Tag Archives: wrapping paper

The store that’ll change your life (or at least, your shopping habits)

3 May

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In case you missed it, last week was ‘National Stationery Week’ (yes, I know, there’s a ‘week’ for everything these days). Having been a stationery geek ever since I first collected novelty shaped erasers at school, I decided this was the perfect excuse to treat myself to a few extra office essentials. Ahem, well, if you can count beautiful gold notebooks, stylish pens, quirky sticky notes and glass mason-type jars for making my pencils look pretty as ‘essential’..!

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And my shopping destination of choice for these goodies? Not Paperchase or some trendy stationers, but HEMA, an amazing shop stuffed with everything from stationery and craft materials to kitchenware and food, makeup and jewellery. Originating in the Netherlands (where HEMA is a household name), it’s a mini department store with a difference – everything they sell is designed at their Dutch headquarters and is well-made, simple, good-looking… and great value. Think the marketplace section at IKEA, crossed with the jaw-droppingly-low prices of Tiger Stores.

HEMA stationery display (orange)

The shelves of my local store in Bromley (above) are groaning with gorgeous, quirky and bargainous bits that you won’t find anywhere else. On my last visit, I had a gift voucher to spend, and quite frankly, it’s a dangerous place to let someone like me loose. The jars pictured at the top? They were just £2 and £3 each; while the pens and sticky arrow notes below them cost 75p each; and the notebooks were £2 (spotty) and £3 (faux leather cover).

It’s also a brilliant place to shop for presents, and my new go-to destination for giftwrapping supplies. Just check out these shelves:

UntitledFor example, this amazing geometric wrapping paper below was just £1.50 a roll; the handy gifting stickers £1.50 a pack; the fun mini bunting £2 (which would look great wrapped around plain giftwrap or brown parcel paper); and the matching washi tape £2.50:

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The cards are fab too, and very reasonably priced at between £1 and £2.50. Check out these lovely modern designs:

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There are five HEMA stores in the UK so far (in London, Kingston, Birmingham, Stansted Airport and Bromley), but if there isn’t one near you, don’t fret – you can buy everything online at  http://www.hemashop.com/gb/ (delivery is £4 to the UK).

What are you waiting for? Load your baskets now!

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.

We are sale-ing

28 Dec

Traipsing into town and battling my way through the sale crowds is the last thing I feel like doing today, so I thought I’d take a look online to see what bargains you can nab from the comfort of your living room (although they’re available instore, too). Here’s my roundup of the best… enjoy!

Dunelm Mill (www.dunelm-mill.com) have reduced all their cushions – their classy embroidered tulip design is now £8.99 (reduced from £14.99 – a saving of £6); while their turquoise London Bridge cushion is just £2.49 (was £3.99).

Debenhams (www.debenhams.com) has great homes bargains with up to 70% off. I’m stocking up on bathroom goodies, like their Missoni-esque Pink Santiago Stripe towels, £6.50-£17.30 (30% off the original price); and Matthew Williamson’s bathroom accessory range in teal, hot pink or black, with 20% off.

Paperchase (www.paperchase.co.uk) also has some gems. I’m going for the cute but classy  kitty keyring, £3.50 (was £7) and as I love all things Japanese, I can’t resist the Toykyo Trippers Shopper bag, £7.50 (was £15).

The ingenious kitchen gadgets and gizmos at Lakeland (www.lakeland.co.uk) are often a wee bit pricey, but their sale is a good ‘un. My top picks? The Star Swirly Cupcake Stand, £3.99 (was £11.99) and the soda-coloured set of three Vacupot jars, £5.99 (was £14.99).

The Body Shop (www.thebodyshop.co.uk) has reduced all its Christmas ranges – the Cranberry Joy shower gel I’ve blogged about before is just £2 now (down from £4) but the real bargain is their amazing-smelling grapefruit shower gel – buy a humungous 750ml bottle for £7.50 instead of the usual £12.50.

Thinking ahead, I’m also investing in some Homespun Spots and Stripes crackers, £6 (was £12) from House of Fraser (www.houseoffraser.co.uk). They don’t look Christmassy at all, so will be great for birthdays later in the year.

Thinking along the same lines, visit Thorntons (www.thorntons.co.uk) and stock up on Chocolate Cupcakes, £2.99 (was £4.99) and Continental Chocolates gift boxes – the two-layer, 350g box is just £4.99 (was £9.99). They’d make great birthday presents.

Finally, BHS (www.bhs.co.uk) have reduced all their giftwrap from £10 for a set of four rolls plus bows/ribbon, to just £4. Buy now and use it next Christmas – or get the Coral and Mint set with stylish birdcage designs that you can use all year round.

Happy sale shopping!

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