Christmas gift guide: 5 under £50

Can you actually believe we’re just ONE MONTH away from Christmas now?! No matter how old I am, I always get excited about Christmas. And more to the point, what might end up under my Christmas tree. This year, it’s all about the home for me. Even though I have about 50 million cushions already and so many photo frames that I’ve had to box some up and put them in storage, there’s always room for more in my eyes.

Homeware doesn’t always come cheap though, does it. And I’m loathe to spend too much money on the little things for my house when my tastes change so frequently (seriously, it’s an actual problem). So this year I’m searching for things that are easy on the eye and the wallet. If you are too (and you happen to like animals – because apparently I have an obsession I wasn’t even aware of) then here are my five favourite products under £50…


1. If anything from this list makes it under my tree this year then PLEASE let it be these vintage plates. They’re only £14 for a set of four from BHS (hello Secret Santa, you know it would make sense). Need I say more?!

2. I love, love, love a good throw. On the sofa, on the bed, on random chairs – no surface that can be sat or laid on in my house is officially complete without one. But most of the decent ones come at a hefty price – one that’s too much to justify when I know they’ll only end up covered in cat hair or, um, biscuit crumbs. This beauty, however, is perfect – not only is the style completely to my taste (stripes? Check. Mint green? Check) but it’s also only £16 at the moment in the Darwin’s Home sale. Okay, so technically speaking it’s actually a towel, but that’s a minor detail in my book (and let me tell you, none of my bath towels have ever looked that glam). Darwin’s Home is a relatively new place on my radar when it comes to homeware, but one that’s definitely worth checking out – everything on the site is made from sustainable materials, meaning it’s all environmentally friendly. The majority of the products on the site are made in Europe, and any that aren’t are made according to the Fair Trade Charters.

3.  I can’t even tell you how long I’ve been searching for the perfect stag’s head. Not that there’s anywhere in my current house to actually put one, but you know, things like that just don’t stop me when I’m on a mission. I adore this one, which is a mere £45 from Marks and Spencer. If you’re shopping for Christmas presents in M&S this year then keep your eye out for the offer they’re currently running to get up to £10 off a £40 shop on all homeware and clothing.

4. Am I the only one who secretly enjoys it when someone buys me Christmas decorations for presents?! This year I’ve got a real thing for mercuried silver. And I’ve LONG been obsessed with letters. These are from Next and only a mere £8, so they might actually end up on my tree as opposed to under them if I get my way.

5. Aside from throws, cushions are my actual obsession. It’s a running joke in my house that you have to wade through the cushions to find a place to sit on the sofa. As if that’ll stop me buying a few more before the year is out though – especially if they’re this cute. I love the simplicity of this hare cushion, which at £25 is quite reasonable for House of Fraser.



Coveting:: Nordic Christmas Style

Maybe you think it’s too early to be talking about Christmas. Me? As soon as we’re done with pumpkins and fireworks every year it’s time to start planning the Christmas decor. Because in my house, every year is an excuse to do Christmas a bit differently to the one before. We’ve had black trees, white trees, faux trees and real trees. There’s been a rainbow colour theme, a black and neon pink theme (ahem, before neon was even cool again), ice blue and glamorous gold. Last year it was all about traditional red and white, with lots of Scandi style prints and brown kraft wrapping paper.

This year? Well this year I’m surprising myself. After a whole year of coveting neon like it was 1984 again and initially planning a tree that was to be a few parts merry but a WHOLE lot bright, I’ve done a 180. After much, um, ‘research’ (i.e an afternoon on the Paperchase website – I swear to god I only went on there to buy a diary), this year I’ve decided to keep it nice and simple. And Nordic. I love, love, love the interior trends that have emerged in the latter part of this year that nod to the Nords – all whites, greys, wood, hints of copper and clean lines. And so 2014’s Christmas theme for our house will follow suit. I’ve bought a few decorations already (more on that in another post), but here’s what’s inspiring me for the most part…


1. I adore this simple little bauble. Just the right amount of glitter. And if anyone’s listening then I NEED an embossing kit for Christmas, okay?!

2. If I added up the amount of time I spent lusting after grey sofas it would be shocking. This one is just perfect. But more than that sofa, right now I need the black garland above it in my life. Anyone know where it’s from? Please put me out of my misery if you do!

3. Love this little tree in a tin. Not sure I could safely have candles donning one willy-nilly like that what with two mischievous cats running around, but I love the idea of having a couple of these scattered around the house.

4. I hated the copper trend when it first emerged. So obviously now, when it’s almost impossible to find anything copper anywhere, I love it. I need these copper baubles in my life this year!

5. That. White. Stag. Head. That’s all I have to say.

6. Wrapping presents is one of my favourite parts of the Christmas build-up. I love thinking of new ways to wrap and display them. If I had a shelf like that somewhere in the house then I’d be stealing this idea right now!

7. I actually saw these Noel letters for sale somewhere last year and didn’t buy them. Cue hours of me searching just about EVERYWHERE for them this year.

8. Stars are featuring heavily in my Christmas decor this year. These ones are just beautiful, and giving me lots of ideas for alternative ways of hanging decorations around the house.

9. No Christmas is complete without the obligatory snowflake decoration. I got a whole load from PoundLand last year and am praying I packed them away properly and they’ve survived well enough to be reused this year!

Barbara Daly BD Trade Secrets relaunch

If there’s one thing I fail at time and time again it’s the weekly food shop. Not because I don’t love food, but more because once I’m in the supermarket of choice the ratio of food to other, um, stuff that gets put in my trolley is roughly 20:80. What can I say, I’m easily distracted – especially, I’ve found, when there’s a beauty aisle or two to grab my attention before the food even begins.

One supermarket in particular where this occurs more than any other seems to be Tesco. Tesco are fast becoming known for their foray into the lifestyle market, and where fashion and beauty are concerned their finger is firmly on the pulse. Of their extensive beauty brand selection, one in particular is gaining headway in the beauty stakes. You may or may not have heard of Barbara Daly. Exclusive to Tesco, Barbara Daly is a mid-range brand, somewhere between Rimmel and L’Oreal, which offers affordable, quality products that are an alternative to some of the other brands stocking supermarket shelves currently.

My personal love affair with Barbara Daly started with the nail varnish selection (obviously) and over the years has grown to mascara, blusher and eyeliner. I’m ashamed to say, however, that it ended there. I’m a stickler for foundation and once I’ve found a good one I’ll rarely deviate – so when Beauty at Tesco sent me a few samples of the newly rebranded Barbara Daly collection, I was intrigued to see that it mostly consisted of facial products: an excellent excuse to get on with trying something completely new if ever there was one.

Under the new name, BD Trade Secrets, the brand has been refreshed and updated for the first time in its 16 year history. New formulas have been created and new packaging (although not too dissimilar from the old) devised. And the best part? The prices are still more than affordable.








BD Trade Secrets Vital Skin Long Wear Foundation (in Vanilla Skin 4): With oily skin, I’m naturally dubious about the longevity of any foundation. But this is actually pretty good. Colour-wise, it’s a pretty good match for my natural skin, though it sat better when I was wearing a bit of fake tan. It blends well and has medium coverage, though can be built to a full coverage with a second layer. It covered most of my blemishes and red patches, which was impressive. And I love that it’s got SPF20 in it – I’m very fussy about skincare and always choose things with sunscreen in, so this will be noted for future reference!

BD Trade Secrets Luminescence Silk Primer: While I don’t use a primer on a daily basis, I do like to use a decent one for nights out or occasions when I want to make sure my make up stays put a little longer. This is a gel-based primer, which was new for me as I usually prefer a more liquid-based variety. The scent is a little overpowering – quite highly perfumed – and it does take a while to fully rub into the skin, but once it does it leaves skin nice and soft and absorbs any excess oil. I used this with the foundation above for a night out and found it prolonged its length of wear buy about 2 hours, which is actually pretty good for my skin.

BD Trade Secrets Face Lift: Of all the products, this was the one I was least taken with. This is a tinted gel-cream that’s designed to give the skin a moisture boost and enhance your natural glow, but unfortunately it just didn’t work for me. The packaging suggests swapping your regular daytime moisturiser for this to “illuminate” your skin, but I just ended up more looking more shiny than normal. This would be great for anyone who suffers a dull complexion at this time of year (and again, the SPF10 is a bonus) or has particularly dry skin but for me it was a definite no-no.

BD Trade Secrets Dream Shine Highlighter: I LOVE a good highlighter. I had a H&M one a few years back that was the absolute best but sadly since then I’ve never been able to find anything quite as good. This, however, is a strong new contender. I applied a few dots of this to my cheekbones immediately after my foundation (but before my blusher) and blended it in with my fingertips and it really perked up my complexion. It’s not one for every day use, but this will definitely be great over the Christmas/New Year period when I’m taking make up from day to night.

BD Trade Secrets Looooong Laaaaash Mascara: I’m not exaggerating, that’s really how it’s spelt. This has got to be the the longest mascara brush I’ve ever come across. At first I was miffed by it – and then I got it; no more will I ever get any weird mascara smudges anywhere else on my face again! The brush is so long that it actually gives you better control over your application – especially those bottom lashes. I didn’t find the formula of the mascara to be particularly amazing, but it makes a great base coat for my regular mascara and is excellent for building spidery, Twiggy-esque bottom lashes (my all-time fave), so I probably will re-purchase this once it’s all gone.

BD Trade Secrets Velvet Cream Lipstick in Runway: My absolute favourite product – and I’m not even a lipstick kinda girl. Usually all about the eyes, I decided to road test this on a lunch date with family last week and received so many compliments that I’m currently plucking up the courage to start wearing it on a more regular basis. As the name suggests, the formula is creamy and easy to apply. It leaves a nice shine to the lips and doesn’t dry them out or make them flaky. And it has great staying power – I applied this at 10.30 in the morning and it was still there 3 hours, a ham sandwich and 2 lattes later.


If you fancy trying any of the new BD Trade Secrets range then you can find it stocked in most larger Tesco stores, or there is a small selection online here.

I was kindly gifted all of the products above by Beauty at Tesco. As ever, though, all thoughts, opinions and attempts at humour are all my own. I would never feature something here that I wouldn’t buy in real life or recommend to a friend.