29 December 2015

Under the Tree

Following the success of my gifts less ordinary last year, I once again turned to Not On The High Street for my Elf-scapades this Christmas. From customised diaries to some novel tea bath products, some small brands really stood out for me this year and are definitely worth looking out for!  

My mum has recently started a Masters course at The University of Bristol, and she is very much a student less ordinary. She's somehow balancing a full time job with library dashes, panicked questions about essay referencing and the occasional shopping spree - hello student discount!

I decided I definitely wanted one of her presents to be for University, so when I spotted this notebook it was instant love. The fact you can customise it so personally, from degree title to quote (thank-you Walt Disney), was wonderful. The cover design was also my mum in a colour palette. 

Some may say that this gift is a bit Hermione; I conclude that my mum is a lot Hermione, and this gift is about as close to a time turner as you can get - unless you have £150 to spare at Harry Potter Studios.

            Gold heart notebook, £12                                  'Star Baker' notebook, £12                                Alphabet notebook, £12

Like me, mum loves tea. Unlike me, she also loves bubble baths - put them together and what have you got? Bibbetea Bobbitea bath bags! In no less than her favourite tea flavour, Mint. I was pretty ecstatic when I found this gift, although I slightly regret I didn't go for the full 'tea party' box below. 

The Gift Oasis have a gorgeous selection of gifts and I spent quite some time browsing through all the various products. Along the same lines of "all is not what it seems", The 'Seed Money' paper coins - each coin contains a seed - were a strong contender, before I spotted the bath tea. Anything with a pun and I am sold! 

Incidentally, one of my gifts from dad was a seed pen from a company called Sprout; bought when he and mum went to Boston in September, at the end of the pen there's a cherry tomato seed waiting to be planted. Sprout definitely has the Not on the Highstreet ethos down to a tee.

            Tea Party bath bombs£15                         'Seed Money' paper coins, £10                        Cocktail Party bath bombs, £15

My sister Charlotte has mentioned her love for G&T recently, so I went on the hunt for Gin Tonic with a twist. At first, I found lots of gin lip balm and make-your-own kits. They were good options, but nothing popped out at me until... popcorn! Like the bath tea, this present united two loves in one - a shopping basket breakthrough. 

What's more the other flavours sounded equally exotic. This might be popcorn's answer to Bertie Botts; alongside other cocktails - hello Fruity Cosmo and Mojito - you also have gingerbread latte, madras curry and cheese-on-toast. Yes, you heard me correctly, cheese-on-toast! 

             Cosmopolitan popcorn, £5                                Mojito popcorn, £6.95                              Gingerbread latte popcorn, £5

This was one of those items that I simply couldn't not buy. It consists of 10 vials, filled with personalised positive affirmations, I included this as an extra gift for my sister, Charlotte. I was also able to customise the front with "worth melting for", to honour our long-standing obsession with Frozen. 

Incidentally, one of the "10 reasons" I wrote was "you are the Anna to my Elsa" (Millie is Olaf). The remaining nine will remain a secret between Anna and I, but the idea is that they are there for her to open, if she's having a hard day or simply wants a little reason to smile.

Bread & Jam have a truly amazing selections of gifts. I think Charlotte may have visited them for one of my presents last year! I also purchased two of the items below (centre and right) for close friends of mine and couldn't be happier with the reaction. I will definitely be back to this shop - not least of all because it makes think of the "Jam and Bread" lyric from The Sound of Music. It is simply one of my new favourite things

         Little notes of gratitude, £6.35                     Little box of pick-me-ups, £11.95                            Motivational desk jotter, £7.95 

Pens and Puns would be me... inspired by my Quotemas calendar, I channelled my inner craftmas in the wrapping department too! What happens when you combine a longtime loyalty to puns with a newfound love for calligraphy? You get a very excitable Sophie and a very merry Harrison family. Each label gave a clue as to the gift inside, so the very process of unwrapping was a present in itself! 

Admittedly, I can't take full credit for Let it Jon Snow; nonetheless, this one might have to be my favourite. I used this label for a book called "The Wit of Tyrrian Lannister, which was a gift for dad. Along with a subscription to Coffee Direct, his Merry Woofmas parcel was a set of dog top trumps; I found these in Oliver Bonas and they were a perfect nostalgia trip. We used to adore playing top trumps when I was little, namely Harry Potter and Dinosaurs. Who needs Barbie? 

The Holly & the Diary and Under the Mistletea had more originality (sorry, I couldn't help myself), but I was also quite proud of Gin-gle Bells for the G&T popcorn. For Under the Mistletea, I used bubble wrap under the tissue paper for an extra clue as to the 'bubble' bath part. However, I think my mum was slightly mislead to think she was getting some bubble tea - I didn't quite think that through! 

One of the nicest parts is that my family have kept labels and all said how beautiful the wrapping was. I've always been awful at this particular life skill, so I did feel a small sense of accomplishment.  

It has motivated me to keep going with calligraphy; I'm finding it an effective coping strategy for anxiety. I also struggle with biting my fingernails/hands, so it helps me with that too. I definitely recommend it if you want a new pastime for New Year - Quotemas doesn't have to end in December!

Have you ever tried calligraphy? 

Have you ever visited Not On The High Street?

 What was the most original gift you received for Christmas?
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