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What’s in store this autumn?

I’m already so excited for our 2022 Christmas stock to arrive.

Its always a challenge trying to get everything unpacked, checked for damage and added to the website each year, but this year will be even more tricky because of this little guy.

Photo of our dogHe loves woofing at delivery drivers, is even more eager to get into parcels than I am, and generally thinks the world revolves around him.  He’s loved so much but the thought of trying to navigate new Christmas stock with a puppy – oh my!

Somehow we will manage though.  The things I have on order for this year include returning favourites and new – would you like a sneaky peek?


New Christmas stock

I am keeping my fingers firmly crossed that it is all in stock and arrives as planned, so that we can have a fantastic start to the season.  What decorations would you like to see available?  Do you have a colour theme for Christmas?  I’d love to know.

Cari xx

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I’ve found my dream home

There’s a Youtuber I follow (and admire) who has turned her life around from credit card debt to buying her dream lakeside home in a few years.

She’s done this by hard work (lots of it!) and a positive mindset shift.

There’s another lovely lady a bit closer to home, who has gone from lots of debt to her dream house (complete with beck and granny cottage).  It took her a bit longer to get there, but again used a combination of hard work and a positive ‘can do’ mindset shift.

I find them both very inspirational.

They show me what’s possible with the right attitude and tons of hard work and ‘keepy going’.

For years I’ve had this dream of opening a warehouse/showroom with a ‘Christmas experience’ area for families to bring their children to during the run up to the big day.  I can see it clearly in my head.

I can picture my children (virtually adults now) working there with me and my husband – a proper family business.  It feels like the natural next step from where we are now.

Today I was scrolling social media and a property appeared in my feed.

Its not far away, has plenty of space for us all and outbuildings ideal for my Christmas project.

I’ve saved the images and I’m manifesting it.  I’ll let you know when we move!


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The one with the wrong boxes…

Hello, hope you got to celebrate Christmas in whatever way you choose and that you’ve been able to relax a bit over the last few days.  We were lucky enough to visit our family and we’re now starting to prep for New Year.

We’re currently half way through painting our living room, so yesterday we got a bit more of that done and switched round some furniture.  I’m trying to put plans in place for our forecast website growth, so all my paperwork is organised and we have plenty of postage labels too.

One of my big goals is to turn our downstairs ‘office’ (aka the dumping ground) into a mini warehouse/dispatch area (it’s not even big enough to swing a cat).  This means sorting out the spare bedroom into a new office area, then getting some strong shelving ready for the next stock delivery in the summer.  It’s a big job that I had planned for this summer, but you know how I am with plans – it just didn’t happen.

For now I’m just doing what I can to be ready, which meant ordering some smaller postal boxes (I got orders through on Boxing Day – how cool is that?).

The new boxes arrived today, a day earlier than expected (yay!) so I assembled some ready for packing.

The orders didn’t fit.

I had measured so carefully, trawled websites until I found just the right size, but they were millimetres too small.

Frustrated, we reverted back to cutting down the larger boxes for these orders.  The new boxes will still be useful for the smaller items like our glass angels or the glass trees, so won’t be wasted.

I’m excited for 2022 now, we’ve had an amazing 2021 season and I’m so grateful for each and every one of you who have supported us.  All the hard work over the last ten+ years is finally paying off.

Wishing you a very Happy and healthy New Year!

Cari & family

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It’s always a tricky one – our last Christmas markets of 2021

I really love Christmas markets.  There’s something magical for young and old, especially at the best ones.  Even as a stall holder you can feel the excitement, that tingle down your spine in anticipation.

Bowes Museum has long been towards the top of our list for ‘must attend’.  I remember one year it was so cold the fountain froze over enough for the more daring visitors to stand on.  That was tough.  The cold seeps in no matter how many layers you wear, and obviously the more layers, the longer it takes when you need to ‘pay a visit’.

I’ll leave that one there.

Bowes Museum Christmas market is over three days.  This causes problems at Our Grotto as I’m usually at work, unable to take the day off.  I try to persuade the Head Elf to go instead, with varying degrees of success.

We were facing the same dilemma this year. Friday would be my last day of work before Christmas.  Head Elf was all set to go, taking the teenage Elves along for assistance.

Then our plans changed.

Work was having to shut a week early, which was really disappointing as the last week before Christmas break is the best – filled with class parties and Christmas Dinner.

The one silver lining is that I can now go to Bowes on Friday – YAY!

I’m so excited to be there all three days this year.  I think we might have to have a special offer or two to celebrate.



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Decorating for Christmas, and a market after our cancelled ones?

I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed….

Figuratively that is.

After two weekends of missed or cancelled events, I’m hopeful that we will be out and about on Saturday.  Is this the end to the season we are hoping for?

I’ve placed a follow up order with one of our suppliers, only a small one of a few bits that have proved very popular lately, but that’s it until January when I’ll hopefully be ordering for Christmas 2022.

How are your Christmas plans going?  Have you finished all your shopping yet?

We managed to put our tree up last week, but haven’t found space for any of our new decorations.  It would have to be these cute cat baubles if we did add anything new.

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Not many markets left…3 weeks to go!

A much needed rest day today – although there’s really no such thing as there is always something that needs doing!

Today it’s grocery shopping, pricing up some stock, collecting the van for tomorrow and hopefully studying too.  Then I’ll need to get everything loaded for tomorrow at Guisborough Forest & Walkway.  We’re taking everything with us for this one as we only have three other events before Christmas.  It would be lovely to sell out of most things so we can bring in more new stock for 2022.

Today is the last day for our FREE SHIPPING coupon too.  Thank you to everyone who has used it so far, it’s been lovely to drop parcels off at the post office on a regular basis this week.  My aim for the business is to have enough orders for a Royal Mail collection – who knows we may get there next year!

I was asked recently how long delivery is.  We try to send as many parcels using second class recorded as this fits in with our flat rate shipping charge, but if you need something quickly we are happy to cost up a quicker service.  Obviously how long it takes for your parcel to arrive is up to the Royal Mail staff once we drop it to the post office.

Last posting date will be looming though so if you want anything for Christmas order today to take advantage of free shipping with code ARWEN at checkout.

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Free shipping week!

Well, thanks to storm Arwen, our events this weekend have been severely disrupted.  Yesterday we should’ve been at two events – one was cancelled, the other was a distance away and I decided not to attempt it (plus my voice disappeared so I’m not feeling great either).

Today we loaded up the van and set off to a local village market.  Sadly because it was a small village the roads were awful and after wheel spinning a few times we decided to come home.

So, I’m here with my feet up again wondering how I can recoup some of my costs.

From today until 4th December 2021, we will be offering you free shipping on any order, as long as you use code ARWEN at checkout.  Please let me know if you have any issues with it – I have tested it but I’m feeling very sorry for myself and I tend to miss things when I’m like this.

Cari xx

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Restock, new stock and a quieter event

It’s the day after our third event this season, and I’m battling a cold and exhaustion.  I’ve got a hot coffee, I’m updating the website and trying to recharge ready for another busy week.

Gisborough Hall had around 1900 visitors which was amazing!  Seems like you have missed the Christmas fairs and are now coming out in droves to spend your hard earned money.  We are very grateful for each and every customer.

We had a couple of stock deliveries – the remaining things we ordered at the beginning of the year and a quick delivery from the lovely Sass and Belle.  I love their novelty range and just had to grab these to see what you thought of them.

I’m not sure I’d hang sprouts on my tree but I’m sure there’s a fan out there for them!

Sadly they didn’t arrive in time for us to take to West Tanfield yesterday.  We were at a school fundraiser in the village hall.  A much quieter event after our two busy ones, so we took the time to reorganise ahead of another event packed weekend.

Our next big event is at the stunning Bowes Museum,  on the last weekend before Christmas (essential to wrap up warm for that one as it’s all outside).  It’s a lovely festive atmosphere and a brilliant end to our season.  If you can’t make it there please do order through our website, we are posting out regularly so you shouldn’t have to wait long (delivery services allowing).  We use Royal Mail for all our deliveries so you should allow for them getting busier the closer we get to Christmas.

Cari xx

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Quick update

I’ve been very glad of my half day today.  I’m tired and my feet hurt after a full day yesterday, but I wouldn’t change a thing!

Redworth Hall Hotel Christmas Fayre was the busiest one yet, with apparently 1400 visitors.  It honestly felt like every single one bought from us too!  We had an amazing day, so thank you if you were there.

We’re doing it all again this weekend at Gisborough Hall Hotel this time.  We still have plenty of lovely decorations to bring for you to buy and doing our best to get some new things too!

Please let us know if you’re going to be there – you can get free entry by clicking on the event page and selecting going.

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Making a list and checking it twice – organising my stock for events

Well, in just over a week we will be at Redworth Hall Hotel for Luxury Christmas Fayre’s first event in a couple of years.  Am I ready?  Well, no, not really.

The problem is that running a business from home, especially when you’ve just had a large stock delivery, means that everywhere you turn there are boxes or display things or paper bags.  Our house isn’t even that big, so we are officially bursting at the seams.

This also makes loading up for events tricky, as the chances of forgetting something are high.  Add to that the fact most of the bags and boxes haven’t been touched for at least 12 months and, well, you see my point.

Having said all that, I’m bristling with excitement to get back to face to face retailing.  I love our website, but there’s nothing quite like seeing children’s faces light up (both big and small) when they see our stall.  I also can’t wait to see Redworth Hall Hotel all decorated for Christmas – it really gives you that magical warm glowy feeling that this time of year encapsulates.

So, although I’m sitting here trying to plan how to pack everything ready for transporting to Redworth Hall, making sure nothing gets left behind, I’m also trying to keep a lid on my excitement levels too.  It’s going to be a busy run up to Christmas!

Hope to see you there!


p.s. If you are planning to visit the Christmas Fayre at either Redworth Hall Hotel or Gisborough Hall Hotel, click on the organisers Instagram page and screenshot the invite or head over to the event page on Facebook to get free entry.