The reality of Christmas

I've just arrived home from nine days away for Christmas - four with my parents and four with Tom's with a day of tattoo time in between.  Surrounding the Christmas tree, which up until last week was enveloped by presents wrapped in multicoloured paper awaiting being torn off by friends and family, now bears the presents we've been given, on show for us to enjoy before they're absorbed into the house.  I want to savour those last few moments of Christmas but now it is New Year's Eve and I don't feel quite ready for the new year but it's coming anyway, regardless, regardless of the fact that there are clothes to unpack and to wash, Christmas DVDs still in their wrappers, tins of Celebrations and Pringles unopened.

Looking back on the last nine days I can't help but wonder if I was a Christmaszilla (like a Bridezilla, but Christmas.  Is that a thing?) I know I started getting excited sometime around mid-October, when presents began being bought, Michael BublĂ© made his first appearance on my iPhone and I started dreaming of stringing the house with Christmas lights.  Like the anticipation of a carefully planned event or a wedding, months of excitement and 'looking forward' can almost never deliver a day that is exactly as you imagined.  That's not to say that my Christmas was disappointing, far from it, it was wonderful.  But in my head every moment was filled with the smell of mulled wine, family gathered around a board game, Christmas films with the fire roaring away, glasses of Bucks Fizz, the savouring of special presents, laughter, joy.  And I'm so very lucky that we did all of these things, but I probably need to remember next year that it can't be all of these things all of the time.  That sometimes people want to do things that they want to do, or they might not like playing board games or eating the things that I want to eat and that's okay too.  I sometimes wonder if all of the media we consume, be it TV programmes and adverts, films, or the snapshots we get of people's lives through blogging make us believe that everything has to be picture perfect all of the time.  That we have to handmake immaculate gifts, have a Christmas that's bursting at the seams with non-stop fun, pick up the best bargains in the sales and then reflect on our perfect years.  But we would all do well to remember that sometimes Yorkshire puddings get burnt, you run out of wrapping paper, the shoes you wanted in the Debenhams sale sell out before you get a chance to buy them and the cookies you baked turn out like unsightly splodges instead of Christmas trees.  There's always next year.  What matters is friends and family.

Presents under the tree
Presents under the tree at my parents'
Dad's hamper
My Dad being chuffed with his hamper
Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner
Lush gift boxes
Lots of Lush treats

I thought I would really enjoy having a break away from blogging but in reality I missed it a lot.  I was lucky enough to receive a Kindle Fire HD for Christmas so I've been keeping up on reading blogs but I've missed being able to share things on here.  I've found renewed motivation and excitement for blogging whilst I've been away and I want to make 2013 a great year for the blog with lots of good things to read on here.  Blogging has become a huge part of my life and moreso even over the last few months and I owe it all to the awesome people who take the time to read it and comment (thankyou!) I spent some time earlier setting up a little Facebook page for the blog which I hope to put other bits and bobs on so please give it a like if you fancy.  Hope you all have wonderful New Year's Eves; I'll be spending it with Tom, Bodhi, an array of Marks and Spencers party food selection boxes and some good movies.  I can't think of anything better.

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Parka jackets and steak sandwiches

Just a quick post today as it's Christmas Eve and I'm sure you've got much better things to be doing that looking at photos of me in my new coat.  Yesterday Tom and I made the trip over to my parents' house near Portsmouth but on the way we stopped off for lunch at a relatively new restaurant in Christchurch called the Arcado Lounge. Like a kid at Christmas (except for one that's been naughty and bought lots of new things just before Christmas) I wanted to wear all of my new things at once regardless of whether they technically 'went' together.  Behold my new parka jacket, boots and satchel! The parka was a bargainous £35 from sheinside.com - I saw it on their Facebook and knew I had to own it, it's shearling lined and so cosy (though the hood is a bit OTT, it's literally huge!) I bought the boots when In Love With Fashion had a 50% off code last week so luckily I wasn't too annoyed when they went down to £24 in the sale, again a bargain for that price.  Also obviously loving my new satchel too though slightly annoying having to do and undo the buckles all the time, I would have preferred a popper!

Outfit post ILWF boots
coat: sheinside £35 // jeans: cheap monday  [old]
boots: in love with fashion: £24 // satchel: cambridge satchel via asos

Outfit post parka jacket

As I mentioned, we nipped to Arcado Lounge in Christchurch for lunch.  We hadn't been since it opened in September and I immediately fell in love with it as soon as we walked in, the interior was amazing and it has my perfect menu - burgers, tapas, sandwiches and lots of other tasty main meals.  I had a steak sandwich and Tom had a burger with chorizo, chipotle sauce and chillis.

Arcado Lounge


We're now all settled in at my parents' and ready for a day of Christmas films, mince pies and board games.  I hope you're having a wonderful festive period with lots of mini foods and sofa times! I feel really lucky to be with my family at Christmas and to be enjoying good food in their lovely home, I watched on the news this morning about the impact of the floods and feel so sorry for people who haven't been able to get home for Christmas, or, worse, people who've had their homes ruined by the floods.  Hope you all have a lovely Christmases and that Arthur Chimpus (as my Dad calls him) brings you everything you wish for.

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Waiting for the snow to fall

I am starting to think about getting packed and ready to go to my parents' house for Christmas tomorrow but before we pile the car high with presents and tins of sweets I thought I'd share a few photos from the last week.

Me and Sarah // credit SW Bloggers
The Birdcage, Bristol

Last Sunday I went to The Birdcage in Bristol for the South West Bloggers Christmas Party.  It was amazing to see so many of my favourite ladies in one place, plus there was cake, presents, goodie bags, tea and champagne - what more could you want from a day out? If you want to see more photos check out Sarah's post, or Gina's (who very kindly organised the event along with Bee, Lyzi and Hayley - massive thanks to all of them for making it such an awesome day).  It was all to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support which is a really important charity close to a lot of people's hearts (mine included).  The prezzies were all donated by companies so I owe a special thanks to Batiste and Macadamia Oil for my haircare goodies, and The Birdcage for the vintage scarf!

On Wednesday morning I went to Southampton to get a section of my shin and foot tattooed.  I already had a swallow on my foot (bonus points if you can name the album cover) but I wanted to add more so I've added a ship and some waves.  I'm getting a lighthouse on the other shin next week (if I can convince myself to go back for more pain!) This is just a crappy instagram photo of it so far, I'll take a proper photo when they're both done!

Since then I've spent lots of time with my foot elevated watching rubbish TV, along with wrapping presents and generally getting ready for Christmas.  It's still so sore I can't really wear closed shoes or boots so I went to Christchurch this morning wearing deck shoes in the torrential rain and it was horrendous! I don't know whether it's because I can't wear boots or my fleece-y slippers for a few days but I've been daydreaming about buying some Ugg boots, are they still considered a mega fashion faux pas? I think these would be so cosy!

Tom's Mum, sister, niece and nephew came round today for a day of presents, party food and Bucks Fizz so we got the house looking nice and got lots of yummy food in.

Living Room
Tom playing an impromptu concert for Bodhi
Christmas table

Rob Ryan plate

The lovely Rob Ryan plate comes courtesy of Not The Usual.  I featured one of their items in a recent gift guide and they kindly got in touch and asked if I wanted to review one of their items.  I really love their site so I jumped at the chance and picked this plate.  We've recently moved the table into the lounge from the conservatory and it looks so lovely on the table (almost too nice to use!) I highly recommend you check out their site, it's full of quirky little gifts (and lots of things I want myself!)

Talking of buying things for myself, I may have been a bit of a naughty little sausage and treated myself to a few pre-Christmas presents.  I had an Amazon voucher so I bought some DVDs and books to take home over Christmas. Along with the DVDs below I also got Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Tangled and Jack Frost.  Cannot wait for lots of sofa and movie time, I never allow myself to do that normally (always too much to do!) but I think I need some chillout time over Christmas.

DVDs and Books

I had some money left over from my Yourvine/ASOS voucher so I picked up some things in the ASOS sale too, the highlight being a 15" Cambridge Satchel for £61.50! It's out of stock now unsurprisingly but it's so beautiful, I keep stroking it! I also got some pajamas and loungewear, I've packed them in a box with my DVDs so I have a little 'cosy Christmas kit' to take to my parents'!

Not all of my early Christmas presents have been bought by me however, I also received a lovely little surprise courtesy of Ladbrokes who are celebrating the launch of their Christmas slot games.  They very generously sent me some Cath Kidston mugs, a candle and a subscription to a home magazine; obviously I picked Country Living!  Can't wait for the first issue to come.

I can't wait to see everyone open their presents on Christmas Day, I am so excited I don't think I'll be able to sleep the night before! My favourite present is the hamper I made for my Dad.  It's in a vintage wine box and has so many treats I know he'll love in it, foodie treats like ales, chocolates, nuts and chutneys and also things like a Titanic ice cube tray, a mug and a cheeseboard set.  I can't wait to see him digging around and finding all the things hidden in there!

Christmas Hamper

In case you missed it, I did a round-up of my year in weight loss over on the Where Are My Knees blog.  I've lost 23 lbs this year so I wholeheartedly deserve every Matchmaker, Chocolate Orange and mug of mulled wine I consume over the next few days (back to the diet on the 2nd!)

I'm now off for a long bath with a Lush bath bomb and some candles, most likely followed by some puppy cuddles and an early night.  How are you all getting on with your preparations for Christmas?

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Cross boots and Marc B tote

Oh how I hate taking outfit photos inside.  Rather excitingly however I have now finished work for Christmas and don't go back until the 2nd so my days will be filled with daylight rather than driving to work in the dark and driving home in the dark.  I'm sure Tom will be thrilled that this means an increase in shivering in the road outside our house and taking photos in the street whilst drivers look on curiously.

Outfit post chiffon peplum
boots: missguided £45.99 // peplum top: vero moda at zalando* - £13
jeans: american apparel easy jeans £64

Spike cross boots

This was the outfit I originally put on to go to our Book Club dinner on Monday.  Not long after getting dressed however I said I would take designated driver duties so it was impossible to wear my amazing new boots and I switched to some flat shoes that were a little more car pedal friendly.

Outfit post red cardigan
boots: one step at spartoo // cardigan: uniqlo [old]
bag: marc b*

Much more sensible! I bought this top with a voucher kindly given to me by Zalando.  They gave me a £30 voucher and I managed to get two peplum tops with it which I was quite excited about (this is the other).  Although I'm slowly bringing dresses back into my life I do really like peplums or other dressy tops as I think they're perfect with jeans for a dinner out or when you want to look a bit smarter.  The bag was kindly sent to me by Marc B and I absolutely love it.  The details are gorgeous, from the ostrich panels to the leopard print lining and signature Marc B gold heart.  It feels really well made and it's definitely going to be a favourite of mine from now on.

Our book club meal was amazing by the way, I had a steak, chicken and prawn combo and New York cheesecake, what a dream! Our next book to read is The Slap, has anyone read it?

I am currently sat in my pajamas with one pajama trouser rolled up as I got my foot and a section of my shin tattooed today and it is very, very sore! Tonight will mostly be spent with my feet up catching up on Monday's Made In Chelsea.  Hope you've all had lovely Wednesdays and get to finish work for Christmas soon! I used to work in retail and had a few years of only having Christmas Day off so I am thoroughly enjoying having a proper break this year.

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Spotlight on: Apparel Uncut

I think it's really important to support and promote small or independent businesses, so when my brother told me that a friend of his had started his own streetwear company I knew I wanted to feature it on my blog.  I've been chatting to AJ, who owns and runs Apparel Uncut for some time now and you might have noticed one of their backpacks in a recent gift guide, along with the advert on the sidebar.  Their t-shirts are awesome and I also love their hoodies and beanies - here is me in my Apparel Uncut shirt.

Outfit post DIY studded jacket
shirt: apparel uncut £22 // studded jacket: DIY here
leather panel leggings: missguided £11.99
boots: boohoo [old - similar here]
Outfit post Apparel Uncut

I had a quick catchup with AJ to find out more about the brand;

When did you start Apparel Uncut?

I started the brand back in January this year after a year of research into materials, brands, suppliers, designs and logos. The brand started as I always loved to design and make my own creative t-shirts using basic materials and people seemed to love what I produced and it just grew from there.

How did you come up with the name?

The name Apparel Uncut was based around my personal love for apparel clothing and also movies.  I think it implies a street/urban touch - the logo also features a film reel.  You'll also see it referred to as AxU, which I use as its nickame.

The website doesn't feature much about you, the owner - is this a conscious decision? What are the drivers for the brand - where do you see it in future?

I like to keep hidden away from the brand as I feel it should be more about the brand itself and the people who wear it.  I want people to feel cool wearing my clothes and I am constantly developing it and putting effort into future projects, materials and designs. I want to get my clothes into the coolest boutique shops around the UK and make people feel a part of the brand. I am lucky enough to have a massive team that supports me and works for FREE! And I couldnt ask for much more as I screamed for help at the begining and no one helped. Now I turn people away for help.  As AxU continues I want to hold events and try and give back to communities.  So stay tuned for the future of AxU!


I love how passionate AJ is about AxU and it helps that they have an awesome product line and loads more planned for the future.  Do check them out.

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An update and a bookmark dump

I've just got home from the South West Bloggers Christmas Party and am currently lounging in my reindeer onesie eating cheese and crackers, who says I don't know how to end a good night eh? I am currently much too tired and still recovering from Cheryl's rally drive of a journey back home to blog about the day now so I'll save that, and the two photos I actually took at the event for another day and give a little catchup on the last week instead.

Last week was a poorly one after I caught Tom's cough/cold/general germiness despite all the vitamins I stuffed myself with.  I promised myself that I'd work really hard with my exercising so I probably didn't help myself with persisting with morning runs and Pump classes and eventually had to give in and take the day off work on Friday to sleep and get myself better.  I also told myself that I'd eat healthily up until Christmas Eve but it's so difficult with all the Christmas meals in the run up to it, and the fact that our table in the staff room at work is now a festive spread of tins of Quality Street, fudge and mince pies! It was our work Christmas dinner on Wednesday (it was very civilised!) and I wore a dress I bought a couple of months ago from H&M. We did our Secret Santa at the meal and Tom (he works at the same place as me) was given Fifty Shades of Grey which was bizarre and amusing in equal amounts.

Dip hem dress outfit post
dress: h&m [old] // similar boots: bullboxer at spartoo: £61.99 here
ASOS and H&M outfit post
 leather jacket [old, from Barneys Originals // similar here]
Vivienne Westwood clutch from Spartoo
jewellery from 
Kukee and Me & Zena
Oh how I hate taking photos indoors! You might have noticed I re-bleached my roots, well I say I, Tom actually does my roots for me, he is very handy with a tinting brush! I use Live Colour XXL in Platinum and then wash it out and leave on Fudge Violet Shampoo which gives it that lilac-y tint.  I use that a couple of times a week with Aussie Three Minute Miracle to keep it healthy looking despite the bleaching.

This week is a busy one with my Book Club Christmas Meal on Monday (yes I go to a book club, yes I am a dweeb) - we're going to the Harvester where you can get three courses for £13.99 and salad bar! To say I'm excited is an understatement (must remember not to eat so much salad bar I can't eat my meal this time). On Wednesday I'm getting more added to the tattoos on my feet so the rest of my week will be spent with my shoes off and my feet up as Tuesday is my last day at work before Christmas! I'll be making sure everything's wrapped and the house is looking nice ahead of visits from both Tom's family and mine at the weekend.  Are you all ready for Christmas yet?  All of that wrapping has meant there's lots of empty wrapping paper tubes for Bodhi to play with, I'm not sure if he's scared of them or he likes them though as you can tell from the video below! (Sorry bad iPhone quality).

Here's some bits I've recently been bookmarking or I thought were worth a share...

// I loved this article by Pitch and Post on 'How important are comments on your blog?' - really interesting reading.

// I've been using these holiday gift tag printables for all of my gift tags this Christmas; printed on card, holepunched and strung on bakers' twine they look so pretty!

// I love Snickerdoodles so these Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Cookies are definitely being baked this Christmas!

// Whilst I'm on the subject of the Tasty Kitchen blog, check out their Red Velvet Hot Cocoa, Pumpkin Spice Hot Apple Cider and Nutella and Sea Salt Fudge...

// Absolutely loving everything on Not A Box - their mirrors and lanterns are gorgeous!

Will sign off now as I'm starting to get a headache, probably from the champagne and huge slab of cake I consumed this afternoon but I hope you've all had lovely weekends,

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Weekly Bookmarked Wishlist 02

1. Deer Initial Necklace // Punkypins - £12

2. Star Print Blouse // Fashion Union - £20

3. Dip Dye Sweater // Fashion Union - £18

4. Sac De Voyage // David Jones // £36.99

5. Batman body con dress // eBay - £7.49 or here for other sizes

6. Distressed print maxi // Mary Jane Fashion - £14.99

7. Gun and Holster tights // Missguided - £9.99

8. Wet look skater skirt // Missguided - £14.99

Yet again being a right old greedy bum and wanting more things despite Christmas and having treated myself to a few things lately.  Been spending lots of time nosing around the bags section of Spartoo (instead of my usual shoes wishlist from them) and I love that tan weekend bag (it comes in lots of different colours) though from previous experience anything that's described as a weekend bag works as a daily handbag for me (yes I like to carry around the kitchen sink...)

The deer initial necklace was originally an idea for a Christmas present for someone but after being unsure whether they'd like it I decided it'd make a much better Christmas present for me.  Yes, I'm generous like that!

And I'm fairly sure I NEED those tights; looking like I'm smuggling a machine gun in my boot is definitely a look I'm willing to embrace!

One last thing, you might remember my recent post about saving money when Christmas shopping.  Because I mentioned in that post that I obsessively collect Nectar points, Confused.com got in touch to let me know about their current promotion in case any of you lovelies fancied netting yourself some points. They're giving away double Nectar points until February 2013 when you purchase car, home, pet, bike, van or income protection policies, meaning you'd receive 2,000 Nectar points - perfect for a little treat.  Added to this, if you buy buy life insurance through Confused.com you'll get 10,000 Nectar points which would net you an even bigger treat! Definitely worth a look (that's a lot of tins of Celebrations in Sainsbury's!) You can also now get Nectar points when buying on ASOS so make sure you get a card and earn some points if you regularly shop on there.

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Winter Warmers | Clarks Wishlist

I'm going to be honest and say that up until about a year ago my thoughts of Clarks shoes were limited to my memories of them as a child.  Who doesn't remember getting their feet measured by placing them on the board with the metal slider, and how about the Magic Steps shoes with the key in them? (If you don't remember that and you're a child of the 80s this advert might take you back...)

It was Chloe at Chloe Likes To Talk that brought me round to the idea of seeing what Clarks have been producing in the 20 years since I last set (a significantly smaller) foot in one of their stores and I was more than pleasantly surprised.  These days they produce good quality, classic shoes but with modern styling, and my recent attempts to 'buy less, buy better' mean that I've often visited their website when looking for shoes or boots that I know will stand the test of time, both in quality and timeless style.  If you weren't already convinced their shoes have been brought well into the 21st Century then check out their collaboration with Mary Portas - when it was launched last year one of the pairs had a 1000 strong waiting list.

After enduring many winters decked in thoroughly unsuitable footwear I'm only just coming round to the idea of owning a few pairs of boots to get me through the chillier season.  I must say there is a rather enviable selection of ladies leather boots by Clarks - they even have a winter warmers section of 'warm lined' boots to keep your toes cosy (I wrote toesy, ha!)

Here are some of my favourites;

Mortimer Liz - £79.99
I am inexplicably drawn to these - at first look I dismissed them as functional over stylish but then I imagined them with skinny jeans tucked in, or tights and a long dress (and my toes started dreaming of that furry lining) and I must admit I'm now really feeling them!

Hamble Oak - £54.99
These are from another genius collaboration - Clarks and Harris Tweed.  You all know by know how much I love a good pair of brogues and I love the edge the wool tweed gives them.  They're also Clarks softwear lined for a comfy fit.  They do a men's range and I know Tom would love these trainer boots with tweed too.

Camelia Crown - £49.99
I am really intrigued by the 'banana' heel that's on trend at the moment and I love how these are so 'classic' and yet the matte glitter fabric makes them perfect for the evening too.

Have you checked out Clarks recently?

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Kiki's Boutique | Washbag and Gift List

I've posted on here previously about a shop that's close to my heart (and close to my house!) - Kiki's Boutique - both via posts about how much I love the shop itself and outfit posts with their dresses.  As they're a shop that's local to me, and a small business, I really enjoy supporting them and have kept in touch with the lovely ladies that run it.  They recently very generously offered to send me a little something to review.  They have an amazing range of Disaster Designs bags, purses, make-up bags and wash bags and I chose this lovely Bon Voyage wash bag which is just pretty as a peach - I love all the little details on it and it's so perfect for a little trip away.

Along with the having the most covetable collection of dresses I have ever seen in one place, Kiki's also have a great selection of gifts which are well worth a nose if you've got anyone left on your list to buy for.  I would be over the moon to receive any of these little treats!

1. 'Why not?' iPad case - £16.95
2. Paper Plane Make Up Bag - £17.00
3. La Boutique Make Up Bag - £18.00
4. Birdy Esspresso Cups and Saucers - £29.95
5. Alphabet Mug - A - £8.95
6. Pip Studio bowl - £8.95

I love the Alphabet Mugs in particular - there's a different design for every initial but I don't like the R one (it's a rocket) so I'm having A as my adopted initial.  Of course I love L too as I have a thing for lighthouses. I could be an Annabel or a Laura though right? Just for long enough for someone to buy me a mug?

If you fancy picking up any of Kiki's lovely items don't forget you can get 10% off with ROSIE10.

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Honest to blog | Crisis of confidence

The first time I remember the thrill of buying new clothes was when I got my first job at the age of 15.  Having just discovered alternative music I would save my wages to get the bus into Southampton and buy wide legged flares, zip hoodies, skate shoes and plastic jewellery.  At 16 I went to a college with a big art and music department and met other people who dressed like me and we'd share clothes and shop together, expressing our personalities via the bands emblazoned across our hoodies (and competing for who had the widest legged trousers - and by the way this was 11 years ago, it was cool).  I knew then that I loved buying clothes and having fun with fashion but when I got older and didn't have 'alternative subculture' to define the way I dressed I sort of lost my way.

For the last few years I've fallen into habits with clothes, and fashion for me became finding ways to hide the parts of my body I didn't like.  As a result I have a wardrobe full of similar items; dresses nipped in at the waist with a skater style skirt were my comfort blanket, worn with a cardigan, tights and flats.  When I discovered blogging it made me question everything again - there are so many bloggers I feel inspired by, but those that do inspire me are often those with their own signature style, who can pull an amazing outfit together because they know the shapes, fabrics, patterns and outlines that suit them.  I could find endless inspiration, but I couldn't find myself.

These last few weeks I thought I'd found it.  I almost found myself regressing back to those college years - "I'm a trousers and tops person" I told myself.  I furiously pulled the majority of my dresses out of my wardrobe and bundled them into a chest.  I smugly went out on nights out and wore wet look leggings and peplums whilst my friends braved the cold in dresses and bare legs.  "I'm just a casual person," I told myself. I seeked comfort in jeans, t-shirts and jumpers and bought cosy hoodies.  "I like street style," I told myself, and dug out my old Nike Air Force One trainers.  I ditched the high waisted skirts I used to wear to work in favour of trousers and t-shirts and the heels made way for brogues and ballet flats.  I developed an aversion for tights.

Of course another epiphany arrived as quickly as the first.  At least now I could be honest with myself.  I'd lost my way completely.  I'd gone from 'the girl who always wears dresses' to 'the girl who always wears trousers'.  I was even more lost than before.  That was a few days ago.  I'm no closer to answering the question of 'What is my personal style?' or 'What does Rosie dress like?' I took some outfit photos last night and I deleted them as soon as I saw them, they just weren't 'me' (not to mention I looked terrible!)

When I woke up this morning I wanted to 'dress up' and feel good about myself again.  I wanted to be able to walk around work with my head held high.  I want to be able to post outfit posts I can be proud of and not have a meltdown at the thought of attending a blogger event.  Here is my first try.  And you know what? It felt so good to put a dress on, and even better to put heels on.

Outfit post
dress: all saints [old] // snood: asos [£15]
boots: new look* [£29.99]
Outfit post

I was recently sent a £30 New Look gift card and I bought these shearling lined shoe boots.  My originally thought was that they would go well with all the jeans I'd been wearing, but they look pretty good with a dress too right? ...*Opens up the chest*....

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Christmas traditions

One thing I love is discovering other people's family traditions.  In life it's so often the little details that make the biggest difference and it's those quirky components of a celebration or a year that really warm my heart.  Because of this I adore hearing about how other families 'do' Christmas Day.  I'm sure there's no one family on the planet that do every single detail the same and I find that so exciting! Last Monday Tom and I went to Brockenhurst in the New Forest to pick up our tree and decorate the house.  I have some photos I wanted to share of the day but I also thought it was a fun opportunity to tell you about our family traditions for Christmas Day.  Although Tom and I no longer live at home I still haven't spent a Christmas away from my parents' house and for me it's utterly my favourite time of the year, and my favourite place to be.  Because my brother works away in Leeds (though soon moving to Norwich), I live about an hour away and even my Dad works in Dublin during the week it's really the only time when we get to spend an extended period of time together and every year I count down the days until I can completely immerse myself in family time, and all of the details that make it so special to me.

Tom and I decorated the house last week and I've already wrapped lots of presents! I must admit it's looking absolutely lovely - I can't wait to get home from work every evening so I can sit and enjoy the lights and the smell of the tree.

Christmas presents Christmas reindeer Christmas presents Christmas tree Christmas decoration

Tom and I will both be heading to my parents' on the evening of the 23rd.  There, our family Christmas traditions begin on Christmas Eve.  We almost always go out for dinner together and often we make a trip to the cinema too (though less often in recent years).  I remember being much younger and sitting in the darkness of the cinema, full to the brim with excitement about the impending festivities and eager to get home for one last peek at the presents under the tree before it would be time to see what was concealed under the wrapping paper the following morning.  On returning home my Mum always suggests opening a present and everyone is always reluctant, eager not to forego even a tiny bit of the joy of the next day.  The evening of Christmas Eve might end with a board game or another Christmas film, and will certainly involve cosy pajamas and slippers, the fire roaring away and a warm drink or two.  Of course when my brother and I were younger there were even more facets of the Christmas Eve routine - a carrot left out for Rudolph and a mince pie and a drink for Father Christmas.  Oh the indescribable glee of the next morning finding a plate of crumbs and a half eaten carrot! There would even sometimes be snowy footprints on the stairs that if one had dabbed a finger in might have tasted peculiarly of flour...

On Christmas morning the first person to wake usually wakes up the rest of the family and we gather downstairs in pajamas and dressing gowns for warm croissants and Bucks Fizz.  After we've devoured breakfast we open smaller presents from stockings and the like.  We used to open all of our presents in the morning but these days we open a few as we go along to eke out the excitement and pleasure throughout the day.  As soon as we've opened the first set of presents some of us will disappear off to get washed and dressed and others will get started on cooking Christmas lunch.  The smell of the turkey will waft through the house as upstairs any new bath/shower products are given their first try and clothes that have been laid out for Christmas Day outfits are pulled on.  More Bucks Fizz is poured, Christmas songs are on the stereo, tins are chocolates are cracked open and the day is in full swing.  At this stage Bodhi will be tearing around (literally) - ripping wrapping paper to pieces, wearing his Santa hat and enjoying any new toys he might have been lucky enough to receive!

The rest of the day will pass in much the same vein - gathering to open presents, top-ups of drinks, mass consumption of any chocolate based stocking fillers, Christmas music and the house filled with the smells of the lunch we spend the whole year waiting for.  It never disappoints - piles of crispy potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, turkey, pigs in blankets and bucketloads of gravy.  We eat until we can't eat anymore, and then we eat dessert.  There will be candles burning, Christmas carols and the buzz of excited conversation - talk of our favourite presents and which board games and Christmas films will fill the afternoon.  And they will - Frustration, card games, Balderdash, Scrabble, Wii Bowling... with prizes for the winners! We'll while away the afternoon with Christmas specials on TV (already pre-circled in the Radio Times) before a bracing walk along the beach at dusk to burn off all those naughty potatoes and chocolates (well, maybe not all of them).

Even reliving the day makes me feel full of anticipation and eager for the next two weeks to rush by! It also makes me thankful for how lucky I am to be spending Christmas in a warm home with a loving family and I've made a donation to Shelter to help those that aren't fortunate enough to have those things we take for granted.

Now I've told you my Christmas day, tell me about yours! What are the traditions you and your family uphold every year? What's the little detail you most look forward to?

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