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22 ways you can prepare yourself for the Year of the Dog; With the Chinese New Year just around the corner, Amy Kavanagh finds some items to help you celebrate in style.

Byline: Amy Kavanagh

01 YOU can make your Chinese meals look authentic by presenting them on a fabulous dining set. Priced pounds 19.99 it is available from www.drinkstuff.com or call

02&03 BRING the magic of the East into your interior with a Chinese Lady's cabinet and screen (both pounds 195) from The Pier.

04 CONJURE up a feast with a visit to Sainsburys. You'll find everything from delicious starters, such as its Oriental Selection Pack (pounds 3.99) which contains prawn toast, prawn wontons, mini chicken spring rolls and vegetable crackers to Crispy Peking Duck (pounds 6.99).

05 THESE delicate embroidered slippers are available in gold and black, pounds 29.95, by Graham & Green, mail order 0845 130 6622 or www.grahamandgreen.co.uk

06 FROM the Mythic garden collection, this red velvet kidskin snake bag, is pounds 685 from Lalique. For stockists call 020 7245 9090 or visit www.lalique.fr

07 ADD some colour to your sofa with a 100% silk cushion, priced pounds 25 from Christy, 08457 585 252 or visit www.christy-home.com

08 AFTER a hard day at work let all that stress go by purchasing a box of Chinese chiming health balls. The balls come in an Oriental-style box with silk lining. Visit www.asiandragon.co.uk to check them out, they are priced pounds 15 with free post and packaging.

09 IF YOU are throwing a party for the Chinese New Year then purchase some Chinese dragon jingle wands to hand out to your guests. Priced at only pounds 1.99, they are available from www.partystuffonline.co.uk

10 GET a large Chinese theme pack and celebrate the new year in style. Priced at pounds 67.00, they include large dragons banners, lanterns and Chinese flags. Available from www.partypacks.co.uk

11 SWATCH has created a I special edition Gou Lai I Fu watch. It has a red plastic strap featuring a variety of colourful signs and symbols that evoke Chinese culture. The strap is complemented by a bright yellow face that features sky blue hand markers and a cartoon dog' the symbol of prosperity for 2006. It costs pounds 37.50.

12 BRING a beautiful aroma into your home with a vanilla scented candle filled with plum straw. The candle has a Chinese detail flower on it and it burns for approximately 60 hours. It is priced pounds 10 plus pounds 1.50 delivery from www.koifurniture.co.uk

13 BRING a dog into your home in 2006, with this doggy doorstop, pounds 20 from John Lewis.

14 CELEBRATE the Year of the Dog this year with a special memento. A Foo Dog dating back to the T'ang Dynasty was the inspiration for this porcelain model, pounds 145, by Halcyon Days, orderline 0800 515 925 or www.halcyondays.co.uk

15 FIND out what the future holds for the year ahead with Your Chinese Horoscope 2006 by Neil Somerville. It costs pounds 8.99 and is published by Harpers Element.

16 THESE tiny scented bags are made from original antique silk. No two are identical, each one sold will randomly vary in design. Their delicious smell is created by being hand filled with Sakura (Cherry Blossom) perfumed beads. Get one for pounds 10.50 from www.HQhair.com

17 INSPIRE a friend to conjure up a culinary masterpiece by getting them A Touch of Chinese gift set. It includes sauces, a wok, two pairs of red chopsticks, chopstick rests, a wok cookbook and a stir-fry cookbook. Priced at pounds 18, it is from www.wingyipstore.co.uk

18 CREATE a stunning flower arrangement using a beautiful red Chinese vase. Or just make a bold statement in your home by displaying them alone. The bottle style vase is pounds 35 and the round vase is pounds 30, both available from The Pier.

19&20 IF YOU don't want to go all out with a full traditional Chinese outfit, then just add some Mikey jewellery to create a hint of the Eastern style to your look. Try its red pom pom necklace, priced pounds 18 and red tassel necklace, priced pounds 30.

21 EXPERIENCE the sounds, smells and colours of the Chinese cultural revolution through the life of musician Guo Yue in his book Music, Food and Love a Memoir. Out today in hardback priced pounds 14.99.

22 TRADITIONAL Chinese lanterns are used all year round in China, but you can decorate your house for the celebration with these ones at pounds 10 each from Debenhams.

STILL fighting to lose the excess Christmas pounds? Then you are not going to want to read the following sentence.

As we wait with baited breath for the influx of new season stock to the high street, one thing is crystal clear... skinny jeans are going nowhere.

I was pretty pleased about this myself when I first learned the news.

Having devoted countless weekends last year to finding the perfect pair and trying on everything from Kate Moss's favourite label Sass and Bide to Miss Sixty before finally grabbing not one but two pairs in blue and the must-have washed out grey, I was initially quite pleased about this.

A stomach bug over New Year may have ruined my partying but it had at least eliminated that hideous double-bum effect I was working on due to the unforgiving nature of stretch denim.

Three weeks later and the return to my usual carb-fest diet means it is starting to rear (pardon the pun) its ugly head again.

However so utterly convinced am I that I look as cool as Kate and co. with my jeans tucked into my round-toed boots, I am happy to forego food in their favour.

And I am not alone. According to the latest market research it seems women everywhere are giving up the cakes and crisps in an attempt to look as willowy as the likes of Jemima Khan in spray-on denim.

Designer label Sass and Bide, the biggest winners in this whole skintight business, report that their customers have "dropped a dress size in a season," and that size four jeans are in much demand.

Size four. Just as I was revelling in being an eight for the first time since puberty.

Even away from the designer brands and their stick-thin fans, the high street is reporting a surge in the sale of smaller jeans sizes with the most popular small size now down to a six. If it's any consolation, Sass and Bide do claim their skinny fit jeans in particular make everyone look skinny, which is presumably why you would have to sell your granny to get your hands on a pair.

But then again they would say that wouldn't they?

Emma Johnson

CAPTION(S):

Jeans or food - you choose
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 26, 2006
Words:1137
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