And the bells are ringing out, for January.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t felt Christmassy at all in the run up to December 25th this year. I’m no Scrooge, but apart from watching two Christmas films, coincidentally two film adaptations of A Christmas Carol, and being a ‘bit gutted’ when I’d learned my mum had put up the Christmas tree without me, I haven’t felt that twinge of excitement. Perhaps it’s because I’m not religious. Perhaps it’s because I literally didn’t want anything for Christmas this year. Perhaps I’m too old for Christmas joy and cheer. I don’t know what it is but I’ve spoken to several other people about it, young and old and the conclusion was unanimous. 2013 was one of the biggest let downs of hyped Christmas tidings ever.

Christmas cakes and wrapping paper started creeping into supermarkets by the end of August, shops such as TK Maxx were already half way through their Christmas sales by November, TV has just been engulfed by reality TV, and 7million weeks of The X Factor and the weather, well, I don’t even want to talk about that. All of these disappointments did get me wondering however, how there could ever be a possibility of injecting some Christmas cheer into the nation again. This year, I finished working on 23rd December. By the time I’d finished dropping particular presents off at various destinations, sticking all the Christmas cards to the window and generally FREAKING OUT, it was like 6pm on Christmas Eve. Cue a meal out with the family, awkward TV conversations and sleep at 10.30pm, it was all of a sudden Christmas day. Despite being awake from 5am (a result of excessive sleep deprivation the night prior and I assure you, not excitement of Mr Claus’s arrival) I wasn’t surprised to see that it was already dark outside by 3.30pm and until the cheese and biscuits come out later, you do nothing but wait around on Christmas day. Maybe it’s because my family is miniscule, or perhaps I am more bah humbug than I want to be, but one thing is true, Christmas just didn’t FEEL like Christmas this year.

Bring back finishing work at least 2 days before Christmas and not going back between Christmas and New Year. Close the shops for more than 24 hours. Let the boxing day sales actually start on Boxing Day and continue into the January sales rather than begin on Christmas Eve at 8am. As a fast forwarded, ruthless and selfish society of today, we ruin Christmas for ourselves by not letting it play out its own course. It’s all rushed, it’s all thrown in your face from mid September. We have fed on Christmas and decline into tinsel comas by mid November. The commercialism and greed has shrouded the focus on family. No one seems to get a deserved break anymore, nothing seems to be able to wait. Everyone is apprehensive about returning to work, before they’ve clocked out for the festivities. People race to Boxing day sales, some stores (cough Next, cough) even begin the sales at 5am.

I found this comment on a Telegraph Article titled ‘Has Christmas been ruined?‘ dating back to 2006, a whole 7 years prior to this continued debate. Though I believe this comment comes from a view through rose tinted spectacles (as all good memories are), the basis of the feeling that everyone knows about Christmas, but no one can describe, stays the same:

“When I was a little child, Christmas Day was a day of wonder and delight. We had very little. Our presents were meagre and it was the only day that our family ever saw chicken, let alone ate it. But the fire burned bright and cheerful in the hearth, and it was just possible, if you really looked hard, to see Father Christmas flying across the sky to bring the presents of small, cheap toys, a precious orange, a bar of chocolate made to look like a snow man, and that piece of coal, right in the foot of Dad’s socks, which were our Christmas stockings. Our Christmas tree was a branch from the fir tree in the garden, decorated with paper chains we made ourselves. Wrapping paper was carefully folded and kept for re-use from year to year. None of this because my family was mean, but because it was Wartime and my family, like so many, was poor. On Christmas Eve we went to Church for the magical Carol Service telling the ancient story of the Nativity in song, and on Christmas Day we went to Matins, to return to the gorgeous cooking smells of that precious chicken. Has Christmas been ruined? Without any doubt.” – Tess Nash, 2006.

If I’m completely honest, I’m just waiting for January to begin so as a nation we can embark on our diets, and exercise, annihilation of bad habits and binge drinking until Christmas and New Year cheer is all but a distant memory come February 1st.

On the 12th day of Christmas I got something for FREE

FREE

It’s not a word that we hear often that doesn’t come with a catch. However, those good folks over at Apple, have released a new app, The ’12 Gifts of Christmas’, ready for download now (free) and then every day from 26th DEc 2013 to 9th January 2014, they will be releasing something for free to download. The download is available for 24 hours only, with releases such as Justin Timberlake’s new single, and also a live song from none other than The Rolling Stones.

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Thinking outside the stocking

Here’s my latest article on the HandBagFairy blog, it’s all about the little presents to give at Christmas that can show how much you love someone.

Sometimes we spend so long (and so much money) on one big present for someone special at Christmas that we forget about the little presents that make us smile just as much. Whether you have 10 people to buy presents for in your family, or just want to go the extra mile for someone this Christmas time, why not consider bulking up the present pile and saving the pennies on some of these great stocking fillers!

TK Maxx are notorious for being bargain central for designer branded clothing and accessories, but the main attraction for many is the weird and wonderful objects they stock in their home section. An abundance of quirky pieces from labels you’ve never heard of to top end designers awaits even the most skilled Christmas shopper in the form of their new sister company, Home Sense. You can pick up cutesey trinket boxes, beautiful smelling candles with mismatched candle sticks, food hampers and leather journals for 60% less than the majority of the high street. Spend lots of time exploring and not lots of money.

Now this idea has been floating around the internet for years, but it’s only recently, since up-cycling made such an indent on the home craft world that this gem has come to the forefront once more. You simply require, 12 pieces of paper, 12 envelopes, a pen and 12 ideas, one for each month of the year. You can give this stocking filler to someone you wish to spend more time with, or simply ideas to enjoy together. Favourites include, going to see a show, having afternoon tea or simply renting a movie and eating popcorn. It’s simple but perfect. Finish off by securing the pile of envelopes with a pretty ribbon.

Lastly, the stocking filler which has taken social networks by storm is Project Wild Thing. Project Wild Thing is a film led movement to get more kids (and their folks!) outside and reconnecting with nature. This year, the project, which has been running since 2010, is giving away WildTime Vouchers which are free to download. Just print them off and fill them out and give them to a loved one at Christmas. They make great stocking fillers for kids, but also for bigger kids who don’t realize how much they’ve missed being outdoors.

Think outside the stocking this Christmas, and get your loved ones ‘filler’ gifts that they’ll treasure as much as the rest.

If you want to have a go at writing something for the HandBagFairy blog, then follow this link.

The Hungover Games

I just had to do this quick post this morning in order to let anyone reading aware of why I feel I should not be allowed out on my own in public, hungover. Saturday night was the Christmas party (reunion) of uni friends, plus respective partners etc and got merry we did. Anyway, yesterday, I’m catching the train back from Lancaster and I’m amazed to find that where I get a seat (a lucky feat on a transpennine express train in the first place), there is a dog sat in the seat in front of me, and it puts its head between the seats and I pet his head etc. Then, I notice, the dog has a little cup with water in, placed on the little pull down table on the back of the seat in front. Then, as the journey gets going, I realise the dog is leaning on it’s owner, watching whatever the owner is watching on her ipad. She is watching Breaking Bad. So, this dog is more human than me right now, and to make it even more awesome, it’s actually watching Breaking Bad.

So, me being inconspicuous and basically just waiting for MI5 to take me on, I decide I’m gonna take a sneaky picture to put on Twitter, as no one will believe me what i’m doing. I clock the woman sat opposite me, and she keeps giving me shift looks. Just because I’ve boarded train wearing a culmination of colour because my suitcase is already full and i’m wearing everything that didn’t fit, and just because i dropped my suitcase twice on my face whilst trying to put it on the overhead shelf and just because I have a plastic bag instead of a handbag right now, doesn’t make me a bad person. I’m just hungover. Anyway, she’s watching me with a beady eye and I can tell that she knows I’m up to something.

My phone is on some weird blue tinge that I must have switched it on to last night when I was crunk, so I disable it and the flash and attempt to take the picture. Not only was my phone STILL on loud, to make things worse with the ‘cttch’ noise that echoed the carriage, I HADN’T actually turned flash off. The result was the owner turning around and looking at me with suspicion whilst I pretended I was taking some really awkward selfie. Perfect, obsessed with your dog and a fucking weirdo.

I reached for my phone again about half an hour later as the dog was in the perfect position for a photo, but then i caught something out of my eye. The reflection of the woman sat opposite to the side of me, staring at what I was doing. We had painfully awkward eye contact, and then I realised, that from where I was sat, both the woman and the owner could see what I was doing.

I just wanted to formally apologise to the owner of that dog, i don’t blame you for wanting to get off the train as soon as possible when it reached the station and race up the escalator with your dog. I was hungover, and I like dogs, I also was did I mentioned hungover, and bemused by the fact there was a dog sat on the train. From now on, I will stay indoors when I am hungover, and just flick through pictures on AWW on Reddit instead.

 

Why Christmas feels different when you get older

Well it does doesn’t it? I don’t think you become too old for the excitement of Christmas but part of the magic does certainly decrease and I feel it more than ever this year, what with working a full time office job right up until Christmas. Wangling myself out of Christmas Eve is probably the highlight of it all, but nonetheless, there’s something just totally shit about working around Christmas, especially the week the worldwide holiday is in full swing.

There’s just no time to buy gifts, no time to listen to Christmas songs and therefore no time to get excited. It just becomes a day off work to look forward to, but with Christmas falling on a Wednesday this year, many people are returning to work on Friday 27th. Hardly feels like a holiday does it?

Soho House is not fun without a reservation

I went to meet a lady in PR the other day in Soho House, we chatted on the roof terrace and it was all very nice and dainty.

We arranged to meet up again, and because this time I knew where I was going, I could acknowledge and actually take in the fact that, Soho House is bloody hard to find. Hidden behind a non descriptive, neatly painted blue front door on Greek Street, you could be walking into someone’s swanky London pad or even Trishas bar. Up the staircase and to reception, where you simply say the person’s name you are meeting and you are directed to which bar they are waiting for you in. This time, there was no reservation. In fact, embarrassingly, I just tried to walk straight up the stairs before “Excuse me Miss, do you have a reservation?” A reservwhat? You don’t need a reservation for a bar, surely?

After i’d been shoved into a corner to wait for the lady I was meeting, I quickly Googled Soho House on my phone and MY GOD. How on Earth do I get by in life without checking things out first? Soho House is not only members only, but of course you have to make a reservation before you arrive, as that’s normally the kind of thing you’d do when the standard membership  for a place like this is, oh, I don’t know £600!!!!! I mean, I knew London was different, and most of the time, I think I’m fairly okay with kind of just pretending I understand what’s going on, but the sad reality is that I just didn’t even think places like SH existed, let alone I’d be in one, with no reservation.