As much as I love Christmas, and I really love Christmas, it can be a stressful time. There’s a lot to juggle and the more you care about getting it just so the more stressful it is. These are a couple of things I will be doing this festive season to try and stay calm and actually enjoy the holidays, and would recommend you have a go at too.



I recently read Sarah Knight’s The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck* , and I genuinely do think it might have changed my life a little bit. The basic principle of the book, without giving too much away, is that you have a finite number of things you can care about and you need to decide what you can and can’t afford to put effort into. Nowhere does this apply more than at Christmas – you can’t put effort into finding the perfect gifts, the perfect tree, the perfect dinner, the perfect family relationships, the perfect hygge, the perfect red lip without completely burning out. Write a list of all, yes ALL, of the things you’re caring about this festive season and just cross a couple off – I promise you’ll feel so much better.

*Highly recommended as a gift for friends, family and loved ones, or even just yourself!



Planning is normally my answer to everything, but I really think it makes a difference when it comes to Christmas. Knowing what you need to do and when can save you a lot of last minute panic. In particular, for me, planning gifts is absolutely essential if I don’t know what I’m getting when I go out to the shops (yes I do my Christmas shopping in person) it takes me a lot longer and often ends in an anxiety inducing time trapped in overstuffed stores peopled with a sea of shoppers at their worst.



There’s a lot to do at Christmas, especially if you’re hosting, but running around like a headless chicken 24/7 isn’t going to do anyone any good. Make sure you schedule in some down time doing something that you know relaxes you, you will feel better and you’ll be able to do all of the things you want to do with even more energy and festive spirit.



It’s really easy to stay cooped up inside when it gets cold and grey outside. But getting outside and going for a walk is honestly worth braving getting a little chilly. I know it’s a cliché but going for a walk in the fresh air can really clear your mind, and getting a break from being in the same four walls can give you a new perspective (or at least some distance from) whatever problems you’re having within them.



Those wise men knew what was going on Frankincense is actually really great for relieving the stress and anxiety of the Christmas period. Frankincense essential oil is really great for calming and focusing the mind, and is often used as an aid to meditation. It can even help slow your heart rate to help reduce any panic. Put a few drop in a bath, on your pulse points, in an oil burner or just spray around the room and hopefully feel the benefits.


Buying people gifts is one of the best bits of Christmas, but going out onto any highstreet in December without a plan is a recipe for disaster and a lot of frustration. That’s where my prinable gift planner comes in. I’ve already used it so much this year (I may have started Christmas shopping in October) and it has been so so useful. I would put a photo in here but I don’t want everyone to know what they’re getting before I’ve had a word with Santa.

You can download the gift planner here

It’s been just over 3 months since I moved to London, 1/4 of a year since I changed life. Now, that doesn’t sound very long but its been just about enough time for me to get comfortable moving around the city and call it my home. I’ve not go the whole change of lifestyle and daily purpose thing down yet though, and I’m not quite sure I can call myself a Londoner yet, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

I’m quite lucky that I’m usually the kind of person who can call somewhere home as soon as I’ve slept there. I adjust to change quite quickly. But this move to London has been my first attempt at adulting, so it’s been not just one change, but a whole host of changes. 

The first stage was simply moving in and making my room feel like home. I live in a house share so  not all of the space is mine, which has meant making my room feel like it belongs to me was a priority. I moved the furniture around. I got my bike tool out and built some furniture and dismantled some other bits. I put pictures on the wall, I put my rug down on the floor. I cleaned everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. I think I ended touching and doing something with every inch of that room. The process, which I see as something a bit like my dog rubbing himself all of his clean bedding to mark it as his, even went as far as getting the same diffuser as I’d had in Oxford so it even smelt familiar. Smell is such a powerful sense for evoking emotions and memories, that I really think this last step probably had one of the biggest impacts.

After I’d conquered my immediate space, I set my site further afield. I explored my local area, working out where all of the things I would need (read finding the local Sainsbury’s) were. Then I just walked. I worked out how things were connected. Mastering the transport system is a huge part of being comfortable in a new city, thankfully I’d been to London more than enough times to know how to work an oyster card. But I made sure I took the time to work out my fastest routes to the places I was most likely to go, and to work out the quietest bits of the platform. My route to work is now as efficient as it could be. I also took the bus places, even if it took longer. 

If you’re in London I highly recommend taking the bus if and when you can. I say that not just because I hate tube, which I won’t deny. But the bus lets you join up places in a way you can’t when you’re underground. You get to spot new places to go, and you’ll also, more often than not, get a seat. London buses let you know which stop is coming next (visually and through an announcement) so you don’t have to worry about knowing where to get off in a way you have to in many other cities.

Stage 3 was talking to people.This was probably the hardest bit for me. I’m not the biggest fan of small talk and putting myself out there to meet new people. But feeling like you’re alone in a new city is the worst. So I made sure I got to know my housemates. I made the effort to grab coffee with people I hadn’t seen in a while. I even went to all of the work socials, so many trips to the pub. Even if it’s just someone to say hi to in passing and to ask how their day was, having a little bit of a familiar face around really helps make somewhere feel like home.

The other big familiarity thing for me was creating a routine. I know some people don’t like routines, but I think for the first little bit of moving it’s important to create some structure in your days. When you have a routine you’ve mastered it gives you a bit of confidence in everything you do, you feel like you know what you’re doing all day (even if you only really know how to do a few things) and that’s such a powerful feeling.

The final thing to add is I made sure I treated myself a little bit. Do something a bit special when you’ve just moved, for me this was going to the theatre on my birthday and having a couple of nice dinners in the house. Build some good memories to associate with the move and you’ll look back on it more positively. 

So that’s how I’ve made my home in London, nothing revolutionary, but I think it’s been a real process of learning and actively trying to adjust. Feeling happy and comfortable in the city hasn’t just happened, I’ve worked at it, and I’m glad that I did. That’s not to say it’s all gone swimmingly either. I’m still struggling my way through, and, I’m not going to lie, I think I always will be. No one has everything together, there is no end point to being happy and comfortable and fulfilled, because every time you get close something else will change. So I guess home is where you put the effort in.

I mainly try and fight against procrastination on this blog, but sometimes it’s just got to happen, and when it does happen it’s nice to be able to semi-count it as something productive. There are a few design based sites I usually turn to when I feel like my brain just doesn’t want to work anymore, and these are them:



I know you shouldn’t start these kinds of lists with your favourite, but I’m just too excited to talk about Clients From Hell (apologies for the lack of suspense as we move on). Clients from Hell posts anonymously submitted stories of, well, clients from hell. They’re often hilarious and heart-breakingly frustrating in equal measure, and just like watching any thing on Netflix it’s so easy to convince yourself to read just one more, and one more, and one more, until you’ve been reading for four hours and you really should have made some dinner. The Clients from Hell website is also a really useful repository of podcasts and resources on freelancing and dealing with those difficult clients.


The Noun Project is icon heaven. If you need an icon, or some icon inspiration, it’s 100% the first place to turn. Sometimes I like to spend some time scrolling through to find collections I really like, that cover a whole range of images I might need, to find new designers and also to see if anyone has come up with any interesting ways to represent the everyday. NB: If your company doesn’t have access to it and makes a lot of presentations recommend it – not only will it make your decks better and quicker to put together, you’ll also probably earn a brownie point or two.


Of all of the free stock image sites, Unsplash is my favourite. The quality of their images is great, and they don’t have the awkward woman eating salad feel of many others, which means it’s a perfect site for whiling away the hours. I like to favourite and download as I go so I already have a store of stock images for when I need them on a project or a blog post.


I feel like everybody already knows about Behance, the creative portfolio site, but this list wouldn’t be complete without it. I can spend hours scrolling through what other people are doing. As I go I like to keep a note of any particularly inspiring pieces I see and also of any trends that start to appear, that way I feel like it’s less of a mindless ‘let’s look at all of the pretty pictures’ exercise and more a kind of market research.


Okay, maybes I did save the best til last. Founded in 2007, and a favourite of mine since 2012, is a biannual magazine based on championing and furthering the creative arts in a really fun way. Thankfully their website is updated more than biannually, because I find myself on there far too frequently. They do great features on creative work across a whole range of industries which means it’s a really great place for inspiration. I’ve discovered a few of my favourite designers through their pages and their graduate scheme. They’ve also got some super useful editorials on a range of creativity based topics. If you can check out their physical magazine Printed Pages, it’s on my night stand right now and it’s ace. If you’re in London keep an eye out for their events as well, while I’ve yet to go to one, it’s on my to do list because they always look amazing.


  • TYPEVERYTHING – as the name suggests everything typography related
  • DESIGN WEEK – design world news updates
  • DESIGN COUNCIL  – the big thinkers in the design world, interesting but a little bit heavier than the rest of the sites on this list.


Where do you like to scroll?

As applications for The Engine Grad Scheme* have now opened, and the current grads are a big part of marketing it, I’ve recently been fielding a lot of questions about grad schemes and application tips. In part as an exercise for me to rehearse my answers, and in the hopes that this might help someone out there, these are my top bits of grad scheme advice.

*The Engine Grad Scheme is the grad scheme I’m currently on. Run by the Engine Group (advertising and comms), the scheme allows 4 grads to work in 4 of their 13 companies, which do everything from advertising to consulting to sponsorship to events, over the course of a year before deciding where they fit best.




This one’s pretty basic, and if you’re applying for advertising grad schemes you should probably have already done this because their deadlines are coming up fast, but make sure you know when deadlines are and what you need to do for them.


It can be very tempting to try and apply for absolutely every grad scheme under the sun, but you can afford to be picky and you’re actually more likely to do well if you are. Grad Scheme applications take a lot of time and effort and if you’re still at uni or working you probably don’t have the energy to apply to them all. Make sure you’re only apply to grad schemes and companies you actually want to work at. My criteria for this was: does the culture seem like somewhere I’ll fit in? Am I excited by the work they’re doing? Are there enough learning opportunities?


Your application should be a reflection of why you’d fit in well and be a valuable asset to a company, and a big part of getting that right is knowing who they are and what they want. Make sure you show that knowledge in every level of your application from the bits of information and the examples you choose to share to referencing that you know the work they’re doing. Don’t forget that all that a company knows about you is what’s on the page so you can present your very best self, by selecting the right information. It also means that you have to remember they don’t know you, so if there’s anything you want them to know about you, you have to tell them.


Although this probably isn’t the best way to get on a grad scheme because if you’re having to cold call the company you’re interested in probably doesn’t have a scheme, but it is a good way to get your foot in the door. If there are any agencies who really get you excited let them know, send them your CV and a bit about yourself and ask if you can come in for a chat or be a part of what they’re doing. If you’re going to do this though, it takes a bit of extra thought. Agencies get sent loads of CVs all the time so you need to make yours stand out and prove why you’d be a good fit for their agency. Do something a bit wacky or creative, make something memorable. I think I had the most success just sending out creative work that represented me along with my CV, and although I’m not working at those places now I’ve made some really great contacts and got my name out there so to speak.



I know this is the most clichéd advice in the book, but it’s used so much for a reason. It’s the best and most effective way to engage with people. A lot of people like to play games, or to have tactics on assessment days. I’ve never done that, and I don’t think it’s a great strategy. The main reason I don’t do it is I don’t enjoy it. The second is if I can’t get in somewhere by being myself how am I going to succeed or enjoy myself when I’m there for real? You shouldn’t have to be someone else to do well.


What to wear to an interview or assessment day is something you end up spending a lot more time thinking about than it probably seems like you should, or at least I did. There’s no blanket rule, but I generally go with “dress like you work there”. If you’re interviewing at a consultancy go in a shirt and tie, if you’re interviewing at a creative agency you can probably go more relaxed (I see those guys in trainers every day of the week), but if in doubt go a little bit smarter – it shows you care.


When you get asked if you have any questions at the end of an interview, make sure you have some. It shows you’re engaged and interested. It’s also the main skill people say you need to have as a grad so make sure you show it. It can be hard to come up with questions as you go through the interview so I like to go in with a couple of pre-prepared questions, some more general and some business specific. If you’re struggling for places to start, these are some of the general questions on my list: “What skills would I need to have to be the best X I could?”, “What’s the most interesting/challenging piece you’ve worked on?”, “Where do you see this company going in the next five years?”, “How would you describe the culture?”, “What opportunities are there for me to learn and skill up?”



This might seem an odd piece of advice to come at the end of a post all about grad schemes, by someone who’s currently doing a grad scheme, but I believe it whole heartedly. Grad schemes are great they offer you loads of training, and in my case they give you more time to work out what exactly it is you want to do, but they’re not the only way into a job. If you know what you want to do, or you’ve done an internship and just want to get started already, just go for it. Grad Schemes are a lot of learning, and not quite so much doing to begin with, so jumping into an entry level job if you know what you want to do would be a great way to learn by doing. Loads of people I know are taking a year out and figuring out what it is they want to do by trying out a whole load of internships and pursuing their creative passions. Doing a vocational (read semi-practical) masters if you’re still loving the uni environment (and have some cash to burn) seem like an amazing opportunity. I could go on, but basically, the world is your oyster so don’t get too het up about whether or not you get onto a grad scheme.

If you have any other questions or advice you’d like to share for the people let me know!