Well Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat - please put a penny in the old man's hat; if you don't have a penny then a ha'penny'll do, and if you don't have a ha'penny God bless you...
Ignoring the fact that the halfpenny hasn't been in circulation since 1984, the geese around these parts have been seen flying to warmer climes (and far too far away to tell if they're fat or not) and there isn't really an old man or his hat around here; Christmas is coming. Christmas is always coming and as I write this it is little over a month a way! Which probably means I should be doing much more getting ready for Christmas than I am - but I can start by reviewing some Christmas decorations generously sent to me by The Christmas Boutique.
First up is this wonderful hand-made advent calendar. A nice variation on the standard advent calendars you get in that it is long rather than... well, short and rectangular. As you can hopefully see from the photograph it is a fair length - approximately 6ft long when draped horizontally. It has pockets for each day in advent (which you then chose and place a little surprise in - we're imagining things like small sweets or chocolates, or small toys (like Lego mini-figures or small toy cars)). The pockets are pegged onto a length of ribbon and are removable for washing, ironing or re-arranging (for those who have small wall space, you can probably be creative with a zigzag pattern to allow them to take up a little less wall space or accommodate corners and re-spacing after being removed from storage in subsequent years).
All in all I found it a wonderful advent alternative for a child (this one may go to my niece and be filled with a mixture of chocolates and surprises).
Price: £12.99 (on offer at £6.50 at time of writing).
Now this funny fellow is a decorative moose head. I think ideally you'd want at least a couple of these (to be facing each other on opposite walls of a room). He is wall mounted (I know he's magenta, but I think it looks like a 'he') with that standard "keyhole" shape in his back so you can simply put a screw or nail or similar in the wall and slide him into place over it.
I'm going to be honest, he's not altogether my taste and I probably wouldn't use him as an all year decoration; but I could see him being a fun decoration (with a couple of his buddies) I'd use to brighten the room for a bit of a Christmas or New Year's party (along with streamers, balloons and tinsel etc.). These moose heads are available in three different colours: green, magenta or pink.
Now these little darlings made both me and Neil smile. Probably not something we would chose for ourselves, but they definitely have a style all of their own. They are pretty detailed, well made, and a bit of cheeky Mrs Christmas fun for the tree. I think they're styled a little bit like those saucy seaside postcards you used to see for sale around the pier when you were a kid (that you'd look at but weren't quite old enough/wise enough to understand the innuendo-laden jokes) with their rosy cheeks and almost not-quite-so innocent and not-so naughty poses.
I think we'll probably end up hiding this pair in our tree and seeing how many of our family and friends spot them (and smile).
Now these are quite nice looking items. We're not sticking them up yet (I'm sure it's bad luck to get decorations up before Christmas actually starts) but they look really nice and will be good either hanging from the ceiling, or used as a table decoration.
Assembly was fairly easy; you remove a paperclip, open the decoration out and replace the paperclip et voila! It can then be hung or stuck on a table or used anywhere you'd usually stick hanging decorations.
Because it is card and paper it is a little fragile and prone to knocks or creasing on the outside while in storage; however these blemishes are unnoticeable when it's opened out (with all the knocks or creases being on the join that is never seen) so it isn't too much of a worry and doesn't affect the final decoration at the end of the day.
All in all it's a nice hanging/table tree decoration and when the time comes I think will look smashing.
Now this is lovely; it's a Christmas present bag. Now I've not put anything in it just yet (I need to get the presents first!) but I think it's a good size to put half a dozen small-to-medium sized gifts in and leave under the tree for Christmas day.
The main material (the tartan) is - I'm not a material person, but I'd say somewhere between tablecloth and shirt in "what it feels like" - which I think means that it should be strong enough for what you'd expect to put in it, and feels more bag like than the either plastic or felt-based bags you often find being mass-produced.
It has a definite traditional feel to it as well as that hand-made quality, and it is something I can see myself using to make some of the gifts I'm giving this year look and feel that little bit more special. Plus it's reusable and will last for many years. There are two designs available on the site: Tartan (as above) or natural linen.
Price: £34.99 (on offer at £26.24 at time of writing)
When I think of nativity sets I find myself thinking of one of the local churches near where I used to live in Bath; every Christmas they would set up a small nativity scene above the entrance to the church which would then be on display throughout December, even being lit up at night by some convenient street lights.
I don't own a nativity, but if I were to chose one I think I would pick something like this. The figures are really nicely detailed and have a good weight to them - not too light, not too heavy; just right.
It's a shame that there aren't more figures you can add to this set, although probably part of its charm is the fact that it is simple and doesn't over-crowd the scene by sticking rigidly to the full compliment of shepherds, wise men and animals. There is something very nice about the uncluttered style of the nativity. It feels right, possibly as if you caught the whole thing as it was happening - just before some of the visitors arrived to pay tribute.
All in all it was a lovely selection of Christmas decorations, some I would have definitely chosen myself and some I might not have but was glad to have been given the chance to see up close; and to be honest, some of the things I wouldn't have chosen I can see becoming favourites (Mrs Claus being a prime example). So a thank you to The Christmas Boutique for these products to review; they were packaged well, arrived quick and safely and made us realise Christmas is a lot closer than we'd hoped already!