Advent Calendar of Books

advent booksI know it seems early, and I always used to hate it when shops started bleating on about Christmas when summer was barely over, but as a retailer (of sorts!), I now realise why they have to.  Maybe not all of them…but some Christmas things need preparation.

Every year we offer an Advent Calendar of Books: 24 individually wrapped books, one to open each day up to Christmas Eve.  We tailor them to specific requests, and can do them for any age – last year we did one for a gentleman in his 80s and one for a baby who wasn’t born when his mother ordered the calendar, and most age groups in between!  We charge £12 for children up to 12, £15 for 13-15 and £25 for 16 and over (adults), which reflects the differences in price we usually charge for the books.  These are a bargain though!  You can tell us the gender of your children, their reading ability, anything really, and within reason we will try to meet requests – each one is done to order.   You can do a shared one, and we will wrap books for different ages in different paper so that each child knows which is theirs.  For adults, we intend them to be fiction only, but we might be able to accommodate some non-fiction calendars, it just depends what we have in stock at any one time, as all our books are donated.  We get loads of fiction and children’s books, so are confident about providing good things in those categories!   Just email me for any more info or to place an order.

They are lovely because they have real substance, you have the excitement of opening an actual gift each day, and there’s no temptation to rip the back off and steal all the chocolate!  (Not that we had chocolate ones when I was growing up – the books bring back some of the magic, I think!)  It’s something that builds excitement leading up to Christmas but in a way that helps to satisfy it too!  A present every day – who doesn’t want that?

But grown-ups also treat themselves, and while 24 novels might seem a lot, it will keep you going for a bit!  Or you can share them with friends.

In short, it is something intended to add to the magic of Christmas – which I adore! – and to give those you love lots of books with an element of surprise.

We can post them out, though obviously P&P is extra – let me know if you’d like that, and I can let you know postage costs.  For little children it’s not too bad, as the books are thin and light, but as they parcels get bulkier, the price of postage goes up.

So – if you want an Advent calendar with a difference, one with real substance and magic, some extra fun at Christmas – do send me an email.  You can collect at your convenience, and pay on collection, but the more time we have to get them ready, the better.

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Feeling festive!

treeI normally find having to think about Christmas too early spoils some of the magic, and as a shopkeeper you have to start thinking about it much too early…I’m the sort of person who puts up their tree on Christmas Eve, and apart from an Advent calendar doesn’t want to think about it too much before then.  But I am feeling festive early this year, thanks in part to our wonderful Christmas tree.  I had seen photos of these on the internet and often thought I would like to have a go at making one, but when a friend offered to come and do it, I jumped at the chance – I’m not very practical when it comes to being creative, lots of ideas but no skills!  So Clare came on Friday afternoon and built us a Christmas tree, helped by Will (who also played jazzed up versions of Christmas carols on the piano while Clare worked – it was fab!).  Lights arrived the next day, and the whole thing looks amazing – lots of comments online and in the shop about how lovely it looks.

Last year we had a wonderful papier mache tree in the window, made from pages of worn out books, made by the excellent Vicki, and I was heartbroken that it accidentally got thrown out earlier in the year – I don’t think Vicki was too happy either!  So it’s lovely to have another tree, also made by someone in the wider Tree House community, though I still miss Vicki’s – would have been amazing to have both!

But that’s sort of the story of the Tree House – ups and downs, mistakes and triumphs, and through it all a wonderful group of people contributing in all sorts of ways.  We have made it to the end of another year, always close to the edge financially, but with more support than I know how to respond to.  Thank you Vicki, thank you Clare and Will, and thank you to whatever force in the universe keeps us going.  I have a sneaky feeling it’s Warren Ellis, our patron, whom I plan to put on top of the tree…well, a picture of him, at least.

I’ll write an annual review soon, but in the meantime here is one of my heroes and another of the bookshop’s household gods – the man awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, and my favourite Christmas pop song of all (he didn’t write the lyrics to this).

A second-hand Christmas is as good as new!

tree house badgeSecond-hand bookshops may not be everyone’s first port of call for Christmas gifts, but there are all sorts of things to be found here.  We often have books in excellent condition, and personally I’m always happy to receive second-hand books even if they are a bit rough round the edges.  Lots of books are no longer in print, and it’s a lovely way to spend an hour or two, browsing the shelves and finding unexpected treasures and pleasures.  A paperback book makes a great stocking filler, and they are inexpensive enough for children to spend their pocket money on if they are looking to buy gifts for parents or other relatives and friends.

As do our badges – we now have some Christmas-themed ones as well as our own Tree House ones and other literary inspirations, and we can customise them to order as long as what you want fits into a 25mm diameter circle!  They are just 50p.

You could also buy someone a Tree House voucher, to any amount you like.  These can be redeemed against books or films (but not our other events, which have to be carefully budgeted).

You could also, if you want to pay a bit more, subscribe someone to our Mail Order Book Club or local membership (whereby you pay a certain amount each month and get a voucher to that amount to spend on books).  The Mail Order club involves getting surprise books in the post each month – what larks, Pip!

So do think about us when you’re doing your Christmas shopping.  We are currently open Monday to Saturday, and will be open late on Friday 27th November for the Warwick Road Christmas lights switch-on – there may be a few crafts on sale then and the urn will be steaming away, with a few edible treats as well no doubt.

Hope to see you soon!

Yes, yes, I know it’s too early, but…

…now that I’m a retailer I understand why Christmas starts to appear earlier than seems necessary!  And it is only 45 days away…it’s not as though I’m mentioning it in September or anything.

And all I want to do is tell you about a craft session that’s happening at the Tree House on Saturday 7 December (when Christmas will only be two and a half weeks away!).  Embroiderer extraordinaire Vicki Mansfield will be offering the chance to make embroidered Christmas decorations, as well as selling her own embroidery charts and cross stitch kits.  She specialises in a wonderful and intricate form of embroidery called hardanger, but the decorations are quite simple to make – though she suggests an age of 8+ because of the level of concentration and skill required.  The sessions are £5, and will last about two hours – you can just drop in on the day from 10am.

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