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Lovely Christmas stylings

How beautifully wrapped are these presents? They're from my dear friend Holly – whose family my family and I spent Christmas day with. And how clever of her to know that the blue of the envelope my card was in would so perfectly match my leg and footwear combo of the day. She wrapped my beautiful gifts (more of which imminently) in the stock and shares pages of the Financial Times. Simple but Lovely.

Great Brazilian lace table cloth - ready for the ginormous roast Christmas goose Holly cooked (my own freaky but reassuringly non-nut loaf style vegetarian creation for me - involving stuffing mix, whole cranberries, liquidised Quorn pieces (not mince) – for bounce, oyster mushrooms, and broken up chestnuts). When pudding came around, we all had chic mismatched plates collected over years, like..

this one, around £12, from Elfi KDO

and this one, £19.99, from the London Transport Museum (it's Park Royal Station, which is rather spectacular)

and this one, £20.50, from Donna Wilson

The chef – with my favourite saucepan ever (and a cunningly matching outfit). Try eBay for similar

What a brilliant Christmas tree. "A dog's dinner" said Holly's mother. How mean! I think it's most stylish. Oh, and on the left you can just see the Christmas moustaches  – so much more fun than festive paper hats

The end of New Year's Eve. A slice of home-made bread and a cup of tea (or coffee) from a cute pot. Circus in Brixton Village is always full of such items, and Oxfam online is also a treasure trove of the things if you are a patient rummager

Deal with Christmas cheese in a compact space by putting it on a cake stand. All this lot was from the John Lewis festive Nordic range (love the robin).

A random selection of baubles – sticking to the same colour or style helps mixing them up. And three is the magic stylist's trick for a good display.

Last-minute Christmas decorating!

Been meaning to post this shoot of my festive-ed up house up since it was published, last Sunday, in the Independent's New Review magazine.

It's a piece about how to decorate your house for Christmas at the last minute. There are some seriously low-effort, time-poor suggestions in it - though not one of my favourites which there wasn't room for, as suggested by Sarah Dare, from John Lewis, who came to share her expertise and some lovely Nordic style festive furnishings:

No tree decorations? Cut up some tinsel in the same colour into little snippets, and simply chuck it at your fir. Genius.

Photos by the lovely Rachael Smith

Christmas makeover coming soon

I've just had my house made-over by a department store for Christmas for a shoot. I'm writing about the experience for the Independent on Sunday (look out for it in the magazine next weekend). It was a weird experience but in a house that doesn't usually bother with festive festooning, but this year has a need to, it was actually rather inspiring. Above are a couple of shots you won't see in the feature - Reggie the dog posing with a Christmas tree shaped cushion, £20, on the sofa, and a sweet little wooden tabletop (or, as here, shelftop) tree, £13. Both are from John Lewis.

Now I'm feeling all festive, I've had my radar on for other nice decorating bits and pieces...
Love the glittery fawns at Paperchase, £2.50 – they come in white, pink, green and gold as well as the purple colour above. They also do fully-grown reindeer, families of penguins and lots more sweet stuff. Also love their funny knitted tree decorations shaped like teacups, £5 for four. 

Drift Living - which specialises in Scandi-tinged products - has a clean-looking angel choir mobile for £12.50. An unusual idea that could look good in a pale, minimalist home.

And what a brilliant idea from utilitarian design mecca, Labour and Wait - fir-scented incense, £5, "to give any home a wintry log cabin feel". And what gorgeous packaging. 

And with last posting at the weekend, you might just make it in time to get your hands on some of Kitty Nation's original vintage greetings cards (or you could always stock up for next year). this Santa and Rudolph one is from 1960 and costs £1.69.
This "Merry" sign (below) by Johnny Egg, £40 at Heal's is rather brilliant too. And this sleek red glass Christmas bird, left, £5 from Marks and Spencer (3 for 2 as you can see) is just like a non-festive blue bird I recently bought in Habitat for a little more cash... 

French vintage furniture and bits

Love this 1960s French magazine rack, which costs £20 from a website I've just discovered called Rue Du Chateau Interiors. They have lots of much pricier - and more substantial - things, but there are bargains nestled into the mix.

Here are some snaps of the shop itself, which is based in West Sussex. I'd quite like to live in it, wouldn't you?

More festive reindeer

Your final reindeer Christmas tip for the day (well, possibly...).

This stylised handmade driftwood decoration - to hang on the tree, or line up in a row on a prominent shelf - is made by Karen Miller of Driftwood Designs in Devon, from washed up branches found on beaches all over the world.

It comes in dark-stained or light (as in the picture) wood and you get four for £14. Nice. Buy them at Not On The High Street

Vintage Christmas
decorations: a reindeer

How cute is this retro reindeer, currently on eBay at £1.99? I'd like a trio of them to line up on my windowsill. Buy now, and the post should be on your side - so you'll still have time to adorn your home with a touch of individuality.

Find more fantastically kitsch or surprisingly stylish vintage decorations on eBay.

Festive John Lewis doormat

This weekend I had my house made over for a Christmas shoot for the Independent on Sunday. This lovely reindeer doormat from John Lewis, £13, didn't make it into the feature, but I loved it so much I had to snap it. Along with my new Icelandic sock slipper things, perfect housewear for this snowy weather.

Another Xmas present idea: recycled notepad

Not only is this pretty notepad biodegradable and made from as many recycled components as possible – it's also refillable. My absolute favourite thing in a notebook. Along with having an elastic strap – oh, it's got one of those too (only this one's made, rather brilliantly, from a bra strap). It's got feint lines and comes with 216 pages of them, and is one-size only – A5 (surely the ideal notebook size, too, no?). All it is missing, as are all potentially perfect notebooks (in my search thus far, at least), is some tabs to separate your projects. Not much to ask, is it? 

You can call your notebook Natalie – as its makers have, as each of their notebook designs is named after a famous, eco-friendly female. But – forgive me eco ignorance – who are they on about? Do let us know if you do...

Natalie costs £14.99 from Reecovid

    PYMCA prints, Faris Badwan, Lawrence Watson - and loads more affordable art at the Book Club

    Live in London? Like art? Like art you can afford? Looking for a rather special Christmas present or two...? Then check out the art, prints, posters and arty/printy books sale happening at The Book Club in Shoreditch on Wednesday 15 December.

    The quirky bar, which launched last year, has been hosting all sorts of cultural events over the last 12 months – and the images available in this Christmas sale are their favourites from the art and photography exhibitions they've hosted. There will be DJs to perk up your ears while you browse and, of course, it's a bar – so a festive tipple to encourage you to be reckless with the credit card. 

    These images (by Faris Badwan, left, PYMCA, the youth culture photo agency, below, and music photographer Lawrence Watson, top, who should all be hanging around on the night) are just a tiny taster of what will be on offer - and it is for one night only so put it in your diary.  

    The damage? So un-damage-y: prices from £30 for a Faris Badwan screen print (limited editions from £70); PYMCA posters are £5-10, prints between £50-150. Sonic Edition prints are £69 but they have  £5 posters, and there are books – usually £20 – doing some crazy buy-one-get-one-free and print + free book offers.

    The Book Club
    100 Leonard Street
    London EC2A 4RH
    6pm – 12am

    Christmas gift guide

    Some generally quite affordable nice interiors-ish things that I think would make great gifts... would love to hear what you think, if you got any of them, who you bought them for. Will no doubt be adding more shortly.

    Who for Busy parents who'd appreciate an excuse not to display Auntie Dot's cat calendar this year; architecture students; style conscious entrepreneurs; organised eco bods
    Where from The Peanut Vendor 
    How much £12
    What This no-nonsense wall planner measures 70cm x 100cm and is by Crispin Finn design studio – who apparently only design in red, white and blue. It's 100% recycled and comes beautifully packaged. A great stocking filler or chic Secret Santa.

    Who for The chap – or chapess – who appreciates the finer things in life; the friend who throws slightly intimidating dinner parties in her/his uncluttered home; the cognac connoisseur; the friend who has everything
    Where from  Bodie and Fou
    How much £35
    What These deliciously touchable brandy glasses by Normann Copenhagen are specifically designed to "enhance bouquet, temperature and volume" of the cognac, apparently.  If you're buying for someone with lady-sized hands – they also do a smaller version.

    Who for Craft nuts; vintage sewing fans
    Where from The OK Corral 
    How much £5
    What Totally loving this online shop right now. And this book would be a lovely, unique gift for crafty friends or relatives. Not only does it have a marvellously retro cover (it was first printed in 1978) but it is also wildly practical – with tips for knitting, sewing, crocheting and more (it even includes patterns). It's a one-off so no guarantee it'll still be there – but do browse the site's other vintage books,  or try eBay or if you have the patience to rummage, Oxfam Books online has some gems too.

    MONEY BOX MULTI Ceramic Kids' money box

    Who for  Children saving for a rainy day; grown-ups who'd like to look at a nice owl sitting on their mantlepiece
    Where from  Habitat
    How much £10
    What It's from the kids' department – he's a moneybox – but this super cute retro styled owl would make just as lovely a present for a full sized people, in the ornament department. Thanks to cunning shopping friend, Holly, for this genius idea.

     * ONE-OFF *
    Who for Anyone who's just moved house; a chap who doesn't mind getting his hands dirty; the guy with a new home and no clue what to do with it; a single gal (or co-habitee of the former) needing some DIY tips; a young man about to be unleashed into responsible life
    Where from The OK Corral 
    How much £5
    What A thoughtful secondhand book – particularly of the non-fiction variety – can solve the trickiest gift conundrums. This 1913-20 bible of manly skills covers everything from polishing shoes to mixing your own paints. And it's a piece of history! A total bargain to boot. See above for links to some other places to shop around for more of the same.

    Who for A man with a home office; a stylish bachelor; aspiring gentlemen; fans of spy novels; probably not someone working in a call centre or the armed forces, the police or at sea
    Where from The Keep Calm Gallery
    How much £15 unframed (try Eframe for affordable non-standard sized frames to order)
    What This cool, manly poster features the nautical flag and Nato alphabets. It'd be perfect hung near a popular telephoning spot – for translating call centre interpretations of the spelling of one's name without hesitation. It measures 297cm x 420cm.

    Who for Clean, serene design freaks; loveable hypochondriacs; a couple with a newborn and an sleekly designed nursery; chic eco warriors; the stylish in-laws; nature nuts; subscribers to Inhabitat 
    Where from  Super-Collider store 
    How much £129
    What This is Andrea. She looks nice, doesn't she? As well as that, she also purifies your air – in the most natural way known to nature, by filtering toxins through her planty fronds and roots. Only she's a super pimped plant, with NASA research behind her creation – and French designer, Mattieu Lehanneur behind her sleek style. Super-Collider is a sexy science-y organisation that has lots more than gifts going on. Check it out.

    Who for The sort of friend who might own a cake stand and drink tea out of proper cups; a no-nonsense kitchen whizz; parents who sit down to breakfast with their toast in a rack; owners of a country-style kitchen
    Where from Labour & Wait (click on "all products")
    How much £14
    What This glass butter dish, made from an original 1950s mould, is a classic bit of design. It's lovely and almost transcends taste; a bit of a no-risk gift for any of the above and many more.

    Who for A person in whose kitchen yellow won't clash; a mid-century modern loving friend/sister-in-law/mother; someone who happens to live in a town full of Northern European style townhouses like the ones on the tea towel, or is moving from the country to the town – that would be sweet
    Where from Lisa Jones Studio
    How much £10
    What Love this "Town" tea towel and the way it looks like a chocolate box Swiss village, just waiting for snow to fall. It's 100% fairtrade organic cotton, too.

    Who for Storage nerds; those with allotments; that person you know who has a whole cupboard full of bags for life they keep forgetting to take out
    Where from Habitat 
    How much £15
    What Technically it's a bag. But I love the idea of it as the place you dump all that unsightly guff you walk through the door with (keys, bicycle lights, dog lead etc.) – and make it look beautiful. It'd work well by the front door or on a suitable kitchen or hall shelf, or on the stairs if they're wide enough. It'd also work as a magazine rack. And, of course a shopping bag...

    Who for That person you know who's just done a first aid course; a parent with small children and a suitable bathroom; the gentleman cyclist who often needs his wheel wounds dressing
    Where from Amazon
    How much £21.98
    What This tin first aid box (21cm x 15.5cm x 16cm) makes a sweet and unusual gift... however, if the colour-scheme of your intended recipient is all about beiges and creams, this might not be ideal – it'd work well in a house which embraces splashes of bold colour.
    Who for Someone with a nice desk; anyone who likes Orla Kiely-ish/Scando/mid-century modern stylings; retro kitchen owners
    Where from North Rock Gallery
    How much £13.20 (for the smaller size)
    What Designed by Lotta Odelius for Sagaform, this Swedish tinged ceramic container is probably intended for the kitchen but would look great on a design-y desk – perfect for paperclips, odd coins, Post-it notes of import etc. A row of three would look great.

    Who for The Proud-to-be-British; ex-pats missing home; a chap who needs some wall filling but needs to keep it masculine; font nerds
    Where from Bold & Noble
    How much £38 unframed (it's a standard size, so no need for framers' shops: try Eframes or Ikea's Ribba range for affordability and niceness)
    What They do maps in the same range of Australia, New Zealand, the USA and London too, so good gifts for anyone moving or travelling to any of those places soon or, indeed, living there. They measure 50cm x 70cm and also come in a duck-egg blue.

    Who for Doggie types
    Where from Quietly Eccentric at Not on the High Street
    How much £40
    What These cute cushions come in lots of different breeds – including non-breeds. The designs are printed onto new wool, fully machine washable covers and feature illustrations by the artist Lindsey Gardiner. They're kinda cute.

    Who for Wildlife-loving children with bare bedroom chairs; the nephew you've also sponsored a panda for
    Where from Lettie Belle
    How much £25
    What This cute-faced panda hand-stitched cushion measures 23cm x 28cm and is made from organic cotton, felt and leather

    Who for The Hipster tween/teen in your life; fashion-forward photography fan
    Where from The V & A Shop
    How much £12.99
    What The Street Style Memory Game features 25 pictures taken by the Flemish photographer, Barbara Iweins of hip young things on the streets of Amsterdam. The game requires players to match their faces with their outfits – or it can be played as a traditional memory game.

    Who for Design-conscious in-laws; arty Grandpa or Grandma; husband; wife; colour-loving lover; glasses-wearing pals
    Where from Supernice
    How much £30
    What A rather special glasses case designed by Jonathan Adler, who also makes rather glorious ceramics in the shape of birds and lions and angular faces  (and rugs and exciting books and all sorts) that are currently flying out of the gifts section of Heal's...

    Who for Him indoors; the family; anyone with a silly sense of humour who likes a nice big mug of tea; fancy dress fans; the guy who loved Movember more than anyone expected
    Where from Pedlars
    How much £16.95 each
    What Handsome half-pint sized mugs , designed by Peter Ibruegger, with your choice of moustache on the front. They're kind of silly but beautifully made (and so a pleasure to drink from) and would cheer up any kitchen. One or two would make nice stocking fillers, or splash out on a whole set for someone really silly who you really love.