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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Sparkly Christmas Songs

Glorious Christmas music! Love/Hate whatever, your Christmas wouldn't be the same without it. Helen Martin rounds up a collection of Christmas beauties both old 'n' new, for your pleasure.

Written by Helen Martin

Timothy Hunt
Illustration by Timothy Hunt.

In my second round up of fabulous ideas from twitter friends for late Christmas gift shoppers I bring you the best of art, site patient jewellery and homewares.

Firebird Lesley Barnes
Lesley Barnes Firebird horse

We love Lesley Barnes, information pills oh yes we do! The Firebird concertina epitomises the way that Lesley has embraced colour since I *forced* her to design my Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration end pages in full colour only a year ago. This is a stunning narrative piece that is designed to be interacted with, illness but if you’re not feeling quite so adventurous there are also some simpler Lesley prints available at a cheaper price available from the ace Soma Gallery (as well as work from some other great artists).

Alice Potter polar bear

There are loads of fabulous illustrators and artists producing screenprints that are available via their shopping sites, but I’ve tried to steer clear of them here as we’ve talked about them a lot on the blog recently… and there’s only so much room on your average wall. But I do like Alice Potter‘s polar bear.

Platform License to Spill postcards

For someone who cares about the world and prefers a gift with meaning, why not buy a collection of postcards from Platform, supporting art activism? The Liberate Tate: Collected Works postcard book contains lovingly reproduced images from some great direct actions against oil sponsorship of the arts (read more about the ongoing campaign in our blog here) All proceeds will go towards Platform’s new crowd funding initiative, Licence to Spill – a five day participatory exhibition to explore how we kick oil out of the arts.

Ana Montiel wallpaper

I’m really impressed by Ana Montiel‘s designs. She’s got that continuing to be trendy despite the years passing scrawled biro thing down a treat, and I like the fact that she’s not just rehashing florals. Printed on high quality sustainably sourced paper from Finland, this wallpaper would be one for that stylish someone with plans to redecorate their space.

Simon Wild-Fantastical Flying Machines
Simon Wild-Fantastical Flying Machines inside

Illustrator Simon Wild has just published his first book, and it’s a veritable feast for the eyes and senses. Fantastical Flying Machines features a pop up race between the likes of a hot air balloon, a flying tea cup and a bubblegum rocket, and in this age of pop up shops and exhibitions it’s a welcome reminder of the simple brilliance of pop up books. Definitely one for the child in your life!


Or Handmade by Emily does a great range of recycled floral fabric owl cushions and mice. Ideal for a child’s bedroom.

Ella necklace Georgia Coote

Onto the jewellery: always a winner for Christmas… just be sure you know the recipient’s tastes. Georgia Coote makes adorable necklaces out of vintage buttons that she has scoured from charity shops. I like the way they become entire statements themselves as in this Ella necklace.

Stark at Beads headband

For those retro stylistically inclined there are also Stark at Beads vintage plastic flower head bands, based in Lisbon.

Summer Garden earrings chain of daisies

I have an unhealthy love of sparkly earrings – I hardly wear them but that doesn’t stop me hankering after the nicest pairs I see. From Chain of Daisies, Neptune Earrings are made out of gorgeous vintage gems as are the lovely Amelia Earrings – I had to mention them didn’t I?! And Summer Garden are made of vintage German plastic cabochons.

eve tv screen necklace

For something that makes a bit more of a statement how about this necklace from Eve at Howkapow, featuring recycled TV screen beads of all things. How fantastic! This is where all TVs should go to die. The Howkapow website features some great up and coming designers and is definitely worth checking out in detail.

Tatty Devine gin bottle cufflinks

Or you could try the newly reworked miniature bestselling Pegasus Necklace from Tatty Devine, or for a boy, these utterly charming Gin bottle cufflinks created in collaboration with cult Shoreditch artists Gilbert and George. You can find them on their newly revamped men’s section For Chaps – why not take a gander.

handcrafted black ninja

Boys, I find, are always a bugger. If the man in your life is a fan of small collectible toys these little hand crafted ninjas from Lilley might just be the thing for you to give him, attached to a keyring, or not – especially since they eschew the usual factory production for Etsy handmade status.

Emma loves Retro cushions

Homewares: Emma Loves Retro does a great job of recycling bold vintage fabrics into scatter cushions, and she has a wide colour and design range to choose from.

london kills me placemats

London Kills Me do all their own screenprinting in London, producing everything from ties and cushions to Christmas decorations. I really like the reclaimed slate planters and some of the printed dresses are very very cute.

meera lee sushi sets

Illustrator Meera Lee creates decorated sushi tea sets from upcycled crockery, which are very pretty but delicate – only for those who are happy to handwash! However the maker is stateside so only for those the other side of the pond at this late stage in the day.

Carlotta Morandini rug

Carlotta Morandini makes amazing sea creature inspired rugs. When I see stuff like this how I wish I had a bit of money! But maybe you do, and if so this would be the making of a room.

Carrie Reichardt plate
Carrie Reichardt

Carrie Reichardt sells at new eco fashion store 123 Bethnal Green Road: I just love her reworked crockery – what a find for the anarchist in your life. Unfortunately these are not online at the 123 Bethnal Green Road website, but I highly recommend a visit to their shop, choc-a-bloc with upcycled goodies at just the right price point for Christmas shopping.

Amelia's Compendium of Fashion Illustration

And of course, how could I finish this blog without mention of my own book? Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration – perfect for the book/illustration/fashion lover in your life. Having had confirmation that the wondrous Royal Mail has already delivered the first copies of Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, sent out on Friday, I now feel a bit more confident that you will still be able to take delivery of any of the mentioned gifts above should you decide to order them very soon for Christmas. You can order my book here.

You can check out my ethical fashion and skincare suggestions on this blog here.
Illustration by Timothy Hunt
Illustration by Timothy Hunt.

A couple of days ago *ahem, stomach more like a week* I put a callout on twitter for people to send me their fabulous ideas for Christmas presents – here, sick finally is a round up of the best clothing and skincare gifts alongside some of my own recommendations. My second post will cover art, homewares and jewellery.

Bonbi Forest equus scarf

Lee May Foster of Bonbi Forest never fails to produce delightful stuff, my current favourite of which is this stunning Equus scarf, new just in time for Crimbo. It comes in either a pink or blue colour way and will certainly catch people’s attention with it’s lovely sustainably handprinted pattern of horses and zebras.

Natasha Rae Richardson hankie

At the upper end of the market check out this rabbit skeleton organic cotton hankie from Natalie Rae Richardson at Tout Nouveau, a website which offers the work of some fantastic emerging designers – perfect for a super stylish man to flourish when out and about.

Natasha Wood cardigan

I wish I had discovered ethical clothing designer Natasha Wood in time to include her in my book… but alas it is too late. These upcycled leather trousers are made from old leather jackets and above is her special two cardigans coatigan. Just fab.

Bradley Beanie Hat and Bow Brook Top by Maria del Carmen Smith
Bradley Beanie Hat and Bow Brook Top by Maria del Carmen Smith.

Continuing on an ethical clothing bent I really do love the simple good designs of Liv. I’ve been wearing her delightful Bow Brook top non stop this winter, and her Bradley knitted beanie is oh so cute. Liv works exclusively in fairtrade and organic materials. Better still she is running a wee Christmas competition – just join her on Facebook for the chance to win a lovely Shell Ford Cardi in her Berrrry Christmas competition. (but make sure you do it this morning as the offer ends at noon today)

Dr Hauschka bath care kit interior
Dr Hauschka bath care kit

Over on the beauty gift set side of life I recommend the Dr. Hauschka bath oils set – I am a real sucker for a hot steaming sweetly smelling bath and these smell just divine. A Bath Care Kit contains small starter versions of the oils and costs just £12.50. What a blooming’ bargain for the bath lover in your life. Dr. Hauschka is running a similar chance for a Facebook fan to win a beautiful make up set. Just join their Facebook page before noon.

Dr Hauschka rose tea

Many of Dr. Hauschka’s lotions make use of the wondrous properties of rose, and I particularly like the Rose Body Hamper Body Moisturiser Gift Set, which includes Organic Loose Tea with Rose Petals – since I started drinking black tea on it’s own I’ve discovered that rose tea is absolutely my favourite, yet it is still relatively hard to come by in your average supermarket, making this gift all the more special.

Pai serenity kit

As you can probably tell I am a big fan of a long luxurious bath, especially in this cold weather. Pai Skincare is another fabulous organic brand that has produced a bath care kit – and the Serenity Bath and Body Collection will go down a treat with anyone like me.

Savonnerie-Naughty Weekend Kit

For the lover in your life, there’s always the Savonnerie Ever So Slightly Naughty Weekend Kit. Why wait for the wedding anniversary or Valentine’s Day when you can drop a ginormous hint at Christmas? This boxed kit includes yummy Love Soak bath bits, Vetiver massage oil, a tender kissing glaze… and a blindfold and feather for a truly erotic experience. All this pleasure for both you and the recipient comes at a very reasonable price.


Savonnerie specialises in high end hand made soaps encrusted with all sorts of delicious goodies, and their beautifully packaged luxury handmade soap box makes the perfect gift. They are based over in Brushfield Street near Spitalfields Market so if you live in London there is still plenty of time to go and visit them. Yum yum yum.

For fans of yummy skincare products there are plenty more Christmas gift suggestions in some of my previous blog posts about ethical beauty brands, so do go check them out. And you can check out the companion blog to this one, featuring art, jewellery and homeware ideas, right here.


Illustration by Lorraine Nam

When I worked in retail I found that the Christmas cd was despised. It was locked away, viagra buy the repetition of the jingly notes, ed a killer. I’ve hated the horrendous error of the repeating (SOLITARY) 90s ‘joyful’ cd myself. Is it laziness, approved the desire to inflict pain on co-workers, a smug middle management decision, or because without it shoppers would be confused and think Christmas aint on?

children's choir by daria hlazatova

Choir by Daria Hlazatova

I guess I am talking about pre-i pod years without choice and 20 plus tracks. The cd was awful kids! Possibly the worst case of ‘play…play’ I’ve experienced, incidentally not at Christmas, was whilst I was working as a ‘Visitor Operations Team Member’ at a Cornish Castle in my summers. I’d avoid working in the gift shop because the Shop Manager was so hideously obsessed with the children’s films soundtrack. It was on all day – nine hours, “because the kids love it.” I would try and absolutely fail (she was like a caffeinated swooping bird of prey) to put on the ‘Tudor’ cd, or if there was a wedding on: ‘Romance’, or even ‘Classical/Sweet/Explosive Dreams’… If I was trapped in the gift shop all week, that was 45 whole hours of tying sashes back to their wooden swords, polishing fudge and listening to Harry Potter prancing about. Awful.

Girl with Christmas Jumper and headphones

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

However I digress, back to CHRISTMAS. This blog post is a round up of Christmas songs that are jolly good to listen to whilst wrapping the beloved’s gifts with the Muppets Christmas Carol on in the background, or a frivolous Christmas night with the drinks cabinet… or simply trying to get home.

Last year I couldn’t get enough of the Christmas music (not sure why), and as a child it absolutely shaped my Christmas. The films, the carols, the fight to number one. East17 Vs Take That was a pivotal moment when I was ten – “Stay now, stay now…” Whilst 2003’s Mad World was a dramatic number one for a (dramatic) nineteen year old on the brink of a year long world trip. Admittedly I don’t care who is number one now (Matt Cardle – blah), but bands still make some marvelous Christmas music that should not be overlooked. I speak of tunes like 6 Day Riot’s 2000 Miles from Home and Marshmallow World by Kotki Dwa.

And just how sweet is Snowman by Esperi? Take it as my first recommendation:

Bing Crosby’s; I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas has to be this high in the post, because the dreaming looks like it’s over. Every year as a child I would look to the skies and ask Mr Sky whether he would make my garden white. Pre the last two years, snow was rare in the South East. Only a few semi snow sessions in the 80s, the occasional snow flurry in March throughout the 90s, and a few days of snow splats in the noughties. Now, aged 26 it is finally here and blimey, it’s beautiful. And awful. However, the song is legendary and is the best selling single of all time according to the Guiness Book of World Records. Irving Berlin wrote the classic in (approximately) the 1940s. He was looking back nostalgically to an old fashioned Christmas setting – awww. With a nice mix of melancholy and comfort, it’s a beauty.

Next comes Louis Armstrong: Zat You Santa Claus? Naughty and strutty, that voice is incredible.

Louis Armstrong Mina Bach

Louis Armstrong by Mina Bach

Marshmallow World by Kotki Dwa plays on ‘The Weather Siituation’. With lighthearted, cheeky and sweet lyrics, it’s fun “the world is your snowball…go out and roll it along… In winter it’s a marshmallow world.” The video shows news footage of everyone trudging through the snow, attempting to shop and travel (horrendous) to smiley sledging. It ups the sprits and the electro bubble sound throughout makes you feel like your in an actual snow and marshmallow factory!

Jingle Bells Rock by Bobby Helms. Makes one jive for some reason. Move the hips, pout and hands halfway up in the air. Always good at the office Christmas party. Put those bellinis down!

jingle bells rock by daria hlazatova

Illustration by Daria Hlazatova

The Carpenters: There’s something about Karen’s voice that creates an urge to sing, the simple rising and falling notes…she puts her arm around you with her voice and runs up a hill with you. In starlight. Add to this a Laura Ashley dress flowing about, knitted tank tops and pineapple and cheese on sticks and you have yourself a thoroughly 70s Christmas shindig. The Carpenters cracked out a few Christmas tunes, but Merry Christmas Darling is a corker. They’re apart but in her dreams, they’re ‘Christmassing’ together. Everyday is a holiday when she is near to him… HEART.

A 70s Christmas with The Carpenters by Matilde Sazio

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

Who hasn’t rocked around the Christmas Tree? Another song that get’s the majority on the floor: Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, Brenda Lee. It’s the slightly straining voice, the upbeat screeching and the having fun with wild abandon feel. I’m listening to it now and I literally can’t stop the need to put in exclamation marks and use capital letters- CHRISTMAS!!

Rockin' around the Christmas Tree by Chloe Cook

Illustration by Chloe Cook

iliketrains is a slowed down version of Last Christmas. It’s a dramatic and sentimental with a wink. Brooding and beautiful – listen to this whilst you look in the mirror and pretend to be a femme fatale in a 30s silent movie.

Christmas Music illo by Avril kelly

Illustration by Avril Kelly

Elvis the King etc. Blue Christmas is a great one. So Here Comes Santa Claus. He just makes me want to morph into a stereotypical 50s gal with a husband who’s hair is permanently fixed with gel. And his man body in a perfectly fitting suit. Elvis is H.O.T. and full of a variety of indulgences!

Elvis Snow Globe by Claudia Fumagalli

Illustration by Claudia Fumagalli

6 Day Riot, 2000 Miles From Home is thriller of a tune – in that it’s goosebump perfect. If my (currently flu ridden) boyfriend wasn’t here, I’d be pining with this song on repeat. Soft voice, delicate notes and simple sweetnesses.

Slade, Merry Christmas Everybody. The song that people roll their eyes to and seems to be in every gift shop, everywhere. It was in my post office this morning. Standing in line, it was belting it out. When I was at the counter with my parcel ‘going’ to Jersey, the man behind the counter said “Is it for this Christmas, or next?!” Then proceeded to chuckle (hahaha). I saw the mince pies and Quality Street in the background of the post office crew’s quarters. They were having fun, the staff, which makes a change from grumpy staff with an inability to smile or look you in the eye at all. Combined with Slade’s music, I chuckled with the chap. They can be cheeky because nice people are best. I still have no idea why they sporadically play music throughout the year in there though.

This had to go on, Carol of The Bells. The version from Home Alone, when Kevin goes into the Church. He’s alone and the fun’s over. Kevin wants his family back. Have a listen:

The Snowman, We’re Walking In The Air. I don’t feel I even need to use words to accompany this. Raymond Briggs wrote and illustrated the book in 1978, whilst the film was created in 1982 by Diane Jackson. Howard Blake composed the wonderful music. I particularly like the fact they go past Brighton Pier (near my heart home) and that they see whales.

Finally, Mariah Carey. Puppies in knitwear. Red jumpsuit. “All I want for Christmas” So catchy and sounds amazing on Karaoke.


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3 Responses to “Sparkly Christmas Songs”

  1. Faye West says:

    Love this article! As a fellow 26 year old, everything here rings true for me! Loves it.
    PS thank you for the Home Alone musical clip as I write this comment! x

  2. [...] 6 Day Riot, 2000 Miles From Home is thriller of a tune – in that it’s goosebump perfect. If my (currently flu ridden) boyfriend wasn’t here, I’d be pining with this song on repeat. Soft voice, delicate notes and simple sweetnesses. Have a read of the rest of the post… [...]

  3. Helen Martin says:

    I reckon our 80s/90s childhoods shaped us well! Thanks again for post two – Mariah, Spice Girls – I’ve been there also -ahh x

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