Our top five Christmas scents

Our top five Christmas scents

Can you believe that it’s only a few weeks until Christmas? With the festive ad’s already on our screens, and the talk of parties filling the office, what better excuse than to indulge your love of the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ with our top Christmas scents to fill your home. From heady pine, to delicious cinnamon, read on to find out more…

Gingerbread Man Lid Candle (Orange and Cinnamon) – George at Asda – £5

Lasts up to: 35 hours

Wonderfully festive and oh-so-cute, this revitalising scent of orange and cinnamon makes the perfect Christmas decoration with its sweet ginger bread man lid.

gingerbread

Asda

Winter Spice – John Lewis – £10

Lasts up to: 25 hours

What would Christmas be without a little bit of John Lewis? This attractive candle, simply styled in a Nordic theme, is a festive blend of cinnamon, clove and zesty orange – combined with warm and heady spices and sandalwood.

john lewis

John Lewis

Festive Spice diffuser – Next – £14

Lasts up to: 14 weeks

This attractive diffuser set has fruity hints of fresh mulled wine and is perfect for those cosy Christmas nights wrapped up warm with just the glow of the decoration lights to keep you company.

yankee

NEXT

Cinnamon Stick – Yankee Candle – £23.99

Lasts up to: 110-115 hours

This signature scent is a mix of warming cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaf and cedarwood. The classic design of the traditional Yankee Candle jar looks great in any home, and would also make a wonderful Christmas gift – if you don’t keep it for yourself that is!

yankee

Yankee Candle

Pine & Eucalyptus – Jo Malone – £45

Lasts up to: TBC

Described as ‘bright, bracing and bursting with excitement’ Jo Malone London’s timeless classic scent of Pine & Eucalyptus is the definitive Christmas scent that is worth every penny.

jo malone

Jo Malone London

 

What scent makes you instantly think of Christmas? Let us know in the comments below!

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Last minute Christmas additions
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Last minute Christmas additions

As the big day looms ever closer, and you begin to finalise your plans for Christmas Day, it’s time for First Home News to give our last minute rundown of the best accessories to add the perfect finishing touch to your home, table and day.

Personalised Table Runner – £30

table

Courtesy of Not On The High Street, this personalised table runner is the perfect centrepiece if you want to add an element of customisation to your Christmas table. Sure to be a talking point, and a way to make your decor truly unique, this is a must have if you want to avoid a bare looking dining table over the festive period.

 

Table Confetti – £2.99

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Add a fun twist to your table while avoiding the tackiness of glittery confetti with these cheap and cheerful penguin and snowflake table decorations. Perfect if you’re hosting a party and looking to brighten up a buffet table, give these a scatter to add festive cheer to an otherwise drab table.

 

Table Place Cards – £2.75

Paperchase

The ideal addition for Christmas Day if you’re entertaining a large family and want to designate specific seats to diners, these tasteful yet simplistic name cards are a great and well priced addition to your table this Christmas, at just £2.75 for a packet of six from Paperchase..just make sure that you don’t spell a name wrong!

 

Bacon Curing Kit – £20

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Want the perfect Christmas breakfast when you wake up on the 25th? How does a fresh home cured bacon sandwich sound? Ross & Ross, a small fine food company based in the Cotswolds  are currently offering you the chance to create your own home cured bacon in time for Christmas. I don’t know about you, but to us, that sounds like the perfect treat for Christmas morning, once all the presents are opened. Move quick with this one, it’s a popular favourite and will soon sell out!

 

Snowflake Coasters – £6

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What’s Christmas dinner without a generous glass of wine? And if you’ve got the red flowing, you’ll need coasters. Add a festive touch to your table with these understated snowflake coasters from John Lewis. The perfect item if you’re wanting to mix functionality and festivity on your table this Christmas.

All images used sourced from product sale page. All headings link to product purchase web page.

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7 signs your home is ready for Christmas
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7 signs your home is ready for Christmas

The cold weather is here, and with just a week to go until the big day hits, many of our homes will be well and truly decked out ready for Christmas. Whether it’s the assortment of decorations cluttering your home, or the assortment of sweet treats already kicking around in your kitchen, there are certain things in a home that truly signal that the festive period is here…

 

You might have just vacuumed your carpet…

tinsel

 

However within ten minutes, your clean floor is already covered yet again by artificial tree leaves and gold foil that have begun to shed all over your carpet.

Image credit: christmasstockimages.com

 

 

 

 

Bringing out the decorations means re-planning your furniture…
and whilst it might give your room a refreshed and reinvigorated feel, it also means you’ll have to adapt your normal walking route in the living room, which is tough. Expect stubbed toes and a number of bumps with the tree as you’ll no doubt forget about the new layout of your room and walk around on autopilot.

 

Expect to enjoy your festive favourites on TV…


8252330825_d1deaf0617_bHowever whilst you might enjoy watching Home Alone a couple of times to get you in the Christmas spirit, there are only so many times you can enjoy watching Arnie search for Turbo Man..and we won’t even get into classics like 1964’s Santa Claus conquers the Martians!

 

As much as you want to stick to healthy eating habits…

Mince_Pie

 

That cupboard full of mince pies and the fridge full of cheeses are just way too tempting.

Image credit: en.wikipedia.org

 

 

 

 

All your wardrobes are off limits for storing your clothes…
due to the assortment of gifts hidden away from curious unknowing eyes – namely, your kids.

 

Your mantelpiece and windowsills have also lost all function…
as it is currently covered in Christmas cards from your friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues, the random guy you occasionally say hi to at the supermarket and Dave the butcher.

 

 

And upon returning home from work each day, the abundance of external lights on your street makes it look like a runway at Heathrow.

Manning_Close_Christmas_Light_Show,Wells,_Somerset,_England

Then even when you enter your home, the living room lights up like the Las Vegas strip..just think of the electricity bill.

 

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Homes from the Movies – Home Alone
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Homes from the Movies – Home Alone

Homes from Movies – The McCallister family house

As we reach December and TV schedules become packed full with festive films, we though it was only fitting to take a look at one of the most iconic homes from one the 2072143462_0519fe962bmost loved Christmas film of a generation: Home Alone.

Home to the McCallister family, this mansion of a property located in a suburb of Chicago was the iconic scene of the ‘Wet Bandits’ failed heist on Kevin’s home, after he had been abandoned over Christmas when his family left for their holidays without him.

Placed on the market around the beginning of this decade, the McCallister home that was so bravely defended by Macaulay Culkin boasts an impressive 4,250-square-feet of property, housing 14-rooms and sitting on a half-acre lot of land. Additional home features include four bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a large screened-in porch with a chandelier and, of course, the famed staircase sledded down by Kevin in the iconic 1990 Christmas flick.

Located in the affluent suburb of Winnetka, which is just a half hour drive from Chicago, properties in the area over the past five years have sold for an average price of almost $1.3 million.

Main image credit: Brandon Koger

Body text image credit: s_herman

 

 

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Real vs Fake: The Christmas tree debate
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Real vs Fake: The Christmas tree debate

It’s that time of year again when tradition faces up against practicality in a debate which gets replayed up and down the country every Christmas. Do you get a real tree this time or an artificial one? The truth is that both are worthy of being the focal point of your seasonal celebrations but to help you make that all-important decision, we’ve put a together a guide outlining the pros and cons of both set-ups so you can avoid any festive fall-out this year.

A Real Tree

Pros

The custom of having indoor trees arrived in the UK in the mid 1800’s and since then they have gone on to become a traditional staple of British homes during the Christmas season. For some, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without a real tree adorned with tinsel and lights and the process of getting one and then realising it might need some modifying to get it into the house has an air of nostalgia about it. This is matched by the fresh pine smell which intoxicates the room, and regardless of what some companies may tell you, this scent cannot be replaced by a festive air freshener or plug in.

For the eco-warriors amongst you, real trees are all natural and so disposing of them is easy and environmentally friendly. You also won’t have any problem having to store it, as you can just take it outside and let it bio-degrade naturally.

Cons

Real Christmas trees are an expensive investment, when compared to its artificial counterpart; especially as you’ll have to pay out year after year. The care and attention they need as well as the mess they leave behind can also be more hassle than it’s worth for some.

An Artificial Tree

Pros

The beauty of having an artificial tree is its convenience and practicality. There’s no need to stress about having to go out and choose a tree and try and force it through the front door, it’s just merely a case of getting it out of the box and assembling it. An artificial tree will also prove to be cheaper in the long term as it’s a one-time purchase and a relatively low cost one at that. They’re also easy to clean up afterwards and you’ll avoid that unenviable pain of standing on loose pine needles with bare feet.

An artificial tree also has the added benefit of always looking pristine and perfect. If you’re preoccupied with having an idealistic looking tree then an artificial one is the way to go as it will never go brown and will most likely fit your living room to size.

Cons

The flip side to all this practicality though is that artificial trees are not friendly to the environment as most of them tend to be made from PVC which is non-biodegradable and can release toxins over time. Perhaps its biggest flaw in this debate though is that it doesn’t hold the same memories of Christmas that the traditionalists yearn for.

Which one you choose is merely a matter of lifestyle and preference, but whether you go for tradition or convenience, it’s not the tree that matters but the people around it.

 

This guest article was provided exclusively to First Home News by Samanta Towns.

Images used under creative commons courtesy of Jean-Marc PAYET.

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Creating the perfect Christmas living room

Creating the perfect Christmas living room

Are you looking to create a warm abode this Christmas? Think mulled wine, mince pies, cosy throws and oh-so-comfy sofas. Take a look at how you can create the perfect Christmas living room over the festive period. It’ll be so toasty, you won’t want to leave!

Throws

Throws become your best buds over Christmas. Without a super soft throw you find yourself feeling cold and not in the slightest bit cosy; unless of course you’re snuggling up on the sofa with your other half! Imagine curling up on the sofa to watch your favourite Christmas film without a mug of something delicious and that essential chocolate orange…it just wouldn’t happen, would it? And it’s the same with a throw. These blankets of bliss are sure to promise you a warm winter and will no doubt ignite that festive spirit you’ve been excited about since the leaves started falling. Welcome a throw into your home this season and you’ll certainly start to feel that sense of excitement…just like when you see the ‘Coca-Cola’ advert on your screen after almost 11 months without it!

Scented Candles

Scented candles are the perfect way to create a festive ambience. There are a wide range of Christmas scents available from blends of cinnamon and cloves, to aromas of cranberry and orange. Decoratively place a scented candle on your coffee table or on your window sill and allow it to work its scintillating and aromatic magic whilst also creating a desirable candlelight ambience. Capture Christmas with a deliciously scented candle.

Bunting

Decorate your home with Christmas bunting and you’ll no doubt instil that festive feel into your home. Depending on how adventurous you are, you could make the bunting yourself using Christmassy fabrics that feature prints that are adorable yet oh-so-cheesy. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?!

Christmas Trees

Finally, a Christmas tree. Christmas isn’t Christmas without a bauble-covered tree. Whether you decide to get yours from your local shop or make it a family affair by venturing down to the woods to choose your towering tree, it’s as much needed as brandy sauce is to Christmas pudding. Just please no tinsel; that certainly won’t allow you to achieve a favourable look for this jolly festivity. Whilst tinsel was once upon a time one of the only ways to adorn your tree, it’s now regarded as tacky tatter. Adorn your tree with sophisticated lights, baubles and cute handmade decorations.

Sofa
One way of updating the focal point of your living room is to invest in a new sofa. If you’re not looking to splash out however, you can always accessorise your existing suite with a number of new accessories, Check out Couch, for an independent source of living room furniture.  Take a look at their range of beautifully-crafted furniture and sofa accessories and you’ll no doubt find pieces that’ll complete your home this winter.

 

This guest article was kindly provided by Jonathan Thomas.

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Finishing odd-jobs in time for Christmas
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Finishing odd-jobs in time for Christmas

To say it’s simply a few days of celebrations, the festive period can be an incredibly hectic period. Aside from wrapping presents and preparing food in time for the big day, you may have spotted areas of your home which require touching up or working on in preparation for the 25th With guests arriving for the celebrations, you need your home to be looking its best. As the calendar ticks over to December, there isn’t time for grand renovations, however you should have opportunity to add the finishing touches that will get your home ready for the festivities. To help you along your way, we’ve put a list together a list of the areas you may want consider touching up before Christmas

Getting rid of any clutter

If you are going to be hosting a house full of guests over Christmas, the last thing you want is to have them to  clambering over clutter. Before you contemplate decking the halls and throwing tinsel over the tree, take a look at ways in which you can declutter and create a tidy, welcoming environment for those coming to stay.

For best results, take it one room at a time and look at what is and isn’t necessary. Be practical; you may find there are plenty of items that can be discarded or removed temporarily from the room.

Make sure you have enough room to accommodate extra beds

Beyond getting rid of any clutter, if you are going to be having quite a few guests and you will be using inflatable beds, it makes sense to move things around to accommodate them while you have the time. Of course, also make sure you have a pump and that it works.

Finish off any odd-jobs

They’re the nagging jobs on your to-do list that you just never get around to doing. Whether it’s fixing the lock on the bathroom door, replacing light bulbs or hanging those mirrors that have been leaning up against the wall for the last few months, take a look at the odd-jobs you haven’t got around to doing and make the time to do them.

Change your door knobs

If you want to make some stylish changes in your home before Christmas, door knobs are an excellent place to start. Often overlooked, door knobs featuring ornate detail can transform existing doors without having to replace them. Consider Victorian door knobs which feature plenty of grandiose detail but are perfect for both contemporary and traditional interiors.

Giving your skirting boards and door frames a lick of paint

Freshen up a room by concentrating on the smaller details. Through every day wear and tear, skirting boards and door frames can become grubby, discoloured and in generally in need of some TLC. Give them the love they need and make your home look a little fresher with a lick of paint.

Clean the carpets

Hire a carpet cleaner for the weekend and really get deep into your floors. It’s amazing just how dirty carpets can get and we guarantee you’ll be amazed at the results once you have given them a deep clean with a specifically formulated carpet shampoo.

Make use of fold-up chairs

If you’re going to be having a lot of guests over for dinner, it’s wise to make use of folding chairs as these can be easily stored away when not in use and will save you from reanacting a scene from a comedy sketch where everyone is sitting on chairs of varying heights.

This guest article was exclusively written for First Home News by Dean Ronnie.

Photo credit: Jonas Nordlund via Flickr

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Decorate to entertain this festive period
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Decorate to entertain this festive period

With Christmas and New Year’s Eve now in touching distance, the chances are that you’re going to be entertaining over the coming weeks. You might have your tree up and a few traditional decorations in the living room, but if you’re wanting to make sure your guests are definitely in the festive spirit, we have a few decoration ideas you can use to impress in other areas of the home.

Festive lights

If you don’t want to fully decorate another room, but would like to add some festive sparkle to an area where guests may congregate, adding a fairy light trim to objects around the room can be one way to go. Drape them from the ceiling, edge them around a photo or use them on a tree. These felt-trimmed lights are more decorative than your bog-standard set, meaning they can be used effectively as a standalone decoration.

Table decoration

If you have family or friends over for a well-prepared meal at any point, why not spruce up your table decorations with a Christmas theme? Utilising red, green and white Christmas candles can be a subtle option, or incorporate some of your favourite tree ornaments into the table decoration. Baubles are often seen in table decoration, and provided you have the space, can be used in a classy fashion, as is the case with tinsel. Similarly, if you’ve opted to provide a buffet for your attendees, you don’t need to fill your dining table with plates and food. Break the space up with decorations and even add festive flowers to the set up.

Create a bar

If your gathering attendees are just a few select friends, and you’re hosting a quiet sophisticated evening rather than a full scale party, then a home bar area may work for your guests. Take a dining room sideboard or the mantelpiece in the living room and transform it with a sophisticated selection of wines and other drinks. It adds convenience as, being the host, you won’t need to spend all evening topping up drinks, and through decorating well, your makeshift bar will be the nucleus of the party. Just make sure you have enough glasses and flutes for your guests.

Artwork

It might seem excessive to purchase artwork simply as a Christmas decoration, but nothing is as subtle a decoration than a stunning snowscape to put you and your guests in the festive mood. These snow scenery canvas pieces from John Lewis are the perfect wall decoration and at just £12 each, don’t blow the bank. They’ll leave your guests dreaming of a white Christmas, and their inexpensive nature means you won’t feel obligated to leave them up year round.

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Five easy ways to decorate a small space for Christmas
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Five easy ways to decorate a small space for Christmas

Christmas may be a time for the big and the bold, but even if you have a small space it doesn’t mean you can’t get into the festive spirit as well. Here’s our guide to ways you can bring some seasonal charm to your home, irrespective of the canvas you have to work with.

Decorate up

Just because you don’t have a lot of floor space doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your Christmas cheer. Decorating vertically will allow you fit more into a space while also diverting people’s attentions upwards which will make the room appear bigger. Hanging decorations from ceilings or placing tinsel and garlands around doors and windows will provide a cheap and effective option to give your room some Christmas sparkle without compromising on the living space. You can also capitalise on wall space by hanging ribbons from them or Christmas cards.

Tabletop trees

Just because you don’t have the space for a full size Christmas tree, it doesn’t mean you have to go without one at all this year. Tabletop trees are a small investment to make, but have a big impact if you’re missing having that giant focal point in the corner of the room. They’re only a few feet high and are ideal for apartment living. You can place them in the hallway, by the stairs or on a table in the living room and dress them with giant ornaments and clear decorations for a bit of a different festive look.

Light and scent

Subtle additions which liven up the senses are just as integral to a Christmas mood as the conventionally explicit. Scented candles such as cinnamon and vanilla for instance, rarely fail to evoke seasonal nostalgia and also take up little room as they can be placed on top of furniture you already have. Lighting is just as important and simple white lights can be strung around the border of a room or window.

Don’t restrict Christmas to the living room

In most homes, the priority when it comes to Christmas decorating is understandably focused around the living room as this tends to be the hub of the house. However this often means that other rooms get forgotten. Dressing the rest of the home will create a nice festive flow whilst also relieving the pressure to cram everything into one room. Christmas bedding for example is an excellent way of decorating the bedroom without taking up any further space, whilst a festive throw will also have the same effect. The kitchen on the other hand provides lots of work top space to work with meaning there’s no excuse not to display ornaments and Christmas paraphernalia. You can also purchase festive dishcloths and Christmas place settings if you have a table.

Use every nook and cranny

Most homes have some discernible features which create seemingly unusable space for the other 11 months. However, alcoves, ledges and deceptively small corners all come into their own at this time of year. They’re easy to utilise by using small trees, ornaments or even presents and they make the room look much bigger.

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Christmas tableware

Christmas tableware

To some, the Christmas dinner is the focal point of the big day. To others however, preparing a huge dinner for a large family, along with the other rigours of the day and being constantly scrutinised by your guests is just one big nightmare. It might not be something you’re instantly worried about, but creating that special meal means nothing if you serve it to special guests on a tray in front of the TV with no special crockery or cutlery. Make sure your first Christmas dinner in the new home is one that goes smoothly, and take a look at our guide to presenting your meal impressively to any guests.

Crockery

If you’re entertaining guests this Christmas, and are going to the expense and effort of preparing dinner on a mass scale, the last thing you want to be doing is plating up your masterpiece on an assortment of mismatched plates that aren’t big enough to hold your vast range of prepared foods. Although you probably don’t want to be investing in new pots and plates solely for use over the festive period, if you buy smartly you’ll gain possession of some best crockery that can be brought out for the special occasion and to wow guests at any point in the year.

Cutlery

If you’re planning to entertain over Christmas, there is no better time to whip out your very best silver cutlery than during the festive period. Adding some stylish, traditional cutlery will help to add the perfect finish to your festive table. They will also help to add a sense of special occasion to your meal, as you will be using your very best dinnerware items for a wonderful meal with family and friends.

Presentation

It’s unavoidable that come mid afternoon on Christmas day, everyone will have overeaten. If you’re playing host, that means you need to prepare an absolute feast for your guests, as they’ll definitely expect to eat like a king. With so many meat and vegetable options for the big day, you’ll need a regimen of serving bowls, rather than having to embarrassingly go through the process of plating up everyone’s individual meals. Similarly to the crockery situation, try not to have a mix and match situation as it’ll go some way to ruining the other Christmas decorations you opt for on the table.

Table decorations

Napkins, crackers and other festive accessories are great additions to your festive table. We all know that you get exactly what you pay for when it comes to Christmas crackers, and whilst it may be easy to fob off immediate family with a pack of three tiny screwdrivers, if you have a large group coming you may feel obliged to push the boat out that little bit further. If you want to tailor the prizes to your party guests, check out the vast range on offer at department stores like John Lewis.

 

Image used under creative commons courtesy of Liz Lawley.

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