LAST MINUTE GIFT IDEA: SAY HELLO TO HELLOFRESH

Christmas is literally right around the corner and I’m sure everyone is scrambling to get their last minute shopping done. With jam packed malls and crowded stores, it makes you not want to get up and head over to your favourite shopping centre. But an amazing gift doesn’t have to be sitting on a heavy duty rack, surrounded by people fighting over the same item. Shopping online definitely has its perks and the best part is, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own bed. So this is where I introduce to you, HelloFresh.

HelloFresh is an international meal delivery company that offers sustainable packaging and delicious, healthy meals. There are three different plans to choose from; the Veggie Plan, which offers delicious vegetarian dinners; the Pronto Plan, filled with a variety of farm fresh ingredients; and the Family Plan, which feeds up to four people. Every plan is assembled with three different meals in one box. You never know what type of veggies or meats you’ll be receiving each month, which makes the whole process even more exciting.

To keep all of the ingredients nice and fresh, everything is packaged into 100% recyclable and biodegradable cardboard. It is then insulated with silver box liners and filled with recyclable plastic icepacks. To ensure freshness, certain ingredients are then placed in food-safe plastic packaging. Once you receive your box, you want to store everything directly into your fridge or freezer right away, unless you can’t wait and decide to whip up a quick meal. If you’re not too sure how to make the best out of the ingredients you are given, HelloFresh has recipes for each meal on their website. If you’re not one to follow recipes, get creative and put your own twist on it.

This subscription box is absolutely perfect for anyone who loves to spend time in the kitchen, or enjoys experimenting with new foods. And you never know, maybe you’ll get a tasty Christmas dinner from it.

If you are interested in trying one of these delicious subscription boxes, visit www.hellofresh.ca and have your pick. When checking out, use my code ‘NOVELLA60’ for $30 off your first box. If you decide to order another one, use the same code to receive $30 off your second box! So lets get cooking this holiday season. Cheers, and enjoy.

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That’s a Wrap: 7 Ways to Up your Gift Game This Year

There’s exactly one more week till Christmas and I know you haven’t bought all your presents, let alone wrapped them all. And if you have, then hats off to you for winning at life. For the rest of us, it’s crunch time.

Wrapping gifts may seem like a chore, but it’s just an opportunity to get creative. In the end, it really is worth the extra effort. Your loved one will appreciate the thought that went into the details. It’s like Instagram aesthetics or food: presentation is key. So grab a cup of hot chocolate, put on Elf, and make a day of it. Here are seven ways to package your presents that’ll bring out your inner Martha Stewart:

Photo: www.bloglovin.com/blogs/boxwood-clippings-2516541/personalized-christmas-wrapping-4668196955

1) Custom 

When using twine or ribbon, string an ornament through that speaks to their personality or interests. An ornament that reminds you of them or an inside joke makes it more sentimental. Not only does it look good, they can actually put it on their tree rather than throwing it out. You can also customize the package by adding the first letter of their name or cutting their name out of printed paper and sticking it to the wrapping paper. Gluing photos and memories of the two of you on there is a guaranteed tug at the heartstrings.

Photo: eye-swoon.com/gift-wrapping-ideas/

2) Keep it Natural

We all love the classic brown paper, doilies, and twine look. Take it to the next level by adding fern, pine, and bits of foliage. Venture into your backyard and grab a couple of free pinecones that will make your wrapping job look like a million bucks. Keeping it natural will add that nostalgic, comfy cozy cabin feel without losing the aesthetics.

Photo: zena.rtl.hr/clanak/praznici/jednostavne_ideje_za_zamatanje_bozicnih_poklona/9159

3) Rustic glam

If you want to glam up the natural look, go ahead and buy some glitter spray paint to give the pinecones a makeover. If you can’t find spray paint, regular paint or simply covering it in liquid glue and then glitter will do the job. Cover some leaves, twigs, and acorns in metallics and give it the ultimate luxe feel.

Photo: goinghometoroost.com/2012/christmas/christmas-chalkboard-packaging/

4) Chalkboard

Chalkboard wrapping paper is a classic. Once you’ve wrapped your present, it becomes a canvas you can draw on, or leave notes. This is a fun idea, and if you’re into calligraphy, a chance to showcase your craft.

Photo: moderncountry.blogspot.ca/2013/12/at-table-2.html

5) Smells like Christmas Spirit

Keep it organic and add the smells of Christmas into your wrapping. Cinnamon sticks and cloves are a great way to do this. Dried orange slices are also a visually appealing touch to any package and really simple to make! Just slice up some oranges, (not too thick) and lay them on some paper towels so it can absorb the juices. You can flip the orange slices over or just place another layer of paper towel on top of them until most of the juices are drained. Then put them in the oven for about 2-3 hours on a low heat, around 180 degrees fahrenheit until they are dried out. If you have any extra, they can be used around the house as decor, and it smells real festive!

Photo: jensawesomeworld.tumblr.com/

6) Mixed metals

One of the biggest Christmas tree trends this year is mixed metals. Translate this trend into your gift wrapping this year. Get ahold of some silver wrapping paper, champagne ribbon, and little copper ornaments to make the trendiest package of them all. Personally, copper and gunmetal is my favourite combo. If you’re a fan of the mixed metals trend, you can go to town with this one.

Photo: www.popsugar.com

7)Minimal

I understand all black is a lifestyle, even at Christmas. There’s the classic black and white but I like to keep it sophisticated with either an all black or all white “colour” scheme. You can play around with the textures and finishes; as in matte wrapping paper with a satin bow. You can also play around with different shades. Although, nothing is worse than wearing all black and the shades don’t match, amiright? Is it the same for presents? I don’t know. Either way, this nordic way of wrapping will give you that festive look without trying too hard.

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Artsy Gifts Under $100

Photo: Sveta Soloveva

A new exhibition at Northern Contemporary Gallery features hundreds of art pieces under $100!

Photo: Sveta Soloveva

Looking for an inspirational gift for your artistic friend? Acrylic Sugar Skull, Coffin Jewelry Boxes, Drake-inspired painting, and many other interesting and affordable pieces are waiting for you at the art-show, Under 100.

Photo: Sveta Soloveva

The exhibition introduces you to talented North American artists and makes your holiday shopping entertaining in itself.

“You can get something that is really unique,” said Emily May Rose who runs the gallery. “Every kind of theme is covered because we did no theme for the show.”

Photo: Sveta Soloveva

Rose said they wanted to make it affordable for people to buy gifts for their friends and family. The artists could submit a work of any theme and medium, but it had to be priced $100 or under.

The idea worked out perfect. The gallery was full with customers on Dec. 8, the first day of the exhibition. They were scanning the walls with juicy paintings, breathtaking photos of Toronto, and funny digital illustrations.

Photo: Jordan Prentice

“People mostly chose to do reproductions of their work like prints because you can set the price a little bit lower for those,” Rose said. “You can’t really do a big painting and sell it for under a hundred dollars.”

Some of the artists decided to use shampoo jars and broken pieces of cups in their mixed-media-works.

Photo: Sveta Soloveva

An OCAD University student Kevin Pham submitted two digital illustrations and one watercolour painting that he did for school. He said the exhibition is a good opportunity for him to show some of his work and get gallery experience.

“This one is about my grandmother,” Pham pointed at his watercolour painting. “She passed away. So this is her caring for thirteen kids.”

Photo: Sveta Soloveva

Rose said her favourite artist in this show is Ann Somers who submitted six pieces.

“She has a very painterly but still graphic style,” Rose said. “She did a lot of pop-culture references like Kim Kardashian or Stranger Things TV show and little Drake pieces. Those were very cute.”

From left to right: Kevin Pham and Chantal Hassard. Photo: Jordan Prentice

The exhibition runs until Dec. 22, at the Northern Contemporary Gallery, 1266 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario.

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HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING SIMPLIFIED

It’s officially Christmas and your social calendar is filling up quickly. Chances are, you’ll probably have to do some holiday entertaining yourself and stress levels are rising. Well you don’t need 12 Drummers Drumming and 11 Pipers Piping to host a hearty, satisfying Christmas dinner party. Here are some tips to simplify your holiday entertaining this year:

1) Don’t decorate the whole space.
If you’re like me, then you like it when it looks like Christmas threw up in your house. But you don’t need the festive couch cushions and themed plates to have a holly jolly time. You really only need to spend time on one or two focal points. If you have a mantel, then concentrate on that. A pretty holiday table centerpiece can also give your space the festive feels without being overbearing. Start with some moody fresh florals, throw in some candles, fill the gaps with some fall fruit and call it a day.

centrepiece
Photo:http://static.weddingchicks.com/2015/10/12/deep-and-luxurious-wedding-ideas/

2) Only clean where your guests will be.
There’s no point in deep cleaning your closet when your guests probably won’t be lounging in there. Tidy up the main spaces where your guests will be. This usually means the living and dining room, bathroom, and kitchen. Scrubbing down the rest of your home might just be a waste of time, better spent doing something else.

Photo:https://www.pinterest.com/source/stephaniesterjovski.com
Photo:https://www.pinterest.com/source/stephaniesterjovski.com

3) Minimize your table setting.
Sometimes, you don’t need a different cutlery for every bite of food. A plate, a fork, and a knife go a long way for the main course. If you’re plating dessert, use a smaller plate and spoon to serve it. Matte black plates help modernize your place setting (Ikea usually has these and they’re affordable). Mixed metals silverware will also bring in an understated festive element.

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Photo: http://www.italianbark.com/10-christmas-table-setting/

4) Create a foolproof cheeseboard instead of hot food appetizers.
We’ve seen enough of the Instagram posts, but cheeseboards are easy to put together and require no cooking. Get 3-4 different cheeses, usually one soft cheese, one semi-soft, and one hard. It’s good to have variety. I’m not that adventurous so I stick to the milder flavours. It’s brie, gouda, and a log of herb coated goat cheese for me. You can always ask for help when picking out cheeses at the deli — they’re experts. Use crackers and bread that won’t overpower the flavours of the cheeses, such as water crackers. Accompany the cheeseboard with olives, prosciutto, and nuts and make sure the cheese is room temperature before serving. There really is no right or wrong when putting together a cheeseboard, but it makes you look real sophisticated.

cheese
Photo:http://pizzazzerie.com/diy/diy-food-treats/17-appetizer-boards-to-up-your-hostess-game/

5) Ditch the figgy pudding and have s’mores for dessert.
Put out some bowls with Graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate (the good kind — it’s Christmas). Give each of your guests a skewer and gather ’round telling stories of Christmases past. Now, if you want to be fancy, you can purchase a Pu Pu Platter.  It’s a mini Hibachi grill that comes with compartments to place all your s’more essentials. The more common way to roast marshmallows inside is using ethanol gel cans. Tea lights will probably work just as well. Serve a cup of hot cocoa on the side and you’re good to go!

Photo:http://blog.homedepot.com/dining-room-christmas-decorations-in-teal-red-and-mint-green/
Photo:http://blog.homedepot.com/dining-room-christmas-decorations-in-teal-red-and-mint-green/

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2016’s Best Beauty Advent Calendars

Who doesn’t love a good advent calendar? It’s a little surprise everyday on the countdown to Christmas, like miniature presents to yourself. And while a classic chocolate calendar is pretty darn good, there’s something to be said for the alternative advent calendars, the ones that give a little more gift than grub.

If you like cooking, there are cookbook advent calendars. If you like alcohol, there are sampling advent calendars.

If you like beauty, like we do here at Novella, then there are a ton of options for beauty-related calendars. We’ve narrowed it down to a list of some of the best (and ones that ship to Canada).

While we’re now well into the advent season, there’s still time to catch up, or get ideas for next year.

The Body Shop

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As someone who has bought the Body Shop’s advent calendar before, I can confidently say it is excellent. From full-sized hand creams and makeup to travel-sized lotions and body washes, the contents of this 24-day calendar will last you for months afterwards.

This year, the Body Shop even released two versions of their calendar. So you can either go luxe or way luxe.

Find the Beauty calendar (pictured above) here.

Find the Ultimate Beauty calendar here.

Benefit

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In true Benefit Cosmetics fashion, their Girl O’Clock Rock 12-day calendar is bright, bubbly and irresistible. The calendar includes 12 deluxe samples of popular Benefit products, including the Hoola bronzer and the Porefessional primer.

Find it here.

Clinique

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The 10 Days of Clinique set is not the most festive advent calendar on the list, and in fact, is not really an advent calendar at all but it does have a deluxe Clinique sample every day from their various skincare lines. It’s the perfect way to test out the brand for anyone who’s ever been curious or anyone who loves travel sizes.

Find it here.

Lush

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Lush and Christmas just go hand in hand, don’t they? Think about it: baths, face masks, and gift sets. There’s no better time to hit up Lush than during Christmastime. This 12-day calendar features all-vegan bath and shower products with a couple of luxurious lotions thrown in.

Find it here.

L’Occitane en Provence

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The deluxe of all deluxe skincare calendars. This 24-day calendar features samples from l’Occitane’s best skincare products. Facial cleansers, hand creams and shower gels are some of the goodies that can be found in here. Treat yourself before you treat anyone else.

Find it here.

Lancôme

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If you’re like me and associate Lancôme with your grandmother, then drop the association, because the brand’s 24-days advent calendar is filled with high-quality beauty samples in gorgeous packagings. Makeup and skincare samples for days. This ain’t your grandmother’s advent calendar.

Find it here. 

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