Friday, 19 December 2014

Top 5 Christmas Activities for Kids

The Christmas holidays are a special time of the year where relaxing and spending quality time with our children are top of the agenda. But in-between all the present opening and the visiting relatives, how do keep our kids entertained and stop them becoming bored? The answer is simple; baking and crafts!

Not only do these 2 simple and inexpensive activities provides hours of fun, they also engage children’s brains and help them develop essential cognitive and practical skills, which they can use for the rest of their lives.

Listed below (in no particular order) are 5 of our favourite baking and craft-related activities, perfect for passing the time over the Christmas holidays.

1. Bake a Gingerbread House

Creating your own gingerbread house is not only fun, but promotes team-work too. Just like building a table or wardrobe, one person will have to hold bits in place while another glues with icing! A decent gingerbread house can take a good few hours to create, making it the perfect way to spend an evening or afternoon.

Check out the BBC’s best rated gingerbread house recipe

And here’s a picture of the World’s Largest Gingerbread House, built in 2013 in Texas. Apparently it contains a mere 35,823,400 calories…

gingerbread house

2. Have a Homemade Christmas Bowling Contest

Got any old water bottles lying around? Then make good use of them and create your very own snowman bowling contest! All you’ll need is 6 bottles, some felt tip markers, a sock, black and white paint, a tennis ball and a couple of other bits. Kids will have as much fun making the skittles as they will when actually bowling.

Head over to Sprout Online for full details

homemade christmas bowling contest

3. Create Your Own Jewellery

The beauty of making your own jewellery is that whatever kids create, they can give to friends and relatives as gifts! Plus, creating jewellery encourages a child’s creative side and helps develop shape and colour co-ordination skills.

Buying your own jewellery set is a good idea as they usually contain everything your need to get started, including jewels, beads, string and more.

create your own jewellery

4. Host a Cake Pop Party

The cake pop is a relatively new idea that is growing in popularity here in the UK. Essentially, a cake pop is a round piece of cake covered in a chocolate on a stick, much like a lollipop. They not only taste delicious, but are super fun to decorate too!

A good idea is to pre-bake a batch of cake pops, and then let the kids and their friends decorate them with some Christmas-themed ingredients?

Check out this cake pop recipe from BBC Food

cake pops

5. Make Paper Christmas Decorations

It may be the cheapest and simplest addition to the list, but creating paper Christmas decorations is a wonderful activity that all the family can enjoy. With some scissors and handful of different coloured paper, you can create Christmas trees, stars, hearts and more. If you’re really adventurous, you could even create horses and tealight holders!

Check out this page for a huge range of ideas for paper Christmas decorations

paper christmas decorations

Find our more about online shopping with Studio: Personalised Gifts | Christmas | Wedding | Competitions

Monday, 8 December 2014

Christmas Kitchen: Recipes and Gadgets

Christmas Day is one of the few occasions in the year when we can eat what we like and as much as we like without feeling guilty or being judged. We eat turkey until we hate it, plough through countless tins of Quality Street, and always have one too many glasses of our favourite tipple.

But while everybody devours their feast, there’s always one person not enjoying themselves quite as much as everybody else…the host. If that’s you this year, then you’re probably going to need our help to make creating the perfect Christmas Dinner that bit less stressful.

Below, we’ve put together a collection of our best and most useful Christmas cooking appliances, plus a few of favourite Christmas recipes that we’ve come across this year. Enjoy!

Team Buffet Host – Save £10
Instead of dishing out food onto individual plates, let people serve themselves. It creates less hassle for you and lets each guest choose a portion to suit their appetite. Plus, the hotplate keeps food warm so you don’t have to worry about serving it straight away.

EGL 2-Tier Electric Steamer – 70% Off
The benefits of steaming vegetables are well known. Not only does it retain more vital nutrients and vitamins, but it locks in moisture and ensures the vegetables stay bright and colourful, helping you create a more exciting looking plate of food.

Plus, the steamer reduces the amount of pans you have to use, which cuts down on the washing up!

Set of 2 Oven to Table Dishes – 60% Off
You can say goodbye to awkwardly removing food from the oven with on oven glove or tea towel with this Set of 2 Oven to Table Dishes.

With their silicone bases and removable silicone grips, they can be removed safely and easily from the oven, and grip firmly to whatever surface you lay them on. Perfect for serving delicious roast potatoes!

Make Your Table Sparkle…
Make sure your table looks as good as your food with our fabulous selection of festive table decorations. Whether you’re searching for tablecloths, centrepieces, crackers or wine glasses, you’re sure to find exactly what you need at 24studio.

Our Top 3 Christmas Recipes

Jamie’s Mulled Wine - “Christmas in a glass”

  • 2 clementines
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 whole nutmeg, for grating
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 bottles Chianti or other Italian red wine
Peel large sections of peel from your clementines, lemon and lime using a speed peeler. Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Throw in your halved vanilla pod and stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.

Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you've got a beautiful thick syrup. The reason I'm doing this first is to create a wonderful flavour base by really getting the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine. It's important to make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you'll burn off the alcohol.

When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it's warm and delicious, ladle it into glasses and serve.

186 calories per serving. Taken from

Mary Berry’s Classic Christmas Cake – “The longer you leave it, the better it will taste!”

  • 175g (6oz) raisins
  • 350g (12oz) glace cherries, rinsed, thoroughly dried and quartered
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) currants
  • 350g (12oz) sultanas
  • 150ml (¼ pint) sherry, plus extra for feeding
  • Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 250g (9oz) butter, softened
  • 250g (9oz) light muscovado sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. black treacle
  • 75g (3oz) blanched almonds, chopped
  • 75g (3oz) self-raising flour
  • 175g (6oz) plain flour
  • 1½ tsp mixed spice
  • About 3 tbsp. apricot jam, sieved and warmed
  • Icing sugar
  • 675g shop-bought almond paste
  • Packet royal icing mix to cover 23cm/9in cake

Put all the dried fruit in a container, pour over the sherry and stir in the orange zest. Cover with a lid, and leave to soak for 3 days, stirring daily. Grease and line a 23cm (9in) deep round tin with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 140ºC/Fan 120ºC/Gas Mark 1.

Measure the butter, sugar, eggs, treacle and almonds into a very large bowl and beat well. Add the flours and mixed spice and mix thoroughly until blended. Stir in the soaked fruit. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.

Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 4-4½ hours or until the cake feels firm to the touch and is a rich golden brown. Check after 2 hours, and, if the cake is a perfect colour, cover with foil. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.

When cool, pierce the cake at intervals with a fine skewer and feed with a little extra sherry. Wrap the completely cold cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper and again in foil and store in a cool place for up to 3 months, feeding at intervals with more sherry. (Don't remove the lining paper when storing as this helps to keep the cake moist.)

Decorate with almond paste and royal icing.

To prepare the Christmas cake ahead: Prepare the fruit and soak in sherry 3 days ahead - this is essential to plump up and flavour the fruit. Make the cake and wrap as in stage 4. Store in a cool place for up to 3 months, following stage 4. You could also freeze the cake before decorating, for up to 3 months; defrost at room temperature.

Taken from:

The Best Turkey In The World – “With flavoured butter for that bit of extra love”

  • 6.5-kg turkey
  • 2-4 clementines
  • Rosemary, bay or thyme sprigs
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 3 onions, peeled
  • 2 celery sticks
For the butter:
  • 1 x 250g pack of butter
  • 75g dried cranberries, really finely chopped
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
  • Few sprigs of fresh sage, leaves picked
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Clementine
This year I'm using a flavoured butter to give a bit of extra love to my turkey, and this is a job you can do the day before. Put your butter into a bowl and add the chopped cranberries. Chop, sweep and run your knife through the herb leaves until really finely chopped then add to the butter with a pinch of salt and pepper, and the finely grated zest of your clementine. Mix so the butter softens and everything is combined. Divide the butter roughly in half.

Get your turkey and use a spoon to work your way between the skin and the meat. Start at the side of the cavity just above the leg and work gently up towards the breastbone and towards the back so you create a large cavity. Pick up half of your butter and push it into the cavity you've created. Use your hands to push it through the skin right to the back so it coats the breast meat as evenly as possible. Do the same on the other side then rub any leftover butter all over the outside of the bird to use it up. If you've got any herb stalks left over, put them in the cavity of the turkey for added flavour as it cooks.

Cover the turkey in cling film and keep in the fridge until you need it.
Take your turkey out of the fridge a few hours before you are ready to put it in the oven so it has time to come up to room temperature. That flavoured butter will already be under the skin so you'll only need a few tweaks to finish it off. Halve 2 to 4 clementines and pop them in the cavity with a few more sprigs of fresh herbs like rosemary, bay and thyme. The fruit will steam and flavour the birds in a really lovely way. Take a sprig of fresh rosemary, pull off the leaves at the bottom then spear that through the loose skin around the cavity to hold it together and keep it from shrinking back as the turkey cooks.

Open up the neck cavity and pack as much stuffing as possible in there, then carefully pull the skin back over the cavity, tuck it under the bird and pop it in the roasting tray. If you've already made your gravy like I've done, you won't need a vegetable trivet, if not, do that now by roughly chopping 2 or 3 carrots, 3 peeled onions and 2 celery sticks. Preheat your oven to full whack and get the turkey in the roasting tray. As soon as it goes in the oven, immediately turn the heat down to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.

As a rough guide, you want to cook the turkey for about 35 to 40 minutes per kilogram, so a 7kg turkey will want about 4 to 4½ hours in the oven. But there are so many variables such as the sort of oven you have and the quality of your bird. Check on your turkey every 30 minutes or so and keep it from drying out by basting it with the lovely juices from the bottom of the pan. After 3½ hours, remove the foil so the skin gets golden and crispy. If you are at all worried just stick a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast. When the internal temperature has reached 65ºC for a good quality bird, and about 82ºC for a cheaper bird, it's ready to come out.

Carefully put a metal skewer in the cavity and use it to lift the bird and angle it over the roasting tray so all of the juices from the cavity run out. Move the turkey to a platter then cover it with a double layer of tinfoil and 2 tea towels to keep it warm while it rests for at least 30 minutes.

Taken from:

Find our more about online shopping with Studio: Personalised Gifts | Christmas | Wedding | Competitions

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Christmas Games - For the Home and the Workplace

Christmas is all about having fun, letting your hair down and being happy. So whether you’re at home with the family or at work with your colleagues, make the most of the festive season by playing a game or two! Just make sure you get permission from your boss first…

Here are some of 24studio’s favourite Christmas games:

Secret Santa
A Christmas classic that we’ve all taken part in at some point. Everybody draws a name from a hat and buys a gift for their selected person, usually for the value of £5 or £10. The gift is left anonymous, creating the ‘secret’ element.

But why not put a bit of a spin on it? A good idea is to put each person’s year of birth next to their name. When somebody pulls a name out of the hat, they have to buy that person a gift relating to that year!

We have a great choice of Secret Santa gifts available in our range of Online Exclusives

secret santa

The Santa Hat Game
This one’s great for the office. Everybody is given a Santa hat to wear, and one person is designated as the leader. The leader chooses when to remove their hat, and when they do, everybody else in the room must follow them. The last person with their hat still on is the loser! Punish them by making them dance or sing a Christmas song.

Find Your Christmas Carol
If you’re looking for a game with a bit of embarrassment involved, then this is the one for you. Start by getting together an even number of players. Then, take an equal number of slips of paper and write the names of popular Christmas carols or songs on them. Note, there should be 2 slips for each carol or song. Put the slips in a hat.

Everybody draws a slip from the hat and must start humming their carol. The aim of the game is to identify the person humming the same tune as you! When you find them, you must both shout Merry Christmas! The winners are the first pair to identify each other.

Christmas Guess Who
Another office favourite. Everybody brings in a photo of themselves as a baby or toddler (preferably in a Christmas environment) and sticks it to a wall or hangs it from a string. Number the photos, then get every person to write down on a piece of paper who they think each photo is. The person to get the most correct, wins!

Rudolph’s Antlers
Start by blowing up a load of balloons. Then, give each player a pair of tights. The aim of the game is for each player to fill up both legs of their tights with balloons, and then wear the tights on their head like a pair of reindeer antlers. The first person to do so, wins! The last person to do it is the loser. Make sure you punish them with a Christmas-based forfeit!

Name the Song
If you know any music lovers at home or at work, then this is the game for them. People get into teams of no more than 4, then the game ‘host’ plays the introduction to a selection of songs. The teams must then guess the songs. The team to get the most correct, wins! It might be a good idea to use Christmas songs to creative a festive vibe.

For our full range of Christmas items, including trees, lights and cards, just head over to the Christmas section at 24studio.
Find our more about online shopping with Studio: Personalised Gifts | Christmas | Wedding | Competitions

Monday, 1 December 2014

18 Days of Christmas Deals

Make the countdown to Christmas even more exciting with 24studio’s 18 Days of Christmas Deals!

Every day, from the 1st of December to the 18th of December, we’ll be offering you a daily dose of delightful deals. Each day will have a theme, which could be anything from top branded toys to famous fragrances. Obviously, we won’t be telling on what day each theme is set to appear, as that would ruin the surprise!

Just keep checking the 24studio homepage to ensure you don’t miss out on a festive bargain. You could even sign up to our emails, that way you get our daily deals and more sent straight to your inbox.

Here’s a little taster of what to expect…

Under £10 Stocking Fillers

Looking for the perfect Secret Santa gift? Or maybe just a few extra treats to fill up the little one’s stockings? Then this is the day you need to look out for. From novelty gifts to beauty sets, there’s something for everyone.

Christmas Decs!

If you’re not satisfied with your current decorations, and you want your home to look a bit more like Santa’s Grotto, then why not grab yourself some extra lights or a new tree? You could even take advantage of our incredible discounts and plan ahead for next year.

Spring Book Preview

Need a little break for the Christmas madness? Our brand new Spring Book can be previewed as part of our 18 Days of Christmas deals, that way you can plan ahead for 2015. You’ll discover stylish ideas for sprucing up the home, seasonal clothing for all the family, garden furniture and much more.

Famous Fragrances

Treat that special someone to one of their favourite scents this Christmas. We’ve got a huge choice of famous brands on offer, including Davidoff, Jean Paul Gaultier, FCUK and more.

Top Branded Toys

Our selection of discounted toys will help make Christmas 2014 magical for your little ones. We’re offering toys from all the year’s hottest crazes, including Disney Frozen, Hello Kitty and Batman. Plus, many toys can be personalised for that extra special touch.

Kitchen Accessories

Whether you need a bit of extra help preparing the Christmas dinner, or if you’re simply looking to kit out your kitchen, our range of discounted kitchen appliances will not disappoint. Multi cookers, wine glasses and pan sets are just a small handful of the fantastic products on offer.

Shop the 18 days of Christmas Deals Today

Find our more about online shopping with Studio: Personalised Gifts | Christmas | Wedding | Competitions