Gift guide #1: Providing your Caffeine Boost

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First of a little series of gift ideas that I’ve found while doing my online shopping – thought I’d share as the deadline for buying gifts is approaching and everyone appears to be getting increasingly stressed.

I’ve put together some of the gift ideas suitable for tea / coffee lovers and those who need a caffeine boost while burning the midnight oil.

1) The Blackboard Message Mug

The Blackboard message mug is a simple idea. But a novel one at that. As I get up for work a good 5 hours earlier than my partner gets up for work I always leave post-its with various messages in the hope that he will see them (usually on the kettle because I know that he always makes tea without fail). To me this is the perfect solution. Only worry is the messiness of chalk.

Available from: Menkind, WH Smiths and Amazon.

2) The Self Stirring Mug


Another novelty mug for your collection, or for the geek in your life courtesy of the gadget shop.

I’m not normally lazy when it comes to stirring my tea, but this sounds fun.

3. Suki Teapot


More traditional gift is this beautiful teapot (with inbuilt infuser) from Suki Tea – there are a range of colours and the teapot can also be bought as part of a gift set (£32.95) or as part of a special Christmas gift set (£35.95) which I have asked Santa for.

They also have a fabulous selection of teas to choose from.

4. Cornishware

Other great teapots and mugs that I love come from  TG Green’s Cornishware Range. Beautiful range and the excellent news is that they have just opened their online gift shop. Pure Classic Kitchenware.

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

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Dear fellow paper enthusiast,

I write to you from the far reaches of the internet to remind you are about the great stocking filler and fall-back Christmas gift that died out somewhere back in the 90s: the note-writing gift set.

Recently I’ve found that people end up using all sorts of scraps of paper for their correspondence – anything from torn up envelopes to the back of receipts. At best people use file paper or printer paper for what should be a professional letter. Professionalism aside, I believe there is nothing more personal and satisfying as a handwritten letter –in many ways, a perfect gift, and guaranteed to put a smile on someone’s face.

Recently I’ve been voicing a campaign among friends to bring writing back, and I think it is something everyone should do to. How am I doing this?

  1. By writing letters to others to encourage them to send letters back;
  2. Returning to giving proper birthday cards (instead of dropping them a wall message on facebook);
  3. Using Old-fashioned Christmas cards; and
  4. giving out writing related presents in the hope that others will pick up on my enthusiasm.

The recent blog post from Tiger Pens: Letter writing shouldn’t vanish really hit home and it has made me even more determined to include a few paper related gifts in this years presents.

One thing I don’t understand is that it is not like there is no great writing kits out there, there is plenty of amazing stationery to make anyone drool.

UntitledWaterstone’s Social Stationery Collection!!

Between this and the likes of the cute and cheap Rosehip notebooks (and note sets) I think my Christmas shopping plans are almost complete. For more inspiration gift wise check out: Boo Vake’s Paper gift guide which looks pretty fantastic.(I hope to put together my own gift guide list at some point over the next week, so keep a look out for that).

Pass on the inspiration yourself and get letter writing back on the map even if it is just within your circle of friends – after all it means more excuses for you to write more letters yourself.



Christmas Cards: Getting ahead of the game

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When I read that only 6% of sales from charity cards actually go to charity in yesterday’s metro, I was absolutely appalled. WhSmith’s topped the chart giving away 20-100%  to charity followed by Asda at 50%. However, reading this also made me groan “Christmas already!!”.

However, the matter of Christmas cards has been quite topical in work today. With the current postal strike (and more on the way) it is no wonder that everyone is thinking that the Christmas backlog and potential walkout will be terrible. Question of the Day: Does this mean people will send cards earlier, or not send them at all?

Some colleagues are going for the rather cheap and impersonal option of sending an email/ecard with a family snapshot. There was one time I thought these were a novel idea, but now I’d rather not receive a card. Maybe this is just because I lack the accomplishments to brag about in response to the self important letter that normally accompanies such cards, but reading about how great various family members of people I barely know are, has never increased my holiday spirit.

Sending cards earlier means you need to be prepared earlier, the bug of organisation is catching on aseveryone is talking about Christmas and we’ve yet to have Halloween and Bonfire night. So how early is early? My mother buys her cards in the January Sales and they are all ready to go on the first of December (along with the tree, fairy lights, fake snow and whatever other goodies are stashed in her attic).  If one is not as organised as my mother and still needs to buy Christmas cards there is a surprisingly good selection available already. I usually buy my cards from Paperchase. However this year I have recommended both Charity Cards and Funky Pigeon by friends so may give them a go.

Charity cards gives you a wide range of options from personalised cards, to single cards to  charity packs (you can choose by charity) and UK shipping charges are determined by weight but a standard pack will be under £2, so in total most packs will come to £5-£6 inc postage. Personalised cards are more expensive with a minimum order of 20 cards, and so they are priced at 95p per card if it has text and a photo (75p per card if text only).

Funky Pigeon provides a wider range of cards and  also sell a wide range of gifts and calendars as well. However, Funky Pigeon provides a personalised card service rather than simply selling other simple options you would find on the high street. However, they are pretty special cards and some of them look beautiful – great if you want to give a card with something extra. The site is easy to use and you don’t even have to register for an account if you don’t want to.  Single personalised cards are mostly priced at £2.99 for an A5 sized card. You can then write a message outside and inside the card whatever way you like. The card can either be sent to you with a blank envelope, or alternatively you can choose to send the card directly to the recipient. You can then choose the delivery date etc and standard first class post is 47p (next day delivery is around £5). A pack of personalised cards (usually 12 cards)  is priced at £15.99 and delivery is £2.95.

If you really do want to be an early bird when it comes to cards myvouchercodes is offering a 30% discount on Funky pigeon if you order before 22 Nov.