Hey, guys! So, as you know, the Christmas holibobs are almost upon us – exciting!! – and it's time to start thinking about pressies! It can be really tricky to find exactly the right thing for the right person, but luckily Zoella (or, as she's recently rebranded herself: Zoe Sugg. Which is her name!) has you covered! <3
Zoe recently released her new book, Cordially Invited, which is not only fab, but also inherently empowering, because it's written by a woman. And let me dish: it's basically my new Bible.
The book tells you how to host parties and gatherings for every season, which is especially amazing considering Zoe's audience is mostly teen girls. After all, you're never too young to learn how to throw a #CerealParty in preparation for joining the #WomensInstitute! #Servitude!
Cordially Invited is full of amazing life-hacks, including methods for making three different types of garland, meaning it's the perfect gift for literally everyone in your life – including you! I loved it so much that I decided to try out some of Zoella's best tips, to show just how much they'll genuinely improve your life.
Okay, so, the first super cute thing about Cordially Invited is that it's full of amazing recipes that Zoe definitely thought of herself – stuff like "Pastel Iced Eclairs" and a "four tiered ombre cake". One of those recipes is super helpful in that it's actually for a ham sandwich, which I personally thought you could only buy at the shops in the little triangle packets?? This is a really nice homemade version for when you can really take your time (#mindfulness). I thought I'd give it a go, following Zoe's instructions:
"When ready to assemble your sandwich, lay your bread out on your work surface and butter each slice. Spread your chutney on the slices of bread and, if you like, spread the other four slices with mustard. Layer the cheddar slices on top of the chutney sides, then the ham on top of that."
I was in a bit of a rush (#GirlBoss), so I just did ham and bread. Doesn't it look amazing though? Very proud of myself.
Zoe recommends going for a walk in a bluebell meadow in your spare time, which I agree is such a nice idea. Unfortunately, I don't live near one, but I did need to go to the shops to buy some toilet paper, so I prepped for my walk just as Zoe explains you should.
To get the most out of your walk Zoella-style, you need a camera, sandwiches (I pack up my yummy homemade ham sarnie – #MultiTasking) and flasks of hot drinks, an umbrella, a blanket, and layers. I didn't have all the equipment, and without a flask I did get a minor burns injury from carrying a mug of hot coffee up the road, but I just #KeptCalmandCarriedOn :)
Ready for my #Adventure to #Co-Op!
The book is peppered with tips from Zoe's mum, which is useful, as she remembers things that Zoe doesn't think of – for example, buying toilet paper. So I stocked up.
Another one of my favourite recommendations from Cordially Invited is to throw a Cereal Party for all of your friends. Zoe explains: "I had my friends to stay last summer and as there was quite a lot of us, I poured as many different varieties of cereal that I could/had lying around into jars on the breakfast bar, put out the bowls and spoons and poured the milk into jugs for people to help themselves." Sounds like the perfect way to use my breakfast bar!
She then goes on to describe all the different cereals and added touches you should offer: a cereal base, milk, dairy-free alternatives, juice, fresh fruit ("strawberries, blueberries, mango, bananas, grapes, plums, apples, raspberries, pineapples, pears, oranges, melon, pomegranate seeds", phew!), yoghurt, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, as well as drizzles and sweet treats.
I decided to put my own spin on it, and invited my friends Nana and Daisy over to enjoy the party.
As Zoella points out in Cordially Invited, all good hostesses provide party favours – and I'm no different!
One of Zoe's top tips is to always thank people who've invited you over with a proper thank you card. "I'm a woman who loves manners and I think it's important when someone has hosted you or a party that it's only right to thank them," she says. "Being on the receiving end of a little thank-you card landing on your doormat is actually very lovely, and I always appreciate the sentiment behind it."
It is actually very lovely, so I write a thank-you out for my friend Hannah, who hosted me last weekend :) Obviously, she loves it.
Finally, I decided it was about time I gave my home the Cordially Invited touch – and what better than a chalkboard sign to welcome visitors? Zoe has some pointers for making them: "First decide what you want your signs to say. Good suggestions include: 'welcome to the garden party', 'this way to the bar', 'drinks this way', 'garden games' or 'to the toilet'".
As I was all partied out, I decorated mine with a favourite inspirational quote, which I'd now be able to see on my wall at all times:
Cordially Invited is available from all good book retailers for £20, which, fucking hell.