Asda £99 fuel authorisation charge causes customer outrage

Asda card only petrol station

Asda has come under blast on social media as it recently had started to charge a £99 ‘deposit’ on top of the normal charges for the fuel that have topped up at the Asda pay at the pump.

Asda stated that the £99 additional charge was to ensure the customers would have enough money to pay for a whole tank of fuel. They also stated that the £99 charge would not actually leave your bank account as long as the correct value is paid and that it is just supposed to cut down fraud. Asda said that the whole purpose of Visa and MasterCard in this trial was to make sure customers had adequate funds in their account to pay for the whole tank of fuel and that the £99 would be immediately released back into the customer’s bank account.

The trial was only active in 3 petrol stations in the north-west but it was quickly put on hold when customers took to social media to complain about the funds not being put back into their account immediately and that they were left out of pocket after filling up their tank at an Asda petrol station.

This change is due to an industry rule change that requires petrol stations that have automates fuel pumps to pre-authorise a value that is equivalent to a full tank of fuel. In the past fuel customers only had £1 extra taken from their accounts as a pre-authorisation fee to ensure their card is valid. The £99 charge has caused so much outrage due to the fact that no matter how much you will fill up your tank whether it be £5 or £5o you will still be momentarily (some say it did not come back into their account for 2-3 days) charged £99 leaving some customers with no available funds.

You can dodge this temporary charge by using the kiosk at Asda stations to pay for your petrol instead of the pay at the pump stations. The trial has currently been put on hold but you should check with Asda before you start using the pay at the pump stations if you do not have £99 to spare when filling up your tank.

UK Netflix Releases May 2018

netflix on laptop

It’s soon approaching May and Netflix UK has new releases and returns of some favourites to keep us occupied during the last few spring months.

netflix phone

May 1st to 16th

During the first half of the month, Netflix is introducing loads of new programs and films:

For all Love Island fans, you’re just in luck! seasons 1 and 2 will be making their appearance on May 1st as well as Cold Feet seasons 1 to 6. 27: Gone Too Soon is a documentary exploring the deaths of iconic musicians who all passed at age 27 creating the ’27 club’ conspiracy.

Dear White People Volume 2 is available from May 4th, season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race will also be back.

Bad Neighbours 2 is available May 10th featuring Chloe Moretz, Lisa Kudrow, Seth Rogan and Zac Efron.

For all your science needs Bill Nye will be back in season 3 of his Netflix series, Bill Nye Saves the World on May 11th. Teen drama film The Kissing Booth is out May 11th too, along with Taxi Driver a Robert De Niro classic.

The Intern will be available on May 13th a comedy-drama featuring Anna Hathaway as a CEO and an unlikely intern, Robert De Niro.

May 17th to 31st

In the second half of the month you’ll be able to catch:

May 18th will bring Cargo a horror film featuring Martin Freeman in which he tries to keep his daughter safe in a world swarming with zombies. The Social Network will also be out may 18th, the biopic about Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt makes a come back with season 4 on May 20th.

May 23rd welcomes Explained a new weekly series discussing topics like the gender wage gap.

Season 2 of The Toys That Made Us comes back on the 25th focusing on toys of the past and how they changed how kids played throughout time. Steve Martin and Martin short: An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Life is also available from May 25th.

Hugh Jackman takes on an updated Peter Pan story in Pan on May 27th.

Ikea’s new line of Bluetooth Speakers

Ikea has ventured into the technology scene with their new line of Bluetooth speakers, Eneby and they don’t even need assembling!

White/Grey

Large white speaker
Courtesy of IKEA. Large white speaker.
Small white speaker
Courtesy of IKEA. Small white speaker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The white/grey comes in two sizes, the smaller version measures at 20cm x 20cm and has a handle allowing it to be used as a portable speaker when paired with the Eneby battery which is sold separately, the larger size measures 30cm x 30cm and does not have a handle as it would be too large to be a portable speaker and the Eneby battery does not fit into it. The large speaker costs £80 and the small speaker costs £45.

Black

small black speaker with handle
Courtesy of IKEA. Small black speaker.
large black speaker
Courtesy of IKEA. Large black speaker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just like the White/grey the black speaker comes in two sizes, larger and smaller, 20cm x 20cm and 30cm x 30cm. The smaller one has a handle and the larger one doesn’t. The black speaker is perfect for darker colour schemes in the home whereas the white/grey would work better in lighter styled rooms. The large speaker costs £80 and the small speaker costs £45.

Speaker stand & wall bracket

speaker on speaker stand
Courtesy of IKEA. Speaker stand.

You can set the speaker up in many ways: stood up on its own, stood using the speaker stand or attached to the wall using the wall bracket. The speaker stand and wall brackets are sold separately, although the wall brackets are not yet on the website. The speaker stands cost £15 and we expect the wall brackets to cost the same.

Speaker Battery

speaker battery
Courtesy of IKEA. Speaker Battery.

If you want to make your smaller speaker portable you can buy a speaker battery that will stay powered up for 10 hours once fully charged. The battery will charge once your speaker is plugged into the wall with the battery installed. The battery costs £15 and is only available for the 20cm x 20cm speaker.

What the Sugar Tax means for energy and soft drink lovers

sugar tax

The government are making an attempt to ‘tackle childhood obesity’ by taxing soft drinks for their sugar levels. They’re calling this the Soft Drinks Industry Levy which came into effect on the 6th of April 2018. The sugar tax has apparently already resulted in over 50% of soft drinks manufacturers reducing the sugar content of their products. The sugar tax was announced in March 2018 and since then the soft drinks industry has been trying to lower it’s sugar levels whilst keeping the same well-known tastes.

coke zero bottles
A popular soft drink is Coke, they offer low sugar alternatives such as Coke Zero

Soft drinks manufacturers who choose not to lower their products sugar levels will be forced to pay the levy. The government has stated that this should accumulate £240 million each year that will supposedly go towards primary school sports, healthy eating schemes, sports facilities for children and schools for PE as well as healthy school breakfast clubs.

When the levy was announced two years ago it was expected to bring in £520m but this changed to £240m in 2018 due to companies and manufacturers adhering to the new rules to avoid the charges. Companies would be made to pay 24p per litre of drink that contains 8 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres or 18p per litre of drink if it contains between 5-8 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres.

Lucozade, another popular soft drink, lead the way in reformulating its drinks

Many soft drink lovers were worried when they first heard about the new sugar tax and the worry may have been necessary as some soft drink companies are choosing to raise prices and shrink bottles instead of reformulating their most popular drinks. This means that if your favourite drink happens to be original Coke or Pepsi you’re out of luck. You’re going to either have to pay more for less or swap to a less sugary alternative that companies have to offer.

If you are unhappy about the new changes to soft drinks or the Sugar Tax you can speak to somebody from the food standards agency and they can refer you to somebody from GOV who will be able to discuss this issue with you. You can call the food standards agency on 0844 248 1659.

Introducing AirBnB Plus

AirBnB is known for their easy booking and interesting stays. They have now made it even easier to find the safest and stylish rooms and homes in main cities around the world with AirBnB Plus.

What is AirBnB Plus?

AirBnB Plus is a new type of listing that ensures a perfect stay. Hosts and their homes must pass a specific set of eligibility tests for their listing to even be considered for a Plus verification. This means that when you book with a plus verified listing it will be comfortable, well-equipped, well-maintained, thoughtfully designed and reliable. You will also have access to premium support from the AirBnB Plus customer service team. In the first week of launching the plus program, 12,000 hosts have applied for plus verification, plus homes received a 95% increase in nights booked and half a million hosts have started to update their listings to reflect the newly available categories.

Stylish Dining Room
Courtesy of AirBnB

Where can you find AirBnB Plus Homes or Rooms?

For now, AirBnB Plus is only available in selected main cities:

  • Austin
  • Barcelona
  • Cape Town
  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles
  • London
  • Melbourne
  • Milan
  • Rome
  • San Francisco
  • Shanghai
  • Sydney
  • Toronto

Hopefully in the future, AirBnB will open up more plus possibilities in more locations but for now, we can enjoy the beautiful homes in these beautiful cities.

outdoor wooden hot tub surrounded by bamboo and plants
Courtesy of AirBnB

 

How Will I Know if a Listing is AirBnB Plus Verified?

To find plus listings you can search for Plus Verified homes or rooms when looking for a location or look out for the plus badge badge on listed bookings.

Colourful, modern living room
Courtesy of AirBnB

How Can I Make My AirBnB Listing an AirBnB Plus Listing?

To apply to be a Plus verified listing you must pass these questions:

  1. Your listing must be in one of the available locations.
  2. Your listing has a minimum of one stay.
  3. Your listing must be “top reviewed with an average of 4.8+ stars”
  4. You must accept 95% of reservations
  5. Your listing must have no last-minute cancellations in the past year
  6. Offer an entire home or a private room and private bathroom

Once your listing passes the application process, your listing must pass the design test. A professional photographer from AirBnB will come out to visit your listing and review it using a 100+ point checklist regarding the design.  “The Airbnb Plus design consultants verify there’s cohesive interior design with personal touches, a thoughtfully arranged furniture layout, clutter-free counters and cabinets, and artwork that reflects a host’s style and personality”.

Your listing must stand out against other listings from your area, it must be one-of-a-kind, add your personal touch to it. Maintain your listing well and make it appealing for people to stay in, give it a “wow factor”.

Once you pass these tests your listing will be plus verified and you’ll have hundreds of more people eager to stay with you!

What to Expect From AirBnB in 2018

AirBnB For Everyone

Introducing AirBnB Concerts

Kentucky Fried Chaos: Chicken Shortage Closes KFC

Kentucky Fried Chaos Chicken Shortage Closes KFC

Fans of fried chicken are facing continued disappointment as the fast-food chain KFC closes stores across the UK. Unbelievably, the majority of around 900 stores have run out of chicken over the last few days. Without the main ingredient on the menu, KFC branches have had no choice but to shut their shops. The lack of chicken supplies means that many KFC stores are out of action until further notice. KFC used humour to lighten the mood when explaining the problem: “The chicken crossed the road, just not to our restaurants.” The brand reassures customers that “teams are working round the cluck” to get KFC stores up and running.

Why is KFC Closed?

Food distribution specialists Bidvest Logistics were responsible for KFC chicken deliveries until a week ago. This is when the new delivery contract winners DHL took over. In this short amount of time, DHL’s inability to supply the chicken has led to a shortage. Not only are customers unhappy, but the store closures must be costing the KFC business millions of pounds. DHL states that the delays and incomplete deliveries are due to operational issues. The company is working to fix these problems as quickly as possible. While Bidvest has six warehouses, DHL only has one, which means they are probably unable to cope with the demand.

When Will KFC Open?

Almost 600 stores across the UK were shut by Monday night after delivery failures. As of lunchtime this afternoon, around 400 stores are open again. However, even the stores which are open may have to reduce their menu and opening hours. According to a KFC spokesperson, stores will continue to re-open over the next few days. The disruption is likely to impact stores for the rest of the week, as DHL clears the backlog of deliveries. This backlog began after an accident on the M6 last week initially held up deliveries. Issues with DHL’s new IT system then made the situation worse. Click here to check if your local KFC is now open.

What About KFC Staff?

The public statements from KFC emphasize that the restaurant staff are working hard to keep things moving. The spokesperson for the chain said that stores would reassign staff to alternative tasks or other restaurants where possible. While workers with salaries will be paid as normal, those on zero-hours contracts are not so lucky. KFC is encouraging workers to use their holidays to cover the closures. This is unfair since the staff are not responsible for the logistical problems preventing them from working. Affected KFC workers should get in touch with the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union for advice on the grievance procedure.

How to Start Saving Money in 2018

How to Start Saving Money in 2018

Before you rush to check out those January sales, take a moment to assess your finances. After the blowout over the Christmas holidays, everyone’s bank accounts have taken a hit. Start off the new year by making a savings plan to carry out in 2018. Keeping on top of your spending will relieve stress in the long term. Once you get into the habit of saving, paying bills and emergency expenses becomes so much easier to handle. Read on for some tips on how to build your savings up. You might be able to afford that new car or dream holiday sooner than you think!

Gain Interest While Saving Money

You might not know where to begin when it comes to saving money. First things first, if you haven’t already, then look into opening a savings account! In addition to keeping money for the future, you can gather interest on your savings. There are different account types with varying interest rates, so look around for one that suits your needs.

For example, an easy access savings account would allow you to withdraw from your savings whenever you want. The downside is that they often have lower interest rates, generally 0.25% AER. A Post Office Online Saver account has an excellent rate of a 1.05% gross fixed bonus for the first year. If you prefer to manage your money online and need unlimited withdrawals, this could be the best option for you. However, you might end up switching to somewhere else when it drops back to 0.25% after 12 months. Be wary of the uncertainty of variable interest rates.

The same goes for Nationwide’s FlexDirect account. Current accounts like these allow you to earn interest on the money in your main spending account. Nationwide offers a fixed 5% AER on £2,500 for the first year but drops to 1% after that. If you open a current account with Tesco Bank, it guarantees 3% AER on up to £3,000 until April 2019. Each person can open two accounts, so you could gain 3% on £6,000 if you spread your money. There are multiple conditions you need to meet every month, but you can get extra Tesco Clubcard points when you make purchases.

Create a Savings Account For a Rainy Day

Most people save up for a specific purpose, such as buying a house or travelling abroad. If you don’t have a target, it’s still a good idea to open a savings account. You never know when you might suddenly need money for an urgent reason. If you want to put your money away without touching it, you should look into fixed-rate bonds. Cash ISAs are no longer more attractive than regular savings accounts. While interest gained through a cash ISA was tax-free, since 2016 the Personal Savings Allowance lets anyone earn up to £1,000 annual interest without tax.

Only invest in a fixed-rate bond if you definitely have the money to spare and won’t need to access it. You won’t be able to withdraw any of your savings for the duration of the fixed term. This will be a minimum of a year. Some banks won’t let you deposit more money, so you’ll only gain interest on your first deposit for that year. To give you a little wiggle room, try a limited access savings account. Virgin Money offers a Defined Access E-Saver account with 1.01% AER and up to three withdrawals per calendar year. If you need to withdraw four or more times, the interest rate will drop to the basic 0.25% AER.

Consider Switching Banks

Some banks will pay you to open an account with them if you swap from another bank. This is a good way to get some extra cash, but it’s also a big commitment. You’ll have to close your existing account, and updating your your details for payments can be a hassle. If your current bank account has fewer benefits than you would have at another bank, you may as well go for it. You could get a better deal on interest rates and get paid for it, too.

HSBC awards a big bonus of £150 upfront for switching to their Advance Account, plus an extra £50 after one year. Opening the Advance Account makes you eligible to open a regular saver account, with 5% AER for up to £250 a month. However, you have to pay quite a high minimum of £1,750 a month into the Advance Account. Halifax Reward will give you £75 when you open the account, plus £3 every month if you meet the criteria. It’s a smaller bonus overall, but you’ll only need to pay in a minimum of £750 per month.

Saving Money With a Family

 

Give Yourself a Budget

Once you’ve sorted out your bank and savings accounts, it’s time to sort out your spending habits. Make sure all your bills and payments are cleared first and foremost. Work out your travel expenses so they can be set aside each month too. If you commute by train or bus, invest in discount railcards and monthly or annual tickets to save money. Next, you need to set a limit for your food budget. Try lowering it by shopping at cheaper supermarkets, like Aldi and Lidl. Avoid buying lunches every day and bring your own from home instead. This will also help to reduce wasting money if you’re always using up what’s in the fridge and cupboards.

With all your necessities covered, work out the portion of the money you have left that you can afford to spare. Don’t forget to give yourself an allowance for things like clothes and entertainment. Saving doesn’t mean you can never treat yourself. We’re all sick of those articles telling you to stop buying coffee every morning, assuming that you’re in the position to afford that extra expense in the first place. The point is, don’t go overboard and buy too many new things you don’t need. Designate how much you want to save per month, and move it into your savings account if you have one.

If you have a set goal for what you eventually intend to spend your savings on, calculate how much time you have to save up and how much money you’ll need to put aside every month to meet that goal in time, and stick to it. Keep tabs on your spending habits and track your progress by logging everything into a spreadsheet. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, and you can even use Microsoft Online for free.

Saving Money With a Family

When you have kids, saving up can seem impossible. That doesn’t have to be the case, though. When you’re spending for a family, you can save money by joining loyalty schemes like Boots Advantage or Sainsburys Nectar. Make sure you have the best possible deal for TV, internet, and entertainment packages. Sky, Virgin Media, and services like Netflix and offer multi-device or family subscriptions for huge comparative annual savings.

Consider opening savings accounts for your children, too. Accounts for kids often have higher interest rates. You can put money in for them to save for their future, or encourage your children to invest some of their pocket money every month. This will also help them learn how to manage money for later in life. If you have a partner who pays fewer taxes than you do, they will have a higher Personal Savings Allowance. Assuming that you can trust them with this, move your savings into their accounts.

The 365 Challenge

There are many tips and tricks out there for saving money over the course of the year. One of these is the 52 Week Challenge, where you put £1 into your savings for the first week of the year and increase this by £1 every week. By the end of the year, you’ll be putting away up to £52 a week. The problem is that with Christmas at the end of the year, who can afford to spare around £50 a week? The answer to this is the “365 Challenge,” which is more consistent.

How this works is that on the first day of the week, you put £1 into your savings, then increase this by another £1 every day. On the seventh day of the week, you’ll deposit £7, before resetting to £1 the next day at the start of the new week. At the end of the year, you’ll have saved up a decent £1,500 – compared to the £1,378 total from the 52 Week Challenge. This is a great way to steadily top up your savings account, without having to deposit a big chunk of your wages every month.

Remember that saving money is a gradual process. Don’t give up if you aren’t saving as much as quickly as you’d like. There will be months where you don’t have a lot of money to spare, and months where you have more. All you have to do is put your saving plan into motion, and keep going with it. Good luck!

Spread Cheer This Christmas and Donate to Charity

Spread Cheer This Christmas and Donate to Charity

‘Tis the season of goodwill, so what better way to spread some cheer than by supporting a good cause? Whether you donate money, time, or your unwanted belongings, you can easily help to make a positive difference. As a festive holiday, Christmas is all about giving and sharing as a celebration. Sadly, some people don’t have much to celebrate this time of year, or no money or family to celebrate with. There are many charities which aim to support different types of people in need. If you donate to charity, you can help to make the future a little brighter for some of these people. It takes very little effort from you, but your donations can go a long way. Here are a few ways you can donate to charity and help people out this Christmas season.

Save the Children

Today, December 15th, is actually Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day! Since it began in 2012, the day has become a kind of national holiday. Across the country, people at every school and workplace can pay in £2 to wear a Christmas jumper. People truly embrace Christmas Jumper Day as an opportunity to wear over-the-top festive knits and do some good at the same time. Every donation goes towards providing food, healthcare, and education to underprivileged children around the world.

If you forgot about Christmas Jumper Day, you can still donate to Save the Children in other ways. You can buy beautiful Christmas cards and wrapping paper from the online Christmas shop. If you’re looking for some small Christmas gifts, you can also buy tote bags, candles, and soaps. Not only are you donating to charity, you’re receiving ethical handmade products in return.

Or you could donate to charity on behalf of somebody else as a Christmas present to them. Select a “virtual gift” and you can send a card to the recipient with a message about how their donation will save lives. You can “buy” things like clothing, school supplies, toys, water filters, mosquito nets, food, or education for children living in poverty. The money you donate for the virtual gift will go towards relevant projects, such as education or health programmes.

YMCA

In the UK, YMCA is the biggest provider of support and safe accommodation for otherwise homeless youth. The organization provides somewhere to stay and access to educational training to help young people get back on track in life. Christmas can be very difficult for adolescents with family problems, who might end up having to leave home. At this time of year when temperatures drop, nobody should be on the streets with nowhere to go. You can give a young person the gift of their own room and holistic support by making a donation.

YMCA accepts single or recurring donations of any amount of money you choose to give. Even a few pounds a month will help. If you want to see where your money goes, you can even become a Room Sponsor. Just £12 a month can pay for a safe home for young people escaping abusive backgrounds. You’ll receive a special gift and regular feedback on the progress of whoever lives in your sponsored room.

If you can’t quite spare £12 a month, why not team up with a friend or two to split the cost of donations between you? Then you can all take part in reading the updates as a group. YMCA has around 80 charity shops across England and Wales, so you can even donate by shopping! If you don’t want to buy, you can donate by providing goods for YMCA shops to sell. Donate your unwanted clothes, homeware and other accessories at no cost to you.

Age UK

Elderly people are part of one of the most vulnerable age groups in society. Many older people experience feelings of isolation and the negative effect this has on their wellbeing. The charity Age UK provides advice, health services and emotional support for older people. Connecting with Age UK can massively improve their lives and help them feel less alone.

Christmas can be especially lonely for old people who have no family. You can help Age UK to help them in any of several ways. When you donate to charity, you don’t just have to give money. You can also give your time. Age UK runs a Befriender programme where you can either visit in person or speak with a lonely older person over the phone once a week. Volunteering to do this will only take up a little of your time, but you could make a great new friend. You’ll be matched with someone in your community according to your interests, so you’ll have things to talk about.

If you’re just too busy to commit to regular appointments like these, you can still support Age UK. Set up a monthly donation of £3, £5, or £10, or make a one-off donation of however much you’d like to give. You can also donate items to Age UK shops to be resold and make money for the charity. Any clothes, electronics, or furnishings that are in good condition but you no longer need can be given to Age UK, or they can collect them from you.

Oxfam

As a global movement to fight poverty, Oxfam aims to improve the living conditions of millions of people across the world. If you want to help make a difference but don’t have much yourself, consider buying Oxfam Unwrapped gifts for Christmas presents. Until 21st December you can get 50% off! This means you can provide survival kits, soap, seeds, fertilizer, solar energy, toilets, and livestock, as well as fixing wells and supporting refugees, for as little as £2 – £20.

If you want a more tangible gift in addition to the donation, you can add little extras like Fair Trade chocolate at checkout. You can also browse hundreds of “pre-loved” and often vintage items in Oxfam’s online shop. If you’re on a low budget, you can buy toys and books as Christmas presents while donating to charity at the same time. With free delivery, you don’t even need to go and visit your actual local Oxfam shop.

That said, why not have a clear out and take your old stuff down to Oxfam? Make some room for the newer things you’ll be getting for Christmas. If you want to donate secondhand clothes to Oxfam, you can even do it at a Marks and Spencer store. With “Shwopping” you can drop off your old clothes at Marks and Spencer for either recycling or resale in Oxfam shops.

British Red Cross

The British Red Cross organization supplies first aid, emergency response, and health and social care, as well as supporting refugees and protecting people in areas of conflict. Based in the UK, the Red Cross has 8 overseas branches and operates wherever people need them. Red Cross volunteers do vital work in all the aforementioned areas.

You can help by making a single or recurring donation to a particular appeal. Support people closer to home by donating to the UK Solidarity Fund or London Fire Relief. After the terrorist attacks and the Grenfell Tower tragedy earlier this year, many families need your support more than ever this Christmas. Further abroad, many Caribbean islands were devastated in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Donate to the Hurricane Appeal to help the people who desperately need disaster relief. The ongoing conflicts in Syria and Myanmar have left millions of homeless refugees in need. If you don’t know where to direct your donation, you can donate to the General Fund to support people in crisis across the world.

You can also support the Red Cross by purchasing items from the online gift shop. Cards, gifts, books, toys and games, home accessories are all available. Donate to charity and help someone you know with a chronic illness or disability at the same time. The Red Cross sells products to assist with independent living and make life easier. You can buy first aid manuals and first aid kits as well if you need one.

Tips to Help You Be Charitable

When you make a donation, if you are a British taxpayer you can help the charity get more money using Gift Aid. Whether you make a financial donation online or in person, or donate old belongings, request a Gift Aid form. This allows the charity to claim the tax on your donation back from HMRC, meaning they could get an extra 25p for every £1 you donate. Your donations only qualify if they aren’t more than four times the tax you’ve paid in the current tax year. If you haven’t paid enough tax for future donations, you’ll need to tell the charity.

If you have some spare change in your purse or pocket, don’t be a Scrooge. Many shops have charity donation boxes at the tills you can drop your change into, even if it’s only a few coins. If you see someone selling the Big Issue, buy a copy. Or if you see a homeless person sleeping rough, give them whatever you can. A good way to help them without handing out cash is if you have a free coffee card. Many retailers like McDonald’s provide loyalty cards, where you can collect stickers or stamps to get a free drink. If yours is full up, a homeless person could use it to get out of the cold for a bit and have a hot drink. Have a heart and spread some warmth this Christmas.

A Guide To Christmas Eve Boxes

In recent years, Christmas eve boxes have become more popular and have started to become more of a tradition. The idea is that you buy a box and fill it with festive goodies for a loved one to open on the night before Christmas. Many people fill them with things such as pyjamas, bath bombs, face masks, chocolate and Christmas movies! Here’s a selection of Christmas eve boxes that are available at your local shops and supermarkets.

children opening a christmas eve box

Asda

Asda has a selection of different types of gift boxes that aren’t necessarily Christmas Eve boxes but would definitely be perfect to use. These boxes come in different sizes and different patterns with one option saying ‘ho ho ho’ all over it and another saying ‘Merry Christmas’. They also range in price but the most boxes cost £2 or £3 which is one of the cheaper options allowing you to spend more on the contents of the box.

Matalan

Similar to Asda, Matalan also has a few options for boxes such as the 6 pack of novelty Christmas treat boxes which you can use to give small individual gifts. Their prices range from £3 to £4 which is great as you can keep the costs down whilst still being able to buy the gifts you would like.

John Lewis

John Lewis’s boxes are a little more expensive with the price tag being £12.50 for their version of the boxes and some of their alternatives being £20 Santa sacks. This, of course, is fine if you have some money to spur after buying all the present you need but it is a bit extortionate for the average Christmas eve box.

Mothercare

Mothercare has a personalised Christmas eve box available for £23 which at first seems a little expensive but as it is made out of wood and has your child or loved one’s name carved on the front you will be able to reuse it every year which in turn will probably save you some money.

Gift Ideas

Now that you know where to buy your Christmas box you may be left a little lost with what to fill it with. It all depends on who you are buying it for but here is a little list of ideas for different people.

For husband/boyfriend/dad

If you are a little lost for things to buy the man in your life you could opt with a shaving kit, face wash, his favourite chocolate, novelty or joke gifts, a small game or a tiny version of his favourite alcohol – I’m sure he will be more than pleased with the box and all the little presents inside. Keep it personal if he likes a specific TV program or band try and include some gifts associated with them.

For wife/girlfriend/mum

Shopping for a girl can at times be a little difficult but you can always play it safe by buying her things that she can pamper herself with such as bath bombs, face masks, nail varnish, body lotion, chocolate or hot chocolate, her favourite snack or her favourite alcohol. If you are buying her products for her skin or to go in the bath make sure you find out if she is allergic to anything – you don’t want a nightmare before Christmas.

For little ones

If you are buying your little one a box for Christmas Eve you could be extremely creative and include things like carrots, biscuits and your drink of choice for them to leave out for Father Christmas and his reindeers. You could also take a more traditional approach and include a Christmas movie for you to watch before bedtime, some Christmassy pyjamas for them to get all snuggly with and hot chocolate or some toys as an early surprise.

Estée Lauder are launching the best multi-brand advent calendar this winter!

Estée Lauder are launching the best multi-brand advent calendar this winter!

If like us, you’re already super excited for Christmas to arrive and envelope the country in all its wintery-joy, then you’ll be as into all of the new beauty range advent calendar releases that have been teased this month. Because obviously, October is a reasonable time of year to start thinking about all of the money you can spend treating yourself this Christmas.

Estée Lauder‘s ‘The Beauty Countdown’ calendar features a wide range of products from all of our favourite brands that are in the Lauder stable. With brands like Clinique, bumble and bumble, Origins, MAC, Smashbox, Aveda, Darphin, GlamGlow, Michael Kors and, obviously, Estée Lauder, we can expect haircare, skincare and plenty of makeup to be supplied within the calendar – meaning all of our party season essential will be provided in one beautifully packaged collection. The calendar is a gorgeous star-shaped box that includes 25 doors to open, which will give you a great reason to wake up every December morning! This limited edition release is the first time that all of the best Estée Lauder brands have appeared in a multi-brand calendar, and won’t go down without a fuss. The calendar is priced at £125 but is really worth around £197, so we’re really being treated by the brand.

Only 1,000 calendars have been produced, and with the calendars landing at some point in October – the date is still to be released by Estée Lauder – we can imagine that they will be disappearing very quickly. If you’re interested in finding out exactly what you’ll be getting in the calendar, here’s a concise list:

The Beauty Countdown Advent Calendar

Estée Lauder are launching the best multi-brand advent calendar this winter!
Photo Copyright: Grazia

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II, 7ml

Estée Lauder DayWear Anti-Oxidant Sheer Tint Release Moisturizer SPF 15, 15ml

Estée Lauder Revitalizing Supreme+ Global Anti-Aging Instant Refinishing Facial, 5ml

Estée Lauder Deluxe Mini Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick, Envious, 1.2g

Estée Lauder Modern Muse Nuit Eau de Parfum Spray, 4ml

Clinique Dramatically Different™ Moisturizing Lotion+, 15ml

Clinique Chubby Stick Intense™ Moisturizing Lip Color Balm, Broadest Berry, 1.2g

Clinique Chubby Stick™ Sculpting Highlight, Hefty Highlight, 4ml

Clinique Aromatics In White, 4ml

Origins CLEAR IMPROVEMENT® Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores, 30ml

MAC In Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash, 12ml

MAC Strobe Cream, 6ml

Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream, 3ml

Bobbi Brown Soothing Cleansing Oil, 15ml

Bobbi Brown Art Stick Liquid Lip, English Rose, 1.8ml

Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge for Lips & Cheeks, Powder Pink, 2.55g

Aveda Shampure™ Hand and Body Cleanser, 50ml

Aveda Thickening Tonic, 10ml

bumble and bumble Don’t Blow It Thick (H)air Styler, 15ml

bumble and bumble Dryspun Finish, 40ml

Darphin 8-Flower Nectar Oil Cream, 5ml

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, 15ml

GlamGlow GRAVITYMUD® FIRMING TREATMENT, 15g

GlamGlow THIRSTYMUD™ HYDRATING TREATMENT, 15g

Michael Kors Wonderlust Rollerball, 10ml