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Pushing the envelope

Whatever happened to Christmas cards? These days we send mass-produced rubbish, if anything. But a handmade creation is a joy for ever, says Virginia Ironside

White out: Keep the table free for food by hanging decorations from the ceiling or light fittings. From £4, thewhitecompany.com

Hanging out the cheer

Whether you're putting them up now or holding out until Christmas Eve, Trish Lorenz has all the bright baubles and luxuries lights you'll need

The 10 Best heaters

Get the shed, garage, office and even the living room nice and toasty with these portable fans, fires and radiators

<p><strong>Fizz Foam Fold Out, £189.99</strong></p>
<p><em><a href=argos.co.uk

With its deep, plump pillows and jet-black cover, you'd never guess that the Fizz Foam Fold out costs less than £200. Even less so, when you see it fold out, which it does with unusual ease, and turn into a comfy occasional bed.

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Fizz Foam Fold Out, £189.99

argos.co.uk

With its deep, plump pillows and jet-black cover, you'd never guess that the Fizz Foam Fold out costs less than £200. Even less so, when you see it fold out, which it does with unusual ease, and turn into a comfy occasional bed.

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The 10 Best sofa beds

Got the relatives coming to stay this Christmas? Put them up in style with one of these stylish (and comfy) couches

<p>{1} Wragwrap Crackle Medium</p>
<p>This environmentally friendly gift wrap is made from recycled plastic bottles and polyester. Instead of sticky tape, it is fastened using a cord and button, so it can be reused dozens of times. The material is even designed to make that proper paper crackling sound to please the traditionalists.</p>
<p>£8.99, wragwrap.com</p>

The 10 Best wrapping paper

Reusable, recyclable, retro and reprints... result. Here are ten of the coolest ways to wrap your presents this Christmas

When experts were asked to vote for Britain’s coolest brands a little company called To Dry For, specialising in tea towels, made the cut

Designer dishcloths to dry for

When experts were asked to vote for Britain's coolest brands (2012-2013), in a list that included companies such as Topshop and Soho House, a little company called To Dry For (todryfor.com) also made the cut. To Dry For specialises in printed tea towels.

Pay a visit to the House of Voltaire pop-up shop between now and 15 December and you could find a well-known artist manning the tills. Limited-edition prints from £100, studiovoltaire.org

Culture hub

We're visiting museums and galleries like never before, so no wonder their shops are booming. But if you can't make it in person, visit the website that gathers the most brilliant buy

Come fly with me: Make yours a bug’s life with insect-inspired interiors

1. Antique paper insect print

The Insider: Illuminated letters make a good personalised gift

A friend emailed to ask where she could get a giant letter "M" that lights up for her husband's 40th birthday present. Certainly, the typography trend isn't going anywhere – and old, illuminated letters are a nice twist on our lexical love affair. But they're not easy to find; here's what's available…

Vase City: We like these bright and delicate vases by Sophie Cook, from £120 at Cockpit Arts or sophiecook.com

Set your stall

Looking for Christmas gift inspiration, but fed up of the same old high-street stores. Get yourself along to a design market

The Insider: How to decorate on a budget

Holly Becker is the queen of interiors blogs. Her hugely popular website, Decor8 (decor8blog.com), has already spawned one bestselling book. Now she has a second out: Decorate Workshop (£25, Jacqui Small), a step-by-step guide to grappling with your own interiors project, beautifully illustrated with inspiring pictures. I asked Ms Becker to share her best tips for small budgets…

Hooked on you: We're hung up on these clever coat stands

1. Aster coat stand

3. A trend for 2013 is to use colour more creatively – here a bright blue picks out a doorway and a dusky pink wall is given a neon yellow detail. From Decorate Workshop by Holly Becker, £25

Life in bright colours

Zingy pink, lime green, violet and neon dominate the fashion and design palettes this season. Trish Lorenz speaks to top blogger Holly Beck to find out how to use them at home

Ten kitchen tools to make cooking easier

 

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The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

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London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

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'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'