Posts in Christmas
Preparing the home for Christmas • Featuring John Lewis

I know I’m not the only one. In fact I’d like to find someone who hasn’t walked around their house lugging boxes of decorations down from the loft or to-ing and fro-ing from the garage with a Christmas tree under their arms singing to themselves “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!”

I love this time of year. I love the build up, the countdown to the end of term and the start of holiday playdates, drinks parties, family visits and sleepovers with friends on school nights without the school, nibbles at the neighbours and a trail of glitter on the floors, no matter how many times I vacuum. 

I love it all. Even the cleaning and sorting to get the house ready for all the decorations. 

I get almost a tingle of excitement in my fingertips when I unfold the dog eared tissue paper smothering my beloved baubles, all shapes and sizes that I have slowly built up over a decade of Christmases. Every year I add to it, taking an annual visit to my favourite department store for inspiration and browsing their festive displays to hunt out their newest gold and white and grey collections. 

Yes I am one of those people who like a coordinated tree and I am not ashamed to admit it. It’s funny how something you display for only a matter of weeks can tie a room together and then it feels so empty when it’s taken down. The twinkling lights make it instantly more cosy and I get to totally indulge in decorating every surface with garlands and greenery.

I should tell you I have lovingly kept every single decoration the boys have ever made me and their eyes light up when they head to their bedroom to decorate their very own tree. And I head downstairs and blast out some Mariah. They do help, I get about half an hour of over excited enthusiasm and then the reality kicks in that we are only half way through and they give me “permission” to finish hanging all the decorations for a big reveal and the big switch on. Tell me we are not the only family to give a comedy oooooh as the plug socket goes click?!

As we slowly renovate the house I keep wanting to decorate with greys, whites and blues. As we update door handles, window latches and light fittings we’ve fallen back in love with traditional brass and gold accessories and when I got the chance to collaborate with John Lewis this year to share with you their new Snowshill Range it was like it was meant to be. 

Sumptuous hints of rich golds, rustic natural textures mixed with shimmer and glass. The whole range manages to combine contemporary elegance and cool tones with countryside tradition. Owls and pheasants, mistletoe prints and a hint of copper which makes it ideal to mix and match with others in their 2017 collections. 

Christmas is a hectic time of year, we are hosting again this year, digging out the emergency chairs, blow up beds and spare bedding but decorating the house with a calming colour palette helps bring a little gentleness to proceedings!

The star and ice garland is one of my favourite and incredibly good value buys from the range and it works wrapped around the banisters, hung from tiny hooks along the mantlepiece and from the ceiling above the table! I think even Moose was impressed. And I am sure the glittery clip in antlers I spotted by the wrapping paper section were intended for all our fur babies...!

I've tried to balance being a more is more kind of girl at Christmas with Rich's preference for clutter free festive decorations. So instead of masses of candles and baubles balanced along the centre of the table I think I will go with a little greenery that looks as lovely dried as it does freshly cut and a few simple bud vases so the crackers can be the star of the show. Well them and the westies of course. 

Just like I did as a child, Ollie has written the name places (which we only ever seem to use at Christmas) ready for the big feast. He's also in charge this year of reading 'Twas The Night Before Christmas to his small cousins. They are both at an age where they lap up the responsibility of our little traditions and both know the national anthem for the Queen's speech!

One of the nicest things about recording our Christmases on a blog is that I will have so many photos to look back on in years to come. Of how the walls have got a little fuller with pictures and the window ledges are filling up with family photos. 

I feel like everyone has got into the Christmas spirit earlier this year, Facebook is full of tree photos waiting for presents to be stuffed underneath, nativity plays seem to be on school calendars even earlier and I cannot wait for the day next week when they run out of the gates and the Christmas countdown can truly begin. It's Ollie's turn tomorrow and we are heading on mass to school for their around the world nativity. I felt like Emma Thompson in Love Actually when he told me his part... not a lobster, he is the bullfighter! 

Cameras at the ready!

There's some beautiful accessories in the Snowshill range this year but be quick!

In collaboration with John Lewis 

Kids Christmas Breakfast Ideas

This year we will be at home for the lead up to the big day and Christmas itself and I can't wait. We have a mass family get together in Oxford on the 23rd and a date with best friends and Father Christmas's grotto on the 22nd, but this year, Christmas day will be just us and my in laws.

And I am determined to enjoy every minute with the boys, give them a wonderful day from start to finish. And a festive fun breakfast will start the day in the best possible way - there's chocolate at breakfast - it's got to be a winner right?!

Christmas morning is a perfect excuse for a treat breakfast and these ideas are easy for the children to join in with too. Now there are lots of pancake ideas floating about at this time of year but I say try these scotch pancake ideas, I want to make the boys something with wow factor with minimal effort, I mean I do have a Christmas dinner to cook too and I don't like being a slave to the kitchen on Christmas Day - you miss too much. So I cut as many corners as possible!!!

I picked up a packet of caramel waffles, scotch pancakes, chocolate chips, fruit and raided my Bento drawer for some edible eyes, sprinkles and icing pens I had left over and hoorah, we had the makings of a breakfast of champions.

You can substitute anything you want, but I love the waffles for Rudloph and instead of squirty cream which my boys don't like I used white sugar cake sprinkles for Father Christmas' beard.

Grapes would work just as well for your green tree and raisins would be a healthier option for the antlers. 

Now I just need to think of a grown up alternative!

My brother in law always follows his Philippine traditions and has ham and mango chutney, but Rich makes a mean poached egg so I may go for a twist on the traditional smoked salmon and eggs. 

Which one would your little or big ones like the most?

In our house Rudolph was most popular!

Christmas Picnic Loaf • Featuring Harrods Hampers

You know when you feel like you've been a very good girl this year? When a Harrods Hamper turns up on the doorstep. I might, yes might, have twirled at the postman.

It feels incredibly special and there's nothing quite like a hamper experience. A collection of beautiful products, all perfectly packaged and every layer feels just as luxurious as the next. It's just like a Mary Poppins bag of delicious food and drink with the prettiest bauble on top!

We are hosting Christmas this year and I will be using all of the goodies inside for our Christmas feast! You name it, it's in it, all wrapped in individual polystyrene slots, in divine, yet simple packaging. It makes you feel special, even if you are not a Christmas pudding fan.

This is just a hint of what's inside. 

These are, without doubt, the ultimate Christmas Hampers.  The ultimate gift for someone very special.

I have saved all sorts from this Knightsbridge Hamper for the big day itself but thought it would be lovely to test out a picnic loaf recipe for Boxing Day using some of the delicious chutneys and relishes.

I LOVE this idea. All your favourite leftovers encased in a crusty bread cave.

You can substitute any of the ingredients with what you have left in the fridge! I used:

  • Pesto
  • Chorizo
  • Avocado
  • Salami
  • Harrods Pear Jam
  • Sliced Turkey
  • Shredded Beetroot
  • Soft cheese
  • Harrods Boxing Day chutney
  • Sprout Surprise
  • Harrods Mustard
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Pesto pasta with pine nuts

Slice the top off your round loaf and scoop out the inside. Set aside and freeze if you want to or use for breadcrumbs or dunk in soup like we did!

Layer your sandwich and when full replace the top and wrap in cling film. Leave in a fridge for approximately 6 hours to let the layers settle. Top with salad when serving if your layers have dropped! 

Slice and serve at room temperature.

I added a couple of layers of our sprout surprise. We make this all year round, a snack to nibble on when cooking which is meant for the dinner table!

Slice your sprouts and sprinkle on a baking tray. Drizzle olive oil, soy sauce, a good dusting of salt and brown sugar. Bake at 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes until crispy. Enjoy!

Christmas has definitely come early this year and I can't wait to stuff this beautiful wicker box with snuggly blankets after we eat and drink our way through it over the festive period!

It couldn't be a more heavenly gift to send or receive. I've made up lots of my own in the past, with cellophane and pretty baskets but there's something about the history and heritage of the Harrods Christmas Hampers that just adds a new level of sparkle. 

In collaboration with Harrods