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When it comes to Christmas, there's nowhere quite like Manchester. With its magical charm and dozens of festive attractions, it's the perfect destination for a winter weekend away. At the heart of the Christmas atmosphere is the Manchester Christmas markets. This year the stalls have taken new unprescedented locations across the city centre and the markets are bigger than ever. With 200,000 people attending on the opening weekend, they show no signs of slowing down.


The heart of Manchester - Albert Square 

Albert Square is the largest of the Christmas market locations. With multiple rows of stalls to browse through, you have time to soak up the atmosphere under the autumn leaves and fairy lights. The stalls have a huge choice of gifts including toys, crafts, jewellery, clothes and a whole array of mouthwatering delicacies from across Europe. Once you have finished looking around or fancy a refuel, you have to get a drink from the two-storey bar beneath the windmill.




The bar offers a whole host of Christmas favourites including mulled wine, hot chocolate with amaretto or irish cream, German beer, cherry punch and more. If a liquid based pit stop isn't your cup of hot chocolate, then the food on offer it sure to satisfy your hunger. You can get pulled pork sandwiches, hog roast, paella, hot dogs, pancakes, profiteroles, burgers, curry, chicken, potatoes and more all fresh, hot and ready to eat. 


Top gift ideas

1 - Chocolates

One of the most popular gift ideas for any occasion because who doesn't love chocolate? Handmade slabs of chocolate or a chocolate Santa are a nice alternative to the mass produced chocolate on the high street. I tried a 200g slab of white chocolate with milk chocolate buttons and Malteasers in and it was delicious. A lovely little extra for anyone's Christmas stocking.


2. Handmade wooden puzzles

As a family tradition we get stocking fillers which are puzzles or mind games, such as a Rubik's cube or a 3D puzzle. We came across this little stall which sold dozens of intricate little designs to test patience and logic. Any of these puzzles would be perfect for my brother or boyfriend so the only question left is; who will complete theirs first? A timeless family tradition. 


3. European delicacies

Whilst the Christmas markets have become a Mancunian Christmas staple, it's the European culture which makes the markets what they are. We source the produce for our homemade Christmas hampers from the markets including Chorizo, cheeses, jams, fudge, chocolates, gingerbread and trinkets for the christmas tree. Good quality food which the grandparents love. 


4. Gifts for yours truly.

Sometimes when you are taking a stroll around the markets and get caught up in the festive atmosphere you find the perfect present, for yourself. On Exchange Street I found these gorgeous lanterns which I absolutely adore! They have a really Moroccan vibe and I love cultural home-ware. I have a small elephant from India which I got when I was about nine and it is one of my favourite possessions. Despite not knowing where I'm going to be allowed to present this gorgeous lamp in my house, I think it's a must. To me, from me x



The other Christmas market locations:



Whilst Albert Square is the most popular of the market locations it's important not to overlook the other areas. St Ann's Square is the original market site, which is primarily German and if you head over to King Street you will find the traditional French markets. Exchange Street and New Cathedral Street are both firm favourites with a warmer atmosphere than Albert Square, due to the live music woven throughout. The new additions this year are Cathedral Gardens and Market Street which allow the independent stalls to welcome passing trade from the high street. 


The Manchester markets are a wonderful Christmas tradition and attract visitors from Europe and beyond. The markets can be very expensive and you don't need to spend loads of money to have a good time. Just being amongst the crowds can make you feel festive and a great souvenir to take home are the famous christmas mugs which you can keep by sacrificing your £2 mug deposit. 

It's important to keep your wits about you and ensure you keep your belongings close as you would at any large event. On a number of occasions the staff on the stalls tried to short change family and friends, so count your change before you move along to another stand. Whether this is because they have made an innocent mistake or are trying to pocket a few extra pounds remains unseen, but if you remain cautious this won't happen to you. 

I know that I'll be visiting the markets numerous times before they close on Sunday 21st December, so make sure you grab all your goodies before they are gone for another year. 

*Opening times*
European Christmas Market, Albert Square
10.00am - 9.00pm daily
All other markets 
November 10.00am - 7.30pm
December 10.00am - 8.00pm
All bar and food areas open until 9:00pm
On a related note, I have a VERY exciting blog post for next Sunday so watch this space! Eeee.

Love Em x











In Manchester, with the busy high-street at the heart of the city centre, a unique christmas jumper can be hard to come by.  Primark alone sells enough Christmas jumpers to accommodate the whole office and then you have the other retail giants regurgitating the same christmas slogans and designs. This year, I set myself the challenge of making my own unique christmas jumper for under £10. I got creative with a plain Primark jumper and added some felt for the Christmas details. Check out how I did it below and how you can use the process to create your own festive ideas.




Materials:

- plain navy jumper
- red felt
- white felt
- gold ribbon
- card

Tools:

- sewing needle/ sewing machine
- thread
- pins to hold the design in place
- scissors


I got all of the materials that I needed for the design for 79p from Quality Save. The design was to create your own Christmas stocking but I cut up the pieces into the design I wanted. I chose to create a candy cane Christmas jumper. The cost for all my materials including the plain jumper was £6.79.



Step One
Draw your candy cane design onto some card and cut out to shape.


Step Two
Cut the candy cane design out on the red felt. You will need to do this twice so that you have two candy canes.




Step Three
Cut out white strips to go onto your red candy cane, this will create the stripes.

Step Four 
Pin the white strips down the candy cane leaving equal gaps between each space. I chose to leave two holes between each stripe as they were already on the felt from the Quality Save stocking design.



Step Five
Sew the white stripes onto the red candy cane using white thread.

Step Six
Choose how you want to lay out the design onto the jumper. I chose design number 3.





Step Seven
Sew the design onto the jumper. You can do this using a sewing machine or by hand. I did it by hand as I used white thread on the white felt and red thread on the red felt.

Step Eight
Use the gold ribbon to create a bow as though it is holding the candy canes together.

Step Nine
Sew the gold ribbon in place to finish off your design.


I had so much fun designing my Christmas jumper that I would like to challenge four people to do the same. I challenge Karen GoodyearLeanne CoppockKatie Hayward and Lucy Edge, you have until Christmas Eve and it must cost less than £10.

Good luck!

Love Em x


If you had a chance to read my previous blog post you will have seen that Lavish Alice had challenged bloggers to create a wish list using pieces from their website and share them using the hashtag #LAStyleOff. Five lucky finalists were chosen and each sent a mystery item to style and share with their blog readers. I was lucky enough to receive a piece from their new collection.


If you haven't been on the Lavish Alice website recently their new Miss Mod Trend  channels relaxed and soft tailoring through this seasons key pieces. The collection includes jumpsuits, blazers, shift dresses, culottes, trousers and more. I was hoping to bag a piece from this AW14 collection and by a stroke of luck, I did.



The piece I received was the Black Paisley Embroidered City Shorts. Shorts aren't something I would usually pick so I was really excited to rummage through my wardrobe and see how I want to style them. The main thing I found was that the shorts are incredibly versatile and it was easy to incorporate them into different looks with different vibes. After trying a few different options, I really struggled to decide on my favourite as the looks were so different but the shorts fitted perfectly with each one. Instead, I have decided to do a one piece, three ways post so that you can see whatever your style, these shorts are perfect for you.

1. '90s GRUNGE


 

Channeling my inner Alice Dellal meets Suki Waterhouse I combined the Lavish Alice City Shorts with a cropped black Alexander Wang x HM Crop top, leather jacket and Superga pumps. This look combines the '90s crop top with tailored shorts which creates a really laid-back city vibe which I wore over the weekend whilst shopping in Manchester. I liked that the tailored shorts were versatile enough to incorporate into a trend other than the relaxed tailoring vibe.

2. SPORTS LUXE

























Luxury shorts, check. Sporty piece, check - sports luxe. If you were browsing the Miss Mod collection on the Lavish Alice website, it would be difficult to imagine these paisley embroidered shorts with anything other than crisp tailored shirts or structured lines. When I put this outfit together I pondered over it for a while and then decided I LOVED it. The unconventional way of pairing the Lavish Alice shorts with an oversized Norse Projects t-shirt, leather jacket and New Balance gives them a cycling shorts vibe. So wrong but so right!

3. RELAXED TAILORING




Third time lucky and hopefully look three will be the one to bag the Lavish Alice #LAStyleOff crown. As the paisley embroidered city shorts were crafted for the tailored collection they were incredibly easy to pair with a monochrome tailored look. I styled the shorts with a plain black t-shirt, long white duster coat and black boot heels. The look was effortless and you can wear this look for drinks, date night or even to a glam day at the office. The shorts were much comfier than a midi-skirt and you don't have to worry about it blowing up about in the wind. You might think that shorts are predominantly a summer item but paired with the right pieces you won't feel the cold and can give your usual look that extra edge. If you don't have any pieces in your collection that you feel compliment the shorts, pretty much the entire Miss Mod collection can be styled with this piece.

If you liked this look please head over to my Instagram page and like the looks! You can even vote which of the three is your favourite - '90s, Sports or Tailored? I'm up against 4 other lovely bloggers so every like will count!

Don't forget to visit Lavish Alice to find items from these Miss Mod collection or any other pieces available on the website.

Check back in on the 28th November when the winner and runners up are revealed and the £100 Lavish Alice Voucher is up for grabs!

Love Em x