Friday 28 December 2018


1) Which British monarch introduced the Christmas tree to the UK?
A )King Alfred The Great
B) Henry viii
C) Queen Victoria

2) Who was the author of A Christmas Carol?
A) Cathy Cassidy
B) Jaqueline Wilson
C) Charles Dickens

3) In which direction should you stir mincemeat for good luck? 
A) Clockwise
B) Anti-clockwise
C) Equal amounts in both directions

4) Which of the CC books does NOT contain a Christmasy scene?
A) Marshmallow Skye
B) Sundae Girl
C) Sami’s Silver Lining

5) In medieval Britain, which dish would NOT have been part of a nobleman's traditional Yuletide feast?
A) Turkey
B) Roast goose
C) Roast swan

6) On the night of the first Christmas, where did Mary and Joseph take shelter so that Jesus could be born?
A) An inn
B) A Stable
C) Bethlehem B&B

7) How do you say Happy Christmas in French?
A) Joyeux Noël
B) Feliz Navidad
C) Fröhliche Weihnachten

8) On which day did Good King Wenceslas go out?
A) The first day of the January sales
B) The Feast of Stephen
C) The Winter solstice

9) What treat do the carollers in ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ demand to be given?
A) Chocolate yule log
B) Trifle
C) Figgy pudding

Raymond Briggs, author of The Snowman, book and film, also wrote… ?
A) Father Christmas
B) How The Grinch Stole Christmas
C) The Polar Express

Jot down your answers and email them to me at: to be in with a chance of winning a cool festive prize! Closing date: January 13th.

Saturday 22 December 2018


Reader Cara explains various traditions around Christmas-time and how they came to be... read on!

Cara says:
On Christmas Eve, all across the country and beyond, excited children are hanging their stockings at the end of the bed, or sometimes, like the sisters in the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS, on the mantlepiece around the fire. Where did this custom come from? How did it start? Like many of our Christmas traditions, folklore mixes in with Christianity to form a Christmas Eve custom.

One old story tells of a poor man unable to buy clothes or food for his three daughters. In some versions, the problem is a lack of ‘dowry’ without which the girls would never be allowed to get married. A kind neighbour decided to help, and to avoid making the poor man embarrassed, he threw three gold coins down the chimney, which then fell by accident into three stockings drying by the fire! The neighbour later became known as St Nicholas.

A different legend, from Holland, describes a character called Sinterklaas travelling around on his white horse. He would stop to let his horse feed on carrots or hay which children would leave out on the doorstep in their clogs. In return, he would leave presents and sweets. But it was not until 1823 that the poet Clement Clarke Moore wrote the verse ‘A Visit From St Nicholas’ which included the lines: ‘The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in the hope that St Nicholas soon would be there.’

The tradition became a firm part of Christmas - all long before the arrival of the Coca Cola lorry - and families still hang stockings or sacks for Father Christmas to fill, almost 200 years later!

Cathy says:
Love this - thank you, Cara! What are YOUR Christmas Eve traditions? COMMENT BELOW to tell all!

Wednesday 19 December 2018


This easy to make hot choc mix tastes fab and looks amazing too - PERFECT for a last minute home made pressie! It'll keep for two weeks in a sealed jar so make it just before you gift it...

  • a beautiful home-made label (let your creativity go wild!)
  • a clean jam jar with the labels scrubbed off
  • a grater
  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • a parcel label and curling ribbon

1) Stick your label on the jam jar. Experiment with brown or black paper with 'Hot Chocolate' painted or collaged on.

2) Coarsely grate the dark chocolate. Mix the caster sugar and cocoa powder together, straight into the jar, and stir in the grated chocolate (or layer each ingredient separately for a striped effect.)

3) Screw the lid on tightly.

4) Write instructions for making the hot choc on a parcel label: 'Place a heaped table-spoon of hot chocolate mix in a mug and top with hot milk or a mixture of milk and boiling water. Stir and serve!'

5) Tie the label round the neck of the jar and store it in the fridge until you're ready to gift it. Cheap, cheerful and super-yummy hot choc mix makes a perfect pressie for friends or family - make one just for YOU, too!

Cathy says:
Another fab idea for a homemade Xmas pressie from my CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS book... which would make a pretty awesome Xmas gift itself, now that you mention it! Have you done all YOUR Xmas shopping? COMMENT BELOW to tell us how you're getting on!

Saturday 15 December 2018


Coco says:
Grandma Kate told us that kids went carol singing a lot when she was little, so we decided to revive the tradition. We made a list of our favourite carols, dressed up warm, carried lanterns and went singing from door to door. Shay played guitar and I played violin; we had a great time and collected almost £40 for one of my favourite animal charities. A whole new tradition, I think!

Christmas Carols to try:Away in a Manger
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • The Holly and the Ivy
  • While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
  • Little Donkey
  • In the Bleak Midwinter
  • Once in Royal David's City
Or try a traditional Christmas song:
  • White Christmas
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  • Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer
  • Jingle Bells
Or mix it up with a more modern cover:
  • All I Want For Christmas Is You
  • Fairytale of New York
  • Last Christmas
  • So Here It Is (Merry Christmas)
  • I Believe in Father Christmas

Cathy says:
Aww... love these Tanglewood Christmas traditions! Why not read MARSHMALLOW SKYE to find out more about how the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS spend Christmas? Now, tell me YOUR fave Christmas song... COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday 10 December 2018


Cake queen Helen has a great recipe for Rudolf cookies - guaranteed to get you into a Christmassy mood!

You will need:
 8oz self raising flour 
4oz caster sugar 
4 oz butter or baking margarine like stork
one egg, beaten
Optional flavouring - ground ginger, vanilla essence, lemon flavouring... whatever you like!
Gingerbread man cookie cutter (turn it upside down and it's a reindeer cookie cutter!)

- Mix sugar and flour then rub in the butter until it forms a breadcrumb-like texture. 

- Combine dry mixture with the beaten egg 

- At this stage, you could add a flavouring like vanilla, almond or lemon... or even a good pinch of ginger!

- Bring the mixture together to form a dough.

- Chill In fridge for one hour 

- Roll out the dough on a floured board and use a gingerbread man cutter to cut out the cookies.

- Place cookies on a greased baking tray and bake at 175 for  10-15 mins. The cookies should be a nice golden brown... don't let them burn!

- Allow the cookies to cool on a wire rack.

- When cool, turn the gingerbread man shapes upside down - they now look like reindeer faces!

- Decorate using chocolate writing pens or icing pens from any good supermarket, a bit of red 'royal' icing for the nose and edible googly eyes!

- Only one thing left - test out your cookies! Perfect for sharing with family and friends. Mmmm!

Cathy says:
Oooh! These look easy enough even for me to try... this is a perfect pre-Christmas baking project! Do YOU have a favourite festive recipe? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday 2 December 2018


Honey Tanberry shares her recipe for the perfect winter warmer... 

  • 1 mug of whole milk (skimmed and soya both work fine, or try oat or cashew or coconut...  but whole milk is my fave)
  • a small, non-stick saucepan
  • 1/2 medium-sized, good quality chocolate bar, roughly grated (I used leftover chocolate from Paddy's workshop)
  • a wooden spoon
  • squirty cream
  • cocoa powder
  • a candy cane, to stir (optional!)
1) Pour the milk into the saucepan and place it on a low heat.

2) Add the grated chocolate and stir patiently with the wooden spoon until the milk heats and the chocolate begins to melt. This is the only difficult bit (patient? me?) but you have to watch milk because it heats very quickly and can boil over or even burn. Get an adult to supervise if you're a kitchen klutz!

3) Once small bubbles begin to form on the surface, take the pan off the heat and pour the chocolatey milk into your mug.

4) Top with a squirt of cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder, plus a little grated chocolate and a candy cane to finish.

Serve with a long spoon and a big smile!!

Honey's recipe makes the perfect, decadent hot chocolate... I have a feeling we'll be needing it this December! Give it a go and COMMENT BELOW to add your fave extras! This and many other cool projects is from CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS... a perfect addition to any Christmas list!

Saturday 1 December 2018


Your stars, as read by our own Skye Tanberry, to set you up for a month of Christmas cheer! 

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
The cold winds seem to be blowing, as winter settles. Things may appear a bit drab in the run up to Christmas, but remember there is magic in the wind. As it blows away old ideas, it brings fresh and exciting prospects for you!

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
Your friends offer opportunity this month - they're in the mood to celebrate, so get out there and check out those Christmas parties!  Balance this with quieter, more meditative moments and you'll sail though the month!

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
Scattered and stressed? Doesn’t sound like your normal self - you are usually very organised and ‘on it!’ Don’t worry about this too much, it is just your heads way of dealing with some significant changes, and of course Christmas just piles on the stress too. You will come out of it all with a much clearer vision, promise!

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
You are usually quite an active, sporty person but this month you have gone beyond! Not only with exercise, you have been busy as a bee socialising and making the most of Christmas and New Year celebrations. Remember a bit of quiet ‘me’ time is always healthy too!

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
A new found confidence may come your way, with reinforcements from those around you. Revel in it, you deserve it! It isn’t your abilities that have changed, it is your attitude - and this will ensure you have a festive season to remember!

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
Your artistic side is shining this December - use it to create something beautiful! If you are not usually creative, test out your abilities… pick up a paint brush, sketch your best friend or sing a Christmas song! You could even make some creative prezzies for your pals...

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
You may not always be the most outgoing person in your friend group, but you are the one who brings people together. Why not organise a Christmas sleepover with your besties and take a moment to celebrate your friendship? Good work!

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
You seem to have your head permanently in a book these days, and rightly so - they are arguably the best learning resource going! However, remember there are those around you who need a little bit of attention too! Christmas may challenge your organisational skills, but the hard work will be worth it.

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
Your home life is very important this month, there are a few creases to iron out with certain relations - the run up to Christmas can be a notoriously stressy time! A bit of time and TLC will do the trick... try having a Christmas movie night, or baking a cake to cheer everyone up!

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
Fed up with all the Christmas madness? Time to set aside material objects and get back to nature. The crisp winter air has settled and the winter sun shines kindly on your face! Take a stroll in the park or the countryside, either solo or with a choice friend or relation!

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
Winter is sometimes a time where people can get stuck into negativity - defy this and focus on happy thoughts! Christmas is around the corner, which means family, fun and fabulous food! Your headspace is sacred, so pay it some overdue attention.

Cathy says:
Lots in store for you this festive season! Do Skye's predictions ring true for YOU? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!


Reader Emily, aged ten, explains how a Cathy Cassidy book inspired her to raise money for a refugee charity... Emily says: The Cathy Cassidy...