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Ah Christmas! My favourite time of the year, and the best time of year for socialising with friends, family and colleagues. I love a good knees-up but I know that not everyone drinks at all so please know that all of the alcohol in these cocktail recipes ideas can be replaced with non-alcoholic drinks.

Sparkly Raspberry Mimosas 

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I love mimosas because they’re so easy to make, especially when you have a lot of people coming over to your house or a party to host. I also feel like the red and white combo looks extra festive, which is why there is no orange juice in this version of my mimosas. I don’t personally drink a lot on Christmas Day but this could definitely be a breakfast drink instead of the traditional Bucks Fizz.

 Ingredients

  • Fresh raspberries
  • 1/4 ounces of simple syrup (1:1 ratio water and sugar)
  • 1 bottle of Champagne/Prosecco (replace with lemonade or tonic water for mocktails)
  • Sugared raspberries for garnish
  • Cranberry rimming sugar*

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Method

  1. Use a small amount of butter to cover rim of the champagne flute and dip into rimming sugar (you may have noticed that I used cranberry and there are no cranberries in this cocktail, but it tasted lovely!)
  2. In a champagne flute, add the raspberries and muddle using a muddler or wooden spoon until the raspberries are broken up.
  3. Add the simple syrup and fill the glass with chilled prosecco / replacement.
  4. Add some sugared raspberries on a cocktail stick for garnish.
  5. Serve chilled.

Cherry-Pomegranate Southside

This cocktail reminds me of Riverdale (Southside Serpents am-I-rite?), but basically a Southside is like the gin version of a Mojito and since I love gin possibly more than I love most people, it had to be included.

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Ingredients

  • Pomegranate seeds from half a pomegranate
  • lime juiced (about 1)
  • 1/2 cup cherry juice
  • 2 shots gin// leave out for mocktails //
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Sprite
  • Ice

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Method

  1. Fill four rocks glasses with ice.
  2. Place the pomegranate seeds and lime juice in the bottom of a cocktail shaker or large jam jar. Use a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon to muddle the seeds by pressing them into the bottom of the shaker to release their juices.
  3. Add the cherry juice, gin and honey to the cocktail shaker, then fill with ice. Shake for 30 seconds, then strain the mixture into each of the rocks glasses.
  4. Top off each rocks glass with Sprite and serve.

Peppermint Swirl

I love a fresh drink and it doesn’t get fresher than peppermint. I know people love mint in their hot chocolates and peppermint teas but I loved the idea of drinking a minty cocktail. I also love the colours of red and green, making it super festive-looking.

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Ingredients

  • 70ml prosecco // use Sprite or lemonade for mocktails //
  • 40ml vanilla vodka (or add two drops of extract with normal vodka) // leave out or add cream soda for mocktails //
  • Peppermint liqueur (2 drops of peppermint oil + 3 tbsps of water)
  • Peppermint rimming sugar*
  • Candy canes (+ extra for garnish)
  • Crushed ice

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Method

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine ice, vodka, crushed candy canes and peppermint liqueur.
  2. Stir gently and strain into a chilled martini glass or flute rimmed with peppermint rimming sugar.
  3. Top with prosecco and garnish with a candy cane.

Spiced Apple Fizz

Add spiced to the beginning of any cocktail in this festive season and all of a sudden it becomes a Christmas cocktail! But yes that is exactly what I’ve done here (no shame here whatsoever). I love a bit of fizz and a bit of cinnamon, and I know that apple and cinnamon go well together and the rest was history.

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Ingredients

  • 50ml gin// leave out for mocktails //
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp apple juice
  • spiced apple bitters*
  • 2 pinches of ground cinnamon
  • handful ice cubes
  • 200ml bottle prosecco // add Sprite or lemonade for mocktails //
  • ½ small apple cored and thinly sliced

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  1. Pour the gin into a cocktail shaker or large jam jar. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice, the apple juice, a generous pinch of cinnamon and a handful of ice cubes, pop on the lid and shake well.
  2. Strain into 2 fluted glasses and top up with prosecco. Sprinkle the apple slices with the remaining cinnamon and thread onto 2 cocktail sticks. Balance a cocktail stick across the rim of each glass and serve straight away.

Merry Mulled White Wine

Last, but certainly not least, we have the festive favourite of mulled wine. This can also be made with cider and I think I might have to try that because I love red wine and I’m not the biggest fan of mulled wine, it kind of tastes like it’s gone off (wow, doing a great job of inspiring you to make these aren’t I?), so I think cider might taste better? Anyways, I know lots of people love mulled wine at this time of the year and it’s one of the easiest to make, as well as turn into a mocktail. Also, I was so prepared to make this with red wine and then I realised that mulled wine can be made with white wine yay!

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P.S. Can we please not judge this pinker-than-pink mason jar? I know it belongs in the summer but my clear glass one broke literally moments before I began making cocktails *cue heartbreak*!

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Ingredients

  • 2 bottles of white wine // use hot apple juice for mocktails //
  • 500ml cider // use lemonade for mocktails //
  • 2 apples, cored and sliced
  • Orange peel
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Orange bitters*
  • 2 tbsps elderflower cordial
  • 75g sugar

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan.
  2. Stir over a low heat for 10-15 minutes – don’t boil.
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl if you wish and ladle into glass mugs.

So that was it for my festive cocktail ideas! I hope this has inspired you to make some Christmassy-themed drinks for when you have Christmas parties, or even if you want a cosy night at home with some friends and family. I’d love to see you re-create any of these drinks, so if you do make any of these, please post them on Instagram and tag me @thedizzyingheights – and do give me a follow whilst you’re there too (cheeky little plug – but it is Christmas right?).

Merry Christmas!

*THIS POST CONTAINS PR SAMPLES, BUT AS ALWAYS ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN – PLEASE SEE MY DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO

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As I’ve mentioned many times before on this blog, I freakin’ love this time of year. There is quite literally nothing better than getting into a cosy onesie or pyjamas, and lighting a few beautiful-smelling candles to brighten up those dark, chilly evenings. Now, don’t get me wrong, I pretty much burn candles all year long. But now is the time to burn those warm, rich scents that are too heavy for summertime (yes I really thought long and hard about the process).

I have a few faves that I have purchased time and time again, and I thought it was about time to show my favourite candles on here. They are a mix of brands, as well as a mix of prices so hopefully there is something for everyone!

Wickford & Co:

These candles were possibly the best value for money I have ever purchased. I was genuinely so excited after spotting these in my local Home Bargains store (FYI, it is so cool in there, I wanted to buy everything until my credit card said no). I picked up three huge jar candles for £3.99 each – yes you read that correctly, £3.99! I couldn’t believe it! I bought three scents: Gingerbread, Vanilla Snowflake and Halloween.

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They are such a great dupe for the Yankee jars, and such better value for money considering these are £20 cheaper! The best thing about it was that they are actually so worth the money. The smell of the Gingerbread and the Vanilla Cupcake candle was fairly strong and made my whole house smell so lovely. The Halloween candle’s smell wasn’t as strong I found, so that was the only downside for that particular one, however all three candles burn so clean, and have actually lasted so long!

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I have been so impressed with them that I will definitely be returning. These candles are so handy for gifts as well because they are so cheap and good value!

I also couldn’t find the links for any of the candles that Home Bargains do online, so you should definitely pop into your local store and see if you can pick any of these bad boys up!

Amphora Aromatics:

I really love AA Skincare’s products, so when they released their home fragrances and sent me a candle* to try out, I was so excited! I knew their candles would be in a festive scent, and I received the Nutmeg scent. I had a peek at their other scents, and they have some other beautiful-sounding ones so I will definitely be having a little shop soon – they would also make perfect little stocking fillers!

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The candle I received wasn’t huge, but it has burned really well. The scent was actually really surprisingly lovely and festive. I think those spicy scents for candles are usually associated with cinnamon and although I do love those scents too, I think other spices are often overlooked!

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The brand also doesn’t use any animal products or petroleum-based paraffin wax. The glass jar can also be re-used (fun fact: where possible, I always try and re-use my glass candle jars, they make great trinket holders!)

Bath and Body Works

I know that we don’t have Bath and Body Works in the UK, but I ordered these with my sister when she went to Dubai hehehe, and luckily when she went they had full stock of their Autumn/Winter scents so I obviously ordered a few! Unfortunately, she could only bring back a few but they were the ones I wanted so I wasn’t too annoyed!

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I ordered two scents: Leaves and Autumn – purely because I’d heard great things about both. If anyone has any other suggestions for great Winter scents, do leave me a comment below, as I’m heading to New York in a few weeks – eeeek!

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Leaves is such a great Autumn/Winter scent and does not smell like trodden on leaves (lols), it’s such a lovely warm and spicy scent, with notes of apple and cinnamon, so it reminds me of a apple pie baking.

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Autumn is a similar type of scent, more stronger with the apple scents and it smells very fresh and clean. It reminds me of a crisp day at the park or something, such a lovely scent to have burning in the house on a chilly Autumn day!

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I love Bath and Body Works’ candles, they really are my absolute favourites. They burn so cleanly and their scents are always long-lasting and not too over-powering. They always have great sales on too, so if you live in the US you are in for a treat!

Yankee Candle

I couldn’t write a blog post about candles and not include the infamous Yankee Candles. I have also bought a Yankee Candle advent calendar this year, which I’m super excited about!

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I have to be honest, sometimes I don’t think it’s worth the money for the bigger candles with Yankee Candles, but I really like these smaller candles, like the votives and the tealights because even though they are much smaller, they still last for ages and definitely don’t break the bank.

I have bought a few votives in the festive scents, and these were a few of my faves, although there are a lot more that I want to try! These scents are: Red Apple Wreath, Snow in Love, Christmas Cookie and Cinnamon Stick.

Red Apple Wreath reminds me of Autumn from Bath and Body Works, it’s a sweet scent with notes of cinnamon and apple, and it’s warm and buttery.

Snow in Love is more of a creamy and powdery scent, and it gives more of a fresh citrus scent. I prefer those fresh scents rather the super sweet ones, and this is my ideal scent.

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Christmas Cookie is definitely one of the sweeter scents, however it’s a lot sweeter when you first smell it cold. When I started burning it in the kitchen, it gave the room a light sweet scent, as if you’re baking (maybe cookies, just from the top of my head).

Cinnamon Stick is one of the scents that automatically comes to mind when someone says ‘Christmas scents’. It is a favourite ingredient in all the popular Christmas sweet treats and to me, it wouldn’t be an Autumn/Winter candle blog post without mentioning at least one cinnamon-scented candle!

Ikea

I recently visited Ikea with my Mum to do some Christmas shopping and get a few home bits, and I completely fell in love with the store. It is absolutely incredible, it gives you so many good ideas for making your house look like Pinterest-esque.

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The first thing I saw when I got there, were these beautiful candles and candle holders. The candles were £1.75 – I couldn’t believe how cheap they were! They were reduced in price from £2.50 which is still a bloody good price! I bought the scents: Sweet Vanilla, Apples + Pears, Red Berries and Blackberry, and they all smell absolutely delish. I have only included the Vanilla one in this blog post though, as it’s the only one that I would burn around this time of year.

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I found that the smell was stronger once it started to burn and left the room with a beautiful sweet smell, but not too overpowering; it smelled like waffles and ice-cream, which left me craving dessert so that was the only downside! It is so worth the money, and even though the drive is quite long for me, it is well worth it just for the candles! I also bought the candle-holders for all 4 candles which were £2 each!

So those were my Autumn/Winter candle picks! I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and if you have any other suggestions, please do comment below and let me know which candles you have been loving!

*THIS POST CONTAINS PR SAMPLES, BUT AS ALWAYS ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN – PLEASE SEE MY DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO

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This is probably my first ever haircare-related post *scrolls through hours of content to double check* – but I realised that I have been quite happy with my hair recently and it was only fair to show you guys what I’ve been using. My hair is naturally black, and I have never dyed it but it can get very dry and frizzy sometimes.

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Shampoo + Conditioner

Of course every haircare story starts off with washing it. I have been using the Body Shop’s Fuji Green Tea Shampoo + Conditioner and I have to say that I have seen such a vast improvement in my hair. It is always soft and shiny, and leaves my thick, frizzy hair super manageable. I love how lightweight my hair feels after I wash it too. I actually really like the smell of it too, it’s quite a subtle smell and it reminds me of being on holiday for some reason. Next thing on my list is to get the hair scrub, as I’ve heard great things about it.

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Deep Conditioning

As I’ve mentioned, my hair gets quite dry and frizzy so once a week I use the Body Shop’s Banana Hair Mask to rejuvenate my hair. This mask was just worth every penny, leaves my hair feeling soft and healthy. I use it after washing my hair, and I leave it on for around 5-10 minutes. I should probably use it after using the same scented shampoo and conditioner, but in all honesty I’m not a huge fan of the scent. It is very strong and although it smells natural and not chemical, it’s not my favourite smell.

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Sometimes instead of putting a hair mask in after I’ve washed my hair, I do a pre-wash mask. I’m a huge fan of making my own hair masks, because 99% of the time I already have the ingredients I need for it in my kitchen somewhere, and I feel like they are better for my hair than using chemically enhanced products. Some of my favourites include, low-fat mayonnaise, whipped cream and coconut oil.

Styling

Like I mentioned before, I don’t use hot tools very often, and I let my hair air dry for majority of the time. However I was recently sent these Xtava straighteners* and I was so impressed with them. They have an adjustment for the temperature so that you don’t have to use more heat that necessary in order to prevent heat damage. I also really like the size of the plates, they are bigger than my GHD’s so it really made a difference to how long it took to straighten my hair and the amount of tugging that usually happens! You can also win yourself one, keep reading until the end of this post to see how 😉

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FYI, before using any hot tools, I always use my VO5 Heat Protection Spray, nothing is worth the risk of heat damage!

If I don’t want to use hot tools or if I’m going for something a bit more natural, I use a texture creme from Bumble + Bumble. I don’t always get along with Bumble + Bumble products, but I do actually like this one. It has left my hair looking mussed but not messy as if you just woke up, and it doesn’t leave it crunchy or greasy like other similar products. I also like the Bumble + Bumble Surf Spray for texture, I spray it in my damp hair after washing and leave it to air dry for soft natural beachy waves.

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My last holy-grail product is the Schwarzkopf Styling OilI use this oil on the ends of my hair, and it works so well at keeping my hair smooth and de-frizzed without leaving my hair looking greasy.

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So that is my current haircare routine!

What is your current haircare routine? Comment down below with your holy-grail haircare products!

Win the xtava Pro-Satin Infrared Straightener #20

*THIS POST CONTAINS PR SAMPLES, BUT AS ALWAYS ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN – PLEASE SEE MY DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO

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When it comes to Halloween, I’m not the biggest fan of it. Perhaps it’s because I’m not the biggest lover of scary movies, or clowns or anything that could potentially make me want to sh*t my pants. However it’s the time of year when so many people get so creative with make-up and outfits. As you all know by now, The Dizzying Heights is not a make-up or beauty related blog, but I do on occasion paint my nails (as rare an occasion that is!). I did want to make more of an effort with my nails because I’m not as beauty or make-up obsessed as perhaps my peers are. So when I was sent two gorgeous nail polishes by Leighton Denny*, I thought it would only be right to create some looks for Halloween!

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The first look is super simple, using the Leighton Denny Miss Behavin nail polish. The actual nail polishes are such good quality and they wear really well too. For someone whose nails chip constantly, this was amazing news.

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I basically used the orange jewels to complement the dark, bold navy blue and give it a simple yet fitting colour combo for Halloween (navy for dark nights and orange for pumpkins). It really wasn’t too difficult with the right glue and I actually think it still looks so classy and cute.

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The second look is my favourite look because it was so simple and so effective. I used the black colour from Leighton Denny called Maneater this time, as well as a white nail polish and a nail tool. Having said that you definitely don’t need to have any kind of fancy tools, you can use things that you already have in your house, which makes these nails perfect.

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I let the black polish dry, then painted two white spots on top. After waiting for the white spots to dry, I used a nail art tool to draw two smaller black spots to make eyes. I finished it off by using a top coat.

If you have any of your own Halloween nail ideas, then do let me know in the comments below!

Happy Halloween!

*This post contains PR samples, but as always all opinions are my own

Going to the theatre is one of my favourite pastimes. I love the atmosphere, I love having a drink in the bar beforehand, and I love the feeling of winding down. So when the Bush Theatre invited me to watch one of their latest plays, how could I say no?

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Photo by Sam Taylor

Ramona Tells Jim is a thought-provoking, bittersweet story about 17 year old Jim (Joe Bannister), who lives in the ‘shittiest’ village in Scotland and 15 year old Ramona (Ruby Bentall), who is from Englandshire, visiting the ‘shittiest’ town in Scotland on a school trip. Both of them are socially awkward and begin to fall in love with each other. Ramona, lonely and bullied by her classmates, finds friendship and her first love in Jim, a shy but kind soul, obsessed with crustaceans. The innocent side of the play begins to take a turn, and darker themes such as sexual assault and violence are shown, although rather acutely.

The play visits both characters 15 years later, where it is seemingly obvious that neither of them are happy about the way their lives turned out. Jim is now in a dysfunctional relationship with 19 year-old Pocahontas (Amy Lennox) and although I really liked the characters of Jim and Ramona, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Pocahontas. I think she was a fantastic actress, but her character was so childish and petty. The kind of character who fakes a pregnancy and won’t even know if it’s your baby, or has dreams of working in an office to wear trouser suits and eating a Boots meal deal for lunch, which the audience laughs at. I wasn’t sure how I felt about her, whether I felt sorry for her or disliked her. Perhaps that was the way I was meant to feel.

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Photo by Sam Taylor

This was the first play that Sophie Wu (Kick-Ass, Wild Child), an inspiring playwright and actress, has written, after being a member of the Bush Theatre’s Emerging Playwright group. For a first play, I thought it was fantastic. The dialogue was intelligent and flowed, and all of the characters were bounced off of each other really well.

Besides the play, I was so happy and excited to visit the Bush Theatre again. I have visited before, when I watched Guards at the Taj, and it is fast becoming one of my favourite theatres in London. Ever since the refurbishment, it has a totally different vibe to it, and whenever I visit I just don’t want to leave. Their Reading Room, which is a room filled with books and mismatched chairs has the cosiest feel to it. If you haven’t visited then I totally recommend it!

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Photo by Sam Taylor

Have you seen any new plays recently?

Ramona Tells Jim is at Bush Theatre until October 21st