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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

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'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

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BBC heads to the Californian coast

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Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
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Take your seat: 10 best placemats

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