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  1. In the blink of an eye, another year had passed by and it was time for me to host my 3rd annual Christmas Shopping Event at my humble abode.

    For the uninitiated, I turn my home into a pop up shop, with all of my products laid out 'in situ' and available to purchase. Customers are able to browse with a mulled wine and minced pie in hand, and it has become a bit of a social occasion in these parts (Hampton & the surrounding areas)!

    Having gone from around 30 products in Year 1, I now stock over 300 products. Our biggest challenge was finding a place for everything. We transformed the entire ground floor (I make that sound grander than it is, that’s 2 rooms) into a festive scene, complete with Christmas Tree, garlands, twigs and paper snowflakes. We even extended it to the decking out back, with a chimnella burning to keep the punters warm.

    The Wise House Christmas Shopping Evening Tea Cosies & Trays| The Wise House

    One of the 1st floor bedrooms was also turned into a shop, selling all of the gorgeous new products for children like paper garlands, notepads, storage boxes and handmade rabbits to name a few. My daughter, Rose, became self appointed personal shopper for this area.

    I enlisted the help of 6 friends and a hubby (mine) for the superhuman task of ‘moving out’ of my own home and ‘moving in’ all of the new stock and props. Think ‘Changing Rooms’ type scenario, with me as Carole Smilie, although I didn’t feel that ‘smilie’ after the hundredth trip up and down those stairs from the loft!

    The Wise House Shopping Evening

    My friends took the task on with aplomb, carrying boxes hither and thither, unpacking, sorting and displaying. There was even the odd occasion (ahem) when they had to politely request a cloth for the cleaning of areas untouched my human hand in recent months (since last years event?).

    Tea Cosies Megan Alice England

    With kick-off at 6:30pm we just about got the house looking shipshape, with only one last minute panic over battery powered fairy lights. (Yes I DID need that extra one of the olive tree out the front and yes it WOULD have impacted the evening not to have had it…).

    Multicoloured Pom Pom Garland

    The doors opened and over the following 4 hours over 50 people came along. The atmosphere was lovely and there was a nice even flow of people so that it didn’t feel too packed in any one room.

    My able and long suffering friend Babs ‘manned’ the tills, I set her up a special little area this year which she seemed delighted with. She even had her own notepad, pen & calculator. No one can say I don’t look after my staff ;-).

    I found a wonderful caterer in the form of my other friend Ann, who, it turns out, mixes up a mean Mulled Wine. (‘More brandy = more spending’ – I’m with you all the way Ann).

    There she is, there's Ann, on the right with my friend Clare who 'enjoyed' the Mulled Wine alot.

    Mulled Wine At The Christmas Shopping Evening

    With the kids and house rabbit safely ensconced upstairs (the latter slightly traumatised by this invasion of his home), the night continued successfully with lots of sales and people making a big dent in their shopping list.

    Parkminster Candles

    I was delighted at the popularity of all of the new stock from France; tea towels, trays, storage boxes, clutch bag. Other big sellers were the Christmas Sacks, Kiko Frames, Snowflakes, Candles, Make Up & Wash Bags, Aprons and there was even a ‘fight’ over a string of blue pom poms!

    The night was a great success. The rabbit is now back where he belongs, but I haven’t quite managed to take the Christmas tree down yet. Maybe I could just leave it there until the big day…

    Tilla The House Rabbit Enjoying The Faux Festive Scene

    Pom Pom Garlands

  2. “To cosy or not to cosy, that is the question?’

    I posed this question to my Facebook friends recently, thus provoking conflicting opinions on the matter;

    ‘I own one but don’t use it’

    ‘Absolutely’ (read, what kind of social degenerate is it who doesn’t?)

    ‘Afraid not. Think it is probably a generational thing and stops at our parents generation....’ (read, what kind of social degenerate is it who does?)

    ‘Yep! We all do in my fam’

    ‘No, but I would like to’

    There do still seem to be plenty of people who like their tea brewed in the traditional way. I own both tea pot and tea cosy which I don't use everyday but do unveil for special occasions; Saturday mornings (always a relief to reach this milestone in our house) or when friends are visiting for a cuppa and a catch up.

    My friend Lucy bought me the 2 beautiful Wedgewood Cups & Saucers pictured below. Only pot brewed and cosied tea makes it into these bad boys, whipped out in times of deep and meaningful conversation.

    photo (2)

    So how did the tea cosy come to be so popular in Britain? The tea cosy was first introduced in the 19th Century, when the Duchess of Bedford popularised the concept of Afternoon Tea as an activity to entertain affluent (presumably rather bored) women. The host was responsible for pouring the tea but what with all the time spent networking and gossiping, the tea would often go cold (I’ve been there. But without the help of house staff).

    Enter…the tea cosy! A functional hat to keep you tea warm for up to 3 hours.

    Fast forward to the 20th Century and going for Afternoon Tea with the girls is still very much in fashion, as is the gossiping. We also have the likes of the Macmillan Coffee Morning on 26th Sept (ok coffee but there will still be lots to tea served!).

    Incidently, I’ve been to The Ritz for Afternoon Tea with a group of girlfriends. Myself and my friend Emma were rather shocked to be refused entry, due to our non regulation outfits. Luckily my friend had her wheelie case with her so we had to do a quick change in the toilets (not so very ladylike). I had shuffle along to afternoon tea with shoes on that were 3 sizes too big and Emma had to wear a rather posh dress she'd bought for a wedding the next day! High society indeed.

    Tea cosies now come in all shapes and sizes. In researching my blog I came across a book entitled ‘How Tea Cosies Changed the World’ wriiten by the Guru of tea cosies, Loani Prior. I borrowed her book from the library and it is honestly one of the funniest things I've ever read (who knew?!). She is absolutely hilareous, as are some of her tea cosies. I want to share with you a few of my favourite cosies from her book.

     
    Gone Feral (words cannot express) Betty The Burlesque Dancer  Daffodil Cosy - created for Cancer Research Morning Tea in Australia
    Devilish Loani Prior  

     

    If you need cheering up, or want a giggle, I do recommend this book. Here's a taster;

    'Teapots come in all shapes and sizes. You could always make the cosy and find the pot to fit, but your favourite teapot will stay there cold and naked. Not a pretty sight or a happy situation for a teapot to be in.'

    I think Loani's wise words are very true; 'There seems there is a tea cosy for everyone! Even my least favourite cosies (yes I do admit to least favourite) are loved by someone. The world would be a very boring place if we all liked the same thing.'

    Our new tea cosies certainly aren't as comical as those pictured above, but they are designed for modern women who like their tea brewed the old fashioned way. Now, time to put the kettle on...

    Purple Tea Cosy Fabric Megan Alice England Fabric Cotton Modern Tea Cosy Megan Alice England Modern Cotton Tea Cosy Megan Alice England