Edinburgh in a Day

dsc07335dsc07349dsc07330dsc07333It seems like only yesterday I was writing my last blog post apologising for my absence but here we are again and needless to say it’s been a chaotic few months. I’m working on a post currently to give you guys a full catch up, but in the meantime I thought I’d show you what I’ve been getting up to! My boyfriend recently moved to Glasgow to work and so I thought I take a little holiday to visit him, and while there’s a special Glasgow post coming soon, I thought in the meantime I’d share my top places to visit from our recent trip to Edinburgh!

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Urban Angel

First port of call on our arrival in Edinburgh was food and a quick google took us to Urban Angel. We realised later that this popped up in Zoella’s recent Edinburgh blog post, so we were inadvertently already on to a winner. There was a little bit of a wait when we arrived but we managed to snag a table in the cafe to have a little pre-brunch coffee before it seemed like the whole of Edinburgh arrived, and soon there was a queue down the street! We eventually got taken through into the restaurant which has a beautifully simple, rustic vibe which really reflects the menu. I went for the poached egg and avocado with homemade lime ricotta which was so amazing whilst the boyfriend went for the traditional eggs benedict we both agreed that it was definitely worth the wait and the perfect choice to set us up for our day of adventures.

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Mary’s Milk Bar

Now I know that going an ice cream bar isn’t the most first thing you think you when planning a trip to Scotland but the fact that this place is packed come rain or shine means you know it’s something special. The gorgeous pastel front gives you a hint of the treats inside and the sheer variety meant we spent a good five minutes at the till while we tried to decide! In the end we went for salty peanut, cinnamon and chilli (strange but we couldn’t help but going back for more), chocolate mocha sorbet and violet, which was definitely the favourite although we couldn’t help but tuck in so quickly that I didn’t even have time to grab a photo! I definitely recommend checking out their Instagram though for some drool worthy shots.

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Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

This is definitely the most touristy item on the list but with rave reviews from everyone I asked we figured it was worth a go and boy were we proved right. As the name suggests it’s full of optical illusions and tricks which means it’s perfect for a fun and silly day out and the perfect place to get some great photos!

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National Museum of Scotland

Now while my boyfriend is very big on museums and galleries, I’m a bit more picky and being the big kid I am, I tend to prefer the museums that are big on interaction. So I can’t lie when we arrived I was dragging my heels initially, but within 10 minutes I was running amongst the 8 year olds having the time of my life (needless to say the boyfriend was a bit more composed about the whole situation). It’s such an interactive museum that it reminded me of when I was little and how fun science and history seemed. I’ve been to quite a few of the “big” museums of the world but this one has definitely become one of my favourites, and it was free! Even if you’re not a typical museum buff I can’t recommend it enough as there’s something for everyone, and it’s worth a trip for the interiors alone!

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Civerinos

Now we didn’t actually eat here on this trip as we were still so full from brunch, but it’s one of my favourites to visit when I’m in Edinburgh so I couldn’t leave it off this list. It’s a relatively simple menu but everything is made with the freshest ingredients (the pesto especially is my absolute favourite) and it is aaaaall good! Plus its self proclaimed mix of “high art and low culture” makes it one of the coolest Italian restaurants I’ve been to and makes it perfect for everything from a casual lunch to a night out with friends. Not to mention they do a mean nutella calzone…

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Other honourable mentions;

Paper Tiger-The perfect gift/stationery shop with everything from Rifle Paper Company to Ohh Deer, it’s great for picking up some souvenirs and presents.

Red Door Gallery-Another brilliant spot just off the Royal Mile it’s like the Etsy shop of your dreams, especially for pop culture junkies with pieces inspired by everyone from Steve Zissou to Dana and Scully. Whether it’s jewelry, cards, stationery or prints it’s amazing for quirky, individual pieces from local artists and I can’t recommend it enough!

Coco Chocolatier- A chocolate shop with a difference, it has everything from the more classic Espresso to the slightly more adventurous Haggis Spice, Earl Grey Tea and Bergamot, and even Lavender. The packaging is beautiful and although you have to keep a eye out to spot this hidden treasure it’s a treat in every sense of the word!

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So that’s it for my tips on how to spend 24 hours in Edinburgh, I hope you guys like it and if there’s anything I’ve missed please let me know as I’d love to have some new places to explore for my next visit!

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A Day In Brighton

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For years I have been seeing hundreds of posts and videos of bloggers raving about Brighton, not to mention the hundreds of beautiful instagrams taken of it. As a result it has long been number one on my list of must-go places in the UK, so of course when the chance came for a brief day trip I jumped at the chance! I thought it’d make a nice beginners guide to Brighton and give me a chance to share with you the best places I managed to stumble upon during my day.

 

Mange Tout

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This was one that came highly recommended by pretty much every blogger who’s written about Brighton, and when we turned the corner from the car park to see it opposite I knew it was fate. With a varied yet simple, fresh menu it ticks every box and was the perfect brunch fix. Not to mention it has some of the best coffee I’ve ever had which was served with some delicious homemade meringues! This is the perfect option for the pickiest of friends not to mention those who like things a little on the healthier side, all in all putting our trip off to a great start.

 

Magazine

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This for me was literally the stuff dreams are made of, a shop dedicated to magazines! This is the hardcore stuff though, no Grazia or Elle to be found here, only slightly obscure yet beautifully made magazines covering everything from fashion to film. Some of them are more like books than conventional magazines, and although I finally manage to whittle it down to one (trust me it took a while) I could have easily left with half the store. Whether or not you’re a magazine obsessive like me I cannot recommend it enough even if just to look and try something new!

 

The Flour Pot

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By this point we’d done enough walking that we were ready for another snack so as soon as I saw The Flour Pot bakery I knew that it was the answer to our prayers. This was another one I’d seen highly recommended by multiple bloggers so I had to pop it and grab a few treats for later. There was an amazing of variety of both savoury and sweet treats and a great gluten-free selection as well (which in hindsight I can thoroughly recommend as some of the best coeliac bakery products I’ve had).

 

Bert’s Homestore

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This is one for those who love all things home, Bert’s has everything from baking supplies to decorations, to toys. It’s one of those places that is impossible to leave without at least a little something, not to mention it’s just a lovely place to look around while you’re reminded of all the things you don’t need but really want. I am so distraught that these stores are only in Brighton, but it’s probably better for my bank account.

 

Edited

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After Bert’s I was definitely in the homeware mood and Edited was perfect to give me that fix. It’s like a combination of all the coolest stuff you’d find on Etsy all in one place. With a brilliant mix of the quaint and quirky there’s something for every style, and left me really wishing that I could fit one of those giant ice cream cushions in the car with me.

 

Brighton Pier

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One of the last places we managed to hit is probably one of the most famous places in Brighton, the beach! It is one of the most picturesque beaches so I couldn’t resist having a ride on the merry-go-round and a go on a couple of the arcade games while I was there. A must have for anyone visiting, it was the perfect way to reflect on the events of the day while enjoying the picturesque scenery. Plus it’s a great place to visit if you’re a big kid like me and can’t resist a ride or two.

 

The Brighton Pavilion

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This is a bit of a cheaty one as we didn’t actually manage to go inside because they were renovating, but the gardens alone were worth the visit. The building itself is so stunning I can’t wait to come back and see the inside, but for the meantime I was perfectly content to wander around the grounds and take some pictures. It was definitely the perfect way to end my first trip to Brighton.

I hope you enjoyed this post and it hopefully gave you a few ideas of where to go if you’ve never been to Brighton before. I enjoyed it so much I’m thinking of doing some more “In a Day” guides, so let me know if you’d like to see some more of them and where I should go next. Also please let me know your favourite places in Brighton too as I’m already compiling a list of where to go for next time!

July Favourites

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Summer Party Family Style

As my family lives far and wide across the U.K. it’s not often that we all manage to get together in the same place. But with my great Uncle’s 70th looming, him and my Aunt decided to celebrate with a big blow out to make the most of the sun with good food and good company, and boy they didn’t let us down.

We arrived and walked round the corner of the house into what must be as close as England is going to get to being a tropical paradise!

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While the children made the most of the pool the rest of us relaxed in the sun and had a good old fashioned catch up.

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For once in my life I forgot to photograph the food which should tell you just how good it was! They had laid on enough for a small army with everything from hams, salads, fresh bread, salmon, and anything else that you could possibly want.

But a special mention has to go to the wine which I did manage to photograph, which had been flown in all the way from the Alps! Crisp, fresh and fruity it was a perfect accompaniment to the delicious feast.

DSC03278DSC03281  DSC03286  After all that feasting we decided to wander around the tropical paradise (and take a few photos as well).  DSC03311 DSC03312

Hidden behind these Hydrangea’s which had me swooning they were so beautiful, I discovered a little hideaway from all the craziness, squirreled away in the tropical forest.
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What I wouldn’t give for one of these in my back garden as my own little office/ reading nook.

Swooning over, I couldn’t help but strike a pose against the beautiful flowers.DSC03361Dress: Zara (Similar here, here and here), Denim Jacket: Topshop (similar here), Bag: Kate Spade (similar here), Sunglasses: ASOS, Pumps: Topshop.

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Usually I am the type of person who dreads these sorts of ‘smart/casual’ occasions as I often end up either too smart or too casual, but this recent Zara purchase has saved me. The more eagle eyed of you will recognise this as the dress I graduated in which emphasises just how versatile it is, not to mention how obsessed I am with it! Paired with my favourite Topshop denim jacket and pumps and my Kate Spade Saturday bag which I picked up in New York shortly before they closed, I think I’ve finally nailed the smart casual brief.
DSC03408DSC03398 DSC03412  After all that ‘hard work’ there was nothing left to do but enjoy the rest of the day, which is already one of the highlights of my Summer. I’d love to know if any of you have any tips of how you strike the balance of that dreaded smart/casual dress code and your favourite ways to have fun with your family this summer!

Summer Reading List Recommendations

DSC02654Nerdy as it is, one of my favourite things about Summer is the freedom that it gives me when it comes to my reading, with no school work or set reading to distract me. Not to mention the opportunities there are to read whether it’s on a beach break, a city escape or simply in your own backyard, it’s the perfect way to relax while finally getting round to read that book you’ve had on your nightstand for months. I thought I’d take the opportunity to share with you some of the books I’ve been loving that I think are perfect for a summer break no matter where you’re headed.

The Goddess Guide                                                                                                                      It seems now the markets are overwhelmed with lifestyle guides but this is my absolute favourite and one of the originals. From picking the right pair of jeans to secret city spots it is the perfect guide for any modern woman, not to mention it’s so beautifully designed it’ll be one of the prettiest reads you read this summer. It’s a great alternative for people who aren’t big readers or aren’t a fan of the traditional novel and it’s so interesting you’ll find yourself rereading it again and again.

The Maze Runner                                                                                                                           I was a big fan of the film last year and before the release of the second installment this Autumn I thought I’d try to get ahead of the curve and start the books. I’m a massive young adult book fan and since The Hunger games I’ve been searching for the perfect replacement and I think this is it. We start with Thomas who arrives in a glade who has no idea who he is or his past. He’s welcomed by a group of boys who live together in the glade which is at the centre of a mysterious giant stone maze. They too have no idea of their past of what has happened to the world outside. Every day they try to explore the maze but have to make it back by sundown before the doors to the maze close and the monstrous Grievers patrol. Then one day a girl arrives and everything changes. It’s one of the most gripping young adult books I’ve read so much so I devoured the first four books in record time, and perfect for those who like a bit of escapism in their reading.

American Psycho                                                                                                                            This is by far the weirdest book on my list as it’s definitely one of the most violent and gruesome books I’ve ever read, but also one of the most profound. The novel is a stark comment on the capitalist consumerism of society which was highly controversial when it was initially released, but has since then become a cult classic, It follows the murderous investment banker Patrick Bateman as he struggles to control his insanity as well as his fascination with his material possessions. I really do feel the need to put a disclaimer on this as it’s the most sickening book I’ve ever read in regards to the detail on how Bateman dismembers women, so I really wouldn’t recommend it for those under 18. But the deeper meaning to be found in the novel means that if you can move past the violence, there is an incredible comment being made about society as a whole that makes it a great holiday read for those looking for something a bit different.

The Great Gatsby                                                                                                                         I thought I’d include a classic for the more old-fashioned readers amongst us and this is my absolute favourite. It’s perfect for those who want a lighter option before they start tackling the more heftier classics, not to mention it’s one of the easiest classics to read. It has love, murder, beautiful imagery as well as a deeper discussion on the American Dream and perfect for those who like a bit of history in their fiction.

Paper Towns                                                                                                                                  Another young adult read I’d recommend before the movie comes out later this year which is a perfect choice for those who were a fan of A Fault In Our Stars. It’s about Quentin “Q” Jacobsen who after a mysterious night with his old childhood friend Margo Roth Spiegelman finds out the next morning that she has disappeared and sets out to find her. Unlike The Fault In Our Stars this is more of a mystery story, but again a story that every teenager will be able to relate to in one way or another. I’d definitely recommend it for any John Green fans or for a reader wanting to try one of his novels as it’s one of the easiest and most enjoyable reads I’ve had.

Yes Please                                                                                                                                       If you don’t know Amy Poehler by now then shame on you. Star presenter of the Golden Globes with Tina Fey for the past three years, past SNL cast member and star of the brilliant Parks and Recreation she is a pretty damn funny and impressive woman. She was already one of my number one woman crushes but after this book she moved to number one, as it is one of the best celebrity books I’ve ever read. It doesn’t take the form of a usual biography, instead she uses her past experiences as anecdotes to explain what she’s learnt from them in the funniest way possible. It’s the perfect book for those who aren’t a fan of fiction but still want a laugh along the way.

So there’s my selection of my favourite summer reads, I hope you like them and that I’ve maybe given you some ideas of some new books to try. If you have any favourite books that you like to read on holiday let me know as I’m always on the lookout for new books to try. But more importantly, enjoy your summer where ever you’re going!

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Taking New York: Museum Mile

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Stocking Fillers Under £10 for Guys

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For the thinker: Who’d have thought the rock and roll, Katy Perry marrying comedian Russel Brand would be the next controversial celebrity political activist to grace our screens (and pages)? Having read snippets of his previous autobiographies I have to give it to him he’s certainly got a great vocabulary, and having seen snippets of his protests on his “The Trews,” channel, I can’t help but be intrigued by his ‘revolution‘. As well as it having received rave reviews from two of my male flatmates, I think it’s the perfect alternative to the usual autobiographical offerings at Christmas for those that fancy a bit of a change.

For the Big Kid: There’s always that moment as an adult where one of the children in your family gets an amazing toy that you secretly spend the rest of the day trying to steal. Well this nerf gun is the perfect alternative for the big kid in your life, although I can’t be blamed if you end up spending the rest of Christmas day as a moving target!

For the TV junkie: Who hasn’t spent the majority of this year mourning the end of Breaking Bad? I know I most certainly have, and I think this figurine provides a awesome alternative to the standard DVD boxset gift, not to mention these POP figurines come in pretty much every theme possible from Buffy to Star Wars, to Halo, so you’re bound to find the perfect one for each person in your life.

For the man who steals your beauty products: We all know the guy, he professes to not being interested in beauty products and yet when you go to use your expensive moisturiser or shower gel, you find there’s just a little bit less than there used to be. Well this Molton Brown bauble provides the perfect replacement, with a glorious frankincense and all-spice smell and this beautiful seasonal packaging is a great classy stocking stuffer at a fraction of the usual price.

For the lounge lizard: Christmas is the perfect time to curl up and get cosy by the fire, (or TV if you’re like me) and these slippers mean your loved one can look delightfully festive while they do so. They’re perfect for making sure you’re keeping warm and comfortable all Christmas.

For pretty much everyone: I know it’s not actually for everyone, but is it just me or does pretty much every guy love Nandos? There’s something about it that appeals to pretty much everyone and this gift means that you can have it just as good at home too. Quite literally the gift that keeps on giving.

For the fan of the novelty tie: I’m pretty sure there’s some sort of convention or group for dads, uncles and teachers who love a good novelty tie and this is one of the best of the bunch. Not to mention it provides a great alternative for those who aren’t a fan of the Christmas jumper.

For the mechanic: This is the perfect adult version of those who were  a fan of k’nex  or mechanix as a child, as well as a gift for the motorhead in your life. With no need of glue or scissors it’s even great as a stocking stuffer for the slightly older kids in your life, not to mention it’s so cute and will give you a great procrastinating desk toy at the end all for £5!

For the gent who likes to take care of himself: This is the perfect gift for the gentleman in your life you likes to take care of himself, as well as those who are constantly on the go. With the four mini sachets ranging from a hair mask, cleanser, foot cream and eye pads it’s the perfect thing for the guy in your life who always like to look his best. And did I mention the packaging is some of the smartest I’ve seen!

For the tech savy: Gloves are a staple part of any winter wardrobe but one of the giant problems is the inability to do anything whilst wearing them! But with these bad boys the man in your life will be able to use any tech product thanks to their special finger pads which work on the screens.

For the chef: There’s something about people who cook in that they are always on the look out for the next new book or product to add to their collection and these are perfect. I am a massive fan of Jamie Oliver’s product as they’re always reasonable priced (this set comes in at £10). really good quality and these oils are no exception. There’s one which is rosemary, one extra virgin and the other is chilli, great for those who cook regularly and even for those who don’t but fancy a change.

For the teenager: This hat is perfect in terms of I think it is the great combination of being cool  as well as classic enough to put a smile on any teenagers face. Not to mention it’ll save any moaning from parents during the colder winter months that they’re not keeping warm enough!

For the football fan: As an alternative to the usual shirt or football I think this is a cute choice, especially great for those who don’t have the space for a full sized table. It’s a great desk addition as well as a form of entertainment to get the family together on Christmas day itself!

For the party animals: Another alternative to the usual Christmas book gift this is perfect for those who love to party as well as the fans of the comedy gift. This is perfect as it pinpoints the type of hangover you have and recommends the perfect recipe cure for it which is the age old struggle. Not to mention it’ll be even more appreciated the morning after when nursing the Christmas hangover!

For the well dress man: This is the perfect classy, staple present for the well-dressed man in your life. The traditional white and black pattern means it goes with pretty much everything and the classic look means it’s one of the most multi-appealing gifts of the lot!

For the musician: The majority of us at one point or another in our lives have dreamed about being a rock star. While that’s an impossible reality for most of us, you can still carry on living the dream with these awesome drum stick pencils which will also provide the perfect distraction at work or school for the procrastinators among us.

A Christmas Gift With A Difference

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I think pretty much everyone in the world by now has heard about monthly boxes in one way or another, and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably a bit bored with them by now as well. It’s not that I don’t think they’re a great idea, I’m just not really a big fan of the fact that you have no control over what you get, and always have at least one item that you don’t really like. But that all changed when I opened this birthday present from one of my friends from this adorable little company called Bookishly. They’re an independent company that can be found on their website as well as etsy or Not on the High Street, (which by the way are two of my favourite places to shop for thoughtful, cute Christmas presents) that specialize in book based products. They do everything from prints to noteboooks to necklaces, but their absolute best is this little monthly box, which from the get go differs from the usual run of the mill boxes as it’s the same themes every month! It comprises of a selection of teabags (the flavour of which changes every month), a stationery item, a book and a handmade bookmark so you can write what you thought of it!

Already I was sold as tea and books and stationery are pretty much the top three things that I will continuously and regularly buy, and oh my goodness these offerings are just the cutest.  As I was lucky enough to receive two months worth of boxes for my birthday I have had one delivered just in time for Christmas, which has provided a great relief in the middle of essay writing season. I just think it’s quite literally the best gift ever for any like minded book lovers and at £13 it’s perfect for a Secret Santa or some slightly bigger bits to add to a stocking. Or if you need a little treat yourself to get you through the cold winter months, there is nothing nicer than curling up with your cup of tea, a good book and writing down some reflections at the end of your day.

Needless to say I’m pretty enamored with this gift, so much so that I’m carrying on the subscription myself. I couldn’t recommend it enough that you guys give it a try and I just hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Stocking Fillers

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Christmas is my ultimate holiday and there’s nothing I love more than going Christmas shopping. But for those of us that can think of nothing worse than scouring the shops for the perfect present, I’ve compiled my picks for the best Secret Santa or low cost stocking filler presents. This edition is a combination with a couple of things for the younger and older ladies in your life, with my male edition coming next week!

For The Beauty Guru: This Cowshed Cracker is the perfect mini luxe Christmas gift with a hand cream and lip balm duo to protect against the harsh Winter weather and comes in perfectly at £10!

For the makeup lovers: This novelty lip balm to me is the epitome of a perfect stocking filler as it’s cheap and cheerful and will keep you feeling Christmassy every time you go to put it on. Not to mention that at £3 you can afford to get the mince pie and gingerbread versions too!

For the stationary hoarders: These highlighters are the perfect combination of being adorably kitsch while being incredibly useful. For those heading into the heavily workloads of Christmas or the impending January exam and essay deadlines, anything that can make it easier is that much more aprreciated and for £3, who could resist these cuties?!

For those who like to be organised: We all know them, those who are constantly late or forgetting things and then those who like me are avid list makers. This gift is perfect for both as it can be used for everything from organising school lunches, homework, to day to day tasks, and in classic Emma Bridgewater style it’s incredibly cute and great value at £7.

For the one who’s constantly on the go: I swear not a day goes past that I don’t walk past Cath Kidston and fall in love with one of their latest offerings. This adorable London printed travel mug is perfect for those early starts and to keep you looking cute while you travel. Not to mention the £8 will save you money in the long run compared to all those daily Starbucks runs.

For the cutie who deserves a break: These stress marshmallows from ASOS are the perfect relievers to get you through the stressful Winter months, and are a super cute edition to any desk at a bargain£7.

For those who aren’t a fan of the Christmas jumper: There’s nothing better than a beautiful manicure to make you feel great during the Christmas season, but for those of us like me whose manicures usually leave more nail varnish on our fingers than actual nails these are a great alternative. Not to mention they’re perfect for those who love to add a festive feel to their look at a price that’s a lot cheaper than a manicure or jumper, £8.99!

For the jewellery maven: There’s something about stags that are really Christmassy to me and this ring holder provides an great useful gift while looking incredibly stylish, and way more expensive than its £4.50 price tag.

For pretty much everyone: Okay so I know this isn’t for literally everyone, but doesn’t everyone love a candle at Christmas time and where better to look than the old favourite Yankee. My personal favourite is this Christmas Cookie smell but with Yankee providing 10 Christmassy scents, there’s something for everyone at £7.99 for a small jar or £1.80 for a selection of votives.

For The Wannabe Chef: We all know that one person who is a devotee of fast food and ready meals and who, try as they might just can’t cook. Well give them this and they’ll be creating good food in no time, and the best part is that all they’ll need is a microwave and a mug and all for £7.99.

For those who need to relax: Lush is a shining beacon to those of us obsessed with bath goodies especially at Christmas, where they have a range of gorgeous seasonal soaps, bath bombs and shower gels to leave you feeling festive and smelling good. My personal favourite is this Father Christmas one which creates a fantastic red and green bath with the gorgeous Snow Fairy scent, and £3.50 is a cheap price to pay to provide some relaxation for the ones you care about this holiday.

For the all seasons bronze goddess: You know the one, the girl who enviably spends the whole year looking as though she’s just gotten off a plane from St. Tropez.  This set is perfect for the Christmas season where you want to look your best, and as a massive upside this is one of the few tans I’ve found works well on pale skin as well, and at only £9 it’s much cheaper than a holiday.

For those who feel the cold: Who doesn’t love a novelty gift at Christmas, m,        nmnm especially if it’s covered in Christmas trees! I might be a weirdo but I love to match my socks with the season as I think it’s a great and cheap (£3.50) way to get into the swing of things, plus who doesn’t love some thick cosy socks to keep them warm during Winter.

For the Chocoholic: It’s universally known that Christmas is the time of year we stuff ourselves with  goodies and these Prestat truffles are the most gorgeous high quality gift. Not to mention they come in a cute little stocking which is great for those of us that are wrapping present inept at £6.95.

For the pop culture obsessive: This is my favourite of the bunch as I love these POP! figurines and with them featuring characters from pretty much every show or film from Kill Bill to Game of Thrones to The Big Bang Theory, there is quite literally one for everyone in your life. The Frozen characters are one of the latest editions and this Sven one is too cute to resist at £8.99.

For every cat person everywhere: There has to be a reason the internet is obsessed with cats and what better addition to the cat lover in your life than this hilarious mug, because come on, if it’s good enough for Taylor Swift, £9.

So that’s it for my first Christmas gift guide! I hope you guys like it and I’d love to know what ideas you guys have for your Christmas presents.