As a purveyor of all that is tasteful and gorgeous, I asked the lovely Sophie Devonshire, founder of the Babes with Babies website what she hopes will be under the tree for her and her nearest and dearest this Christmas…
Well, this Christmas I’ve asked for ‘world peace’. Gift-wrapped, of course. But I’ve asked for it every year and apparently it’s difficult to get. (Assume that means it’s not on Amazon).
So, if not that, then I’d love a new set of Aromatherapy Associates Miniature Bath Oils. Not on a par with world peace but very good for peace in our time (in our house). These are a real sanity saver for me though and a fantastic gift. They smell utterly incredible and you choose one to suit what you need (e.g ‘destress’ or ‘revive - morning’ or ‘relax’. They’re a secret hangover weapon these too; perfect for Christmas tippling. I really want them to do a pregnancy safe set we can sell on our site but in the meantime these ones are available from Space NK and all the normal places.
I’m such a stationery slut. It’s definitely time for some new notebooks so a few choice ones from Liberty’s would be handy to find in my stocking this year. This ‘Bee Happy’ one would cheer me up and is so glaringly bright I wouldn’t lose it at the bottom of my bag. I’d also really love a very simple leather one like this for my lists and ideas for a book I’m currently writing with my BFF on ‘How to stay sane and stylish during pregnancy.’
I’ve asked for some new pyjamas this year as well. These silk pyjamas from Charlotte and Co are simple but gorgeous. I’m hoping the nice light colour will reflect on my tired face and make me look all glowy and young from boxing day onwards.
What else? A nice new hat would be good. I’m a bit bored of beanies so something like this fabulous fedora would be fun & make me feel all grown-up and gorgeous.
Lastly, as my New Year’s Resolutions will invariably include something related to being more organised with looking after my things, I’d love something to help. I’m finding my jewellery is a bit of a battle when travelling so I’m casting my eye around for an alternative and I’d love to find a travel jewellery case all-wrapped up under the tree. I’m an enormous Smythson lover so I’d be interested in this one but also quite happy with this neat travel case from Johnny-Lou-Lous instead. Or 36 hours in the day. I’m quite interested in a time extension for Christmas. Might get something actually ticked off my to do lists then….
For my daughters
For the girls I’m buying some 'I love gorgeous' dresses because I love I love gorgeous! But I’m very aware that’s for me rather than for them! Rosie will roll her eyes at being given clothes. So she’s getting roller skates. She’s going through an ‘anything but pink’ stage so I’ll get her some cooler looking ones. As we’ve listened nonstop to Matilda the Musical since she was taken earlier this year (the best lyrics ever), I thought she’d also like to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Sam Mendes is a God and I can’t wait to see this… so this is another not-so-selfless gift. My youngest, Georgina is easy-peasy. She’ll have a day out in Peppa Pig world and a new wheelie suitcase (she loves to wheel her own when we travel on planes or trains…and I love that she does that too). I’ll also get them a Kubb set – a brilliant Swedish game to play in the garden.
For my three closest friends (sssh, don’t tell them) I’ve got them each a Perfect Poncho as they’ve been so popular with our customers and with everyone in our team (I live in my grey and pink ones - they look brilliant with skinny jeans).
I’ll do a Happy Box London for my best male friend, anything I send from there always goes down well. I’m treating my husband to a weekend at Calcott Manor so I’ve also bought him a gorgeous new wash bag from Quintessentially gifts which will be well received as he travels a lot for work. And a lot of Christmas kisses under the Mistletoe. ‘Cos all he (and Maria Carey) want for Christmas is me….
Sophie Devonshire is the founder of Babes with Babies London and lives in West London with her husband and two daughters (8 and 5). She is a shopaholic, a chocoholic and a workaholic, all of which makes Christmas a very interesting time. Follow her and her team on Twitter.
I haven’t even written any Christmas cards yet…
Kids Christmas Gift Guide
Here’s one I prepared earlier for Hello Magazine. I love everything on the page but the wooden house by Japanese company Tsumiki from nintoninekids.com is a personal favourite. Quite pricey but an heirloom piece that is a joy to look at and play with.
Tsumiki by Kukkia Wooden Block House, £81, www.ninetoninekids.com
Leather Mary-Janes shoes, £64, ilovegorgeous.com
Scandi-chic Tiger Wall Mounted Animal Head £70, John Lewis, johnlewis.com
Ice-Mini watch, £69.95, uk.ice-watch.com
Sweet Zig Zag Stripes Furby, £59.99, Selfridges, Selfridges.com
Christmas Jacquard knit jumper, £38, Tootsa MacGinty, tootsamacginty.com
Hello Mr Fox Print, £24,Belle & Boo, belleandboo.com
Mini Kitchen, £50, John Lewis, johnlewis.com
String Of 10 Woodland Rabbit Party Lights £19.95, dotcomgiftshop.com
Applique Jersey dress, £20, Mini Boden, boden.co.uk
Rocking Zebra, £99, hunkydoryhome.co.uk
Milo Monkey Hand Crocheted Toy, £24.95 from Sew Heart Felt
Little Lady Mini Rucksack, £12.50, Pink Lining, pinklining,com
Honeybake Ice lolly set, £15, LE Toy Van, Great Little Trading Company, gltc.co.uk
linBaby Mouse Chunky Beanie, £10, Monsoon, monsoon.co.uk
Last Christmas was crap. Sewage rose up through our cellar floor and made the whole flat stink. Rats came in through a grill that had been left off the side of the building by a repairman (Husband) and ate the Christmas decorations that had been stored in the pooey cellar. We put down poison to kill the rats who then duly died in an inaccessible area under our bedroom floor and started to give off a rotten stench which would go on to last three months. Then we had to give our bed away (long story) and sleep on a blow up mattress in the room thick with rat and then I did my back in. As I sat hunched at the Christmas table, my father in law forcing everyone to play Just a Minute and then getting very cross when people didn’t show enough enthusiasm or alacrity I remember thinking, THIS IS NOT FUN.
Wreathe 1 made with star and cone garland from Cox&Cox (updated with glitter by me) and another fake leaf garland from local shop
This Christmas is going to be different. I am like Will Ferrell in Elf loving every shiny bauble, guzzling mince pies and getting so into the Christmas spirit that other people are finding it charmingly nauseating. I have made the garden office into a grotto, bought a ceiling grazing tree and made two Christmas wreathes! I am very happy.
Here’s my recipe for a quick and easy DIY wreath:
Purchase a small Hula Hoop from Ironmonger. Mine cost £2.50.
Wrap Hula Hoop in a strip of hessian fabric and secure with double sided tape. I got my sack fabric for £1.50 a metre at a craft shop last year but you could use thick brown paper instead.
Tie evergreen leaves to hoop with garden wire and then decorate with baubles or wrap with a Christmas garland.
Attach long ribbon and tie to door or mirror or wall.
(you could buy a jumbo hula hoop and make a massive statement wreathe!)
Wreathe 2 made with garden leaves including Rosmary and another Cox & Cox garland (£11.63) again updated with bronze and gold glitter.
I am now going to have to make a third one for the front door!
Perfect Santa Purchase
These Awesome Lollies (for that is what they are called ) will definitely be coming down the chimney at our house this Christmas unless they get accidentally eaten that is…
I bought these Creighton’s Awesome Solid White and Milk Chocolate Lollies from Liberty and you can get a range of other incredible edibles from the Creighton’s website
Yes! I have discovered the cure for Verrucas!!! Nobel prize and all other accolades in the post please.
NB. If you have a weak stomach and have never come across a Verruca don’t read.
Not a lovely topic I know but along with nits, verrucas are definitely one of the plagues of childhood. My little girl goes swimming once a week and I’m pretty sure that she caught hers from walking around the edge of the pool. They aren’t harmful but they can spread really rapidly and they have really creepy looking back roots in the middle and they’re lumpy and ugly and they can be tender and I HATE THEM. Even though I was told they would eventually go away by themselves (takes up to a year!) I became obsessed with ridding my little girl’s formerly flawless feet from hers and it was a combination of advice and the need to cushion the verrucas during dance class that lead me to try Compede Blister stickers on them.
Niddle Noddle shop front tote with illustration by Belinda Chen
If you’re going to open a shop in this day and age of extortionate rents and internet undercutting you’d better get it right. Niddle Noddle, the new kids lifestyle store in North London’s Crouch End has got it right with bells on. The shop is light, bright and airy, the staff say hello and SMILE (Something that other kids stores in Crouch End should really take note of), the stock feels fresh and interesting and everything is displayed really beautifully so that everywhere you look there is something to make you smile. Oh, and there’s a big yellow chute slide at the back for the kids to while away on while their parents shop. Yes, this is a kids shop that actually likes kids. A mixture of beautiful children’s clothing, books, stocking fillers, more substantial gifts, quilts and vintage toys this shop is worth a journey. Santa take note.
Niddle Noddle has a limited selection of their stock on line at niddlenoddle.com
5 Topsfield Parade (Middle Lane)
And your specialist subject is? The life and times of Victoria Beckham’s Hair.
For about a decade I wrote about the long and short, the bleaching the cropping, the lopping and the pobbing of Victoria Beckham’s hair. In minute detail. This wasn’t a hobby it was part of my job description (clause 18, paragraph 6) as Style Editor of Heat magazine. So, when I got an invitation to meet Ken Paves, VB’s hairdresser of choice for the past 6 years and coiffeur to J-Lo, Eva Longoria and Jessica Simpson (who I have also studied) I was just a tiny bit excited.
The night before I made a mental check list:
Make sure hair looks great: FAIL
Dress with the panache of Victoria Beckham: FAIL
Be cool: FAIL
On the morning of our meeting I overslept, had no time to style my hair, pulled on a un- ironed top and having dropped my daughter at nursery and leapt on the tube realised that I still had her life-size new born baby dolly wearing a slightly creepy vintage nightie in my bag.
On arrival at the swish hotel the PR standing over my bags clocked the baby and gave me a quizzical look. “What’s with the baby?” she asked. Cue high pitched laughter. Brain says: Don’t get creepy baby out of the bag. Do not show Ken the creepy baby in your bag…
Ken seemed quite unfazed by the creepy baby and even made a joke about it to set me at ease. In fact he turned out to be the nicest, most lovely man ever. Ken was seeing press to talk to them about Color Wow a new hair care range dedicated to colour treated hair including a special root touch up compact that can cover grey or blend in grown out colour. He showed me pictures of his mum using the product on her roots and waxed lyrical about the entire collection of products. By the time we had finished chatting I was making mental notes to enquire about buying shares in the company.
At one point Ken reached across, touched my hair and said “You know you have such great texture to your hair - I would love to just add some definition and it would look totally amazing.”
This is hairdresser code for: Dear God, I cannot be seen sitting next to a woman with hair that looks like an electrocuted bath mat - I must do something to rectify this situation immediately.
Simultaneously mortified that Ken is about to make contact with my crispy hair and elated that I am going to be transformed by a hair legend, I follow him into a walk-in cupboard where ironically the hotel keeps its crisps. Ken and the lovely Giles Robinson (John Frieda Senior Stylist and Colorwow hair ambassador) tong my hair until we are asked to leave by the hotel manager who points out that we are in a food storage area. No matter. My hair is already transformed and Ken is beaming at his handy work. I love him. Oh, and I even managed to ask him some questions.
Christmas Party Shoes: Bought
Yay! I’ve been lusting after these satin beauties for a while and I have finally taken the plunge and bought them. They make me enormously tall - sorry husband - but I love them. I am thinking about pinning brooches to the centre of each bow for a super glam look. Will take photos…
Raspberry Satin Shoes, £55, topshop.com
Mini Boden Spring/Summer 14
Loads of gorgeous pieces. Note to self: order sandals fast next summer!