Festive Friday: Gifts for your Guy

Or any guy in fact.

 photo 2014-12-03183234_zps29ddbe27.jpgI love giving presents. I love to put thought and effort into the gift, wrap it nicely (though it still looks horrific), present it with a smile. I feel so happy when someone loves what I’ve bought them. But that often makes the process of actually buying the present horrendous for me. I constantly stress over choices, obsess about what they might already have, and generally just freak out. Buying for my boyfriend is the worst, and I am sure he’d possibly say the same about me!

 photo 2014-12-03183437_zpsc9051f1a.jpgSmall gifts often go down really well, especially alongside something more sentimental, something homemade. I was trying to knit him a scarf this year. As in, I have been trying since January. It’s not gone well, and if he can wrap two rows of hole-y thread around his neck, I’m sure he’d be grateful. But anyway, he’s some ideas for stocking fillers for you man, or bigger gifts for any other guys in your life.

 photo 2014-12-03183314_zps5c8b8ce7.jpg photo 2014-12-03183304_zps4e29a1be.jpgTechnology is always a good bet for a boy! Something different also goes down well too – and I reckon those who “have everything” will love a living room keyboard (Logitech*). Connecting with your TV, it really enhances viewing experiences. More practical and not as exciting, I’ve also included an external hardrive. I wasn’t going to include this, it’s actually part of an insurance post coming in the New Year, but my boyfriend got hold of this one* when I received it and I think he would rather like one himself! Though perhaps with 2TB we can share…

 photo 2014-12-03183329_zpsec39374b.jpgGoing different, and this water bottle with in built filter is a great little stocking filler. I have a bug bear with tap water, as I know I actually get physically ill in different parts of the country due to water. I have one of these which I use for work, and it really does seem to make a difference. Mine’s from Water To Go*, and I highly recommend it!

 photo 2014-12-03183148_zpsf4861e9d.jpg photo 2014-12-03183513_zps8b4346c4.jpgNow for toiletries. Christmas is the time of year where you fill your bathroom cupboards for the next few months! I’m quite picky on guys scents (Paul Smith is my favourite!), and was worried this Ted Baker Gift Tin* wouldn’t be too my taste – but I actually really like it. Nice and fresh, and not too masculine that I can’t borrow it (ahem). They have some great sets with wallets in too, and they’re damn good value. Far nicer smelling than the female version I remember of my teenage years…

So there’s guys stocking fillers…and that’s perhaps not the best way of putting it! Now I better get cracking as he unhelpfully has a birthday right at the beginning of January, and all my ideas have proved impossible.

Do you hate shopping for presents? What have you got your man this Christmas? Any clues for a twenty-first present?!

 

My Christmas in Pictures

Little bit of a warning, this is rather a picture heavy post. A tad unusual for me, but I think that these pictures say it all. My Christmas was a lovely mixture of family, friends and food – probably one of the best yet.

2013-12-25 09.02.14Day starts with a lovely glass of cava…

2013-12-25 11.58.33…followed by a boiled egg.

2013-12-25 10.05.23Then it’s time to start prepping the gravy. Goose innards, a selection of veg, bay leaves and some water.

2013-12-25 10.12.35A story about our goose: we picked it up on Christmas Eve, then decided to keep it in the car overnight (it was definitely cold enough!). A good idea, until we couldn’t find the car keys on Christmas morning…

After locating the spare set (upon which point we remembered where the real keys were) we prepped it up by simply whacking the oven up to top temperature, scoring the skin, and placing in a tin. And finding out the goose definitely didn’t fit in the oven. All was well though – a bit of butchery and it did, albeit with the leg rubbing on the side of the oven and thus causing the oven to smoke continuously.

2013-12-25 10.01.41The best thing about having a goose – the fat for roasting potatoes! The farm shop we bought ours from provided two bags (one shown above) full, which we put straight in the freezer, and we also “harvested” plenty from the cooking of our bird!

2013-12-25 13.52.33Time to set the table (and start on the wine!)…

2013-12-25 10.02.04…and then it was present time!

2013-12-25 09.09.33Someone was rather protective about his presents…

2013-12-25 09.06.52…and very impatient to open them!

2013-12-25 09.34.20I was thoroughly spoilt, and received this new Radley watch, as well as a hairdryer and some lovely clothes from my parents. I was also treated rather well by my boyfriend, with a selection including the Naked 3 eye pallette which is definitely not leaving my side anytime soon.

2013-12-25 13.52.10By that time, the goose was brown and crisp, and it was time to get on with the vegetables, before sitting down to a very lovely, very yummy Christmas dinner!

2013-12-25 14.14.02If you haven’t tried goose before, I really do recommend it. It’s harder to dry out than turkey, is rich, the leftovers are FAR better (and you get lots – we’re still going!) and it just feels like so much more of a treat. Not to mention it provides enough fat for proper roast potatoes for the whole year!

Have you tried goose? How was your Christmas?

12 Days of Christmas (#11): Christmas Wrapping & Festive Traditions

As I am notoriously always under-prepared for Christmas, I usually spend Christmas Eve wrapping presents. Whilst I doubtlessly complain, I tend to really enjoy it. I’ll tuck myself away with some chocolate, maybe a glass of wine, and plenty of Christmas songs, and I’ll wrap everything up.

I’ve been a littleeee more organised this year, and everything was wrapped up on/by the 23rd, in a red-and-gold theme (I try to stick to themes as much as possible when wrapping, as I think it looks so much better!). I went for cheap wrapping paper and accessories from The Card Factory, and I have to say I’m quite impressed with the quality of the paper – it’s thick and doesn’t tear easily. It doesn’t beat Paperchase, but its not a pain to use so I’d happily buy it again!

2013-12-21 16.16.46

2013-12-21 16.17.59

2013-12-22 10.08.09

2013-12-22 10.07.24

 

I think my presents turned out quite well, especially as I’m not the best wrapper in the world (hence when I go for a colour scheme!). If you want to see amazing present wrapping skills, head over to my friend Libby’s blog!

My other festive traditions are undergoing a bit of a change at the moment, which is strange but also very exciting! My family have always tended to order a takeaway or head out to an Indian on Christmas Eve, but since meeting my boyfriend I’ve preferred to spend the time with him. For the last few years we’ve visited his family Church for the children’s evening service, but this year (due to having no nieces/nephews available to make this a valid option) we’re doing something different. What that something is, we haven’t yet decided! No doubt it will involve yummy food, Christmassy films, and snuggling by a fire.

What are your favourite Christmas traditions? 

 

12 Days of Christmas (#10): Last Minute Gifts

Here’s one for all the lazy boyfriends/husbands/significant others, or those who have just been unorganised in getting things done this year. Yes it is mainly based on gifts for the girls, but that’s only because that’s all I have inspiration for – trust me, it’s not just the boys who run late! I confess that  haven’t actually arranged my boyfriend’s Christmas present yet…

So, if you haven’t bought your girl something yet, or you have a birthday to buy for in the New Year, here’s some good ideas which will hopefully score you brownie points, and maybe save you a few pennies too!

Collage 1I treated myself to a bottle of Oscar de la Renta “Live in Love” perfume after getting some good news on Friday – it was 50% off in store, so keep your eyes peeled. It’s quite a subtle fragrance, fresh and classy, not too girly, and very wearable. I love the vintage style bottle too! House of Fraser have some great bargains at the minute, so it’s really worth having a browse in-store and online!

Naked 3 is one of the most talked about products in the blog world this Christmas – it is gorgeous! I’m very surprised it hasn’t sold out yet!

Finally, I really don’t think you can go wrong with a classic leather watch – I know I wouldn’t complain. I love the Radley watches, as they are affordable and elegant.

Collage 2I got ridiculously excited by this Calculator Cushion – must me the maths geek in me! This would make a fabulous present for a student or potential student if they are mathsy. I know I’d be treating myself if it were a little cheaper!

I’m a real fan of vintage pieces, and I also don’t know a girl who could live without a good make-up mirror. This would look great in any room!

If you aren’t totally sure on what to get, I find cushions and home things are a safe bet. This doorstop is sweet!

Finally, a nice pretty make-up bag. I like to update mine yearly, so this would be a perfect present for me!

 

Of course, if you are really struck for ideas you can go down the vouchers route, but try to think differently from the norm! Go for an expensive shop, so the recipient is forced to treat themselves (though make sure the value of the voucher actually covers something!), buy an experience package, or really think about what they’d appreciate – at this time of year an Amazon giftcard is something I would love, as it would let me fill my Kindle with new books, and then I can snuggle up by the fire to devour them. In fact, that’s what I’m off to do now! Happy shopping!

 

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?

 

 

12 Days of Christmas (#8): Gifts for the Baker

Apologies for this post coming up so late for Christmas, however I made this bundle up for a housemate of mine, and needed to wait til she received it before publishing!

As you can probably tell from this blog, I’m a massive lover of baking, and this housemate is also relatively keen on baking. She also seems to love vintage-style items (her room is amazingly well decorated!) and so I went with a slight vintage theme on a baking gift set for her present. Oh, and some cute reindeer cake cases, as it is Christmas after all!

IMAG0448I bought a vintage-themed baking set from Wilkinsons; a thick and decorated ceramic bowl, with a mixture of cookie cutters inside. I love this type of bowl!

I then scoured Ebay searching for a nice, not-too-expensive, slightly pretty rolling pin, and ended up finding one with a floral print end. It was delivered really quickly, is a good weight and really looks great for the price. Yes, you can get cheaper rolling pins, but I didn’t want to go down the plain route! I can’t find exactly what I bought, but this set is similar.

Finally, I bought a Kilner jar from Wilkinson’s, which I plan to fill with the dry ingredients to make some kind of Christmassy bake – that’ll be another blog post!

All in all, I reckon this is a fabulous little gift set, I’d be happy to receive it! I’m almost reluctant to give it away! Best of all, it falls under the £20 barrier, so is perfect for those on a budget.

 

Do you make up gift sets or hampers to give as presents?

12 Days of Christmas (#7): Secret Santa Gift Guide

I mentioned yesterday that my house did a Secret Santa. I highly recommend this as a cost-saving exercise, for two main reasons. One, you only have to buy for one person, so it will be inevitably cheaper. And two (my favourite!) you end up with a slightly higher budget for this one person, so you can get them something they will truly treasure.

Here’s what I received from my secret Santa (we had a £15-£20 budget);

  • A homemade ‘Tomato-Free’ recipe binder
  • A cake-pop stand, and sticks – guess they’ll be some cake pop recipes coming soon!
  • A festive cupcake set, which I hope to make good use of this weekend
  • A lovely tartan snood, which I’ve absolutely fallen in love with!

I would always recommend that, especially with a slightly larger budget, you try to stick with a theme whilst creating a secret Santa present. I feel it just makes it look so much more expensive, and it seems like a whole lot more thought has gone into it. Here’s my ideas for some Secret Santa gifts!

For the Relaxer

Relax CollageSome girly bubble bath, a nice mug, a good book (I LOVE Dorothy Koomson – I’m hoping her new book “The Flavours of Love” will be in my stocking this year) and some yummy hot chocolate.

For the Prospective Student

Student Collage

A good pretty pencil case, some lovely photo frames, a cheap and easy cookbook (this is a personal favourite) and some bed linen – I highly recommend H&M’s offerings as they are 100% cotton and very comfortable!

For the Fashion Conscious

Fashion Collage

A winter-berry nail polish (I’m lusting over this shade at the moment!), a pretty purse, an on-trend ‘curtain’ material scarf (loving this one!) and a good lipstick.

As for what I got when I was playing Secret Santa? You’ll have to wait until tomorrow!

Do you like giving secret gifts?

12 Days of Christmas (#3): Gifts For The Man In Your Life

I will confess that the products that on this post aren’t the cheapest and most budget friendly options, but (1) I have to avoid posting exactly what I have got my boyfriend or dad, and (2) I try and do my Christmas shopping in advance, so most things I would have originally chosen are long gone. I’ll give some cheaper ideas in the post too, but a lot of those don’t photograph too well! All photographs are taken from the links given.

Collage

 

From left to right, top to bottom, we have…

  • A box of classic ales. Beer or cider always goes down well!
  • A cute Christmassy jumper – I love this one!
  • Some kind of manly cooking course – this Pie & Pint one local to my home looks amazing! I’d want to book one that we could both do together though, as I’m greedy!
  • A scarf – I love the tartan styles ones around at the moment. I bought a lambswool one (before they became fashionable I’ll have you know!) during the Edinburgh Fringe and I love it!
  • A Make Your Own Bacon Kit – how cool does this look?! I can’t think of many men who would be disappointed to find this in their stocking!
  • A good leather wallet – Ebay has some fab offerings, like this one.
  • A funny book is something I think is a great little stocking filler. I’ve done FML ones in the past, but I desperately want to read this Exam Fails one!
  • If you know your man’s style well enough (I find they are quite personal things) then a watch is a good idea. Argos seems to have some good looking and relatively cheap ones (I like this). There’s currently an offer on too, so definitely have a look!
  • Finally, some aftershave. I’ve bought W this Paul Smith since the beginning of our relationship, and I love the smell.

Other ideas I have include finding a small plastic toy (try toy shops) version of his favourite animal, IOU’s (whatever you like – cooking, household chores, etc…), gift-cards for places such as Cineworld or restaurants (if all goes well, a nice date night for you!), or a selection of DVD’s and sweet treats to make your own night in. If you have met at university (and so will be spending Christmas apart), a nice photoframe filled with you two is a nice idea too! Basically, I like to think of presents I’d like to receive, make them a little more masculine, and then find those. And that way, it means if he doesn’t like something, I get to keep it!

What is Santa bringing your man this year?

12 Days of Christmas (#2) – Dear Santa

Today I’m going to show you what’s on my Christmas list. I’m lying a tad, in that I didn’t ask for a few things because I knew they were over budget, or they’re things I’m planning to treat myself to. And of course, if anyone wants to buy me Naked 3, you can email me to get my address…

CollageFrom left to right, top to bottom we have…

A cute raspberry/plum toned nail polish. I’m desperate for one of these colours, not too fussy about brand (as long as it doesn’t take five billion coats to be a smooth finish)- I just think it’s the perfect winter shade!

Bodyshop’s Ultimate Brush Collection. I know this will be in my stocking this year, because I ordered it myself (thank you Love Your Body discount!). I’m very excited to get these brushes. Photograph from Essie Button.

A lovely jumper. I’m not really one for Christmassy jumpers on me (they just don’t sit right on my body shape), so I’d far sooner have a pretty classic to wear instead. This one is sparkly but still sophisticated, and I’m in love!

I said I’m not one for Christmassy jumpers, but I love this one as it’s not too cheesy.

I’m in the mood for a new perfume, and at the moment I’m quite taken by my namesake – Chloe. I’ll have to try this on my skin before committing it to Santa’s sack though!

This curler has been well talked about on the internet lately, and I’m so intrigued. I don’t particularly like to heat style my hair, but it would be nice to have a safer option than going natural when it comes to placement interviews!

I know, I know, I don’t NEED another Filofax, I have two (see here and here). But Plum Osterley’s are just so pretty, and I want one so much…

I think it is pretty obvious on this blog that my camera specs aren’t great – I love the ease of wireless uploading, so I’m loathe to part with money for a camera when I know I’ll revert to not using it. This bit of gear would solve that, but its just so, so, so expensive. Well, well out of my student budget anyway! If anyone knows of a cheaper option, please let me know!

Quite a few cookery books made it onto my list this year. Bread by James Morton (because I loved him on Bake Off, I want to bake more bread, and he is the spitting image of my boyfriend), The Leftovers Handbook (it just looks so useful!), James Martin’s Fast Cooking (I just love his recipes), and Save with Jamie.

 

There we are, that’s what I’m secretly hoping Santa will bring me. Of course, I’m not expecting a lot as I’d sooner my parents spend money on a food shop for me next term! The thing I’m looking forward to most of all on Christmas morning – watching everyone else unwrap the presents I’ve carefully chosen them – I hope they like them!

What’s on your Christmas list?

 

 

Budget Buys: Personalised Pampering Gift Set

I love making up hampers and gift-sets as presents for friends and families – it looks like so much more effort has gone in that picking something up off of the shelves, and you can personalise it to their individual tastes. I thought over the next few weeks I would do a few posts on some of the gifts I have made up over the years, and some products I would recommend. First up is a girly-night-in pampering set!

2013-11-25 14.19.41Basically, this little series is going to be all about what I would love to receive in a gift like the ones I am describing!

If someone was going to make me a gift set of pampering goodies, I’d love them to go more on the treats rather than the beauty products (I find they are such a personal thing – I for one hate really scented body lotions, which are commonplace  in most pre-made budget options).

I’d love a pair of slippers (I treated myself to the ones in the picture in Primark, for £2), some girlie magazines (if they have freebies, so much the better!), a cute mug (Cath Kidston is the obvious choice, but Wilkinson’s have some great ones too!), and some chocolate goodies.

On the beauty side of things, I personally would prefer to be given nail polishes, maybe a nail file – things that aren’t going to irritate skin or cause fear that the recipient smells! This set was £2 and I talk more about it here.

I reckon you could make a great set for £10, and I know this is the type of present I love to receive!

 

Do you make up your often gift sets or hampers?