Happiness, creativity and paint & sip at home experience

Happiness, creativity and paint & sip at home experience

It’s a lockdown, it’s cold, and it has even been snowing, something unusual for London. It does not look like anything is going to change soon. Well, it’s true, but let’s look at the positive side.

– We have more time to stay at home and be with our family,

– to catch up with friends living overseas at Zoom/Skype/Teams. 

– or to watch NETFLIX.

– We even have more time to learn something new or to get to those DIY projects at home. 

 

Talking about learning something new, let me tell you a few scientific facts about happiness, creativity and paint and sip at-home experiences. 

What makes people happy?

So, the scientists of Positive Psychology have been researching for years what makes people happy. In a study from 2009 “Achieving sustainable new happiness: prospects, practices, and prescriptions”, Kennon M. Sheldon and Sonja Lyubomirsky determined three primary factors influencing the chronicle happiness level:

– Life circumstances -10% 

– Set point – 50% 

– Intentional activities – 40% 

 

What they found is that the set point is generally determined and essentially constant, and it has a 50% influence on the overall chronic happiness level. 

 

The life circumstances take 10% and they refer to demographic variables such as age, marital status, employment, religion and so on. Those are the factors which mainly state stable influences and they are part of our background. 

 

In other words, the set point and the life circumstances are something we barely can change. 

 

Then there are intentional activities, which contribute to our happiness with 40%. 

 

The intentional activity is a cognitive decision we take to do something regularly like exercises, practising meditation, eating healthy and so on. 

 

The intentional activities have the potential to create sustainable positive change because of their dynamic and varying nature, and because of their capacity to produce a steady positive and rich experience. 

 

The intentional activities are the only thing we can control, which means that 40% of our happiness and wellbeing is in our hands and we can make a difference in our life as soon as we decide to do so.

“Your happiness can be a gift to others”

In his article “Your happiness can be a gift to others” Professor Neil Frude form The University of South Wales wrote, “Doing whatever you can to make yourself happy can be a powerful act of kindness towards the people around you, your family and friends and, in your work context, your colleagues, patients, pupils or customers”.

 

According to many pieces of research, there are 5 factors which easily can increase the level of our happiness and make a massive impact on our wellbeing. They are:

  1. To be active
  2. To give and to volunteer 
  3. To keep learning 
  4. To take notice and live in the present, and
  5. To connect with others. 

As you may see, there is a correlation between those two, completely different articles. In both, it states that by doing and learning something new we can increase your happiness, wellbeing, and longevity. Even more so, our happiness directly affects and benefits the people we love and care about. 

 

You probably heard this before that painting will increase your creativity, but did you know that the creative process of painting will contribute to our mental health, happiness, and personal satisfaction?  

 

Ok, let me tell you how this is happening. 

 

There are a few steps to plan your sip and paint at home experience. I call these steps mini “happy moments” because in each planning level you deal with different, exciting things.

 

Here there are:

1. Taking the decision that you’d like to try to paint with acrylic.

Just by deciding to do something new you will make yourself feel happier. Not only that, but during the time you browse on the internet to choose a picture you want to paint, you will extend this feeling for longer. Choosing a painting or event to attend is a fun process. You may want to pick something you like to paint, but also want to hang on the wall at home. 

2. Choosing the type of experience.

Currently, there are no live events available due to Pandemic, however, there are plenty of options for virtual painting parties or ready to paint art kits. Both options are wonderful, but if you are wondering what the difference is, let me explain:

  • The virtual painting party is an interactive online event where you and other painters’ enthusiasts will be together in a virtual room, painting, sipping, and mingling. This option is fantastic if you like to spend some time with other people and to socialise from the comfort of your home. 
  • The second option is wonderful if you like to create some “Me” time or if you like to spend some quality time with someone else (family, friends, partners, etc).  For this experience, you can choose from different painting art kits. Once your art kit arrives, you are ready to start painting. 

But isn’t that difficult to paint at home without instructions?

 

I am glad you asked. 

 

It’s not difficult at all. You just need to select the right painting kit. Our painting art kits, for example, come with complimentary video tutorials, so if you like to watch and paint by following along with our professional artist, you can do so. 

 

You also have the option to challenge your creativity. Each kit has a flyer with a picture of the painting and detailed instructions of the step-by-step painting process. Once you read these, you can leave the flyer on the side and follow your instinct and artistic voice to lead your painting.   

3. Setting up for your home painting party and creating a ritual around it is like a happy-mood booster.

In one of our next blog posts, I will explain to you how to create your ritual of getting ready for the painting experience. This is a wonderful way to switch off from your daily routine, thoughts and habits and move your mind to a more relaxed and even spiritual state. 

 

The process of “setting up” is enjoyable as you need to select what drinks and snacks to compliment your experience, what music you are going to play to get those creative juices flowing, how are you going to arrange and decorate the table, and so on. 

 

Of course, if you are setting up a party only for yourself it won’t be a lot, but if you like to have a few more people with you, you may want to check our complete planner of “How to plan a painting party at home”.

 

There you have it, I am giving a lot of pro tips on how to plan a painting party and make a memorable experience. 

4. Mixing colours - this is where the fun part starts.

Many studies show that colours have a huge influence on creativity and even the fact that colours can improve brain performance. 

 

Let’s look at the primary colours – Blue , Red and Yellow

 

Blue is known as a creativity booster, red is a colour enhancing the attention to the detail and yellow is а happy and energetic colour. 

 

Now, by mixing only those three base colours you can achieve pretty much any other colour on earth. This is what makes mixing colours so existing. You need to add a little touch of blue to the red and you already have beautiful purple. Add some red to the yellow and will have a warm orange colour. 

 

The best part of mixing colours is that no one can tell you what colour you want to create and use in your painting, you get to choose and make your own colours.

 

This takes me to the next point.

5. While painting with acrylic, everything is in your control.

You are the artist and the boss of this canvas. Everything you paint comes from your heart and it’s made with your personality.

Being in control and painting the way you want, makes a little magic happen in your brain. This moment of knowing that you can do everything you want calms your mind, makes you feel happy and it’s a great self-esteem booster.

6. Paint at your own pace - another beauty of painting at home is that you can do it for as long as you wish.

Acrylic paints are fast drying mediums, which can be fixed with a few techniques. However, they also allow us to build layers, which means you can paint over and over until you reach the desired shape and colour. 

 

No pressure, no stress, and fun. 

 

That is what painting is. Comparing it to stress-relieving activities, it is also recommended to relieve anxiety and mental health issues.

7. Satisfaction with achievement.

Raise your hand if you think the same “I am not a creative person”, “I cannot paint, I have two left hands (if you are right-handed)”, “I have never done painting” and so on. Yes, I know, I used to say the same things to myself until I took the brushes and started painting. 

 

I am going to let you in on a secret, paint and sip parties are not a fine art class. You don’t need to follow any rules, or to master difficult techniques. The paint and sip parties are all about starting from a blank canvas and getting to a beautiful result. It’s all about having fun in the process by doing something creative.

 

A good artist instructor will show you easy techniques and will simplify the steps for you, so you can complete the painting with the most beautiful result. 

 

In the end, you will feel like you have been hiding a little Picasso and you will definitely want to have these experiences over and over again. 

8. Sipping & snacking something yummy.

Good food and drinks make the party special and certainly contribute to our happiness. Having a glass of delicious wine or bubbly prosecco, or other drink of choice, while you are painting can also help to break the ice with your self-doubt that you cannot paint. 

Something like the popular phrase “You can dance” signed by Vodka. 

However, alcohol is not mandatory so grab your drink of choice.

One of the ways to create an unforgettable experience is when you select your food & drinks which match to the theme of the event or the party. In my e-planner “How to plan a painting party at home,” I give quite a few interesting ideas of what you can serve to your guests. This is extremely handy if you plan a party for more than 3 people. 

However, if you are planning a painting party only for yourself or with your partner or even with a couple of friends, the best option will be to choose one of our special Premium Painting Art Kits (check out our new painting DIY crat kits >>> here<<<)

Each Premium Art Kit comes with additional items such as chocolates, a small bottle of prosecco, healthy snacks, or a special candle. The selection of “a little goodness” in each box is carefully chosen to compliment the theme of the painting and to make your paint and sip at home experience extraordinary, unique, and special. 

Final thoughts

Paint and sip at home is a different, exciting, and fun way to spend some quality time with friends and family. But it’s not only that, think about painting as a “self-made wellbeing retreat” for yourself. The new style of meditation or yoga for your soul. 

 

Having, every now and then, some “me” time it’s so important in our days. To take the pressure of non-stopping thoughts and uncertainty about the future. 

 

You easily can switch off and relax because your mind is focused on the painting. It’s a time off for your eyes too because you are not staring at the computer or phone screen. 

 

Painting makes you feel good and it does not require a lot of equipment and tools. A good painting art kit has everything and it’s perfect to buy all materials on one go. If you haven’t tried to paint and sip at home experience yet, now is the perfect time to do this. 

 

Because we love creating happiness, take a special treat from us – a 10% discount from your first order >>> Happypainting10<<<.

 

We can’t wait to see your amazing masterpiece. Tack a snap and tag us @merrimentatelier. 

 

If you are already following us on social media, you know that we have regular interesting mini-tutorials and posts about painting and planning parties. If you haven’t, please do so now here>>>. 

15 romantic decoration ideas for Valentine’s day

15 romantic decoration ideas for Valentine’s day

Decorating for a romantic dinner at home for Valentine’s Day is an important part of the experience. All you need is a nice, sexy dinner menu, delicious drinks and a handcrafted Valentine’s card with a sweet message in it. However, adding some lovely Valentine’s decorations will definitely make the evening extraordinarily special.

There are so many elements you can add to the table, in the room or even on the door. You can have a lot of fun by doing something by yourself like acrylic-painted Valentine’s cards. You can add a bit of a romantic touch by making and printing the dinner menu with a personal message >>> here’s a small tutorial for you <<< or DIY Valentine’s table decorations like paper napkin rings – download >>> here <<< the printable napkin ring.

To inspire you with more ideas and to make your Valentine’s table decoration easy, we’ve prepared a list for you with the romantic items you can order online. You don’t need to have all of them. Just choose the ones that will complete your romantic home setup.

The products below are linked to our amazon.co.uk/shop/metrimentatelier shop where we carefully select products we love and can genuinely recommend to our merry community. As we’re Amazon affiliate partners, we may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. This doesn’t affect the price for you and will help you quickly and easily find and buy everything you need for Valentine’s Day decorations at home.

Here it is a list with inexpensive valentine decor ideas:

For the table

Tall candles

Tall candles look more sophisticated and elegant than the pillar ones.

 

They’re definitely the best choice for special occasions; however, any other candles like tea or floating ones will be good too. Whatever type you choose, avoid fragranced candles for the dining table. You can have them anywhere else in the room, but on the dining table, try to avoid smells that can change the taste of the food and drinks.

Plates in heart shape

Heart plates are a wonderful way to make the table look special and different than just a normal dinner.

 

The heart plates can be small ones just for the dessert or you can have the entire dinner served in different sizes of heart plates.

Red Napkins

If you don’t have heart plates, you can use red napkins.

 

This will give some colour to the table and will complement Valentine’s theme table setting.

Napkin rings with heart

Alternatively, you can have a napkin ring with a heart. To make it look even more romantic, add a little red flower. Check out the paper template we’ve prepared for you. You can buy a bit more expensive paper because you’ll only need one A4 sheet.

 

Print and cut the napkin rings and arrange them any way you like.

Table mat in red

Another lovely way to add a bit more red to the table can be a table mat.

 

Of course, you can choose a table mat in pink, dark pink, burgundy or any other shade you prefer.

 

This is really helpful if you don’t have suitable tablecloths.

Ribbons

You also can add some colour by dressing the chairs.

 

You can use either a big red ribbon or small ones.

 

Chairs with small accents on them always look lovely and make the table more attractive and special.

Food decoration

We mentioned at the beginning that your choice of the sexy menu can make a dinner date truly exciting.

 

You can achieve this with some decor details which can also be made by you.

 

For example, you can cut out different sizes and shades of red hearts and glue them to toothpicks. You can then decorate the desserts or any other course from the menu.

Heart confetti

Little sparkles on the table like heart confetti, for example, is one of those romantic elements that don’t cost a lot but contribute to the visual experience a lot.

 

Anything that will reflect the candlelights can be perfect.

Glasses with hearts

The same as the plates, glasses with hearts make a wonderful statement of “this is a very special dinner”.

 

We love these champagne flutes which can also be used for cocktails.

Cocktail sticks with hearts

Speaking of cocktails, sticks with hearts can be a lovely touch to decorate the glass.

If you’re a cocktail lover, you may want to check out our recommended cocktails for couples.

Centrepiece - vase with flowers

Flowers are what will make Valentine’s table decorations look expensive and luxurious.

 

A few small vases with only one flower in them could be a good inexpensive option. You can add extra elegance with a short vase with beautiful flowers in it.

Valentine’s Day room decorations

After getting everything ready on the table, you can look around and think about adding some romantic elements around the room.

 

Here some nice ideas:

Heart garlands

These garlands can be stuck to the wall behind or next to the table, and they will immediately transform the room.

 

Garlands provide a wonderful background if you like to share your romantic dinner with friends on social media.

Balloons

Balloons for Valentine’s Day are a bit like chocolates for this day. We like any kind of balloon, but this particular one is awesome because you have a whole set—the love sign, the heart balloons and the small red ones for the floor.

 

This will be a fantastic addition to your home and will be a fabulous way to transform the room.

Fairy lights

Fairy lights will make the room look magical and extra special.

 

You can’t go wrong with them. You can have as many lights as you wish. In fact, the more you have, the better!

 

They will turn the room into an extra special and romantic place.

Pillows

I don’t know about you, but cushions are one of those things we are pretty much addicted to.

 

Just a couple of cushions on the sofa or on the chairs where you will have your dinner will make such a cozy and homey feel.

 

A sweet Valentine cushion can be a wonderful gift as well.

Final thoughts

Decorating for Valentine’s Day at home is something we definitely recommend because this will make your experience unforgettable and remarkable, especially if you like to have a special theme for that evening and want to do some interesting things together.

Here are some pro-tips for you:

Start getting ready and organise everything for Valentine’s Day at least 2 weeks ahead.

Make a small plan and checklist with everything you will need for the dinner and the decoration.

Do the shopping for decorations as soon as possible. Don’t leave it until the last minute because you may not be able to find everything you need.

The food and drink shopping is good to be done 2-3 days before the date.

If you are not a big cook, there are fantastic options for romantic meals for two.

You can check out the M&S “Love is on the menu” dine-in menu with Fred Sirieix.

You could also try Sainsbury’s “No-pressure Valentine’s menu”. 

Or the Waitrose “Valentine’s meal ideas”, which have delicious ready-to-cook recipes. 

To complete this special evening with something really unique and memorable—get one of our amazing romantic painting kits. You can choose from painting beautiful white swans, a red rose or a contemporary heart with roses.

I guess you already have some awesome ideas for 14th February. Share with us—what are you planning to do?

Lots of love,

Mariella & Ania

5 best romantic cocktails for two for Valentine’s Day or romantic date night.

5 easy romantic cocktails for two for Valentine’s Day or romantic date night

We always want Valentine’s Day or a romantic date night to be something different and interesting, predisposing us to share a wonderful time with the person we love. As Paint and Sip in Style event planners, we care about all the details when it comes to a fantastic experience. One of the most important elements for any party or intimate date is a selection of good drinks, to complement the theme of the fete.

 

When we mention romantic drinks for Valentine’s Day, most people will say something with bubbles, like Champagne or Prosecco. That’s right, those are perfect for special occasions, but the truth is, not all guys like bubbly drinks. They tend to be the girls’ choice. What else can you serve on 14th February that both partners will enjoy equally? Maybe wine? Why not cocktails? Yay!

 

This is a fabulous choice and a great alternative to the classic Champagne or Prosecco. There are so many wonderful cocktails, and many of them can be a good match for a romantic date night or a Valentine’s Day painting party at home. I know some will say that not all guys like sweet cocktails either. It’s true. That’s why we selected cocktails where you can use the same main ingredients to prepare them, and then give it a twist for her. You can add flowery or fruity flavours for a feminine style of cocktail, or fix them up a bit more sour and smoky for a masculine flair.

 

To make it easier for you, we have selected cocktails which you can make right in the glass, so you won’t need a shaker. However, we recommend you use the same types of glasses and garnish for both cocktails.

Tom Collins

Traditional Tom Collins is made with Old Tom gin, however, any gin works just fine. 

Ingredients:

  • Gin
  • Lemon juice
  • Sugar syrup or honey 
  • Club soda 
  • Ice cubes 

Feminine twist:

  • Pink lemonade 
  • Strawberry essence 

Other fruity flavours or elderflower will go quite well as well.

Fill a highball glass with ice cubes, pour in 4 parts gin, 2 teaspoons of syrup or honey and two parts lemon juice. Stir and top up with soda. For the twist – add 2-3 drops of strawberry essence and top up with pink lemonade.

Garnish with a slice of lemon and strawberry.

Source: Food For Net

Black & White Russian

There are two versions of Black Russian, the classic one and White Russian which is considered milder and easier to drink.

Ingredients:

  • Vodka
  • Kahlua
  • Ice cubes

Feminine twist:

  • Heavy cream

In a low-ball glass add some ice, pour four parts vodka, two parts Kahlua and stir.

Add cream for a less intense taste and you will have a White Russian.

If you’d like to have a lighter version- the Black Russian- you can top up the glass with some Coca-Cola.

Serve with a short straw.

Source: Food For Net

Tequila Sunrise & Sunset

This cocktail looks beautiful and tastes great.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 shot of Tequila 
  • 120 ml Orange juice (from a box or fresh squeezed) 
  • Splash Rose’s Grenadine Syrup 
  • Ice cubes

Feminine twist:

  • Creme de cacao

You will need high-ball glasses for these cocktails.

For the Sunrise fill the glass with ice. Start with pouring tequila, then orange juice, finally adding grenadine. Don’t stir as the grenadine has to drop to the bottom to create those beautiful sunrise colours.

Start the Sunset version with the tequila, then add ice (preferably crushed), pour orange juice and dazzle with cream and cacao.

Garnish both cocktails with a slice of orange and cherry. Serve with a straw.

Source Advance mixology

Irish coffee

If you like something hot, Irish Coffee is a perfect choice. Super easy to make and super delusions.

Ingredients:

  • Irish whiskey 
  • Heavy cream
  • Brown sugar  
  • Freshly brewed coffee (if you like to have a few of those, you may use caffeine-free coffee)

Feminine twist:

  • Baileys instead of whiskey

For original Irish coffee you can use traditional Irish glasses, however, for Valentines Day you can go for a wine glass. The cocktail will look more sophisticated and special.

First, put 1 or 2 teaspoons of brown sugar on the bottom of the glass. Then pour the coffee and add the whiskey or Bailey’s. Top with lightly whipped heavy cream. Sprinkle some cacao on top. Don’t stir.

If you don’t like the taste of coffee you can try the same cocktail with cacao or hot chocolate.

Source: the spruce Eats

Non alcoholic Sangria

If you prefer to have a non-alcoholic drink, there are many mocktail options. We really like the non-alcoholic sangria punch because of the lovely light burgundy colour and wonderful fruity flavour.

Ingredients:

  • 1 750 mL bottle of nonalcoholic red wine
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 1/4 cup orgeat syrup
  • 1 cup orange juice, chilled
  • 1 cup of soda water, chilled
  • Ice

Combine all ingredients without the soda and ice into a big jug, stir it and leave it in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Before serving add the soda and the ice. Serve in a red wine glass with a short straw.

Source: love to know

Final thoughts

Back in the days, Valentine’s Day wasn’t that a romantic and exciting day to celebrate, until Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized it in their work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. During the Middle Ages, homemade paper cards became the token- du-jour as part of the declaration of love.

 

That’s why next time we will give you some ideas of how to make Valentine’s cards and how to decorate the table and set the mood for your special romantic paint & sip at-home experience.

If you still wondering what to do at home for Valentine’s Day, have a look at our fun ideas –

5 fun things to do at home for St Valentine.

 

We’d love to know what are you planning for this year Valentine’s Day. Share with us your plans in the comments below. 

Lots of love,

Mariella & Ania

5 fun things to do at home for St Valentine.

5 fun things to do at home for St. Valentine's Day.

We are just a few weeks away from the most romantic day in the year, St. Valentine’s day. While still under quarantine, there is a great chance that you won’t be able to have a romantic dinner at a restaurant, travel somewhere or do something outside.

 

Why not explore some home-based options and set up some fun activities at home?

 

Believe it or not, there are so many romantic, exciting things you can do.

 

Here there is a selection of our five top favourite activities for home entertainment for couples.

Picnic in the living room

Set up everything for a real picnic! Having it in your living room actually feels almost the same as in a park.

 

Get your picnic basket, make some yummy sandwiches and other nibbles, and include a bottle of your favorite wine.

 

Arrange everything in a beautiful picnic basket. In the basket, you should have everything you need such as wine glasses, cutlery, napkins and so on (something like this >>> here<<<).

 

To add an extra touch and create an even more realistic experience, arrange some pillows, spray the room with a flowery scent and play some soft music in the background, something with sounds from nature like birds songs, the murmur of a river or ocean waves.

Have a home movie night

If you love going to the cinema you must be devastated as all cinemas have been closed for awhile. However, we have a fabulous solution for you. Have a real movie night at home. How? Very easily. You will need a bit of equipment but, believe me, it’s worth it.

First, get a mini projector (something like this >>>here<<<). One for children is a perfect option (and cheaper), connect it to your phone or computer, choose a big clean wall at home and, voila, you have a home cinema. Select a movie of your choice.

 

Next, pop some popcorn, grab a drink and set a couple of comfy armchairs or big pillows on the floor.

Romantic paint & sip party for two

You’ve probably heard that people get to know each other better by doing something together. Getting creative and having fun painting is a fantastic home experience for St. Valentine. Because this is our specialty, we made some lovely painting kits for romantic paint & sip experience at home. Check them out on our art kits page ~ here~.

You can subscribe to this event >>> here<<<. 

Painting together will take approximately 1 hour and a half and can be beautifully combined with a nice bottle of wine, some gourmet snacks or even dinner after the painting party.

You will need 2 canvases, paints & brushes, a palette, a jar or cup with water and a laptop or computer. You can buy all materials from our amazon shop >>>here<<<. 

Create a happy memories board

A wonderful way to celebrate St. Valentine at home is to express your happiness together with arranging your pictures on a romantic board. You will need a small phone printer (something like this >>>here<<<), A3 cardboard in any colour you’d like, some glue or double sticker and colourful markers. If you like stickers, you may have some St. Valentines stickers as well.

 

Start the evening by going through all the pictures you both have on your mobile phones. Choose those you like the most, connect the mini printer and print them all. Then comes the fun part. Start arranging all of the pictures on the board. You can arrange them by year, topic or destinations. Add some notes with the colourful markers and stick St. Valentines stickers around them.

 

This is a super fun and enjoyable activity, and it will evoke many lovely memories.

Take a virtual trip to Paris

This is such a cool idea. If you love Paris and you miss travelling, this is for you. Take a virtual tour and walk around the Palais Garnier – Opéra de Paris or Musée du Louvre. You can even look at Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower or explore in detail the magnificent Sainte-Chapelle.

Here is the link to all the sites in Paris which come with a tour guide >>>here<<<.

Of course, matching the experience with menus and drinks is required. Paris is about champagne and other good French wine, delicious French cuisine, desserts and cheeses, and of course, romantic French music.

Final thoughts

St. Valentine’s Day is certainly one of the most romantic days of the year. It’s all about having a wonderful time with someone you love. The classic romantic dinner always works well, but if you plan something more exciting, this can make the day super special and unforgettable.

 

Don’t forget that St. Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular days for proposals as well. How wonderful it would be to get your diamond ring on that special day!

 

Let us know about your plans for St. Valentine’s Day. Leave your ideas below. We can’t wait to see them!

 

Lots of love,

Mariella & Ania

What was the positive side of 2020?

What was the positive side of 2020?

This year, 2020 has felt like a never-ending road. Long and tiresome, as we approach the end of the year now is the perfect time to look back on our journey and reflect on all the positive things that happened in 2020 so that we can look forward to a better and brighter 2021. Recollecting all the chaos flustered throughout the year it is important to stay kind and remind ourselves that lockdown has provided a unique opportunity to reconnect, create memories and evaluate priorities. Here are 6 outstanding things to be grateful for that happened across the UK in 2020.

Clearer skies

Before 2020 more than 9,000 people in the capital city of London were dying early each year due to dirty air predominantly caused by road traffic. With the UK lockdown in full force back in April 2020, households found themselves unable to go into work and school. Expected to stay home with the months rolling by this dramatic decline in commuters meant there were less vehicles on the road to contribute to pollution and dirty air quality. As a result, there was a 94% reduction in the number of people living in areas with illegal levels of dangerous pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and with a near 100% figure this really is something to celebrate and rejoice.

The Northern Lights

Following on from reduced pollution levels it was no surprise that this decline in toxic pollutants brought about huge changes to the Earth’s natural phenomena. The frosty peaks of the Himalayas were visible 200 kilometres away from Punjab in India for the first time in 30 years and the northern lights are said to be visible from Ireland’s northern ridge as early as September. These promising changes to our environment this year has set the foundations for a spectacular transformation in the natural world in years to come meaning more beautiful memories to experience going forward.

Supporting the Arts

It is well known that the creative arts are one of the biggest industries to be affected due to COVID-19 pandemic. With event spaces closing and job opportunities sparse, performers, artists, and many more creatives have been left distressed wondering when their next work contract will arrive. Yet come October 2020 it was announced that The Arts Council of Northern Ireland would receive a 63% funding boost with the government providing 50 million euros to the artistic industries in aid to help productions get back up and running safely so creative work can resume in the near future.

Focus on family

Working from home was a scary concept when it was first introduced across the UK. Offices shut down, routines had changed, and parents found themselves wondering how they would be able to focus on work as well as look after their children. Like always, we managed to adapt and as a result lockdown has allowed parents, siblings, and grandparents to reunite and share quality time together. Psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer who has worked with children and families over 20 years explained how lockdown has helped new mothers gain additional support from their partners being at home, allowed fathers to spend more time with their children and encouraged older children to be more involved with their families after leaving home. The perfect reminder to share love and kindness, especially with Christmas tying up the year.

Food for thought

One of the most positive changes coronavirus has brought for 2020 is the review of free school meals. From September 2020 it was confirmed that all infant pupils will be given free lunches and snacks with an option for schools to provide free meals to older students as well. In addition to this, the UK government have been made aware of the challenge’s corona virus has brought to those that struggle to pay for food and are now offering a food parcel service for vulnerable students that have had no choice but to stay home from school during the lockdown. Not only are these two wonderful benefits to come from lockdown but to relish in this good news further, it was announced on 8th November that a new £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme will be run by local authorities in England to support with food and utility costs for families that have been hit the hardest during these challenging times.

The coronavirus vaccine began to roll out

On Tuesday the 8th of December it was announced that Grandmother Margaret Keenan, 90, from Coventry has become the first person in the world to receive the coronavirus jab as part of a vaccination programme. Keenan stated in her own words that being the first was “the best early birthday present I could wish for” as it allowed her to spend time with friends and family coming into the New Year. With such wonderful news, this rollout has given the UK population hope we all needed knowing that a better 2021 is waiting just around the corner…

 

Looking back, we can take away that with every slither of bad comes a sprinkle of good. By encouraging a healthy mindset and positive outlook let us reflect on the wonderful aspects of community, productivity, and tranquillity to take away from 2020 as we continue to grow and move forward. Tell us what you have overcome in 2020 or share what you are looking forward to the most in 2021 by leaving a reply below. Make sure to check out our social media pages Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more content surrounding the Merriment Atelier mission.

15 handcrafted gifts for someone special this Christmas

15 handcrafted gifts for someone special this Christmas

What makes Christmas a special time for you? 

 

Is it the cold winter nights tucked up under a blanket, a crackling fire or a warm mug of chocolatey goodness and gooey marshmallows? Christmas is the time of year to enjoy the little things and give back to those around us that we care about. 

 

We all know it can be hard deciding what to buy for those special people, and that’s why we’ve compiled 15 handcrafted gifts for those friends, family members and loved ones to pop a smile on their face this winter season. Keep reading to discover our most unique gifts of 2020.

 

Create your own candle

Are you struggling to decide which fragrance to fill your home with this Christmas? Why not make your own! Save old cooking and confectionery jars, fill them with some scented wax, pop in a wick and you are good to go. Decorate your containers in whichever style you like to grab the attention of all your friends and family.

Fluffy blankets

Creative activities are known to put a stressful mind at ease and knitting is one of those crafts you can do while cosied up on the sofa and watching your favourite TV programme. Win-Win! Give the gift of warmth this Christmas with a handwoven blanket flourishing with fluffy pom poms.

Bespoke bookmarks

Simple to make and with very minimal equipment, bookmarks can be as plain or imaginative as you like. With the extra time 2020 has given us, now is the perfect time to encourage our loved ones to pick up an engaging read and accompany it with their own little bookmark token.

Portrait painting from home

An avid part of the Christmas season is the ability for us to give back, particularly with charity. Merriment Atelier is hosting three charity events over December including paint a portrait of your pet, Cosy Christmas painting and Family Painting Party. Each event will donate towards specific charities and gives you the opportunity to paint a picture with a message to gift that special someone.

Homemade sweet treats

I am sure all parents know the true way to children’s hearts is with fluffy sweet treats and chewy candies. Being the easiest craft to make from home, you can gift your little ones their favourite chocolates or amp it up for adults and go for sweet, spiced nuts or gourmet marshmallows to plonk into those warming hot chocolates.

Scented soaps

Similar to candles, soaps are a great gift to fill your stockings with this year. Grace the homes of those you care about with blissfully scented soaps and they will quickly become their new favourite cleaning product.

Personalised baubles

A wonderful way to decorate your home with Christmas is with personalised, hand-painted baubles. Better yet why not personalise them with someone in mind and gift them a decoration inspired by their brilliance. Be adventurous with paint, felt, glue and glitter to build a unique decoration that dances around the Christmas tree.

Paint and Sip in style experience gift card

Merriment Atelier creates a peaceful working environment where you can sit down with a drink of your choice and merrily paint a picture envisioned by their team of artists. The best part? You don’t need any painting skills to take part. The layout is a follow-along session with guided help from a professional artist who in turn will teach you how to paint a wonderful picture to wrap and gift your fellow creatives.

Card games

With 2020 being a difficult year for everyone, it is important to remember to bring fun back to the festivities. Why not make family game night extra special this year and gift your siblings or friends some hand-drawn game cards. You can play around with many ideas including customized guess who, memory games and snap.

Flavoured salts

Not a sweet tooth? We have an idea for everyone! These assortments of salts cater to every savoury person’s needs. Simply place the flavoured salts into mini jars, stick on a handwritten label and get creative with your gift box presentation!

Facemasks

The best gift for 2020 must be facemasks. This year has brought a new meaning to the word facemask and it would not be an accurate list if we forgot to feature these little face cosies. Bring some positivity back into the year by finding some vibrant, playful fabrics and stitching them into a small facemask to keep yourselves safe and sound.

Bubble bath box

Gift boxes are one of the top Christmas gifts which are often overlooked. Brim your bespoke box with an assortment of bath bubblies, bombs, and soothing salts. All you need to make this mini box of treats extra special is some gift wrap and a heartfelt handwritten message.

Bath Bombs

You do not need to be a creative genius to make beautiful presents. Going out and buying expensive luxury mini gifts can quickly add up and are even more unique when you take the time to sit down and make them yourself. Go wild with your choice of colours and figure out what aroma you’d love to fill the bathroom with. 

Customised table trays

If you’re DIY inclined this is a great gift idea for you. Dig out those old table trays that have fell to the back of your kitchen cupboards and give them a fresh lick of paint and a hand-painted message, quote or name to grace the face of the board.

Christmas cookies in a jar

Feeling super lazy or just running out of time and don’t want to cook? We can understand that. Skip the complicated part and gift your special someone a jar brimmed full of cookie dough ingredients ready to pop out and jump in the oven. All you will need are the dry measures of one cookie per jar including all the good bits, sugar and chocolate chips or dried fruits.

 

Which of these gifts reminds you of that special someone? We love to hear your thoughts and ideas so make sure to get involved in the conversation across our social media channels Facebook, Twitter and Instagram