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January 16 2013

Get your tree ready for next Christmas

If you feel like something is missing in your house after the Christmas holidays, then  it's probably because you don't have a tree anymore. While nobody is suggesting that you get another tree up in your living room, it is not too late to get a living tree in your garden. This way, you will have one ready for next December, either to leave outside and decorate (so having in fact two Christmas trees!) or to bring in for the festive season.

Planted or in pot, the roots size is key

There are two types of Christmas trees that you can get in order to keep them alive, those that are ready to be planted and those that come in pots. The key to have a tree that will keep until next Christmas and for many years to come is the size of the roots. If there are too little of them, the tree will not be able to survive and will lose its needles and die. But if you are buying a tree now, chances are that it will be sold for the purpose of being planted.

What you do with the tree is depending on how you want to use it later. If you want an outdoor Christmas tree to decorate your garden, plant it in the ground. If you want to use it indoor as your Christmas tree, keep it in a pot and you'll be able to bring it inside later. But in that case, make sure that it will be kept in a cool position and adequately watered. You will only be able to keep it for about two weeks indoor, but it will get bigger and stronger each year.

December 20 2012

A Christmas message that reminds you what the festive season is all about. What will you do this Christmas?

November 19 2012

Santa Claus

Santa Claus also known as Saint Nicholas, Santa and Father Christmas have a variety of different stories as to where he came from, who he is and what he looks like. But traditionally we know him the old bearded man who travels around the world delivering presents to Children in one night, which is the 24th December.


The name Santa Claus first came about in 1773 when the word ‘Sinterlkass’ was Americanized.  One story behind Santa dates as far back to the 4th century when it is believed that he would hand out money to the poor.  In the 19th Century artists begun to draw up sketches of what he looked like, which helped to contribute what Santa looks like now. His image was similar to what we imagine now but he was all sorts of shapes and sizes and dressed in a variety of coats from blue to brown to gold. He only became the famous red bearded man in 1920’s when a Swedish painter designed him for a Christmas advertising campaign for Coca Cola. 

October 11 2012

Traditional Christmas films

There is nothing cosier than sitting at home by the Christmas tree with an open fire and a Christmassy film. What better way to get you in the Christmas spirit. Below are some of the best Christmas films!

- The Grinch was originally a book made in 1957 by Dr.Seuss, 10 years later it was turned into a Children’s TV Programme. This was then made into a movie in 2000, and the Grinch has become one of the “50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time”.

- A Christmas Carol was a novel that was written by Charles Dickens in 1843. There have been numerous amounts of films made from the book and has also been turned into a musical. It is one of the most famous Christmas books that have ever been written.

- The Nightmare Before Christmas is another traditional film that’s watched over Christmas time. It was originally written as a poem in 1982 by Tim Burton.  It was then turned into a musical film in 1993.

- Elf is another brilliant film to watch over Christmas, it’s usually broadcasted on TV around Christmas so there is no reason not to watch it! The film was released in 2003 which stars the famous Will Ferrell.

- Love actually is a brilliant British Rom Com (Romantic Comedy) released in 2003. It stars many famous actors and actresses such as Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Bill Nighy and Keria Knightley.

Finally Home Alone is another must see this Christmas, is stars the famous Macaulay Culkin. The film is a Family Comedy set at Christmas, which was released in 1990. This classic film can be watched year after year and never gets boring!

August 09 2012

The Invisible Friend

There are lots of lots of stories related to Christmas and imaginary characters who give gifts in these days. That is the reason I would like to talk about one of them. This is called the Invisible Friend.

More than a character, the Invisible Friend is a game. This game consists of gathering up some friends or relatives weeks before Christmas. The idea is to join a small group, no more than 8 or 10 people because otherwise it can become a mess.

Each person has to write his/her name on a small piece of paper and introduce it in a bag. In alphabetical order by name (or however you prefer to organize it), everybody has to get a piece of paper from the bag. Read the name and, of course, don’t tell anybody which name you’ve taken. The person you have got will be the person you have to give a present to on Christmas Eve. Normally it’s just a small token but it is up to you spend the money on what you want.

Once it’s Christmas Eve - if you celebrate this day with the same people you have organized this game with - you should leave your present under the Christmas tree with the name of the person who the present is for. If you don’t meet the same people on Christmas Eve, don’t worry, maybe you can meet with them in a pub, park, restaurant etc. It’s not necessary to give the presents on Christmas Eve, just whenever you are free on a date during your Christmas holidays.

Every person has to open his/her gift and the greatest part of the game is that nobody knows who the gift comes from.

It is said that this tradition comes from Venezuela and it has more than 100 years. It was when married or engaged women couldn’t have male friends because of what people may say (yes, it was very traditional society and very sexist), so they decided to meet with a group friends at Christmas time and swap presents.

In other cultures exist the same tradition but with a different way. For example, in the UK & USA they now call it ‘Secret Santa’ and in Colombia the tradition is to give some sweets and place them in the Christmas tree.

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When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.
Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet. 

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? What do you see?
What are you thinking when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice, ‘I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice the things that you do.
And forever is losing a sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse. You’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of ten, with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another
A young boy of sixteen with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now  a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at twenty my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five, now I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide and a secure happy home.
A man of thirty, my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me to see I don’t mourn.
At fifty, once more, babies play ‘round my knee,
Again, we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me. My wife is now dead.
I look at the future. I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own.
And I think of the years, and the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles. Grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass, A young man still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years, all too few, gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people. Open and see.
Not a cranky old man.
Look closer .. See.. Me. 

Reposted fromlmn lmn viapaolcia paolcia

June 15 2012

The Perfect Gift

Everyone is worried about not the perfect present but nonetheless we’re still waiting until the very end to carry out last-minute Christmas shopping - when the panic is amplified much more.

Despite this, forgetting the strict material, the best gift is which come out from the heart and is expressed by the right words.

May 04 2012

The history behind Christmas hampers

Christmas hampers can be wonderful gifts for all. Wicker baskets are packed with gourmet food and wine gifts. As they contain lots of savoury delicacies, sweet treats and luxury wines to indulge in at Christmas, food basket gifts are always well received.

The story of the Christmas hamper stretches back several centuries even though these days we may buy pre-made gourmet Christmas hampers or make our own with favourite treats.

Hamper origin

France introduced the concept of hampers to England in the 11th century. However, these baskets of treats only became a popular gift in the Victorian era.

The invention of rail allowed food items to be sent quickly across the country to friends and family. These hampers would be filled with expensive but perishable items requiring fast delivery. For this reason hampers became a special Christmas gift.

Australia day weekend hamper

Hampers for servants

Christmas hampers were also popular for wealthy home owners to offer their servants on Boxing Day. The baskets would be full of useful items, clothes and food, so their servants could enjoy a plentiful Christmas.

Charitable hampers

Hampers are also closely related to community, charity and philanthropy. They are filled with food, clothing, toiletries and household products as a goodwill gesture to deprived families in the community.

The basket was also a useful item around the home, while the goods were usually beneficial for a few days or weeks. Modern charitable ‘hampers’ may be made of a sturdy bag, filled with canned and packaged food.

Mince pies

Modern hampers

Many hampers are still given as gifts to employees, business clients, family and friends throughout the year. Christmas hampers are popular gifts, containing delicious festive treats for the family to enjoy.

Modern Christmas hampers feature fresh fruit and bread, delectable desserts and fine wines. Hampers are a great way to bring the family together to reconnect with great food.

What goes in to a Christmas hamper?

There are plenty of companies who will create luxury hampers. They will source the wicker basket and treats to make up the hamper. Some baskets have fixed items, while others allow you to add additional extras or allow you create tailor-made hampers to suit your recipient.

Christmas tree

Here are a few ideas if you decide to create your own Christmas hamper gift.

First, find a suitable basket to put your treats in, whether it is from a local craft store or market. Line the basket with festive fabric, and cushion it with tissue paper. Then add a variety of your recipient’s favourite festive food. Choose items that are long lasting and add a few fresh treats too.

·         Christmas pudding

·         Brandy butter

·         Mince pies

·         Assorted nuts

·         Gourmet oat cakes / biscuits

·         Fine jam / marmalade

·         Fine crisps / crackers

·         Cheese

·         Chutney

·         Mint chocolate creams

·         Luxury chocolate

·         Fine red or white wine

·         Coffee

Whether you are making a charitable Christmas hamper for those less fortunate, offering a basket of goodies to your employees for their hard work, or as a special gift to family and friends, Christmas hampers are fondly received by all.

Resource box

The Guardian: Christmas Gift Guide

Find the perfect gift for friends, family and loved ones

The Telegraph: Wine for hampers

Reviews, recommendations and tips for finding the best wine

BBC: Christmas food hampers for homeless

Discover more about how hampers how the deprived communities

March 19 2012

‘The Snowman’ to be Remade This Year

I’m sure most of you know the song to this classic 26-minute animation, and have tried to sing the song- which never quite sounds like the high-pitched Aled Jones. The Snowman was originally a story by Raymond Briggs in 1978.

If you haven’t seen this classic animation, check out the video on Youtube.

But Channel 4 is planning to remake The Snowman in time for November 2012 to celebrate their 30th anniversary. The most controversial point of this remake is that they’re planning to change the original song, ‘Walking in the Air’. This has come with a lot of negative feedback.

The new version plans to see new landmarks of today’s Britain, including the London Eye. There are also plans to introduce new characters, such as a dog that joins the journey.

The new video is going to cost an estimated £2million to produce, and hopes to replicate the success of the original animation that was made over 30 years ago.

So what do you think about this? Is it a good idea? Should the original be left as it is- or maybe it’s about time for a fresher animation to appeal to today’s younger generations?

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.

January 19 2012

Where to go for a White Christmas

I’ve lived in the south of England all my life, and every year I’d pray that it would snow on Christmas day. I haven’t yet had a white Christmas.

The UK has had a lot more snowfall in the past few winters, with depths up to 30 inches. It reached 13 inches where I live, which just doesn’t compare to some parts of the UK.

So where can I go for snow this year? I know I stand more chance of having a white Christmas if I was in Scotland, as they’ve now had 2 consecutive white Christmas’. The most recent was also the coldest Christmas day since 1830, dropping to -5.9°C.

Scottish xmas

Although Scotland has had the snow, the Republic of Ireland had their coldest Christmas ever, with temperatures reaching a spine-chilling -17.5 °C!

In my area the snowfall has arrived a lot later than December in the past few years, which is all just a part of the unpredictable weather the UK has to offer. So I can keep dreaming of a white Christmas this year, but the chances are slim. Scotland, here I come!

December 21 2011

Europe’s quirky Christmas traditions
A long-observed Christmas tradition in Britain is the 'Monopoly-game argument', when the exact meaning of 'do not pass go' is debated for three hours, building to a furious climax where a fire extinguisher is let off and someone reads the riot act. Many other European countries have much more interesting festive traditions. Here are a few:

Though very few Brits have heard of the British comedy sketch Dinner for One, it has become one of the most repeated TV programmes ever. Written for the theatre in the 1920s, and recorded in 1963, it is shown every year in Germany on New Year's Eve, and up to half the population watch it.

On December 6th, St Nicholas' Day, good children get presents from Père Noël. He doesn't decide who's been good or bad, though. This is done by his sidekick, Père Fouettard. His name means Father Spanker, and that's what he does to bad kids. They may also get a lump of coal in their stocking.

Father Spanker is usually drawn as a trampish character, sometimes with a bundle of whipping sticks, and sometimes with a basket on his back to take away children who have been very bad. Some people think the character shown on the cover of Led Zeppelin IV is Father Spanker himself. If you want to talk to Père Fouettard in his native language, check out the opportunities to learn French Bristol offers.
On Christmas Eve, most Finns will have a sauna, and then go to a cemetery to remember their relatives. Christmas Eve is the big day in Finland, and this is when Christmas dinner is eaten and presents are opened. Instead of the Queen's Speech, the nation listens to the Mayor of Turku (a southern city) reading a Declaration of Christmas Peace at midday.

The 24th is the main day of celebration in many other European countries, including Germany. Members of the British Royal Family always open their presents on Christmas Eve, because of their German ancestry.

Kallikantzaroi are evil goblins which spend all year underground, trying to saw down the tree which holds up the earth. They escape on Dec 25th, and roam around for 12 days, causing a kind of havoc which one writer compares to “drunken yobs coming out of a pub”. During this time, people protect themselves by hanging a knife, a pig's jaw, or some tangled flax by their front door or by the chimney.

On Dec 28th, Spaniards celebrate Holy Innocent's Day, where people set up nativity displays in their houses, and there are life-sized nativities in public places. In Catalonia, it’s traditional to include a 'caganer', meaning 'defecating shepherd', in the nativity scene.
Tourists can get celebrity caganers, including the Queen, Lionel Messi, and Fidel Castro. If this has given you the sudden urge to learn Spanish Manchester has plenty of courses on offer.

Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic, it's the baby Jesus who brings presents, rather than Santa. In recent years, Santa has been introduced to the country, and one enterprising kid asked his father if he'd get more presents by writing to Santa. This annoyed the dad so much he set up an anti-Santa campaign, which has apparently become quite popular.

In the Czech Republic, the Christmas period is considered a good time to predict what will happen the following year, by shaking trees, cutting apples in half, and putting walnut shells in water.

December 04 2011

One of the most enjoyable and sometimes funniest parts of the table decorations for a Christmas Meal are the Christmas crackers. Usually the jokes are really bad, the toys are even worse and everyone looks a little bit silly in their brightly coloured paper hats. Crackers encourage teamwork, a little healthy competition and conversation at the table and are used at all of the top Christmas Parties in the UK. There are lots of different colours, sizes and styles of crackers available at Christmas time, from “economy” ones with cheap plastic toys, mini crackers with no toys, giant cracker and themed crackers like Disney characters or a particular type of gift inside.

But in some cases, the dinner party host will use these traditional table decorations as a fun way to present expensive gifts to their guests. We’ve had a look for some of the world’s most expensive Christmas Crackers…from A Christmas party in Manchester to a Sydney shopping centre.

A shopping centre in Sydney, Australia holds the world record for the largest working Christmas Cracker which was 55 meters long and 3.6 meters high. The cracker was pulled on 16th December 1998.

Harrods have their Silver Bling Christmas Crackers in their collection every year. Last year the price tag was £1,100 for a box of 6. This year, a recession friendly-ish price tag of £599 is on the box, making these Swarovski crystal decorated crackers £100 each. Are they too posh to pull?

In 2010, the British establishment the Royal Mint released a very special christmas cracker containing 5 solid 22 carat gold coins. The cost of the cracker was £10,000 even though the real monetary value of the coins was just £5 each, they are worth a lot more as collectors’ items.

Traditional London Jewellers Asprey are famed for their luxury Christmas Crackers. Gifts include sterling silver pens, watches, jewellery and money clips and each cracker costs £165.

Chocolate lovers can share their favourite sweets with their friends by spending £5 each on a nicely presented Hotel Chocolat Christmas Cracker – the price includes just 3 chocolates but will be the perfect accompaniment to the after dinner coffee.

November 22 2011

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Beautiful Christmas decorations
Reposted byamydorapaolciamalamarcelkaalicjune
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Francis P. Church, New York Sun, September 21, 1897

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no child-like faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished. Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies!

Reposted bynivaria nivaria

October 25 2011

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What's Your Christmas Day Routine?

Christmas means different things to different people – a religious holiday, a time to spend with friends and family, a chance to ease those winter blues. We all have our own traditions. For some the holiday is synonymous with chimney-hung stockings, while for others nothing is more festive than a firework display. Whether you prefer eggnog or Glühwein, Father Christmas or Weihnachtsmann, the festive season should be one of the highlights of your calendar.

Christmas Eve
In the UK Christmas Eve is usually a time for preparation. Cooking a traditional British Christmas dinner is no mean feat, and getting some of the work done the day before means more time to relax on Christmas Day. In the evening children hang their stockings around the fireplace in the hope that Father Christmas will stuff them full of gifts during the night. Growing up with my siblings in the UK, we were often told to leave him a mince pie by the fireplace – bribing our way on to the ‘nice’ list – and a carrot for Rudolph (with the worrying implication that the eight remaining reindeer – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and so on – must go unfed).

While Father Christmas arrives on the 24th, British children must usually wait in suspense until the following morning. Their German counterparts evade this torment, opening their gifts on Christmas Eve before a meal of potato salad with frankfurters or goose. In Mexico seasonal celebrations are stretched from December 12th to January 6th, with gifts on Christmas Eve and the Epiphany. The 24th is marked by the Spanish Nochebuena and the French Réveillon with large family meals in the evening.

Festive foods
In the UK Christmas dinner is the culinary climax of the holiday. Roasted goose or turkey is served with vegetables, sausages wrapped in bacon, and chestnuts. The sizeable meal usually ends with Christmas pudding. The pudding is rich and alcohol infused, drizzled with brandy and lit before serving to create a blue flame. My family’s love affair with the Christmas pudding, despite over-zealous brandy pouring one year causing the flame to engulf the table cloth, remains intact. Homemade puddings can be three months in the making, so those lacking the knowhow often add them to their Christmas hamper wish list.

My family Christmas has always been distinctly homemade, but my aunt, knowing Christmas hampers to be general crowd-pleasers where gifts are concerned, has often provided us with a glimpse at festive foods from overseas. In German Christmas markets stollen, marzipan and lebkuchen abound. In Italy Christmas Eve connotes pandoro, fish dishes and il capitone. The Swedish celebrate with a Christmas julbord, the Portuguese with arroz doce. In all cultures and cuisines Christmas meals aim to bring families together around the table.

Customs and greetings
Christmas brings many season-specific traditions. Carollers brave plummeting temperatures, singing door to door and raising funds for local causes. While, thanks to Dickens, we might think of carolling as a very British pastime, it is in fact practised all over the world. ‘Carols by candlelight’ concerts take place amid warm Australian evenings, and carolling has strong cultural roots in countries across Europe.

Similarly, festive greetings cards are exchanged world wide as people wish one another happiness in the upcoming year.

October 18 2011

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Christmas Nativity

What is Christmas? Why do we celebrate it?

Although the exact birthday of Jesus (the central figure of Christianity) is not known, we pin point Christmas Day on December 25th to commemorate his birth.

In many homes, the main Christmas decorations evolve around Christmas trees and the figure of Santa. In others, however, particularly in those with Christian background, the traditional Nativity will still take an important place at home during Christmas.

October 07 2011

Words I relate with Christmas:
  • Family
  • Home
  • Food
  • Warmth... and cold! It sounds crazy but they kind of go together during Christmas
  • Cozy
  • Fireplace
  • Possibilities
  • Excitement... like the one kids feel everyday
What thoughts cross your mind when you think of Christmas? Some people's differ so much to others. Fortunately, I love this great season and I really can't wait.

Today is only 78 'til Christmas! In case you were wondering ;-)

September 30 2011

Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you're home.
— Carol Nelson
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