Tuesday 6 December 2016

Christmas gift inspiration for the women in your life, whatever their age


These two pictures pretty much sum up our Sunday afternoon at The Madhouse. First we put up the Christmas tree, then I unearthed all the things I've been squirreling away since the summer as Christmas gifts. I got through almost three rolls of wrapping paper but I won in the end ! Some of the things in the pile were products that we had been sent to review or that had caught my eye but I wasn't sure who would be the lucky recipient - I realised that they would appeal just as much to Juliette (aged 11) as Sophie (15) or even me (ahem ... 44), making them the ultimate Christmas gifts for sisters, girlfriends, aunties or even work colleagues in the office secret Santa when you're short on inspiration !

You can't go wrong with nice smellies and beauty products, but these ones from Beauty Kitchen are extra cool because you get to make them yourself. Part craft kit, part science lesson, part pampering treat but 100% fun, whatever your age !

Stuffed inside the Create Your Own Bath Bombs jar (which can easily be recycled after use, to store nail varnish, make up or maybe your loose change for whenever a me-time kitty is needed !) is everything you need to make 300g of fizzy bathtime treats : 2 x bath bomb moulds, citric acid, sodium bicarb, chill me essential oil, cranberry seeds & wild flower seeds. There are detailed instructions and the kit contains 100% natural ingredients. RRP : was £20, now £12.

If you haven't got a bath, or if you just want mistletoe-ready kissable lips, you might prefer the Create Your Own Lip Balms kit, which comes in a can that looks just like a tin of soup and contains the material to make four lip balms : Moisturisinig Cocoa Butter, Moistuising Beeswax, Shimmer Mica Powder, 4 Lip Balm Tins, 4 Lip Balm Labels, mini spatula and instructions. (You need to add sunflower oil.) Just like all the other Beauty Kitchen products, they are 100% natural with no parabens, no sulphates, no synthetic fragrance, no this, no that, no the other ... ! (RRP : was £15, now £10)

If you get in very quick, both of these products can currently be won on the Beauty Kitchen facebook page but the winners will be announced today so don't hang about !

If you have a wannabe pop star in your midst or someone who'd like to get the party started with their friends before a night out, the Lucky Voice Karaoke Kit (RRP £50) is sure to be a big hit. It will transform your home computer into the ultimate karaoke machine, giving you access to thousands of songs or even ready-made playlists. It is also easy to use (no midnight assembling for tired parents here) - simply connect the laptop and speakers to the kit, create an account and get singing.

You can use it on your laptop, play it from your tablet, or sing off your phone. Lucky Voice have created the ultimate karaoke app for iPhone and iPad, which is free to download from the app store with a 14-day free trial which leads to a £1.49/week subscription fee.

After a phenomenally successful year, Pokemon has won over a whole new generation of fans, both old and young. Anyone with a smartphone, tablet or device that is constantly running out of juice will love one of these Pokemon Power Banks (RRP £14.99). It has a 5,000 mAh lithium polymer battery, is suitable to charge all USB devices and has a 50% precharge straight from the box. It also has safe protection against short circuit and temperature-detection software, as well as a 4-LED battery indicator. Available at Asda, Argos, Tesco, HMV, Smyths Toys, Harrods. Hamleys and Dixons.

If you want the perfect feel-good Christmas 'tail', look no further than Fiona Harrison’s debut novel, A Pug Like Percy. Percy is homeless, abandoned by his owner at an animal rescue centre on a cold winter’s night, so when he finds a loving new home with Gail and her family, his deepest wish is that this time, it’s forever. Gail, on the other hand, hopes that Percy will be the little miracle her family so desperately needs to bring happiness back into their home. But as Gail and her husband, Simon, struggle to cope with their young daughter Jenny’s frequent trips to hospital, the strain on the family causes the couple to increasingly communicate through arguments. As Christmas nears and the family reach breaking point, Percy must use all his canine wiles to show them what they could lose. Is Percy the furry friend they’ve all been waiting for?

The story focuses on a young couple coping with their daughter’s dilated cardiomyopathy and it’s a story that brings a sense of hope to any family dealing with sick children, especially in the build up to Christmas. In writing this book, Fiona worked closely with Great Ormond Street, hearing personal stories from families who are dealing with their child’s sickness every day, those for whom the hospital is like a second home, and learning how families and staff try to make like as normal as possible for the child. What Fiona was really keen to portray in the book was that dilated cardiomyopathy is not a death sentence, there is hope, and during the build up to Christmas, this is a really important message for families that will not experience it in the traditional way we imagine. 

Staying on the animal theme, if you want something quirky that is perfect for ramping up the cosiness (or hygge, if you've jumped on the new buzzword !) of your home this winter, with a surprising twist, Pyropets are the answer ! Pyropets are a collection of cute geometric animal shaped candles with metal skeletons hiding inside. The idea came to Icelandic designer Thorunn Arnadottir one Christmas when she saw a forlorn Santa Claus candle with his head half melted away. She wondered how she could elevate this common-place ritual sacrifice into a true theatre of the macabre.

Strike a match and watch Pyropets transform from charming backyard animals to brooding, macabre skeletons with fire in their eyes. Creepy? Just slightly. Delightful? Definitely. You can choose between cats (£24), rabbits (£20), birds (£12) and the perfectly seasonal reindeer (£25), as well as mini versions without skeletons. Just one word of advice - stand them on a large plate to catch the melting wax before lighting them.

Let's hear it for the girls ! Which of your female friends or relatives would like one of these ?

Disclosure : I received the products in order to write an honest review.

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