According to my calendar today is Evergreen Tree Trimming day, the day when most people put up their Christmas trees. Appliance City is in full Christmas swing with it’s 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways promotion going strong.

To celebrate Christmas a bit early I’ve decided to put together my favourite holiday hacks in an easy to find guide if not for this year, than definitely for next! Everything from simple homemade Christmas ornaments to decorating hacks for small spaces. There’s something for everyone in my guide to hacking the holidays!

Holiday Hack #1

How to Easily Hang Lights on Brick (without drilling holes)

Hack 1 - Appliance City - Fairy Lights on Brick

Do you love the look of fairy lights against brick at night but don’t want to have to drill holes all over house in order to hang them? There’s a simple and seriously inexpensive way to decorate your house for the festive period without making any long term or permanent changes to your home. The answer to your fairy light dilemma can be found at your local craft store in the shape of a hot glue gun. That’s right. Hot glue will allow you to stick fairy lights wherever you want with superior (temporary) hold. Just simply pull them down after Christmas and remove any remaining hot glue. Simple.

Image Credit: Jamie Sarner

Holiday Hack #2

Homemade Gingerbread Ornaments

Holiday Hacks - Appliance City - Homemade Gingerbread Ornaments

Christmas ornaments can sometimes be extortionately expensive. When your kids are toddlers or you have puppies or kittens this may not be the time to purchase those beautiful ornaments. What you can do is make some ornaments, completely beautiful, that will last a few years until it’s safe to spend some dough on your holiday decor.

Making these gingerbread cookies is so easy that you can make them alongside your Christmas cookies, though with the amount of cinnamon that’s in these I wouldn’t suggest eating them (unless you love cinnamon of course). I found this recipe from McCormick to be the easiest to make but also saw a few pointers that putting a few coats of resin on them makes them last even longer. The difference, with the lacquer you won’t have that beautiful cinnamon scent long after Christmas.

Holiday Hack #3

Keep Fairy Lights from Getting Tangled

Holiday Hacks - Appliance City - Untangle Fairy Lights

Fairy lights are light headphones, it seems no matter how careful you are to put them away you always pull them out in a massive ball of tangles. There are a few ways that you can avoid your fairy lights getting tangled when you take them down this year.

Method 1: Requires a clothes hanger.Tuck one of the ends of the strand under the bit at the top of a hanger where a hanging string for clothes would go. Proceed to wrap your fairy lights string around the hanger and back again, tucking the other end of the strand under the same hook as you did at the beginning.

Method 2: Requires a heavy duty piece of cardboard 8inches  x 6inches. Cut two small slits in the cardboard one on each side for slotting the ends of the strand into. Tuck the first end in then wrap your strand around the cardboard back and forth until you are finished and can tuck the other end of the strand into your other slit. Keeping your lights tangle free for another 12 months.

Holiday Hack #4

Elf on a Shelf Perfection

Holiday hacks - Appliance City - Bendable Elf on a Shelf

I can remember my parents having an elf on a shelf when I was a kid. It was never up to mischief, but just hanging on a branch on our tree. The days of elf on a shelf have drastically changed and in December they literally have a life of their own. Don’t be an elf on the shelf failure! But making  your elf on a shelf bendable and sticky you can achieve some of the greatest elf on a shelf situations. If you insert bendable wire into the arms and legs of your elf you can easily make them configure into just the angle you want. Also, hot gluing a bit of velcro on to their hands make them easy to clasp things, hang around things or look like their are grabbing onto things. It’s fun for our children and for adults if we’re honest. So up your elf on a shelf game with a bit of DIY!

Image Credit: Get Your Pretty On

Holiday Hack #5

Easy Christmas Morning Cleanup

Holiday Hack - Appliance City - Christmas Morning Cleanup

Christmas morning doesn’t have to be a massive mess of wrapping paper and gift boxes. Instead use this quick trick to make even clean up festive! Wrap a really big box with some of your left over festive wrapping paper. You can then use this box as an impromptu rubbish bin keeping your front room tidy (and festive)!

Image Credit: Chica and Jo

Holiday Hack #6

Fast Window Homemade Window Decor

holiday hack - appliance city - window snowflakes

By now I’m sure you have picked up on my love of the glue gun when it comes to crafts. When it comes to these window snowflakes all you need is your trusty glue gun! Pop Sugar tells us to simply draw your own snowflakes on your window using your hot glue gun. At the end of the season you can peel them off without any residue! If you want to make ones that you can hang on your Tree, use the glass out of an old picture frame. Draw your snowflakes then cover them in glitter.

When they are cooled you can tie a string around a bit of your snow flake and hang them on the tree. Beautiful and very inexpensive.

These are just the beginning of Christmas hacks. You can keep your tree alive longer by adding sugar to water, use clippings from your tree to decorate your side tables or dining table and even use burlap garland to decorate an outside tree with a rustic feel. Christmas is the season for giving, even if it’s a smile created by loved ones looking at your festive decorations!

Happy Christmas from Appliance City


For my family Christmas isn’t about how much money we spend on each other. Our family loves to give gifts that are homemade, from the heart.

Each gift that I make takes quite a bit of consideration into who I am giving it to. I want to make sure that it’s perfect and personal to the person receiving it. It may not cost me a bomb to make but the time, effort and love that goes into my gifts abound.

Do you have amateur chefs in the family? People who love to cook? People who love interior design and making things pretty? Why not take a few of these ideas and create Christmas gifts that will be worth remembering all year round.

Homemade Sweet and Savoury Butter

Butter - Homemade Gifts - Appliance City

Homemade compound butter is a great gift for someone that doesn’t necessarily fancy sweets, cookies or cakes. I am a big giver of homemade candy and pastries, but not everyone is a fan of my sweet tooth. These compound butter recipes from I Heart Nap Time can be used on breads, meats and in dishes.  Put them in a wicker basket with either fresh baked bread or a bread mix and voila you have a beautiful, homemade gift from the heart.

Photo Clip Boards

DIY Gifts - Photo Clip Boards - Appliance City

I love changing the decor of my house to suit the seasons and holidays. This super easy tutorial on how to create DIY Photo Clip Boards from Love Grows Wild makes the perfect gift for people who love decorating their homes year round. If you want to personalise it even more, provide their first set of photos to hang on the clip boards. Whether you go with a kitchen theme or old style family photos I’m sure that the person receiving them will love it.

Homemade Extract

Homemade Extract - Homemade gifts - Appliance City

I am quite the baker. I love making pastries, cheesecakes, well anything if I’m honest. One thing I have noticed when I’m off to buy my vanilla extract or almond extract is you get about a teaspoon for an extortionate price.

Have some high quality Grey Goose vodka lying about? No? Me either, but I will go get some just to make these fab homemade extracts! Spoon Fork Bacon gives us a few recipes for extracts like cinnamon and vanilla to make for family and friends and even handy links to buy extract bottles. There are also other sites that can teach you to make more extract flavourings, perfect for those amateur pastry chefs and bakers in your life.

Personalised Tumblers

DIY Handmade gifts - Personalised Tumblers - Appliance City

PopsugarSMART always delivers, whether it is fantastic Halloween recipes or this tutorial for dotted tumblers. I love these as mother in law gifts or families with new homes. You don’t have to do the dotted pattern, you can paint grapes with leaves, wine glasses, sunflowers or abstract designs on them. That’s what makes them the perfect gifts for so many people. You can completely personalise them to each kitchen, dorm room, etc. Might as well make some for yourself whilst you’re at it.

Handmade Vintage Bookmarks

Handmade Gifts - Handmade Vintage Bookmarks - Appliance City

So I might just a little bit be hinting about what would be an awesome gift for me! I’m an avid book reader / collector and love everything vintage. If I go about making these, they are for new books I’m reading or places in old books I love to go back and read. The tutorial from Country Living is incredibly easy (and cheap) and they will make the bibliophiles in your life smile from ear to ear. If you are looking for unique buttons or charms for the bookmarks, try Etsy.com. It’s the ideal place to find handmade trinkets for these bookmarks.

Personalised Mugs

DIY Handmade Gifts - Personalised Tea Mugs - Appliance City

We all know that a cup of tea will solve problems, cure ailments and make you feel generally better in the blink of an eye. These personalised mugs from PopSugarSMART are perfect for people who love their tea, coffee or hot drinks in general. Make one for your mum, dad and sister or even one for your hubby. With just plain cups, coloured permanent markers and an oven you can have fun, personalised gifts for everyone.

Flavoured Salts

Handmade Gifts - Flavoured Salts - Appliance City

So maybe I’m just a bit obsessed with Popsugar SMART. Sorry but they have the perfect answers for all my handmade gift queries! These flavoured salts are no exception. They give you the recipes for lemon, shitake and roasted garlic but you don’t need to stop there. Do an caramelised onion salt with onion powder and brown sugar or the perfect Italian salt with thyme, rosemary, oregano, parmesan and sea salt. The combinations are truly endless. Find out what your friends and families favourite spices or dishes are and get mixing. Put them in a basket with fresh vegetables, cooking utensils or other handmade gifts and you have the perfect present for a cooker, baker or someone who just loves food.

There are tons of homemade gifts you could give this holiday season to spread the love and cheer. Why not try a few of these?


Cleaning your home is never the most glamorous job, but with these handmade cleaners it can be safer and more eco-friendly.

The products we tend to buy in our local shops are harsh. They are dangerous for our pets, children and ourselves. The harsh agents in these cleaning products aren’t really what makes them work, so why not make our own? Cleaners that work just as good, but are safe for our families and homes.

Dishwasher Tabs

Cleaning Products that are safe - Appliance City - Dishwasher Tabs

Making your own dishwasher tabs not only ensures that you know they are safe for your family but it will save you a ton of cash. Dishwasher tabs have to be one of the most expensive cleaning products you can buy. This trick for making your own from Easy Home Made costs a fraction of the price and uses ingredients that you won’t mind cleaning the dishes you and your family eat off of.

Furniture Polish

Handmade ecofriendly cleaning products - handmade polish - appliance city

Made with only three ingredients, this handmade polish from Pins and Procrastination is absolutely perfect. It keeps your furniture shining and dust and germ free, plus the lemongrass extract gives it an amazing smell. Make your own polish and I can bet you never go back to store bought polish again. I mean, who wants all those nasty chemical ingredients when they can have this lovely, family friendly, green one?

Laundry Pods

Handmade Laundry Pods - EcoFriendly - Appliance City

Do we even know what is in those little laundry pods we all buy from the supermarket? Sure they smell good, but what exactly are we washing our clothes in? Does it make our clothes wear faster? Does it have built in stain remover? Who knows.

This “recipe” for handmade laundry pods from Pop Sugar is absolutely brilliant. Not only are they completely green, they have a built in stain remover and make your laundry smell awesome! No seriously. You choose your own scent by adding your own favourite essential oils. Essential oils have several purposes and smelling incredible is just a bonus. They last for ages and with the essential oils you can rest assured your laundry still has that fresh scent even two weeks after being washed. No, that doesn’t include wearing them!

Bathroom Cleaner

homemade bathroom cleaner - ecofriendly cleaning products - appliance city

This is no ordinary bathroom cleaner. As you know, the cleaners you tend to purchase in the supermarket don’t actually clean all parts of your bathroom. That spray that has a tangy, chemical odour might be ok to wash down the sink and toilet but does nothing for the tile, grout or shower doors. Well, we’ve found the fix for all of it. This “recipe“, once again from Pop Sugar is brilliant for getting your tile, grout and all surfaces of your bathroom looking squeaky clean. Our only question, who is this Pop Sugar and can we get some of their cleaning / mastermind / inventive brains?!

Need an eco-friendly way to clean your oven? Check out our oven cleaning guide.

If you have you own make at home cleaning recipes, why not share them with us? We’re always looking for ways to go green, save money and make the world a safer place for our family.


Tricks, treats and fun, freakish eats! Halloween is the perfect holiday to try new dishes, dress up ultra fancy and decor your house to a home of horror. I have to admit, Halloween is one of my favourite times of year. My kids get the most excitement out of decorating the outside of our house to scare their friends when it’s time for trick or treating, plus they love to make fun halloween recipes the whole week up until the day.

Did you know that Halloween is also National Toffee Apple Day? Well it is. But of course I couldn’t do an entire post on toffee apples, well I could have but then I’d be missing writing about Halloween! So it’s all going into one. Toffee Apples are delicious and not just for fun fairs, make them at home, add your own toppings or use chocolate instead of toffee  and give those out instead of candy for trick or treating.

My favourite toffee / chocolate apples are incredibly easy to make and more importantly my kids love to get in on the fun! Adding smarties, hundreds and thousands, nuts, crushed Maltesers, popcorn or crushed biscuits to the outsides of their apples makes it all the more fun.

Toffee Apples with Toppings

Recipes - Toffee Apples - Halloween

Toffee apples have to be the easiest most fun way to celebrate Halloween. I’m not a big fan of giving out loads and loads of chocolate miniatures or bags of sweeties when I know that the kids would much rather have something like this. Side note: I only do this for the children in my neighbourhood where we all know each other. I wouldn’t suggest taking an unwrapped treat of any kind from strangers. If you aren’t close with your neighbourhood then this might just be the perfect addition to your families Halloween party. For go the piñata and go for this fun way to entertain the kids and give them something sweet that is tailored to every child.

For the easiest way to make toffee apples I found this recipe on WikiHow.

Easy Halloween Decor – DIY Style

Halloween decorations can cost a bomb, and if you work or have school aged children when do you have the time to go all out and decorate your garden / home? I don’t have an extra minute in my day let alone a few hours. So with this being one of the biggest kiddy holidays I get them involved. I found this awesome Window Monsters DIY Halloween Decoration from Wired.com and just had to give it a go. I made a few short amendments that made mine a bit spookier but that was up to what my kiddies wanted. Make yours just how you want them as well.

Window Monsters - DIY -Decor

These are so cute, and not so scary, so the kids will love helping to make them. My few changes were to add tissue paper where there were eyes, so that they glowed a bit from the back lighting. I also didn’t leave the entire room light on, instead we chose to use battery operated candles so it glowed behind them making them more spooky. It’s fab when people drive by and see them, then they drive by again real slow.

Floating Candle Ceiling

Appliance City - Halloween Ghoulish treats and tricks

Did your kids (or you) love the floating candle great hall scene from Harry Potter? Then they will love this DIY Halloween Decor idea from Eating Bender. This would make the ultimate halloween party decor for children or adults. For an adult party it gives great ambiance and for a kids party I mean Hello! Harry Potter themed kids party was my kids dream for years. Little do they know our conservatory is becoming the great hall on Saturday and it will be a fantastic surprise. Super easy to replicate using LED lights, cardboard rolls and white paint; do this for a birthday party or really any party.

DIY Kids Halloween Costumes

Halloween costumes are a big discussion point in my house right now. There have been several news items regarding the costumes that are purchased in stores being a fire hazard and I’m not taking any chances with my babies. When there are pumpkins around with candles inside there is no reason why I would even chance something horrible happening. So this year, we’re going DIY.

Voodoo Doll 

Sorry for the lack of imagery here, no pics of my babies in costume until after the day and using pictures of someone elses kids just seems out of sorts. So i’ll try to paint a visual picture for you so that you might be able to use this to make your kids a fun, safe costume.

My daughter decided on a voodoo doll as her Halloween costume after seeing some posted on Pinterest. This one was a lot of fun to create and she is definitely excited to show her friends at the party on Saturday.

Creating the outfit:

  • Red and white stripped tights
  • White Dress
    • Red felt heart cut out and sewn over the heart on the dress. I also sewed on white pipe cleaners with red puff ball ends to resemble needles.
    • Permanent market stitches on the tights and bodice of the dress.
    • Face paint with stitching over the mouth and fake needles in the hair

It’s a girly and fun outfit, but would be perfect for a boy dressed in white trousers and a white long sleeve top. It’s also a great adult Halloween costume, really it just is what you make it. Get creative!

Minecraft Steve

My youngest (8) is all about Minecraft right now. We’d already purchased for him the diamond sword and pickaxe, which are actually foam and do absolutely nothing but he loves them. I have to admit, I don’t exactly understand Minecraft but I’m more than happy to build and mine with him to his delight. So this year we found an online tutorial for a Minecraft Steve costume.

Appliance City - All Hallows Eve

This costume is seriously easy to make all you need is a printer, a box the size of your child’s head, paper that is poster sized A3 will work and cardboard. Use a blue t-shirt so he looks like him and cut out the holes for eyes. Voila, your mini me is a mini Steve.

Here at Appliance City we’d like to wish you and your family a safe and Happy Halloween.


Are you about to embark on a long-held plan to refurbish your kitchen? Well, before you do let’s settle in and consider some cautionary tales of kitchen refurbishment disasters.
Enthusiasm is fantastic, but rushing into a DIY frenzy can be the difference between a trick and a treat. Let these terrifying kitchen nightmares quell your DIY urges.

Frightening Fittings

Appliance City - Avoid Kitchen Nightmares

Take note – you can never do too much planning.

There’s no two ways about it, you’ll need a tape measure to fit cabinets, drawers, and doors. The old phrase “measure twice, cut once” was written just for these kitchen fitting nightmares.

Petrifying Paint Spills

Appliance City - Petrifying Paint Spills - Kitchen Nightmares

A can of paint should never leave the floor once opened, and has to be treated with the same care and attention that you’d give to a game of Buckaroo. Paint has a habit of sticking to things – in fact that’s all it does – so make sure you don’t spend this Halloween on your hands and knees cleaning the floor with an old toothbrush!

Don’t want to paint? Find the perfect Colourboutique range cooker from Britannia.

Flat Pack Frankenstein

Appliance City - Kitchen Nightmares - Flat Pack Disaster

If you prefer to move through life ‘winging it’, rather than properly following cryptic flat pack instructions, you might end up with a useless monstrosity which is only suitable to put on show during the Halloween season.

Painful Plumbing Plunders

Kitchen Nightmares

Water does not forgive or forget. This seemingly harmless liquid has the ability to ruin wood, flood a whole house, or even drive a person insane with the sound of a steady drip-drip-drip. When it comes to plumbing, it’s usually a good idea to bring in someone more experienced to tackle this foe. Approach at your own risk!

Tiling Terrors

image002

Tiling requires accuracy down to the last mm, and if you aren’t precise you could end up with a kitchen straight out of a haunted house.

While your wall or floor may look normal at first glance, the more you look, the more likely you or your guests are to spot there’s something a little off. So pay close attention to your tiling techniques before it’s too late.

Whether it’s your walls or your floor, avoid a horror story written in stone with proper planning.


I really think that this should have been my birthday in some alternate universe. 

Pumpkins are fantastic gourds. They are the original halloween decoration, the perfect soup ingredient, fun to carve, perfect for pies and the seeds are addictive. There are so many things you can do with pumpkins this time of year, not just set it on your steps and let it get mushy!

Painting Pumpkins

National Pumpkin Day - Pumpkin treats and tricks - appliance city

Carving your pumpkin can be a serious mess. A fun way to get the kids involved, with no knives and pumpkin guts is to paint the pumpkins. These pumpkins from Parent Map are the perfect example of how creative your children can be with their own pumpkins.

Pumpkin Carving

National Pumpkin Day - Pumpkin Carving - DIY - Appliance City

I’m definitely not the best pumpkin carver in the world. I think the best I’ve ever done was cut a big hole in one, fill it with ice and stick a bottle of wine in the pumpkin. Voila, table decoration a la adult halloween party. Pumpkin carving is a lot of fun with the kids, though it can be quite daunting trying to get one to actually look like something resembling a face. The easiest trick I found was to do the following:

  1. Cut the top of the pumpkin off and clean out the insides (keep the seeds for later)
  2. Find a pumpkin face stencil and trace it on to your pumpkin or draw a face that you would like on your pumpkin
  3. Cut out along the lines of the stencil
  4. Clean up the insides and make sure there aren’t any bits hanging down
  5. Place a votive or tea light candle inside – or in our case we use a battery operated candle so it is safe and lasts a good few weeks

This way your kids can choose whatever design they want to see lit up on your pumpkin and having something to trace makes it a lot easier. Just make sure your knife is very sharp and not serrated. Serrated knives seem to make carving a bit more difficult when you’re trying to make a design or face.

If you don’t have access to the real deal you can always make pumpkin crafts with the kids and decorate the house with them for Autumn. Fun crafts for half term will keep them busy and your house will suddenly be very festive.

Pumpkin Recipes

Of course I’m going to include all sorts of ways you can use pumpkins for things other than decoration. Pumpkins are a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals and it helps that they taste fantastic either sweet or savoury.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chilli

Appliance City - Recipes - Pumpkin Chilli

I love recipes that both contain pumpkin and I can make them in my slow cooker. Coming home to dinner already prepared is a mothers vision of happiness. Now if only the dishes would do themselves!

This recipe for Pumpkin Chilli is simple and easy to make. If you are making it as a family meal you may want to omit the jalapenos as children aren’t as keen to eat them as some adults. My Vega has touted this recipe as a vegan one but there is nothing stopping you from adding minced turkey (which is what we did) to bulk it out a bit. We also added cheese to the top and serve it over my family recipe cornbread. It’s one of the recipes I look forward to making every Autumn because when you smell it in the house you know Christmas is well on its way.

Spicy Pumpkin Pasta

spicy pumpkin pasta - recipes - national pumpkin day - appliance city

Pumpkin goes savoury again in this recipe from HGTV. Pumpkins are definitely famous for being made into exceptionally good pies and lattes, but there is so much more that a pumpkin can do. Take this amazing spicy pumpkin pasta for starters. This dish is incredibly simple to make yet tastes so much more complex. There are fresh flavours like mint and hazelnuts combined with pumpkin and parmesan. Think it wouldn’t work? It does, fantastically.

My variation on this recipe is to forgo putting it all together into one dish. Instead, I puree all ingredients (apart from the pasta) together. I then stuff either tortellini or ravioli with the puree. I top it with a pumpkin Alfredo sauce. The sauce is incredibly easy to make:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 235ml Cream
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed / minced
  • 100g parmesan cheese
  • 1/2tsp nutmeg
  • 1tbsp olive oil

Combine the olive oil and garlic in a pan and saute’ over low/medium heat, but don’t let it go brown. Add the rest of the ingredients and heat through until the cheese is melted. Voila, pumpkin Alfredo sauce. If you want it a bit runnier, add stock to the sauce.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies - recipes - national pumpkin day - appliance city

Until National Pumpkin Day came along and I started doing research for pumpkin recipes I had never heard of a pumpkin chocolate chip. Oh have mercy on my waist line I can’t wait to try these. Don’t like pumpkin or chocolate then these aren’t for you, but I’m ok with that because that means more for me! This recipe from My Paper Crush is my new favourite recipe and the next one on my must try list.

In the UK we don’t have vegetable shortening per say. It is sold in stores as vegetable fat (solid) but you can substitute butter if you can’t get hold of this ingredient. The texture of the cookie will be a little bit different without the shortening but will still taste lovely.

It’s National Pumpkin Day, so get celebrating! Decorate your home, fill it with the smells of yummy pumpkin meals. Whatever you do, make it a day to remember with your family.