10 things 20 Somethings should do when throwing a Christmas Dinner

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I am trés excited for Saturday 12th December. Not only is it the official first day of Christmas, (don’t gimme any of that 1st December bullshit, it’s the 12th and you know it) but me and my nearest and dearest London pals are throwing a Christmas dinner. As we are all 20 somethings and attempting a Christmas meal, I thought the title for this post was very apt.

  1. Mistletoe – At the door, on the floor, in the cupboard that everyone opens thinking it’s the bathroom. Put it everywhere, chances are in your twenty something friendship group there’s either a couple, a maybe or some potential hook ups of tomorrow, either way, spread a little Christmas magic and be a Christmas cupid.
  2. Plan what you’re cooking at least the day before. Otherwise you will end up with half meat feast/half pepperoni dominoes setting you back around £25 pp. You could have gone gourmet for that price.
  3. On that note, budget: Set your budget at £10 or £20 per head for food and booze. You can get some really good deals in places like Iceland and Lidl without spending a fortune and can get some interesting German brands (Lidl especially) which will just make Christmas all the more authentic for you!
  4. Keep Secret Santa an actual secret. I mean myself and my friends tried to keep it secret this year and I worked out 70% of the formula of who had who and to be honest kind of ruined it for myself and others (sorry guys). You’re in your 20’s, you’re not going to be able to give each other £50 Liberty vouchers (I don’t know why I said this like as soon as you hit 40 you can afford that either) so set a budget -£5,£10 will do and accept your present of malleable fart goo from the pound shop and be merry and gay about it.
  5. Music – Don’t let any of your friends, no matter how close you are, choose putting on Kisstory Christmas over the traditional holiday tunes, but do allow your token Jewish friend to play Hava Nagila for a bit before the Turkey comes out the oven, then it’s Bublé time and you know it.
  6. Games – No Christmas dinner party soiree is complete without a family row and board games. These days, you’re hip and cool in your 20s and if you live in Shoreditch you’ll have been playing dirty scrabble since 2011, but for the rest of us folk who can’t grow beards that birds can live in, Cards of Humanity or good old fashioned Charades is the perfect way to get everyone drunkenly debating/arguing.
  7. Plan a night out in advance and agree where you’re going to go. You’re going to be bloated and full and not in the mood to go out but then those old pangs of going clubbing on special occasions will come back to haunt you from teenage/university years and you’ll just have to go out anyway. Better to be sensible and plan/mentally prepare for it as early as possible.
  8. Have a little nap before you head out. You’re old. This way you’ll last until 2am which is an improvement on Halloween’s 1am.
  9. Do get dressed up to the nines. It’s Christmas. You’re still young and hot-ish. Don’t comedy dress. No one is going to kiss ‘sexy Rudolph’ with face painted bright red nose, because no one is longer 18 and people actually develop standards as they get more sensible/age.
  10. Get prepared for that hangover the next day because it’s going to be disgusting. Take the Monday off work.Recuperate by having two day Domino binge with the money you saved on not getting Dominoes for Christmas dinner.

3 Great (and affordable) Escapes from London

I stole this picture from The Telegraph (creditz to them) because I feel like it represents how the modern day residents of Blackpool see themselves when they’re pissed at 2pm on a sunny Saturday on the prom

Right that’s it, I’m going to stop pretending that London is the best place to be ever all the time and come out with the fact that sometimes LONDON SUCKS!

Are you waiting for a lazy summer holiday in the next few weeks or you’re saving up for a winter extravaganza, but you’re still finding yourself wistfully looking out the window? Longing for your summertime sadness to be over? ME TOO. London is hot, stuffy and suffocating in the summer months. There’s only so many ‘ciders in the sunny park’ days I can take before I explode (literally from all the cider) and somehow walking through a crowded Brixton town centre seems less exotic and more…well walking through a crowded Brixton town centre; often elbowing the influx of rah that have come for ‘pimms in Brocky park!’

I’m the idiot without a summer holiday planned – in fact, i’m actually classing my bosses being away for 3 weeks as a semi holiday I’m so desperate for one. And then I remembered my University days, of hopping over to Morecambe for an afternoon of sandy debauchery on the crumbling shores. Though we had to wear shoes at all times to avoid needles and my chips got stolen by a seagull the size of a small dog, I’m looking back on the seaside times as those of joy and freedom, rather than White Strike cider and washed up jonnies on the beach.

Sooo rambling on; it got me thinking about my top 3 fave places to escape to from London, and how affordable leaving the city actually can be, even if just for the day, and here are the diamonds I came up with.

1. Brighton

Hop on a train from Farringdon or Victoria and whisk yourself off to a land full of old people, candy floss and a lot of rainbows. From London to Brighton by train it’ll cost you roughly around £20 with a railcard, and the journey is just over an hour. Bring spades etc for playtime on the beach, or rent an Air BnB for as little as £50 per night; that way you can go out and get sloshed with the local crowds and throw up off the pier at 3am. Beautiful.

2. North Wales

For £75 you can get a train to Portmadog in Wales and relive your childhood of ice creams on the beach and rock pooling in nearby Criccieth. You can get a room in a local B&B for less than £40 per night, and although you might think there’s not much to do; get yourself down to a local pub for a spot of welsh karaoke and luckily the seagulls are only the size of small cats here so they won’t be able to pinch your chips when you’re suffering from a delicate hangover the next morning.

3. Aberdeen

Forget fancy Edinburgh or Go to Glasgow (sorry), and hit up Aberdeen. Flights are around £80 return and you can get a wee little place to stay for as little £22.50 a night if you opt for a hostel. Aberdeen has a range of things to do as well from the Art Gallery, the ruins of Slains Castle and the sandy plains of Balmedie Beach to the breathtaking views atop the Bullers of Buchan and the fun to be had at Union Square cinema and shopping complex.

Booking for late August or early September will make sure you don’t feel left out when people are talking about last minute holidays to the Maldives and you’ll be safe in the knowledge that not going to the Maldives means 1) you won’t get as sunburnt, 2) you saved yourself £600 you don’t have anyway and 3) you can drown yourself in British Mr Whippy and that slight smell of rotten fish on every British seaside…or is it sick, who knows?

For pictures of stuff I want but can’t afford follow me on instagram @ecarg_h

For my weekly ‘Monday Sucks’ tweet follow me @g_hetherington

For short videos of my gay best friend Julio follow me on Snapchat @yolonaise

5 Homemade Valentine’s Gifts and Their True Meanings

Yep, it’s that time of year again when everyone either gets all soppy or gets all stroppy. Some go all out on Valentine’s Day. I’m talking big bouquet, mountain of chocolates, and a romantic candlelit dinner at a swanky restaurant. But some don’t go all out, and instead go for the romantic (cheesy) home-made gift. You’ll find these gift ideas plastered all over Pinterest, trending through Tumblr and hopping through Hipsterville. These special, homemade gifts are meant to scream a thousand “I love you’s” and convince your loved one that you really care, hence why you took all the time (no time) to craft a special gift of loveliness and sugar plum fairy goodness, all in the name of love. But there is another, dark sided meaning to these thoughtful, homemade love tokens. And that message is, you simply couldn’t be arsed, could you? But they don’t know that right?

1. Breakfast in Bed

What your partner thinks- “Oh that is so sweet and adorable, and they even did my eggs just the way I like them!”

What it actually means- “I forgot Valentine’s Day and went to the shop at 6am to get you the exact same breakfast we have every Sunday but it’s different today because I shaped your toast into a heart.”

2. 12 Months of Pre Planned Dates

What your partner thinks- “Oh how wonderful, 12 whole months of endearing activities and exciting surprises for us to do together!”

What it actually means- “I ran out of ideas by June so the last 6 months is just ‘go to a movie’ ‘cos I’m hoping you’ll have forgotten by then…or we’ll have broken up.”

3. 50 Reasons Why I Love You Jar

What your partner thinks- “As if they couldn’t get more amazing, there’s just so many reasons in here, I can’t believe they thought of that many!”

What it actually means- “Hmm, I’ll use this old jar and fill 75% of it with scrunched up paper, I’ll make the other 25% of notes so illegible that they’ll give up reading and distract them with chocolate.”

4. Dairy Free chocolate Covered Strawberries

What your partner thinks- “Chocolate that’s kind to animals and still tastes delicious? How did they know?”

What it actually means- “Dairy Free means you’re less likely to get fat right?”

5. Carved initial…anything.

What your partner thinks- “A Candle/Paperweight/Twig with our initials carved into it? This is incredible and so thoughtful, it must have taken them so long to get it right.”

What is actually means- “I found this candle/paperweight/twig in the drawer and scratched it with my Dad’s Swiss army knife, sorry the S looks like a 5.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!


-photo courtesy of yardbarker.com


Dorothy was right

So for the past month, I’ve been working in Manchester doing a research job, and living back at home whilst the next chapter of London life unfolds or folds. I was looking forward to coming home a couple of weeks early for Christmas, having my tea cooked for me, having my washing, washed and ironed and lay out on my freshly made bed. Coming downstairs in the morning to freshly brewed coffee and croissants, warming my feet up by the fire. Reading a good book, whilst being snuggled with the cats on the sofa.

Unfortunately, this is my ‘dream coming home’ scenario, in which my mother doesn’t work 10 hour days, my cats actually like me and we are allowed anything in the fridge that doesn’t have ‘light’ prefixed to the product name. It’s true, life in a busy, cramped, South Manchester suburb might be what I’ve lived for the past 12 years of my life, but it’s certainly not something I’m aiming for for when I settle down myself. The place I lived prior to Manchester was set in the countryside, with a reservoir visible out of the back. I petted cows and sheep that rested their heads on the drystone wall and was generally just content with breathing in fresh air and not car fumes. The commuter’s paradise I’ve lived in since I was 9 is a nice, quiet, pretty village where people say ‘Hello’ to each other as they pass awkwardly in the street, but no one really knows each other. In London, if this greeting occurred, there would be weird nervous looks of curiosity at ‘the crazy man who just said hello to me walking into Kings Cross’. Saying that, I do miss London, I’ve been away from it long enough to miss it’s noisy charm, it’s bustling pace and it’s overall sooty feel. But is this just because I’ve got used to living the life I had before university again? Being home by 11pm latest on a work night as to not wake the already sleeping parents, making sure everything is ‘washed up at all time’s or at ‘least put in the dishwasher.’ Feeding the cats all the time as to not be scratched to death, realising that you’re sat in a room which was painted purple with silver swirls when you were 9, baby pink with roses when you were 13, oxblood red when you were 17 and freaking awesome and now pale forest green with a hint of guest room at aged 22.

So was Dorothy right? Is there no place like home? Because once you move from one place to another in childhood, clear off to university, have the time of your life, living in your own house with your own rules and then attempt to stand on your own two feet and then end up back at your parents house in order to afford your rent- home sweet home doesn’t seem so sweet when it’s not a choice.