Sunday, 14 October 2018

Mrs Mulled Wine's Christmas Countdown - 10 weeks to go

Welcome to my new weekly countdown to Christmas column. I'm aiming to publish a countdown post every Sunday and share the week's best Christmas news, posts and events. Grab a cuppa and let's dive straight in....

Now is the time to order your M&S Christmas spread

Marks and Spencer are now taking Christmas food orders. This is a bit of an annual tradition for us - you just can't beat an M&S spread. If you order before 11th November you'll receive a free bottle of wine or box of chocolates with your order too. In previous years, we've only had to pay a £25 ish deposit and pay the balance on collection. I haven't actually placed my order yet but I'm pretty sure it will be the same kind of system this year too. We always opt for an early morning collection time to beat the traffic. You can browse the full selection on offer here.  My top picks include this Cornish Cruncher Cheese and Cider Bake, we ordered it last year and absolutely loved it. We'll be re-ordering this year along with the sausage roll garland which is a bargain at £8 and makes a good centrepiece. Jack is obsessed with pine cones so we can't resist these chocolate pine cones. Let me know if you'll be placing and order and if you have any recommendations.

Toulouse offers the best-value Christmas market break

Research by Travel Supermarket has revealed this week that Toulouse offers the best value Christmas Market destination (when taking into consideration travel, accommodation and eating out). Next up was Nice which has over 60 stalls, a skating rink and big wheel. You can read more about the best and worst value Christmas Market destinations over on Lonely Planet here.

I'm disappointed with this year's Boots Christmas Gift Guide 

Over the years, I have always loved reading the Boots Christmas Gift Guide from cover to cover. They usually offer some fab gift ideas and I love their 3 for 2 offer. This year I'm just not feeling it though. I just didn't feel inspired by anything in there. I'm not sure if it's because the trend is now more towards shopping local and buying gifts from small businesses but I'm pretty sure for the first time ever, Boots won't be receiving any of my Christmas cash and I'm not really sure why. Anyone else feel the same?

Christmas Shopping News

I receive lots of press releases with various Christmas news and products and will be sharing the best of them each week.

  • I adore these cute new Harry Potter baubles from Primark.  A steal at £5 for a two pack. We keep debating with creating a full Harry Potter themed tree and these would make a fab start - find out more here

  • Anyone fancy Christmas Tree Flavour Crisps? - find out more here
  • Boots has launched a new Pigs Under Blankets sandwich which sounds ideal for a quick festive treat on your lunch break 
  • I honestly don't know if this is a joke or not but Sainsburys has launched Brussel Sprout and Pigs in Blankets flavoured tea. It may only cost £1 but seriously, who is going to buy this? Find out more here.

Lenny Henry will bring Julia Donaldson's Zog to life this Christmas

Watching a new Julia Donaldson adaptation for the BBC is a Christmas tradition in our house (Stickman is my favourite). This year, it's been announced that Lenny Henry will be bringing ZOG to life and it will be appearing on our screens this Christmas. I can't wait!

BBC Good Food reveals this year's best Christmas food

BBC Good Food has announced the best Christmas food to buy this year. Apparently,  a Pembrokeshire bronze free-range turkey from M&S is the one to go for this year and Morrison's deep-filled mince pies have been awarded top marks. You can see the full list of winners here. 

Where have we booked so far? 

I honestly didn't think I had booked too much but looking at my list, it turns out I have! So far, the diary features:

Visiting Father Christmas in the Treehouse at Alnwick Garden. We're taking Heidi, Jack and Evan here. I've heard so many good things and hope it's as magical as it sounds. We've paid for this ourselves/it's not a collaboration but I'll be writing a review so look out for this one in December.

Heidi and Jack helping the Whitehouse Farm Elf with magic in 2004

We're taking Evan to Whitehouse Farm to visit Father Christmas in term time. This is a blog collaboration and I will be writing a review. We visited Whitehouse Farm over Christmas in 2014 and I absolutely loved it. There's always loads to see and do and it's a full day out - you can spend the full day inside too (if you don't include walking between barns) so it's perfect for if the weather's not the best. Whitehouse Farm is running two events this year - their Winter Wonderland event runs from 24th November and if you visit on a weekday, it includes a visit with Father Christmas (this is the event we have booked). If you'd like to book a Father Christmas visit on a weekend or Christmas Eve, the Santa Experience is the one to go for.

I've booked a couple of Christmas meals in too. I always organise a big friends and family Christmas dinner and this year we're returning to Evan's Bistro for their Christmas fayre menu. We've hired the venue for exclusive use and it's a lovely relaxing way to catch up with everyone.

Christmas Meal at Evan's Bistro 

I also organise a Christmas meal with some of my blogger best mates. It's lush to go somewhere fancy and have a night out without worrying about taking photos or making notes. It's kind of like our Christmas party I guess. Last year we booked Jesmond Dene House and had the best time but this year we've decided to book Artisan and stay at Hotel du Vin. We're staying in one of their suites as it's my birthday weekend and a good excuse to treat ourselves. I've never dined at Artisan before but heard so many good things and we stayed at Hotel du Vin around 10 years ago and loved it so I'm really looking forward to returning. -

Blogger Christmas Meal at Jesmond Dene House

Finally, press night at Northern Stage is always a Christmas highlight for us so I've already booked that in nice and early. This year's show is A Christmas Carol and we can't wait to see what the fantastically creative Northern Stage team come up with and I've provisionally booked festive afternoon tea in Spanish City Dome with the girls - I just need them to release their menu so I can confirm.

Phew! That's enough Christmas news for one week I think. I'll be back next Sunday with more..... 



  1. Stop it! You're getting me too excited! We're having Christmas at home just the two of us this year and I'd really love to get some M&S goodies in but I'm not sure they cater for 2 people, they definitely need to do a little selection of treats for couples .. not sure want a turkey that feeds 6!

    I very much skim read the Boots catalogue this year because I just felt like it's very samey! It is literally the same gifts every single year, maybe we're just getting old?

    Those Harry Potter decorations are amazing, I definitely think you should go for a full Harry tree this year. We bring out the same decorations every year and I quite fancy getting some new ones this year!

    Ooooh Simon spotted a good Christmas original Netflix starring Kurt Russell - it's out 22 Nov I think! Check out the trailer it looks really really good!

    Ooooh and you've forgotten the most exciting news of all - NEWCASTLE HAVE THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS UP! They may not be on but just seeing them has got me excited!!!

  2. Charlotte Brennan14 October 2018 at 13:35

    Enjoyed reading your blog. I’m unsure whether to order our Christmas food from M&S this year or take a leap of faith from the other end of the scale and try Aldi this year instead? I’m very pleased that the trend for Christmas gifts is buying homemade products. I’m doing my very first local Christmas Fayre to sell my scented candles! x

  3. OMG! Love this post! You are getting me too excited. I can’t wait for these each week now! Brill! We just did our m&s order today, it was £30 deposit. I was tempted by that Cornish bake, if I had read this first I would have bought it. Can’t wait for Artisan. We don’t have much booked in for the festive season yet. I’ll have to sort that out!

  4. We always get snacky bits from M&S, I'm loving seeing them gradually come in at the minute! Those pine cones look unreal as well, almost too good to eat! This post has gotten me so excited, can't wait to read all the next ones! I can't wait for all the themed food, especially all the sandwiches. I've got quite a few stuff planned with my friends and family, running out of spare time but there's still plenty of things I want to do still!

    Can't wait to see the rest of your Christmas posts!

    Abbey | Diary of a Fibro Girl

  5. I love this round up Sam ! It's certainly got me in the mood to start planning some fun Christmas things. I always look at the M&S food and think maybe next year, it will probably be Aldi again for us this year but there's no harm in drooling over the catalogue.


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