The Haiku Review: Butter London Nail Lacquer in ‘Chancer’

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Deffo needs two coats,
But the glitter is gorgeous.
Perfect Christmas shade!

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Decorating on a Budget

I’ll start this post with something I’ve learned in hindsight: if you’re buying a cheap tree, make sure you don’t buy one that has been netted up in advance.

Pre-packaged trees give you no indication of how they will look when you take off the netting. So you may end up with an adorably ramshackle one, like this:

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Hmm. I still need to vacuum those needles.

On the plus side, it’s a real tree so it has that lovely real tree smell. And it only cost me a tenner from Sainsbury’s – as did the LED fairy lights.

That’s another thing I’ve learned in hindsight – supermarkets are brilliant if you’re looking for pretty things at even prettier prices. My tree isn’t very big, so I only needed a few bits, but here’s what I managed to get hold of:

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Silver glitter snowflakes – pack of 4, £2.50 from Sainsbury’s.

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Candy cane decorations – pack of 6, (6 for you Glen Coco you go Glen Coco), £3 from Sainsbury’s.

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Christmas Spice Candle – £2 from Sainsbury’s. This smells much more expensive than it was. I’m a big fan of Jo Malone candles, and tend to find cheap ones to be either so weak you can hardly smell them, or far too sweet and cloying. This one was perfect.

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Finally, my boyfriend said I can’t have a tree without putting chocolate on it. I didn’t know this was a thing, but found these little Lindor decorations when I was passing Waitrose the other day. They were just over £3 there (for a 6 pack) and I imagine they can be found cheaper in other shops.

What are your top shops for budget decorating? Have you ever made your own decorations to beat the January blues?

Christmas wishes,

Effie xx

The Under £5 Christmas Gift Guide / How to Make an Advent Calendar

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Step 1: If your name is Maddie and you’re my sister, stop reading this immediately. Have you gone? Ok cool.

This year, my sister and I decided to make each other advent calendars. Not the chocolate kind, or the paper kind – the kind where you get a little gift every day in the run up to Christmas.

It all came about after I bought her the Boots beauty advent calendar last year. By way of a return present, she decided to pick up as many gifts as she could for under £2 each, with a slightly nicer one for Christmas Eve. She wrapped them up like a pass-the-parcel, so for every day she opened a door on her Boots advent calendar, I’d unwrap a layer of paper from my Maddie-made one.

It was nice. So this year we’re doing it again. I bought a big box from Lakeland (slightly cheaper and much bigger than the Paperchase ones at £5.99), some wrapping paper, and off I went, bargain hunting.

I think the first stage to getting gifts for under £5 is to look out for the offers. I set myself a £2 limit for every present, only going over on about 3 of them. Here are a few of the bargains I took advantage of this year, to help bulk up my calendar:

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The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Hand Sanitiser, Shower Gel, and Body Purée. £2.00, free, and £3.50 respectively, thanks to a handy 3 for 2 offer.

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Thorntons’ everlasting 4 for £3 offer also went down a treat (pun intended).

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Still buying your Lucky Charms and Peanut Butter Cups in Selfridges? STOP! Tesco and Asda now do great American delicacies at a fraction of the price we used to find them at.

This Reece’s Peanut Butter Tree was 60p, and you can now get a decent sized pack of the cups for the same price. I also picked up these Pretzel M&Ms for £1.50 (thank you Brittany for fuelling my obsession with those after our box swap!) and the Hot Fudge Sundae Pop Tarts (I haven’t seen that flavour before over here) for £1.

Maddie had asked for some BluTack (89p) and a Eyeliner Sharpener (£1.50), both of which I grabbed at half price in Sainsbury’s. On the same trip, I also found a lovely Christmas Spice scented candle for £2. Maddie isn’t into her candles so I got it for me, but it makes a lovely gift if you’re on the hunt! Either way, if you’re on a budget, supermarkets are your friend.

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Stationery shops are also a good place to find nice gifts. I got all this from a Paperchase outlet – the little turtle push pins were only £2, and the festive gold nail wraps were reduced from £4 to £1.20. Winner. And never underestimate the joy that 99p stickers bring to grown women – especially when they feature fairy princesses and cute woodland creatures, like these do.

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Here are a few random bits I picked up. No girl ever has enough nail varnish remover, and Maddie is no exception, so this mini bottle (£1.60 from Boots) makes a useful and cute gift. Likewise, no girl can resist childhood nostalgia, so this Strawberry Laces hand wash (£1.85 from Boots) and Gingerbread Man cookie cutter (£1.29 from Lakeland) will hopefully go down well.

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When I found out that two of Lush’s bath bombs come under the £2 budget (Ickle Baby Bot and Butterbear are both £1.95) I couldn’t resist making a trip there too. I’m going to put this free sample of Buche de Noel (the most Christmassy cleanser I’ve ever seen) in one of the earlier days of the calendar due to the (lack of) price, while the nice bath bombs will come nearer Christmas. Being only £1, Lush’s charity pot has also made an appearance. Handy and charitable. We better recognise.

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Finally, I found this in Sainsbury’s for Christmas Eve. Maddie loves cutesy Tim Burton movies, and this seemed like the perfect film for the night before Christmas.

So that’s it! I’ll be wrapping up the presents tonight and numbering them up nicely. I’m very excited!

What are your top tips for Christmas shopping on a budget? Have you ever made your own advent calendar? Do comment and tell me about it!

Christmas love,

Effie xx