11 January 2015

Customising Christmas

Cuddly cavachons and make-your-own crackers are a couple more distinctive features of the Harrison family Christmas. However, this year was somewhat different, being the first time with just the four

…sorry, five of us at home. Christmas Eve saw the wonderful return of my sister, who works in Reading and managed to get an earlier sleigh ride back to Bath then anticipated - just in time for sausage roll making! We did shake things up a bit and relegate our usual beef bourginon dinner, in favour of venison steak (I am aware of the irony here, and do confess to still being a tad ethically uncomfortable with "eating Rudolph"…). I also displayed some festive goodwill by agreeing to the film choice of It's a Wonderful Life - while it is a classic, nothing beats the classics as divulged on my vlogmas. Kermit  Cratchit is clearly the only version Dickens would ever have endorsed.

However, this year my family really did surpass themselves with really personal, quirky and meaningful gifts. This is definitely a post where pictures do the talking, so without further avail I will wrap up my rambles and move onto unwrapping the presents…

It's nice having a child in the house at christmas again… Millie has all the excitement and wrapping-rage of a four year old, complete with a love for drinking Christmas Tree water and eating one of her presents on Christmas Eve.

Pets at Home is the Toys 'R Us of the dog world. Millie's haul this year featured candy canes, cookie jars curtesy of the wonderful The Dogs Cake Bakery, who make everything from birthday cake to 'cheesy feet'…
…and attempt to find a replacement for her favourite polar bear, who has been looking a bit dilapidated of late. Suffice to say that, in the twelve days since christmas, 'new polar bear' has remained unmoved from his position at the corner of her basket, and old polar bear has had an emergency shipment to Arctic Hospital for some arm repair. These two cannot be separated.

She had a turkey stuffed bone though, so she was really quite smitten. Onto the humans...

My dad struck gold in Sainsburys, presenting both my sister and I with respective Anna and Elsa dolls! Among the many nicknames my sister and I have for each other (plus Millie), Anna, Elsa and Olaf are the favourites. I was slightly crestfallen when Argos were out of stock of the Olaf toy I planned to get my younger 'sister', so fingers crossed they restock soon!

My parents remarked how I am remarkably easy to shop for, being the princess of 'pretty things' and home comforts. Among my favourites were the casserole dish from John Lewis, which will be perfect for my new favourite breakfast discovery - baked oatmeal! Seriously, try it - it's the perfect thing to wake up to, and the time it takes to cook (20 minutes) correlates exactly with the time I usually wait between giving my insulin and eating… meant to be! Then I unwrapped my sister's gift to find a tea lover's paradise - Fortnum and Mason English Breakfast!

My sister and parents deserved an Elf Oscar all round for some truly original 'Sophie finds', particularly those with a literary twist! After I did a literary inspired gift guide for Exepose Books, featuring my beloved Etsy and Not On The Highstreet, my sister found this gorgeous calendar, notebook ft. a quote by one of my favourite writers, and possibly my favourite "book quotes for Sophie". 

I am incredibly lucky to have my Anna in my life, and Olaf of course… Millie's name weaves its way onto every present card, despite her lack of contributing funds! 

Then my mum… my ingenious mum. One particular item featured on my gift guide - and admittedly my favourite - was this Harry Potter inspired pendant. One newer family tradition of ours is "make-your-own" crackers, ft. a lindor chocolate, elaborate scratchcard and a gift that we all pick for each other. I open mine, and the pendant above falls out… my mouth fell open, I couldn't quite believe it! Some girls love Tiffany, but cute, quirky and meaningful items are the true gems in my eyes. Almost everyday (including this Christmas) I wear my "happiness" pendant, which I bought last summer from the Temple of Literature in Vietnam. It must have been the equivalent of a couple of pounds, but is one of my most prized items. Meaning over money. 

As delighted as I was over the gifts I received - mostly the thought that went into them - this year I adored gift-searching and completely threw myself into it! Etsy was definitely a revelation; my overarching theme was nostalgia, and with the help on online shopping I was pretty chipper with the result. For my sister, I found a Doll House size copy of Charlotte's Web, a real harkening back to childhood for my sister, who has a namesake in literature's nicest spider. Then I wanted to find her a version of this game my Grandma and Grandpa owned, and which we both loved playing. After googling wooden discs and sticks game (detailed I know) I discovered it on Amazon… where I discovered its real name is "Towers of Hanoi". Given our holiday last summer, it seemed too good to be true! Onto mum… 

…did anyone else ever read this when they were younger? It is one of the earliest books I remember being read, so when I found this Emma Bridgewater cushion I knew it was meant to be! Possibly my proudest present creation, however, was for dad.

I created four separate designs to be printed on top of coasters. I tried to make the quotes fitting for the photos - I am the Harry Potter lover in the family, so the picture of Millie and I was accompanied with one of my favourite JK nuggets of knowledge. Roald Dahl was a big part of my Childhood, with both mum and dad, so the photo of us three uses that. My sister loves Lord of the Rings - enter Gandalf wisdom! The final one is from The Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, a fantasy series my dad loves and mentioned a few times when I was growing up. I googled quotes from it, and fell in love with this one (top left). It was the perfect one to complete the set! 

It was ordered through Etsy, and the shop I worked with was so co-operative and the final product exceeded all I ever hoped for. Sadly, due to my slight underestimation of international delivery times, it arrived slightly after christmas, but this only added to it. I wrote my dad a poem entitled "Coast Life", in which I paraphrased the quotes on the coasters. He was convinced it was thus something to do with the coast/sea, so I was rather proud of my lateral thinking here! He opened it on New Year's Eve, and it was an example of why tears do no always equal sadness - he loved it, and this truly made my Christmas. Not to blow my own trumpet, but I think it might be my best gift idea ever, and I think this is largely due the fact it is so unique. If you are ever stuck for an original gift idea, personalised coasters are the way to go! 

Customising christmas definitely calls for Millie cuddles. Always. 


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