For many of us, the traditional image of bingo is the old bingo hall populated by blue rinse hairdos with bingo hosts calling out antiquated phrases such as ‘Two fat ladies, 88′.

However, in recent years bingo has encountered something of a renaissance, and has even become – whisper it – fashionable. So what are the reasons behind this resurgence?


A big moment for all gambling was the 2005 Gambling Act. This took away much of the strict regulations that limited how gambling was conducted, and it also allowed advertising for the first time.

This meant that the bingo halls on the high street that were running the risk of falling into disrepair, were now seeing visitor numbers start to rise.

A lot of this was due to clever marketing that prioritised the female segment of the market through using celebrities such as Katie Price, and even using branding in bright pink and purple colours.

The success of this tactic is illustrated in the convincing figures released by the Gambling Commission‘s 2010 British Gambling Prevalence survey that found that there were twice as many women as men taking part in bingo with 12% of all females actively playing bingo.

This also highlights the role that bingo has as a social activity, where the gambling itself is fairly ‘soft’, as it is a low stakes, low turnover game that is perceived as less serious than other gambling and more of a ‘flutter’.

But that’s not to say that the prize money is not enticing. In 2008 Soraya Lowell of Lanarkshire picked up a whopping £1,167,795 on the last number of a bingo game!


But the biggest reason as to why bingo got its bounce back must be the rise of online gaming. Instead of having to go out, players can now play from the comfort of their home via a laptop or even a smartphone.

Not only is this more convenient, but through the online chat facility it can be even more sociable. In bingo halls, players are forbidden from talking while playing, but online the chatroom facility is a big draw with players being able to instantly comment on the scores in a friendly and amusing way.

And this has corresponded with a massive rise in online casinos. Whereas in 2004 there were only 20 UK sites, now there are thought to be over 350.

It also looks like the tide is turning in the online casinos’ favour with 70% of bingo players playing online, compared to just 24% who visit the traditional bingo halls.

However, there is one constant. The prize money is still pretty impressive with Jobcentre worker John Sutton recently winning a £5.9 million online jackpot with just a 30p bet!


Oscar Party collage

Hollywood’s biggest night is just around the corner and even people who do not consider themselves movie buffs seem to get wrapped up in the glamour. What’s not to love? The red-carpet looks, the glitzy show, the shocking wins, the moving speeches, the hilarious mishaps…it all adds up to an exciting night. Most folks just invite friends over for popcorn and movie candy. This year, throw a soiree with real star-quality.

For me, 90% of the fun of the Oscars is the attire! Now it is easier than ever to feel like a leading lady with the new Plus size section at Rent The Runway. Top designers aren’t just for the red-carpet pre-show anymore. Get your very own Badgley Mischka, Monique Lhuillier, Tadashi or Carmen Marc Valvo for less than $100! They also rent from the hottest designer jewelry designers in order for you complete the look. If you want to buy trendy glam jewelry for a very low price instead, check out Fun Daisy necklace sets on Amazon. Spending a lot of cash for one evening may give you buyer’s remorse but getting a splurge-worthy celebrity look for steal is just a real treat!

Once you and your friends are all decked out in something worthy of the tabloid red-carpet roundups you will need someplace to take your picture! Now you can easily design a professional “step-and-repeat” backdrop for an affordable price at RedCarpetRunway.com . With easy, online design tools you can create a custom backdrop for any occasion that will have you wondering where your paparazzi is. Don’t want to go all out on a photo area, but want something unique for your guests? Head to Etsy for the many cute, printable party extras, like 2015 Ballots or Oscar night Bingo Cards!

Lastly, we need to tackle the other important part of any party: The Food Spread! At actual Oscar after-parties, stars snack on the high-brow bites from the finest caterers. So why not treat your guests to something special rather than the standard house party fare? Burger sliders, chicken satay, shrimp skewers, or anything miniature, served on chic plates like these found at PartyCity are sure to look impressive and give you a taste of Hollywood. Try my recipe for bacon-wrapped gorgonzola-stuffed dates that always has people guessing who my caterer is. Take a pack of American-style bacon, cut the strips in half and preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Slit open each pitted date, stuff with gorgonzola cheese, wrap bacon around and secure with an upscale bamboo toothpick. After about 20 minutes in the oven, they will be crispy, brown and addictive!

Keep the décor chic and minimal for a luxe look with square plates, mini tasting plates, small rose arrangements, and gold accents instead of the usual movie-themed party supplies. Don’t forget the champagne flutes, tinsel picks and raspberries for the bubbly. For added authenticity, perhaps offer up a unique signature cocktail, just like they do at the real corporate-sponsored Oscar parties!

We hope you try some of these suggestions in your own home, so you can feel just as glamorous as the nominees without all the expense and stress!

By Renee CafaroOscar Party collage


If you have been inspired by television shows such as Downton Abbey or one of the many interior design shows, you will probably want to add a touch of luxury to your home. If you are on a tight budget, you will be forgiven for thinking that your options are very limited.

However, by using a few little tricks of the trade and adding one or two special pieces of furniture, it is possible to create a luxury look on a budget. Here we shall look at some ideas that will allow you to bring luxury style into your interior design scheme without breaking the bank. Luxury design can be achieved by using a few clever tricks and planning a design carefully.

Install a centrepiece

One of the most commonly used tricks is to use a single luxurious statement piece in order to make a room seem more luxurious than it really is. This can be a grand looking coffee table in the centre of a living room, a piece of replica classical sculpture or an ornate mirror.

The trick is to ensure that the luxury item is positioned so that it is the first thing to be seen. As long as it matches the overall colour scheme of the room, everything else will essentially frame the central piece. People will not notice that your other pieces of furniture are more run-of-the-mill, mass produced pieces because all eyes will be on the centrepiece. You can create a lighting scheme to further enhance the main piece while pushing other items further into the background. For a living space, a magnificent coffee table in the centre of the room, illuminated from above, can act very well, especially if you decorate the table with a few choice pieces.

Another option, something that is especially luxurious for passionate readers, is to use chaise longue chairs that are illuminated with spotlights. These add a touch of class because they are reminiscent of a Victorian or Edwardian living room rather than a modern 21st century lounge. Adding a spotlight has the practical and aesthetic purpose of creating a perfect space to relax and read, while also highlighting the furniture.

There are several architectural changes that you can make, such as the addition of crown moulding, which adds detail to your walls and ceiling. Many DIY stores stock pre-made crown mouldings that can easily be installed.

Updating some individual fittings also adds an illusion of splendour to a room; brass doorknobs, a fine ornate mirror and classical light fittings create an immediate effect of grandeur on an otherwise plain modern home.

If you have a high ceiling, a chandelier is almost obligatory; they are relatively inexpensive and with modern eco-friendly LED candle bulbs they are very economical too. The effect that they have on a room is incomparable.

For a luxurious look, add some dark hardwoods to your home and decorate the walls with rich, patterned wallpaper.

You really do not have to break the bank to add some luxury to a modern home; just choose a few pieces wisely, use rich colours and fabrics and you will soon have a home fit for royalty.

Woman with shopping bags

There’s a really satisfying sense of “the girl done good” when it comes to successfully completing a tough assignment, a demanding project or just making it to the end of a particularly stressful life episode without collapsing in a heap. This is the time to step back and decide to indulge yourself, because without rewards every now and then, life can become just same old, same old. Here is a guide to some of the best treats and why they’re so important for your wellbeing.

The psychology behind treats

Perhaps “listen to your body” is the best piece of advice anyone could give you, apart from “listen to your mind.” That’s because, just as our bodies know when we’re tired, hungry or physically under par, so our minds know when we’re stressed, overworked and no longer thinking straight. Listen to your body and listen to your mind and then make sure you are indulging yourself as and when necessary. Think about what you need, whether this is to rejuvenate, recuperate or just relax. Rewards can actually motivate you to improve your ways of working and to reflect positively on your achievements.

A sweet treat: the diet problem

If you’re trying to lose weight and improve your exercise regime (both of which are interconnected, of course) then a bit of self-indulgence may be the last thing on your mind. Think again, however, because dietary advice reveals that sweet treats can be a great incentive, provided you take care to control portion size and opt for healthier varieties. In fact, nutrition experts say you can easily slide a treat of up to 200 calories into a healthy diet plan, as long as you account for it, so to speak, and especially if it encourages you to be more physically active. If you opt for fruit as the base for desserts, for example, and choose sweets made with dark chocolate, dried fruit or nuts, you can easily select a special treat that won’t undermine your diet plan.

That perfect cup of coffee

One of the most enduring treats in your life could be a new gadget. Whether you’re into slow cookers for a perfect casserole, or Tassimo machines for making great coffee, why not treat yourself to something that will give you pleasure every day you use it? After all, eating and drinking sustains us all, and every time you use that gadget you will feel rewarded all over again.

Retail therapy

You don’t have to be a shopaholic to enjoy a little clothes shopping as a treat, especially during the sales. In winter, think ahead to warm spring and summer days, and in summer, look out for cosy autumn and winter clothes. You’re bound to find a few bargains that will gladden your heart, be easy on the bank balance and make you feel on top of the world.

The great outdoors

Finally, get out more! Unless you have a physically demanding outdoor job, your mind and body could really benefit from a breath of fresh air as a treat. Have a picnic; go camping; become a twitcher – whatever it takes to treat yourself to the great outdoors, do it.


The art of blogging has been the subject of intense media scrutiny in recent years. Indeed, something which started off as a way of teenagers venting their innermost insecurities has turned into one of the biggest sensations on the internet, and many people make a living just from taking to their keyboards. Perez Hilton, for example, now finds himself in the Celebrity Big Brother house thanks to his keyboard antics.

Blogging is no longer a restrictive art – many businesses are employing the practice to reach out to their customers. Take for example, Andy Follin, a blogger who is standing out amongst his competitors in the online gambling industry by writing about the latest updates in the industry. This gives him the industry advantage; whilst others may rely on press releases alone, a blog has a more personal feel that can reach out to more customers.

But it’s not just about business either – if you’re looking for a way to get your creative juices flowing and learn something new, here are just a few ways that blogging will improve your life this year.

You’ll have an emotional outlet for your thoughts

While most of us are blessed with a network of close family and friends, at times we can all feel a little lonely, and often it’s hard to articulate how we’re feeling. This is where blogging comes in – even if you set your post to private, you can use it as a means of letting out your thoughts and feelings, going back and deleting what you don’t like, and reflecting on your words the next day. It’s hugely cathartic and may help you to view your problems from a different perspective.


You’ll make a new network of friends

Blogging can indeed be an emotional outlet for those who are feeling alone, but it’s also a great social tool if you make it so. Bloggers can attract followers to their sites and also connect via social media, helping to make communities of friends interested in the same subjects. For example, ‘mummy blog’ Net Mums has a huge following and has also attracted positive media attention over the years.

You could get a better job

By way of making contacts through friends with common interests, you could also use your blogging experience to improve your job prospects. Many committed bloggers have been noticed by some of the biggest names in their industry simply for their passion. For example, a devoted fashion blogger who regularly attends events and writes about his or her chosen field may come onto the radar of famed designers. By using blogging and having a little savvy with social media sites like LinkedIn, you could soon find yourself inadvertently landing a promotion.

You’ll have a chronicle of your memories

A personal blog can be just as rewarding as a work one – for example, many people take to blogging when they go away on holiday or an extended journey such as backpacking or road tripping. While it is one thing to look back at photos on sites like Facebook, it is another to recount your best memories through your words. Treasure the digital diary, one which cannot be as easily lost!

You can raise awareness of an important cause

Blogs for work or pleasure are great, but you can also go one step further by raising awareness of an important cause. Many charities take to blogging to let people know how they’re getting on with raising money for a particular issue, which they can treat with good humour by letting their followers know about certain events and sharing photos. For example, blogger Caitlin Rushby let her followers know about how she was raising money for Womankind by wearing the same dress every day for a month – you can do the same and do your bit for good karma in the process.