12 Top Job Interview Tips

Job Interview Tips

Today I’m going to share with you my top interview tips, in the hope it’ll help to organise you, and help you feel ready to smash your next interview!

I’ve had many interviews across the years, from my first little job after uni (The White Company call centre!) through to my current role working in marketing for premium kitchen appliances company Fisher & Paykel.

I’ve been working in marketing for a good few years now, and I have changed jobs now and again to better myself. Whether that’s for more money (usually the reason) or to find a better working environment. Firstly, don’t worry if people are frowning upon your reason to leave your current role. Only YOU know how you feel in that job, and what you’re looking for.

As mentioned above, my usual reason for leaving jobs has been to better myself salary wise, as in many sectors it seems the only way to gain a suitable raise to be able to attain better mortgages, save more money for the future, pay increasing bills etc. At the end of the day we go to work to make money right? I have also left roles to do something I enjoy more, or simply because the company failed to pay me on time – not cool! This happened in two of the marketing roles I’ve had. Not great when it comes to having bills to pay…

So don’t ever let others tell you what to do with your career. Trust your gut instinct.

Research the company

An obvious one, but certainly important. Get obsessed with the company. What do they do? Have they implemented anything great recently that you could talk or ask about in the interview? It’s worth checking the news or blog sections of their website or even their social media accounts.

They’ll be pleased when you show the effort you’ve made to learn about them.

Be ready for various interview types

Interview types vary SO much. I’ve had really relaxed, informal styles – my favourite of course! Through to pretty formal ones with presentations to prepare and present, and ones with random tests. Even one where I had one room to go in with a presentation to present, and then I had to pop into a room next door to then be further interviewed by two more people. Interviews really do differ from company to company.

So when applying for roles, be ready and open to be interviewed in different ways each time. Just give it your best and take it in your stride as much as possible. I know, easier said than done sometimes, but all you can do is try your best.

Just be yourself

Have you gone through life so far without making a single mistake? I didn’t think so. We all make mistakes. We have all messed up somewhere along the lines.

So when it comes to job interviews, I try to get my head in the mindset of “this is me, this is what I know, take it or leave it”. Obviously I am always nervous to an extent in every interview, but I try to make myself remember that it’s genuinely not the end of the world if I’m not the right person they’re looking for.

All you can do is go in, be yourself, say what you can do, what you have experience of and what you’d like to get out of your next role. If it’s right for them, then great. If it’s not, no worries. It’s on to the next one…

Take examples

In marketing, I can easily take in examples of content I’ve written, or other marketing materials etc. that I have created over the years. Be sure to save down or write down examples from your current role now, even if you’re not actively job hunting, as they may help you in the future when you’re interviewed.

If you finished college or uni not that long ago, do you have pieces of work you’re proud of that you could take in?

I had an A3 folder filled with assignments I’d received good grades on, creative work I’d completed etc. – and I received praise from interviewers for simply bothering to bring this in, being told that no one else had bothered to do so, and therefore it made me stand out.

Think outside of your career

Are you a blogger? Or do you do any other exciting things outside of work where skills can transfer from that to the role you’re applying for?

Being a blogger has definitely helped me in my career. I’ve been able to show examples of successful write-ups and show why they have been successful. For example, I wrote for a local company in recent times and they were so pleased with my writing that they offered me the chance to run their social media for them. I declined, but I did bring up that success in my current job’s interview to prove the power of my writing.

Can you think of anything like this that you could draw into your next interview?

Dress the part

I don’t dress ever so formal when it comes to interviews, because I’m not the kind of girl to wear a power suit to work each day. Usually I’ll simply pop on a pretty, comfortable dress, tights or nice leggings, a smart but comfortable cardigan or soft blazer jacket and boots.

That’s my style, that’s what I feel comfortable and confident in, and therefore I can be myself.

It may differ from sector to sector and probably level of role too. It’s probably best to go on the smarter end of what you think is best for the job you’re going for, than to be underdressed and look scruffy!

Social Media

Depending on your area of work, you may find it useful to have a LinkedIn career profile.

Ensure it’s up to date and looks great as your potential employers will be likely to look this up, and first impressions do count! Whilst you’re looking for a new role, make your profile public – you can always make it private again once you’ve secured a new job.

What about your other social media accounts? How do they look publicly?

Quite often I see people using Facebook on the public setting, meaning that anyone can see everything they post. It might be worth checking to see how yours looks, what your privacy settings are set at in case you want to hide what you say and show from the entire outside world.

Alternatively, your social media might be a great way to show how fab you are! For example, if you’re a blogger, they may see all your beautiful images, the lovely content you write etc. Definitely give it some thought.

Prep for the standard questions

When have you gone above and beyond in your job? Or to help a customer?

What is your weakness? (You know, the one where you say your possible weakness but spin it to show the silver lining of it).

Can you think of a difficult hurdle in a previous role and how you overcame it? I’m sure there are articles out there if you search online that list the most commonly asked interview questions like these.

Think about those key times in your career so far where you’re really pleased with a result you achieved after implementing something, or difficult moments where you dealt with it smartly to get a good result etc.

Prepping for these questions will leave you feeling much calmer when they spring these types of questions on you. And hey, once you know your examples you’re set for every interview going forwards.

Any questions?

At the end of the interview they may ask you if you have any further questions. And one brilliant tip I picked up a few years ago was to ask them what their best moment has been at the company so far.

You might get an “ooh, that’s an interesting one” reply, but honestly, everyone loves talking about themselves and their experiences. We all do. So it’ll look great that you’ve turned the interview round to be about them and not just you.

It’s also a great way to find out more about the company and the people you will potentially be working with. I’ve asked it in every interview in recent times and I think it’s gone down really well!

Be prepared

Take a copy of your CV, and make sure you’ve read it through before the interview as you’re likely to be asked questions about each role and what you did in each one.

Take a notebook – maybe have a few questions written down inside it for when they ask if you have any questions. You can also make notes in the interview of anything you feel is key to note from what they tell you.

Be on time

I usually aim to go into the building about 5 minutes before. This will give you time to sign in at the premises if you need to and give the receptionist time to tell your interviewer that you have arrived.

This also allows them to start the interview on time, which I’m sure they will appreciate if they have a busy day of work, meetings and interviews.

Nail your communication skills

I’ve been told that I have good eye contact with people, which is a great way to show that you’re listening and wanting to take in what they say.

When answering the questions, aim to answer them in a descriptive way, but try not to waffle on too much. Be succinct.

Strive for a balance between listening, answering and engaging. It should have a conversation style flow, rather than answering questions quickly and shortly as if you’re on mastermind.

..lastly, good luck! I hope this has helped you to get prepped for your next interview. The main top number 1 tip is to simply be yourself. At the end of the day we spend so much of our time at work, it has to be right for both parties.

*Thank you to LOTD who gifted me this gorgeous bag, which is just perfect for work and everyday life! It’s really amazing for just £10, a true bargain that’s for sure. I’d definitely recommend checking out their website at www.lotd.com for really lovely fashion at really affordable prices.

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston // Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog


Learning the art of Flower Arranging at Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

On the weekend, my mum and I were invited down to Marks and Spencer in Milton Keynes, to take part in a one-to-one flower arranging session at their newly revamped flower section, aptly named “The Flower Shop”.

Marks and Spencer is most definitely one of my favourite high street stores. I adore their cruelty free beauty and toiletries collections, and I spend a small fortune in there when it comes to Christmas presents each year. Of course their fashion is lovely too. If you spot me out and about in my pink coat, it was a Marks and Spencer Christmas Eve online sale bargain that I grabbed at 50% off!

When we arrived at the Milton Keynes store, we were greeted by a lovely lady called Emily, who is one of the flower arranging experts in store and she taught us all about how to arrange flowers and create a beautiful bouquet.

Mum and I were allowed to each pick our favourite bunch of flowers from their selection in store, then Emily took the bunches apart to show us how to put them together again.

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Each and every stem was laid out on the table. The next step is to take the lower leaves off the stems to leave you with a fresh flower, and make it easier to piece the bouquets together.

Emily showed us how they initially take one main flower to use as the focal point of the bouquet. The other flowers are then added in a spiral around this main flower, and it continues until you have completed your bouquet.

Once you’re holding your completed bouquet, it’s a good idea to pull up a few pieces to add a variety of heights in your bunch.

When you’re ready to tie your flowers together, you can take an elastic band, place it around one of the thicker stems, pull it up towards where your hands are holding the flowers, then wrap the entire elastic band around the stems about twice, and then fix it into place by wrapping the other end of the elastic band around another stem. (Not sure if that made sense, I’m sure you could YouTube that technique if you’d like to give it a whirl!)

Mum and I each had a go at putting together our own bunches. It’s certainly trickier than you think. I found myself concentrating hard on what colours and shapes to put together, whilst trying to hold it all together when adding the new pieces in. Here’s a snap of our bouquets, mine on the left and mum’s on the right.

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

When you have your flowers nicely secured, it’s time to trim those stems. Usually when I receive flowers, I end up sitting on my kitchen floor with my scissors struggling like mad to cut the stems. Emily had these super easy-to-use secateurs which made cutting the stems a breeze. So I’ve definitely added a pair of those to my wish list!

Top tip: Emily told us that it’s best to cut the stems on a slant, to help prolong the flowers’ life.

Once everything is tied together and looking beautiful, it’s time to wrap that bouquet. Emily cleverly folded the tissue paper and cellophane around the flowers and created a little “bubble” by the bottom of the stems. This bubble is able to hold a little bit of water. So once tied, wrapped, secured and placed into the box shaped bag, Emily made a little hole between the flowers and carefully poured a little water into the bouquet to ensure they are carried away with their water-filled bubble – how clever!

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Every bouquet also goes away with feed to ensure your flowers stay looking their best.

The Flower Shop within Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes is filled to the brim with the most gorgeous blooms. You can choose from a vast array of flowers, plants and gifts. From teeny tiny little pots, to taller bigger plants. Whatever the occasion, they have something for it I’m sure. I just love receiving flowers and plants for birthdays.

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

The very generous team at Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes also gifted us some rather delectable sweet treats to enjoy too. The packaging on these is absolutely stunning! (See piccy below). So bright and beautiful. I love it.

On Mother’s Day we tried each of these (with Dad’s help too!) and they are all delightful. The Handmade Nougat is the softest, tastiest and quite frankly the best nougat I’ve ever had. The nougat flavours include pistachio, hazelnut & sour cherry, raspberry & almond.

The Rose & Violet Creams are lovely, the rose ones taste a bit like Turkish delight, and the violet flavour is like a subtle Parma Violets taste (I love Parma Violets) – so if you love those flavours, you’ll love these. They’re a really yummy and quite uniquely flavoured treat to enjoy.

The Peach Bellini Truffles are quite chocolately but definitely have a peachy taste to them, very creamy too. A real indulgent treat. A perfect accompaniment to a glass of fizz – mum’s choice of fizz for Mother’s Day was Asti.

We loved the Sea Salt Caramels, they had a nice smooth filling and a good balance of the caramel and sea salt flavours. The chocolate outer was a decent amount of chocolate too, no thin chocolate layers here!

Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles…as with everything else, these too were an absolute delight. They’re dusted with a lovely coating of freeze dried strawberries. Inside is a whole load of truffly goodness. It’s an indulgent chocolate but not too heavy compared to some. I’d happy receive a box of these as a gift.

Sweets from Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning! If you’re after a blooming lovely treat for yourself or a loved one, I really recommend popping by The Flower Shop within Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes. I think you’ll be really impressed with how the area has been revitalised.

As mentioned, they really do have a huge selection from smaller blooms to bigger plants, so I’m sure you’ll find exactly what you need. If not, the Flower Shop team can order online for you right there in store. Perfect.

Plan your visit to the Milton Keynes Marks and Spencer store online here: www.marksandspencer.com

*Thank you again to the lovely Marks and Spencer team for inviting both myself and my mum down to this one-to-one flower arranging session, we had such a wonderful time and picked up some brilliant tips.

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston // Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog

Celebrate Mum with Prestige Flowers this Mother’s Day

Prestige Flowers Mother's Day Flowers

The beauty of the unexpected. I’ve never sent any surprises through the post to my mum, or anyone actually, so when Prestige Flowers offered me the chance to send my mum a beautiful bouquet to celebrate Mother’s Day, I jumped at the opportunity. My mum loves flowers and tending to her garden, so I just knew she would love this.

The flowers arrived at my parents’ home whilst I was at work today. As soon as they arrived my mum rang me to say she thought she’d email me to say thank you, but decided to call me at work instead to thank me personally for the flowers. She was absolutely thrilled to receive them.

Prestige Flowers Mother's Day Flowers

Prestige Flowers Mother's Day Flowers Combo teddy and chocolates

Prestige Flowers Mother's Day Flowers Combo teddy and chocolates

The beautiful flowers arrived with a gorgeous little teddy bear and a very welcome box of chocolates to enjoy. Doesn’t it all look so lovely?

Don’t worry, you still have time to order for Mother’s Day from Prestige Flowers! Their fantastic delivery service means you have the option for Next Day delivery if you order by 9pm the day before. Or you can choose Saturday or Sunday delivery options too. They even have a selection of flowers that are available for same day deliveries if you order by 3pm.

Phew. Mother’s Day saved.

I genuinely feel that flowers are such a wonderful gift to give. I love a bouquet filled with different colours and shades, different styles of flower, you can truly appreciate the beauty and uniqueness in every flower. There’s nothing better than seeing a fresh bouquet sitting pretty in your home, whether it’s adorning a table or a fireplace, they really brighten and refresh the home so easily and elegantly.

Prestige Flowers Mother's Day Flowers

The great Mother’s Day Combo bundles allow you to get everything you need from Prestige Flowers. A cute teddy bear, chocolates or even a bottle of bubbly can be ordered with the flowers. They each come with a vase too, so there’s no need to worry about how they will be displayed in the home.

The bouquets are arranged by highly skilled British florists, so you will be guaranteed to receive gorgeously arranged flowers. They’re also running a competition at the moment – every Mother’s Day order will be entered into a competition to win flowers for a year. Imagine!

If you fancy something a little different to a bouquet of flowers, they also have a lovely selection of Mother’s Day plants and gifts as an alternative. A little something for everyone is on their website.

Besides Mother’s Day, Prestige Flowers provide flowers for all occasions, silk flowers for ever-lasting floral beauty in your home, Haute Florist for that touch of luxury and a huge collection of hampers.

It would be lovely if we all had enough time in our busy lives to head to a local florist and piece together a bouquet in front of our very eyes, but sadly that just isn’t the case in these busy days. So it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to order flowers online and know they’ll arrive quickly, safely and beautifully to your recipient. Prestige Flowers also offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee for your peace of mind, which is great to know if you’re like me and always want to make sure you’re giving the best quality of gift.

I just want to thank Prestige Flowers again for gifting these to me, well, to my mum! We were so impressed with everything and wouldn’t hesitate to order from them in the future.

So if you’re in a rush and need a beautiful gift, and quick, for your mum (or any other special lady in your life!) for Mother’s Day or any other upcoming occasion, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with a bouquet from Prestige Flowers.

Discover the Mother’s Day collection at https://www.prestigeflowers.co.uk/mothers-day-flowers

*The bouquet, teddy and chocolates were gifted to us from Prestige Flowers, but of course as always, the thoughts and writing regarding the items are most definitely mine.

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston // Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog

Spending Valentine’s Day at Home

LOTD wrap over velvet dress

These days it seems like there is so much pressure for people to impress, to splash the cash and buy the best. That restaurant you tag yourself at to show off to your friends on Facebook, or to get the most perfect picture or idyllic lifestyle image to share on Insta. It’s time to enjoy the *real life* reason behind Valentine’s Day.

Yes, events such as Valentine’s Day have been commercialised these days and don’t I know it…I work in marketing after all. But this doesn’t mean you can’t go against the grain and make a pact not to spend if you don’t want to.

At the end of the day, YOU are the one in control of your pennies and if you’d rather spend that money on something else. That’s totally your prerogative.

Ian and I will be spending Valentine’s Day at home this year. No cards, no presents – just us, a bottle of something lovely, a good steak dinner and an equally good movie. That’s all we need and more. After all, surely the best gift you can give this Valentine’s is your time?

LOTD velvet wrap over dress

LOTD velvet wrap over dress

Velvet wrap over dress by LOTD (gifted)

You can still make it special by getting dressed up, throwing on a lovely dress, a little makeup if you fancy it too. If it makes you feel lovely, you needn’t be going out anywhere to wear your Sunday best! It’s also 100% fine if you want to sit in your joggers and get super comfy, with no makeup and your hair up in a messy bun.

So make a night of it. Simply enjoy being you. Enjoy each other’s company. That’s all you need.

Now, I must be honest, just 10 days after Valentine’s Day is our 3 year anniversary. We will be heading out for a lovely meal then, so we’re certainly not missing out on a meal out this month.

We’ll save our pennies for our anniversary meal and the money we would have also spent on Valentine’s Day can go towards even better things, such as our next home, holidays, etc.

I have to say a huge thank you to LOTD who gifted me this beautiful black velvet dress. If you are saving the pennies this year, I’d really recommend checking out the amazingly affordable fashion available on the LOTD website. I was so impressed by the quality of everything I received from them considering how little they cost. This dress is just £12, can you believe it?

Check out all their collections at www.lotd.com

I have a few other pieces from LOTD that I’ll be sharing with you guys very soon, so keep your eyes peeled for those lovely things too!

So… Happy Valentine’s Day! Remember that the day is whatever you wish it to be. A fancy meal out or a takeaway at home, it doesn’t matter. What matters is time spent together.

The gorgeous dress in this post was gifted to me by LOTD, but of course my thoughts are mine as always.

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston // Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog

How I’m decluttering my home for the new year + competition

Decluttering the home

Who doesn’t love a fresh new year? I most certainly do!

I simply love making plans and goals for the year (you can read about mine for 2018 *here*), and also donning a “out with the old” mindset.

If you’ve read my plans for the year, you’d have seen that Ian and I are looking into the idea of possibly buying our first home together. So with this thought in mind and in case it happens sooner rather than later, I’m making sure my home gets as decluttered and fresh looking as possible in case I put it on the market.

Decluttering certainly seems to be an ongoing battle in my home (it’s something I’ve mentioned I’m doing time and time again), but I’m determined to win the battle!

If, like me, you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the “stuff” in your home, here’s what I’ve been getting rid of and the processes I’m using in case it inspires you to do the same.

Top tip before you begin… Make it easy. Start with one room, one drawer, or one box to go through. Breaking down the process makes it so much easier.


I’m having a good think about what I have stashed in my spare room. Time and time again I’ve overlooked how long I have had some of the things in there. And I really mean *long*. This time I’m going to go through *everything* piece by piece to see if it deserves to stay.

Gone are the old suncreams that I bought years ago and kept “just in case” I need them, even though I have plenty of fresher bottles to use. Gone are the matching old aftersuns too. It’s probably safer using fresher ones anyways! Do you have anything lurking around like that? Maybe now is the time to just get rid.

Old toiletries have been put out on show in the bathroom to ensure I actually use them, and use them up first before starting on the newer ones. I will apply this method to all my toiletries and makeup too so they’re all in some kind of order.

I’ll admit, I’ve been slacking on giving myself some proper “me time” lately. So I’m trying to get back into a proper beauty routine and will subsequently make sure that I’m using up and enjoying the products I already have….before buying anything new that catches my eye!

That is another big tip. Try to challenge yourself not to buy anything new until you’ve used up what you have. Not only will your home look better, but your purse will thank you for it too.

Donating, regifting, selling… For anything brand new that you have and won’t end up using. (Queue those Christmas presents that aren’t your cup of tea!). Don’t feel ashamed to regift it to someone who you feel may love it. As long as you’re careful not to give it back to the person who bought it for you, I don’t see the problem in doing this at all. Otherwise, why not donate sealed items to a charity or try to sell it for a few extra £’s here and there.

Receipts and Bills

My receipts have all been shredded away! I even found a few stashed from 2015! So pull every drawer open, look in every box, there’s always something lurking around that can be thrown.

All those notes, receipts, old bills, etc. Grab a cuppa and go through them all, shredding whatever you don’t need to keep. It might seem like a huge task, but you’ll feel so good once it’s done and out for recycling.

…there’s something so therapeutic about using a shredder!

Marketing Materials

I’ve also been making a point of getting my address removed from brochures I receive through the post from companies. These days we can access most things we need digitally, and as lovely as it is to go through the brochures, realistically I don’t often get the time to sit and read through them.

The same goes with any leaflets I come across on my travels or ones that people try to hand to me, I try to say no more often now as it just ends up as more clutter!

Whilst you’re at it. Unsubscribe from email mailing lists you no longer need to be on too!


I have a 3 door wardrobe, two underbed drawers, and clothing rails in the second bedroom filled with clothes. It’s ridiculous. And seeing all these clothes everywhere is quite frankly doing my head in.

So to declutter my clothing, I’m going to get rid of anything I just don’t fit into, things I have not worn in the last few months or so, or things that maybe I have just worn once in a season and have plenty of other options to choose from that are similar, nicer, or that I wear more often!

I’m sure I only wear about 20% of my wardrobe!


I’m sure we all have random “stuff” lying around that we don’t need. I recently came across a whole load of mini notebooks that I definitely didn’t need, so I rang my parents to see if they had any use for them…and they did! They also took a few pens and pencils off my hands which was so helpful. So be earth friendly and ask friends or family if they have any use for what you’re getting rid of – I’ve often given away unneeded makeup or accessories to friends!

Magazines, I’m a hoarder of them. I’ve even recently been taking some lovely Elle magazines from a neighbour once she’s finished with them, but I just haven’t got round to reading them! I have a few home magazines I’ve kept too – thinking I will go back to them for ideas, or to create an inspirational mood board on a creative day… It’ll never happen. So, very soon I will be getting rid of practically all of them and I think I will have to say no to my neighbour for the next lot she offers too!

When decluttering your magazines, consider your family, friends or maybe somewhere like your local doctor’s surgery as places to donate them too if they wish to receive them!

It’s good to take a moment to truly be honest with yourself and evaluate how often you use your things. Some items may have sentimental value, but do you ever use it or look at it to remember where or who you got it from? Sometimes it’s good to just let go. Obviously, be careful not to throw away items that have *genuine* sentimental value. Just learn to draw the line somewhere in order to live your best life now and for the future – one that’s clear of clutter!

Saying No

This is the new process I’m taking on to beat the battle against clutter. Saying no.

Saying no to unneeded new clothes, makeup, toiletries, stationery, basically everything and anything that comes into the home. Of course, there will still be times I treat myself to the odd thing I don’t really need. But the more I can say no and buy less, the nicer my home will be!

Keeping a bit of a minimalist head on as I continue through the year will ensure my place stays clear of clutter too. Tidy home, tidy mind.

Decluttering my home

It’s competition time…

To kick off the new year in style, I thought I’d give away some lovely new stationery to help a lucky winner to get super organised for 2018 too!

In this bundle of loveliness there’s a daily planner to help you break down your day by hour to keep you on track whether you’re at home or even at work, along with a “to do” section, a notes section and a “quote of the day” area to write down a mantra to keep you inspired! I’ve also included a matching notepad for all those helpful notes you need to write down during the day, alongside some matching sticky notes too! I also picked up this gorgeous boxed pink & gold pen from Clintons to scribble down all your decluttering plans and goals for the year.

So if you fancy getting super organised and winning these goodies, here’s how to enter…

Enter on Twitter – Follow me *here* and retweet the competition tweet which is pinned to the top of my page.

Enter on Facebook – Simply like my page *here* and like & share the competition post which is pinned to the top of my page.

Enter on Instagram – Follow me on Instagram *here* find this photo on my feed and follow the steps under the image.

One overall winner will be chosen at random from all my social pages. Feel free to enter via all of them to increase your chances of winning!

Competition ends midnight Saturday 13th January 2018. UK only. Good luck! :)

I hope I’ve inspired you to declutter your home! I’d love to know what you’re doing to get your home ready for 2018.

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston// Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog

A year full of opportunity

2018 plans

A fresh new year, a new moment, another chance to build on previous successes and work towards the new. I’m really excited for 2018.

If you follow me on either my social media or here on my blog, you’ll know that 2017 surely had its amazing highs and equally not-so-great lows. It really was a year of one thing after another. However, I’m not here to dwell on the negative.

2017 brought some amazing opportunities, such as visiting Iceland with Ian and being able to watch the Northern Lights dance away in all its multi-coloured beauty across the sky. A once in a lifetime moment. I was lucky enough to enjoy a week in the sun with him in Tenerife too and spend a week with my parents discovering beautiful Yorkshire. (You can read about our Tenerife adventures *here*).

Ian and I both got new jobs which was fantastic as we’re now both really happy with the roles we’re in. …and I joined the gym for the first time ever in my life! Gulp. Oh and Ian moved in with me! Eeek! So 2017 certainly had some momentous highs to remember.

Oh the excitement of what 2018 may hold is most definitely real.

So here’s just a few of my 2018 Plans…

Travel More

Of course, each year just has to be filled with travel. Whether that’s abroad or exploring this beautiful country we live in. Ian and I are hoping to get at least one big trip in, maybe somewhere a little further afield, definitely a trip with adventure of some kind.

I would love to see more of England too, either somewhere by the coast or in the middle of the beautiful countryside. So I really hope I get a chance to stay somewhere in the UK too this year.

Blog Plans

I am so thrilled to have had so many fun times with my blog in 2017. I’ve made some lovely new friends, been lucky enough to collaborate with some amazing brands, and it’s really pushed me forwards as a person all round and that’s always a good thing!

This year I want to change the layout of my blog to give it a little lift and make it easier to use for readers to discover both new and older posts. I want to photograph more and simply discover more. I’m really looking forward to blogging all my adventures in 2018.

I’ve already been making plans for the type of content I want to create this year and the direction I want to take my blog in. Don’t worry! There won’t be any huge changes in what I do blog-wise, I just want to give it my all a little more this year, so I do hope you enjoy my posts in 2018!

Big Plans

In your twenties it seems like each year has some kind of big plan go into place. Whether that’s graduating, buying your first home, buying a new car, moving in with your other half…there’s always something new happening.

This year Ian and I will be exploring more into the idea of buying a home together. Scary, but, a worthwhile next step. I already own a flat (you can read about how to save a deposit for your first home in my blog post *here* – I hope it helps!) and Ian has been saving hard across the years. With both of us in new jobs and being happy in them, it’s enabled us to feel happier about looking into this next adventure.

Just the other day we got a “decision in principle” which is when you ask the bank to properly tell you how much they’d be willing to lend you based on your current situation, deposit, salaries etc. We even had a little look around a couple of show homes in one of the areas we’re considering – which was fun! So it’s just baby steps for now and setting in plans to save as much as we can to put us in the best situation possible for when the time comes.

I’m a real home girl and I would love just a little more space now and really create a beautiful home for us. Look at me sounding all domesticated. I’ll still leave the cooking to Ian for now though!

Get Healthy

Yes, as mentioned, I’m now a member of a gym. I’ve really enjoyed it lately. After rubbish health stuff last year and having a pretty poor immune system, I’m really looking forward to just generally being fitter and healthier.

Yes, I want to lose some weight that I put on last year when I couldn’t exercise as much. But I want to do it in a healthy and sustainable way. It’s all about a lifestyle change rather than a sudden drop in weight, so I haven’t been weighing myself and focussing on that. I simply want to eat as best as I can and move more, and in turn I should see my weight naturally change.

New Year, Old Challenge

The last one is a bit of a random one, but I’d love to get back into snowboarding.

A few years ago in my old job we got the chance to try out snowboarding or skiing lessons for a cheaper price, which was great. I’d always wanted to try snowboarding since I watched it on the Winter Olympics years and years ago, so I just had to give it a go.

I loved it at first, but I did get stuck on one bit. Maybe it’s a knack I need to get a feel for, or maybe it’s my core strength that wasn’t quite up to it. Either way, I’m going back and I’m going to challenge myself to get over that hurdle.

My plan is to do it once I’ve got a little fitter and stronger at the gym. I’ll probably be in a more confident headspace then too!

The aim is simply to be able to snowboard enough so that I can go on holiday with Ian who loves to go snowboarding abroad as much as he can. It would be amazing to go with him in the not so distant future!


…so hello 2018! Let’s all have an amazing year!

What are your plans or goals for 2018? I’d love to know! :)

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The Affordable Christmas Gift Guide

Ultimate Affordable Christmas Gift Guide

I absolutely love Christmas. All that festive spirit (and I don’t just mean the drink), all those sparkly lights and just, well, everything about it.

Giving gifts is one of my favourite things to do, I love it! I love putting all the presents together, wrapping them and generally being generous. But we all know how much it can all add up at this time of year.

First up, before we talk prezzies, can we appreciate how lovely this personalised wrapping paper is from Pretty Gifted? This snazzy website allows you to write whatever you like on your paper, choose the colour, the font style, the wording foil colour, the little icon you want…and it comes with a free gift tag and awesome gel pen too. Obviously I went for the classic “Merry Christmas” line here for Ian, but you could be so creative and write something really witty or personal. You might not wrap your entire present loot in this paper, but I think it would be great for that one special gift you give your loved one or maybe for those select lucky few.

So… everything in this post is what I would call affordable. No 500 quid gadgets or dresses here, just lovely things for lovely people at lovely prices.

Also, all beauty products featured in this post are cruelty free, so you needn’t worry about any of that kinda stuff either.

I’ve split the post down into “for her” and “for him” to make things easier, but of course I’m sure lots of things can cross over too depending on who you’re buying for :)

Also…mum, dad, if you’re reading this…go away!

Let’s get started…

For Her

At Christmas I usually buy pretty much every gift set in Marks & Spencer. Their sets are affordable (also on 3 for 2), beautifully packaged, good quality and above all, BUAV cruelty free approved – woohoo! Well done M&S! So first up is the Royal Jelly collection. A classic and classy range which has gift sets of varying prices. My mum doesn’t like really strong scented products/really fruity ones etc., so she loves this range and I buy her a few pieces from it every year. They have a variety of products available in the sets, so it’s nice to pair a few together – think feet, hands & body. Right now the collection has 50% off at M&S and you can order online to collect instore for no additional cost (like I did today!) if that’s helpful for you.

Also in M&S, is this beautiful ferris wheel perfume set which is currently a 50% off Star Gift at £22.50. I’ve actually bought my dad the men’s version of this (dad’s already bought mum perfume so don’t worry she’s not missing out!) as I’ve mentioned in the men’s section below. This is such a gorgeous gift set, which comes with 12 mini perfumes – perfect for travelling and handbags.

You can’t beat getting shiny new stationery at Christmas can you? I love buying my mum a variety of them in different sizes, she’s also requested a new address book this year. There are some beautiful stores selling beautiful ones, but often at not so beautiful prices. I really recommend taking a look at The Works. They have some gorgeous designs and are usually priced around the £2/£3 mark – not that you’d know it! So they’re my go-to place for new notebooks and pads.

Barry M Nail Paints are my absolute faves when it comes to a little at-home manicure. I’ve grabbed my mum a pink little number this year in the form of the Liquid Chrome in Razzle Dazzle. They’re often on 3 for 2 offers at Superdrug, and if you have a loyalty card for them you can get free delivery on every order all year round! It’s really worth signing up for the card and taking advantage of that if you don’t already. Liquid Chrome is £3.99 a bottle in Superdrug.

Also, I haven’t bought anything from them yet, but I recently found out that Molton Brown is BUAV cruelty free approved too! So go go go and support another beautiful brand making an effort with their ethics. They are at the pricier end of the toiletries market, but they do have some lovely little baubles coming in at £1o/£12 if you fancy a little treat from them this year.

Superdrug is another go-to beauty brand for me. Not only are they super affordable, but again, Superdrug’s own brand products are all BUAV cruelty free approved too – wahey! I buy pretty much 75% of my everyday toiletries from them instead of Boots for that exact reason. Their B. range of beauty products is a staple in my home, especially the micellar water. I’ve bought their night cream for my mum this year. You’ll find that they do products for different age stages too and some products are vegan!

I have to give a little shout out to Little Shop Of Ltd, who do a beautiful collection of jewellery storage books. I reviewed their earrings one *here* and I absolutely love it. It’s a great gift for that person that has everything! Book lovers and jewellery lovers will love it to bits I think.

Candles are always a winner, and I don’t think you can beat those beautiful candles by WoodWick. This year I was lucky enough to check a few out which you can read about *here* , I’m absolutely loving my Jolly Gingerbread candle, but they also do some lovely fresh fragrances too! Admittedly, they are at the pricier end for candles compared to some but no way near the prices of Jo Malone or anything like that. And even Ian has been impressed with how long my jar candle has lasted!

Ultimate Affordable Christmas Gift Guide

For Him

Men are so hard to buy for! Us girls are so easy, beauty, makeup, clothes, vouchers, homewares…there’s so many things to choose from. Guys on the other hand are so much harder, especially when it comes to affordable gifts as they’re not into so many “little things” like us ladies. I often resort to alcohol as it’s often a winner, so the below will have a healthy dose of that…

First up, ales. I always buy my dad a good selection of ales when Christmas comes around. It’s so hard to place them under the tree without clinking them together and dad guessing what they are though! I often get some from supermarkets (classic ones such as Old Speckled Hen, Bishops Finger etc) or M&S (they have a good range and their own brand ones look great too) and try to mix it up with a few locally produced ones too. It’s always great to support local businesses! If you’re in Milton Keynes like me, definitely take a peek at the MK Biergarten in Wolverton for some locally produced gems!

Staying on the alcohol theme, M&S do this really fun gold leaf filled G & Tea, which you can check out *here*. This link is for 6 of them but you can buy them individually instore. I bought this for Ian for his birthday this year and he seems to approve! It looks really cool and fancy with the gold leaf whirring around when you shake it. For fun, I got Ian to shake the bottle before he opened it, so it would be in full effect once opened. I think M&S is an own brand you can buy and be proud to give. The bottle design looks lovely too.

Again staying with M&S, I always buy dad some men’s grooming gift sets from there too. I’ve already bought him a selection from the different collections this year. We’ve tried pretty much every range and can recommend any of it!

As I mentioned in the women’s section above, M&S have some beautiful fragrance sets at the moment which have 50% off. The packaging on this men’s fragrance house is fantastic. It’s so nice to see someone really bother with the packaging of a men’s gift for once. Usually priced at £45 this is just £22.50 right now. I can vouch for these aftershaves, both my Dad and Ian have really enjoyed using them from previous sets we’ve bought before.

I also bought my dad some lovely new notebooks. I managed to find these earlier in the year in a sale at M&S – so for next Christmas a top tip to save money is to shop throughout the year in the sales! These notebooks should have cost £25 together but I paid about £5 for both of them. Dad’s often found in his study. He’s a super organised guy and writes everything down. He also has a vast array of impressive spreadsheets on his computer. So I thought it would be nice to get him a nice new lot of notebooks ready for when he needs them.

Scarves and gloves can also be a lovely gift to give, along with jumpers, knitwear and anything like that. To be honest I don’t usually buy those bits for my dad, as he usually goes shopping with my mum and picks out what he fancies. That way he knows what will fit and he’ll get exactly what he’s after. But it could be lovely to surprise a loved one with something nice like that – just keep the gift receipt in case an exchange or different size is needed! Or why not buy the scarf and give it with a gift card for them to treat themselves to something to go with it?

Ultimate Affordable Christmas Gift Guide

I hope this little list has given you a few extra ideas for Christmas. Please send me your lists too! I love a bit of additional inspo.

I must finish up by mentioning the above Lily O’Briens Desserts Collection of chocolates. You can buy them in both this size and a bigger box too. They’re really affordable, available pretty much everywhere, beautiful and super yummy! We have them every single year without fail as a family, it’s become part of our food tradition. But they’d make such a lovely gift for someone too!

*Thank you to Pretty Gifted for gifting me some amazing personalised wrapping paper for this little gift guide – I love it & think it’s perfect for all year round! www.prettygifted.co.uk

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