Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Gorgeous Decorations

With Christmas just around the corner, we’re turning our attention to decorating! All the glitter and sparkle certainly adds to our festive spirit, and there’s nothing like a fabulous wreath or beautiful tree to make us feel Christmassy. 

If you will be adorning your home this weekend, we asked Mary, stylist for the ilovegorgeous photoshoots and the lovely lady responsible for dressing our fabulous windows, for her best advice to help inspire you:

What inspires you when decorating the ilg windows for Christmas?

For an ilovegorgeous Christmas window, I start by revisiting favourite childhood books with illustrations that I have always marvelled at, like those of Edmund Dulac, which are full of beautiful imagery. 

There is also a 'feeling' in the air with regard to design and fashion; this often influences the choice of props.  Although, it is always important to tailor this to children, as some Christmas imagery is quite frightening- or is that just me? 

As the ILG Winter collection is either party dress oriented, with lovely fluttery hems, sleeves and plenty of sequins, or soft, downy and cosy knitwear, I have no problems!

What does your home look like at Christmas time?

At Christmas in my own home, I max out on the greenery - I love completely covering an entire wall with natural green and plenty of lights. I go around the whole front door so that you can hardly get through it, and sometimes it goes all across the ceiling and over the table so that people often have to pick pine needles out of their stilton! I buy blue pine for it's aroma, and larch which is my favourite: it's really bendy and has beautiful tiny cones scattered along its length. From my garden I cut Scot's pine, birch twigs and ivy.

Who helps with the decorating (if anyone)?

My children love decorating the house, although sometimes they flake out before the tree is finished, which secretly pleases me as I love to get stuck in! The Christmas box is truly enormous, and is full of decorations collected over the years, and it all has to go on. Some of these treasures have been going on the tree since 1900, and I love the feeling that they have had an outing with our family once a year since then! Some of the more unusual ones are fish shaped baubles from the 1920's, anti aircraft silver metal tape from World War 2, and glass poodles.

What is the best DIY decoration you have come up with or come across?

The best decorations are home-made with the children - they can be really simple- you can cover your tree in cotton wool balls and plain lights, or just gingerbread- so pretty. 

I also love to make salt dough shapes - paint them with poster paints (it's worth getting some neon poster paint for added ooomph) and glitter, and cover them in sparkly spots. Tie them on with off-cuts of ribbon or coloured wool.

Also the most unexpected things make great decorations: old lightbulbs; pieces of sea- burnished glass; odd chandelier crystals from junk shops; dolly teacups and tiny teapots; silver teaspoons and cookie cutters; bows, birds, stars and hearts cut out of brown paper or newspaper decorated with sequins and glitter- clip them onto the tree with old fashioned wooden clothes pegs (yes, you can go all Ilovegorgeous and coat the pegs with glitter too!).

What are the top things to invest in when you’re buying decorations and where are good places to find Christmassy things?
It's worth buying one or two really beautiful baubles every year to compensate for any casualties. These you can purchase quite cheaply in the post Christmas sales- the best are from Liberty's (although their amazing Christmas shop often sells out in November), or anything by Gisela Graham from any gift shop or department store. Weirdly some of the nicest I have bought have been from the Globe theatre shop on the Southbank.

 Another great place for Christmas decorations is Lidl; you can get boxes of little wooden Christmas figures for around £5.  They also do really lovely nostalgic chocolate Christmas tree decorations- cheap and cheerful, and the chocolate is surprisingly good!

What is your favourite thing about Christmas?

The best thing about Christmas for me is creating a magical environment with the children for all our guests to enjoy, and then party, party, party!  Enjoy!

If you're still searching for last minute presents and stocking fillers, take a look at our hand-picked list to make it a little easier for you.  ilovegorgeous sparkly party dresses are perfect to wear on Christmas Day - what a treat to find under the tree!

Merry Christmas from ilovegorgeous! 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Time for toys...

Choosing a great toy for a child that both children and parents will love equally is no easy Job. In steps fantastic on-line toy shop Toyella. They first came on our radar in July when we both won a Junior Design Award. Their toys are built to last and will be appreciated for generations to come. No gimmicks or fads, just beautifully designed toys sourced from around the world. We spoke to their 'Head Honcho', Carl Shaw to find out a little more (that's him below with his son Ollie).

They're also offering ilovegorgeous subscribers 10% off everything until 19th Dec with code LOVE10.

Christmas is a time for toys - what were your favourite toys as a child?

I have distinct memories of toys like Kerplunk and Mousetrap in the 70s. The latter, in particular, seemed so exciting at the time when (for those who can remember) there was great anticipation as to whether the trap run would actually work! These were fantastic 'social' games and still stand the test of time.

What are your children's favourites from the Toyella collection and why?

The American Kid-o range are very stylish modern classic toys and there's not one line I don't like. In particular the Opera Theatre game (right) which has lots of educational benefits yet still remains a stylish fun game. I love the fact the makers took a risk on an Opera themed toy.

German toys makers feature heavily on Toyella as they successfully combine style, quality and intelligence...rather like their cars. The SIBISs Max Toddler ride-on car (bottom) typifies the German approach to toys.

What inspires you when creating new toys? 

We start from the outside in. Any toy making Toyella's collection must...have great packaging and look like a gift; be stylish and different from what you would normally see on the high street; have a social or educational aspect designed in; enhance a household rather than feel like clutter; and have longevity and environmental benefits.

We have a saying when we select products. "Do we like it, or do we LOVE it?' Likes don't get in.

What toys would you recommend as Christmas gifts for little girls and why?

The a-fore mentioned Opera house would be loved for girls 4 to 8 years. For 1 year olds there's still time to buy the amazing (British made) Spherovelo ride-on. Also the beautiful Mozartkugel music ball (right) is a heirloom gift for this age range.

Our double sided Dutch flip dolls (above) are great imaginative play toys that appeal to all ages. These can be walked in the Danish Moover dolls pram which is a true modern classic.

And to get them off the computer nothing beats the Magnatab Freeplay...we call it the Nintendo DS killer...traditional play beating byte power.

What's your favourite thing about Christmas?

When you sell toys you think about Christmas from about February! This year we'll finally clock off (exhausted) on the 21st December when I start to think about my own Christmas shopping. This year Christmas day is just going to be myself, my wife Clare and our three young children and I'm really looking forward to just the five of us enjoying the day and thinking about our own Christmas. Of course, when the children open their toy gifts it's going to be hard not to be analysing each product!

What new toys are you excited about launching next year?

The exciting thing is we don't know yet. We travel to Nuremburg Toy Fair each February. Very few English toy retailers do. It's huge and each year we know we'll find beautiful world toys from independent toy makers who are desperate to find a channel into the UK market. Toyella prides itself in providing these great designers a first foothold over here. I'm hoping to find more nice outdoor toys as I feel there's going to be a revolution of parents wanting their children to spend more time outside with their peers indulging in what children do best...fueling their imagination and expending energy.