Christmas Party at Trinity Park!

Yesterday we had our Christmas party and it was so much fun! I didn't know what to expect really. I've never been to one before so I didn't know whether to dress up as a Christmas tree, an elf, wear something fancy, or look like I was going to work… I didn't know. Turns out it wouldn't have mattered. Amongst the pantomime dames, the very much above the knee dresses (I sound like my mother, I know!), the shirts with bow ties and sparkly jumpsuits I could have worn anything really. I did however make an effort and wore some skinny trousers with a velvet pattern overlay, a peplum top with bell sleeves and a pastel statement necklace. Not very Christmassy, but I loved it all the same.

The party started at 7 in the evening, so we aimed to arrive at 7.15. You don’t want to look too eager do you?! I however, got there a little early (at about five past) and decided to hang around the doorway until I saw someone I knew. Little did I know, that everyone was inside…

Anyway, as I walked in, I was greeted by Peter Pan or Robin Hood (one of the two, the costume wasn't great) and the entrance was decorated with snowy trees and smoke covered the floor. It was really welcoming and got you in the Christmas spirit. As I walked into the main hall, I saw everyone by the bar (of course) and I was presented with a glass of Prosecco. Once we were all together, we made our way to our table.

Each table was decorated differently. They were meant to represent different pantomime themes, but I'm not sure which one ours related to! Some were really nice though with glittery white branches as a centre piece.

Before we started our meal, we were all welcomed by Captain Hook who introduced each table and asked us, in order to get the party started, have a look at the coloured tubs on our table and light them together as a room. They were party bombs and each one contained something different for each table to do. Ours contained pea shooters, noise trumpets and balloons, but some people had glitter guns, masks and all sorts of other things. They were good fun actually, although a little childish. After all of that, we started the meal. I had an Asian duck salad to start which was lovely and fresh. Other options included a classic prawn cocktail (of course) and soup.

For an interval, we then had a little pantomime performance for us to watch, (not my favourite) but some good dancing and something to talk about!

Once that had finished we continued with our meal: roast turkey with potatoes, Brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce, chocolate mousse cake with cherries in brandy, mince pies, chocolates and coffee. I really enjoyed everything – even the Brussel sprouts!

Then the party started. The dodgems were opened, the music started and everyone got up and danced the night away. There were also some party games including a ‘milk the cow’ race, beat the buzz metal wire and hoopla. Overall we had a really fun night!

As always, I will add some photos later, but now I am going to have a coffee :) 

Lavenham Christmas Market 2014



A while ago, I decided it would be a great idea to start making jewellery. I’ve always been crafty (in the DIY sense!) and have always made something whether it’s gifts, cards or meals for friends and family. This time around, I decided to make jewellery. I love jewellery. Earrings, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, rings, those mini tip finger rings – I love them all! Anyway, I saw an advert for the Lavenham Christmas Market and thought it sounded lovely so I booked a table around July and it finally came around on Saturday 6th December.


It was so cold in the morning and the car was all frosty, but once we got going it soon warmed up. Lavenham is quite far from where I live as well so we left early to get there on time. On arrival everyone had already began setting up and we were definitely novices. I thought we stuck out like a sore thumb, but once we had finished, our stall didn’t look too bad. The morning was successful, but it soon slowed down. The weather probably didn’t help! For a long day, it actually went really quickly and I had loads of compliments on my wares. This was probably the most satisfying part of the day.


Highlight: I saw a miniature schnauzer in a jumper!

SEE! >>>

Pros and Cons of a Craft Stall

 Negatives


You have to spend hours crafting (VERY difficult, especially with a full time job and a love of the gym)

You have to pay for a table and there is no guarantee that you will make your money back (I broke even this time, but for my first fair I thought that this was ok…)

The best way to improve is to go to craft fairs (more money and time) – Listen to what people say

Have you priced your items too high? - That's a scary thought, along with will anyone buy anything?!

After you’ve made the items, you also have to consider packaging and pricing your pieces – A lot more time consuming than I had planned!

If it goes well then great! However, be prepared with a website, contact details, a business card, you don’t want to get caught out… I did and just had to give my email address… very unprofessional

You don’t know what the weather is going to be like/ will people turn up/ will you run out of items?

People aren’t happy spending a lot on something they can make themselves… Someone said at my stall that they could make a pair of earrings that I had on display… not impressed!


Positives


You get to meet some really lovely people

I took on this project for fun and it allowed me to spend a lot of time with my Mum and actually finish a project that I started (this rarely happens). This is also an item that was on my bucket list so it can be crossed off!

I didn’t sell everything :( - but I now have a lovely collection of gifts that I can give to friends and family for Christmas

Fairs are held all over the place so you get to visit areas that you might not have been to before

You will (hopefully) make some money!

Final thought:
For me, it was a little too time consuming and I made very little money so I won’t be doing another fair in the near future – I probably would do it again, but only if I had a craft that was unique and a bit more different.


Have you ever held a stall at a craft fair? How did it go? Any advice for me? Tell me, tell me, tell me! 

Lavenham Christmas Market

To be honest I don’t quite know what to write about today. I didn’t really want to mention Christmas for the third day in a row! However, I put the tree up in work today. It was such a nice break from the computer and great to take part in as we don’t have one at home this year – don’t ask, not my idea…

Anyway, other than that I haven’t really done much. My job has been made official and I’m doing well at the gym, not losing weight, but getting fitter and that’s about it!

I’ve also been frantically crafting – If you didn’t know – actually you wouldn’t as I haven’t mentioned it, but I’m going to be holding a stall at a Christmas market in Lavenham on Saturday… THIS Saturday.  I’m quite excited, but also very, very nervous. I thought it was a good idea at the time and now three months later I’m not too sure. For one, I’m making jewellery – some out of beads, others upcycled vintage materials and some using my own illustrations. I love each pair of earrings that I make and would wear my necklaces myself, but I don’t know whether other people will like it – It’s really scary! Tonight I’m going to see how big my table will be as well and see if I have enough to go on it, or whether I’ll really have to pull my finger out and craft away for an extra hour or two – I don’t know how people do it, where do you get the time?! Sometimes, I get up, work, go to the gym, go home, eat dinner and then it’s bedtime. I wish the day was longer – no, I wish we had Wednesdays off! No one like Wednesdays right?!

Anyway, I might add a bit to this later, but to be honest it’s probably going to stay as a short one today – Hey, I’ve got jewellery to make!

DIY Christmas Earring Inspiration


Now that it is officially December and nearly Christmas I have been so excited about everything Noel. Snowflakes, twinkling lights, red, green and gold – nothing will get me out of the Christmas spirit this month!

To ease me a bit more gently into the Christmas vibe (and to ease others into my Christmas obsession) I was thinking about making some subtle Christmas earrings as a little hint towards it being Christmas soon and possibly seeing if they were nice enough to give them as gifts.

Here are a few that I have seen, some that have tutorials, some that I might just have to use as a guide. I’m going to attempt to make them – depending on whether I can find the beads and findings in my little DIY collection and I’ll post the results in due course, but for now, here are some ideas and inspiration for you to have a look at :)




Via




 Via


 Via


 Via




Via

Which ones are your favourite?
I like the first ones - who wouldn't like little Christmas baubles?!
 

Top Ten BBC Good Food Show Tips

The Good Food Show Winter


On Saturday I went to the wonderful as always Good Food Show at the NEC Birmingham. 

It was amazing! Busy, but amazing. 

If you don’t know what it is, it’s an exhibition full of stands, with everything ranging from Gourmet Popcorn, to Snowdonia Cheese; Xuxu strawberry vodka to deliciously refreshing aloe vera drinks. It’s the place for foodies to go and try everything and anything and just a great day out!

I usually go to the summer show, as the gardening show is also on, but it was nice seeing different foods and new areas at the winter show. New this year, they had a Cakes and Bakes Village as well as an Eat Well section… I hope you know which area I preferred! 

Anyway, introduction over – here’s a link to the site if you want a bit more info or fancy visiting one of their shows :) - but what I really wanted to share with you today was my top 10 tips for visiting these shows – it is of course written for the food show, but they also transfer to other exhibitions I’m sure 

The Winter Good Food Show Top 10 Tips 


Buy heavy things first 

Ok, so you’ve done your research and you are going to the show to grab a bargain, right? You decide that you will leave this purchase to last. After all you don’t want to carry it around all day so you’ll pick it up last thing…wrong. Buy heavy things first, grab them and take them back to the car. You don’t even have to carry it, bring a trolley from home, one of those little shopper ones like this, plonk it in there and take it to the car. You might think that carting it around all day might not be too bad an idea, but just get it out of the way. It’s busy, people might trip over your trolley and what’s more, one of your hands isn’t free for grabbing samples and general money-goods transactions.

If you want it… grab it 

This is especially true for goody bags and offers. It isn’t guaranteed that exhibition stands will reduce their prices at the end of the day, especially because they have already got some great deals on so don’t miss out on the things that you want, grab them while you can. Furthermore, stock is managed so that there is enough for each day of the show. Saturday is usually the busiest day so you would expect stall holders to account for this, but that is not always true so it is so important to get there early and get those offers! If you want the magazine goody bags I would also grab these first thing with the heavy items, books are also heavy so they are great to put back in the car.

If you are unsure of something, leave it

If you are having second thoughts about an item, come back later. If you forget about it, maybe you don’t want it as much as you thought. It might be a great offer, but what good is something if you are not going to use it? Also, if you do want it after a bit of a walk around, go back and bargain. There is nothing to be ashamed of and if you get an even better deal – that’s great!

Plan meeting celebs at book signings

It is very unlikely that you can catch a celeb at the show for an autograph or picture. It is such a busy place and the celebs have shows to attend and places to be so they often can’t stop for large groups. The best way to catch your favourite chef or TV personality is at book signings. Yes, you might have to buy a book, but they are often on offer and you are pretty much guaranteed to have a personal message and photograph!

Charity drop off points are cheaper than the official cloak rooms

If your car is miles away and you’re starting to get a bit tired, a cloak room is a great idea. However, the first one you see is usually in the foyer and will cost you more than the one in the exhibition itself. I dropped off some of my bags at the Guide Dogs Charity drop off point and for a donation of your choice, you can leave your things safely, help charity and take a load off your back

Plan sit down stops around cooking demos

It is very likely that you will get tired. You are walking around all day, shopping and trying to avoid the people that push for a free sample. Plan your day in advance and time some sit downs around cooking demos. These are usually done by well-known chefs and along with recipe ideas and tips, they usually give away free goodies and photo opportunities at the end.

Don’t be afraid to ask for testers and bargain the price

Sometimes, the tasters are reserved behind the counter. Many people see free food, grab it and go. However, if you are genuinely interested in the product, you should be able to taste it and try before you buy. Just ask! Also, if you are looking to buy a few items, say a case of champagne or boxes of items, this is the best time to bargain.

Don’t waste time

I know this sounds harsh, but I saw a lot of people at a popular high street store stand. It had an offer of 10% off Kitchenaid mixers, but other than that there were no other show offers and the stall was heaving! If you are just having a look around, don’t waste your time at an everyday store – grab those things another day!

Take advantage of buy now, collect later

This is a great option for you if you don’t want to carry things around with you like heavier items, but also most effective for foods that have to be refrigerated. People sell all sorts including sausages, so leaving items refrigerated is a great idea, just don’t forget to pick them up!

Grab meals at the show before or after lunch
Lunch time is so busy at food stalls for obvious reasons. The queues are longest at this time, but avoid them by eating a little earlier or later

Try something new

There are so many food stalls and hundreds of tasters on offer. Whether you want to try an oyster, some smoked garlic, truffle or just some artisan bread there is so much to try and it’s free so you might as well give it a go – you might love it!

Research and check price of big purchases before the show 

If you are interested in buying an appliance or a large, expensive item it is best to do a little research before you spend a lot of money on something that you might not later use.

Bonus Tip!
It will be busy, keep calm and don’t wear too many layers as it is hot due to all the people and walking around. Furthermore, large groups are difficult to keep a track of – 2 or 3 people can be found a lot more easily when it is so busy

I hope that you have a look at the shows and consider going to one. I absolutely love them and I am never bored. James Martin has been to every Good Food Show (that’s 20 years worth) and if you are a foodie, that’s surely sign enough that you will love it too!?


If you have ever been to one of these shows I’d love to know what you think of them, have you got any more tips? Let me know


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