Friday, 17 December 2021

Waving goodbye to 2021


Well, that's another (weird) year done with! It feels like 2021 didn't quite end the way we all thought it would (thank you Mr Omicron), but there's no reason why we can't all still look forward to 2022 and hope it shapes up better than the last couple of years. 

I'm closing up for my Christmas break in about 30 minutes, so just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Even though you may not be able to meet up with everyone that you hoped, you can still have a wonderful, resting time (and blow a mental raspberry to 2021). Let's hope next year is better, eh?

Thank you, dear reader, for all your support over the last 12 months - old customers, new customers, still-thinking-about-it customers: each and every one of you. 

Have a great time, stay safe and well, and see you all in January! 

Sarah x

Friday, 19 November 2021

In With the New! A roundup of what's new at PhotoFairytales...

It's been all change on the PhotoFairytales site this week - the autumn colours have gone, making way for a festive Christmas feel (well, it is nearly Christmas)! So, I thought I'd take a few minutes to give you a brief glimpse of the new goodies that have recently arrived...

Personalised Handmade Christmas Gifts 2021
- new at PhotoFairytales

This fun personalised Christmas Countdown plaque is made from natural slate, and features flecks of fools gold. It comes complete with chalk too, so you can write down the number of sleeps left until the big day! Children (and excited adults) will love marking off the days, and this lovely sign will become a real family tradition every year. Only £15.99, including P&P. Click here for details

'Winter Wood' is one of three brand new Fantasy Portrait designs that I've introduced this season. A gorgeous wintery setting, I can recreate this artwork for you using your own photo. Perfect for babies and children. From £24.95, including P&P. Click here for details

Since introducing them earlier this year, my personalised Newspaper prints have become one of my most popular lines! So it seemed only right that I bring in one that's designed just for Christmas... this fun print is personalised throughout, from top to bottom. You can add your own photo too. There are lots of other designs available, so if you're looking for a special gift with a difference, take a look! Only £18.50 including P&P. Click here for details

My new wooden room signs look lovely on a bedroom door or wall. Available in a choice of colours and sizes, they're a stylish addition to a youngster's room. Made from real wood and super smooth, the signs are really light and easy to fix to a smooth surface (fix them temporarily with command strips or blue tack if you don't want a permanent fixture!). From £15.95 including P&P. Click here for details

Another new winter-season Fantasy Photo Portrait - 'Starlight' features soft gentle blues and silvery greys, and is a lovely design for younger children and babies. (If you wanted something less 'Christmassy' I can remove the Christmas tree too). From £24.95 including P&P. Click here for details

The wooden personalised Christmas Eve boxes are back this month - and prices have been held the same as last year! There's a range of truly lovely designs available, from flat topped boxes to gorgeous engraved heirloom chests. A delightful family tradition for Christmas eve. From £23.50 including P&P. Click here for details

The last of my new Fantasy Portraits for this season, 'Snowglobe' is undeniably festive! A charming design for Christmas, it's absolutely perfect for younger children and babies (a lovely idea to celebrate baby's first Christmas!). From £24.95 including P&P. Click here for details

My personalised wooden Christmas Family Signs are back again this year - and one of my favourite personalised decorations. Available in black, grey, white or red and a choice of sizes, there are three striking designs to choose from. Easily fixed temporarily onto any smooth surface using blue tack or command strips (or do what I do, and lean it on top of your cooker hood for a festive touch in the kitchen!). Featuring a lovely natural wood grain, you'll find lots of places in your home for this lasting personalised Christmas decoration. From £15.95 including P&P. Click here for details

And last but not least, my personalised wooden Christmas Star decorations are back this year too! Incredibly popular, this stylish natural wood stars are available in lots of different designs and colours. Strung with satin ribbon in a choice of colours, these gorgeous wooden stars will look fabulous hanging from your tree, a hook - or anywhere you fancy! Also available beautifully gift boxed, perfect for gifting. From £9.99 including P&P. Click here for details

Well, that's it for the new (for now)! Don't forget to sign up to my VIP list if you'd like to hear about exclusive offers and discounts - including a free welcome gift worth £10 when you place your first order worth £15 or more. Click here for more information or to sign up.

Sarah x

Monday, 8 November 2021

Personalised Santa Letters & Telegrams - 2021

It's now less than 7 weeks before Christmas, how can that even be?! To help you get firmly into the festive mood, I'm delighted to let you know that the 2021 Santa Letters & Telegrams are now on sale!

I'm so pleased that I've been able to keep prices the same as last year too - with all the doom and gloom about prices going up recently it's lovely to be able to keep them the same.

I've got my gorgeous Santa Letter Gift Packs available again - and as with previous years, these are limited edition so I only have a certain number available. They sell out every year, so if you'd like one I really advise you to get your order in right away. They have three fun mystery gifts inside this year, as well as all the other lovely goodies!

In addition to the Gift Packs there's also Santa's personalised Telegrams, which are available in three different versions: Nice List, Baby's First Christmas, and of course, Naughty List! So if you know a child or adult (adults are usually the naughty ones) who needs a bit of help and encouragement from Santa to get back on the Nice List, one of these fun telegrams would be perfect.

After being such a huge success last year, the very special personalised Christmas Day Letters are back too! These are truly special letters that Father Christmas leaves behind when he visits on Christmas Eve - so your little boy or girl will have a really exciting surprise when they wake up on Christmas Day!

As always, these Santa Letters & Telegrams are a wonderful keepsake and absolutely magical. They're created individually (no automated computer-generated nonsense here - these are the REAL THING!), and Santa genuinely writes and signs each and every one. 

He handwrites the envelopes, he signs all the letters and telegrams individually, and he works really hard at making sure the letters are all unique and special. If he wrote to your child last year then his letter this year will be different - and if he's writing to more than one child at the same address he will write a different letter for each child.

I'm absolutely delighted that Santa and I will also be donating 50p for every single Letter and Telegram sold to Adoption UK again this year. 

This wonderful charity does amazing work in support of adopted youngsters and adopting families, and it's fantastic to be supporting them again this year. So make your purchase count this year - when you buy a Letter or Telegram you'll be helping me (and Santa) to support a brilliant UK charity too.

You can find full details of all the Santa Letters & Telegrams over on the website by clicking here. Orders close on December 14th (UK deliveries). Don't delay - especially with the limited edition Santa Letter Gift Packs!!

Ho, ho, ho,

Sarah & Santa xx

Monday, 25 October 2021

Top 5 Key Interior Trends for 2022

2021 is definitely the year that should be labelled “The one where the 90's came back” - the Friends Reunion made us all feel nostalgic for the good pre-covid times! Aviator glasses, bootleg jeans, and high-heeled shoes giving way to crocs (lockdown comfort!)

With the year drawing to an end in just a few week's time, I thought it would be fun to look forwards to 2022 and think about what will be happening in terms of interior and lifestyle trends. I subscribe to loads of interior blogs, trend reports and style commentators, so thought I'd put together a breakdown of where I think the directions are going. (If you don't know your Royalcore from your Cottagecore, read on..!)

I've created some special boards on Pinterest for you to illustrate each trend - so if you need some inspiration click here to take a look!

Maximalism & Opulence - The opulent look can go one of two ways: rich vibrant colour palettes, luxurious finishing touches, richness: think 'stately home' mixed with art nouveau decadence (upstairs at Gosford Park!) and a touch of 1970’s glamour - or alternatively there's the new 'Royal Core' style influenced by majesty, historic romanticism, ballrooms and French drawing rooms of the Belle Époque era (basically, think 'Bridgerton', either rich colour tones or muted pastels, Venetian mirrors and candelabras, and lots of gold and silver!) . It’s a style that's been around for a while (although I've been seeing more 1920's influences coming in recently, along with the flamboyant new royalcore style) but, I think because it's all about pushing away the grind of real life and having a bit of fun, escapism and luxury on a daily basis it's still a style trend that will continue to be popular for quite some time. 

Rustic Cottage - Soft colour palettes, gentle and homely, mixed patterns and prints, nostalgic and whimsical: think retro Laura Ashley from the 70's, mixing up floral and subtle stripe prints, handmade accessories, flowers, layers of warm white, creams, pinks, blues and greens. The Cottagecore aesthetic has been huge for the past year, mostly because it harks back to gentler, more familiar times, with the emphasis on tranquillity and a cosy, simple lifestyle - taking time to pour tea from a teapot, read a book, grow your own veg or bake... 

Japandi and the New Minimalism - Japandi is the fusion of Scandi and Japanese style, where east-meets-west: think relaxation, neutral colour palettes and natural materials: calm, nature, wellbeing - think open windows, work-life balance, plants and fresh air, visual quietness and space. The new minimalist style is one that focuses on lines, simplicity and space. It’s about clean lines, functionality, and clearing away the clutter so that you can live a more peaceful life. It isn’t about being clinical though - it can be soft and warm, but it must be simple and uncluttered. Include colours like pearl grey, sky blue, natural wood (light or dark), touches of black, pale chalky pink and white. Let key, favourite pieces of furniture or décor be your guide. If you've been a fan of the Scandi or Hygge style for a while now, it will be an easy leap to start incorporating Japandi into the scheme. Keep walls simple, perhaps picking out just one to be a focus in the room. Which leads me on to...

Feature Walls - they're back! The trend is for boldness, whether it's geometric, botanical prints, texture, colour, whatever - it's about impact! Keep the rest of the room simple however, so that the impact isn't lost or muddled. The beauty of this trend is that it's one of the easiest ways to make a big impact in a room relatively simply. Introducing one striking focal point in your room can have a really big effect on an otherwise simple (dare I say, boring?) room. We recently created a panelled wall in my daughter's room and the impact it has made to the room is incredible.

Solace and Calm - Soft, neutral colour palettes made up of complimentary creams, soft clay pinks, cool grey and beige, smoky soft brown, opaline green, and clear pale blues (eg, Dulux Colour of the Year, ‘Bright Skies’). Mixed with textures like limestone, plaster and stone, suede. If you want to introduce metallics keep them soft and oh-so-pale - nothing brash: think translucent, pearly sheen and lustre rather than shine. Have minimal use of pattern, let texture say it all. Organic shapes and curves, and just a hint of bohemian. Picture sitting on a rocking chair in front of a faded craggy plaster wall, watching the sun set over Arizona... there, you've got it!

Micro trends for 2022: 

  • Matt Black - on the walls, or home accessories, this is a statement that will work fantastically with the maximalism or Japandi trends!
  • Bright Yellow - uplifting and the complete opposite to matt black, it can be used as a simple accent, or to give a serious pop of quirkyness and attitude in a room, or given an elegance when mixed with grey or the matt black trend. Let the sun shine in! Look at Farrow & Ball’s Babouche No.223 for inspiration.
  • Green - in all shades, from fresh barely-there shades, to deep velvety opulent greens. It’s the influence of nature, combined with the kick back from lockdowns and indoor living - and it will work in pretty much any setting or style.
  • Polka Dots - expect to see spots and dots, small and large, everywhere...
  • Bees - of all kinds, from monochromatic vintage style to fun pops of colour or metallics; the bee emblem is definitely hot at the moment and I think it'll still be around in 2022!
  • Faux Greenery & Dried Plants - they've been around for ages and show no sign of leaving, although as we move into winter think about swapping out the leafy green faux plants for bundles of dried flowers, architectural dried grasses, and wall wreaths for a softer country look.  
  • Textures & Metallics - mix textures to introduce a cosy feel to any room, combining wood and stone with softer knitted or velvet textures, and combine with metallic shades (bright and brash, or soft and aged)
  • Sanctuary - a few years ago it was all about knocking down walls and open-plan living, but lockdown life has made many of us hanker for a little solitude and personal space. If we can't have a room of our own, we might want to create a private quiet oasis in a little corner of a room: think a comfy chair, a cosy throw or a beautiful cushion, a thoughtful piece of wall art and a carefully chosen lamp or piece of home decor that we love. Or if you don't have space indoors, create a little corner in the garden - complete with a wood burner or outdoor pizza oven, some candles, plenty of warm blankets - and maybe an outdoor bar! 
  • Work from home - it’s obvious why this has become so important for millions of people over the last 2 years, and lockdowns have created their own take on life, with many of us reviewing the idea of commuting to a workplace and trying to juggle work and home, and instead opting for a flexible work environment if possible. This means there’s a need for a comfortable and functional work area - the space has to blend with your interior, not jar against it. Organisation and storage is key, along with natural light, comfort (vital from a health point of view), and accessories to make our work feel more inspired, joyful and fun.

And finally...

Gifting trends this Christmas:

This Christmas it's all about handcrafted - everything plastic and mass produced is out (which is just as well as it's probably stuck on a container ship anyway). This year it's all about thoughtful giving: think 'quirky, original, handmade' - but 'quality' too: this is about mindful gifting, with longevity and thoughtfulness in mind. Think creative and inspirational.

Christmas 2021 trends:

It's all about family this year - coming together (hopefully) in a way we couldn't last year. Conviviality, closeness, a sense of belonging and sharing. It's not about all-out partying (because we don't actually know yet how this Christmas is going to go), but it's about being together even if we can't be in the same room. Connections, family traditions, rituals. Decorations will either be all out maximalist (because at the end of the day, Christmas fits that particular trend perfectly!), or about calmness and nature (greenery and a simple colour palette). This year think about introducing creative and unique touches: decorating your tree with blossoms and leaves perhaps, for a botanical look rather than all out glitter. Consider starting a new tradition of buying a single special decoration for the tree each year, something that sums up the year and will evoke memories in future Christmases. Involve the children and make your own paper decorations, recycling card and paper, even newspaper. (Click here to see my special Pinterest board: Easy Christmas Makes)

Sarah x

Thursday, 21 October 2021

The top UK baby names for 2021 - revealed!

Every year the Office for National Statistics releases lists of the most popular baby names in England and Wales for the past year. The latest information was released this week - and it would seem a certain royal baby has had a big influence on new parents!

The list toppers: To kick things off, Oliver and Olivia have remained the most popular names for baby girls and boys. Oliver first made the top spot back in 2009, fell to 2nd place in 2011 and 2012, then rose back to the number 1 spot in 2013 and has remained there ever since. Whilst Olivia first reached number one in 2008, fell back to 2nd place between 2011-15, then rose back to the number 1 spot in 2016 where it remains still.

Risers and fallers: Grace and Freya have been knocked out of the top 10 spot, taken over by Ivy and Rosie. Similarly, Archie has taken over from Charlie in the top 10 for boys, appearing in the top 10 for the first time (most likely due to the arrive of Harry & Meghan's baby born in 2019). Ivy has risen in popularity a huge 221 places in the last 10 years, becoming the 6th most popular name for baby girls. Similarly, Arthur and Noah have increased in popularity over the last 20 years, both rising over 200 places. This is the first time in 15 years that Charlie hasn't been in the top 10. The largest movers however were Milo, Otis and Maeve - all 3 names have been rapidly gaining popularity amongst new parents although they still haven't reached the top 10.

The influence of age: It seems that older mums are choosing traditional and longer names for both boys or girls, whilst younger mums are doing the complete opposite and opting for shortened versions of traditional names, such as Tommy rather than Thomas. For mums over 35, the top 10 names are Amelia, Ava, Charlotte, Isla, Emily, Ava, Florence, Sophie, Sophia and Mia for girls, and Oliver, George, Jack, Muhammad, Noah, Thomas, Alexander, Arthur, Leo and William for boys. Whereas mothers under 25 are choosing shorter and abbreviated names - Noah, Archie, Leo, Arthur, Theo, Tommy, Freddie, Oliver, Oscar and Finley for boys, and Amelia, Ava, Olivia, Ivy, Isla, Isabella, Mia, Willow, Harper and Elsie for girls.

The top 10 boys' names are:

Oliver (no change from 2019)

George (no change from 2019)

Arthur (up 1 place from 2019)

Noah (down 1 place from 2019)

Muhammad (up 2 places from 2019)

Leo (no change from 2019)

Oscar (up 3 places from 2019)

Harry (down 3 places from 2019)

Archie (up 10 places from 2019)

Jack (down 2 places from 2019)

The top 10 girls' names are:

Olivia (no change from 2019)

Amelia (no change from 2019)

Isla (no change from 2019)

Ava (no change from 2019)

Mia (no change from 2019)

Ivy (up 6 places from 2019)

Lily (up 2 places from 2019)

Isabella (down 2 places from 2019)

Rosie (up 5 places from 2019)

Sophia (down 3 places from 2019)

And the names at the bottom of the top 100? Aisha for the girls, and Myles for the boys.

But of course, all of this doesn't mean a thing - whichever name you choose for your baby (assuming you don't choose something like 'Ikea' or 'Trixie-Biscuit') will be perfect. Although, as the parent of a teenager, I can pretty much guarantee that whatever you do choose they'll moan about it at some point!!

Sarah x

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