Review: Lapland UK

Hello my lovelies,

For some years I’ve been hearing about this magical place in Whitmoor Forest, Berkshire where elves and Father Christmas invite children to help them prepare for Christmas.  I’d heard it was the most wondrous place where Christmas dreams come true so I was thrilled to get an early invitation to buy tickets.  Frequented by the likes of Sir Elton John, Idres Elba and other stars, there was no way I was letting this golden opportunity to see the inner workings of Father Christmas’ magical world slip through our fingers.

Missy (aged 7) received her personalized invitation in the post and it was left for her at our Harry Potter themed North Pole Breakfast in a pile of snow.  I knew she’d never be able to contain herself if we gave her the invitation days before so it was given to her on the morning that we went.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity (really only an hour’s drive) we arrived at Lapland UK and parked in the Owl parking lot.  All the lots are named after animals with clearly marked and fairy light lit paths to help you remember where you parked.

We were greeted with this gorgeous little cottage which belonged to Eeko the elf.  Already you get a sense of the kind of fantastic detail spread throughout Lapland.  Every detail from the sledges, carved stags and gently lit lanterns added to the magic.  Everywhere you looked there was some tiny bit of interest that made you feel as though you were really in Father Christmas’ home town.

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Of course, Missy had to have a photo outside a real elf’s house.  Little did she know we’d see lots of elf folk homes during our visit.

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The elves at reception greeted us with a traditional elf greeting and checked us in.

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Here I bought elf jingles the currency of Lapland which came in a red velour bag emblazoned with the word Lapland.

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Missy was also given an Elf passport and a complimentary pin of Wish the elf.  I loved that the massive books at reception hid a clever touch screen computer.  Once again, the details made something as dull as check in seem magical.

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After we checked in, we waited at a picnic table and took in the magic around us. On the opposite side to the reception desk was a cafe selling a selection of cafe type foods and coffees including gluten free and vegan offerings.  Prices were what you’d expect from an upmarket cafe.

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Our tour was due for 2 pm and two elves gave us a short introduction talk about what we could expect before leading us through the doorway into the the magic wood.  If I ever have a massive house one day, remind me that I want a wall of cases like this!SONY DSC

In the magic wood, we were led to seating around a magical tree.  The excitement was almost too much for some of the children who couldn’t quite wait to see what would happen next.

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We were greeted by Sage

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and Eeko

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the woodland elves who told us all about Lapland and how Father Christmas, a simple wood cutter became the legend he is today – due to a little elf magic of course.  We were introduced to our herders who split us into two teams.  We were put into team husky and given a cute husky sticker to help us remember.

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The first stop on our journey was to the toy making workshop where the children got to help the elves finish stuffing some toys for Father Christmas.  Due to an increase in demand, the elves were behind and the children we special helpers who helped the elves get back on track. SONY DSC

Once again, the details were superb. SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

Missy with Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

Missy and Wish the elfSONY DSCSONY DSC

We decided that the trees were covered with magical never-melt snow and were surprised that it was actually cold to the touch!

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Next we were ushered to Mother Christmas’ bakery.  There was so much to see.  Each nook and cranny had some tiny detail or point of interest.  Including a self-stirring pot on the stove!

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Mother Christmas chatted to the children about Lapland and Father Christmas. They were also introduced to the baking elves.

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The children were shown to the tables where they got to decorate gingerbread Christmas trees.  I informed the office after I’d booked about Missy’s intolerances and they were every so helpful with providing a dairy free gingerbread Christmas tree and appropriate sweeties.

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Missy was the first to finish decorating her gingerbread and got selected to ring the story time bell. She felt very special!

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Mother Christmas read the children a story and then gave them a message for Father Christmas.  The children had earned their golden elf bells for their help in the toy workshop. We were told these could be collected from the Elf Emporium in the Elven Village.

I can’t tell you how magical the village was.  Missy was enthralled!

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The first elf we met was Pixie Mixie who owns the sweet shop.  Missy was taken with her and particularly liked her costume.

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I adore a nutcracker and this one outside the Elf Emporium was taller than me!

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Each shop had two entrances, one for Big Folk and one for Small Folk which Missy was determined to use at every opportunity.

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She was so excited to have earned her golden elf bell and couldn’t stop jingling it…

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much to my annoyance!  Of course, we had to buy an elf hat to attach our elf bell to.  I was quite impressed with the Elf Emporium in terms of content. There was a huge selection of good quality toys and games.  Even a homewares section that had some gorgeous scandi style decorations.

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I can’t describe the level of detail in the elf village. It was pure magic.

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There was so much to do. We petted Amber and Star the Huskies…

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We ice skated around a gorgeous snow covered Christmas tree to carols being sung merrily in the background.

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I was so impressed with the ice skates and how everything was geared towards families. There were the usual ice skates for adults and children could choose from the same type as the adults or clip on double bladed ones that made skating easier.  Stability penguins were provided to help the children feel more confident.  I should also mention that there were 3 ice wardens dressed in red patrolling the ice to help those who needed it.

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After we’d skated we visited Post office to write a letter to Father Christmas and post it in the magical post boxes.

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On our way round the shops in the Elven Village we met Compass and Bauble and had a little chat.

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While there was an elf restaurant, they also had a take away stall in the middle of the village where you could get traditional German bratwurst sausage on a roll that would set you back about £6.  The tea room sold a wide selection of cakes and hot drinks.

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My favourite shop was Bauble’s Christmas decoration shop where you could buy an official Lapland UK painted with each of the elves for £15 or buy a personalised bauble for £10.

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At Pixie Mixie’s we filled a cup with dairy free sweeties which were kindly pointed out to us by Pixie Mixie herself and paid £4.50. Missy excited by the sweeties while I goggled at the gorgeous displays.

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Once we’d enjoyed everything the Elven Village had to offer, we made our way through toward’s Ambolt’s forge where, just outside Father Christmas’ reindeer waited to greet us.

Then, we got to see Father Christmas’ actual sleigh!

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There was also an opportunity to buy Santa key’s, reindeer food and reindeer (horse) shoes.  I completely regret not buying one!SONY DSC

From here we checked in to see Father Christmas.  While Missy and Mr R waited and scoped out Compass’ office I went to the check in desk and double checked the details Father Christmas had for Missy.

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After only a three minute wait, an elf led us along a frosty path to Father Christmas’ cabin where we waited to be seen. Missy was so excited she could barley sit still.

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Upon entering, Father Christmas greeted us by name and Missy could hardy speak she was so in awe of the magical man.

Father Christmas praised her on doing well in her Literacy work recently and commented on her upcoming karate grading. She couldn’t believe he remembered so much about her life.  He pronounced that she was on the good list and presented her with a plush husky.

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After our chat with Father Christmas, we headed back towards the Forest and collected our complimentary photo (above) and had the opportunity to buy a scrapbook of our experiences in Lapland for £20.  It would include, all of the pictures taken with Father Christmas. We browsed the gift shop which had different items to the Elf Emporium. I particularly loved the ‘build-a-bear’ type costumes and accessories for the plush husky.

Lapland UK is honestly the Disney of Christmas.  Every item and activity besides the food and souvenirs is included in the price which, in my opinion is worth every penny.  There was nothing that I could find fault with or would consider changing.  It was a well thought out, perfectly fabulous experience that has made the run up to Christmas very special for us.

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For more details about Lapland UK, visit their website or Facebook page.  They are also on Instagram.

We heartily recommend Lapland UK and hope to visit again next year.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

 

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Harry Potter Christmas Tree

Hello my lovelies,

I’m finally getting five minutes to blog about our awesome Harry Potter Christmas tree.  It’s been manic around here the past few days for various reasons and having to prepare for Christmas has made it more so.  But enough of that, onto the tree!

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Isn’t it fab?  Missy and I are so proud of our handiwork.

We’ve split the tree into the four house colours  using baubles but then decided against splitting the other decorations into sections and just went to town decorating to our hearts content.

I really love how some of our homemade Rememberall, Grim tea cup, spell book and potion bottle baubles turned out.

The homemade flying keys turned out well although it’s a bit difficult to see them on the tree from afar.

I’ve had so many good comments about the Weasley jumpers.

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One of my favourite decorations on the tree though are Luna Lovegood’s spectraspecs.  I got them 3D printed and decorated them with sharpies.

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Not all of the decorations are homemade. Many are shop bought due to time constraints.  The flying key (known in Matalan as dragonfly key) was £3 in Matalan.

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Primark had loads of amazing Harry Potter items in this year.  Although some cheeky folks were buying anything Potter related they could find and selling them on ebay for quadruple the price, I still managed to get my hands on a few bits.  Like this gorgeous platform 9 3/4 bauble that I got for £5.SONY DSC

In the top left corner, of the picture below you’ll see some potter book page scrolls.  I rescued a copy of a Harry Potter book from the bin (it had been scribbled in) and used the pages to craft.

The marauder’s map was purchased from ebay along with the acceptance letter in the next picture down.  The white owls are from the Range and were £1.29 each I think.

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Big Ben was from Poundland of all places.

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The chocolate frog shell came on a keyring with a plastic chocolate frog.

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Another Poundland purchase.  Although these London themed decorations are not strictly Potter based, I thought they fitted in nicely with the theme since Harry is British.SONY DSC

I had planned on sewing a Dobby from scratch but ordered this one below when I ran out of time.

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The bundle from ebay included this cool platform 9 3/4 ticket and the knight bus ticket shown later.

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Harry’s glasses were from a fancy dress shop on ebay and the deathly hallows pendant came from a bracelet also from ebay.

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I adore the house ornaments I got from Primark fro £4 for the set.  I used a gem decoration as the Philosopher’s stone and got the mini broomsticks from ebay too. SONY DSC

This blue bauble looked like Jame and Lily’s patronuses and fit in perfectly.SONY DSCSONY DSC

Crookshanks had to have a look in. Which cat can resist a Christmas tree?

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Here’s the ministry of magic interdepartmental memo that we made earlier in the year following the tutorial from 10digitdesign.  There’s a free printable too.

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I was quite excited to find this Hermione Grange figurine in a local charity shop.SONY DSC

In the left hand side of this picture you’ll see a bauble filled with a cat collar and a toy.  These belonged to our cat George who went over the rainbow bridge to the Great Christmas Tree in the sky a couple of years ago. This bauble will remain on our tree year after year.

There are also some angel wings behind the Slytherin locket (ebay) as a reminder of those in the Potterverse who died in the fight against You-Know-Who.  You can also see the Amortensia potion and the Aquila magazine that featured Harry Potter in the Summer.

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Ravenclaw’s diadem is in the front and you can just about see some mini potion bottles too.   Somewhere in the nooks and crannies of the tree there’s a time turner, a felix felixis bottle, a golden snitch, a Hufflepuff tie and the Tri-wizard cup.SONY DSC

The bunting I got from Primark and the signs frame the fireplace nicely along with the potion bottle lights I made.

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I am still in love with my Hedwig owl that I got from Paperchase about 8 years ago now.   But check out the marauder’s map wrapping paper from Primark!  Amazing, right?

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There is so much more I could have done but I just ran out of time and tree space!SONY DSC

Maybe next year?

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

DIY Harry Potter Christmas tree decorations

Hello my lovelies,

I’ve ditched the housework today and decided instead, to do some crafting.  You see, while browsing youtube a few weeks ago my daughter saw a tutorial for Harry Potter Christmas tree baubles and has asked if we can have a Harry Potter Christmas tree this year.  I’ve of course, said yes but she has no ideas I’m taking it a few steps further. More on that in my next post. So today, DD and I created our first tree decorations.

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hp christmas baubles

Before we go any further, I just want to point out that I also don’t like the bakers twine hanging the baubles to the tree. These will be replaced with bauble hangers at Christmas. I really didn’t fancy going up to the loft to get the Christmas decorations down to retrieve the hooks.

So, these baubles are actually really clever little shot baubles that my BFF picked up for me from a car boot sale for 20p.  When I saw them, I knew they’d be perfect for a potion baubles one day.  Didn’t realise I’d be doing a HP themed tree so soon but it’s all good.

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The potion baubles were really easy to make.  I just designed some tiny labels on my computer, printed them off and stuck them onto the front of the baubles.  I covered the bauble with one coat of glitter mod podge and allowed them to dry.  Et voila!

I’m so pleased with how they came out.  It’s a pity that you can’t really see the glitter mod podge but it’s there. The glitter is subtle and I think it will add a lovely dimension on the tree.

The signs in the background are more of an upcycle than a from scratch project. I got them from Primark for £5 and while I liked the signs they were attached with black ribbon like you can see in the picture.

SONY DSCThe way it was wouldn’t work on the tree because it would be too long.  We simply removed the ribbon and the staples and glued on butchers twin. The twine is cut quite short so that it doesn’t hang too long on the tree and get in the way of other ornaments.

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I love projects like this. Not much to do for big impact.

I hope you enjoyed the post and if you did, please leave me a message.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

Tulley’s Farm Christmas Experience

Hello my lovelies,

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted and most of it has been working, renovating our house and starting a new job which means I’m now working full time!  More on that another time!

I wanted to share with you our kick off to the festive season.  I’d heard that Tulley’s Farm did a fantastic Christmas experience but I really didn’t expect to be so blown away!

It was a cold, rainy, blustery day and despite all of us getting over the flu we decided to go and see Father Christmas anyway.  We arrived at 9:40 to collect our tickets and had fun taking pictures and dancing. Everywhere was decorated and had been made festive.

We revieved a kids passbook filled with a map and lots of info as well as an Elf Hunt.

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Before our Tractor ‘sleigh ride’ we spent our time wandering about the festive delights.  First we decided to beat the queues and write our letter to Father Christmas at Santa’s Post House. The Post Master was brilliant and really embraced his character.

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While I was busy helping DD write her letter to Santa the Post Master gave DH a letter from Santa to put under my daughter’s pillow in way of a reply.

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All she wanted for Christmas she told me was for her Scout Elf Snowflake to come back this year… watch this space for more Elf Antics!  I loved how the Post Master even posed in character.

It was really silly of me but I videod us going through the post office into the sorting room and through the winter wonderland to post our letter in the official north pole post box.  I should have taken photographs but sadly I was too busy videoing it!  I still have no idea how to insert video’s in to here!

On our elf search there were lots of things to see

We spent loads of time with the reindeer while DD asked loads of questions. She’s going to be an amazing vet one day.

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When it came to meeting these guys DD was suddenly very shy and wouldn’t even look at them prefering instead to climb all over Daddy!

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There was a short wait for our tractor ‘sleigh’ ride to see Santa and we occupied ourselves by making funny faces!

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And talking to the elves

At last we were on the tractor ‘sleigh’ and DD thought that singing Jingle Bells was just ludicrous

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At Santa’s grotto Father Christmas was fast alseep and the children had to wake him up so he could tell me them as story.

I was so impressed because everything was so well decorated and thought out and even Father Christmas looked so realistic!

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We had a lovely picture taken with Father Christmas then  waited a short while before we got back on the tractor ‘sleigh’ to go and make our presents.

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Which turned out to be – Build your own bears!

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We also bought the photograph which I thought was good value for money for such a large picture at £8.

After we had warmed up with some mulled wine and a mince pie from a vendor, we watched the puppet show which was all about doing nice things for those we love.

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We even watched the singing chickens!  Yes, chicken!

We could have gotten something to eat there but it was busy and we were cold and hungry so we went off to Smith & Western (one of our favourite restaurants) for brunch.

Here a tired little girl snuggled with her new kitty friend Daisy that she got from Father Christmas.  DH caved and bought her a dress for Daisy which was £9.95 which considering the prices at the Build-a-bear-factory, this was cheaper.

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All in all, this was a wonderful day out and a lovely Christmas experience.  It was not cheap at £12.95 per child and £7.95 per adult but it was worth every penny because even us adults enjoyed it. And the fact that they get such a high quality gift as well made it worth it.

I give this Christmas experience 8/10

Stay tuned over the next few days for most festive fun,

Bright blessings,

Mama R

x

 

 

 

 

Introducing our Elf Pet, Tinsel

Hello my lovelies,

Yesterday, our town held a Christmas market and various halls were open with Christmas stalls and festive fun.

We met some lovely characters, picked up a few presents and made our way home, sadly, feeling fluey.  This flu really takes it out of us.

To cheer my daughter up because she didn’t want to leave the festivities early, our newest holiday tradition, and Elf Pet appeared by her bedroom door.

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She had been painting some christmas sun catchers I got her at Poundland so was covered in paint but she took to her elf pet right away and named her Tinsel.12278977_10153608315800659_2753914695371194922_n

You can find out more information on  Elf Pets by clicking the link. There is also a fantastic free app for your elf pet that my daughter just loves!

Bright blessings,

Mama R

x

 

Christmas day menu plan 2014

Hello my lovelies,

People always ask me what I do for breakfast on Christmas day.  And the simple answer is that I cheat!

Waitrose does packs of unbaked pastries in their freezer section.  I get these and bake them on Christmas morning.  The house smells amazing what with pain au chocolat and croissants baking and the Starbucks Christmas blend percolating.  It’s a simple breakfast because for the rest of the morning I’m in and out of the kitchen.

Because we have Christmas dinner around 2-ish, I put out whatever hasn’t been eaten from the Christmas eve menu.  I usually put out some mince pies too.

We usually do turkey but this year we felt like switching it up a little and are having beef.  We of course kept the gammon that we always have but have changed the way we are cooking it.   So we’re having:

  • Cherry Cola slow cooked gammon with cranberry glaze
  • Roast beef with yorkshire puddings and gravy
  • Devils on horseback (prunes wrapped in prunes)
  • Turkey meatballs  (my little nod to the turkey tradition)
  • Roast potatoes
  • Honey parsnips
  • Creamed spinach
  • Green beans
  • Glazed carrots
  • Sweet potato fluff (sweet potatoes with butter and melted marshmallows)

For dessert I’m making:

  •  Rum and Raisin ice cream (hubby asked for this!  I know!  Weird one!)
  • Peppermint crisp tart (another of our traditions and a favourite from our South African roots)
  • Cape Brandy tart and vanilla ice cream (another favourite from South Africa).  This recipe and picture below is from Cook Sister‘s website.

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I love our Christmas day feast and I assure you we don’t eat like this every day!  For most of the year I’m on a diet but you’d never say!

 What do you like to have on Christmas day?

 Bright blessings,

 Mama R x

Christmas eve menu plan 2014

Hello my lovelies,

I know Christmas is still a few days away but I thought over the next few days I’d post our festive menues to give you some inspiration for your own festivities.

As you’ve seen from previous posts, we’re having a bit of a Nigella Christmas this year. I’m not doing many of her recipes for Christmas day because there are traditions to uphold there in terms of food but Christmas eve features some of her festive faves.

We start off the evening with Poinsettia‘s and virgin seasonal breeze for my daughter.

Then it’s traditional for us to serve a cheese platter featuring:

  • Brie with grapes
  • Camembert with cranberry jelly and Nigella’s chilli jam
  • Mature cheddar & Nigella’s Christmas chutney with pickles
  • Green thunder cheese which is a lovely little gem I found at the House & Home Christmas show
  • Smoked mussels
  • Ritz crackers

For hot snacks I’m doing Nigella’s cranberry & soy glazed sausages and sausage rolls.  It’s not a party without sausage rolls.  Besides, my daughter loves them.  I was tempted to make them but then opted to buy good quality ones at Waitrose.

Plus I’ll be serving the Seasonally spiced nuts and biltong which my hubby makes.

For afters, we’ve got homemade mince pies with the fruit mince I made using Delia’s recipe and of course, Nigella’s Festive Rocky Road.

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I can’t wait to enjoy this feast!  After dinner, through which we’ll be listening to christmas carols from Mr Buble and possibly Idina Menzel – if I can get my hands on the album in time.

 At about 8:30, we’ll snuggle down with the fireplace going to watch the snowman.  If we’ve even got space we’ll be having festive hot chocolate and some popcorn.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get DD to calm down enough to sleep after the film!

 What do you have traditionally have for dinner on Christmas Eve?

 Bright blessings,

 Mama R x