As a journalist, I’m naturally nosey. I love to look through Zoopla at the inside of people’s houses, I like to know what someone carries in their handbag, and what people have on their Christmas dinner. Let’s face it, we’re all a little bit nosey.
Because of that, I love seeing what people got for Christmas, what they bought other people, and working out what I can add to my Amazon wish list for next year!
Whilst I’ve been absolutely spoiled rotten by my family and friends, this post isn’t intended to be a brag. It’s much more a post to give you a sneak peek into what was under my tree to offer a bit of inspiration for your next gift buying endeavor or add to your own wish list. It also gave me the opportunity to have a proper look at everything I received again so I could fully appreciate it, and thank those who gifted it.
The post features gifts from both my birthday, on December 22, and Christmas – but not every single gift. Whilst you have a snoop through my stocking fillers and a peek at my presents – I’m going to attempt to find a place for everything to live… wish me luck.
Gin is my spirit of choice, for its versatility and botanical combinations. I have a small gin collection overtaking the family pantry, and can’t wait to have a fully-stocked bar in my own home. Friends and family have been helping me achieve this with some gin, and gin themed gifts.
The Malfy Blood Orange Gin is something I love to order in bars, but the top-shelfer isn’t something I’d have usually bought for myself, so mum and dad treated me for my birthday. A bottle is typically around the £28-£30 range, and is gorgeous served with lemonade on a sunny day.
I have a feeling my unicorn-obsessed six-year-old niece may have helped to pick out the Manchester Drinks Co Mystical Unicorn gin liqueur my sister bought me. I’ve picked up Manchester Drinks Co gins before, both for myself and as gifts. The shimmery liqueur tastes of marshmallow and candyfloss – I think I might attempt a candyfloss cocktail with this one!
My NYE virtual party drinks are sorted with this M&S Passion Star Martini pre-mixed drink! It feels like the adult equivalent of drinking a pre-mixed peach schnapps at a family do aged 16. The gold bottle is gorgeous, and you can just pour and sip you your hearts content. I’m going to grab some fresh passionfruit and prosecco, and it’ll be pornstar martinis all round to welcome in 2021.
My sister bought me this awesome 15 piece cocktail kit complete with a stand to store all the tools. I love trying out different recipes, like this salted caramel cocktail and cinnamon and orange tipple. The set, which comes with a shaker, jigger, straws and other handy tools, also had its own cocktail recipe book, filled with classic cocktails. My mum and dad also picked up a ‘Thirsty Blinders’ cocktail recipe book to go with it.
Lastly, I received a number of gin miniatures for stocking fillers, such as the Gordon’s pink gin, Edinburgh Gin raspberry liqueur and Whitley Neill rhubarb and ginger.
This year in music themed gifts I received the Arctic Monkeys live at the Royal Albert Hall album on vinyl. Each year dad picks out one gift for each of the kids, whilst mum pretty much sorts out the rest. This was the gift he picked, and all proceeds from the album go to the charity War Child. It’s a brilliant listen for Arctic Monkeys fans, and is a heavy two-disc vinyl with 20 tracks.
Primal Scream Dirty Hits is the latest CD for my little car. Having photographed the band a few times now, listening to Rocks and Loaded takes me back to a time of festivals and live music. The Dirty Hits album has all their best tracks – and best of all? A quid in Poundland, where I buy most of my 90s/00s indie albums.
Leah bought me some insane David Bowie prints for my office from Killer Queen Creative, on Etsy. I can’t wait to get these framed and up on the wall – and to pick up some more of their artwork. They do some brilliant multi-buy offers so you can build a colourful rock and roll gallery wall.
In 2020, I did pretty well reading books in my free time – lockdown gave me more spare time than the average year. I’d built an Amazon wishlist of books I wanted to read in 2021, and my family picked a few off my to read list for Christmas.
Noel Fitzpatrick – How Animals Saved My Life – this autobiography is about being the supervet. Noel shares the moving and often funny stories of the animals he’s treated and the unique ‘animal people’ he has met along the way.
Richard Osman – Thursday Murder Club – In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders. But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.
Sally Rooney – Conversations with Friends – Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed and observant. A student in Dublin and an aspiring writer, at night she performs spoken word with her best friend Bobbi, who used to be her girlfriend. When they are interviewed and then befriended by Melissa, a well-known journalist who is married to Nick, an actor, they enter a world of beautiful houses, raucous dinner parties and holidays in Provence, beginning a complex ménage-à-quatre. But when Frances and Nick get unexpectedly closer, the sharply witty and emotion-averse Frances is forced to honestly confront her own vulnerabilities for the first time.
Sally Rooney – Normal People – This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness, Sally Rooney’s second novel breathes fiction with new life.
Albert Liebermann and Hector Garcia – Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life – It’s the Japanese word for a reason to live or a reason to jump out of bed in the morning. It s the place where your needs, desires, ambitions, and satisfaction meet. A place of balance. Small wonder that finding your ikigai is closely linked to living longer.
As a self-confessed stationery hoarder, you can never have too many notebooks and organisers. Mum and dad picked me up a dog 2021 day-to-page diary from Sainsburys, as well as a planner with space for to-do lists, water tracking and page markers.
My sister got me a weekly planner, and I was also gifted some notebooks from Paperchase which say ‘I love deadlines, I like the wooshing sound they make as they fly by’ and ‘I am very busy procrastinating’.
My ever-so stylish nan picked out this Strathurie Scotland bag for my birthday, and my aunty bought me the matching purse. I’m loving neutral tones at the moment, and this bag goes with anything in that colour palette. It’s super cute and is deceptively spacious, fitting in everything you need for the day.
I’d been admiring this Joules Farley Camera Bag for a few weeks back in November, so when it went into the Black Friday sale I sent my mum the link very excitedly! I didn’t want her to pay the full £60 for it, but mum hasn’t paid the absolute full price for anything this Christmas, hunting through sales and discount codes to get at least 10% off.
My brother and girlfriend bought me these Vivienne Westwood earrings for my birthday, with a pearl orb to match my choker and bracelet. They’re absolutely gorgeous and it was a totally unexpected gift, which I always think are the best ones!
And speaking of unexpected, Jake’s mum bought me a Vivienne Westwood watch, with a dusky pink strap and silver detailing. I’ve since ordered some more layers for my stackers to store all my new jewellery neatly and safely!
Other bits of jewellery my parents bought me include some leather Jemma Marston earrings in mustard and pink, Dorothy Perkins gold rings and some layering necklaces from Matalan.
After watching Katherine Ryan’s The Duchess, I aspired to have her hair accessory wardrobe. I was over the moon to receive these beaut Accessorize hair slides, and chunky knot and embellished headbands to add to my selection of accessories.
It would make for pretty long reading if I listed every item of makeup purchased for me for my birthday or Christmas. The Anastasia Beverley Hills dipbrow pomade is something I’d been meaning to replace for a while as my old one had dried out. I also received an XX Revolution eyeshadow quad – a gorgeous brand I’ll be keeping my eye on, as well as a Rude Cosmetics shine control setting spray.
I received some Lottie makeup, Eos lip balms, some bits from Estee Lauder, as well as a mini Mac Velvet Teddy lipstick and some brushes amongst other bits and bobs.
You can never have too many bath bombs in the cupboard, and I’m all stocked up for a little while now! Lush bath bombs still reign supreme in my opinion, and I’ve received some of my absolute favourites like I want a hippopotamus for Christmas, butterball and The Comforter bubble bar.
Whilst none of my Christmas presents barked, people do know just how much I love the Scamps, and have bought me some dog themed gifts instead of a third four-legged companion.
Jake bought me these cushions of Phoebe and Frank’s face from an online retailer called Dogsy. They’re so realistic, soft, yet sturdy – and we’ve been plotting funny ways to prank people with them!
For recipe inspiration for my Lady and The Scamps blog, Mel and Karl bought me a ‘doggy desserts’ recipe book, and some silicon moulds to freeze treats in. Phoebe and Frank are equally as grateful as I for this one!
Loungewear is the new partywear, officewear and casualwear, so I was chuffed to get three sets of new pyjamas for Christmas. My aunty got me a set from New Look with a french bulldog on the top, which reads ‘chilling with my dog’, and the black bottoms say ‘chilling’ all over them. Jake bought me a pair of Next pyjamas with woodland creatures on them, which remind me of Mr Lumpy and Friends from Instagram. Lastly Karl and Mel bought me a grey Missguided set, as I had a pink set last year which I adore.
They also got me a stone coloured polka dog cardigan with balloon sleeves from Missguided, which is gorgeous quality and fits like a dream.
I bought myself a brown zebra print turtleneck top from Lula Boutique, which seems to go with everything and is very soft. Mum and Dad also treated me to a camel coloured scarf and beret from Topshop to keep me warm whilst walking the dogs.
Finally, the Fred Perry bargains of the season! I picked out this Amy Winehouse foundation jumper at Cheshire Oaks designer outlet and Jake offered to buy it for me and put it up for Christmas. Then Mum spotted this white Fred Perry dress on M&M direct for just £17, which is an absolute steal and will be ideal for a summer picnic!
Emma Bridgewater mugs
I am obsessed with the Emma Bridgewater hearts pattern, and already have the radio, biscuit tin and trinket tray. Anya bought me the hearts mug for my birthday, and mum and dad got me the personalised one with my name on. It’ll be fab when I have guests round and can offer them a brew in a matching mug, made right here in Stoke-on-Trent. I absolutely love them – and I also got the reusable shopper bag for the next time I pop in the factory shop!
The perfect present is something that either makes my life easier, or makes me feel better. This year, mum and dad got me the absolute best main gifts that, even after one week, I couldn’t imagine living without.
I struggle terribly with my sleeping – both getting to sleep and staying asleep. I’d heard about weighted blankets helping, but I never imagined it would change my nights’ sleep as dramatically as it did. Not only is it so comforting and snuggly, but I only woke up once in the night, rather than the usual five or six times.
To help my back – which is in almost constant pain – they bought me a neck massager from Aldi. The electronic massager has mechanical balls inside which rotate to relieve knots, and can be used all over the back. It has a heat setting, two speeds, reverse direction and a vibrate setting – I’ve been using it for around 20 minutes a day and it’s so relaxing. It certainly helps me wind down after a stressful day!
I really despise having to dry and style my hair, because it just seems to take a lifetime. But the Babyliss air style 1000 is my new bestie all-in-one product. The handle comes with a range of attachments for drying, smoothing, shaping and curling to make drying my hair a breeze. It’s great for achieving that salon-style blowout at home!
I bought the Canon G7X II last year and never picked up a case for it, but mum and dad picked up a gorgeous black leather case that’s both stylish and practical. To further help me with my content creation, I also received an LED light which attaches to my DSLR, and a ring light so I can make the perfect videos for TikTok and Instagram. The ring light was around £9 from Home Bargains, which is a faction of what they’re selling for online!
Bits and bobs
In terms of stocking fillers, and gifts unlikely to fit into the above categories, I received a gorgeous aromatherapy trio from M&S to help relax. They come in a little wooden stand which looks lovely on a bathroom shelf or bedside table. Mum and dad also bought me a floral glasses case, which is now on sale in Sainsburys, as well as a new glass money jar to save pennies for a rainy day.
And speaking of rainy days, I also received a Macrame kit to make my own string shopper, which will certainly keep me good on a day where there’s little to do!
And finally, this insane pink leopard rug which is set to take pride of place in the office in front of my little yellow armchair. The office is finally coming together and just needs some finishing touches to make it look a little more ‘me’.
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