[christmas] festive gift guide: for your dad

Tomorrow is 1 December – do you have your advent calendar ready? Here, at Sugar & Spice HQ we’re starting to get very excited for the big day. To keep you in the festive spirit, we have our second gift guide for you.

In yesterday’s gift guide for mothers and mother-in-laws, we suggested the option of a Christmas hamper – this will also work for fathers too. It can also work as a joint gift for your parents. If this isn’t something you fancy doing, or you want some ideas for filling the hamper, we’ve rounded up some festive goodies for your dad:

festive gift guide for your dad

  1. Winter woollies are always a hit, this classic cable knit scarf at Next will ensure your dad is kept toasty this winter.
  2. Make sure your dad’s well groomed, with this Champney’s Shave Kit from Boots.
  3. Slippers are a favourite in our family for Christmas and these shearling M&S moccasin slippers are pretty dapper.
  4. Stuck on ideas? Try a festive tipple, like this Whisky Lover’s gift set at Marks & Spencer.
  5. It’s not Christmas without a pair – or two – of novelty socks!

If you missed yesterday’s gift guide for your mum, be sure to check it out. Tomorrow’s festive gift guide is for the woman in your life, your wife or your girlfriend.

[christmas] festive gift guide: for your mum

It’s very nearly December and so the countdown to Christmas is officially upon us. That means gift shopping. We’re aiming to take the stress out of your festive season with a whole week of gift guides for all the family. Today, we’re starting with ideas for your mum.

Parents can be tricky customers when it comes to Christmas presents. And in-laws, even trickier. If you’ve exhausted all other options, one idea we’ve come up with for this year is the Christmas hamper. If you’re short on time, there are loads of options on the high street that you can pick up but if you’re up for something a little more personal, why not create your own? Waitrose and Wilkos both offer empty hamper options for you to fill. If you’re doing it yourself, you can make it a little more personal – add their favourite tipple, chocolates/biscuits. It doesn’t even all need to be food and drink based, think of the hamper like a grown up version of the stocking and fill with smaller thoughtful gifts (ideas below).

If the Christmas hamper option doesn’t suit you (or you want non-food and drink related gifts for your hamper), we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite things for your mum, or mother-in-law, this festive season:

festive gift guide for your mum

  1. This Nordic style lantern by the White Company will ensure any home looks chic this festive season.
  2. Give your mum the gift of stylish warmth with this Accessorize poncho.
  3. Beautiful Christmas decorations are always a lovely gift – these are from a selection at John Lewis.
  4. Slippers are probably a bit of a cliche for Christmas but who cares? Everyone loves a pair of fluffy slippers, like these from Accessorize.
  5. Give your mum a box of relaxing bathtime goodies, like the No7 Weekender Vanity Case, which is filled with products from their new bath and body collection.

We’ve got gift guides for all the family, all week, so check back tomorrow for gift ideas for your dad.

[beauty] beauty advent calendars 2015

With just 12 days until the start of December, have you got your advent calendar yet? There’s no better way to build the anticipation for the festive season than a countdown. Chocolate advent calendars are so 2012 though! For the past few years, beauty advent calendars have been creating a storm throughout December – offering treats every day for a month. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

This year, I’ll be opening a door on the No7 advent calendar each day again. Last year, the calendar was filled with mini and full sized versions of some of my favourite products from the beauty brand. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s behind each door this time round.

If you want in on the beauty fun – we’ve hunted out some other options that will help get you in the festive spirit:

beauty advent calendars 2015

Shop the post: 1. No7 beauty advent calendar; 2. Benefit calendar; 3. Kerastse calendar; 4. Selfridges Cosmic beauty advent calendar; 5. Liberty London calendar; 6. The Body Shop calendar; 7. Charlotte Tilbury 12 days of Christmas box; and 8. Ciate calendar.

Will you be counting down to Christmas with a beauty advent calendar this year?

[beauty] Seven Things to Spend your No7 voucher on

There’s only a couple of days left to save up to £5 on No7 goodies with their latest voucher. If you’ve got a spare voucher in your purse, don’t let it go to waste – here our our top seven things to spend your No7 voucher on:

7 things to buy with your no7 voucher

  1. I absolutely swear by the No7 Early Defence Night Cream and with £5 off it’s really affordable! Check out my review here.
  2. The No7 Ridge Filling Base Coat is my favourite base for a DIY manicure. When I’m really pushed for time, a quick coat of this (it dries within seconds!) looks chic alone.
  3. Earlier in the week I posted about the new No7 Beautiful Skin Indulgent Bath Range – any from that collection would be worth saving £5 on but if I had to choose just one, it would be the No7 Pampering Dry Skin Oil Body Spray.
  4. Getting a flawless look is all about using the right tools. The No7 Stippling Brush makes applying foundation a breeze. Check out my review of the No7 brushes I use here.
  5. If you’re missing your sun kissed skin from the summer, look to No7’s Naturally Sun Kissed Gradual Face Tan for a hint of colour.
  6. With the festive party season fast approaching the No7 Stay Perfect Shade and Define crayons are perfect for a quick transformation.
  7. Finally, it’s definitely chapped lip season and the No7 BB Lip Balms are ideal for adding colour and staving off the cold weather damage – I’ve got one in each handbag and a few different colours too.

What will you be spending your No7 voucher on?

[beauty] No7 Beautiful Skin Indulgent Bathing Range

boots no7 beautiful skin indulgent bathing range

I’ll confess, I love to spend time in the shower. A bath, I can leave, but a shower, I just love. So when I heard that No7 were launching their new Beautiful Skin Indulgent Bathing Range, I was pleased to see that it included luxury shower products, as well as beautiful bath goods.

For me, a shower is a little bit of “me time” every day.

The new No7 Beautiful Skin Indulgent Bathing Range is packed full of bathing and body products for silky smooth skin, all in a new look, a new fragrance and a variety of new luxurious textures to help you relax and feel pampered.

Whether you prefer to relax in the bath, lather up in the shower, or simply want to give your skin a little pick me up, the range ensures your skin is left hydrated, moisturised and glowing whatever time of day.

I’ve been trying out the new No7 Beautiful Skin Foaming Shower Oil (£12.00) which feels so luxurious gently massaged onto skin in the shower. It’s a little (lot!) steeper than my usual shower gels, so I’ve been using this whenever I’ve felt like I need a little but of extra TLC.

Both the No7 Beautiful Skin Foaming Shower Oil and the No7 Beautiful Skin Sheer Indulgence Bath Oil (£12.50) include Sweet Almond and Grapeseed Oils to nourish the skin, and a dose of Vitamin E and Argan Oil help to lock in moisture.

If baths are your thing, try adding a few drops of the Beautiful Skin Sheer Indulgence Bath Oil under running water for a relaxing bathing experience.

The new range also includes No7 Beautiful Skin Blissful Body Wash (£9.50), for the ultimate in cleansing and moisturising and the No7 Beautiful Skin Gorgeous Glow Body Scrub (£13.50), which gives your skin a helping hand on the way to radiance. This rich and indulgent scrub is made up of Walnut Shell, Almond Oil, Argan Oil and Rosehip Seeds to sweep away dead skin cells and restore your skin’s silky soft feel.

The collection also includes three products for post bathing/showering pampering. I’ve been using the No7 Beautiful Skin Pampering Dry Body Oil (£13.50) which is perfect is you’re in a rush as it sprays onto skin in fine droplets for quick absorption, so you can get dressed shortly after applying.

If you’ve got more time post bath/shower, try massaging the No7 Beautiful Skin Shimmering Body Oil (£13.00) onto your body. Not only does it help moisturise and condition skin, but it also gives you a subtle, sun-kissed glow. And, if your legs are in need of a bit of extra TLC, slather the No7 Beautiful Skin Silky Leg Oil (£12.50) all over for irresistibly smooth and softly glowing pins.

If you think you know someone who might want to try the range this Christmas (or you might want to ask for it yourself!), Boots have created two gift sets: No7 Beautiful Skin Pampering Core Collection Gift and the No7 Beautiful Skin Pampering Mini Collection Gift.

Have you tried the new No7 Beautiful Skin Indulgent Bathing Range yet? How do you make your bath/shower time a little bit more special?

[competition] design your own wellies with Joules

It’s half term and if you’re at home with the kids, how about getting creative? Or you might fancy getting creative yourself?

Joules design your own wellies competition

Joules have recently launched a fun competition inviting all budding designers, doodlers and wellington boot lovers to design them some wellies.

It’s really easy to do on the competition website – I had a go at designing some myself and this is what I did – I’m not going to lie, I kind of want these now!

Joules design your own wellies competition

The winner will see their design put into production (with all proceeds going to CHARITABLY JOULES) as well as winning a luxury Forest Holiday worth £5000! How good is that?

If you want to have a go and design your own wellies, submit a design and enter the competition here.

First prize is a luxury break worth £5,000. Three nights in a golden oak treehouse cabin plus lots more. While 10 runners-up will each receive a £250 Joules gift card.

What would you design on your wellies?

[lifestyle] shopping and eating at Grand Central, Birmingham

Grand Central Birmingham

Birmingham is certainly on the up. And lucky for me, it’s my nearest city these days.

A month ago, Birmingham’s newest shopping and eating destination opened: Grand Central.

Grand Central is the new name for New Street station. It has brought big brands and new brands to Birmingham.

Recently I went to Birmingham for a training course and decided to stay in in the city afterwards and meet my mum to check out the new place to shop and eat.

Tapas revolution Birmingham

We spent an hour or two shopping in the centre – Christmas shopping has begun! Grand Central is home to one of the biggest John Lewis’s outside of London – floors of clothes, beauty, homewards, toys and more. We spent a long time in their Christmas shop!

We followed shopping with dinner. Grand Central is host to a some good new restaurants including Pho, Handmade Burger Co, Giraffe and Carluccio’s. We chose Tapas Revolution to try.

The eating area is open and looks out over the balcony, looking into the station foyer. Tapas Revolution was bustling.

Tapas Revolution serves, surprisingly, tapas. We chose four dishes to try out: patatas bravas, cod croquettes, chorizo in cider and chicken paella. We were looking forward to churros for dessert but unfortunately they aren’t serving it yet, so we had the deliciously lemon favoured crema Catalana instead. The four dishes we had were satisfyingly authentic.

They also serve brunch and the menu looked pretty inviting for that too.

As well as a tempting happy hour on cocktails, sangria and more drinks between 4-7pm every day.

Have you visited Birmingham’s new Grand Central yet? I’ll be back with more reviews over the next few months as we shop some more and trying out the new restaurants too.