Tag Archives: gift ideas

Gift idea: photo tray

Photo tray

I bought a white wooden photo tray for my nan’s birthday recently. I never know what to buy her – there’s only so much Anais Anais one woman can wear, after all. So this seemed like a pretty good option – pretty and practical, right?

The thing is, I couldn’t give it to her empty of photos – it just looked a bit, well, crap. And filling it with my own pictures didn’t work, either. Would she really want to sit in front of the tellie of an evening eating her tea off my face?

In the end, I decided to fill it with pretty things so it looked nice when she opened it, but so that she could add her own photographs later. I left a couple of pictures of the grandkids in for good measure, and the rest of the squares are filled with scraps of fabric and ribbon, bits of stamped paper, and a happy birthday message from us.

The gold fabric is left over from my curtains. and the ribbons were salvaged from a nicely-wrapped present

The gold fabric is left over from my curtains. and the ribbons were salvaged from a nicely-wrapped present

This one's a bit of paper (a charity-shop songbook) with a floral motif stamped over the top

This one’s a bit of paper (a charity-shop songbook) with a floral motif stamped over the top

 

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All I want for Valentine’s Day is… a Diptyque candle

The quickest way to tart up a shabby mantelpiece...

The quickest way to tart up a shabby mantelpiece…

I can’t resist a posh candle.

It all started almost a decade ago when I got my first editorial job on an interiors mag – Kitchens, Bedrooms & Bathrooms. A newcomer to the world of swanky interiors, I went on a few shoots and watched in awe as the stylist transformed each room into a magazine-worthy scene with the help of a few well-placed props. And one of the things that kept cropping up – both out on shoots and in the glossy pages of the magazines I leafed through in the name of research – was the Diptyque candle.

Diptyque’s first store was launched in Paris by 3 friends and fellow creatives (an interior designer, a painter and a theatre director) back in 1961. Initially designing and selling wallpapers and soft-furnishings, the trio took their first foray into the world of perfume in 1968 with their original eau de toilette, L’Eau. Fast-forward 40-odd years and their scented candles in particular have achieved cult status.

A large part of it is down to the scents. From the fruity Baies (top of my wish-list), to the woody Santal (burning away on my coffee table as I type), there’s a candle for pretty much every mood and season. And they pack quite a punch – a couple of minutes after lighting one, the whole room is filled with fragrance. And I’m not just saying that to defend the £40 price tag.

A lot of it, though, is down to aesthetics. They’re just gorgeous. Each block of white wax is held in a simple glass cylinder stamped with Diptyque’s iconic oval label – itself taken from one of the founders’ fabric designs. And it seems I’m not the only one who’s so enamored with them – Mary Portas’ home is ‘swathed in Diptyque fragrances’ and more than 34,000 fans on Facebook can’t resist a whiff either.

Unlike Portas, though, I’m yet to visit one of the cult candlemaker’s stores. The husband – who, in a cruel twist, can’t actually smell – took a trip to the Notting Hill store to pick up my Christmas present with strict instructions to avoid anything sickly sweet or vanilla-scented. He explained to the lady in the shop that I liked anything woody, fig-y or pomegranate-y, and came back with Santal. Proof, I’d say, that they know what they’re doing.

If you can’t make it to one of their stores, though, you can pick Diptyque candles up from places like John Lewis and Heal’s. And if that’s just not luxe enough, you can add a Photophore candleholder like the one below to turn it into a light-diffusing lantern – they’re now available to fit standard-size candles as well as mini.

Large Photophore - Coast

Large Photophore – Coast

As for me, I’ve just discovered that 2 Diptyque scents can be burned together to create a third, so I’ve started dropping hints in time for Valentine’s Day. When you’ve spent all day up to your elbows in nappies, nothing beats lighting one of these babies and imagining – just for a couple of minutes – you’re wandering down boulevard Saint-Germain. Well, a girl can dream…

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