Archive | December, 2013

Gimme fiver!

21 Dec

Primark hats

Got a tiny budget but a big list of people still to buy for? It’ may be too late to order online, but if you’re hitting the streets to do your Christmas shopping, you’d be surprised how many lovely gifts you can get for under a fiver these days. Yep, just £5.

Don’t believe me? Here’s my list of last-minute, under-£5 shopping suggestions (all available on the high street)…

Above, top of post: Christmas tree and pudding hats, £3 each, Primark.

Stocking fillers group shot 1

Above: Washing Uh Uh Up brush £5 House of Fraser; Grow your own chilli kit £4.50 Oliver Bonas; Drumstick pencils £5 and rubber band ball £4 both John Lewis.

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Above: Superman socks £4 BHS; sequin earmuffs £4 and leopard print scarf £4 both Matalan; statement necklace £5 Primark.

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Above: Shopping basket £4.99 and Darth Vader mints £4 both Sainsbury’s; ‘Kramig’ Panda toy £3 Ikea; Novelty glasses £5 Next (instore only); Skipping rope £1 Poundland.

Baylis and Harding Mini Trio £4 Boots

Above: Bayliss & Harding mini trio £4 and ‘Cute or What’ lip balm trio £5 both Boots; Sparkle nail polish £3 Next; Ginger Sparkle shower gel £4 The Body Shop (get 40% off everything instore until close of business on 24th Dec with code 19804).

Stocking fillers group shot 3 mugs

Above: Mugs £2 each Asda (what a bargain!).

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Above: Studio Eye Create Compact £4 Superdrug; Baru chocolate hippos £2.50 (these are DELICIOUS!) John Lewis; Oven gloves £3 each, Tiger (to find your nearest, visit http://www.tigerstores.co.uk).

Good luck and happy shopping!

On your Marks, set the table, go! WIN £200 of Marks and Spencer vouchers

20 Dec

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One of the MANY things I love about this time of year is laying the Christmas table. Growing up, I’d spend ages folding festive paper napkins into pretty shapes and throwing table confetti around like a crazy person.

So, I’m very excited to have been asked to help launch and co-judge a new nationwide bloggers’ competition with Marks & Spencer in which you can win £200 of M&S goodies (or one of two £50 runners-up prizes). All you need to do is write a blog entry explaining how you’d create a gorgeous table scheme for Christmas, New Year or any other special occasion, using M&S accessories.

To give you some inspiration, I’ve laid up my dream Christmas table with the help of the lovely people at M&S…

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Getting this look is EASY. The key is to stick to two main colours plus an accent shade (I’ve chosen red and white with splashes of green); and one or two themes or motifs throughout (I’ve gone for a Scandi feel with snowflakes). Making your table look pretty doesn’t have to cost much either – I’ve decorated a mini tree with ribbons and pine cones…

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…used pine cones and rosemary sprigs in a glass cake stand as a centrepiece; and used rosemary and ribbon to jazz up some plain white napkins:

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I’ve also cheated iwth a wrapping paper tablecloth. It goes well with the red and white, and after the meal I can just pop it in the recycling bin – no washing or ironing required! As for the chairs, I’ve simply tied on baubles with ribbon – simple but effective:

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Want to recreate this look? Everything in these pictures, apart from the white plates and cutlery came from Marks and Spencer (okay, the pine cones came from a tree in my neighbour’s garden, but you get the idea!)

Fancy having a go yourself and winning a fab prize? Here’s everything you need to enter the competition…

Bloggers, would you like to win £200 to spend on brand new tableware at M&S?

If your answer is ‘Yes!’ and you have a flair for interior design, then why not enter our Magical Dining Room Competition! To be in with a chance of winning all you have to do is create a blog post that shows what your dream dining room would look like, and how you would add a little magical and sparkle for a special occasion.

If you are posting before Christmas then you may like to include some of M&S’ festive tableware in your post. If you are posting in the New Year then let us know what items you would pick for a special dinner party.

What you need to do:

  1. Hop on over to the home section at Marksandspencer.com to started
  2. Choose your favourite products from the M&S Homeware collection (e.g. a dining room table, chairs, crockery and festive tableware)
  3. Create a mood board to show us what your dream dining room would look like and post on your blog. (You can use a tool like Polyvore or Paint to create a mood board, or just cut and paste product pics into your post). Here’s what my original moodboard looked like: M&S Christmas table selection
  4. Name your post: My M&S Magical Dining Room.
  5. Make sure you include the product name and price for each item you choose.
  6. Add the link to your post in the comments section of one of the judges’ blog posts by the 26 January 2014

Here are some useful pages that you may like use to find inspiration and reference in your post:

Who’s judging?

M&S has asked me and Jen of Love Chic Living to judge the entries and Jen is also running the competition over on her blog, so you can choose whether you enter here or there.

Jen and I will choose one overall winner from all of the entries and two runners up. The main winner will be awarded a £200 gift voucher and the two runners up will each win £50 to spend at M&S. We will announce the winners on our blogs two weeks after the competition closes.

The competition closes on 26th January at 11.59pm

GOOD LUCK!

Quids in at Christmas

16 Dec

Poundland Christmas tree CD

I watched a TV programme the other day that said the average person will spend nearly £900 preparing for Christmas this year. Yikes. I don’t think I spend quite that much, but like most people, I know I could definitely do with tightening my financial belt in a little.

But while £900 is a bit excessive, is it possible to buy everything you need to prepare for Christmas for just £20? That’s the challenge the lovely people at Poundland set me – the idea being you don’t have to spend a fortune when it comes to all those little extras that seem to add up at this time of year.

So, with a £20 voucher in my over-excited hand (Thanks Poundland – who knew they did vouchers?!) I went on my very own trolley dash round my local store.

And do you know what? It’s actually quite hard to spend that much in Poundland – even for a bargain hunter like me. So I easily managed to get all my festive essentials and more…

DECORATIONS:

Poundland Christmas decorations

I like Poundland’s tinsel – it’s £1 for a 2m strip and it’s not that weedy, thin stuff either. It’s thick, bushy and over-the-top sparkly! I also picked up these pretty mirrored tree decorations; some sparkly glitter snowflakes and some battery-powered star-shaped lights to pop in my fireplace.

WRAPPING KIT AND TASTY TREATS:

Poundland Christmas wrapping kitPoundland’s wrapping paper is a decent thickness, unisex design and what’s more, there’s a staggering 10 metres of it on a roll. I also stocked up on ribbon – four reels plus 12 bows again all for just £1. For those hard-to-wrap or last-minute gifts, I got a pack of three gift bags printed with happy snowmen and Santas; and a really sturdy post box-shaped wine carrier.
Christmas is the perfect excuse to stuff your face, so I splashed out on a box of liqueur chocolates; a Toblerone; and a pack of six teacakes which I plan to stack on a glass cake stand as a table centrepiece.

TO KEEP THE KIDS AMUSED AND ESSENTIAL BITS’N’BOBS:

Poundland Christmas kids stuff

Then, to keep my son and his little friends busy while I’m doing important things like scoffing mince pies – sorry, preparing the Christmas dinner – I got a huge pack of felt tip pens; a sweet little colour-your-own festive bag; and some old skool paper chains.
Slightly less excitingly, I looked for those mundane but necessary things like batteries and sticky tape. Buying these somewhere cheap like Poundland means you have more cash to spend on the fun stuff. So, I added a jumbo pack of batteries; a four-pack of tape; a good quality clip-top box (for all those leftovers); a pretty box of tissues and even a pack of four plain white cotton napkins (I’ve seen similar for £6 each on the high street!) to my basket.

Oh, and finally, as the soundtrack to Christmas, I picked up a cheesetastic  three-disc CD, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (top), with loads of traditional festive tunes (sung by the original singers, rather than cover versions). It goes for nearly a tenner online, so that’s officially the best bargain of the lot.

My verdict? I was impressed by the quality of things such as the batteries and snap-top box; and pleasantly surprised by how nice the wrapping paper, paper chains and tinsel were. People tend to pooh-pooh bargain stores like Poundland, but if you look carefully, you can find some real gems. And if you’re buying essentials like sticky tape or tissues, it’d be silly to buy them for more.

Green-fingered gifts

9 Dec

Garden gifts bee house

Every year on this blog, I promise to help readers find Christmas presents for people who are tricky to buy for.

If you have a gift-giving conundrum, please drop me a line at thetreasurehunteruk@gmail.com with the details of who you’re thinking of, and anything interesting about them such as hobbies, likes/dislikes etc. I’ll then hunt out some present ideas and post them up here!

This December, the first request comes from Helen, who needs to buy presents for both her dad and her friend Claire. They both love gardening, but she doesn’t want to get them: “something boring, like a spade or packets of seeds”. She also doesn’t want to spend over £25 each.

Luckily, there’s a whole host of gorgeous gardening goodies in the shops this year, and I’ve come up with some suggestions for her.

Hopefully they’ll inspire you too!..

Top of page: Thoughtful gardener bee house £17.50 Berry Red (www.berryred.co.uk) 

Garden gifts ladybird cushion bee cushion

Above: Ladybird and Bee cushions £25 each, Karenza & Co (www.karenzaandco.com)

Garden gifts soap grow own allotment hand therapy

Above: Gnome soap-on-a-rope £8* The Great Gift Company (www.thegreatgiftcompany.co.uk); Indoor Allotment £19.55 Play.com (www.play.com); Gardener’s Hand Therapy hand cream £9 Crabtree & Evelyn (www.crabtree-evelyn.co.uk)

Garden gifts trowels orla kiely gloves garden bag garden calendar

Above, clockwise from top left: Orla Kiely gardening gloves £14.95 Urban Cuckoo (www.urbancuckoo.co.uk); Matthew Rice A Year in the Country calendar 2014 £12.99 Cotswold Trading (www.cotswoldtrading.com); Gisela Graham gardening bag £10.99 Mollie & Fred (www.mollieandfred.co.uk); Garden tool set £15 Tesco (www.tesco.com)

Garden gifts wheelbarrow grabbers

Above: Purple wheelbarrow £28 Asda (www.asda.com/direct) – okay so it’s a little over the budget but it’s a bargain for such a cool wheelbarrow!; Get Gardening Leaf Grabbers £3.50 Wilko (www.wilko.com)

Garden gifts boot brush doormat lunch mugsAbove, clockwise from top left: Owl boot brush £12 Wilko (www.wilko.com); Dig for Victory mug £7* The Great Gift Company (www.thegreatgiftcompany.com); I Garden Therefore I Am mug £6.99 Urban Cuckoo (www.urbancuckoo.co.uk); Best in Show coir doormat £19.99 Retreat Home (www.retreat-home.com); Grow Your Own Christmas Lunch £14.99 The Oak Room (www.oakroomshop.com)

*GET 10% OFF AT THE GREAT GIFT COMPANY http://www.thegreatgiftcompany.com from today until midnight on 13th December. Just enter code SUN10 at the online checkout.

A little bit of Glamour

7 Dec

Glamour magazine UK January issue

Do you have a small room or flat you want to spruce up? Got a little space but big ideas?

Then buy a copy of this month’s Glamour magazine (January issue – Rihanna on the cover). It’s got a really useful three-page feature full of tips about how to make the most of your home, no matter how tiny.

Of course, I’m a bit biased, as I wrote it (!), but still… it’s very handy, it’s just £2, and it’s on sale now!

My YouTube debut!

3 Dec

Styling the shoot for First Direct

Last week I posted about a styling challenge I did for online bank First Direct to inspire people buying their first ever home.

Well, they’ve just released a short video full of tips with some behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the three bloggers involved (including yours truly making my on-camera debut!).

Watch it in all it’s glory on YouTube here…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuLYON3kasA

or on the First Direct Facebook page here…

https://www.facebook.com/firstdirect

 

 

Dishes of the day

2 Dec

Flamingogifts rabbit jewellery dish

What’s this? A classy-looking, useful gift that almost any woman is guaranteed to like, but that costs under a tenner?!

Yep, I couldn’t believe it either when I stumbled across these really lovely dinky jewellery dishes from http://www.flamingogifts.co.uk. At around 10cm across, they’re the perfect size for stashing rings, earrings, pendants, trinkets or even a watch, either at bedtime or when you’re doing the washing up.

Flamingogifts squirrel jewellery dish

And with a rabbit, squirrel, deer and owl (sitting on a lotus flower by the looks of it) to choose from, there’s a cute animal or bird design to suit everyone. You can even get a dish with a golden bird/robin on top, for glamorous girls who like a bit of added glitz.

Flamingogifts gold robin jewellery dish

I’m planning to get them for several friends this Christmas, and I’ve put the sparky little rabbit on my wishlist. Want one of your own? If you, ahem, hop to it, there’s 20% off everything at Flamingo Gifts until midnight today, meaning the owl and deer are a bargainous £5.59 (instead of £6.99) each;  the rabbit and gold robin are £7.99 (instead of £9.99); and the squirrel is £6.39 instead of £7.99.

Happy shopping!

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