Frozen comes to Spinningfields

Frozen on ice visits Spinningfields this Christmas



Frozen on ice


Altrincham Ice Skating Club to perform hits from the iconic film at Manchester’s premier ice rink

Opportunity for public to skate with the ‘stars of Frozen’ after the performance


At 12.30pm, on Sunday, December 14th 2014, Princess Elsa and Princess Anna from Disney film Frozen will take to the ice at Manchester Ice Rink, Spinningfields, to perform Altrincham Ice Skating Club’s Christmas Show, Fairy Tales on Ice.




The amateur skating club will be showing off their sparkling skating skills and encouraging the audience to sing-a-long with all the iconic songs from the show, such as Let It Go and Love Is An Open Door. The performance is free to attend, lasting approximately 20 minutes.


Skate with the stars


All of the film’s main characters will appear in the show and members of the public will be given the chance to ‘skate with the stars’ once the performance has finished. There will also be an opportunity to have a photograph taken with the show’s performers – including Princesses Anna and Elsa. The cast will be skating with the public after the show until 3.30pm.


Family hub


Both children and adults can warm-up post skate in the cosy, family hub next to the ice rink, which is complete with a selection of craft/board games to keep the young ones occupied until early evening.

Families wishing to stay for dinner can mix and match from the multitude of hot food vendors, designed to suit every palate. Vendors include Wood Fire and Smoke, Bangers and Bacon, Big Al’s BBQ, Crepe Chateau and Manchester Coffee Co., perfect for children!

Guests can wind down with live acoustic performances from 5-7pm in the hub.


Buy tickets


Tickets for the day can be purchased online and it is a first come, first served basis. Once the ice-skating sessions are booked with the performers there will not be an opportunity to pay on the day.

Tickets for the day cost £7.00 for children and £9.00 for adults. Family tickets are also available to book starting at £23.00.


Manchester ice-rink at Spinningfields


The ice rink is located on The Lawns, giving the public the chance to enjoy skating under the stars.


Ice Rink at Spinningfields


Open to the public seven days a week from 10.30am until 9pm at weekends and 3.10pm until 9pm Monday – Friday, the rink will also provide a viewing platform for those who would rather spectate than skate.


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Spinningfields





Manchester at Christmas

We became Manchester Christmas Explorers for the day!


Is it really 16 years since the first wooden chalet packed full of Christmas cheer landed in Albert Square, making Manchester the home of the original Christmas Market? It’s a model that many other towns and cities across the country have copied – but now covering a whopping nine city centre sites, Manchester loudly hails itself as the original, the biggest and the best Christmas Market in the UK.


Albert Square Manchester at Christmas

Premier Inn - Christmas Markets - Manchester


I think that Manchester really comes into it’s own at Christmas. It’s not just the markets (although they are very hard to ignore), but it’s also the theatre, panto, skating, eating, drinking and shopping that makes our city hard to beat during the festive season.


Manchester Christmas Explorer


This year I was approached by Premier Inn to become their Manchester Christmas Explorer – to winkle out some of my favourite Manc-hristmas moments to complement their special Christmas guide to Manchester for those visiting our city.

Always one to champion Manchester I was more than happy to give it my Christmas once over.

The aim of my expedition was to try and cover a mix of mainstream and hidden gems. While I did my very best, Christmas Manchester has just become too big to explore in one day – which is a fantastic excuse to come back time and time again.


And so our Manchester Christmas journey started in the ……


Northern Quarter


Manchester Craft and Design Centre

Manchester is packed full of talented designer / makers. Tucked away on Oak Street in The Northern Quarter in a converted Victorian market hall is The Manchester Craft and Design Centre.


Manchester Craft & Design Centre


Home to a fabulous collection of small independent businesses and with a cute little café, this is a great place to pick up something special or bespoke this Christmas.


Afflecks Palace 

I always get lost in Afflecks – in a good way. It’s a fantastic place to just wander. Packed to the ginnels with alternative, funky indi shops strangely I always seem to end up at Gingers Comfort Ice-Cream Emporium!


Ginger's Comfort Emporium at Afflecks

If you think that ice-cream is just for Summer, then you’ve not sampled their winter menu – plum crumble, Eccles cake and spiced rum bun all feature. In fact this award winning ice cream is so good, even Lady Gaga popped by for two scoops recently when she was in town!


Cathedral Gardens


Cathedral Gardens is one of the two Christmas Market sites new for 2014 (the other being Market Street). And to celebrate they’ve moved the big wooden windmill down from Albert Square.


Christmas Markets Cathedral Gardens


If seeing Santa is on your Christmas list, in Cathedral Gardens you’re within striking distance of two grotto’s. The FC (Father Christmas) Grotto at The National Football Museum ……. see what they did there …… opens on Friday 28th November for selected dates. Click here for more information.

Alternatively you could check out Santa’s Grotto in the Manchester Arndale.



Manchester Cathedral

Once again The Cathedral has a packed programme of festive concerts and services (click here). We didn’t have time to do it on this occasion, but an absolute favourite of mine is a mooch around the Cathedral followed by afternoon tea at Proper Tea at Manchester Cathedral.


Proper Tea performing flower

Co-founded by former Blue Peter presenter Yvette Fielding, their tea theatre is sensational! You can find them opposite the main Cathedral entrance.



St Anne’s Square


Heading down to St Anne’s Square, I snapped what I consider to be an iconic Manchester shot!


New Cathedral St giant saussage


Nothing says Manchester at Christmas like a colossal German sausage!

Keen to seek out something less German, I was relieved to finally see a proper Manchester brand – Slattery’s from Prestwich. I’ve been fortunate enough on more than one occasion to replace the blood in my body with their divine chocolate!


Slattery's at the Christmas Markets

If you find yourself in St Anne’s Square, passing The Royal Exchange Theatre, their main production for the festive period is The Little Shop of Horrors (5th December – 31st January 2015).


King Street


The market in King Street has a kind of French flavour – there’s a reindeer wearing a French flag and people in berets just in case you’re in any doubt!


King Street Manchester Christmas

However, if you’re tempted to take Monsieur Rudolph for a spin – you have been warned!


King Street Manchester Christmas




Manchester at Christmas is great – but if you find the crowds a little bit overwhelming and need a bolt hole, Manchester has a number of subterranean hostelries. En route to Spinningfields our expedition took us into The Gas Lamp on Bridge Street. This quirky, atmospheric bar is a proper slice of Manchester history.


Gas Lamp, Bridge Street

Gas Lamp, Bridge Street


As usual Spinningfields has gone Christmas crazy. Home to many a Manchester lawyer, Spinningfields now hosts a plethora of restaurants and bars and will surely be the scene of many a Christmas party this year. As has become tradition, The Lawns have been transformed into a Winter wonderland complete with ice rink and helter skelter, there’s a massive Pringles Christmas tree and the giant tipi is back outside The Oast House.

(You can also have a go at skating on the ice rink on the Plaza at MediaCityUK and on the Selfridges Ice Rink at The Intu Trafford Centre.)


Spinningfields at Christmas

The Haig Club


If you’re more of a watcher than a skater, Spinningfields has also become temporary home to Haig Club at Reserve Bar – created in partnership with David Beckham and Simon Fuller there promises to be a series of tastings and talks about all things whiskey!

And finally, not forgetting The Makers Market - Spinningfields very own Christmas Market complete with some familiar home grown Manchester talent.


The Opera House

The Opera House just on the edge of Spinningfields is the home to our panto Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs this Christmas.



Brazenose Street and Albert Square


Brazenose Street (complete with it’s statue of Abraham Lincoln) makes a convenient cut through to the main Christmas Market event in Albert Square. A touch off the beaten track, it’s my favourite spot for indulging in a hot wine or two.

Overlooked by a giant Father Christmas who sits aloft on The Town Hall (affectionately known by us locals as ‘Zippy), our Christmas expedition finished where the Christmas Markets started all those years ago, in Albert Square.


Albert Square Manchester Christmas Markets


For a unique view of Albert Square, last year we headed up to the top of the Town Hall Clock Tower. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like this tour is available this year – however we do have other friends in high places. Located on the corner of Albert Square is Albert’s Chop House, with a beautiful view of the square from it’s roof.


View from the top of Albert's Chop House Manchester

I’m a big fan of Albert’s Chop House (and his brothers Thomas and Sam) – they are a real Manchester institution. So if you fancy something a little more refined than a big sausage and some goulash, pop into the bar or the restaurant and dive into their Christmas menu.

While I plumped for plate of home-made corn beef hash, my partner in crime Rachael chose the slow cooked beef. All washed down with a glass of red ….. specifically recommended for each dish courtesy of the wine menu, and in the perfect company of LS Lowry who watched our enjoyment stony faced.


Albers Chop House


Manchester really is a great city at Christmas. For more information about the Christmas Markets with a list of who is trading at each market site, click here.





Competition Time




We’ve got a a fantastic Christmas Hamper to give away to one lucky reader, containing:

Christmas Explorer Hamper




  • 1 x Hand warmers
  • 1 x Chocolates box
  • Mulled wine sachets
  • 1 x tote bag
  • 2 x Ceramic reindeer spoons



All we want to know is what’s at the top of your Christmas Explorer ‘to do’ list?

Pop it in the comments box below – but only one comment per person please.


So don’t be shy – tell us which is where you’ll be heading for this Christmas?

Good luck!


Alison x (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


A big thank you to Rachael Adams from The Social Butterfly for accompanying me on our expedition.

Photographs: Alison Staples, Simon Bowers, McAvoy Photography, Proper Tea Company

Our meal was courtesy of Albert’s Chop House, however this didn’t affect their inclusion in this feature. If we didn’t love them we wouldn’t have gone!




By taking part in this competition you are agreeing to 4Manchester Womens Terms & Conditions for competitions and prize draws.


Competition closing date: 9pm Tuesday 16th December 2014.

The winner will be the first name selected at random from all respondents. No purchase necessary. No cash alternative. The Editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Closing date is 9pm Tuesday 16th December 2014. The winner will be notified immediately. Only one entry per person. UK entries only. No automated entries. Supporting ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions, loquax and  Competitions Time. If you are the lucky winner, your contact details will be forwarded to the providers of the prize, strictly for the purpose of fulfilling the prize and not for any other purpose.
Please note: Should you be notified as the winner, and you do not respond within 2 days of our notification, we reserve the right to re-draw the winner.




New trends Christmas decorations

John Lewis Christmas press launch reveals what’s hot for Christmas 2014


Two years ago it was Winterland, Christmas Holiday, Theatre, New Japan and Lapland and last year it was Rural Life, Odyssey, Vintage Market, Winter Wonderland and Forest Festival.

It does leave me wondering just how many variations there are on the Christmas theme! So it was with eager anticipation that I jogged along to the launch of the 2014 John Lewis Christmas collection.


Christmas scene with dog


This year themes range from the nostalgic, travelling back in time to Christmas past, through to fun and feel-good themes. And as usual we’re sharing the themes with you and asking which is your favourite in our competition to win a fabulous John Lewis 2014 Teddy Bear.

If you haven’t already seen the new John Lewis Christmas advert, or if you just want to see it again – here’s Monty the Penguin. I’ve been working with John Lewis for a number of years now, and I think this is my favourite Christmas advert yet.



Six hot Christmas 2014 trends


So here are the top Christmas trends for 2014 as chosen by John Lewis – I wonder which will be your favourite?

  • Croft
  • Christmas Past
  • Copenhagen
  • Vibrant Vintage
  • House
  • Festive Friends


1. Croft

Beautiful and considered, Croft evokes a relaxed feeling with neutral tones accented with soft textiles, perfect for creating a white Christmas.


Croft John Lewis Christmas 2014 trend


2. Christmas Past

This trend brings the outdoor in with natural materials, woodland creatures and frosted berries. It’s the perfect look for capturing the essence of a cosy Christmas in the country.


Christmas Past John Lewis Christmas 2014 trend


3. Copenhagen

A key theme for 2014 this is the very essence of Scandinavian style – simple, contemporary and fashionable. Materials are natural and are used in modern, sometimes intriguing combinations such as the blackboard baubles, that can be written on.


Copenhagen John Lewis Christmas 2014 trend


4. Vibrant Vintage

A nostalgic, colourful collection of trims and accessories inspired by the past such as mouth-blown glass baubles from Eastern Europe and jewel toned droplets, perfect for a Christmas tree.


Vibrant Vintage John Lewis Christmas 2014 trend


5. House

A carefully selected collection of fun, contemporary decorations and lights, to create a cool and colourful Christmas theme.


House John Lewis 2014 Christmas Trend


6. Festive Friends

A fun and colourful theme ideal for a children’s Christmas. Highlights include the singing Santa lantern, owl tree decorations and this year’s Christmas character, a cute sausage dog which features across decorations, tree skirts and soft toys.

Festive Friends John Lewis Christmas 2014 trend



Competition Time



John Lewis 2014 teddy











We’ve got a John Lewis 2014 medium sized bear to give away to one lucky reader.

All we want to know is which is your favourite Christmas decorations trend from those above?

Pop it in the comments box below – but only one comment per person please.


So don’t be shy – tell us which is your favourite of our 2014 Christmas trends?

Good luck!


Alison x (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


You can visit the John Lewis Christmas Shop here.

Photographs: John Lewis



By taking part in this competition you are agreeing to 4Manchester Womens Terms & Conditions for competitions and prize draws.


Competition closing date: 9pm Tuesday 9th December 2014.

The winner will be the first name selected at random from all respondents. No purchase necessary. No cash alternative. The Editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Closing date is 9pm Tuesday 9th December 2014. The winner will be notified immediately. Only one entry per person. UK entries only. No automated entries. Supporting ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions, loquax and  Competitions Time. If you are the lucky winner, your contact details will be forwarded to the providers of the prize, strictly for the purpose of fulfilling the prize and not for any other purpose.
Please note: Should you be notified as the winner, and you do not respond within 2 days of our notification, we reserve the right to re-draw the winner.




Stylish Winter Bedroom Designs

It’s cold outside, so snuggle up and keep warm


When the winter sets in and temperatures begin to plummet outdoors, there is nothing better than coming back to a warm, cosy house or flat.

With the right decor and design, you can make your home feel even more inviting, creating the perfect retreat from the icy temperatures that are going to part of our lives for the next few months.


Aran knitted cushions


The room that’s the most tempting to retire to in the winter is your bedroom – a sanctuary of warmth and the place where you can snuggle up, relax, enjoy some rest and pretend the freezing temperatures of outside world don’t exist.

While the average amount of time we sleep has decreased over the years, most people still see the bedroom as a haven in which where you’ll get the bulk of your comfort and rest.

With the right winter bedroom designs, you can create a den that is not only comfortable and relaxing but warm, snug and inviting.

Whether you want to create a bedroom that enables you to simply forget the frost and cold outside or whether you want to create a magical boudoir that brings the beauty of winter indoors (minus the cold, of course), the are some great ways to festoon your bedroom during this season.

Here are some ideas to help you to create the perfect environment.



Create a magical winter wonderland


While no one’s keen to bring the icy temperatures of winter indoors, many love the sparkle and beauty that winter frost and snow create. When it comes to your bedroom, you can recreate the beauty of the outdoors in winter without the chill blast.

Bright white fairy lights around the bed can add a magical sparkle akin to gleaming frost. A white fleece blanket thrown on the bed will add both warmth and effect.

Artwork depicting winter scenes can be added to the walls for the perfect finishing touch.





Create a cosy retreat


If you prefer to leave everything to do with winter outdoors when you head to bed, you can create a wonderful cosy retreat by adding warmth and colour to your bedroom.

Brown fur rug


Use rich, vibrant colours like red and gold for your bed linen and add lots of outsized, soft pillows for a really cosy finish.

If you have a wooden floor, invest in a plush rug to add warmth and cosiness to the room.

Also, adding lamps with colourful shades can help to light up dark corners of the room, albeit with warm, low lighting.



Create a festive bedroom


One of the best things about winter (possibly the only thing) is that it brings Christmas.

If you want to get into the spirit of the season, you can transform your bedroom into your own personal Christmas grotto. Remember, decorations don’t have to be just for the living room – you can also add festive sparkle and colour to your bedroom to create a magical space that speaks of the spirit of the season as much as any other room in the house.

Use festive colours such as green and red for your bed sheets and pillows, add some festive artwork to the walls, and add some sparkle with festive lights around the bed.



Create a place to hibernate


Many of us simply want to crawl into our bedrooms and hibernate when winter comes around. While actual hibernation may not be possible unless you’re lucky enough to be a lady of leisure, there’s no reason why you can’t create a bedroom that looks the part of the perfect and cosy den.

Use warm rustic colours such as fawn and chocolate for your bed linen and for your rugs. Make sure you have plenty of throws and blankets in soft materials for added cosiness. Warm ambient lighting will help to create atmosphere, while thick curtains in rich colours will help to keep out the chills.


Orange table lamp


Whether you want to bring winter into the bedroom or keep it firmly outside, you will find some very simple yet effective design ideas to help you to create the perfect bedroom this snowy season.

Simple steps such as using warm colours on the bed, thick rugs, the right lighting and adding appropriate artwork will help create the perfect finish. This in turn will help you to create the ideal seasonal ambiance, from cosy and inviting through to festive and magical.



Photographs: Michele Styles via Pinterest, Land of Rugs, Red Door Apartment, Cute Decor













Top of the Christmas tree

What’s on the top of your Christmas tree?



Some people have a fairy, others have a star.


Christmas tree toppers


But me – I like to defy convention. I’ve got a Bishop on the top of mine!

Felt bishopI’m not quite sure why, but he seems to be quite happy in his elevated position.

I hope you’re all feeling wonderfully Christmassy and that you’re starting to relax into the festive fandangos!

No such luck” I hear you cry! “I’ve got presents to wrap, shopping to do and now I’ve got to email everyone because I’ve missed the last post!!

Well that’s my story. I hope you’ve been more organised than me.

So tell me – what’s on the top of yours?


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Polyvore – click on the images above for more information, Alison Staples













My top 5 favourite Xmas No 1′s

What would be your Top of the Pops?


If all goes to plan, this evening I’m wrapping all my Christmas presents.

BUT – an operation such as this requires the right sound track (and a glass of sherry).

I’ve had the same Christmas CD for about 10 years now and frankly I’m a bit bored of Slade and Shakin’ Stevens.


Christmas CD
So, I’ve been having a look back at previous Christmas No 1′s to see if I can find something a bit different, and have come up with my top five.

But before I cut to the chase, I have a few little facts for you.


Did you know that …….


The Beatles top the chart when it comes to the most Christmas Number 1′s with:

  • I want to hold your hand (1963)
  • I feel fine (1964)
  • Day tripper (1965)
  • Hello Goodbye (1967)

Of course Paul McCartney had another bite of the cherry in 1977 with Wings and Mull of Kintyre which as far as I can remember stayed at Number 1 for the rest of the year!


In the ’90′s


In the ‘90’s, Christmas bought itself a Union Jack dress and a pair of platforms and belted out a big dose of ‘Girl Power’. With three Christmas Number 1′s – thank you The Spice Girls for:

  • 2 become 1 (1996)
  • Too Much (1997)
  • Goodbye (1998)

It sounds like one of my previous relationships from around that time.


Band Aid


Band Aid have changed their line up more times than the Sugababes, but it didn’t stop them charting at Number 1 in Christmas 1984, 1989 and 2004 with Do they Know it’s Christmas? It’s just a guess – but I think they probably do!




While people across the Commonwealth sit down at 3 o’clock every Christmas to watch the Queen’s speech, she isn’t the only Queen to have ruled at Christmas. In 1975 and again in 1991, rock God’s Queen topped the chart with Bohemian Rhapsody – complete with Beelzebub in his sideboard!


Same Song, Different Artist


The crown for same song, different artist goes to Mary’s Boy Child which reached Number 1 with Harry Belafonte in 1957 and Boney M in 1978.


Are you impressed? I’ve been doing some very in depth research!


Cliff Richard


While at one point in the late ‘80’s if felt like Cliff Richard was Christmas Number 1 every year – he actually only managed it twice (I say only – it’s twice more than I’ve managed), with ‘Mistletoe and Wine in 1988 and Saviours Day in 1990. Though he did manage a cheeky Number 1 in 1960 with The Shadows and I Love You.

And I love you too Cliff, so I guess we can bump you up to three.


Novelty Christmas Number 1′s


We’ve had some stonkingly bad novelty Number 1’s over the years. Who could forget (though I’m sure we’d all love to), Mr Blobby with Mr Blobby (Blobby, Blobby) in 1993, Renee & Renato with Save Your Love in 1982, St Winifred’s School Choir with There’s no one quite like Grandma in 1980, Bennie Hill with Ernie (fastest milkman in the west) in 1971 and Bob the Builder with Can we fix it? in 2000.


Ridiculous Name Award


However the ‘ridiculous name’ award goes to neither Mr Blobby nor Bob the Builder, but Conrad Twitty who was top of the pops Christmas 1958 with It’s only make believe. But unfortunately it wasn’t – that really was his name.


Reality Show Winners


Sadly the ‘noughties’ and I suspect the ‘teenies’ have become very predictable, being dominated by reality show winners – mainly The X Factor.

In 2002 we had Girls Aloud with The Sound of the Underground. In 2005 Shayne Ward, 2006 Leona Lewis, 2007 Leon Jackson, 2008 Alexandra Burke and 2010 Matt Cardle. Only Joe McElderry, Little Mix and James Arthur have failed to make it to Christmas Number 1, pipped at the post by Rage Against the Machine and Killing in the name (after a huge campaign for an anti X Factor 2009 protest vote), The Military Wives with Gareth Malone and Wherever you are, and The Justice Collective with He Ain‘t Heavy, He’s My Brother last year.


Will this year’s Number 1 be X Factor’s Sam Bailey with Skyscraper or something else?



My Top 5 Favourite Christmas Number 1′s


So enough of this preamble – I’ve scoured the list of Christmas Number ones and here are my favourite Top 5.


5. Michael Andrews starring Gary JulesMad World. Christmas 2003 (because it’s so haunting).



4. Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman – ‘Something Stupid’. Christmas 2001 (for the sexual chemistry).



3. Winifred Atwell – Let’s Have Another Party. Christmas 1954 (because it reminds me of my mum who was a big Winifred Atwell fan. And because would be rude not to have another party!



2. Danny Williams – ‘Moon River’. Christmas 1961 (last dance at our wedding).



1. Dickie Valentine – ‘Christmas Alphabet’. Christmas 1955 (a good old fashioned Christmas song).



Whatever your favourite Christmas tune – bang it on your CD player / ipod, crack open the sherry, swing your baubles and wrap along.



Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples












Christmas biscuits

Gorgeous gingerbread Christmas tree decorations


This is my first attempt at Christmas biscuits – so those of you who have the Mrs Kippling gene will undoubtedly do much better than me.

I’m not a natural baker – and I’d be lying if I said I rustled them up in a jiffy. But they are my labour of love which I wanted to share! Basically if I can make them, anyone can!


Christmas biscuits Gingerbread Christmas tree decorations


The cunning plan is to give them to all my friend’s children so they’ve got something of their own to hang on their Christmas trees.

I found this lovely recipe here.


What you will need


  • 380g of plain flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 3 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1 tsp of mixed spice
  • 225g of unsalted butter or soft marg
  • 340g of soft brown sugar
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 blocks of ready made rollable fondant icing.
  • Red and black edible ink pens
  • Christmas cookie cutters


Method – the biscuits


1. Preheat the oven to 180C

2. Line two or three baking trays with greaseproof paper.

3. Sieve / combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, spices, salt).


Christmas biscuits, what you will need

4. In a large separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar.

5. Gradually add in the beaten egg.

6. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients.

7. At this point you should be able to roll your dough into a big ball.

8. If it’s still too wet, add more flour and incorporate with your hands.

9. Dust a surface and a rolling pin with flour.


Christmas biscuits
10. Roll out your dough to around a 0.5cm thickness.

11. Use Christmassy cookie cutters to cut out your shapes.

My teddy bear cutter also doubled as a reindeer if I turned it upside down.


Christmas biscuits


12. Once cut, place them onto your trays.

13. Roll all the dough back together into a ball and roll out again.

14. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden brown.

15. If you want to make holes for ribbon be quick! I used a chopstick!

16. Allow to cool.


Christmas biscuits


Christmas biscuits


If your chopstick doesn’t go all the way through, you may need to chip away at the hole with a sharp knife when the biscuit is a bit cooler. But don’t leave it too long or the biscuit will become too brittle and will break. Eating the evidence is of course compulsory!


Method – the icing


I opted for roll out fondant icing.

1. Roll out the icing using the cookie cutters for more Christmassy shapes.

2. Brush the biscuits lightly with water to make the icing stick on top.


Icing Christmas shapes


4. Make a hole in the icing to match the one in the biscuit.


Iced Christmas biscuits


5. Wait for the icing to set so that it’s firm enough to draw on.

6. Using pens with edible ink – draw stars, hearts, etc.


I ditched the ribbon I’d bought and used string to hang the biscuits. It’s cheaper and much more rustic which I felt better matched my biscuity attempts.



Christmas biscuits / Gingerbread Christmas tree decorations


As I mentioned above – I’ll be giving them to my friend’s children – so of course they had to have a Christmas cookie with their names on! Shssssh Don’t tell them!


Christmas cookies




Happy Christmas baking!


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples



Other related articles:


Keeping Christmas Cakes Simple

Make your own festive wrapping paper

How to make felt Christmas tree decorations










Festive brown paper wrapping

Have yourself a thrifty little Christmas with this homemade pretty rustic wrapping paper ‘How-To’


Ever received a beautifully wrapped gift and then handed yours over wincing while mumbling that your neighbour’s two year old insisted on helping you wrap it?

Gift wrap envy? Just how do you pull off the perfectly wrapped present this Christmas?

Hannah Wells


We asked craft expert and new guest blogger Hannah Wells from My Craftea Day to come up with some pretty but thrifty ways to wrap your gifts.


Over to you Hannah ……

There are some gorgeous wrapping papers out there this year but I’m going to show you how to transform brown paper into festive, pretty and unique wrappings.


Its a chance to create ‘one off’ designs and will show that you have put as much care into wrapping their present as you did choosing their gift!


What I used


Making festive brown paper


  • Brown paper
  • Luggage tags and blank heart shaped brown card tags
  • Various festive rubber stamps (or potato and knife if creating own stamp!)
  • Ink stamp pad in red
  • Glitter glue
  • Scissors
  • Stripy string
  • Brown parcel string
  • Doilies (mini ones for smaller gifts, larger ones for bigger gifts!)
  • Bells
  • Washi tapes
  • Clear sticky tape
  • Metallic sparkly ribbon
  • Iron
  • Weights to help when wrapping (I used a candle and some paint bottles!)



Making festive brown paper


Unwrap and roll out your brown paper. You can either cut it to the size of the gift you are wrapping or work on a longer length of paper and cut later.

Iron the paper flat to make it easier to work with.



Making festive brown paper


Lay the paper flat on a table and weight it down at the corners



Making festive brown paper


Using a rubber stamp and ink pad press the stamp into the ink and onto the paper in a random format – if your present is small stamp your design closer together on the paper so you get to see more of it when wrapped.

Don’t forget to keep loading the stamp with ink either every time you stamp or every other – if you want a faded look then don’t reapply as often!


Making festive brown paper


You could cut your own pattern into a potato for a truly original design and then use either the ink stamp or paints to stamp your design.


Ink should dry quite quickly, paint will take longer.


Making festive brown paper


You could also use wooden shapes to create a pattern. I bought these in a pack from hobby craft that I’ve used to make decorations with!

I had a few left over so tried them using glitter glue instead of ink.  Put a thin layer on using a spatula and press onto the paper.  I left mine over night to dry but it probably only needs half an hour.




It’s a great way to create a sparkly more glamorous look to your brown paper!


Making festive brown paper


You could even wrap the present first and then using your finger dot little circles of the glitter glue over the parcel-be careful not to smudge!

Play around, have fun and be creative creating different print layouts on each piece of paper you have cut!

I used snowflakes, gingerbread men and star shaped stamps but you can buy so many different designs of stamps, get them custom made or make your own using the potato method!


Making festive brown paper


To continue the glamour theme stamp a brown parcel luggage label with the glitter glue


Making festive brown paper


Tie your parcel with a glittery metallic ribbon in the traditional tying technique and knot in the centre of the front of the present.


Making festive brown paper


Thread one the ribbon ends through the hole of the label.


Making festive brown paper


Tie in a bow!


Making festive brown paper


Snip the ends of the ribbon at an angle to prevent fraying.



Adding the extra little details


This year I’m decorating our house and tree in a scandi / nordic / handcrafted theme so I will be definitely making more of the hand stamped snow flakes and ginger bread men papers and won’t use so much sparkle.

To make the parcels look more interesting though I have being playing around with different decorations such as stripy strings, bells, heart shaped tags and doilies!

I absolutely love doilies! They add a vintage feel but also look like big snowflakes! Heres how to incorporate extra little details into your present wrapping.


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Wrap your present with one of your stamped papers.

Place a small doily over one edge of your parcel and hold in place – you could put a small piece of scotch tape over the edges to secure if you find it too fiddly to keep in place.


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Tie your parcel with brown parcel string in the traditional tying technique and knot in the centre of the front of the present.


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Stamp a tag with the same stamp you used on the paper – I’ve used a brown card heart tag here.


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Thread one of the string ends through the hole of the tag


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Thread a bell onto the string end. I bought these bells on eBay.


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Tie the string ends into a bow and snip any excess string from the ends


Scandi Christmas wrapping


For this ginger bread man stamped paper I used red and white stripey string which I bought in hobby craft (you can probably tell by now I spend a lot of time and money in there!)

I stamped the luggage tag and threaded it and tied a bow as before. I think this looks really cute and nice for children’s gifts!



Washi tape


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Finally washi tape!!

This is my favourite sticky tape of all time. You can buy so many gorgeous designs that can make any parcels and envelopes look more exciting. I’ve even upcycled tinned cans with it to use as desk tidies but thats for another ‘How-to’!

Here I wrapped my parcel in plain brown paper.

I used three different designs of washi tape in matching colours. Just place the end of the washi at the starting point and guide it round where you want to stick it – it was fairly easy on this cylindrical pressie!

You can measure the distances from each end of the present to get it looking even or just wing it and see what design you can create if you don’t!


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Use it on your tags too!


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Use a little washi tape to secure either end of the parcel.

I stuck two pieces overlapping in a cross on here. I’ve tied this parcel with the stripy string again to keep the colours to a minimum as there is quite a lot going on!

Thread your tag onto the string and tie in a bow as the method before.


Scandi Christmas wrapping


Et Voila!

Lots of pretty and interesting ways to wrap with brown parcel paper – I would love to be able to say that that’s all my wrapping done for this year but I’ve not even finished buying all my gifts yet!!



Have a crafty Christmas!


Hannah x


Photographs: Hannah Wells

You can find Hannah at














Top tips for Christmas Style

All the help you need to choose your Christmas Party outfit


‘Tis the party season and if you’ve not already, it won’t be long before you’re asking yourself that seemingly impossible question – ‘what can I wear?!’

We’ve been asking the same question so our super dooper intern  Victoria went off to seek advice from style expert, Susan, at Susan Styles You.


Over to you Victoria ……



After a quick chat with Susan, we soon found out that a key trend for this season is the midi skirt, which is lucky as Manchester isn’t particularly warm at this, or for that matter, any time of the year.

Maybe long-johns would be a more appropriate trend for us Mancunians!

Along with the favoured midi, there’s a lot of texture mixing going on.


So you won’t be surprised to see that sequins, leather and fur (of the faux kind, of course!) are here to stick around for a while longer.

The sequins however, are less shiny and more subtle than they have been previously. It’s all about experimentation, such as mixing a sequin top with a contrasting leather skirt for a glamorous punk vibe.

There’s no need to break the bank with a designer dress, as the high street has really raised it’s game. Some of our favourites at the moment are Zara, Primark and Topshop.


1. Staying Warm


Susan’s top tip for staying warm but remaining elegant, is to invest in a faux fur shrug or gilet which is versatile and easy to throw on over the top of your outfit – whether it be an evening gown, jumpsuit or skirt and top combo.




punk vibe


1. Crop top. £35.00 at River Island

2. Black leather skirt, £95.00 at Whistles

3. Head Over Heels platform booties by Dune, £49.00 at Debenhams

4. Crystal purse, £55.00 at Oasis

5. Coast black faux fur shrug, £60.00 at John Lewis



2. Christmas Colours


Colour wise, emerald green, gold and light pink are huge over the festive season!


christmas colours


1. Emerald green maxi slip dress, £25.00 at River Island

2. Pale pink maxi dress, £35.00 at River Island

3. Gold sequin skirt, £59.00 at House of Fraser

4. Faith pink clutch bag, £30.00 at Debenhams

5. AX Paris bracelet bangle, £10.00 at AX Paris

6. Emerald earrings, £12.00 at



3. Jazz It Up


Make sure to put your best fashion foot forward in a pair of killer heels.

Another big trend, and a cool but cheap new way of revolutionising your wardrobe is to invest in some shoe clips.

Cleo B - the online boutique has a huge collection, ranging from gold bows, fur pom – poms and crystal clusters. They allow you to instantly transform an old pair of heels into a statement shoe perfect for the office do!


party shoes



1. Head Over Heels by Dune platform sandals, £55.00 at Debenhams

2. Black cut out shoes, £60.00 at River Island

3. Cleo B bow shoes clips, £40.00 at

4. Black embellished bank ankle strap sandals, £55.00 at Debenhams

5. Burchette sandals, £30.00 at ALDO

6. Cleo B crystal shoe clips, £45.00 at


I hope that helps you answer that dreaded question. Happy shopping!



Victoria x


Photographs: Victoria Hepworth via Polyvore. Click on the individual items for more details.


Other articles by Victoria:

Cantonese lessons for kids

Manchester Town Hall Clock Tower Tour

The Great Big Christmas Card

Christmas Nail Art Tutorials

Children’s Christmas Fancy Dress Outfits

National Days December

National Days November

National Days October

National Days September

Places to see Santa in Manchester

Mumpreneur of the Year

Vintage Manchester Awards Best of 2013

A-Z of Vogue’s Fashions Night Out

Top 10 places to go and see animals

Top 10 family adventure days out

Top 10 picnic spots














Christmas Jumpers

Happy Christmas Jumper Day everyone!


Friday the 13th December is Christmas Jumper Day! That’s right, the novelty knit made by your Nan has now become a huge trend. To celebrate Christmas Jumper Day we sent Victoria out to learn more about how we should be embracing the trend and to pick her favourites from the high street.


Over to you Victoria ……



Am I really putting Christmas jumpers and fashionable in the same sentence?

Yes, I suppose I am.

When I approached our resident style expert, Susan, from Susan Styles You for some advice about pulling off the novelty trend – it’s fair to say she was less than happy to deem a Christmas jumper as stylish.


Which, when you look at the vast array of pom-pom and glitter adorned woolly mammoth-like creations, is easy to understand.

However, there is a time and place and we can’t help but feel your winter wardrobe would be somewhat lacking without one.

It’s also Christmas Jumper Day on Friday the 13th (take the coincidental date placing as you wish) and as you’ve probably already guessed, we love a good national day.



Christmas jumpers!



1. Shell Pink Sequin Sweater, now £5.50 at New Look

2. Grey Penguin Jumper, £28.00 at New Look

3. Black Gingerbread Man Christmas Jumper, now £19.00 at New Look

4. Women’s Christmas Jumper, now £9.60 at Peacocks

5. MERRY CHRISTMAS YA FILTHY ANIMAL Jumper, £15.00 at Miss Rebel

6. Grey Robin Sequin Dolman Top, now £20.00 at River Island

7. Beige and Black Reindeer Fuzzy Jumper, now £35.00 at Debenhams

8. Christmas Penguin Pom Jumper, £27.00 at Internacionale

9. SoulCal Robin Womens Jumper, £15.00 at USC

With some help from Susan, we’ve compiled a handy list for you to keep in mind while you’re browsing the shops.

1. Keep it cheap and cheerful


You’re only going to get one or two uses out of it before it gets sent to the back of your wardrobe for another year. So spend your money sparingly and wisely. Primark have some great bargains, and take a look at our top picks for some inspiration.


2. Keep it simple


Don’t even think about bringing out the deely boppers and bauble earrings! The Christmas jumper is a trend in its own (slightly controversial) right. Make sure you keep all the attention on the jumper.


3. Style it well


Again, keeping it simple is important. Team your jumper with a pair of skinny jeans and ankle boots for an effortless, chic collaboration which doesn’t detract from the festive piece.


Victoria x


Photographs: Victoria Hepworth via Polyvore. Click on the images to find out more about each item.



Other articles by Victoria:

Manchester Town Hall Clock Tower Tour

The Great Big Christmas Card

Christmas Nail Art Tutorials

Children’s Christmas Fancy Dress Outfits

National Days December

National Days November

National Days October

National Days September

Places to see Santa in Manchester

Mumpreneur of the Year

Vintage Manchester Awards Best of 2013

A-Z of Vogue’s Fashions Night Out

Top 10 places to go and see animals

Top 10 family adventure days out

Top 10 picnic spots







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