's such a fab website with so many ideas, it's easy to get carried away and spend a good few hours on there. As soon as I saw this, I knew it was what I wanted to get. This was actually from the USA and favourite was spelt 'favorite' on the website, so I asked if this was able to be changed due to us living in the UK and we spell it with the 'u' here. Again this was no problem and they said they often have people requiring the different spelling so it could be easily changed. I just had to tell them what I wanted written at the end, be it with love, love, from etc, my name and our wedding date. The frame cost me £28.71 in total, including shipping from the USA to the UK.

There are a few other things that we brought for the wedding which were bargains or were too beautiful not to share, so I thought I'd include a few extra links (for those items I could find that were still available to buy) just in case you wanted to take a look :)...

Everything above we brought ourselves but we were lucky enough to be offered the chance by Vistaprint to design our own thank you cards. I had seen some thank you cards on Ebay that I liked, but when I went to purchase them they had sold out so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for me to re-create the design I'd seen for our personal thank you cards.

The wording that I used was similar to the wording on the cards I saw on Ebay. Our theme was purple and butterflies so I found an image on Vistaprint that related to this and just moved the image and words around on the card until I was happy with it. They have various images to choose from so you're sure to find what you're looking for. The cards would have cost me £27.78 including postage to the UK and that was for 30 personally designed matte cards and 30 white envelopes.

The website has lots of products that you can design including Christmas gifts and business related products. In terms of the thank you cards, you can choose to have folded or flat cards and then there are endless designs that you can choose from. You can add images, change the colour of the text, change the size of the text etc, there are lots of tools available to design the perfect card for you. As many past brides or brides to be will know, as soon as you mention the word 'wedding' some prices can be sky high. So this might be a good option if you're on a budget as you can control your costs depending on the cards that you design.

The cards I designed were blank inside, meaning I could add my own personalised messages. However, you can write on the inside of cards on Vistaprint if you wish. I chose for my cards to be matte and when I received them I was happy that they turned out exactly as I'd designed them, the colours, image and wording were spot on. Sometimes when you see pre-designed cards online it says in the small print that colour can vary from what you see on screen. With Vistaprint this isn't something you have to worry about. The cards are of an excellent quality and it was a pleasure writing my cards out to send to people. The only issue I had was that I received 10 envelopes with 30 cards. It was meant to be 30 envelopes so I used the live chat option on the website and told the representative of my issue. This was sorted out straight away and an apology was made saying that it was a mistake and that I should have received 30 envelopes. Another order was made there and then for me and I received the correct amount of envelopes a few days later.

I can't believe after so much planning and organising that our wedding is now over and that we've been married nearly two months on the 9th November :), it's gone so quickly!

I hope you've enjoyed this post whether you were just curious about our day or looking for ideas yourself! Don't forget to like and follow if you like my blog and posts and want to read more :). Feel free to leave me a comment, they make my day and I reply to all!

If you're currently planning your wedding, what sites or bargains have you found?

Thanks so much for reading!
Gem XxOo
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