Thursday, 25 February 2021

Erstwilder Brooch Haul

I've added a few new Erstwilder brooches to my collection since my last Erstwilder post in December, so I thought I'd combine them in to one post, and show you what I've been buying.

Let's start with the newest and work our way back.

The most recent addition to my brooch zoo is a mama and baby koala brooch called Koolah and Guula, an old Erstwilder design which has been reworked for their latest Fan Favourites collection. I love Australian animals and collecting brooches of obscure creatures, so I just couldn't resist adding this cute duo to my collection. I mean, who doesn't love koalas?? It's been released at least twice before, with different textured resins used for the koalas each time. This time, the koalas are made from glossy medium-grey textured resins, with a scattering of iridescent glitter strips mixed in to the resin of the mama koala, which highlight the koala with a rainbow of colour every time the light hits them. It's such a fun piece to wear, and perfect for adding a little sparkle to your outfits. It's still available from Erstwilder and some of their stockists, so snap one up fast!

Next up is Prim Petals, a pale pink rose brooch from last month's A Floral Affair collection. I was instantly drawn to this brooch because it looked so darn pretty, but also just because I love roses. Yellow ones are my favourites ( I looovvve yellow flowers), but pink ones would probably come second. For some reason, pink roses always remind me of my childhood. My Mum always had some growing in the garden, and I remember carefree summer days in the early nineties making rose water perfume with neighbourhood friends and petals picked from neighbours' gardens. (I was coerced! I always felt guilty about ruining some old dear's flowers). I don't know why pink roses bring back those memories, but they always do. 

This pretty rose is made from a mixture of marbled, textured, bubble, and iridescent resins in six or seven shades of pink, ranging from delicate blush to vibrant flamingo. My favourite parts are the iridescent petals which shimmer pink, blue, and pistachio, and the freckling of iridescent glitter strips set in to the resins. I can't resist a bit of shimmer and sparkle! It's also finished with two dark green marbled leaves- one emerald, and one evergreen, which compliment the pink petals perfectly. It's such a beautiful brooch, and the perfect finishing touch for all kinds of outfits, but especially with florals for spring (and summer). Ground breaking.

Purple Prose was my second choice from A Floral Affair, but turned out to be my favourite of the two pieces I chose- and one of my favourite pieces of jewellery ever. And for once, it's not a brooch! They're my first ever set of cardi clips, which I chose as I loved the stunning holly hock designs, but preferred the cardi clips to the brooch. (Though, naturally, I have actually been wearing them as a brooch, with one flower pinned higher than the other). I love that you can wear them as cardi or collar clips, or arranged in different ways as a brooch- they're so versatile. 

It's also one of the prettiest pieces of jewellery I've ever owned. This pair of purple holly hock flowers are made from two layers of the most incredible marbled resin that is made up of lots of different shades of purple- lavender, lilac, amethyst, mauve, and more, mixed with raspberry, and a little bit of smokey-blue. The colours are much softer and purple-based than my camera has captured- for some reason it's picked up the subtle raspberry shades and emphasized them. The stock photos show the colours of the resin more accurately, although, each piece will differ slightly due to the unique marbling of the resin. The marbling is so beautiful, and I hope Erstwilder use it for more designs in the future. At the moment, there's also a matching necklace, brooch, and earrings, and I'd love to collect them all.

Back in early December, I blogged about my purchases from the Erstwilder x Pete Cromer 2.0 collection, but there was one piece that didn't arrive until just before Christmas- the big man himself- Santa Clause. Mr Claus was apparently too busy getting ready for Christmas to put in an early appearance, but luckily, he arrived just in time for me to wear him on Christmas Eve. I chose this brooch because I didn't have a Santa Claus brooch in my collection, and it was one of the cutest brooches of jolly old Saint Nick I'd ever seen. It was designed by the Australian artist Pete Cromer, and thanks to his fun, distinct style, it's absolutely charming.

The little guy is your classic Santa, wearing a red and white suit, with a sack of presents over his shoulder, but with one unique feature- he's wearing vertically-striped red and white trousers! I think I would've preferred them to match his jacket, but they do add a fun twist, and help set the piece apart from all the other Santa brooches out there. Aside from his glossy bubble resin trousers, Santa Clause is wearing a gorgeous marbled-resin, cherry-red coat; a matching hat with a glittery white trim and a pearlescent white pom pom; a plain black belt and boots; and black mittens with a glittery silver trim. Over his shoulder, he's carrying a marbled camel-coloured sack, tied with a red ribbon, and decorated with a sprig of holly. He also has a magnificent beard and head of hair crafted from a gorgeous pearlescent marbled resin, and a little peach face just visible beneath them. I love the resins used to make him. They've made him in to such a beautiful piece, and I'm already counting down to December when I can wear him again. Unfortunately, this brooch sold out really quickly and is no longer available, so try eBay or fan resale sites if you want to track one down.

And last but not least, back in November, I bought a little mouse brooch called Rainbow Rain from the Whatever the Weather collection, which was released in support of the charities Headspace and Minus18. Rainbow Rain has to be the most adorable brooch I've seen in my life. Just. Look. At. Him! I dare you to find a cuter brooch that this little grey mouse and his rainbow umbrella. Who am I kidding? There isn't a cuter brooch than this little grey mouse and his rainbow umbrella! He is the definition of cuteness. This little marbled light grey mouse doesn't let rainy days get him down; he creates his own rainbows to brighten up the dark days with his bubble-resin rainbow umbrella. He's the perfect piece to make you smile, brighten up a bad day, or to show your pride with. Personally, this brooch reminds me to look for rainbows when it rains; to find the positives in the negatives. It's my perfect piece for chronic illness and Covid life, and to wear on bad mental health days. This is another piece that, unsurprisingly, sold out incredibly quickly, so again, try fan resale groups if you have to have one in your life.

And that's everything I've added to my Erstwilder collection over the last couple of months. I can't help but wonder what I'll add to it next!

Have you bought any fun jewellery pieces lately?

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Wednesday, 27 January 2021

My Goals For 2021

With everything that's going on in the world right now, I wasn't sure whether I should set myself any goals for the year ahead. It almost seemed pointless; we're on lockdown; we can't go anywhere; we can't do anything exciting, and everything is so uncertain right now. I wondered if maybe I should just be concentrating on surviving this awful pandemic, and not on achieving silly little goals.

Some time during the last few weeks, between the boredom and lack of motivation, painful flares and anxiously worrying about the world, I've realised, I need goals. I need to have some things to work towards to keep myself busy and give my life a sense of purpose. They help keep me focused and motivated, and give me something to do with my time while housebound. It's how I've gotten through the last nine and a half years. I need things to do to stop myself getting bored and depressed.

So, I decided to set myself some goals after all. I haven't set myself anything big or unattainable to work towards, because I'd just be setting myself up for failure. I'm not aiming to travel around the world, buy a house, or become rich and famous. I just plan to work towards lots of little achievements, like reading lots of books, trying some new crafts, and perhaps even taking a holiday in England, if things improve enough by the summer. I'm not going to put any pressure on myself, though; if I achieve them, great; if I don't, that's okay, too. This year's going to be hard enough as it is without pointlessly adding unnecessary pressure, or beating myself up for being a failure. I'm going to do my best, but at the end of the day, they're not important life goals I need to achieve, just small ones meant for a challenge and a bit of fun.

So, here are some of my goals for 2021:

Read 40 Books

My main goal for 2021 is to read as much as possible. I've set myself the goal of reading forty books this year but I hope to read even more. I'm already on my sixth book of the year so far, so I'm well on my way to achieving my reading goal ahead of time. It feels good to be making progress on something right now, and letting myself escape from reality for a while every day. Reading has really helped me get through this miserable first month of lockdown. If you want to keep up with what I'm reading, you can find me on Goodreads here.

Cross Stitch More

I also want to get back in to cross stitching regularly again this year, and try to finish at least a few projects- especially as I stitched so little last year. I've already finished a little gingerbread man hoop, and have added a good chunk to the Christmas wall hanging I've been working on this month, so I feel like I'm off to a good start.

Improve My Embroidery Skills

When it comes to needlework, I could cross stitch in my sleep, but I don't have a lot of experience with embroidery. I'd like to try more of it, and improve my skills, so I'm aiming to attempt more embroidery projects this year. I've just bought myself this embroidery kit from Cotton Clara (in pink) to start off with, and make myself a memento from the pandemic. Not that it's a time I'm ever going to forget, but I thought it looked cute. I'm going to give it my own spin and use different coloured threads, and fill in some of the picture with different stitches to keep things interesting.

Learn to Crochet

I know this has been added to my New Year's goals every year for years now, but I still haven't learned to crochet. I was given some crochet hooks for Christmas, so I really don't have an excuse not to try now, so I hope 2021 will be the year I finally learn how to crochet. I want to start with a cute, pastel-coloured granny square blanket. 

Paint More

I want to find time to paint more often in 2021 because it's something I enjoy and find relaxing, but haven't done in ages. I'm not sure I even painted once in 2020. I won't pretend to be any good at it, but painting helps me destress and unwind, and anything that aids my mental health during Covid times deserves more dedication.

Shop For Presents Throughout the Year

My aim is to shop for presents for birthdays and Christmas etc. throughout the year again, to help spread the cost, and be organised ahead of time. I've already bought three presents since Christmas, so I'm off to a good start!

Participate in More Surveys

I want to get back in to participating in more online surveys again to make some extra pennies. I started off strong last year, but then Animal Crossing came out, and stole my attention span for the rest of the year. I've only been participating in short surveys on Prolific Academic since last April, but I'd like to make the effort to take part in a lot more on the other sites I used to frequent. The extra money would come in handy.

Get Out of the House More Often

I need to do my best to get out and about more regularly in 2021. Last year, I left the house less than ten times, and went seven months without stepping outside once. (Not even in to the garden). It's the longest I've ever spent at home in my nine and a half years with chronic illness, and I'd rather not repeat it. I need to escape captivity more often, get more fresh air, and more exercise, for my physical health, as well as my mental health. I just need to find a way to push through my pain more because it's really kicking my ass these days.

Blog More

Apart from in December, when I managed to unpack my blogging mojo with the Christmas decorations, I blogged very little in 2020. In fact, I blogged less than any year since I began blogging here in 2012. It wasn't for lack of trying, but I couldn't find the words or the energy very often. I'm hoping I can improve on that in the next eleven months, and blog more regularly again. I'm not off to a great start, with this being only my second post of the year so far, but I hope I can find my groove again soon.

Instagram more often

I also want to do my best to fill my Instagram grid with more photos. I barely shared any photos to it in 2020- mostly because I spent most of the year in bed ill, and didn't have anything interesting to post- but I enjoyed filling it with festive photos in December. I want to try to share more snippets from my life, so I have more memories to look back on, and more to share with you guys.

Grow Sunflowers From Seed

It's been years since I last grew some sunflowers from seed, but I really want to grow some this year so that the garden will be filled with happy yellow flowers by late summer. They're one of my favourite flowers.

There are also a few things I'd like to do which will be dependent on lockdown restrictions, and whether the virus improves or not. They might not be possible, but I'm going to be optimistic, and aim for them anyway because it's always nice to have hope.

Take a Holiday to Cornwall

One thing I'm desperate to do this summer is take a holiday to Cornwall. We chose to cancel our holiday there last year to keep ourselves safe, which was the right thing to do, but I was so disappointed as I'd been looking forward to returning to one of my favourite places for ages. Cornwall's like my second home. If restrictions ease (at the moment it feels like they never will), allowing us to travel longer distances again, and Covid infections and deaths reduce, my sister and I are hoping to get away for a week in June or September, either side of high-season when it should be quieter (and cheaper). (I'm not convinced it'll be possible in June, but maybe by September life will be a little better). We'd go self-catering, and stay in a static caravan, which makes it easy to stay away from other people, and we'd be able to disinfect everything, and use our own bedding and kitchenware for extra peace of mind. We might have to adapt some of our usual outings and avoid busier locations like St. Ives and Padstow to have a safe and socially distanced holiday, but I think it would be worth it for a week away. It could also give us a great opportunity to explore more of the quieter south coast, which we haven't visited as much as North Cornwall. To be honest, I'd just be happy to relax around the caravan with a book and some good food, listening to the sound of the sea in the background and seagulls crying overhead. I'd have to spend most of the time resting in the caravan anyway, as my pain quickly becomes overwhelming, so we wouldn't be spending all day out and about around people, putting ourselves at risk. Of course, if the virus doesn't improve or gets worse, we won't risk taking a holiday at all, but we're hoping to go if things get better.

Visit The Cotswold Wildlife Park

I want to pay my local zoo, The Cotswold Wildlife Park, more visits this year. It's only a few miles down the road from me, and we figure it would be the perfect place to visit regularly during Covid times to exercise and get some fresh air, while having cute animals and pretty plants to see along the way. The scenery is gorgeous in all seasons, and social-distancing is easy there, so we should take advantage of it and support a local business, when it reopens after lockdown. The visits always push my chronic pain to the limit, so it would challenge me to push through my pain threshold more, too. 

Visit Whipsnade Wild Animal Park

Another zoo I'm hoping to visit this year is Whipsnade Wild Animal Park. (I love a good zoo). It's one of my favourites in the country, but it's been over a decade since my last visit. It's a huge zoo with an amazing collection of animals, including elephants, hippos, rare Indian rhinos, and various big cats, and they have loads of open space which would make social distancing a breeze. You can take your car in, too, which we would do, as it's the only way I'd be able to cover the vast terrain now. We're hoping to be able to go once the weather gets warmer, so hopefully zoos will have reopened and restrictions will have eased by the summer so we can go.

Visit Longleat Safari Park

We were hoping to go to Longleat to see the Christmas lights trail in December, but then Covid restrictions were tightened in my area, so it went out the window. I've always wanted to go to the safari park, and after learning they now have koalas, wombats, and aardvarks- three animals I've never seen in real life but have always wanted to- I want to go even more. Hopefully we'll be able to fit in a trip this year if restrictions ease again later in the year. Who knows, maybe we'll even be able to visit the Christmas lights trail there in December, too.

Visit Badbury Clump woods when the bluebells flower

There's a woods local to where I live that gets carpeted with bluebells in late spring. I'd really like to go see them at least once this year, because it's such a pretty sight, and I never made it last year. It would be great to get outside, explore nature, and take a few photos of a sea of violet flowers.

Visit a Lavender Farm

I'd also really like to visit a lavender farm this summer, mostly for the pretty photo opportunities. I've never seen lavender fields before. There's one within driving distance called Cotswold Lavender located near Broadway in Worcestershire that my sister and I have wanted to visit for years, and we're hopeful we'll be able to fit in a visit this summer. (They don't reopen until June). I'd also love to find some sunflower fields to visit, but I haven't managed to locate any in The Cotswolds yet. Does anyone know of any?

So, those are some of my goals for the year ahead. 

What are your goals for 2021?


Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Looking Back on 2020

Well, that was unexpected.

When we said '2020, do your worst', this wasn't exactly what we meant! 

Twelve months ago, when we were looking to the year ahead, I don't think anyone could've imagined where the year would take us. How could we have done? Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that we'd be living through a deadly global pandemic. Not in my life time, not in the Western world and definitely not in suburban England. Things like that happened in sci-fi novels, and over-imaginative disaster films created on Hollywood sets, not in real life. It couldn't possibly happen in reality.

Or so I thought.

How wrong I was!

That shit got real really fast. 

It was without a doubt one of the worst, most surreal years in living memory for almost all of us. It felt like we were acting a script for a disaster movie, but the threat to our lives, being locked down, shops running out of food and supplies, and people dying in their millions wasn't so entertaining in real life. It was worrying and frightening, stressful, humbling, and down right heartbreaking.

It was bizarre to see how quickly the world changed from the vibrant one we knew to one governed by restrictions, fear, and illness. How quickly we got used to our new normal of staying home, wearing face masks in public, staying at least two metres apart (or miles apart from family and friends we couldn't see all year), and sanitising our hands because our lives might literally have depended on it. It was a lot to deal with and get used to, but we all handled it like pros. 

Admittedly, spending months on lockdowns and tiered restrictions was probably much easier on me than it was on most of you. I'd already been living my own personal lockdown since I developed chronic pain and illness again in 2011, so I'd long since gotten used to staying home most of the time, and had already learned how to occupy my time at home years before the first lockdown began. I consider myself lucky that lockdown life wasn't a culture shock for me. I didn't have to get used to confinement or feel bored as I learnt how to fill my time from home or feel sad about never seeing family and friends. It already was my life and I'd already gone through the adjustment period, so it gave me one less thing to adjust to in 2020. For once, being chronically ill has it's advantages. 

That's not to say that I didn't find the lockdowns and restrictions hard at times. There were days I was overwhelmed with cabin fever like everyone else. For some reason, being told you can't go out is harder to accept than knowing you're physically unable to go out. I had to get used to spending more time with my family at home with nowhere to escape. (An introvert's nightmare). My medical care was on hold for most of the year, and my referral to pain management postponed. I didn't have occasional trips to the supermarket or shops to break up confinement for most of the year, which always kept me going through chronic illness life. I didn't even have daily walks to look forward to. In fact, I didn't leave the house for seven whole months from February to September (partly because I was shielding, and partly because my health was so bad I couldn't get down the stairs for months). I can count on two hands how many times I ventured out during the entire year. It's the most I've stayed at home since the year I became housebound. I made the best of it, but I'm not going to lie, it was hard. 

There was the stress of food and medicine shortages at the start of the pandemic; I remember scouring Amazon Pantry for tins of soup in March. My anxiety was all over the place for a while as I worried about my family catching and dying from the virus. I became one of those people who disinfects packages coming in to the house, which I've continued to do for peace of mind despite parcels supposedly carrying little risk. I never thought I'd be one of those people! I learnt to wear a face covering in public like second nature, keep as far away from other people as possible, and anti-bac my hands more than I've ever done in my life.

Who'd have thought that the must-have fashion accessory of the year would be a face covering, and the most-needed beauty product of 2020 would be anti-bacterial hand gel??

As well as being a rough year for the world, it was also another rough year for my health. My Arthritis and Fibromyalgia both worsened again, and flared more often, which was probably at least partially because of the added stress. The Arthritis in my knees and feet got so bad, there were weeks when I could barely bare weight on my legs at all, and I couldn't get down the stairs for months. My chronic back and spinal pain was also pretty hard to take at times, and my Fibro fatigue got much worse. I lost count how many times I dozed off while I was in the middle of something (most days), and how many times I woke up in the morning feeling more exhausted than before I went to sleep. I rolled with the punches and got through it a day at a time, but it was harder without regular medical appointments, and breaks from captivity to look forward to and keep me sane. It was surreal going from early February to November without a single medical appointment, when I'd normally have at least a couple of appointments a month, but also kind of nice to have a break from doctor's surgeries and hospitals after nine years of it all.

It was a year of negatives, but I feel fortunate that it wasn't a devastating year for my family personally, when millions of people around the world weren't so lucky. We all made it through unscathed. Nobody in my family developed Covid or got sick, and nobody lost their jobs or income, homes or businesses.  We're all still safe, and that's all that really matters. I'm grateful for that. 

There were no big adventures or achievements in 2020. We chose to cancel our holiday to Cornwall to keep ourselves safe, and a couple of concerts I'd been looking forward to got rescheduled again and again. It was disappointing, but I'd prefer disappointment to catching Covid or putting my family at risk.

I took a socially-distanced day trip to The Cotswold Wildlife Park in the autumn, and paid a quick visit to the Appleton Christmas Barn in December, which were the only two fun visits I took during the entire year. The literal handful of other times I left the house were just for trips to the supermarket or doctor's surgery.

2020 was all about appreciating the little things in life more than ever before. I made time to read almost every day and finished thirty-one books. I got addicted to Animal Crossing New Horizons and spent more hours playing on it every day than I'd care to admit. It was a great help to my anxiety, especially at the start of the pandemic, and a fun way to socialise with friends since we couldn't do so in the real world. I cross stitched a little, but not nearly enough. I watched a lot of movies and TV shows. I spent time with my dog and my family. I was also able to see a little of my sister and brother-in-law who moved back from Germany to our hometown at the end of the summer.

I saw the world through new eyes, and appreciated the little things more than ever before, like sunny days, pretty sunsets, watching squirrels foraging in the garden and red kites gliding overhead (from my bedroom window), having enough food in the cupboards, the first taste of foods we couldn't get hold of for months, cuddles with my dog, good books, creative hobbies, and conversations with friends. The little things became the big things, and often became the highlights of the day. 

One thing I do regret about 2020 is how little I blogged. In fact, I blogged less than any year since I began this blog in 2012. It wasn't for lack of trying, but I just wasn't in the right head space to get the words out, and I struggled to take the photos I needed because my chronic pain was so bad. I worked hard to make up for it in December, and at least finished the year off strong with lots of fun, festive posts. I hope I can improve on last year's blogging tally, and create more content in 2021. I'm not going to make any promises, and I'm not going to pressure myself, but I'm going to do my best, and we'll see what happens.

Looking ahead, life doesn't seem so hopeful right now. 2021 hasn't got off to the best start with Covid deaths and cases rising at a scary rate, restrictions tightening, and most of us going in to another lockdown, so it's hard to find much hope or enthusiasm for the year ahead. I want to believe that life will start getting better this year now that vaccines are being rolled out, but right now it feels like it never will. I'm just going to hold on to that little bit of hope that things will get better, and maybe a year from now, life will be a little more 'normal' again. It might take a bit longer, but we will get there. At least we know from history that pandemics always end eventually.

It might be another tough year for all of us, but I'm going to concentrate on getting through it one day at a time, and do my best to enjoy the little things as much as possible. I'm going to read and craft, blog, play Animal Crossing, watch movies, spend time with my family, appreciate nature, and try to get out of the house as often as I can. I'm going to look for the positives in my daily life as much as possible, appreciate what I have, and hope for a more positive year than the one we've left behind.       

I hope it's a more positive year for you, too.                                                      

Here's to a safe and happy, Covid-free year ahead for all of us. 

2021, please don't do your worst.

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Friday, 25 December 2020

Merry Christmas!

After weeks of shopping for the perfect gifts, wrapping presents, putting up decorations, baking tasty treats, and having pity Christmas parties for one because we can't go to real ones, we've finally made it to what will hopefully be the most wonderful day of the year. It's Christmas!

It might look a little different for many of us this year thanks to Covid restrictions, lockdowns, and Boris Johnson cutting Christmas right back at the last minute. We might not be able to spend it with our extended families and friends, go out for Christmas lunch, take festive holidays overseas, or even go to church, (if those are traditions you observe) but I hope you're able to have a fantastic Christmas despite any changes you've had to make to your traditions this year. We all deserve to have a wonderful Christmas after the year we've all lived through- even if  it's just sitting on the sofa stuffing our faces with cake while watching feel-good Christmas movies with our pets.

Christmas Day should be a pretty normal affair in our house because we only ever spend it at home, just the six of us, and I'm so grateful for that right now.  My sister and brother-in-law will be joining us for the day, and I'm looking forward to every minute of it. After a busy month preparing for the holidays, I can't wait to finally take it easy, spend time with my family, enjoy some good food, watch lots of festive movies, dress my dog up in a Christmas jumper, and maybe even push the boat out and play a few board games before I crawl back in to bed to recover. I can't wait for some normality to help me forget about the pandemic for a day.  

I'll be back to tell you all about my Christmas in a few days, but until then, I hope you have a fantastic Christmas- or a lovely day if you don't celebrate it. Don't let the Corona Virus stop you from enjoying it. It doesn't deserve the satisfaction. 

However you're spending it, I hope you get spoiled rotten, have fun, eat your body weight in roast potatoes and chocolate, enjoy a few drinks, and find plenty of time to relax and recharge. You deserve it!     

Merry Christmas, everyone!                                                                    


Thursday, 24 December 2020

What's In My Christmas Eve Box? 2020

Merry Christmas Eve!

I'm sorry this post is coming to you last minute. I had hoped to have it published a few days ago, but I'm stupidly unprepared this year, and I was only able to take the photos this morning. It might be a little bit late for you to gain inspiration to put your own Christmas Eve Box together (although, not impossible), but I hope you enjoy seeing what I've put in mine just the same.

This year, thanks to Covid, and Boris Johnson's last minute cancelling of Christmas in the UK, more of us will be staying home on Christmas Eve than ever before. 

My family would usually spend Christmas Eve mixing with family and friends at my Auntie's Christmas Eve party, but this year, we'll be spending it quietly at home. (Although, I have done since I developed chronic pain, anyway, so this year won't be any different for me). We won't be letting Covid spoil our Christmas, though; we'll just be making the most of the little things that make Christmas Eve special. We'll be baking tasty treats, watching Christmas movies together, and enjoying a Christmas Eve buffet for tea in the evening. I've also put together a Christmas Eve box full of festive things to enjoy as we count down the last hours 'til Christmas Day, because we need little treats to enjoy more than ever right now.

If you've never put together a Christmas Eve box before, this year could be the perfect time to start the tradition to make your Christmas Eve a little brighter. If you're facing a quiet night in, it will give you something to look forward to, and help make the night more special.

The idea is to put together a gift box full of little things for the perfect festive night in- think cosy new Christmas pyjamas, Christmas movies, chocolates, popcorn, hot chocolate, festive books, scented candles, etc.- whatever you consider necessary for a great festive night in. (If you're making it last minute or are just on a tight budget, you don't have to use all new things; just gather together items from what you already own, and add in a few edible treats)! 

I can't think of a better time to make one than during a pandemic when we're all stuck at home, and can't be out celebrating with our families and friends.

You can make one to share with your family, partner, or housemates, to gift to your kids or friends, or even just to enjoy alone. All you need to do is add in age-appropriate items, and the recipient's favourite treats.

Being a childless old maid hasn't stopped me from making my own Christmas Eve box to enjoy again this year- sometimes you've just gotta treat yo'self! I've added in a few things to share with my family, including chocolates and Christmas movies, but most of the contents will be enjoyed when I'm back upstairs winding down before bed.

So, what's in my Christmas Eve box this year?

♥ A cosy pair of Pusheen slipper socks from Truffle Shuffle.

♥ A pair of Christmas pyjamas to relax in, and hopefully look presentable in for photos on Christmas morning. (I couldn't afford a new pair this year, so I just added in an old pair from my collection).

♥ A couple of Christmas movies on DVD, including Last Christmas and The Muppets Christmas Carol for some fun festive viewing. (Even though we'll probably just end up streaming something).

♥ A beautiful clothbound copy of A Christmas Carol to read before I go to sleep.

♥ A bottle of The Body Shop's Festive Berry Shower gel so I can smell festive over Christmas.

♥ A tub of The Body Shop's Festive Berry body yogurt to give my skin a little TLC.

♥ A Body Shop Warm Vanilla soap to put by the bathroom sink so our hands smell festive over Christmas.

♥ A L'Oreal face mask to give my skin a treat.

♥ A red OPI nail polish in 'I Love You Just Be Cusco' so my nails look festive for Christmas.

♥ A new Erstwilder Christmas brooch to wear on Christmas Eve.

♥ A Cath Kidston mug for all those hot chocolates. (I forgot to add in the hot chocolate for the photos).

♥ Some mint chocolate Lindt Lindor truffles and Cadbury Jingly Bells to share with the family.

♥ A Make Arcade gingerbread man cross stitch kit to sew in front of the TV when I'm relaxing with my family this Christmas. (I never did manage to make it last year).

♥ A couple of Christmas Yankee Candles (Snowflake Cookie and Frosty Gingerbread), and a Nest Grapefruit candle to make the house feel extra cosy and smell delicious.

♥ My Too Faced 'Let It Snow, Girl!' snowman make up palettes to use over the holidays.

Here are some more ideas for things you could include in your own Christmas Eve boxes:

♥ Christmas face coverings.

♥ Festive-scented hand sanitiser.

♥ Cosy Christmas slippers.

♥ Novelty Christmas socks.

♥ A new Christmas dress / top / shirt.

♥ Christmas earrings or other jewellery.

♥ A Christmas colouring book and coloured pencils / crayons.

♥ Little Christmas craft kits- such as a mini cross stitch or ornament kit.

♥ Festive stationery.

♥ A hot water bottle. (Heat patches might also be appreciated for someone with chronic pain, since Christmas can be very demanding on our bodies).

♥ Christmas false nails or nail wraps.

♥ Festive bath bombs.

♥ Seasonal-scented bubble bath.

♥ Hand cream or body lotion.

♥ A cute soft toy.

♥ A gift card or subscription to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney +, or another streaming service for Christmas movie watching.

♥ A Christmas scratch card.

♥ Something alcoholic.

♥ Marshmallows.

♥ Favourite edible treats.

♥ Festive treats like mince pies, stollen, panettone, cakes, biscuits, chocolates, cheese boards etc.

♥ A new ornament to hang on the tree.

♥ A Christmas cracker.

♥ A selection of Christmas books for young readers, and a new festive-themed novel for older kids and adults.

♥ Small toys.

♥ A new Christmas stocking to leave out for Santa.

♥ A bag of reindeer food.

♥ A special plate to leave Santa's mince pie on.

I wasn't able to source a special Christmas Eve Box to present everything in (yet again) because I'm on a tight budget again this year, but it doesn't really matter since I'm only gifting it to myself. I just repurposed one of my slightly-festive-looking star-print storage boxes, and it does the job just fine.

You could use a pre-bought Christmas Eve Box, a gift box, gift bag, wicker basket, crate, Christmas stocking, tote bag, or any container you like to present your gifts in. You could even go all out, and decorate it with ribbons, pom poms, garlands, or all kinds of different decorations. It's totally up to you.

If you're planning to make a Christmas Eve Box as a gift, I'd recommend wrapping everything up in wrapping or tissue paper to add to the Christmas Eve fun and excitement, but you can leave everything unwrapped if the thought of wrapping any more presents fills you with dread. I get it. I never want to wrap another present, either.

I'm really looking forward to enjoying the contents of my Christmas Eve Box tonight, after a busy day of celebrating and getting ready for Christmas Day. It will be lovely to finally relax, indulge, and find time for some self-care after such a hectic month. Ah, I can't wait!

Merry Christmas, guys! I hope you have a wonderful few days despite this awful pandemic. 

Have you made a Christmas Eve Box this year? What would you put in one for the perfect Christmas night in?

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