Christmas

December 24, 2013

Wee Birdy’s Top 30 Christmas Crackers 2013

Best 30 Christmas Crackers 2013

Did I mention that we were moving? Well, we did it. We’re in our new home. The stockings are hung, the tree is up and we’ve strung a few Christmas lights. But the rest of the house is in chaos, and we’re now at around the 12-week mark of our Big Move from Little City Apartment to Big Bush Home. So I’m a wee bit tired.

Please forgive me for the tardiness of this post, but I just couldn’t face Christmas Day without posting my annual round-up of my favourite Christmas crackers. I know, it’s a bit mental. But after seven years, I think I can call it a tradition?

A few of my favourites have already sold out (hello, lovely Anthropologie and Liberty print crackers, et al), but the thing GOOD thing about posting so late? SALES! DISCOUNTS! DEALS! Most of these little beauties have already been reduced, so if you haven’t got your Christmas crackers sorted, go forth and start pulling. So to speak. Or buy now and stash for next year!

p.s. Can you spot the Michelin-starred cracker? See the answer below…

1. Single dog cracker, containing three gourmet dog biscuits, £7.95, from Crackers UK.

2. Box of six Robin Reed ‘Grow Your Own Christmas’ crackers, each containing a packet of seeds, recipe card, plus a snap, party hat and jokes, £18.95 from Selfridges.

3. Boxed single handmade ‘Jelly & Cake’ Christmas cracker, containing a hat, snap, joke and a hand-printed Thornback & Peel cotton handkerchief, from Thornback and Peel.

4. Bespoke limited edition box of crackers, each containing a hat, joke and a selection of gifts, £45 from the Michelin-starred Petersham Nurseries (not available online).

5. Single Tatty Devine ‘Make your own jewellery’ cracker, containing everything you need to make your own Tatty Devine necklace, £25 each from Selfridges.

6. Box of six ‘vintage pudding’ crackers, each containing a luxury item such as a money clip, keyring, letter opener, mini make-up brush set, glasses case, pouch, as well as a hat, snap and joke, AU$65 from Papier D’Amour.

7. Box of ‘Fill your own crackers fiesta confetti’, containing flat crackers, ribbon for tying up crackers and instructions, AU$15 from Papier D’Amour.

8. Box of six Talking Tables Origami crackers, containing origami sheet, entertainment scroll with a joke, charade, trivia and hat from John Lewis.

9. David Jones Home mini tree crackers in ‘Retro Bambi Charades’, each containing a charade game, AU$14.95 from David Jones.

10. Harrods box of six ‘vintage design luxury Christmas crackers, each containing handmade bespoke headgear, joke and trivia booklet and a superb individually wrapped gift, such as silk handkerchief and cufflinks, silk scarf and scarf pin, leather passport holder and mobile phone case, mirror compact and blue crystal earrings, leather USB and pen set, crystal drop earrings and bracelet, £599, from Harrods.

11. John Lewis set of eight ‘Merry Christmas Crackers‘, each containing a gift such as clothes brush with mirror, folding scissors, mini stapler, bottle stopper, tape measure with keyring, wire egg cup, padlock, placecard holder plus hat, snap and motto, from John Lewis.

12. ‘Conscious Blessed Bee Crackers‘, each containing a bottle of organic, bee-friendly seeds, one of twelve blessing cards, a hat and a snap, £22.95.

13. Box of six ‘luxury gingerbread crackers’, each containing a gift such as marbles, pencil site, die, mini whisk, cookie cutter and egg cup, silver or gold foil paper hat, joke snap, £32 from Nancy and Betty Studio.

14. Make your own gorgeous crackers, free tutorial from Tuts+.

15. Set of six crackers using a mix of papers hand made by women in the Kathmandu valley, Nepal, each containing a gift, an old Christmas recipe and hat, £35 from Toast.

16. ‘Rainbow wallpaper rosette crackers’, each containing a snap, hat and motto as well as a gift such as packets of seeds, a little sack of marbles, recycled aluminium star biscuit cutter or tiny grater, £6.50 from Sarah Moore Vintage.

17. White gloss Christmas crackers, each containing a selection of tempting treats ranging from Ilia beauty goodies to Rococo chocolates, £65 from the Conran Shop.

18.  ‘Lovely ladies crackers’, each containing some Madmen-inspired gifts, £75 from Selfridges.

19. Box of six ‘Holly Fulton Crackers’, each containing a paper hat and joke and a specially commissioned miniature leather-bound notebook, embossed with the Holly Fulton motif, £85 from Fortnum & Mason.

20. ‘Hand Marble Christmas Crackers’, each containing a gift such as Lacqua Nail Polish Pen, Ilia Lipstick, L’Atelier Du Vin Bottle Stopper, Macon et Lesquoy Brooch, Warman Silk Knot Cufflinks and D.R Harris Lip Balm, £85 from The Conran Shop.

21. Giant Cherub Cracker, containing everything you need for a complete carol concert, including eight xylophone keys with mallets, handbells, percussion instruments, a conductor’s baton and eight numbered hats. Each person is assigned a hat that corresponds to their xylophone key, and then the conductor, guided by the numbered score, points to each person when it is their turn to play, £75 from Fortnum and Mason.

22. Box of eight ‘Children’s Christmas Crackers’, each containing a joke, a paper hat and a felt finger puppet, £10 from Fortnum and Mason.

23. Box of 12 eco Christmas crackers, each containing useful little kitchen or gardening tools, making them ideal for keen gardeners and cooks. Jokes and tips, recipes and hints are also included, £36.95 from Selfridges.

24. Box of six ‘Terrific Tipples Crackers’, each containing a miniature bottle of alcohol such as Somerset Cider Brandy, Brecon Special Reserve Gin and Irish Single Malt Whisky, as well as a joke and paper party hat, £50 from Fortnum and Mason.

25. MERI MERI Make Your Own Christmas Cracker set of 10, including 10 crackers, cracker snaps, hats, jokes, stickers, bells tags and ribbon, £21.95 from Selfridges.

26. Turquoise & Orange Christmas Crackers by Pentreath & Hall, each containing a hat, snap and joke along with one of the following prizes; herb seeds, a wooden spoon, nail brush, star cookie cutter, dice, pack of marble, golf ball tees, plant labels, from Ben Pentreath.

27. David Jones Home ’12 Days of Christmas Pack of 12 Christmas Crackers’, each containing a snap, joke, trivia question and charades game, AU$17.47 from David Jones.

28. Mix And Match Christmas Crackers, each containing a special gift such as Malin &Goetz Travel size toiletry, Macon et Lesquoy Iron on Patch, Merchant & Mills Tape Measure, Golf Ball Joke, Puebco Marker Pen, £65 from the Conran Shop.

29. Pack of six Chairman’s Choice Christmas crackers, £95 from Selfridges.

30. Box of six Brussels sprout Christmas crackers, £65 from Selfridges.

Phew. So there you go. My annual cracker round-up for 2013. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I think The Conran Shop has come up with some beauties this year, with hand-marbled papers and exquisite gifts. I’m also loving the rainbow Sarah Moore Vintage crackers.

Which one is your favourite?

Disclosure: Some, but not all, of these links are with affiliate programs, which helps to support Wee Birdy. Please note that affiliate links do not influence my edit of lovely things. I don’t put crap on Wee Birdy, yo.


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December 11, 2013

33 gorgeous designer presents for under $50 (£30)

33 Designer Presents for Under $50 via Wee Birdy

Being on a budget for Christmas presents doesn’t mean you have to steer clear of luxe names like Comme des Garcons, Vivienne Westwood, Lanvin, Mulberry and Dior. There are lots of little luxuries around that make special presents for people you want to treat, starting at £11. Here’s my round-up of the good stuff for under 50 bucks. Amazing!

1. Marc by Marc Jacobs set of five skinny rubber bangles, AU$36.55 from Shopbop.
2. Nars lip gloss in Wonder, £17.50 from Liberty.
3. Marc by Marc Jacobs Mareika tulip-printed iPhone 5 cover, $42.76 from Net-a-Porter.
4. Marc by Marc Jacobs Heathrow trompe l’oeil neoprene tablet case, $33.13 from Shopbop.
5. House of Harlow 1960 sunburst button earrings, $39.98 from Shopbop.
6. Kate Spade New York small square stud earrings, $43.41 from Shopbop.
7. Marc by Marc Jacobs cutout daisy stud earrings, $47.98 from Shopbop.
8. Vivienne Westwood Sigg bottle no.3, €25 from Vivienne Westwood.
9. Orla Kiely flower stripe hand towel, $24.95 from Lark.
10. Aesop protective lip balm SPF30, AU$19 from Aesop.
11. Vivienne Westwood Peace Not War handkerchief, €25 from Vivienne Westwood.
12. Paul Smith multi-striped socks, £17 from Selfridges.
13. Ted Baker Geoboy repeat pocket square, £25 from Selfridges.
14. Karen Walker narrow enamel bangle, $35 from Karen Walker.
15. Kate Spade New York Penny for Your Thoughts journal, $27.42 from Shopbop.
16. Jonathan Adler Utopia cat mug, $29.70 from Shopbop.
17. Shu Uemura Takashi Murakami collection lip & cheek tint colour, £20 from Selfridges.
18. Paul & Joe hair and body mist, £12 from Selfridges.
19. Smythson gilded wafer pencil, £20 from Smythson.
20. Lancome Hypnôse ultra dazzling eyeshadow limited Christmas edition, £21 from Selfridges.
21. Smythson Bond Street Blue kings correspondence cards, £11 from Smythson.
22. Vivienne Westwood black Orb tights, €20 from Vivienne Westwood.
23. Paul & Joe Body powder, £25 from Selfridges.
24. Maison Martin Margiela ostrich feather pen, $49.66 from Net-a-Porter.
25. Dior Duo Manucure Bijoux gold nail lacquer base & crystal pearls, £30 from Selfridges.
26. Dior Diorific Vernis nail polish, £20 from Selfridges.
27. Liberty London pink speckle print frill knickers, £20 from Liberty.
28. Aspinal London post box key ring, £25 from Selfridges.
29. Mulberry A6 notebook, £20 from Mulberry.
30. Lanvin set of two rubber luggage tags, $49.66 from Net-a-porter.
31. Bobbi Brown Everyday pretty lip & eye palette, £24 from Selfridges.
32. Comme Des Garcons fragrance Series 8 eau de toilette in Grapefruit Energy C, £25 from Liberty.
33. Stella smooth bikini briefs, US$14 from Stella McCartney.

Prefer handmade? I’ve got that sorted, too. Head straight to my Christmas present guides on Etsy for the best of the bunch.

Disclosure: Some, but not all, of these links are with affiliate programs, which helps to support Wee Birdy. Please note that affiliate links do not influence my edit of lovely things. I don’t put crap on Wee Birdy, yo.


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December 20, 2012

A wee Christmas recipe: My Raspberry Cream Macaroon dessert

Christmas Recipe: Raspberry, cream and macaroon dessert via WeeBirdy.com

This, my dearest birdies, is my favourite Christmas dessert. It’s the perfect way to end a too-stuffed-to-eat-another-mouthful-Christmas-dinner, as it’s relatively light (well, depending on how much you eat) and the raspberries offer an edge to the sweetness of the macaroons and cream.

I don’t really use a “recipe” as such (apart from the coconut macaroon bit) because it’s dead simple – and the amounts used depend on how big your trifle bowl is.

If you want the cheat’s version, use shop-bought coconut macaroons. You’ll be laughing at how dead-simple it is to put together, not to mention the ‘big effort’, maximum-impact results.

Now I’m not talking about French macarons of the Laduree variety, I mean rough coconut macaroons that are crispy and toasty on the outside with a deliciously gooey meringue-y centre. I like to make my own, but be careful not to overcook them as you won’t get the gooey/sticky/toasty/crunchy texture that makes this recipe so lovely.

Ingredients

  • Freshly whipped cream (I use two cartons of whipping cream, but you may need more or less, depending on how big your bowl is).
  • Raspberries (I use a mixture of fresh and frozen. I use one whole box of frozen raspberries, together with four punnets of fresh raspberries. It’s really nice to decorate the top of the dessert with a layer of fresh raspberries.)
  • Crushed coconut macaroons – either shop-bought or make them yourself, recipe below. Just pop them in a plastic bag and whack them with a rolling pin/mallet/other handy whackable object. Don’t smash them to smithereens – you don’t want a crumb-like texture. More of a mixture of crumbs and little chunks.

Method

1. Place a layer of crushed coconut macaroons (around an inch high) in the bottom of your glass trifle dish.
2. Usually a spatula, place a layer of freshly whipped cream (around an inch high) on top of the macaroons.
3. Now place a layer of raspberries on top of the cream.
4. Repeat the layers until you get to the top of the trifle bowl.
5. Finish with a layer of whipped cream and decorate with fresh raspberries. Either throw your raspberries on free-form or go for a retro design of concentric circles.
6. Keep chilled until you’re ready to serve, then dust it with icing sugar (don’t do what I did last year in a fit of Christmas-induced madness and toss a heap of castor sugar on top. I misread the label. Not nice. Gritty. Oh dear.)
7. Wow your guests – they’ll love it!

Dead-Easy Raspberry Cream Macaroon dessert via WeeBirdy.com

Coconut Macaroon Recipe (the non-cheat’s version)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of shredded coconut
  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup of caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

Method
1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius. Line three baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Spread the shredded coconut over two of the trays and cook in the oven, tossing occasionally for three to four minutes until lightly toasted. For the love of god keep an eye on it and don’t let it burn! Remove from the oven and transfer to a plate. Your kitchen will now smell divine!
2. Whisk the egg whites and salt together with electric beaters in a scrupulously clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Make sure you don’t have a speck of grease on your bowl or mixers or your meringue won’t work.
3. Once you have soft peaks, add sugar a spoonful at a time. Go slow and steady here! Look at the mixture carefully and make sure all the sugar has dissolved before adding the next spoonful of sugar.
Once all the sugar has been added, whisk for a further two minutes or until your mixture is thick and glossy.
4. Add the vanilla essence and whisk to combine.
5. Add the toasted coconut and use a large metal spoon to carefully fold it in until just combined. (Use a bit of TLC here. If you overdo this bit or stir too vigorously, your macaroons will be flat.)
6. Spoon tablespoonful of mixture onto lined trays. Leave around 2cm between each macaroon. Bake in the oven, swapping trays halfway through cooking, for 12-15 minutes or until your macaroons are light golden and firm.
7. Leave them to cool for five minutes on the trays before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.
8. Store in an airtight container for up to two days before you need them.

Photography by Lucas Boyd.

Do you think you’ll have a go at making my dessert this year? What’s your all-time favourite Christmas dessert?

You might also like Likkle Girl’s Rummy Balls.


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December 19, 2012

7 Beautiful DIY Christmas Decorations

Crafttuts+ Snow Globe Tutorial via WeeBirdy.com

It’s less than a week ’til Christmas, but there is still plenty of time to get hands-on and make some really special and unique decorations for your place. I’ve gathered together seven gorgeous Christmas projects from Crafttuts+, the awesome new craft tutorials website (which I also happen to edit – quick, pop over there now and check it out!).

These crafts are all rather special and unique and they’re made by some of the world’s best designer-makers and crafters, including Kitiya Palaskas, Laura Howard (of Lupin Handmade) and Helen Frances (from Frances and Francis). Here are my top seven:

1. Snowglobe Winter Wonderland in Jam Jar by Helen Frances of Frances and Francis (pictured above). Click here for the full Crafttuts+ tutorial.

Crafttuts+ Christmas Pinatas Tutorial via WeeBirdy.com

2. Mini Christmas Piñatas by Kitiya Palaskas (above). Click here for the full Crafttuts+ tutorial.

Crafttuts+ Space Invaders Christmas Decorations Tutorial via WeeBirdy.com

3. Space Invaders Christmas Ornaments by Cintia of My Poppet (pictured above). Click here for the full Crafttuts+ tutorial.

Crafttuts+ Felt Christmas Stocking Tutorial via WeeBirdy.com

4. Felt Christmas Stocking by Laura Howard of Lupin Handmade (pictured above). Click here for the full Crafttuts+ tutorial.

Crafttuts+ Christmas Wreath and Garland Tutorial via WeeBirdy.com

5. Fabric Christmas Wreath and Garland by Eleanna Kotsikou of zdrop (pictured above). Click here for the full Crafttuts+ tutorial.

Crafttuts+ Christmas Himmeli Decorations Tutorial via WeeBirdy.com

6. Geo Himmeli Christmas Ornaments by Eleanna Kotsikou of zdrop (pictured above). Click here for the full Crafttuts+ tutorial.

Crafttuts+ Christmas Paper Lantern Village Tutorial via WeeBirdy.com

7. Bethlehem Paper Lantern Decorations by Helen Frances of Frances and Francis (pictured above). Click here for the full Crafttuts+ tutorial.

And you can also craft your own unique Christmas wrapping, as well. Click here for 10 Quick and Colourful Gift Wrap Ideas by Kitiya Palaskas.

Craftutts+ DIY Christmas Wrap Tutorial via WeeBirdy.com

Craftutts+ DIY Christmas Wrap Tutorial via WeeBirdy.com

Craftutts+ DIY Christmas Wrap Tutorial via WeeBirdy.com

Click here more amazing projects and tutorials from Crafttuts+.

Need some lovely present inspiration? Click here for all my Christmas 2012 Gift Guides.

Prefer to buy all handmade? Click here for my Etsy 2012 Christmas Gift Guides.

And don’t miss my Top 20 Christmas Crackers and my Top 20 Christmas Stockings!


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December 17, 2012

Christmas Gift Guide 2012: Amazing presents for kids

Christmas Gift Guide 2012: Kids Presents via WeeBirdy.com

Stuck for original and charming present ideas for the little ones? I’ve scoured the globe for the most amazing gifts for kids, starting at $10.

1. The Magic Tree House, AU$179 from Lark.

2. Tsumiki house, EUR91 from The Space Penguin.

3. Antique rose ballet bounce skirt by Collette Dinnigan For The Australian Ballet,  AU$39 Target.

4. Kiko machi wood+magnet town, EUR32 from The Space Penguin.

5. Little Roar Head by Flatout Frankie, AU$35 from Hello Polly.

6. Rain Littlephant art print by Camilla Lundsten, AU$36 from Hello Polly.

7. Nathalie Lete Friends magnet set, £22 from Niddle Noddle.

Christmas Gift Guide 2012: Kids Presents via WeeBirdy.com

8. Coq en Pate giraffe shoulder bag, AU$33.95 from My Messy Room.

9. Rock Your Baby ‘Masked Crusader’ blue t-shirt with detachable cape, AU$35 from My Messy Room.

10. Flensted Elephant Party mobile, AU$30 from Great Dane Furniture.

11. Maze the ark ducky hook, AU$31 from Funkis.

12. Nathalie Lete Sailor Tin bucket by Nathalie Lete, £8 from Niddle Noddle.

13. Kids Company Dodgy Panda knitted hooded scarf, £45 from Liberty.

14. Plastic Clonette Doll with Rabbit in dark blue, AU$10 from Lark.

Christmas Gift Guide: Kids Presents via WeeBirdy.com

15. Theatre “ESPAÑOL” (to assemble), EUR22 from Teatritos.

16. Rock Your Baby ‘Eat My Dust’ board shorts, AU$39.95 from My Messy Room.

17. OMM Design Tiger Plate, AU$12.95 from My Messy Room.

18. Bear jacquard knit green jumper by Tootsa MacGinty, £31 from Burp Boutique.

19. Djeco magician pencil trick book, £13 from Liberty.

20. Blink Design colours wall art , AU$60 from My Messy Room.

Christmas Gift Guide 2012: Presents for Kids via WeeBirdy.com

21. The Game of Sculpture, £7.95 from Culture Label.

22. Kiko ashiato cat print toy beach sandals, EUR17.60 from The Space Penguin.

23. Harry Potter Marauder’s Map, £36.95 from Harrods.

24. A Menotti and Y Labat’s How Many Jellybeans?, AU$24.95 from My Messy Room.

25. Lion face cushion, AU$29.95 from Lark.

26. Kiko gatcha gatcha dispenser, EUR39 from The Space Penguin.

Christmas Gift Guide: Kids Presents via WeeBirdy.com

27. Best Bead Kit In The World, £11.60 from Cox and Cox.

28. Animal crayons, £5.20 from Cox and Cox.

29. Vintage caravan, AU$29.95 from Lark.

30. Milk n Soda Sailboat Bow Tie in Sky, AU$19.95 from My Messy Room.

31. Harry Potter Hermione’s Time Turner, £51.95 from Harrods.

32. Chalkboard Cowboy, £29.50 from Daisy Mooo.

33. Blafre Giraffe Steel Drink Bottle, AU$24.95 from My Messy Room.

Want more lovely present inspiration? Click here for all my Christmas 2012 Gift Guides.

Prefer to buy all handmade? Click here for my Etsy 2012 Christmas Gift Guides.

And don’t miss my Top 20 Christmas Crackers and my Top 20 Christmas Stockings!


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December 15, 2012

Christmas Gift Guide 2012: Silver and Gold

Christmas Gift Guide: Silver and Gold via WeeBirdy.com

Precious little presents under the Christmas tree are always welcome, but they don’t have to cost the earth – or come from the pages of chain-store jewellery catalogue. Here’s my round-up of some of the best little luxuries for Christmas from around the globe, starting at $36.

1. Georg Jensen Ilse stainless steel vase, AU$110 from Georg Jensen.

2. Eclectic candles by Tom Dixon, NZ$135 each from Simon James Design.

3. Kate Spade icebox jewels emerald coin purse, US$46 from Kate Spade.

4. 3.1 Phillip Lim silver metallic pointed collar, AU$175.01 from My Wardrobe.

5. Alex Monroe teeny tiny bumblebee ring, £460 from Alex Monroe.

6. Measuring hedgies, US$36 from Anthropologie.

7. Tom Dixon form bowl set, NZ$155 from Simon James Design.

8. Rococo Nail Apparel gold leaf nail varnish, £35 from Cult Beauty.

9. T. LeClerc secret powder, £33 from Cult Beauty.

10. Alex Monroe twig ring, £120 from Alex Monroe.

11. Vintage cube necklace, US$24 from Sparkle Farm’s Etsy shop.

12. Georg Jensen Ilse brass candleholder, AU$135 from Georg Jensen.

13. Golden twig charm, US£16 from Anthropologie.

14. Belmacz silver swan pure silver eyeshadow, £28 from Cult Beauty.

15. Hammered band bracelet set, £18 from Anthropologie.

Want more lovely present inspiration? Click here for all my Christmas 2012 Gift Guides.

Prefer to buy all handmade? Click here for my Etsy 2012 Christmas Gift Guides.

And don’t miss my Top 20 Christmas Crackers and my Top 20 Christmas Stockings!


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