Christmas Beauty Countdown: Tarte’s Mistletoe Madness Lip-gloss set

IMG_8383 IMG_8385

The perfect gift for those pouting lovelies among us, is this souped-up lip-gloss set from Tarte. Containing 15 lip-glosses in a rainbow of shades, the Deluxe Mistletoe Madness Lipgloss gift box will surely gain you kisses galore this Christmas.

IMG_8387 IMG_8389

Inside are three individual boxes – ideal to separate out for stocking fillers (or maybe keep one back for yourself??). Taste’s lip-gloss formula drenches lips in moisture while giving non-stick shine and rich pigment. They last for ages and there’s a huge choice of shades – from cherry red to neutral rose-pink. They are infused with nourishing maracuja and anti-oxidents to hydrate, smooth and plump up every mega-watt smile.

IMG_8391 IMG_8399

Available to buy on QVC, the beauty brand from Stateside is renowned for its eco-chic ethos. All tarte cosmetics are cruelty-free and infused with superfruits, plant extracts, essential oils and other naturally-derived ingredients.  The lip-glosses are infused with maracuja from Brazil, for instance, which is rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin C to give firmer, brighter and smoother skin. Mistletoe anyone?

Christmas Beauty Countdown: Douvall’s Argan Oil Gift Set

IMG_8369 IMG_8371

This is such a pretty gift set. What’s more, the contents inside are pretty good, too. Douvall’s pink box contains a luxury Argan Cleanser, organic Argan Oil Moisturiser and muslin cloth, £48, making it ideal for lovers of luxury skincare.

The Moroccan-inspired products harnesses the benefits of Argan Oil, known as liquid gold in Morocco (I love the northern African design on the box which reflects its origins). Argan Oil is fast-absorbing, lightweight, high in vitamin E and antioxidants. Like a super-food for skin the products hydrate, nourish and repair the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

IMG_8373 IMG_8375 IMG_8377

First of all, the All-in-One Argan Cleanser deep cleanses the skin by removing impurities, make-up, including stubborn mascara. Massage in with the muslin cloth and after rinsing, skin is left smooth and supple and not tight or dry. Packed with Argan oil,  almond, safflower seed, and grape seed oil skin is left nourished and in tip-top condition.

IMG_8379 IMG_8381

The Argan Moisturiser, meanwhile, has SPF30 and is lightweight, non-greasy and fast-absorbing. The moisturiser is chemical free and made with the highest organic ingredients, including argan oil, pomegranate, jojoba oil and zinc oxide.  Press on skin after cleansing and gently massage in. Skin is beautifully radiant. Ideal for the shining star in your life.

Stars are coming out tonight: how to achieve the ultimate festive home

Forget less is more, at Christmas it’s all about maximalism when it comes to dressing your rooms. Mix and match opulent baubles, woodland garlands and faux-fur accessories to add layers of festive magic to your home.

Christmas courtesy of Farrow & Ball

Christmas styling courtesy of Farrow & Ball




The concept of storytelling is integral to our notions of Christmas. The creation of magical worlds, as seen in fairy-tales for instance, is mirrored in us decorating our homes for the season. Glittering colours, traditional iconography and sweet woodland themes (think jolly Santas and rosy cheeked reindeer) are key.

Festive Table at Sainsbury's

Festive Table at Sainsbury’s

25_Happy_Hols_Dining_827 25_Happy_Hols_Dining_840

Red and white Scandinavian-inspired crockery, as seen at Sainsbury’s (0800 636262,, sets the tone when family and friends come round to dine together. “The Happy Holiday tableware range is an effortless way to dress your table this Christmas,” says Hannah Mallett, Sainsbury’s Kitchenshop buying manager. “The pattern edge, reminiscent of cross-stitch and knitted snowflake motifs, makes for a festive hit.”

25_Happy_Hols_Dining_850 25_Happy_Hols_Dining_853 26_Happy_Hols_Bed_878

The range also includes Christmas cushions, throws and bedding for a cohesive look. “We’ve been inspired by the bold and energetic American approach to Christmas. Bright reds and whites combine with hand-written slogans, Argyll knits and heart-shaped patterns create a modern and vibrant Christmas look,” adds Anna Sheppard, seasonal buying manager.



Lit White Trees Nest Candle Holder Prancing Deer

At homeware boutique Adventino (01529 307812,, prancing deer decorations, pine-cone candles and twinkling pearl light garlands combine for a charming effect. “It’s very easy to be inspired by the wintery scenes outside when you’re decorating for Christmas,” says Amanda Darley, director of Adventino. “From deep, sumptuous green to glossy red and gold, there’s something timeless and classic about this style, which makes it ideal for this time of year.

 Pine Cone Candle White Pearl Light Garland

“Combining these colours with warm, flickering candlelight and carefully arranged lighting is the perfect way to create a magical and seasonal feel in any room. If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, make this a focal point with gorgeous woodland garlands and beautiful details such as pine-cones, nuts and acorns. It’s a beautiful way to add a festive touch with nature’s best creations.”


Ark Cambridge


Ark Cambridge (01223 363372,, meanwhile, is a one-stop shop for quirky finds – ideal for a unique twist on the traditional. “What better way to celebrate the festive season than with mystical woodland animals?” says owner Jane Richards. “Baby hedgehogs, china birds and owl decorations have an innocent charm and are perfect for kids and adults alike. They will warm anyone’s heart this winter.”




Also in Cambridge is HomeSense (, which specializes in a luxury look for less and is full to the rafters of ornaments and décor – think wooden sledges to ‘Hunting Lodge’ glass cloches – for the ultimate seasonal home.

Out There Interiors

Out There Interiors

Out There Interiors - Candle lanterns in red, £70

via Rocca 50 46019 - Viadana - MN - Italy

via Rocca 50
46019 – Viadana – MN – Italy

Out There Interiors - Ferlet Pair of Wings Wall Decoration, £155 Out There Interiors - Stag Print Cushion Cover in Orange, £34 Out There Interiors - Stag Print Cushion Cover in White, £34 Out There Interiors - Stag Print Cushion Cover in yellow, £34

Meanwhile, for a modern take on the nostalgic theme, source decorative accessories from home emporium Out There Interiors (020 8099 7443, Owner Jenny Hurran gives her tips: “Christmas is a magical time – no matter what your age the festive season conjures up memories of childhood fairy-tales, Father Christmas and cosy woodland creatures. I love nothing more than to recreate a winter escape with a traditional tree, comforting reds, golds and greens, a crackling fire and majestic reindeer to complete the look. No matter what your home style may be, the beauty of Christmas is that it’s temporary, so indulge your inner child and go bold with a festive theme, because it will all be back to normal again in January!”



While an all-white colour scheme is the epitome of good taste, the latest trends – as predicted at Christmasworld in Frankfurt (the annual trade extravaganza that happens in February each year and which dictates the way we dress our homes at Christmas) – centre around clashing brights and new neons. Turquoise, copper, mint and pink pillar candles, for instance, replace the usual white and red wax. While tree baubles, wreaths and garlands, in hues of purple, fuschia and frosted blues, hark back to a retro 1960s Christmas style.

Ark Cambridge

Ark Cambridge


Stocking bright candles and candelabras, Jane Richards at Ark Cambridge (01223 363372, is already one step ahead of the trend: “Use luminous colours to create a super-festive, funky home,” she says. “We’ve designed our own candelabras for a perfectly unique look – just imagine your Christmas table lined up with them in beautiful colours. Scented candles using old wine and champagne bottles are also proving popular.”

GLTC - Personalised Stockings Lifestyle - HPR, £32 each (3) GLTC - Personalised Gift Sacks Lifestyle - HPR, £32 each

Perfect for creating a bright, cheerful scheme are the array of primary-coloured children’s stockings, nativity sets and tree surrounds available at the Great Little Trading Company (0344 848 6000,



Tesco Christmas Dining Traditional Glass Santa Decoration £3.50 Poinsettia Decorations £1.50 for 10 Both From Tesco

A visit to Tesco ( is also worthwhile with the supermarket tapping into the ‘bright is best’ trend. Stock up on nutcracker soldiers, ‘Bar Hum Bug’ cushions and oversized tinsel letters for a modern-day look to festivities. For a bigger investment, but stylish enough to remain in vogue all year round, check out the brand’s 1970s-style neon pink Jemima Tub Chair (£129) with grey button-back detail.

Farrow & Ball

Farrow & Ball

Experts in colour, Farrow & Ball, with a store in Cambridge (01223 367771,, advises that blue – as opposed to reds, greens or golds – is the perfect winter colour to use as a starting point.

Josephine Rance, marketing director, comments: “With the move into autumn comes the approach of Christmas; a time filled with visits from friends and family, and a time when you want your home to look and feel warm and inviting. Blue is a colour strongly associated with winter and Christmas, and it can really reflect festive cheer. Choose a strong, warming shade like Stiffkey Blue or Hague Blue. The depth of this colour creates a fashionable and contemporary interior that remains inviting. Team with silver and gold accessories and you’ll be well on the way to creating the perfect environment for celebrating. “



Polar bears, owls and penguins – the arctic world meets the nocturnal with countless tree decorations, homewares and adornments being decorated with charming depictions of the creatures.

X2015 Christmas Plaid 2 (L) 02399 copy 12374

Queen of Christmas, Gisela Graham ( – renowned for her eclectic and colossal choice of decorations – offers a range of ornaments inspired by the natural world with birds – such as owls, robins and peacocks featuring prominently in her new collections. “The ox, the ass and the lamb have always been part of the traditional Christmas story,” says Gisela Graham. “But while you won’t see too many oxen and donkeys on the nation’s Christmas trees, there are other animals in plenty this year. The ever-popular deer and reindeer are joined by cats, dogs, hedgehogs, squirrels, song-birds, peacocks and pheasants. Top of the list is the owl and the fox. We say the more the merrier!”

She continues: “I’m finding that more people these days want a break from red and gold. The peacock colours of teal blue, purple and jade green are more and more popular and people have liked a frankly jazzy range that I’ve developed using magentas, lime green, saturated pinks and purples. Yes, Christmas is a traditional festival – but you can move with the times in celebrating it.”

Vintage Christmas Tins at Homestuff with History

Vintage Christmas Tins at Homestuff with History

Meanwhile, at Cambridge-based vintage store Homestuff With History (01223 357810,, it’s all about recalling motifs from the natural world. Owner Kathryn Brown says: “Christmas is the most wonderful time of year to style your home. Obviously, we are inspired by nostalgic items as many of our products are vintage. From tins decorated with images of traditional Santas, to antique glass baubles, there’s something about Christmas that brings back memories of old. The animal kingdom is an integral part of timeless Christmas decorations, tying in with folklore and images and motifs from the natural world. Reindeers in particular bring a unique charm and childlike innocence that we all want to call upon, even if it’s just once a year.”




There’s more to the festive season than just glitzy Christmas décor. For the ultimate winter retreat, make your home cosy and comfortable as the nights draw in and the days get colder.

Ragged Rose

Ragged Rose

Bobby Red Cushion

Layer soft velvet throws, like those available at Ragged Rose (01622 812897,, with Nordic Reindeer Hides underfoot, available at Scandi Living (01428 608050, Add in Alpine-themed or Noel-festooned cushions from Jan Constantine (01270 821194, and light your rooms with aptly scented candles like Cosy By The Fire or Sparkling Snow from Yankee Candle (0117 316 1260,

Scandi Living

Scandi Living


Jan Constadine

Jan Constadine

Christmas Celebrations-2 Christmas Collection - Alpine Chalet and Church Cushions

Yankee Candle

Yankee Candle

Interior designer Joanna Wood’s store (020 7730 5064, is also an excellent source of faux-fur throws, quirky cushions and essential draught excluders. “One of my favourite things about this time of year is being able to get out lots of lovely wool, alpaca and faux fur throws and light a spiced orange or ginger scented candle to stay warm and cosy,” she reveals. “I like to use lots of rich colours, including reds and oranges mixed with pinks, greens and purples to create a comforting palette.”

Joanna Wood

Joanna Wood

Velvet armchairs and sofas in bold, jewel hues, like those available at (0345 400 2222,, make for a bold yet timeless statement. For something extra special, Sofa Workshop (0800 230 0048, has collaborated with Liberty to create the Ives chair, which uses Liberty’s latest Secret Garden fabric collection. Betty cocktail chair in Olive

Megan Holloway, marketing manager at Sofa Workshop, says: “Classic golds and silvers are great for Christmas design schemes, but for 2015 take inspiration from the wider colour spectrum and introduce bright punches of colour. Decorative furniture and accessories with colourful contrast will create a cosy environment perfect for welcoming family and friends into. Tactile textures are still a key consideration going into Christmas and the soft velvet of the Secret Garden Collection collaboration with Liberty is a great choice to create a luxurious look.”

Sofa Workshop

Sofa Workshop

Another interiors collaboration, which is fitting for the season, is Brintons pairing with Timorous Beasties (0800 505 055, A leading manufacturer of high-quality design-led woven carpets, the brand has created a range of stunning designs with the help of the cutting-edge ethos of the Glaswegian design duo. Inspired by drawings of wood grains, as seen in the Grain du Bois, and geometric texture and floral shapes, in Linen Damask, the results are thoroughly modern, swirling carpet designs.



Jay Ralley-Jones, head of Brintons’ Design Team, confirms the new trends: “For many years plain carpet has been the carpet of choice, however for AW15 we are seeing a return to patterned styles in on-trend dark pinks and purples.”

1412 Stove - Christmas copy

Dial up the cosy-factor further by investing in a wood-burning stove, like those available from Morso ( and add in some faux-fur accessories for the perfect night in. Cushions, throws and bean bags, like those available at Bean Bag Bazaar (0800 988 1286,, give the ultimate wintery feel.


Bean Bag Bazaar’s creative director Jayne Dolder gives her take: “When it comes to cosy nights indoors, aim to create a living space that is so inviting that you long to come home to it. An easy style update is to add a few matching accessories to your existing furniture. Choose a luxurious texture such as faux fur in items such as cushions, throws and bean bags and your living space will instantly become the heart of the home; full of warmth and ready for relaxation.”

Holiday mug £15, Holiday Platter £65, Red checked holiday napkin, Striped Apron High Red £35, Striped Kitchen Towel Gray £15, Striped Kitchen Towel Red £15,


Take a style lesson from New England inspired homeware brand Lexington Company (, which uses a mix-match approach, with traditional plaids, stripes and checks, in their home accessories.

Creative Director Kristina Lindhe reveals more: “I took a fantastic winter tour in the Adirondacks a couple of years ago. That’s what was in my mind when we created our latest Holiday Collection. Inspired by the thick deep snow, tall fir trees, secret hideaways with huge fireplaces and large beds made up for a long night’s sleep – the perfect holiday escape in a winterwWonderland.”


For inspiration closer to home, pop into Susie Watson Designs in Cambridge (0844 980 8185, The store offers a range of home accessories, gifts, pottery as well as a unique Christmas collection. Giving her advice, Susie Watson says: “A mixture of rich colours and soft textures creates the perfect intimate Christmas setting. Combine soft velvet cushions in deep purples and greens, with a Shetland Wool throw in complimentary colours for a really inviting sofa that you won’t want to leave.”



For those opposed to the riot of colour that is Christmas, why not consider creating a distinctive black and white scheme to give your home an edge this season? Black is increasingly finding its way into festive accessories and it can look grandiose and dramatic offset against white decorations and glittering lights.

Lion ChairEichholtz Collection Item

Sally Chamley, owner of glamourous interiors boutique Black Orchid London (01772 923858, agrees: “Monochrome continues to stand the test of time for the simple fact that it works with every colour pallet. The inclusion of black and white can also be used to create structure in varying degrees of impact. Achieving the best balance of black and white can be tricky, I ask clients to decide what they want the dominant colour to be.  Black or white?  If white dominates then black should be used only to pick out detail, create borders and introduce accessories. Books are a great way to introduce the colour, select ones with a black spine and white cover and pile them on the coffee table.  Only 20% of the fabric and wallpaper detail should be in black.  You will lose the impact if you start to introduce other colours, for monochrome to work it has to be symmetrical and only black, white and some neutrals, silver can also be used.”



CT06D 002

When it comes to homewares to last, create a foundation with statement pieces of furniture in white or black. Shimu (0800 088 6800, has a range of covetable black lacquered tables while Delcor’s (0191 237 1303, chic black velvet Georgian Wingchair gives the necessary drama. Contrast with modern enamel pendants in black or white from Fritz Fryer (01989 567 416, and monochrome rugs from Scandi Living (01428 608050,



Fritz Fryer

Fritz Fryer

Enamel Pendant A

For a classic piece of furniture, you can’t go wrong with the Evergreen chair from Ercol (, which comes in a timeless design of black lacquered wood with white upholstery. “When choosing a colour scheme for your home, you really can’t go wrong with black and white,” says Ercol’s creative director Rachel Galbraith. “A monochrome theme is both practical and creative in the sense that monotone pieces will always go with each other and will sit well with other colours and textures. So, when thinking about introducing a festive look to a room, a black or white piece is the best starting point and can be used as a basis for added colour – for example, the ubiquitous red and green for Christmas, to bring festive cheer. The piece will continue to provide a dramatic, contemporary element to a room and will remain visually pleasing all year round. The Evergreen chair from Ercol is a perfect example of a piece which will enhance any room, is versatile enough to work with new pieces, and will complement the addition of festive touches.”



In terms of these festive touches, it’s easy to create a monotone scheme that is eminently simple yet contemporary. Source oversized black paper honeycomb and white paper flower decorations from Rockett St George (01444 253391, The contemporary home website also stocks black and white crackers, white wreaths and matt black penguin decorations. Add in a few festive elements such as shimmering lights and glass baubles from Pia (0844 499 5670, for a feminine touch.

Rockett St George

Rockett St George

Rockettstgeorge_Silver_Black_Setof20 RockettStGeorge_White_Flower_Paper Decoration RockettStGeorge_BlackPaperHoneycombDec Rockettstgeorge_WhiteHoneycomb Dec_Tassel RSG_CRACKERS_ white_show_christmas_tree_with_lights_hires WHITE_TWIGS_CHRISTMAS_WREATH_HIRES RockettStGeorge_PENGUIN_ORNAENT

“Monochrome is a timeless look that will add a crisp, sharp look to your Christmas display this year,” says Jane Rockett at Rockett St George. Stick with jet-black and ice-white to really make a statement or soften it all up by adding off white, ivory and soft greys into the mix. We love adding a touch of gold for a more glamorous feel, or a pop of bright colour for a fun contrast.”



Lastly, why not source own black Christmas tree (available at: for the ultimate in dramatic décor.



Christmas Beauty Countdown: Moroccanoil Stocking Filler Collection

IMG_8361 IMG_8353

The ideal for beauty junkies this year is Moroccanoil’s Mini Essentials gift box, which contains three high performance products to achieve fabulous hair.

The brand’s hero argan oil product – the Treatment – came to the fore seven years ago, following a cult following by fashion and beauty insiders who began using the product on A-List clients and runways throughout the world. Launched seven years ago, it has a unique weightless quality and give hair shine as well as smoothing and hydrating – not to mention its glam, duck-egg blue packaging.

IMG_8359 IMG_8357 IMG_8355

The limited-edition box contains three luxury benefit-specific collections for hair — Repair, Hydrating and Volume. Each collection also comes with a Moroccanoil Detangling Comb. The Volume gift box, £23, shown here includes:
Moroccanoil Treatment, Moroccanoil Extra Volume Shampoo, Moroccanoil Extra Volume Conditioner and Moroccanoil Detangling Comb.

Fantastic for weekends away or when travelling – the rich products give beautiful hair with no effort required. The products are packed with argan-oil infused ingredients as well as vitamins. After shampooing and conditioning, use a tiny amount of the Treatment Oil before drying. The result is shiny, well-conditioned locks with a wonderful fragrance. It’s a little bit of TLC in a bottle – who wouldn’t want to find that on Christmas morning?

Christmas Beauty Countdown: JASON’s Hand & Body Lotion


Ideal for the long winter days and nights ahead is JASON’s Smoothing Coconut Hand & Body Lotion, £7.99. As well as making hands and limbs feel smooth and velvety to the touch, this also has the added benefit of transporting you to more exotic climes due to its sweet, tropical fragrance.

Founded in 1959, JASON has become renowned for its no-nonsense, natural products containing no nasties which give visible results. The brand’s new coconut range utilises the current trend for the latest wonder ingredient – coconut oil. It uses unrefined, virgin coconut oil which has been extracted naturally, without the use of extreme, damaging heat, and is not bleached with skin irritating solvents. Coconut oil has been found to counteract dry or chapped skin, due to its soothing, hydrating nutrients. It is rich in skin-nourishing vitamin E and antioxidants to provide moisture for softer, smoother skin.

IMG_8260 IMG_8256

Best of all the hand cream is perfect for throwing in your bag and using when out and about. It has an ultra-moisturising effect for deep, long-lasting hydration. The intensive blend of unrefined, virgin coconut oil and shea butter relieves the discomfort of extremely dry skin and softens and smooths rough patches.  Wave hello to the perfect little stocking filler.

Christmas Countdown: note to self – the best stationery for gifting

With most of us playing out many aspects of our lives online and digitally, you might think that old-fashioned stationery sets and thank you cards have become defunct. Instead, it seems that there is a mini revolution happening in the world of stationery. Take the soaring sales of colouring books for adults as a case in point (they have been proven to be effective stress busters). Then there are the boutique stationery labels cropping up offering beautifully crafted note paper with hip and knowing designs.

IMG_8309 IMG_8311 IMG_8313

Today’s gift ideas are dedicated to lovers of the paper stuff. On the top of my wish list are these funky notebooks by Nuuna. The copper Shiny Starlet, £12.30, is bang on trend for festive fashionistas. Seen on numerous front rows, these are the books beloved of the fashion crowd and are ideal for keeping your to-do or wish-lists up to date (the thick paper sourced from Sweden is reassuringly good quality). The larger pink Glossy Lips notebook, £14.50, features sexy gold lips on a dusty pink cover. The special flexcover notebook is crafted from jeans label material, and the premium paper has pretty, pink coloured edges and a dot design. It’s the perfect place for those who have been kissed by a muse to unleash their inspiration. Available from

While we’re on the subject, why not get creative with your present wrapping this year and invest in a  few rolls of Christmas-designed masking tape from Japanese mt washi tape to heighten the look to stylish status.

IMG_8315 IMG_8317 IMG_8319 IMG_8323 IMG_8321

I’m crazy about these little wheels of loveliness. While others may be dreaming of a white Christmas this year,  mt washi masking tape brings Christmas alive with its vibrant colours and designs. From leaping reindeer to retro strings of lights, the iconic Japanese rice paper company offers a wide range of illustrations and prints to choose from. As well as securing presents, the washi tape is also perfect for creating festive decorations, personalising Christmas presents and making cards. It is a versatile tape that tears off easily, sticks immediately and peels off without leaving a trace. £3.95 per roll, available from

A stationery gift post would not be complete without mentioning something for the kids, too. Ideal for crafty little ones (and older ones, too) is this inventive Christmas Colouring Tree Poster, £12.95, and Magical Felt Pens, £9.95, from French label Omy Design & Play.

IMG_8298 IMG_8307 IMG_8301 IMG_8305 IMG_8303

The giant Christmas tree has 24 games to complete so is ideal to use throughout December until Christmas Day. It also comes with a sheet of ten glow-in-the-dark stickers (which become real fairy lights when night comes). The poster can be pinned to a wall, use it as a table cloth or spread it out on the floor to bring the holiday spirit alive. Use OMY’s bold markers to colour in the Christmas motifs – they can be erased and also can change colour by using the two ‘magic’ erasers – and remember to leave some for the kiddies to do! Available from

Christmas Beauty Countdown: pull out the stops with Baylis & Harding’s Christmas Tree

IMG_8164 IMG_8166

I love Baylis & Harding‘s glitzy Christmas Tree not least because the sequinned beauty houses a huge bottle of the brand’s signature Sweet Mandarin & Grapefruit Luxury Body Wash, which I can’t get enough of.

IMG_8162 IMG_8166 IMG_8168 IMG_8170

But the Christmas Countdown is not about me! It’s about sourcing those little Christmas gems to show our loved ones how much we care and this glittering little gift is a real show-stopper especially given its price of just £10.

Lift off the top and inside you’ll uncover the Sweet Mandarin & Grapefruit Balancing Body Wash, enriched with vitamins A, B and C – just the thing to add a touch of luxury to the daily bathing routine. Skin is gently cleansed and nourished while being delicately scented. Time to give it away now…

Available from