TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 11, 2019

Christmas Canapés 3 Ways

Stuck for snack ideas to lay on for your guests in that weird limbo between Christmas breakfast and dinner? We've got you covered with these moreish canapés.

Brie & Cranberry Parcels

No festive spread is truly complete without a generous slab of brie and what better way to please a crowd than with cheesy, cranberry filled parcels of flaky filo pastry. Oo-er.

For a Christmas treat that’s both sweet and savoury, tuck into these bite-size nibbles. They’ve got the whole package!

SERVES
PREP: 15 MINS COOK: 10 MINS
EASY
  1. Cut the filo pastry into 10 rectangles and brush all over with melted butter.
  2. Spread a spoonful of cranberry sauce evenly over the pastry and top with a few cubes of brie and a handful of crushed walnuts.
  3. Then brush another sheet of filo pastry with melted butter, place on top of the bottom layer and twist the ends to form a sweet / parcel shape.
  4. Repeat with the remaining pastry and ingredients and bake until crispy and golden.

Houmous Crostini

Feed your guests with these time-saving veggie appetizers on Christmas Day. Prepped and ready to serve in under 10 mins, they’re the perfect solution for doing Christmas breakfast the lazy-girl way. Here’s to spending less time in the kitchen and more time sinking mimosas with your family.

SERVES
PREP: 10 MINS COOK: 5 MINS
EASY
  1. Cut your ciabatta or baguette into slices and toast under the grill for 1 – 2 minutes each side.
  2. Add a slather of houmous on each slice and top with cubes of cucumber and avo for a refreshing savoury snack in between all the rich Christmas choc and mince pies.

Salmon Blinis

Kick off your culinary celebrations with these classic mini pancakes. Delicious served with smoked salmon and smothered in cream cheese, brunch snacks don’t get more Christmassy than this. Simply pile high with the toppings of your choice, season generously with a squeeze of lemon and cracked black pepper and try not to snaffle the lot in one go.

SERVES
PREP: 10 MINS COOK: 5 MINS
EASY
  1. Lightly grill the blinis in your oven under 170°C
  2. Once cooked, transfer the pre-prepared blinis to a plate and top with cream cheese, slices of smoked salmon and a sprinkling of freshly chopped chives or dill if you prefer.
  3. Serve with lemon or give the lot a generous squeeze before handing round.

What’s Your Favourite Christmas Canapé?

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 10, 2019

3 Ways to Style Your Christmas Mantlepiece

Adding seasonal flourishes to your home is a must at Christmas time and one of the easiest ways to do it is by styling up your mantelpiece - your tree can't have all the attention now, can it?

Your fireplace is a great place to start because it’s usually the focal point of a room but while it’s only a small and narrow space, it can be tricky to decide exactly what you want to do with it.

We’ve included a few options to suit different aesthetics from the colourful and eclectic to the simple and understated. Happy decorating!

Golden Glow

Christmas lights aren’t just for the tree. Add a holiday glow to your mantelpiece with ambient fairy lights, tea lights and candelabras.

Embed your lights into your garland or make an easy centrepiece simply by folding them into an empty hurricane vase or two.

Gold bottle brush trees, faux foliage and metallic accents finish off this beautifully understated arrangement.

You can also try leaning different sized decorations against the wall and layering them in front of one other for a relaxed display that feels perfectly undone, just like the stars in this festive vignette.

Scandinavian Vibes

Should you want a cosy look that still feels stylish, stick to a simple colour palette of frosty hues and gold for a fuss-free mantel with big impact.

Nordic white stars create a classic and restful mantel while the gold candelabras add a hint of opulence.

Three simple pillar candles keep the focal point from becoming too crowded in the centre and the height of the candelabras create just enough balance and symmetry. Subtle but undeniably festive!

The Maximalist

If you can’t go big at Christmas, then when can you? This mantelpiece décor is all about the f-u-n. Fill the narrow ledge with thick foliage to create depth and movement. We’ve gone for faux greenery here but you can use fresh garland if you prefer.

More is more when it comes to maximalist styling, so don’t hold back on colour and texture. The greenery of the foliage anchors the display, creating fluidity and visual harmony while the coloured baubles nestled into the garland and hanging from the mantelpiece provide the perfect contrast against dark walls.

Balance your focal point with a pair of pillar candles, vases, or lanterns at either end of the mantel to add symmetry. Finally, for a playful and eclectic twist add in a non-trad ornament like this quirky flamingo!

Styling Tips To Consider

Complement Your Colour Scheme

Tie your mantelpiece colours in with the rest of your living space for cohesion. Whether it’s your sofa, a feature wall or your artwork.

Stick to Odd Numbers

Like floristry, any visual display is best arranged into groups of odd numbers, especially threes.

Vary Heights

Stacked books and tall candelabras are great for drawing the eyes upwards into the vertical space and elevating your smaller decorations.

Try to Achieve Symmetrical Balance

Start with your focal point (the large piece that anchors your design) and build out by arranging elements either side of your pièce de résistance.

If perfect symmetry is too polished and buttoned up for you, go for balanced asymmetry instead. Just make sure you create the same visual weight on either side of your focal point.

Don’t Forget to Use The Whole Space

You can hang festive bunting or stockings across the fireplace to create visual interest below the mantel arrangement.

Add a Living Element

Festive foliage, whether it’s real or faux, will not only add life to your mantel but it’s a great blank canvas to work with. Once you’ve got that in place, you can layer it with colour, texture and light to your heart’s content. If you don’t want to go all-out holiday spirit with a full garland, you can experiment with sprigs of fresh eucalyptus, berries or branches of fluffy cotton flower.

Avoid Straight Lines

Cluster your items together, staggering some slightly in front and some behind rather than lining them up side by side. This will help establish depth on a narrow mantelpiece.

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TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 9, 2019

Alternative Gift Wrapping Ideas For A More Sustainable Christmas

While glossy and glittery wrapping paper is undeniably pretty to look at, it tends to contain non-recyclable elements such as plastic, dye, foil and leftover sticky tape. Cue the black bin liner making the rounds on Christmas Day and heading straight for land fill. Five million tonnes of it every year in the UK, to be exact.

To cut down on waste and have a more resourceful Christmas, we’ve pulled together some alternative gift wrap ideas to try.

May your presents come suited and booted in all the sustainable garb!

Paper Grocery bags or Brown Paper

For all the neutral gift wrap enthusiasts out there, use brown paper lunch bags hand-stamped with festive designs by yours truly. Minimalist, chic & Scandi – lovely jubbly.

Bags | *Bauble Stamp | *Botanical Stamp

Long lasting fabric gift wrap

Wrapping gifts in fabric, or Furoshiki as the Japanese tradition is better known, is the perfect antithesis to throw-away culture.

You can use anything from headscarves and linens to tablecloths to swaddle your gifts. Kitsch is the new fetch!

Lush Cosmetics have a lovely selection of knot wraps, some of which are made from recycled plastic bottles. From city maps to vintage prints, there’s something for everyone.

Lush Knot Wraps

Hand-painted ribbons

Enter the holy grail of budget-friendly present toppers: hand-drawn ribbons. You can use craft paint to draw bows, holly, baubles or the whole of Whoville if you’re feeling particularly ambitious.

No paint, no problem – just whip out a felt tip pen or a faithful Sharpie instead.

Old newspapers

Make your news travel further by repurposing old newspapers to wrap your gifts. Resourceful, indeed and probably the only way to put a positive spin on British politics right now.

Eco-friendly sticky tape

Even the most well-intentioned of us may not realise sticky tape isn’t recyclable but it’s one of the worst offenders for the environment around Christmas time. Use an eco-friendly alternative like this biodegradable packing tape from The Green Stationery Company.

Eco Paper Packing Tape

Christmas tree sprigs for present toppers

Before you go throwing those fallen sprigs in the bin, you might want to save them for your present toppers. Brown paper, jute string and a sprig of greenery to boot looks oh-so-pretty.

If your tree hasn’t dropped any branches, you can always pop to your local florist and see if they had any casualties when making their wreaths this year. They often sell Christmas trees too which means they’ll have plenty of branches to spare. Sure it might be a weird request, but we do what we have to do to spruce up our festive offerings.

You can go for a walk and forage for holly, berries & pine cones, too. Decorate them with spray snow or gold spray paint for a beautiful festive effect.

Cookie cutters and any spare decorations also make for great Christmassy present toppers. Or you could even go all-out Star Baker and make your own cookie gift tags. Is there anything better than receiving something edible and personalised? No, no there is not.

Raid your kitchen cupboards

Sprigs of rosemary look just as nice as Christmas tree branches atop your gifts and they smell great, too.

If you have any oranges going spare you can slice them up and dry them out in the oven on a low heat to use as festive fodder.

Re-use old clothes

If you have any old knitwear or embroidered dresses, cut them into thick strips and use them as wrapping trim.

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 8, 2019

Weekly Wants: Gift Guides

Present buying can get us all in a tizzy state when left to the last minute, so we thought we'd get on the case sooner rather than later. It's better this way. It frees up some more time to eat, drink and be merry. Priorities and all that!

A delectable gift for the foodie one? We’re on it. A cult product for the beauty lover? GOTCHA. From unmissable homeware gems, games for the whole fam to enjoy and everything in between, it’s time to kick off the Christmas shopping, y’all.

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*This post contains ad – affiliate links. For more information and to read our disclosure policy, please click here.

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 7, 2019

Sentimental Gift Ideas

Kim Kardashian left us all ugly crying a few weeks back when she surprised her mum with the birthday to end all birthday presents: a day in their childhood home, with the same cars her parents used to drive, complete with the same number plates, parked in the same spot. And the award for daughter of the year goes to…

It got us feeling inspired to think outside the box with our Christmas presents this year and while we’re not about to go renting cars and houses anytime soon (sincere apologies, mum), there’s plenty of ways to make Christmas memorable for your nearest and dearest with thoughtful & considered gifts.

Let’s kick this hearty list of sentimental gift ideas off shall we? Five house points if you reduce them to happy, salty Yuletide tears.

Make a gift jar

Repurpose a glass jar and fill it with handmade notes, compliments, IOU coupons and date night plans. If they don’t blubber when opening this, you have permission to pinch them a little bit until they do.

Get them a ticket to their favourite show

Nothing says, ‘I love you’ like gifting them with a memory or an unforgettable experience. Take them to see their favourite show or artist, it’ll mean the world!

Make a personalised hamper

Whether they’re a cheese lover, a wine connoisseur or a beauty guru, you can create a themed hamper, stacked up with all their favourite things in life. Gotta love a DIY present with those personal touches.

A film poster

From Star Wars to Harry Potter, reminisce on that cinema trip you shared together many moons ago or a favourite film you never tire of watching.

Get them a ‘tell me’ book

We don’t always get round to asking the burning questions we’ve always wondered about our parents or grandparents. Questions like, ‘what did you want to be growing up?’ and ‘what’s your biggest achievement?’

This book inspires them to tell their story, leaving you with a lasting keepsake to cherish for years to come.

When they’re done filling it in, they can give the book back to you, or better yet they can buy it, fill it out and gift it to you instead.

Make a video

Edit your favourite photos or video clips together, drop in their favourite song and BOOM, watch them pull out the, “I’ve got something in my eye” excuse.

Book a class / course

Are they obsessed with flowers, an avid chef or a budding photographer? Why not treat them to a masterclass or a course to encourage them to do more of what makes them happy.

Learn their favourite song

Ok, this one’s kinda limited to the musically-talented but if you can handle your strings or tickle the ivories, why not learn their favourite tune and surprise them on Christmas Day with a sing-a-long. We bet there’s not a dry eye in the house. Our work here is done.

Make them a member

Are they a film fanatic? Sort them out with a cinema membership to unlock exclusive discounts, priority booking and free tickets.

If they’re a nature enthusiast, you could get them a National Trust membership so they can enjoy getting outside all year round.

Sign them up for a subscription

Who wouldn’t want to receive fresh flowers in the post every month or their favourite magazine? It’s the kind of thing you wouldn’t treat yourself to but as a gift idea, it’s THE FREAKING BEST.

Frame their favourite quote

Whether it’s a quote from their favourite novel or the lyrics from their wedding song, framing the words that mean the most to them is a sure-fire way to make them smile.

Treasure your childhood videos

Put all your home videos onto an SD card or a DVD and give them to all your family members to enjoy. Prepare to be the favourite child.

Got a sentimental gift idea up your sleeve? Hit us with your best Kim Kardashian-style tearjerker!

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 6, 2019

Delicious Gingerbread Flavoured Vodka

Combine two of Christmas’ very best; gingerbread and alcohol for a magical cocktail come the 25th or the perfect gift for your sweet-toothed friend.

We’re saying so long to sloe gin and hello to Gingerbread flavoured Vodka!

Infusing alcohol as a gift has definitely risen in popularity over the last few years as it marries ‘going the extra mile’ for a loved one with something that always gets the party started; booze.

This year we’re saying so long to sloe gin and hello to Gingerbread flavoured Vodka! Gingerbread is one of our most loved flavours when winter comes so why not blend beautiful ginger, cinnamon, cloves, sugar and vanilla to create a sweet and spicy liquor you can lap up at the end of the month.

SERVES
PREP: 15 MINS COOK: 15 MINS
EASY
  1. Poor out your vodka in to a large jug so you can easily stir in some of the ingredients.
  2. In your air tight bottle place the ginger chopped and the cinnamon sticks.
  3. Add the sugar, cloves, and vanilla paste to your jug of vodka and give it a good stir
  4. Funnel your vodka mix from the jug in to your air tight bottle leaving a little breathing room at the top.
  5. Write the date three weeks from making on a tag and attach it to the neck of you bottle.
  6. If the bottle is a gift add some ribbon and a little personalised message from yourself and keep your fingers crossed you can try it!

Good things come to those who wait, and this is definitely the case for Gingerbread Vodka. You can start sipping after 3 weeks but rumour has it that when you come back to it a year later (if you have any left of course) it is even sweeter and delicious than ever before.

If you’re making this recipe for your own bar cart and need a little inspiration for how to consume it than look no further than the Gingerbread Vodka Martini! Combine two shots of your homemade tipple, 1 shot of Cointreau, 1 shot of simple syrup,  a dash of lemon, and an egg white in your cocktail shaker then proceed to shake well. Strain into two of your loveliest glasses and if you’re feeling extra, lightly tap over a bit of powdered cinnamon.

We certainly wouldn’t judge you for slurping it out of your hip flask whilst singing some festive carols!

You can also try Gingerbread Vodka with some of the usual suspects like Coke, soda, single cream and ginger beer. And we certainly wouldn’t judge you for slurping it out of your hip flask whilst singing some festive carols!

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 5, 2019

Definitive Guide to Christmas Movies

If you want to sit in your Christmas pants from now until Christmas, we won't blame you. In fact, we strongly encourage you to do so....

Then you’ll have half a chance of watching at least one of these classic Christmas films a day – like an advent calendar minus the door-opening cardio. Winning.

Featuring everything from annual classics to the quotable masterpieces, here’s our definitive guide to all the Christmas movies worth watching.

The Holiday (2006)

Who knew the secret ingredient to a powerful Christmas movie was a Graham with a chiselled jaw and a golden tan in December. Jude, dude – where does one holiday to get that glow because it certainly isn’t England?

We can give or take the male narrator scenes but other than that, The Holiday is and always will be a stand-out favourite. Watch it and try not to be blown away. Oh yeah, we went there.

Rating: 9/10

Love Actually (2003)

It’s not Christmas until we’ve had our hearts ripped to shreds by an unfaithful Alan Rickman. She deserved that necklace and what’s more Harry, she deserved a life. It gets us every single time. SOB.

Rating: 9/10

Arthur Christmas (2011)

There’s an animation and then there’s an Arthur Christmas animation. A firm favourite among adults and kids alike, it proves that every family, even Santa’s, is dysfunctional in its own way.

Also, is it just us, or does Arthur look just like that guy you see in the lift at work every day? That’s exactly why it works. He’s a loveable unlikely hero with the flushed cheeks of an angel and we won’t hear a bad word uttered about him.

Rating: 9/10

Elf (2003)

Are you even an Elf fan if you haven’t used, “you sit on a throne of lies” as an emotionally-charged comeback in times of despair.

Sixteen years after it was made (we know, madness) we’re still quoting the hell out of it. Buddy the giant elf is a national treasure and long may it stay that way.

Rating: 10/10

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

A joyous, vibrant and fuzzy musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Michael Caine + Kermit the Frog -name a more iconic duo, please.

Rating: 8/10

Home Alone (1990)

Eight-year-old Kevin McCallister is mistakenly left behind when his family go on their Christmas vacation to Paris. Forced to defend himself against a pair of burglars, he rigs the house with booby traps and gifts us with a load of belly laughs along the way. Keep the change, ya filthy animal!

Rating: 9/10

Miracle On 34th Street (1994)

Nineties nostalgia queen Mara Wilson and the legendary Richard Attenborough made this movie remake what it is.

Little else can fill us with festive cheer quite like little Susan saying an eight-syllable word with a lisp. Charming, delightful and feel-good – it’s an evergreen festive fave.

Rating: 9/10

Polar Express (2004)

If you don’t like Tom Hanks, then sorry but you’re wrong. He voices six characters in this film. Six.

A magical train journey, the dreamlike digital effects and don’t even get us started on the hot chocolate song. In summary, it’s an underappreciated Christmas classic that was way ahead of its time.

Rating: 8/10

The Snowman (1982)

Who needs dialogue when the sentiment does all the talking? Oh, and the dulcet tones of Aled Jones.

This beloved cartoon is just 27 minutes long but that’s all the time you need to fall in love with an ephemeral snowman. Christmas morning TV at its best!

Rating: 8/10

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

George, a stressed-out businessman facing financial ruin, is contemplating suicide when a guardian angel shows him what life would have been like without him in it. Brimming with classic lines and teary scenes, it’ll warm the cockles of your heart.

Rating: 6/10

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Like chocolate Roses and Twiglets for breakfast, The Grinch has earned its festive staple status for all the right reasons.

Based on then lovable Dr. Seuss novel, Jim Carey plays a green and grumpy Grinch with a tragic past. Intent on ruining Christmas for the rest of his Whoville citizens, he sets out to steal everyone’s presents and cancel Christmas. But when six-year-old Cindy Lou shows him kindness, he too starts to believe in the spirit of the holidays. No, you’re crying.

Rating: 9/10

The Santa Clause (1994)

The 90s really came up trumps with the Christmas films didn’t it? This one starts off pretty morbid with the accidental death of Santa and everything but quickly turns things around and becomes a feel-good family watch. Ok, it’s not in the same league as Home Alone but it’s the lightweight entertainment you need after the post-Christmas dinner slump.

Rating: 6/10

Holiday Inn (1942)

A golden oldie! Holiday Inn is an American musical and delightful rom-com starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Marjorie Reynolds.

Featuring beloved classics from Irving Berlin including “Shaking The Blues Away” and “White Christmas” it’ll have you up on your feet before you know it. Bring your best singing voice.

Rating: 7/10

A Christmas Carol (2009)

A life-affirming legendary tale, reimagined by Disney. This animation is our favourite remake of the seasonal classic and Jim Carey has everything to do with it.

Rating: 7/10

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Controversial, is it a Halloween film or a Christmas classic? We’re going for the latter because quite frankly no holiday is complete without Tim Burton.

Rating: 8/10

Home Alone II Lost In New York (1992)

The second film in the Home Alone series follows Kevin as he mistakenly boards a plane to New York while the rest of his family jet off to Miami. They really are the worst parents ever. Stranded in the Big Apple, a nine-year-old Kevin explores the city and comes face to face with his two worst enemies again. Christmas isn’t Christmas without this trio’s slapstick shenanigans.

Rating: 9/10

Fred Claus (2007)

Santa ropes in his grouch of a younger brother, Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn), to help the elves prepare for Christmas. The only problem is, he’s not exactly festive material. Will he ruin the holidays? There’s only one way to find out…

Rating: 7/10

Scrooged (1988)

Another dose of seasonal misery, you say? Why ever not. Bill Murray is always worth a watch.

Rating: 6/10

Nativity (2009)

Cheesy, affable and laugh out loud funny. To steal a line from the movie, “everybody make sure you’ve had a poo and a wee,” before watching it.

Rating: 6/10

Father Christmas (1991)

From the creators of The Snowman comes another loveable classic. This time, Father Christmas decides to go on a “blooming vacation”, converting his sleigh into a caravan and setting off for France, Las Vegas and Scotland. Animations are the best!

Rating: 6/10

Jingle All The Way (1996)

Sometimes you just need a film that doesn’t ask too much of you, a predictable easy-watch, perfect for background viewing when you’re wrapping presents. The sort of movie you can abandon for 30 minutes for a hair wash, come back and still know what’s going on. For all those times, there’s Jingle All The Way. It’s not in our top 5 but it deserves an honourable crappy Christmas film mention nonetheless.

Rating: 5/10

Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

Based on the best-selling novel, “Skipping Christmas” by John Grisham, Christmas with the Kranks is basically the story about how no good can come of ditching the holidays.

Rating: 5/10

Serendipity (2001)

As the title suggests, expect themes of fate, destiny and mysterious matchmaking cashmere gloves, set against a magical New York backdrop. An underrated festive rom-com that you should add to your watch-list immediately.

7/10

What’s Your 10/10 Christmas Movie?

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 4, 2019

Book Club: Nine Perfect Strangers

Our most recent Zoella Blook Club read was Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, the author of the best-selling book and now TV series 'Big Little Lies'

Nine perfect strangers, each hiding an imperfect life. A luxury retreat cut off from the outside world. Ten days that promise to change your life. But some promises – like some lives – are perfect lies . . .

Find out what we thought of the book below!

Our next read is Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas – ‘Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat . . . but 1.4 million NHS staff are heading off to work.

In this perfect present for anyone who has ever set foot in a hospital, Adam Kay delves back into his diaries for a hilarious, horrifying and sometimes heartbreaking peek behind the blue curtain at Christmastime.

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is a love letter to all those who spend their festive season on the front line, removing babies and baubles from the various places they get stuck, at the most wonderful time of the year’ – we’re excited to read!

What did you think of Nine Perfect Strangers? Let us know below!

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 4, 2019

20 Things To Do This December

Tidings of comfort and joy, everyone! December is here and we are united in our collective dislike of glittery wrapping paper. Can’t you just have a year off, Susan?

With our traditions and weird festive rituals, we realise how humans really are one and the same. No one knows the words to Fairytale of New York, everyone enjoys seeing celebs eat kangaroo bollocks in the jungle and we secretly all think hot wine is overrated.

So without further ado, let’s raise a glass of the mulled stuff to the last month of 2019. May it be filled with merriment, memes & too many mince pies.

Here’s 20 things you’ll probably find yourself doing this December!

1. Laugh like an idiot at the X-rated ‘elf on the shelf’ tweets

2. Cackle at the UK voting for the same person to do the Bushtucker trial for the third day in a row

3. Drink so much mulled wine you don’t want to touch another drop until next December. Your nostrils will start to reject it.

4. Watch your WhatsApp group chat go off with all the drunk friend / office party Christmas memes

5. Watch the Queen’s Speech and get hopelessly distracted as she throws shade at the government and talks of living within our means after her crown is driven in its own car to be with her

6. Let your kids loose on the tree and then decorate it all again when they’re in bed #mumgoals

7. Terrify yourself by taking your land-loving feet and forcing them to work on ice

8. Cancel your gym membership for this month. Santa doesn’t believe in cardio.

9. Get pissed at your parents for forgetting to buy you an advent calendar. The fact that you’re 28 now is beside the point

10. Call out the person that puts the empty wrappers back in the tin of Quality Street. How disturbing. They are not part of this family. Phase them out immediately.

11. Enlighten someone about how the mincemeat in mince pies isn’t actually meat. I feel personally attacked.  

12. Sing carols into the cold air with strangers whether they like it or not. Make eye contact and wonder how weird your mouth looks while singing fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

13. Act like you’re gonna make those Christmas snacks last until 25th December. Lol. Nothing haunts you like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange sat in the cupboard. EAT ME, YOU WEAK, WEAK HOMOSAPIAN

14. Make a Christmas Wreath and realise exactly why you didn’t make it as a florist.

15. Force your dog to wear the ears from another animal or a jumper meant for humans

16. Quote Love Actually like it’s your job. “I look quite pretty” *shudder*

17. Remember you are a strong, independent woman. Except when It comes to unravelling fairy lights. They win.

18. Unite in your collective hatred of spouts and wrapping paper covered in… GLITTER

19. Pretend you know the words to Fairytale of New York – the key is to get louder on the scumbag part

20. Open a present from your mum, only to realise how little the woman who birthed you into being really knows you

What are your plans this December? Let us know some of your funny traditions!

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 3, 2019

13 Questions with Kris Hallenga

Today we have the incredible and inspiring Kris Hallenga, founder of CoppaFeel! taking over our instagram, answering some questions and telling us her story. CoppaFeel! is an amazing charity spreading awareness and providing incredibly important information on the early detection of breast cancer.

Tell us a bit about your story and how you started CoppaFeel!

When I was 22 I found a lump in my boob but had no idea how long it had been there and whether it was just a normal thing for me. It was only when it started to become more painful and stopping me sleeping on my belly at night (my favourite posish) that I mentioned it to my Mum who immediately sent me off to the GP. I was told it was hormonal and totally, absolutely, 1000% nothing to worry about. Which is EXACTLY the news I wanted. Months later, as the symptoms worsened I went back to the GP for the third time to ask to be referred to a breast clinic where I was finally told I had breast cancer. Not only was it in my left boob but it had sneakily found it’s way to my bones too. This meant it was incurable but treatable for hopefully a long time. Eleven years later I am miraculously still here. CoppaFeel! is a product of my mis-diagnosis and the ignorance of me and my doctors. No one had ever told me to check my boobs and I realised there wasn’t an organisation dedicated to young people and their relationship with boobs. So CoppaFeel! was born to right some wrongs and educate the world about BOOBS.

What is the most rewarding thing about starting CoppaFeel!?

It has to be knowing that we’re making an impact. We wouldn’t still exist if we weren’t having some kind of a positive effect on people and thankfully this is the case. We often hear from people who’ve had an early diagnosis – which means the cancer was caught at the earliest stage possible before it has spread therefore giving them the best possible chance of survival. That’s the stuff that makes all the hard work worth it.

What do you wish more people knew about CoppaFeel!?

That we’re here for YOU! Regardless of your age, gender, race, we want you to know your boobs and we want to be an encouraging and empowering mate throughout your life. Knowing about us is the first step, but being reminded to check yourself is a life time commitment that we deliver free and hopefully with a smile on our face. You can sign up to reminders or get sent some handy shower stickers through our website: coppafeel.org

What are your top tips for checking your boobs?

Firstly there’s no right or wrong way to do it, it’s simply about getting your mitts on them and having a good feel and a good look regularly. It’s important to include your armpits and collarbones in your routine too. A good place to check is in the shower since you are naked already! For the full lowdown go to https://coppafeel.org/your-boobs/boob-check-101/

You’ve done some amazing collaborations this year, what are a few of your favourites?

My personal fave has to be our huge collab with VANS. I’ve been a fan and worn their shoes for years plus we’ve been putting an event on in their skate park under Waterloo station for 4 years too. It was a big ol’ dream to actually get some boob VANS produced but after a long phone call with the team in the US over two years ago it became a reality. It’s probably one of the biggest collabs we’ve done because it’s global – it was pretty surreal seeing our logo and products in stores in far flung places like Hawaii and Hong Kong! The partnership is raising over $200k which is going to ploughed straight back in to our education work here in the UK. And the best bit? We got illustrations of naked boobs, pregnant ladies and mastectomy scars on to a pair of shoes. HOW MAD IS THAT.

How can people support CoppaFeel!?

First and foremost you can support us by checking your boobs. It’s what we’re here for and ultimately all we really want from you. But if you’re feeling super generous we will take your money too, however big or small the donation – you can trust us to put it to good use! We’re obviously all over social media so follow us, join in on the fun we get up to and help us spread the word far and wide. Never has influencing people on social media been more healthy!

How is the best way to support someone who has breast cancer and how did your family help you?

I would say the best advice is to just be there. That might sound really obvious but actually people tend to over-think their actions, their words, and it can become a bit too full on rather quickly when all your mate with cancer wants is a cup of tea and to hear the latest goss about the boy you’re dating. Normality for me was key because it helped distract me from the enormity of what I was facing. Making meals and other practical help is also so useful. I got bundled up with love, food, mountains of DVDs from my friends and family and before long they were helping me set up CoppaFeel! and for that I will always be so grateful.

Who inspires you?

There are heaps of women I look up to but no one comes close to my twin sister Maren. We shared a womb so know each other pretty well. This means I can’t hide any emotion and she knows what I need without me saying. She recently had a baby and my admiration for her, our bodies and women just exploded! I have oodles of respect for her.

What was your favourite subject at school?

Creative stuff! I wasn’t a fan of the sciences, or maths or English in fact. But I took Drama, art and design pretty seriously because it allowed me to think outside of facts and figures. I also really loved German because I was born there and obviously breezed through my German GCSE and A-Level. My twin and I plus another German kid got to have lessons away from everyone because we were fluent. They ended up essentially being a free period to do very little. WINNING.

What’s your ideal weekend?

I live in Cornwall so for me it’s a brunch somewhere delicious followed by a dip in the sea and warming stroll along a cliff top with friends. My sister has a cocker spaniel called Rambo who I love taking for walks too. Maybe its my age or perhaps living with a terminal illness for long, but I’ve definitely grown to love the simplest things most.

What will you always find in your handbag?

Hand sanitiser! And a little pot of salt. and probs a crumpled up CoppaFeel! sticker ready to hand to someone who needs some boob love in their life.

What’s your current motivational mantra?

“Breathe”. So simple yet so effective!

What would you tell your younger self?

“Bloody well check your boobs, Kris!”

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