Well polish my baubles - it's nearly Christmas and if Facebook is anything to go by, people are already getting into the full swing of the festive shopping season, kick started by Black Friday.
I love this time of year and decorating the tree is one of my favourite things to do. Every year I promise myself I will let the children do it while I gaze in loving bliss at the happy scene. And every year my eye starts twitching and I have to hold back the urge to elbow them out of the way and do it myself. I content myself by surreptitiously re-arranging the decorations when they've gone to bed.
We have quite a collection of decorations in the attic and it is nice to have some on the tree which bring back happy memories. But a wander round the O2 Leisure and Shopping Centre in Finchley Road with my mum (visiting from not very Christmassy Cyprus) made me feel very festive and keen to pick up some of the latest trends and update my slightly tired looking collection of Christmas bits and pieces.
It didn't take long browsing stores selling decorations at the centre to realise that vintage style glass decorations are very much in. Robot ornaments in particular are everywhere! Luckily my children are old enough that glass is a safe choice as I love the muted colours and traditional style of this style of decoration.
I picked up a gorgeous Babushka doll-style ornament in the Flying Tiger Copenhagen store which was a bargain at just £2. I found some excellent Christmas presents there too including a lovely watercolour paper pad and paints. I also bought a bag of cinnamon bark - lovely for making decorations or adding to warm festive drinks.
Just inside the doors of the O2 Centre we found a huge array of beautiful lights and decorations in Habitat. From pandas to baseball boots there was a wonderful variety of gorgeous glittery ornaments.
I was also impressed with the selection of lights from the strings you decorate the tree with to standalone pieces. There were fun multi-coloured trees but my favourite illuminated decoration was "Cosmic" a battery-operated elegant simplified representation of a tree which lights with led lights from within and is available in silver or gold and in two different sizes. My pictures (and the one on the website) didn't do it justice so pop into your nearest store to have a proper look.
It was time for a coffee break and with a wide variety of places to eat and drink in the centre it took us a while to choose! We ended up in the Apostrophe cafe in the atrium as I do like to watch people. (Not in a creepy way you understand!). This also gave us a good view of the centre's decorations including the lovely Giving Tree which asks customers to buy an extra Christmas gift for a child in need.
Next we popped into Paperchase where we found the vintage-esque glass theme continued. There were some particularly quirky ornaments there (festive crocodiles anyone?) along with a huge array of cards and gift packaging for all tastes. I love the idea of wrapping gifts in paper printed with dogs wearing antlers.
Mum was impressed with Oliver Bonas which is a new brand to her. She found the perfect LBD (little black dress) and lots of gift ideas. We both coo-ed over the cute baby range including a teeny-tiny pair of furry bootees which would we would have snapped up if anyone in our family was planning a baby. *stares pointedly at eldest son and his partner*
Ambling towards the back of the centre (where there is huge car park) we spotted Waterstones (not just good for books!) and some nice little independent stalls including one selling amazing decorations like DIY tools and lipsticks all made out of chocolate, and another selling handbags. We had to have a stern word with ourselves and march ourselves past onto Sainsbury's (downstairs) and Homebase (out at the bottom of the car park).
Ooh talk about Winter Wonderland! Sainsbury's is a bit of a one-stop shop for all things festive from food to frocks. They had lots of decorations in a variety of themes and obviously most of these were made from more family-friendly materials if you don't think glass ones are a good idea.
We particularly liked the range of stags, in baubles or as standalone pieces which would look wonderful on a mantelpiece or table.
Entering Homebase I got a little dizzy with the selection. If you fancy lighting up your garden they have the decs for you along with a huge range of Christmas trees both real and artificial.
Mum spotted a lovely stag-themed wreath hanging hook. I have one of these handy gadgets already but loved this so much I bought it anyway. It only cost £4! I think it looks stunning on my front door.
Back into the O2 Centre heading for Finchley Road Underground station (a very short walk from the centre's front entrance) we enjoyed live music from a group of musicians performing outside Starbucks and Sainsbury's downstairs in the centre.
We left feeling really happy and festive and delighted with our purchases so if you are feeling more Scrooge than Santa I recommend a visit to the O2 Centre to really get your Christmas groove on.
And if shopping is not your thing, head upstairs where you will find a Vue cinema showing all the latest releases and an impressive array of eateries where you can choose anything from pizza to prawn dumplings.
Let the festive season commence!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Views and opinions remain honest and my own.