Boots Christmas 2013 Gift Guide

I picked up a copy of this years Books Christmas Gifts Guide at the weekend.

Boots Christmas Gifts Guide 2013

Boots Christmas Gifts Guide 2013

It’s A5 in size.  The front page reads  “Tap into out Christmas range. Order today and pick up tomorrow in over 2300 stores. 2013 Christmas Gifts. Boots lets feel good. 3 for 2 Mix & Match”.It’s 307 pages packed full of gift ideas.  I’ll pick a few gift ideas out from this years Boots Guide over the coming days.  But for starters I did like these:

Boots twine and scissors stand

Boots twine and scissors stand

I thought this would make a nice gift for someone to have on their kitchen counter. It reads ‘New and exclusive Twine and Scissor Stand, Cast iron twine holder with scissors. Holds approx. 150m of twine.”  I know when I’m cooking and I need string it’s never to hand and then when I find it in the draw I have to go and look for the scissors.

Cheese Dome

Cheese Dome

This is quite a nice little gift idea, although I would have prefered it to be a little more expensive and had a slate, ceramic or stone base rather than wood.  It reads “Lavendon Manor, Exclusive, new Lavendon Manor Cheese Dome. Wooden cheeseboard, glass dome, 2 ceramic serving dishes, metal cheese slice, Tiptree hot gooseberry chutney and Tiptree onion relish, both 38g for £16.50” .  It’s always worth looking through the brochures of hughstreet retailers like Boots for inspiration and last minute gift ideas.  For example if you like the idea of this Cheese Dome but don’t like the way Boots have done it you could always look on eBay oe Etsy for a vintage Cheese, put it in a lovely gift box with tissue paper, and a jar of your favourite chutney.

Etsy cheese dome

Etsy cheese dome

If you’ve seen anything you would love to receive for Christmas in this years Boots Christmas Guide leave a comment below and I’ll take a look at it and might pick it up in a future blog.

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Waitrose Christmas Harvest 2013 Booklet

I received a copy of Waitrose Christmas Harvest 2013 Booklet at the weekend and it’s a really well put together free mini Christmas cookbook full of ideas.

Waitrose Christmas 2013 Harvest Booklet

Waitrose Christmas 2013 Harvest Booklet

The front cover reads “Waitrose Christmas Harvest 2013. Celebrate the very best of the season’s fruit and vegetables” and in the top righthand corner it says “32 festive recipes inside”.  Waitrose produce a number of leaflets, booklets and brochures each Christmas.  ‘Harvest’ is their monthly or b-monthly booklet or magazine looking at what great British foods are in season that month.

It’s a good quality and well put together little booklet and well worth getting your hands on for a copy.  The recipes include:

  • Festive Negroni
  • Spiced Christmas Cup
  • Cauliflower bhajis with raita
  • Mini welsh rarebits
  • Beetroot Croustades
  • Chicory Scoops
  • Iced Snowballs
  • Sweet Santa’s hats
  • Mixed mushrooms on toasted focaccia
  • Roast turkey with citrus & herb butter
  • Mixed vegetables & Nut Roast Loaf
  • Turkey Gravy
  • Honey Glazed Roast Carrots & Parsnips
  • Crunchy roast potatoes
  • Classic Brussels Sprouts
  • Apricot & Pecan stuffing balls
  • Creamy Bread Sauce
  • Easy Cranberry Sauce
  • Cranberry & Limoncello Semifreddo
  • Christmas Pudding
  • Root vegetable & Rice Galette
  • Beetroot & Cabbage slaw
  • Orange, onion & chicory salad
  • Mulled clementine jellies with chocolate ganache
  • Roasted butternut squash with lentils & sage
  • Carrot, cumin & beetroot crumble
  • Rib of beef with port jus
  • Roasted shallots
  • Port-braised spiced red cabbage
  • Pecan & bourbon tart

My husband particularly liked the look of the Pecan & bourbon tart so no doubt we’ll be trying that recipe soon.

 

 

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John Lewis Christmas 2013 branded bag

This year I’m collecting together pictures of bags and packaging used by each of the major British retailers to show their Christmas 2013 branding.  It will be interesting to see how this changes from year to year.  So to get this new collection started here is the John Lewis Christmas 2013 branded packaging.

John Lewis Christmas 2013 Branded Bag

This picture shows the John Lewis Christmas 2013 Branded Bag

It’s s good quality strong paper bag.  The top section is red with pale red / slightly pink dots.  The lower two thirds is a solid grey background.  The central text which is all in capitals reads “Give Someone a Christmas They’ll Never Forget’.  The text at the bottom reads “Shop in store, online and by mobile” and in the bottom right it carries the familiar “John Lewis” branding.  To add a little more interest the side panels of the bag are and orange/red.  On the bottom of the bag it says that it is “FSC MIX Packaging from responsible sources FSC C068067” followed by the recycling symbol and the text “This bag is produced using water based inks and is fully recyclable.  Please re-use this bag.”

 

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John Lewis 2013 Christmas website open for business.

I was slightly surprised to look at the John Lewis website earlier today (Sept 24th 2013) and see that on their home page they have a banner under the heading of “This Week’s Highlights” promoting their Christmas 2013 range. The banner reads “Give Someone a Christmas they’ll never forget”.

John Lewis Christmas 2013 Website launched.

John Lewis Christmas 2013 Website launched.

 

 

John Lewis 2013 Christmas Catalogue

John Lewis 2013 Christmas Catalogue

Over the coming weeks I’ll start working through the John Lewis range and blog about the things I really like.  In the meantime if you get a chance to look at their site and see something you really like do pleas let me know by leaving a comment below.

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When is Cyber Monday 2013 and what exactly is Cyber Monday anyway?

Q: When is Cyber Monday 2013:

A: This year (2013) Cyber Monday is expected to be Monday December 2nd.

Q: What is Cyber Monday?

A:

It’s the first Monday after most people have been paid at the end of November and as we tip over into December people suddenly with some cash panic into placing orders for Christmas presents online.  It is therefore the peak day in the year for placing online orders.  In 2012 many retailers actually reported that there was less of a peak on the Monday and the it was just a peak week.  It’s thought this was due to consumers generally having more faith and confidence now in online deliveries than in previous year.

People are always advised to order as early as possible in December to make sure they can get what they want.  In previous years we’ve seen deliveries from the online retailers badly affected during the run up to Christmas by postal strikes and bad weather, so it pays to allow plenty of time for deliveries. For the last few years we’ve also seen online retailers running out of stock as it gets nearer to Christmas this is because during a downturn in the economy no one can really afford to be left holding surplus stock that they then have to sell at low margins or even at a loss in January. Finally as it gets closer to Christmas the cost of getting your order delivered tends to increase.  Free delivery options are usually via 2nd class or 72 hour services and these are always the first to be affected by any backlogs.  In previous years many consumers have opted to pay delivery upgrades to ensure next day delivery – something that can be avoided by ordering earlier and allowing more time for the free delivery.
In the US they also have Black Friday which is the Friday following Thanks Giving, the following Monday is then Cyber Monday.  This is when most American consumers have time off to spend with their families and time to spend money on Christmas presents.

What does Cyber Monday mean in retail?

In online retail and distribution Cyber Monday is a date which they plan for months in advance. In most major online businesses the planning starts in late December or the first week back after Christmas with a detailed review of what worked well and what could have been done better.  This feeds into a continual annual process of improving their online delivery services.  Over the coming months they will then forecast what sales they expect from the next Christmas period and start to plan the marketing, purchasing and logistics to ensure they deliver those sales.

At every point in their processes they are checking that they have the right online offer, the right marketing campaign, the right staffing levels in call centres, enough capacity on their websites, enough staff to pick and pack orders in their warehouses and enough lorries to transport the orders to the post office and other delivery firms.  It doesn’t stop there because each year delivery firms and the post office take on lots of temporary staff to make sure they can deliver all the parcels from orders placed online.  Years ago the post office used to take on temporary staff at Christmas to delivery Christmas cards but now while there are still lots of Christmas cards the bulk of their effort goes into parcel delivery.

For major retailers getting their stock levels right for Christmas is a difficult process.  For non-perishables (things like iPads, computers, makeup, toys etc) the stock is often imported from the other side of the world and orders have to be placed with the manufactures at least 6+ months ahead of delivery.  If the retailer doesn’t order enough stock they’ll run out with no way to restock in time.  If they buy too much stock they’ll be left with it after Christmas and will have to sell it off at break-even or even at a loss.  For fresh produce it’s a little simpler for the retailers as they tend to push the burden onto the farmers and producers in the UK and demand fast next day replenishment.

Finally it’s important to understand how important Christmas is for many retail businesses. For many it can be make or break with many making as much as 60 to 70% of their annual profit during this period.  If they get their Christmas planning wrong and fail to make their sales before Christmas it can have a serious impact on their business.

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