Friday, 23 December 2016

How to SLEIGH Christmas EVERY Year!

How to have a stress free Christmas every year

Christmas Day is almost here. I've got the turkey and meat pack to pick up from the butchers tomorrow morning along with the vegetables from the greengrocers but apart from that, I'm pretty much sorted.

At this point in the month, I find that people tend to fall into one of two camps; the smugly sorted and the ones running around like headless chickens frantically trying to get everything finished in time for Santa coming.  Whichever horse you're backing, there's still time to pull it back round and plenty of time to learn from your experience and sleigh Christmas for many years to come.

Today, I thought I'd share my top tips on how to sleigh Christmas.  I was going to write this post earlier in the year but I thought it would be brushed over with many thinking that they'd have ages yet.

1. Plan ahead
I think we've all been guilty of leaving everything to the last minute but if you decide what you're going to do for Christmas earlier in the year (i.e. whose house you're going to or which pub you're booking in at) then you'll be able to plan accordingly.

2. Start saving in January
For most, Christmas is really costly but let's face it, its not worth getting into debt over.  I know so many people that whack everything on their credit card or take out a short term loan and end up paying over the odds for months and months just to get it paid off, meaning that they'll have ended up paying FAR more than what that Christmas gift set that ended up in the Boxing Day Sale was ever worth.

Make Christmas affordable by starting to save in January.  A little bit each month, transferred into a separate account as soon as your wages hit should mean that you get used to not having that money within your disposable income quite quickly and it'll soon mount up.  When it gets closer to Christmas, increase the amount of money that you're saving if you can and if you know exactly how much certain things are going to cost (for example, I know our meat pack is £55 from Stirks Butchers each year) then transfer that over and you can tick it off your shopping list knowing that you're one step closer to having all of the essentials paid for.

3. Write a list
Make sure you have everything that you need to buy written down from the wrapping paper, cards and presents to the food, drink and table decorations, then stick to it!  That way, you're not buying anything unnecessarily and you'll not forget anything.  If you order your turkey, make sure you do that as soon as your butcher starts taking order then you'll not run the risk of forgetting and ending up having to find one at the last minute.  Spar actually have a great Christmas Dinner Checklist which shares their top tips on how to prep Christmas dinner like a pro so do check that out for everything kitchen related.

4. Shop in advance
If you seen a gift on sale throughout the year that you think someone you know will love, then snap it up at the sale price.  I always do this with things that I buy for Mr WLL as I tend to find Jack Wills knitwear and hoodies on sale in the summer months and sometimes I come across a random sale on his favourite aftershave in a gift set too.  Buying things that I would buy anyway in the sale means that I can make my Christmas budget go further and it also takes the pressure off having to find everything that I'd like to get him in the shops come December.  Check out my top 10 tips on how to be a savvy shopper to help you to make the most of your Christmas shopping trips.

5. Wrap as you go
As soon as the Christmas wrapping paper is in the shops, I purchase my wrapping paper.  Usually I buy it from Paperchase because their styles are cool, quirky and they have a range of accessories that really give my presents the WOW factor.  However this year I made the fatal mistake of buying glittery paper that was on offer in WH Smiths.  I'll not be doing this again.  While fantastic quality, the glitter went EVERYWHERE.  NEVER AGAIN!!

Anyway, my point is, if you wrap as you go, it wont be so overwhelming as it gets closer to Christmas.  Plus if you have any friends, family or kids around your house then they'll not run the risk of finding their present early!

6. Shop none perishables EARLY!
Buy none perishable food and drinks early to avoid having to spend too much time in the supermarket a couple of days before Christmas when its mega busy.  I buy all of our drinks and alcohol, crisps, nibbles, frozen party food and anything else that doesn't go off, a week or so before Christmas.  Clear out a cupboard in your kitchen to store everything in and don't do what my dad usually does- eat the Christmas cake in advance!!

7. Shop online
I do love an annual trip to the Metrocentre at Christmastime.  Me and one of my best friends from school have a tradition where we go at the start of the festive season to get the first of our presents, our wrapping paper and Hotel Chocolat choccies but we go mid week, during the day when its a lot quieter and then Mr WLL and I tend to go closer to the day itself when he's off work.  We tend to go for lunch somewhere nice and go to the cinema to see a Christmas film too and really make the most of the festive period.

However I do the vast majority of my main Christmas shopping online.  I look for gift guides and scour websites to find the best deals on the items that I want to buy and find that its so easy to make the most of my spending budget and time this way.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are a great time to take advantage of special offers and I'm always googling discount codes and looking for free delivery to make my money go even further.  Then its all delivered to my door within a few days and I just need to wrap it all up; so much easier than having to traipse around the shops.

8. Make the most of the festive season
Planning and prepping in advance, shopping and wrapping as you go and putting money away each month throughout the year ensures that come Christmas time, you're able to make the most of the festive season because you've saved yourself valuable time and hopefully money!

Search out lots of local Christmas themed days and nights and make plans to go along with your friends and family to enjoy them.  I have lots of small groups of friends and we all do different things at this time of the year together whether its a Christmas meal out, a festive cinema date or to see a winter garden wonderland all lit up with the most beautiful twinkling lights.  For me, Christmas is about spending time with the ones that I love so being prepared in advance enables me to be able to achieve this.

9. Clock off at 2pm on Christmas Eve
Give yourself a clocking off time on Christmas Eve.  Get up early, get all of your errands done (collecting the turkey and veg in our case) and when you're finished early, get started on enjoying Christmas.  We have Christmas Eve traditions where we open our stockings, have a Lush bath each, pop on our new
Christmas jarmies and enjoy our little chocolates from our stocking.  We have some picky food for supper and a glass of mulled wine in front of a Christmas film on TV.  Its a chilled out, cosy start to Christmas and it couldn't be achieved if we were still rushing around at 10pm.

Remember to breathe.  Christmas Day is literally one day and it really is all a great big fuss for the sake of one day.  I've seen women trying to battle with two giant trolleys around the supermarket, pilling stacks of food inside and getting themselves stressed to hell.  The shops are only shut for ONE day.

Remember to breathe, try to relax and remember what Christmas is really about.  I'm not talking about religion here, although history and faith tells us that that's what its about but really, Christmas is whatever it means to you.  For me, that's spending valuable time with my family.  If you're stressed, you can't do that.  If your mother in law is irritating you over how to do the sprouts or your cousins kid wont stop pressing play on that talking toy Santa bought her, just breathe through it.  Don't let it get to you; find joy in other things in the day instead and if it annoys you THAT much, then let that inform your plans for next year but don't let it spoil this Christmas.

Make the most of it, enjoy your time with family and friends and focus on collecting plenty of memories, not things.

I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and really enjoy the festive period, take it all in your stride and if the dinner goes tits up, laugh it off and grab another glass of Bucks Fizz!

How will you be spending Christmas this year?  What are your top tips for sleigh-ing Christmas?

Thursday, 22 December 2016

His & Hers Fragrance Gifts for Power Couples

His and hers fragrance gifts for power couples image

Throughout the year, many of us have occasions where we might be looking to buy a gift for a couple.  The most obvious time would be Christmas but you might also be looking for a gift for other occasions that are significant such as an engagement, wedding, new home or even a new baby.  You might even be looking for something to buy your own partner that is linked to something that you've got for yourself.

Fragrances are a great option and although they're quite an obvious choice when it comes to Christmas and birthdays, they're a little less thought of for other occasions in life.  However, for me, scent is so powerful as it can evoke so many memories which actually makes it a really good present idea when you're buying a gift for a couple at a significant time of their life as when they smell that fragrance in years to come, it'll remind them of that special time.

Many brands, especially designer ones, make  separate fragrances for men and women that compliment one another; think of them as a duo with similar notes or a similar feel to them.  These perfumes make an ideal gift for a couple as you can purchase the fragrances alone or as gift sets to take advantage of even more fabulous savings with the complimentry products in the box.

I wrote about his and hers fragrance gifting last year and my top tips for finding out the fragrance that someone you know will love in a post where I also review Dolce & Gabbana The One For Him and Her; so do check back to that for more information.

D&G The One is definitely one of my favourite his and hers fragrances but this year in particular, I've discovered so many more; lets take a look at them...

For The Modern Day, Classic Couple

Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male Essence and Classique Essence Perfume Fragrance Image

For the classic couple who never go out of style, I'd recommend the Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male Essence (check it out in my Christmas Gifts For Men post) and the ladies Jean Paul Gaultier Classique Essence (you can find out more about this scent in my Luxe Christmas Gift Guide).  Any perfume lover will recognise these iconic fragrances but they've been given a little nip and tuck to bring them bang up to date in 2016.

The torso of Le Male is a little broader on the shoulders and more nipped in at the waist whereas the silhouette of Classique is smaller on the bust and curvier on the hips and bottom a la Kim K.  Both bottles are crystal clear now rather than frosted and the metal packaging is all copper which I LOVE.  This duo will look absolutely stunning on a his and hers vanity!

The scents have been given an upgrade too.  They're still very reminiscent of the original, classic fragrances but they have added notes to them.  Le Male Essence has more citrus notes which gives the fragrance a lighter, more sophisticated scent and Classique Essence combines contrasting notes of spicy whipped cream, jasmine and woods.  Both are stunning and perfect for the modern day, classic couple!

SHOP Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male Essence & Classique Essence

For The Glamorous Couple

Paco Rabanne 1 Million Prive Lady Million Prive Perfume Fragrance Image

Paco Rabanne 1 Million Prive Lady Million Prive Perfume Fragrance Image

For the uber glamorous couple, I'd highly recommend the new releases from Paco Rabanne; 1 Million Privé and Lady Million Privé.  Similar to the Jean Paul Gaultier Essence perfumes, these fragrances smell similar to their originals but even better.

Fans of the original 1 Million will love the new Paco Rabanne 1 Million Privé (also featured in my Mens Christmas Gift Guide) because it does smell very similar to the original 1 Million with its blood mandarin and cinnamon notes but it has been given an oriental, woody twist.  While still smelling similar to the original, the new Paco Rabanne Lady Million Privé perfume has been given a serious upgrade.  The new fragrance is far deeper and more sensual than the original, plus it smells the same on the skin as it does when first spritzed out of the bottle and it lasts for far longer.

This duo is perfect for the glamorous couple who love to look their best.  The fragrances are instantly recognisable and are attention grabbing.  They have a luxe feel to them right down to the beautiful brown and amber packaging which is another luxe upgrade!

So many brands bring out new editions of their top fragrances and these ones are a great option if you're buying for a same sex couple as you could buy one person the original and one the new edition.

SHOP Paco Rabanne 1 Million Privé and Lady Million Privé

For the Rock Star Duo

Zadig and Voltaire This Is Him This Is Her Perfume Fragrance Image

For the rock star couple, the Zadig & Voltaire This Is Him! and Zadig & Voltaire This Is Her! fragrances would be my top pick.  I reviewed them earlier this autumn in this post and in all honesty, I've worn both of them so much since that I'll be needing to repurchase them soon.

Zadig & Voltaire are Parisian fashion designers and that fun, edgy vibe really comes across in these fragrances, right down to the artsy bottles that look as though they've been carved out of rock; feminine white for This Is Her! and masculine black for This Is Him!.  These are ideal for the couple who are independent, yet very in tune with one another as the bottles fit together and I actually find that the fragrances themselves can be worn on either sex.  This Is Him! on a woman more so than This Is Her! on a man although personal preference would prevail.

This Is Him! is an oriental, woody fragrance with top notes of peppery grapefruit, a soft vanilla and incense heart and a sandalwood base which combine together to make the most alluring, incredible scent that I can't get enough of.  This Is Her is a gourmand woody, floral fragrance which combines spicy notes with floral ones.  You'll find top notes of jasmine and pink pepper, a heart of chestnut and an intense sandalwood base.  As you can see by their notes, these fragrances are very in tune with one another.

SHOP Zadig and Voltaire This Is Him! and This Is Her!

For The Stylish Pair

Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb and Flowerbomb Fragrance Perfume Image

My final recommendation has to be for the stylish, couture duo and that is Spicebomb and Flowerbomb.  Created by Viktor & Rolf, these two fragrances really epitomise male and female scents; spicy notes are synonymous with masculine fragrances in just the same way as floral notes are to feminine perfumes.

For the gents, we have Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb which is actually the fragrance that my husband wore on our wedding day.  It is an incredible oriental, woody, spicy perfume with a quite a lengthy list of fragrance notes. The result is alluring and addictive.  For the ladies, the oriental Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb is this ultimate girlie fragrance.  This is an intensely feminine perfume that is packed full of floral notes, a warming hint of powder and a musk base.  You may have read my review of Flowerbomb on my blog earlier this year and my thoughts on it are pretty much the same; this is a timeless beauty!

SHOP Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb and Flowerbomb

Whether you're buying for a couple this Christmas or you're looking ahead for a wedding gift, purchasing complimentry fragrances is such a good idea.  The couple wearing them will always smell in tune with one another and smelling the scent again in the future should take them back to times filled with plenty of happy memories!

Which mens and womens fragrances do you love?  Have you smelled any of these ones?

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Rimmel The Only 1 Matte Lipstick: Review and Swatches

Rimmel The Only 1 Matte Lipstick Image

Are you a matte lip lover?

Then listen up because Rimmel have got a FABULOUS new release for you!

Rimmel The Only 1 Matte Lipstick Image

Rimmel have launched their brand new range of matte lipsticks this autumn. 

The Only 1 Matte Lipstick line features nine beautiful shades that are all very wearable, even the purple colour!  There's something for everyone from pale to dark nudes to pinks, reds and purples.

The tones are very seasonally appropriate for autumn and winter but some of the lighter ones would be great for the spring and the bright shade that I love 'Call The Shots' would be beautiful in the summer.  Perhaps they'll release some extra shades in time for the warmer months... I do hope so as the formula of these lipsticks is great.

Rimmel The Only 1 Matte Lipstick Swatches Image

The Rimmel Only 1 Matte Lipsticks have a velvet matte formula which makes them creamier than a traditional matte lipstick.  They're very much a modern matte which means that they give you that gorgeous, long lasting matte lip look but they are more comfortable to apply and wear and they don't dry your lips out in the way that traditional matte products can.

The bullet is slanted in shape but is otherwise flat with no curve to the tip.  The shape of the lipstick actually makes applying it very easy and I'm able to really sculpt out my cupids bow when wearing one of these lipsticks.

The formula of the lipstick foremost but also the shape of the bullet ensures that these lipstick have more of a glide to them than a drag during application.

Rimmel The Only 1 Matte Lipstick 700 Trendsetter, 200 Salute, 610 High Flyer Image
(L to R) 700 Trendsetter, 200 Salute, 610 High Flyer
The colour is more or less opaque from the first swipe but I'm always more careful when applying darker colours so I take my time and build up the shape and colour.  I love how pigmented the shades are; the colour pay off is fabulous and they're pretty true to how the shade looks in the bullet when they're on the lips, which I think really helps you to be able to buy with confidence.

I don't find that lip liners are required when wearing these lipsticks as I haven't found any of them to bleed; I was even able to wear the red, no. 500 Take The Stage all night, with confidence that it wouldn't bleed when I posted this instagram photo.

The Only 1 Matte Lipsticks all have great staying power.  I found that the colour would last for hours on my lips and would only need touching up in the centre of my lips if I had eaten.
Rimmel The Only 1 Matte Lipstick 800 Run The Show, 110 Leader Of The Pink, 120 Call The Shots Image
(L to R) 800 Run The Show, 110 Leader Of The Pink, 120 Call The Shots
The lipstick is comfortable to apply, wear throughout the day and reapply if needed.  It doesn't dry the lips out or make them feel as though they're going to shrivel up and fall off like one of the Colour Pop matte liquid lipsticks did on my lips.

These lipsticks remind me of the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution lipsticks in that they're not a drying matte and they apply smoothly without dragging the lips.  What is also similar about them is that while they're both matte, they don't leave the lips looking flat.

However they aren't dupes of one another.  The Rimmel lipstick is drier than the Charlotte Tilbury one, both in how it appears in the bullet, how it swatches and how it applies to the lips.  The Charlotte Tilbury range is more pigmented and creamy feeling on the lips which makes it feel less matte.

Rimmel The Only 1 Matte Lipstick 500 Take The Stage, 810 The Matte Factor, 750 Look Who's Talking Image
(L to R) 500 Take The Stage, 810 The Matte Factor, 750 Look Who's Talking
I'm so impressed with these new Rimmel lipsticks.  While their red packaging is different to the luxe packaging I usually go for, I do love that there is a band of colour around the base of the bullet to indicate what colour shade is inside without you having to flip the lipstick over to check the base or to take the lid off to check the actual lipstick inside.  This is really handy and saves time if you have more than 1 of a particular lipstick.

The packaging is very sturdy and well made with a secure click ensuring that the lid wont come off and end up floating around in the bottom of your handbag.

I'd definitely recommend picking some of these lipsticks up if you're looking for a matte lipstick that is comfortable to wear all day.

Rimmel The Only 1 Matte Lipstick Image

Find out more about Rimmel products on their website and shop The Only 1 Matte Lipsticks on ASOS, Feel Unique, Boots, Superdrug and in store at Asda and Tesco.


Which lipstick shade is your favourite?  Do you love matte lipsticks?

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The ULTIMATE Gift for Foodies

Degustabox Christmas Food Subscription Box Food Gifts and Discount

Do you know a foodie who would gaze lovingly at this box of goodies too?

Then listen up because I've got the PERFECT Christmas gift for them this year from Degustabox.

Degustabox Christmas Food Subscription Box Food Gifts and Discount

Degustabox Christmas Food Subscription Box Food Gifts and Discount

Degustabox is a food subscription service that delivers a box filled with 10 to 15 food items direct to your door every month.  It's a great chance to try out something new from brands that will be completely new to you and some that are already household names.

I've been signed up since the summer and have discovered so many new favourites through  it that I admire, I wouldn't have picked up if I'd seen them on the shelves before trying them out in the box.  I'm a bit of a safe bet food shopper and buy what I know I already like as I worry that I'll end up wasting money if I buy lots of things on the off chance that I might like them, especially snacky foods.  If you're a bit like me then I bet Degustabox would be great for you because the low monthly cost is a really good deal for what you get inside and overall it works out much cheaper than if you'd bought the items separately in the shops.

Degustabox Christmas Food Subscription Box Food Gifts and Discount

Degustabox Christmas Food Subscription Box Food Gifts and Discount

This month was the Christmas box and it was packed full of delicious treats with a focus on sweet items, snacks and the kind of food that you could put out for a family buffet tea over the festive period.

An instant hit with me were the Butterkist popcorn.  They're a popcorn brand that we've bought in our house for as long as I can remember so to try out the Choc Mallow Popcorn (£1.49) flavour was a nice change and a welcome treat.  My favourite is still the Butterkist Sweet Cinema Style Popcorn 28p (£1.69 multipack) though which comes in a smaller bag, ideal for one and is just the right amount to enjoy with a cold drink while watching a Christmas film.

Another sweet treat in the box this month were the Jules Destrooper Butter Crisps (£1.19) which I didn't know what to do with to begin with.  However one night we had a fruit salad with some fresh whipped vanilla cream and the butter crisps were a great accompaniment with everything piled on top.

Yet more sweet goodness came from the bar of Michel et Augustin 4 cookie squares (89p per pack) which are absolutely gorgeous.  I'll definitely be looking out for these next time I need a chocolate fix.  They're a bit like a biscuit with Nutella on and they're SO yummy.  I was going to enjoy mine with a cuppa but ended up munching them all before the kettle had even boiled!!

Degustabox Christmas Food Subscription Box Food Gifts and Discount

I was happy to see a couple of packets of the Hartley's Glitter Jelly in mixed berry and raspberry (2 x 75p) inside the box.  I really like the pre made pots of Hartley's jelly as they flavours are just the right amount of sweetness so I can't wait to make these to see what they're like, especially with the glitter inside!  I reckon they'd be perfect for a Christmas or New Years Eve party, especially if there's kids in the house.  These are sure to be a hit!

The Broderick's Crunchy Slam Dunk Peanut Chunk (£1.20) was my husbands favourite this month.  He said that it was 'absolutely beautiful' which is more than he usually says to me when I've spent hours getting ready so I would take it that he really loved it haha!  I did ask him if he could expand his thoughts and he said that it was really nutty.  I guess he'll not have a career in food writing anytime soon!

He also had the bottle of J20 Glitterberry (£2.49 or £4 multipack of 4) one night too.  I've had this lots of times before as its been out for a good number of years now and it is a really yummy change from the other J20's that are out all year round.  As the name would suggest, this drink has very fine gold glitter in it making it the perfect way to add a bit of sparkle to your beverage for the Christmas period.  It can be enjoyed on its own for those who would prefer to not consume alcohol, or it can be enjoyed with a spirit in; I often have it with a single measure of vodka in at the pub over Christmas.

Degustabox Christmas Food Subscription Box Food Gifts and Discount

Drinks were a plenty in the box this month with the Ahmad Tea Pear & Cinnamon Strudel Luxury Tea featuring along with three cartons of the Appy Kids Co Golden Apple Juice Drink and two bottles of The Good Cider flavoured ciders.

This has been my first time trying Ahmad Tea and I'm really impressed with how delicious the flavour is.  The Pear and Cinnamon Strudel flavour is sweet but sugar free, authentic and really makes an indulgent, guilt free treat when I want something sweet late at night but don't want the extra calories of food, or if I'm thirsty rather than hungry.  Warm drinks are always perfect at this time of the year and are great for snuggling up on the sofa with while watching one of my favourite shows; Silent Witness!

The Appy Kids Co produce multi award winning lunchbox fruit drinks that are great for kids school lunches but for adults too  They are 100% natural and don't contain any artificial ingredients.  I've loved the Golden Apple Juice Drinks and have been keeping them in the car for when I'm out and about and want a drink other than water which is what I drink 90% of the time.  It has no added sugar and is plant stevia-based which is natural sugar rather than refined sugar.  Because of this, they contain 50% less sugar than other similar drinks, are kinder to teeth and a healthier option for everyone.  This can only be a great thing!

The Good Cider drinks (2 x £1.50) were an instant hit with my hubby.  I haven't been drinking too much over the festive period so far as I'm really working on cutting back at the moment but I did have a sip to see if I liked them and I definitely do, especially the Strawberry and Lime flavour.  Wild Berries was my husbands fave and he said that he preferred it to other flavoured ciders that he's tried before.  He noted that the flavours were really authentic and sweet.

Degustabox Christmas Food Subscription Box Food Gifts and Discount

Another fave of his were the Wild Thyme and Rosemary flavour Pipers Crisps £2.00 which he enjoyed with the cider one night.  They're a little too strongly flavoured for my tastes however the taste is authentic and not artificial which is great.  We both loved how crispy they were and they had a great amount of bite to them.

Degustabox Christmas Food Subscription Box Food Gifts and Discount

In our house, cheese and biscuits are a staple food over Christmas and New Year for my dad and hubby.  In short, they're OBSESSED!  When I saw that the Ryvita Crackers (£1.29) and Ryvita Thins (£1.89) were in the box, I laughed because my dad had literally just bought these ones for the Christmas Food Cupboard to save for our Christmas Eve buffet dinner but I knew that now that he had more, he would be cracking them open sooner!

Needless to say, he's currently in a cheese and cracker food coma!  If you're looking for crackers for cheese or something for cream cheese, chutney, etc to go on then I'd recommend the Ryvita range.  We've bought this brand for years and never been disappointed!  I'm not into cheese and crackers but I love smashed avocado on the thins with some chilli, sea salt and black pepper.  YUM!!

Degustabox Christmas Food Subscription Box Food Gifts and Discount

The last of the items in our Degustabox came in the form of the Christian Potier Pepper Sauce (£2.50 1 of 3 flavours; Pepper, Hollandaise or Bernaise) which is absolutely DELICIOUS!  We buy a meat pack from our butchers every month and get a couple of steaks in the pack so we used those with the sauce.  We simply cooked our steak and then heated the sachet of sauce up in the microwave for only 10 seconds which is mega quite and saves on washing up!  Each box contains three, one portion pouches so we had one left over which I had later in the week with chicken and again, it was really tasty; creamy with just the right amount of pepper!

These sauces have no preservatives added to them, they don't contain and artificial flavours and no colours either which makes them a great alternative to some of the other pre made sauces in the shops.  Great for when you're too tired to make a sauce from scratch and full of flavour in only 10 seconds flat!  I'll definitely be buying more of these as I really want to try the Bernaise one. 

Degustabox Christmas Food Subscription Box Food Gifts and Discount

Don't just gaze longingly at my Degustabox, get your own here and you can order one as a gift here.  They even offer a 3 or 6 month gift subscription if you'd like to make it a gift that keeps on giving.

I'm sure you'll agree that this is the perfect gift for a foodie whether you're buying for a birthday, Christmas, anniversary or even Valentines Day.

As the saying goes, the way to the heart is through the stomach!

If you're purchasing Degustabox for the first time, you can use my code 88AHT to get your first box for only £5.99 instead of £12.99.  Bargain!

What are your favourite food related gifts to give throughout the year?

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Luxury Christmas Gifts for Women 2016

Luxury Christmas Gifts for Women 2016

Now that I'm home from my trip to Dubai, I'm in full on Christmas mode; the tree is up, I've got Mariah Carey on repeat and I'm about to finish off all of my present wrapping.  Working hard, saving up and going out to treat your friends and family to some really special gifts is a great feeling and wrapping them up to look even more pretty is the icing on the cake.

There are so many amazing gifts out there for Christmas 2016 and I really feel as though I've chosen the some of the best for my loved ones.  There's certain people in my life that I really like to spoil with a more luxury gift; these tend to be really high quality, long lasting gifts that feel luxe, special and tend to have a higher price point.  They're the gifts that give someone serious heart eyed emojis when they unwrap them.

This year, I wanted to share with you the luxe gifts that I think are worth your money and will really make a lady in your life smile.  When it comes to luxury gifts, you cannot go wrong with accessories, skincare, perfume and home fragrance.

Luxe Accessories

Fossil Ladies Cross Body Bag Image

Fossil Ladies Cross Body Bag Image

First up is the Fossil Ladies Cross Body Bag from Chriselli which was actually my own Secret Santa gift, expertly chosen by blogger Plain Sarah Jayne in the Watches2U Secret Santa gift exchange.

It is from the Emi line by Fossil and comes in a range of colours and prints but she knew the grey leather would catch my eye.  When it comes to everything from homeware to accessories, grey with gold hardware is my ultimate combo.  I love the gorgeous key that hangs off the bag; its a pretty touch.

The leather is super soft and the bag has a strong cotton lining inside as well as a sturdy zipper to fasten the bag shut.  I prefer bags that close in this way rather than being open so that my things are safe and secure inside when I'm out and about.  In that sense, this bag would be ideal for someone who commutes to work, goes sightseeing or shopping.

It fits cross body and what I love about it is that the adjustable strap is really long.  Usually on me, cross body bags end up sitting really high on my body whereas this one hits my hip height where it should be.  The strap is really comfortable regardless of how much I have in it and although it isnt a huge bag, it holds all of my essentials for a day out including my phone, keys, purse, Canon camera, makeup to touch up and my perfume, with room to spare.

Theres handy pockets inside to keep my things organised, including a zipped one which is ideal for keeping lose change and my parking ticket in for easy access, plus theres a pocket on the back of the bag too which again, is good for storing things that you need to be able to access quickly like tickets, guide leaflet when travelling, etc.  I'm going on a mini break soon and I'll be taking this bag with me as it is the perfect size and style for going sightseeing and checking out all of the museums.  I'll be pairing it with a jumper and skinny jeans, ankle boots and a knitwear cape to keep me warm in the chilly winter air.  Plus the strap is actually detachable so I'll be able to use it as a clutch bag in the evening.

If you're looking for a superb quality bag that's stylish and really useful, then I'd definitely recommend this one as a gift this Christmas.

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Luxury Skincare

Foreo Luna 2 for Normal Skin Day and Night Cleanser Image

Foreo Luna 2 for Normal Skin Day and Night Cleanser Image

If you're looking for a luxe gift for a beauty junky then look no further than the Foreo Luna 2 for Normal Skin.  There's no best investment to make in beauty than in your skincare and the Luna 2 is the ultimate facial cleansing and anti-ageing device.  It uses T-Sonic pulsations through the skin to gently exfoliate and clean the skin while boosting the absorption of the skincare products that follow.

I've just started using mine since I got back from my trip and so far, I'm loving it and would certainly recommend it but I'll wait until I write up a full review before giving you my final thoughts.  It is unlike any other cleansing device I've used in the past such as the Magnitone Barefaced cleansing brush.  The Luna is made of silky silicone and it actually feels really smooth and gentle on the skin.  It is designed to exfoliate dead skin cells for a more fresh, radiant appearence, unclog pores, especially those clogged up with makeup residue, and it removes 99.5% of dirt and excess oil from the skin.  When the skin is cleared in this way, it allows the skincare products that you put on after cleansing to be better absorbed into the skin as they're not having to fight through layers of impurities first.

I have the Luna 2 for Normal skin but Foreo actually havd 4 specialised brush types so you can easily select the one that will be best for the person that you're buying for, whether they're more sensitive or combination or if they're a man as the skin on a gents face is thicker and tougher than a womans.

All Foreo Luna 2 models come with a 2-Year Limited Warranty and a 10-Year Quality Guarantee so although they're an investment and more of a main gift for some, they're certainly one that will last and something that the person you're buying for will get a lot of use out of.  The device is recharageable, with around 450 uses per full charge so its ideal for someone who travels a lot and it doesn't require replacement brush heads either, unlike other cleansing devices I've used in the past, which means that the person you gift it to wont need to keep up with the expense of replacing brush heads.

Foreo Luna 2 for Normal Skin Day and Night Cleanser Image

Not only do Foreo have a great range of cleansing devices but they also have skincare which can be used alongside the device too.  The Foreo Day Cleanser Awakening Radiance Yoghurt and the Forero Night Cleanser Celestial Melting Gel are a great option to compliment the Luna 2 and work alongside it perfectly.

The daytime cleanser is very refreshing which has an awakening effect when used with the Luna 2 in the morning time whereas the nighttime cleanser is one thats ideal for breaking down makeup as it turns from a gel into more of a milky lotion.  So far, I've found both cleansers to leave my skin feeling clean and soft after use.

Foreo have some gift sets available this Christmas which you can check out on their website here.  These will save you money against buying the products individually or alternatively, you can buy everything singularly and create a really bespoke gift.  Perhaps the person you're buying for already has a favourite cleanser, you could get them their skincare products of choice plus a Luna 2 and package them together as a luxury skincare hamper.  That's definitely something that I would LOVE to receive!

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Luxury Home

Rathbornes Rosemary Fougere and Camphor Scented Reed Diffuser Image

Sometimes buying beauty or fashion pieces for another person can be a little daunting, especially if they don't really have a signature style (making anything hit or miss as to whether they'd like it), appear to have everything already, or if you just don't know them too well, then something for the home is a really good gift idea.  I'd suggest sticking to home fragrance or items that they'll get use out of rather than decorative pieces unless you really know their home style and what they're looking to add to their home.

There's plenty of luxury options available here, including the Rathbornes Rosemary Fougere & Camphor Scented Reed Diffuser which has the most incredibly alluring scent.  Unlike cheaper home fragrance brands that tend to smell very articificial and of only one or two notes, Rathbornes really develop and layer their scents to create a complex aroma, not too unlike a luxury perfume, only they're for the home.  This one has top notes of rosemary and thyme with a smoky, sensual heart of lavender and armoise and a woody base of cedar, camphor and pine needles.

This is the kind of fragrance that would be ideally suited to a kitchen, sitting room or entrance way, in the downstairs of the home.  The fragrance is strong and powerful yet not over bearing.  The 200ml frosted glass bottle will suit any decor and since it could last for up to 20-24 weeks, this will be a gift that keeps on giving.

Elemental Herbology Mandarin & Grapefruit Hand and Body Duo

Another luxe option for the home that anyone can enjoy and make good use out of is a great quality hand soap and lotion.  I'd highly recommend checking out Molton Brown (their Rhubarb and Rose scent is simply incredible), Jo Malone (especially Pomegranate Noir and English Pear scents) and Elemental Herbology.

The Elemental Herbology Mandarin & Grapefruit Hand and Body Duo would make a fabulous gift for a man or woman and an ideal present for a couple, perhaps if they've just moved into a new home.  It comes in beautiful rose gold packaging with a pull out draw to reveal the 300ml bottles of the Grapefruit and Mandarin Hand and Body Wash and the Mandarin & Geranium Hand and Body Cream.

The hand wash is fresh and zesty whereas the hand cream has more of a floral fragrance.  Both are of superb quality which you would expect from a brand who make gorgeous skincare.  The bottles themselves have an apothecary feel to them  and would suit a multitude of bathroom decor styles; they're very unisex so they'd be perfect in any bathroom whether it be in a bachelor pad, the WC of a girl boss' house or a family home!

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Luxury Fragrance

Possibly my most favourite luxury beauty gift to receive is perfume.  Smell is so powerful and can evoke an abundance of memories.  While theres a fragrance out there to suit any budget, I do think that Christmas is the perfect time to treat someone to a more luxurious perfume; one that feels extra special and that they wouldn't wear everyday.

This year there have been a multitude of new releases, many of which take a new spin on the most iconic signature fragrances as well as some incredibly special limited edition and luxury scents that have been released just in time for the festive period.

Elie Saab Nuit Noor Image

My top pick for this year has to be the NEW Elie Saab Nuit Noor which is available exclusively in store at Harrods this Christmas.  I'd just got back from Dubai when I first smelled this fragrance and I was instantly transported back there.  It has the most incredible Arabic air to it with strong Oud notes which really epitomise the luxury of the Middle East.

If you're buying for someone who loves powerful floriental fragrances then this one is sure to be a winner.  The deep, dark wood notes of Oud and Patchouli are contrasted perfectly with the floral orange blossom to create a scent thats unlike any of the other Elie Saab fragrances.  Nuit Noor is a stunning stand out from the scent itself to the black and gold packaging, making it an ideal gift for a luxury fragrance lover this Christmas.

Since this fragrance has only very recently been released and with such incredible fragrance notes, I think it is going to be high up on many Christmas wishlists this year.  At £110 for a 90ml bottle, it is very competitively priced compared to other Oud based fragrances, plus you're getting a lot of fragrance for your money and with the scent being so strong, it'll last all through 2017!

Elie Saab Le Parfum Eclat D'or Image

Another Elie Saab fragrance that would make a lovely gift this Christmas is the return of the Eau de Parfum collectors limited edition fragrance.  The highly covetable Elie Saab Le Parfum Eclat D'or comes in the most beautiful golden faceted bottle which is a stunning upgrade to the already beautiful Le Parfum bottle that many of us already know and love.

However what makes Eclat D'or so super special is that it has been given a little Christmas spirit for the festive season.  Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian who came up with the concept of the signature Le Parfum fragrance has enriched the blend with sweet Christmas notes to make the scent even more beautifully addictive.  You'll find notes of Bergamot, Orange Blossom, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Rose Honey, Nectar and Patchouli working together to make this perfume irresistible!

The 50ml bottle is available from John Lewis at a modest £58 for such a special item.  This is brand new, limited edition release that's available online and in store while stocks last.  Its sure to be a total sell out so if you have an Elie Saab fan in the family, grab it while you can!

Jean Paul Gaultier Classique Essence Image

If reimagined fragrances appeal to you then let me introduce you to the new Jean Paul Gaultier Classique Essence, 100ml (50ml also available) perfume.  I'll be doing a full review of this beauty soon but if you're looking to get someone a rich smelling fragrance this Christmas then this one is a fabulous option.

Originally launched in the 90's, the figure of Jean Paul Gaultier Classique has become an icon for the design house, just as much as the Le Mâle fragrance bottle has for men.  This year, Classique and Le Mâle have been given a little  face lift to keep them ahead of the curve.

Newly launched in 2016, in plenty of time for Christmas gifting, the silhouette of Jean Paul Gaultier Classique has been reimagined to give a little less shape to the boobs and a little more pop to the hips and bottom.  Classique Essence still has that deliciously luxurious scent of the original fragrance but with a stunning change in composition; the contrast of spicy whipped cream with rich jasmine and a woody base is sure to have even the most loyal Classique fans converted!

To complete their new interpretation of femininity, they've changed up the packaging too.  Longstanding fans of JPG fragrances will be pleased to see that they can still buy their favourite perfume in a tin but now the packaging is a beautiful shade of copper.

Issey Miyake L'Eau D'Issey Pure

Another variation on an iconic 90s fragrance is Issey Miyake L'Eau D'Issey Pure, which has been created as the second chapter in the history of L'Eau D'Issey.  I find that with Issey Miyake fragrances, if people love them, they REALLY love them and the scent is usually their most worn, everyday fragrance for at the last decade at least.  Their bottles and scents will never go out of fashion and are perfect for day or night wear.

Housed in a crystal clear water droplet, demonstrating a suspended moment, Issey Miyake L'Eau D'Issey Pure is far more of an aquatic floral than its heavy citrus, floral predecessor.  It is a scent of contrasts with top notes of Crystalline Lily-of-the-Valley alongside bright Orange Blossom, a heart of the essence of Damask Rose that has absorbed the morning dew and opulent Jasmine and a base of musks and woods.  The result is fresh and floral, long lasting, strong fragrance that I can't get enough of!

Available in 30ml, 50ml and 90ml bottles, as well as in a gift set, there is a Pure fragrance for every sized handbag and dressing table!

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Paco Rabanne Lady Million Privé Eau de Parfum

Paco Rabanne Lady Million Privé Eau de Parfum

One of the most exciting launches this year on the highstreet for me has to be the release of the Paco Rabanne Lady Million Privé Eau de Parfum.  The original Lady Million scent was a bit of a let down for me.  Compared to 1 Million, it didn't pack a punch and while I kept smelling it and adoring it on my friends, it just didn't seem to smell the same to me or last very long.

Lady Million Privé however is a completely different ball game.  It is deeper and more sensual than the original, with plenty of oriental notes.  The orange blossom and woody top notes blend into a heliotrope, vanilla and raspberry heart with a warming base of patchouli, cocoa and honey.  The result is an incredibly rich fragrance with a long lasting scent.  You can still smell the original fragrance in Privé but the new blend makes it stronger, longer lasting and I can actually smell the true fragrance on my skin.  So if you know someone who felt the same with about the original, then I'd say that this perfume would be a really happy surprise for them and of course, I'd recommend it to any Paco Rabanne fan as they're sure to love the new Lady Million Privé!

Pick up a bottle in either a 30ml, 50ml or 80ml size nationwide.

SHOP Paco Rabanne Lady Million Privé

Alaïa Paris Eau de Parfum Blanche Fragrance Image

If the person you're buying for this Christmas is really into their luxury fragrances that are a little less well known and harder to come by, then I'd highly suggest checking out this Harrods exclusive.

Alaïa Paris Eau de Parfum Blanche is a brand new release from couture dress designer Azzedine Alaïa.  It is a deliciously deep mix of powdery, musky notes and florals which create the most gorgeous feminine fragrance.  The scent is sophisticatedly girly and would look beautiful on any dressing table.  If you know someone who loves Narciso Poudrée then I think they'd love this.

Dear Rose Nymphessence Fragrance Image

The last fragrance that I'd like to recommend as a luxury Christmas gift this year is the Dear Rose Nymphessence fragrance which is new to "The Song Collection" range at Dear Rose.  The perfume was inspired by a nymph in an enchanted forest and there really is something mystical and magical about the scent, even down to the packaging of the huge 100ml bottle that was beautifully decorated by French artist, Christophe Brunnquell.

This fragrance sets itself apart from the other luxe perfumes I've smelled because it is far lighter yet still completely unique.  If someone you know loves a woody floral fragrance then this would be a great option to go for because its a brand new release from a high end brand that you can't find everywhere which adds to the allure!  The scent is a twist on woody florals as it has an added spicy green freshness to it and a touch of pink pepper.  The top notes are pear, mandarin orange and bergamot and when you first spray it, the pear and orange are the most apparent.  Then it has floral heart notes of magnolia, freesia and orange blossom and a base of woods, amber and white musk, which I'm sure you'll all know by now is my favourite fragrance note!  The blend is light, unique and fresh.

You'll be able to find Dear Rose Nymphessence in selected department stores as well as on the Dear Rose online store.

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Which luxury gift would you love to receive this Christmas?
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