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There’s a million and one gift guides on the internet right now but if you’re a bit strapped for cash and ideas (and who isn’t at this time of year?), why not try making your own. I’ve got three ideas for you that are SO simple and I really think presents mean more when you’ve made them yourself. Let me know if you give any a go!

Lip balm:

I had no idea how easy it was to make lip balm until a friend filled me in the other day. I immediately went home and ordered the ingredients on Amazon which came to £7.69, apparently it will make at least ten pots so that’s 77p per pot. You can add in any essential oil to make it smell gorgeous, I’m sticking with tea tree oil because I’ve already got it at home and it will keep the balm unisex. I can’t wait to make this once everything arrives, and I’ve already decided I’m going to put glitter initials on the front of everyone’s pots so they know who’s who.

All you need is:

2 tablespoons beeswax

2 tablespoons shea butter

2 tablespoons coconut oil

Teaspoon of tea tree oil

Little metal tins

Then you melt them all in a pan (just as you would chocolate) and pour them into the tins.

I’ll let you know how I get on when I make them.

DIY Boxes:

I’ve done this loads of times before and everyone always loves it. All you need to do is take a cardboard box which you can wrap in brown paper or wrapping paper and fill it with themed gifts of your choice. This year I’m making my sister a Girls’ Night In box. It’s being filled with hot chocolate, a Lush bath bomb, nail varnish and books. In the past I’ve also made my boyfriend a survival box – it had Lush bath oil, tea, chocolate and a candle in it.

Cupcakes in a Jar: 

I saw this exact gift in the New Look gift section and decided I’d make it myself instead, if someone you know likes baking or even just eating cakes (and who doesn’t?), why not give it a go? It can be any cake or biscuit you like, just pick the one you know they’ll enjoy the most.

All you need is:

A mason jar – can be picked up from Amazon for a couple of pounds or you can just wash out a jam jar…

All the dry cake ingredients for your recipe

A little note with the handwritten (or typed if you prefer) recipe on

A label asking them to add eggs and butter (or whatever wet ingredients your cake needs)

Some ribbon.

You simply layer the dry ingredients in correct weights into your cake jar – red velvet cake works well because there’s a lovely line of red. Press each layer down as you go. Put the recipe folded on top, put the lid on and tie the ribbon and label round the lid. Perfect!

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I love London at Christmas time. Most of the year London feels like the place I work in only. It’s the crowds and the fast pace and the queues. I’m either too impatient or my little legs can’t keep up! But at Christmas the smiles come out and everyone is a bit more jolly – you even find people apologising when they bash into you on the Underground stairs. That’s got to be a Christmas miracle. Having dedicated the last few festive seasons to exploring a lot of what London has to offer, here are my recommendations.

1.Go ice skating

Over the years I’ve tried Hampton Court, Somerset House, the Natural History Museum and Winter Wonderland. I couldn’t pick a favourite, with the fairy lights, cold air, giant Christmas trees and mulled wine for afterwards, they can’t fail to put you in a good mood and into the Christmas spirit. This year I want to give Canary Wharf’s a try. 

2. Go shopping in the big department stores

I never visit the giant department stores in the year and then Christmas swings around and I can’t get enough. Okay, so I can’t actually afford to buy anything in them but I always go to Liberty’s, Harrods and Selfridges just to see their Christmas lights and displays. And sometimes I even buy myself a chocolate bar! 

3. Christmas Markets

Although I must confess I don’t think you can beat my uni city Birmingham’s Christmas market, but maybe that’s just because it’s the first one I went to. London has a million and they’re all unique but so cute. I would in particular recommend the South Bank’s because it’s so alive and there’s just so much amazing food. And of course the King of Christmas markets, Winter Wonderland. If you catch it when it’s not too busy it’s the best Christmassy night out with friends. Random thought: Are Christmas markets a new thing? I don’t remember them being around when I was little. 

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4. Visit a pop-up 

Every Christmas amazing festive pop ups appear all over London and I think they’re perfect for a Christmas meal or night out with friends. I love Forest on the Roof on top of Selfridges, it looks like an Alpine Forest. Also try the Lodge in Clapham which is designed like a Swiss Ski Lodge and has cheese fondue. And I’m desperate to try Coppa Club Igloos by the Tower of London. Giant PVC igloos with an incredible view and sheepskin blankets, what more could you want?

What are your favourite things to do in London at Christmas? 

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November was a month of dashing to and from a million English cities every weekend. I went from Brighton to Birmingham and finally to York to cross pretty much the whole country. I loved it, but I must admit I also loved not having to get on a train this weekend. Sunday was my first day not using public transport in an entire month, that’s just crazy. 

Anyway back to York, my little brother is at uni up there so we went to visit him and to explore the city just in time for Christmas to have hit.

Where we stayed…

We stayed at the amazing Hotel Indigo for one night, and although it was pricey it was also probably the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in in the UK. Big claim. But it was beautiful and quirky and just so English. I went around taking photos just so I could remember to design my future house exactly like the room. And the minibar equipped with chocolate and biscuits was free, what a way to win me over!

What we ate…

To be completely honest I didn’t love a lot of the places we ate in. We went off recommendations from people we don’t know that well and I don’t think I’ll be doing that again. But I would recommend Il Paradiso Del Cibo where we had dinner. It’s a tiny restaurant just down from our hotel and, although we found the service a bit strange – we weren’t quite sure if the waiter was joking or really did hate us for creating our own pizza and not picking one off the menu – the food was delicious. 

What we did…

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This is where I fell in love with York. There was so much to do and I honestly think we crammed as much as was physically possible into our two days. We went to the cute Christmas markets and drunk mulled wine. They’re not quite as good as Birmingham’s I have to say (or maybe I’m biased) but they are cute and really got me into the festive spirit. We went to The Shambles which JK Rowling apparently based Diagon Alley on. This was my favourite, it reminded me of Bath with the tall leaning old buildings, thin streets and fairy lights. I would definitely not have been surprised if I stumbled across a shop selling wands. We went to York Minster – top tip: you can see loads without paying the £10 entrance fee so wander inside even if you don’t want to cough up. We shopped. We toured York university. We ate got chocolate in York’s Chocolate Story – definitely worth a visit. We saw the castle all lit up. The only thing we’ve saved for our next visit is walking the castle walls. According to my iPhone I did walk 18,000 steps that day though, so I think doing that this time round might have been a step too far! 

In the evening we did something a little different and tried out an Escape Room. I would really recommend it, it puts your brain to the test but it was so much fun and I honestly think everyone would enjoy it. And we made it out with 5 minutes to spare! 

I loved every minute of my trip to York, which city do you think I need to visit next? 

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My last sunny summary was all the way back in June – a whole five months ago. I’ve been such an awful blogger this second half of the year with only eight posts which is barely more than one a month. Oops! But I’ve got a whole huge plan for December and I really want to get back to my blog properly. I know I’ve said it before but this time I have a plan and I was fooling myself when I thought I could do this without a to do list. That’s so not me. I hope I’ve still got a few readers left!

But anyway, end of excuses (as I’ve said before, I bloody hate making excuses). I’m going to give you a quick whistle stop tour through my November with all my favourite things. It’s been a month of ups and downs but I’ve been so busy that there’s plenty to tell you all about.

1.Bonfire night in Lewes

My last post was all about this amazing day in Lewes, they really don’t do 5th December by halves and every stop that could be pulled certainly was. It went off with a bang, literally. Read all about it here.

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2. Pub roast dinners

I feel quite spoilt to have had two this month! One in Brighton after Lewes bonfire night and I can’t recommend Bottom’s Rest (despite the dodgy name) more, we stumbled across it but they had everything you could want. Board games whilst you wait, all the trimmings and even roast leftovers for your dog! Also it’s rare that a veggie roast dinner is as good as the meat alternatives and this one really was. Then I had another at a pub in Birmingham the next weekend whilst visiting my uni friends. Yum.

3. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

My job took me to the premiere for Fantastic Beasts this month (what a lucky bee I am). I am the biggest Harry Potter fan but for some reason I hadn’t got at all excited about this. Big mistake – it was amazing, so much better than I imagined. Before going I was like ‘why are they dragging this out into five movies.’ Now? Can they make it 10?!

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4. Cheese and wine nights

I went to the best cheese and wine night this month. There was SO much yummy cheese and I had a cheeky early mulled wine (my favourite variety of wine). The best thing on that table? 100% the camembert melted in a round loaf – I’m making more for Christmas.

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5. Going to York (and particularly visiting the real life Diagon Alley)

I went to York to visit my little brother who’s at uni up there a couple of weekends ago. I’m going to write a whole post about it because it was just the best – we stayed in the coolest hotel I’ve ever stayed in, we visited the awesome Christmas markets, and we went to Shambles, which is apparently the inspiration for JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley (I didn’t realise November had a HP theme until now…)

6. Escape Rooms

In York we also did an escape room (totally ruining my next post!) and now I’m obsessed with escape rooms. It was awesome and I want to do a million more.

7. The Coca Cola Lorry

I’ve been lucky enough to see the Coca Cola lorry once before in Brighton with all my siblings. And this year it visited my office too, I wasn’t in the Christmas spirit before, now the holidays are definitely coming in my house!

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8. Roosevelt

I went to a Roosevelt gig this month and fell in love. You’ve probably never heard of him (I hadn’t) but if you want some chilled music to listen to, give him a Spotify/Youtube search. Also, the gig was way too cool for me, it was in Shoreditch’s XOYO but there was coloured lights and confetti guns – amazing!

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This post is a little (OK, very!) late but I thought it was still worth telling you about – especially as I thought we might all need some photos of burning Donald Trump effigies. Too far?

Last weekend I headed to my favourite city of Brighton but spent all of Saturday (bonfire night – doesn’t that seem like forever ago now) in the little town of Lewes. It’s only about 15 mins from Brighton and it’s the home of the very first Bills restaurant. As if that wasn’t enough to make you love it, it also goes pretty crazy for bonfire night and is apparently the biggest celebration of 5th November in the whole of the UK (and as my boyfriend kept mentioning, we only celebrate it in the UK so that makes it the biggest in the world!) 

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I couldn’t quite believe that this could all happen in a quiet little town which always looked quaint and cute to me. But looks can apparently be deceiving. The people of Lewes go crazy for one night only and it really is an amazing place to be. After spending a little too long in a little country pub waiting for everything to kick off, we headed out to watch the first parade. Lewes has a number of bonfire societies who all compete for the best effigies, costumes and ultimately fireworks. This year everyone (except one) burnt a Donald Trump – well three days before the election there really was little other choice. And joining in the boos as the effigies were paraded through the streets was quite good for the soul! But Lewes is definitely not for the faint hearted, the streets are full of crowds of people and fire and bangers go off at all times. It’s loud and pretty overwhelming but also amazing!

After the parade is done and you’ve grabbed yourself a mulled cider (essential!) you can head out to one of the bonfire sites for the fireworks. We followed Waterloo society as we’d met one of the members in the pub earlier who had promised us the night of our lives! The fireworks were great but the magic of the night is really the parade when the entire town comes together.

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One tip if you do fancy going next year – make sure to pre-book your taxi. We ended up waiting an hour for one and it was a very cold hour! All worth it though for one of my favourite days of the year so far.