STOCKING UP FOR EXTRA GUESTS
Lots of house guests this season? Nicole Swengley has some tips on what to buy in
Being well-prepared is the key to minimising the stress that Christmas guests – however welcome – can create. We may all think about buying extra glasses, cutlery and tableware, but remember additional towels, face-cloths and toothbrushes (yes, there’s always someone who forgets) too. Investing in a good sofa bed is money well spent and an extending dining table could be a boon for more than just the Christmas feast. There is still time to buy in these extras, or even freshen up your interior with new cushions, throws, blinds or curtains. For the first time, John Lewis is offering a free seven-day service on madeto-measure items ordered instore or online. Free delivery is guaranteed up to December 22 for orders placed by December 15.
Perfect for smaller guests, the Bed in a Bag is a lightweight, natural canvas futon (189cm x 69cm) that rolls up and fits into a hard-wearing canvas duffel bag for easy storage; £45 (plus £4.80 delivery) from the Futon Company (0845 609 4455; www.futoncompany. co.uk), which has a buy-twoget-one-half-price offer until December 31. By day it’s a seat, footstool or side table, at night it transforms into a temporary bed by opening out the futon mattress from beneath the faux-suede cover. The Cube measures 64cm x 64cm x 40cm opening to a 190cm single bed; £89 (plus £4.80 delivery) from the Futon Company, also on buy-twoget-one-half-price offer until December 31. It would be hard to find a better-priced double sofa bed than the Athena at John Lewis (08456 049049; www. johnlewis. com). It has a removable cover and costs £150. Ikea (for nearest store: www.ikea. co.uk/storefinder) has a good range of two or three-seat sofabeds including the Lycksele Lovas two-seater, £199, with removable cover. A design that’s particularly easy to convert is the PS Lovas twoseater, £319; you just fold down the backrest to turn it into a bed. For budget-conscious buys, take a look at the Rachel, £220, at Argos (0845 640 1010; www.argos.co.uk). This boxy, contemporary design has a metal mechanism that converts it into a bed for occasional use; available in wine, chocolate or beige.
Ikea has several practical extending tables including the white-painted, solid beech Lyckhem, £119. Its extra leaf increases guest places from four to eight. There’s also the Edefors dining table, £259, in oiled, solid oak, which seats six or eight using the extra leaf. The extra leaf in the Norden dining table can be stored under the table top when not in use; this comes in solid birch, £199 (natural) or £229 (white-painted). Sainsbury’s (0800 636 262; www.sainsburys.co.uk). The Marlow dining table top folds out to increase seating from four to six guests; in solid rubber wood, it costs £129 with free delivery.
For those on a budget, Argos’s 24-piece, stainless steel, dishwasher-safe Venice cutlery set at £2.99 would be hard to beat, though the supermarkets have good deals, too. A 16-piece stainless-steel cutlery set in Sainsbury’s Basics range costs £3.24; Tesco’s own-design 16piece set costs £10 and Asda (0844 824 3000; www.asda.co. uk) has a Viners Echo 26piece stainless steel set at £18. Tesco’s Finest (0845 722 5533; www.tesco.com) fourpacks of dishwasher-safe champagne flutes or red or white wine glasses are £11.99 each. Argos’s 18-piece, dishwasher-safe tumbler set (six 19cl tumblers, six 30cl whisky glasses, six 24cl high balls) at £4.99 is great value. Plain white dinnerware can always be integrated with any other design you may have. Argos’s 16-piece Bistro stoneware white dinner set, £24.99, is dishwasher-and microwave-safe, and is on a buy-one-get-one-free offer. John Lewis has plain white porcelain dinner plates, side plates and bowls, all sold separately at £2 each. M&S Home (0845 603 1603; www. marksandspencer.com) has a three-for-two offer on its Andante white stoneware (dinner plates, £3; side plates, £2; cereal bowls, £2; mugs, £2).
BED AND BATH
John Lewis’s new Value range has polycotton double duvet sets, with two pillowcases, in blue, pink or mocha at £10 (single set £7). Remember extra pillows, too (£4 per pair). Tesco has an own-label, machine-washable 10.5 tog duvet at £11 (single), £17.99 (double), and Asda’s 100 per cent cotton Aqua bath sheets come in various colours, £6 (two for £9). And don’t forget… a pack of four pristine toothbrushes, with identifier labels (right), £2.95 from Muji (020 7323 2208; www.muji.eu).
Bed down: from top, Ikea has great sofabeds; the Futon Company’s Cube bed; Bistro stoneware dinner set and tumbler set, both from Argos