Home for Christmas

December 29, 2011

Christmas has been a bit too much fun for homeshoppingspy! I’m looking forward to returning to regular blogging next week. Meanwhile, here’s a few things I’ve enjoyed from a Christmas in South Devon:

Blackpool sands, South Devon, coastal walk, coast, beach, Christmas, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

1. A blustery walk along the coast to Blackpool Sands for pasties and chips on the beach!

Winter bike Christmas card, Etsy, Christmas, stationary, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrtys

2. I received this lovely Winter bike Christmas card, available from Etsy.

Toast, Dee Puddy, Nigella Lawson, BBC Food, Christmas, Devon, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

(clockwise from left) 3. Nigella Lawson’s Christmas Cup cocktail as seen in Stylist. Cherry brandy, sparkling wine and ginger ale (tastes like liquid cherry drops – amazing and very festive!). 4. Chocolate mince pies. I made these for a Christmas party and they went down a storm, visit BBC Food for the recipe. 5. Pretty crackers from Toast to complete our table setting on Christmas day. 6. To add a little sparkle we used these charming nativity scene tea light decorations from Dee Puddy. I hope you all have a fun New Year’s Eve. I’ll see you on the other side. – Alice

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On the 1st day of Christmas…

November 26, 2011

Ok, it’s almost countdown to Christmas time! Alas, I always feel a little disheartened when I see the shops stocked with tacky, commercial Advent calendars with synthetic pressed chocolates, that taste like plastic. Who buys those?

So, i’ve scoured around to seek out a few creative alternatives that I like and wanted to share with you. And they’re calorie free. Justification #327 for eating lots on Christmas day.

First up: The eco-friendly stationary people, Lollipop Designs. Create your own poster with this graphic Advent calendar and sticker sheet, a different sticker for each day. Why not?

advent calendar, Christmas advent calendar, lollipop designs, stationary, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

Lollipop Designs, Christmas, advent calendar, poster, craft, stationary, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

Lollipop designs, advent calendar, alternative advent calendar, stationary, graphic, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, idealhomemagazine

And I love this idea from The Spotted Sparrow at notonthehighstreet.com. 24 pre-dated blank library cards that you can customise with a suggested festive activity for each day (eat a mince pie, adopt a reindeer, practice Auld Lang Syne, take your hands OUT of the Quality Street tin…). They sit in cute brown paper pockets and come with bakers twine and wooden pegs to hang garland-stylee over a mantlepiece or banister. Ooh er!

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advent calendar, original advent calendar, Christmas advent calendar, notonthehighstreet.com, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

Next up: The lovely Bodie and Fou. Ok, so this idea is slightly more aimed at kids but I wouldn’t say no to a cube a day filled with ‘toys’ and other small but useful things! It’s a bit more pricey at £35.50 but it can be re-used year after year. (please note: toys not included. The idea is you get creative and fill it yourself).

advent calendar, alternative advent calendar, bodie and fou, children, Christmas, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

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And lastly, but by no means least is a charming DIY Advent calendar from the creative genius that is Lucy Jane Batchelor. It comes with 25 dated illustrated stickers to create your own wintry scene. Such lovely retro colours. Jolly delightful! – Alice

Advent calendar scene, Lucy Jane Batchelor, Christmas, Devon, staionary, alternative stationary, craft, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

Lucy Jane Batchelor, Advent calendar scene, Christmas, advent calendar, craft, devon, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

SO! I’m sure you’re all aware but Christmas is less than 6 weeks away. 6 WEEKS, I cry! To make things easier in the madness of London life (we must do what we can) I have vowed to buy all my shopping on-line this year. Everything. Including decorations and suchlike, which is why I’m most excited to discover that The Original Pop-Up Shop have gone on-line. Ding dong! Two years ago the lovely interior stylist, Louise Rastall and her mum, Carol, decided to transform their family run ice-cream parlour in Newark into a little festive pop-up shop, chock full of handcrafted Christmas delights. Think Cox and Cox crossed with Papermash

Christmas, the original pop-up shop, decorations, festive, on-line, louise rastall, handcrafted, scandi, alice humphrys

Their natural, Scandi-style decorations include porcelain keys and handmade crochet snow flakes. Their ribbons and patterned tape work really well with brown paper wrap and how cute is this felt acorn garland!?

handcrafted, Christmas decorations, garland, Scandi, rustic decorations, country styleThe traditional wrap packs are perfect for homemade mince pies which include Kraft bags, bakers twine, vintage style paper doilies plus hand stamped tags..(you just have to make something tasty to go inside)

kraft bag, bakers twine, mince pies, Christmas ideas, Christmas, pop-up shop, Ideal Home, The Original pop-up shop, doilie, handmadeand last but by no means least are these folky style cards from boutique stationers, Rifle Paper and Co. Scrum!

The Original Christmas Pop-Up Shop, Christmas, online, boutique stationery, folkTra-la-la-la-laaaa-lala-la-la. – Alice

Advent calendar: DEC 21

December 21, 2010

Our Art Director, Emma, spotted this edible Advent calendar at Biscuiteers… such a simple but lovely idea! OK, so it’s nearly Christmas Day now, but I might try to recreate this next year. After all, you know what they say: a biscuit a day keeps the doctor away. – Ellie


Advent calendar: DEC 11

December 11, 2010

O come all ye faithful, give that 11th door a mighty shove. It’s a biggie…

It’s a beautiful hand-printed Christmas card from Sort Design! At the Cockpit Arts open evening recently, I bumped into the moustached, charming and ‘revisionist’ typographers from Sort, and admired their lovely wares. To be honest, they probably thought I was a right freak because I hung around cooing over trays of type for an unhealthy length of time before stocking up on ‘Allotment Fancier’s Stationery Sets‘. Just in case. – Ellie

20 GORGEOUS gift ideas

November 29, 2010

Advent is nearly upon us. One very organised person recently announced to me that she has ‘finished’ her Christmas shopping. I haven’t started mine. So, let’s get organised.

I recently compiled the Ideal Home Gift Guide, and jolly good fun it was too. We used some beautiful robins wrapping paper from Allihopa (Notonthehighstreet) which you can admire above and buy here, and I got the task of scouring high street shops, supermarkets and online stores for the best gifts for our readers. It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. If you were sensible enough to pick up a copy of our December issue, you’ll be able to enjoy pages and pages and PAGES of gorgeous gifts. But here’s a little taster – 20 top online buys! Sadly I can’t set up links from every image because I’ve made them into stupid collages in PhotoShop now and I am what is known in the trade as ‘technologically-challenged’, but each image is labelled and I’ve put the links below. Alas, ’tis the best I can do.

Bowls, Roost Living; Calendar, V&A Shop; Cushion, Peak Princess; Chocolate tongues (!), Betty’s; Bird bath, The Balcony Gardener; Tea cosy, Emily Bond.

Needle case, The Contemporary Home; Alphabet purse, Alphabetbags; Hottie, The Fine Cotton Co; Personalised Cornishware, TG Green.

Candles, Jamie Oliver; Glasses, Jasmine Way; Bricks, Silver Cross; Print, Rockett St George.

Glass pots, Dotcomgiftshop; Orla Kiely casserole, BlissHome; Blanket, Anorak; Little mice, Notonthehighstreet; Platter, W2 Products; Compagnie de Provence set, Lifestyle Bazaar. Well, that’s given me a few ideas at least. (Anybody reading this who knows me, that ORLA KIELY casserole pot is VERY nice, HINT HINT HINT…) – Ellie

Christmas style ideas

December 22, 2009

The obligatory tin of Quality Street chocs is open in our office, and all the strawberry ones have gone already, so Christmas must be just around the corner. Check out these lovely festive touches…egg nog, anyone?

This is cute and oh-so-simple. Use a white board marker pen to write a Christmas message to Santa on a wine glass, or use it to write your guests’ names on their glasses so they double up as place markers.

This stunning wreath is easy to make with floristry wire and pine cones sprayed white (my top tip!) with Plastikote spray paint. I love the little reindeer model in the middle – so effective.

Yes, this handmade stocking is lovely, but it’s the vintage ice skates that I really want. What a lovely, wintery look! Too late for this year now I fear, but I’ll make a mental note to scour car boot sales for a cheap pair in 2010. Not that I need any more vintage tat.

Slipping a fresh flower stem through a ribbon on Christmas morning is a lovely idea, but a faux floral corsage or silk flower would be much less hassle and last longer. Somehow, fake is never quite the same though, is it? It would be so romantic to receive a gift with a red rose tied to it! I like this idea of tying little candy canes and lolly pops to presents, too. Always a crowd pleaser…

Candles complete a Christmassy look. Go for long-lasting ones so you won’t have to dash around replacing them when you’re busy looking after your guests or relaxing by the fire (if you ARE the guest). I always fall for glass bottles of one sort or another, so these little numbered ‘candle vases’ from The Balcony Gardener are right up my street:

I couldn’t resist a few colourful Cath Kidston Christmas pics to finish off. Mixing bright colours together always creates a warm, festive look, and I love her cracker designs this year. From the number of cushions and crackers in this image, I’d say Cath’s got her work cut out Christmas-dinner-wise. Let’s hope she’s ordered a nice big turkey! – Ellie