I always think it's difficult to buy gifts for my parents, more so than any one else. For example, there are many different things I can buy for my brother, that I know he will love -computer games, any WWF merchandise, clothes etc. But, with my parents, it's a different story. You can't keep buying the same things ever year, or it just gets boring. This year, I decided to make a present for my parents, instead of buying one, as this would make a more original gift. We have some prints at home, and I knew that my dad wanted to have them framed, but they never were. So, I thought this was what I would do. I bought two wooden frames, which were quite large, but I bought them at a good price, as they were on sale at half price. They were very boring frames, and not very attractive. But, this was why I bought them. I wanted to redecorate them, so they look more special. The first thing I did was to buy some wood filler from Wilkinsons. Once dried, this is like wood, in that it is flexible like wood, and won’t crack, and you can sand it down. Although it doesn’t look like wood. You can paint or stain it, but I'm not sure it would look very good stained. (The Wilkinson’s own brand of wood filler is a lot cheaper than the other brands. While it looks rather grainy, it will do for my purpose) I filled in the groove in the frame, so I had a flat surface to work with. This will take about 24 hours to dry, after which the surface can be sanded down so that it is smooth. This is the point I have now got to, so far. Now, comes the difficult part, and I need to decide on the design. I have decided to paint the frame in black enamel paint (flat), and I will then put a pattern on the surface of the frame, with either gold outliner (available from art shops) or gold paint. For anyone who is thinking of sending photographs as a present, it would make the present even more special if you designed the frames y
ourself. I have noticed that in the shops, frames that look very original and different, are usually quite expensive, and only available from particular shops. Even if you are not very artistic, you could do something quite simple, such as paint them. It’s amazing how a coat of paint can transform something. When buying your frames however, make sure they are well made and sturdy, and then you can do what you like to them.
Last year we were particularly stuck at Christmas - years of presents for parents meant we had pretty much run out of ideas. We came up with an idea that works pretty much anywhere. Find a local restaurant that has a good reputation, whether it be Balti, Chinese, or plain old English steak house. Most will let you prepay an amount for a table, with a date to be set later. This is a present for the parents, a chance for them to enjoy themselves and each other. And no dishes to wash either. It worked well for us anyway. NB: It helps if the parents in question still actually like each other.
Dear Readers Do not waste money on buying that for your families such as Candlestick holders, Lava/UFO lamps etc. Don’t waste your money on something they won’t appreciate. Buy something which would be useful to them, and slight hints – i.e. Soap for your older bro. A pot of skin lotion for your Mum, and a decent pair of shoes/ a shirt/ trousers for your Dad, who’s still wearing clothes which he bought 10 years ago. Also take them shopping with you to see what they want and find it somewhere else for cheaper. I hope this was a useful tip. P.S. Santa does exist, tell your parents this and you’ll get more presents. Bye folks
I like many of you try to struggle this time of year in deciding what to buy for Christmas for our beloved parents. You want it to be something nice, something they like, my parents are keen readers so books are a option but they both like different kind so that is a struggle. I may decide on the Nelson Mandela autobiography but because my Dad is sporty I may buy him one of the football one. For my Dad, after shave is an alternative or a tie as he needs them, but that is to ordinary something everybody thinks of, you need to think of something that no-one will expect, so think of their hobbies, what they might need. My mum likes jewellery but I think I may go for something like a brooch as she needs one for her coat. It does not need to expensive so something that they will like. Whatever they get they will act asif they like it but remember you need to try to buy something they will like. Think of what they might like and think of your budget. Happy buying. All parents are different so think of what yours may like, it may be unconventional that is because your parents may have different interests.
My husbands grandmother lived in Australia and at 94 she couldn't travel to England any more, so she didn't get to see our son, so for christmas we gave her a photo album catalogueing our sons life from me being pregnant, scan photo's and then photo's of Max from day one we also included some hand prints and little pictures he had done and popped little stories and funny little things he had said and got up to it was a really pleasuable gift to create and give. Unfortunatly she passed away earlier this year but the memory book went to our sons aunt who also lives in Australia so she can now enjoy our son too.
The perfect Present for any parent is a Vodaphone Mobile phone! Vodaphone mobile phones are a great present for anyone (that’s why I have written a similar review in the “gifts for him section”, and “gifts for her” too! ) Vodaphone is one of the worlds biggest mobile networks, they offer a few different tariffs on there “pay as you talk surface” which include “just talk” which is where you just pay for the calls that you make, (no service charge) and “Right step” which is where you pay a certain amount (around 20p I think) for the first 3 minuets that you use (per day) and then after that it is charged at a off peak rate (around 2p) regardless of the day!. Then there are the various contract phone ranges, which you would normally, pay a set amount Vodaphone have a large selection of mobile phones, I would recommend any phone in the Nokia range (5110, 2110 etc.) there are also some quality Erricson phones that you can get on the Nokia Contract range. The Vodafone network covers nearly 98% of the UK, so you would almost never be without a signal! My experience of Vodafone is good, but the help line can sometimes be unhelpful, the call charges are mainly good, but peak rate on all calls is quite expensive (around 40p a min) It as also east to change from say, all calls to Smart step (just by making one phone call) you keep the same number and the same phone, and it only costs a fiver! So if you want to see a smile on your loved ones face at Christmas, why not get them a Vodafone mobile?
My parents insist every year that there's nothing they really want. Or more accurately, mum says she wants bubble bath and dad says he wants socks (he has more unworn pairs of socks than M&S!). As they also hoard things, there isn't much storage space for unwanted gifts, while they would never take anything my sister or I gave them back for a refund, however much we insist we wouldn't mind. A few years ago, my sister had a brilliant idea for getting out of this impossible situation. Both my parents enjoy visiting France, so she bought them tickets for a "Vive La France" exhibition at Earl's Court. It gave them something to look forward to when Christmas was over, and they really enjoyed the event. In fact, this was so successful that on subsequent occasions they've been given tickets to events both in London and locally, including the theatre, a food and drink show, etc. I even borrowed the idea and gave my sister's (totally impossible to buy for) partner tickets to the Natural History Museum for his birthday. There are so many events available, at such a range of prices, that there should be an exhibition, concert, play or show to suit even the most awkward parents. (My mother now uses the idea herself, and got dad ferry tickets to France for his most recent birthday). If events are not local, you might want to include coach or train tickets. You can put the tickets in an attractive card, or wrap them in a box, so that there's even something to open on Christmas day.
Dad's love gadgets. I don't know why, but they do. Its an unwritten law, its one of the truths of the universe, Dads. love. gadgets. Remember when he bought you that remote control toy when you were six, then spent the afternoon 'showing you how to use it' while you clamoured for a go on your new toy? And remember the way he almost seemed to break things just so he could take all day putting it back together, usually so badly it broke again the next week? Classic examples of gadget loving dad. Www. firebox.com should be any self respecting child's one stop dad shop. From the simple but addictive (and ooooh, trendy) game of 'CORX' to tiny pocket torches with powerfull beams that light the streets for miles at night time, to remote controlled UFO's and super distance flying tpy planes. Its dad's paradise, and gifts from here won't go down too badly with your boyfriend either. Classic dad gifts, like socks and boxes of quality street need not be completely avoided, dads do like sweet things and warm toes. But hide another gift, cufflinks or a gift voucher, in the toe of the sock to give your dad a pleasant suprise, or wrap up your gift in several layers of plain paper, with a chocolate between each layer. Theres no rule to say Dads don't like a bit of imagination going into their gifts as well. My mum likes books for xmas. Especially books I can get early from the states, or signed copies from larger bookshops. Something she can show off about to her friends. When I'm poorer, I sometimes give her promises. If you live at home, promise to do an extra chore for a month, or if you live away swear you'll call her regularly, or do her shopping for her. You must keep these promises, though, or risk being moaned at for the rest of the year about how she never even got the xmas present she was promised. Mum's are a lot more organised with dads, who are always too busy
to bother with xmas or pretend they don't want anything anyway. So ask your mum for a list if you really can't think what to get her. Even if you want to get her a suprise, a list can act as a guideline to the kind of thing she'd like. Good luck with getting your parents gifts, remember 'oh you shouldnt have' 'I told you not to get anything' or 'its far far too much' really mean, 'its perfect, dear, thankyou and happy xmas.'
This may seem rather boring and predictable to some people but my family is rather practical! Round about October every phone call either begins or ends with "have you thought about what you want for your Xmas?". This is the start of the Xmas list. My parents and I treat Xmas presents as a way of getting something you want or need. This ensures that everyone is happy and gets something useful (rather than the pairs of socks or smelly stuff that gets put in the back of the cupboard). We tried buying presents using our own imagination but we are all too picky or too awkward to buy things for. My father always needs something for his one and only hobby - golf. As I know nothing about it at all it's a lot easier for him to tell me exactly what he wants. I'm the same. I often want some obscure CD or something that can only be found on the internet so it's a lot easier if I just tell my parents. We do still buy each other "surprise" gifts but the main one is always exactly what you want which makes Xmas a happy occasion with no embarrassing "its lovely really, just what I've always wanted etc.". This also works for birthdays, mothers day, fathers day etc. Everyone is happy and there is no running around the shops at the last minute in a mad panic!
Parents have been there for you for all your life. They deserve to know how to feel about them and there is no better time to show that than at the time of Christmas. Trust me, your parents will be much happier if you make them something small and thoughtfull other than something flash and expensive bought from the shops. Make your parents something they need, not something they will love forever. A simple pen holder will be enough to show you really care about them. Trust me... it's the thought that counts.
For my mum this year ( a person who is so hard to buy for). Me and my partner have decided to get all the photo's we have of our daughter (the professional one's) copied and put in really lovely frames which we know she will love. This won't cost very much as i think it works out about £3 per photograph and these are the 12x10 size. And approxmately £2-5 per photograph frame,depending on what you go for. I think this is a wonderful idea for that doting grand-parent and it is something you know they will enjoy for years to come. So although the photographs cost a fair bit originally i know that i have ot my money's worth. Okay so i am fully aware that this could be accused as copy-write but my theory is, if you can find someone willing then it is fair enough. Another good idea is to get a family portrait done,this can be costly so it is well worth checking out the deals and special offers that are on at the studio's near you. I know that my mum will be really chuffed with this and now all i have to do is wait to see her face on christmas morning!!
Like most people with families I tend to run out of ideas, and do not want to repeat the same gift each year. Each year for my sister and her husband;who have 2 children and often feel frassled, I give them a goody bag with a difference. I never know what to get them, so I devised a goody bag filled with luxuries for a 'pamper evening'. I buy a pretty decorative box and fill it with a 2 small bottles of wine or champagne, bubble bath, scented candles and massage oils, hair colouring, face packs, scrumptious chocolates and even flavoured condoms or chocolate body paints for an extra bit of fun. They are thrilled with it and each year they ask me to do it again. They enjoy the relaxing evening when the kids are in bed and it doesn't cost a fortune. So if you are skint and running out of ideas, give it a try.
The main present my Mum will be getting this Christmas is undecided as yet, and will not cost much money, as I am rather boracic at the moment. She will, however, finally be getting her birthday present, not delivered on time in February due to an incredibly hectic schedule. I have been making my Mum a tapestry picture this year. It should be finished in the next month, and I will then frame it for her (which will involve learning how to do the framing of course). I decided to learn how to stitch tapestry this year as part of a long term business project. I have always had a strong interest in textiles, and wanted to ensure that that side of me was not neglected while I am concentrating on switching to a technology based career. I have also had a love of Arts and Crafts design, in particular William Morris the textile and book designer, since my late teens, when I first came across his work during my Art A level. With hindsight I think the biggest attraction for me, apart from the gorgeous designs for wallpaper and textiles inspired by tapestries from the Middle Ages, and Morris’s philosophy of usefulness combined with beauty, was that it reminded me of my Grandpa. Nowhere was this more apparent than Cragside, an extraordinary house built by the 1st Lord Armstrong in Northumberland, and now owned and administered by the National Trust. William Armstrong was proof that a love of beautiful objects and a quest for scientific knowledge can go hand in hand with morally questionable business interests. Armstrong lived from 1810-1900, and made his vast fortune as an arms manufacturer, although at first he was better known for developing the Armstrong Hydraulic Crane, and his main business until the 1850’s was in engineering. He made a lot of money supplying both side in the American Civil War, and later on in the 1860s Armstrong expanded into building warships. When Armstrong died on the eve of the 20th centur
y, his company employed 25,000 workers , and was eventually taken over by Vickers to become Armstrong Vickers. Cragside is the house that Armstrong built on a bare hillside in Northumbria, in 1869 enlisting architect Norman Shaw to create a mansion from the first house, a hunting lodge. Because of this approach to building the house, it is an extraordinary maze of passages. Cragside was also the first domestic building in the world to be lit by hydroelectric power, and has been described as “the house of a modern magician”. Cragside is filled with delights for the Arts and Crafts enthusiast. No expense was spared in designing the interiors, and the Library in particular is an amazing combination of gothic wood and stained glass, supplied by Morris and Company in 1873, and designed by Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown and Dante Gabriel Rosetti. The Yellow bedroom is papered with Pomegranite wallpaper, designed by William Morris, and the White bedroom with Bird And Trellis, also by Morris. There are other examples of Morris’ wallpapers through the house, and in the stone inglenook fireplace in the Dining Room encloses four stained glass panels designed by William Morris, representing the four seasons. Although this Victorian treasure trove is nothing like my Grandpa’s house, a largish late Victorian terrace in Cottingham, there is an indefinable something that reminds me of him and his house. Visiting Cragside was for me a strangely emotional experience, and I wanted to give my Mother sonething that would remind her of her Father, and complement her similar taste in interior design. I had had Beth Russell’s book, “Beth Russell’s Traditional Needlepoint” for many years, and loved looking through her interpretations in tapestry of Morris designs. I decided to make one particular design for my Mother, Fox, which is based on The Forest, a tapestry Morris designed with Philip Webb and
Henry Dearle in 1887 for Alexander Ionides for his study. The problem I had with Beth Russell’s design was that she supplied a full colour chart in her book, but the colour differences were so subtle that it was impossible to work straight from the book. A kit would have been far beyond my means (£59). I already had a copy of Stitch 2000, an ingenious cross-stitch/needlepoint design package, which you can use to create your own cross-stitch or needlepoint charts on your PC. It retails at £99.99 from the I L Soft web site. Using Stitch 2000, over the course of several days, I transferred the chart from the book into Stitch 2000, square by square. Although this took a few days, I now have a chart that I can print out whenever I need it, to stitch the Fox design for my Mother, and for myself when I have finished her picture. I must state strongly though that this chart was created for my own personal use, and any charts created in this way should not be sold, as this would be in breach of copyright. The next stage was to choose the brand of tapestry wool, and other materials to be used for the picture. I stuck with Appleton’s stranded Tapestry Wools, as those are recommended and used by Beth Russell, and Zweigart Mono De Lux Antique canvas, also recommended by Russell. Where would I get them from? Having had no success locally, I surfed around for some time before finding the Willow Fabrics web site. After a long search, this was the cheapest supplier of canvas I could find. I went directly to Appleton Brothers. The cost per hank is under half price that if you buy through a needlecraft supplier or shop. You can also order quantities as small as one hank, or a box of a dozen skeins of the same colour, although postage is charged if the cost of your order is under £80. At the time of writing the cost per hank was 60p + vat (total 70.5p), and the cost per box of a dozen skeins was £1.85 + vat (total £2.14).
Hanks from Willow fabrics, which has good prices on most things, cost £1.55, and the cost per box of a dozen skeins was £3.50. I managed to save a huge amount of money by assembling the materials myself, and the picture cost me under £20 to make. I plan to frame it myself, both learning a vluable new skill and saving a lot of money - the last picture I bought for my Mother cost me £50 to frame - far more than the print itself! As to the stitching? I have thoroughly enjoyed myself making this present for my Mother. I know she will love it when it is finished, and the many weeks of labour I have put in will be appreciated. I have found a wonderfully relaxing hobby, and have learnt a lot that I will be able to use when designing my own tapestries. I used a table frame to keep my work square and easy to stitch. SUPPLIERS Appleton Bros. Ltd. Thames Works Church Street Chiswick London W4 2PE You can find Willow Fabrics online at: http://www.willowfabrics.co.uk (currently not available, but keep trying. If you cannot access the web site, write for a catalogue to: Willow Fabrics 95 Town Lane Mobberley Cheshire WA16 7HH I have found their delivery prompt and their customer service excellent. You can more about Stitch 2000 software at: http://www.ilsoft.co.uk/ You can see Beth Russell’s designs online at: http://www.desforum.dircon.co.uk/ Buy Beth Russell’s Traditional Needlepoint from: www,alphabetstreet.com in paperback for £14.24, p&p free. or from www.amazon.co.uk for £14.74 including p&p.