Wednesday 30 January 2013

What's on YOUR winning wish list?

What's on your winning wish list?

Oh, I know, as compers we all dream of winning the big, exciting prizes. Cars, cash, holidays, money can't buy experiences. I've had my fair share of those and I hope I will have more to come. And we love the useful things too..... Shopping vouchers, food and drink prizes, toiletries, nappies if you are a new Mum, bunches of flowers to brighten a dull day. Even the tiniest prize can be a real morale booster.

But of those smaller prizes, which are the ones that mean the most to YOU personally? I am always thrilled to receive a new book, yet a DVD or CD of the same value wouldn't excite me at all. Fragrance, skincare, jewellery and handcare products are favourite treats too. It's lovely to spoil yourself! And now I'm a granny, children's clothes and toys make very welcome prizes too because spoiling the grandchildren is even better than spoiling ypurself.

On top of that, there are some things I'm really making a determined effort to win this year. They include

A set of Downton Abbey DVDs. I know I've just said I'm not excited about winning DVDs, but one of my daughters lives in France and has missed several episodes so she's put in a "Mummy win it" request.

A decent camera. I know I'll never be as good a photographer as my husband, but now I have my food and craft blog I'd love to be able to take decent photos. At the moment the only good photos are taken for me by him!

Tickets to the Make It Show in Farnborough on March 1st to 3rd. I've never NOT won tickets before so it would be a real shock to have to pay for them.

Craft supplies. Regular readers of Onions and Paper will know that I have banned myself from buying new craft supplies, apart from replacing basics. I simply have Too Much Stuff. But prizes don't count as breaking a shopping ban, do they?

A new bathroom. Well, maybe that doesn't actually count as a small prize. But I would love to win one and eliminate not only the cost but the hassle of shopping around and getting estimates. So the hassle part of the prize is the small-but-special thing.

So what are the little things that would mean a lot to YOU? What's on your winning wish list? Do let me know- maybe we can help each other to find suitable competitions to enter.

Sunday 27 January 2013

Buy a bra - win a Bracelet

Win this Links of London Sweetie Charm Bracelet and Bumble Bee Charm!

How to enter:  Buy a Bra from Michelle BlueBella East Devon between 24 Jan and 24 Feb 2013
Winner to be drawn and announced on 3rd March 2013 on the BlueBella East Devon Facebook page.

‘Like’ Bluebella East Devon facebook page or twitter to see ‘Bra of the Day’ this will be discounted by 10%!
To book a party, request a catalogue or place an order contact;

Michelle – 07515471470 (catalogue can be viewed here)

Bluebella East Devon   @MichelleMonahan  
Terms and Conditions; Competition start date 24/1/2013, competition runs until 24/2/2013. Winner’s name will published on On 3/3/2013.  To enter, purchase any bra from the BlueBella catalogue 14A Autumn/Winter 2013 from Michelle Monahan. The bra can be bought at a party, as a single order or through If bra is bought through the entrant must contact Michelle to state item(s) bought and order total, stating their name, phone number and address. For every bra purchased in the qualifying period a draw entry will be generated, the winner will be drawn at random on 3/3/2013. No maximum entries per person. Exclusions; Bras purchased using credit notes, BlueBella lottery wins, gift vouchers issued by Michelle Monahan. The prize is Links of London sweetie charm bracelet with Bumble Bee charm, value £175, no alternative prize or cash.

Saturday 26 January 2013

Some tips for using Tweet Deck part 2

Continuing with the question-and-answer session. If by the end of this, YOU still have questions about Tweet Deck, leave them as a comment or tweet them to me, @janesgrapevine

If I load @ messages on my iPad I don't see them on my laptop

This is one of the negative features of Tweet Deck - you used to be able to set it so that it didn't happen but now once it reckons you've seen your @ messages  it hides them. So when you open it up on another device, they aren't there. If it feels  like it. Like all techie things, it has moods and sometimes might show you the whole blooming lot even after you've cleared the column. But there is one way to guarantee that you'll see them when you switch gadgets, and that is to favourite all the tweets you want to see again. That way you can open a column of favourites and they will be there, however many times you change devices, until you no longer want to see them and unfavourite them. (Having said that, Tweet Deck has just thrown a hissy fit and cleared all my favourites. Nothing's perfect!)

Is there an easy way to add people to a list or do you need to do it one by one?

Removing people from a list on Tweet Deck is very simple - use the "Edit list" feature then simply click on the subtract button at the side of the names you don't want on the list any more. But to add them, just as with normal Twitter,  you need to add them one at a time by either visiting their profile or using the "three dot" menu below one of their tweets.

There used to be an app called Formulists that would help you to make lists, but it has closed down now and the only one I could find is Twitlist which I think would be pretty slow if you have a lot of lists and follow  a lot of people.

Is there a difference between Twitter and Tweet Deck? If I'm using Tweet Deck can I still use Twitter?

Tweet Deck is simply an application to help you to use Twitter, so although they look a lot different they are just different ways of looking at the same thing. You can still use the Twitter web page, in fact you can use it at the same time as Tweet Deck if you want to. I find that useful to do on those annoying occasions when just as I'm clearing a Tweet Deck column a new tweet I would have liked to read comes in. I can just pop over to Twitter and read it there.

Can you quickly access tweets from some time ago, eg several hours earlier, without having to scroll through all the tweets?

No, just as with normal Twitter, you need to scroll back. However the sliding scroll bar at the side of each column makes it a little faster than using Twitter, and if you are looking for a particular tweet you can use the search box in the Edit section at the top of the column to help you find it.

What does "Embed this tweet" mean?

This appears in the three dot menu of Tweet Deck on the web but not on the app version. If you click on it, you will be given a piece of code which you can copy into the HTML of a blog or website which will actually embed that tweet into the site. I did it with the Tweet you can find here and now  I've embedded it in the blog it looks like this:

How do I give the URL of a tweet when I'm using Tweet Deck?

There are two ways: the first is to click on the time of the tweet at the top right. This will open up a Twitter web page with just that tweet on it and you can copy the URL. The second is to use that three dot menu again and select "link to this tweet".  It will open up a tweet for you with the link in it, preceded  by the word RE. For instance for the tweet above, it says
Ignore the RE bit, copy URL and paste it where you need it.

What do "details" and "conversation" at the bottom of a Tweet mean?

If a tweet is part of a conversation, it will say so and clicking on it will show you the tweets it is a reply to and those in reply to it, which can help you to pick up chat with friends if you log in and think you've missed something.

A tweet that isn't part of a conversation will say details instead, and clicking on that will show you the exact date and time it was posted and will tell you whether it was posted from the Twitter web page, an app like Tweet Deck or Hoot Suite, the Tweet Button of a website or one of the many apps that will post a tweet for you when, for instance, you enter certain competitions or share a news item on a web page.

Some tips for using Tweet Deck part 1

Following on from my post about using Tweet Deck to filter what you see  I've had several questions about Tweet Deck. So today's post is a question-and-answer session.

What are the advantages of using Tweet Deck?

One major one is that you can view everything at the same time. With columns across the page, you can see your @mentions, direct messages, any lists you follow and any searches you are running without having to move away from your main Twitter feed.

Another advantage for compers is the ease of retweeting by the "old" or "new" methods. Because of my findings when I ran a competition of my own recently, I am experimenting with NOT using RT button retweets. I'll report back on the results when I've had time to give it a proper trial, but in the meantime I am very grateful for the fact that when you click on a Tweet Deck retweet button, you are given a choice of "Edit and RT" or "Retweet". While Retweet does a RT button style retweet, Edit and RT gives you a copy and paste style one. Not only does this save you having to copy and paste (and forget to add in the RT @.... bit - how often have you done that?) but it also means it is possible to enter competitions where you have been asked to "Retweet with your answer" or "Retweet and tag a friend" , neither of which is possible with the Twitter web page although it may be with some phone apps.

Another feature I find useful is being able to clear the tweets in a column when you have read them - it helps me to keep track of where I am up to. To do this, hover the cursor over the icon on the top tight of a column until you see the word "Edit", click on it and select "Clear" (not "Delete" which removes the column completeley)

The ability to schedule Tweets can be useful, either to catch a competition closing time or to make sure you wish a friend happy birthday on the right day! You can read more about scheduling Tweets here.

And finally, being able to filter out the stuff you aren't interested in - see the link in the introductory paragraph for more details.

How do I use Tweet Deck?

Tweet Deck uses the same icons  as Twitter so you will soon get used to what each one means. The blue quill-and-paper icon on the top right opens up a box to write your tweet in, and the camera icon at the bottom of the box allows you to add a photo. The next icon is a clock, which allows you to schedule the tweet, and the envelope turns your tweet into a direct message - click on it and an "egg" space at the top is where you write the Twitter name (without an @) of the person you want to DM. To send a tweet or DM, write in the box just as you would on Twitter's own web page then press the Tweet button.

To reply to or retweet a message, hover the cursor over the bottom of the message. Reply, Retweet and Favourite icons will open up along with a row of three dots, which contains a drop down menu with lots of options - you can use it to create a DM to the sender, email the tweet to somebody or even report the sender as a spammer. Have a play with it - but don't go blocking your best friend just to see how it works! Clicking on the sender's avatar brings up a quick profile of them - useful if you get a tweet from someone you don't recognise.

The cog wheel on the top right will take you to the Settings  area  where you can change the appearance of the screen, add in your Facebook account and filter things out.

Moving left, the next box is the Search box and then we come to Columns. This is a drop down menu of all the columns you have open, so that if you have more than will fit across the screen you can go directly to the one you want to see.

Further left still. the  Add Column feature lest you add new columns - everything from your lists to Twitter's  trending topics. Then the Lists  button lets you create, edit and delete lists.

Finally if you are using the Tweet Deck app rather than the Tweet Deck website you have a button that will change the appearance from dark (white text on a black background) to light (black text on a white background). If you are using the web version, this option is in the Settings menu.

At the top of each column, the Edit  button in the right hand icon lets you clear the tweets from it or delete it completely, move it from left to right, search only within that column and, if it is a list, edit the list. And it also allows you to choose whether to get notifications of new tweets in the column, either as "pings" or, if you are using the app version, as pop-ups. If you get a lot of tweets, it's best to choose not to have them as they can get very annoying!

Since Tweet Deck comes as an app or a website, does either have any advantage?

To all intents and purposes they are identical.  I like to use the app as the icon appears on my taskbar at the bottom of the screen so I can go straight to it without having to move between browser windows, but it does use up a lot of memory and can slow your computer down. |It's just a matter of personal preference and what you are used to.

My "All friends" feed moves so fast it's making me seasick! What can I do to stop it?

If you are highly organised and have every single person you follow on a list you don't need to even look at it! Make it your far left hand column and move it off the edge of your screen. I don't advise deleting it completely as you might miss out on chat between friends, which doesn't always show up on lists.

But most of us are NOT that organised, so to stop the feed from moving so fast, use the scroll button at the side of a list to scroll down sharply. That will stop the list from moving and you can then  scroll slowly up or down to read the things you want to see. When you are ready to go back to the top, you can scroll up, but just clicking on the bar at the top of the column will take you straight to the top. If there have been new tweets in the column  while it has been stopped, you will see a tiny blue blob at the top left  which will vanish when you get back to the top.

I've retweeted something I shouldn't have - how do I undo it?

To delete one of your own tweets, find that tweet and use the "three dots" menu to get to the delete option. For a retweet, instead of delete you will be offered the chance to undo the retweet. But here is where it gets confusing. If you used the RT button, when look in your own timeline, what you see is the sender's original tweet that has been retweeted by you and not your own retweet.

To get to your own retweet, add, or if you've already added it, a column of your own tweets. In the "Add  column" menu this is called Tweets. Now find the same retweeted message. It looks exactly the same but this time it is your own retweet of the sender's  message and the undo retweet option is there in the drop down menu.

This post is getting so long you won't want to read all the way through it, so I'm going to publish it now and come back with part two later in the weekend!

Win a wonderful trip to Tasmania!

Just imagine flying in to Hobart then picking up a motor home and spending ten days touring around Tasmanina, visting the spectacular sights, spotting the wonderful wildlife and even having passes to the Devil's Cradle where you may spot a Tasmanian Devil!

Well, if you are the winner of the great new competition from Webury that's exactly what you could be doing. Just pop over to the Webury website and click on the banner at the top of the home page. Oh, and don't forget to browse Webury's great selection of home, outdoor and country items - after all, you might be needing to stock up on  walking gear for that prize holiday.

The competition closes on March 31st and you can enter once per household.

Thursday 24 January 2013

Win a Tresor Paris Bracelet

Here is another lovely competiton from My Social Radio with a prize of a Tresor Paris bracelet.

This time you need to enter through their Facebook page. Simply "like" the page and fill in the form. You can get extra entries by inviting friends and sharing on your wall.

The competition closes at mid-day on February 1st.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Pin to win $50 of Amazon vouchers

I have to confess, I've let my comping on Pinterest slip recently. Not because of any lack of competitions on Pinterest, or any lack of interest on my own part, but simply because every time I go on to Pinterest I find myself repinning great craft ideas and recipes. So I was delighted to hear about this competition from Recipe Mash that will let me pin recipes and STILL enter a competition!

First of all you will need a Pinterest account, if you haven't already got one. You can read my introduction to Pinterest and Pinterest comping here.

Next, follow Recipe Mash on Pinterest and then pin to your own  boards as many recipes from their Pinterest board or website as you wish, making sure you include the hashtag #recipemash in the description - that's the text box that appears under the photo when you pin it, NOT the comment box that is  under the photo after it's been pinned.  You don't need to create a special board and you don't need to send them a link - as long as the correct hashtag is in the description, they'll find your entry.

You can enter as many times as you like until the closing date of February 28th. The competition is open worldwide and the prize of $50 of Amazon vouchers will be the equivalent in the winner's local currency.

Win a portable whiteboard

How useful would this be? Wherever you work, or if you belong to any kind of club,  or even if you are out and about with a bunch of kids, you must often wish you could have a large sign with information, a warning or just a notice on it. And unless you are in a classroom or one designed for presentations or conferences, there simply isn't one.

But a portable whiteboard folds down to an index-card sized packet so you can whip it out wherever you are, use it and then fold it up and take it home. In a meeting, in a restaurant, even at the park, you still have access to a whiteboard!

Deviltronics are giving you the chance to win one - in fact they have TWO to be won. All you need to do is pop over to their blog and follow the instructions to enter through Twitter and/or Facebook. The competition closes on February 1st.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Win some saucy treats for Valentine's Day

Buttress & Snatch and AskHerfriends are giving away two great and saucy prizes, in time for Valentine’s Day. True to their Hackney roots (Buttress & Snatch are based in an old Turkish Delight factory), first prize is a Turkish delight tin of love with sparkly heart stick on nipple covers (the rather artfully named ‘pasties’…), teeny-eenie-weeny ouvert silk sparkly heart knickers and Turkish delight inside. Second prize is a pair of super-sexy red satin rose knickers! There are lots of ways to enter: Facebook, Twitter (including a daily tweet) and a really, really ‘challenging’ question to answer – enter here  via Rafflecopter. The competition closes at midnight on Thursday 7 February 2013, and we’ll announce the winner on the Friday

Monday 21 January 2013

So what IS the best way to enter a Twitter competition?

I am often asked what is the best way to enter a Twitter competition. Should you copy and paste or hit the Retweet button? Or maybe use one of the new comp tweeting services like Twitaculous or Twit Ninja?

So I've had a look at how the entries for the Twitter competition which I ran last week were recorded for me.

I tweeted the competition three times, including a link to the terms and conditions in my tweet. And I set up my Twitter account to send me email notification of every retweet.

I  then tweeted the message to be retweeted three times over three days. The first message for 161 retweets,  the second only 7 and the third just 3. A total of 171 retweets (so far I'm only talking about RT button ones). How many emails did I get? Just 13.

To make matters worse, on the tweet that was retweeted 161 times, Twitter will only let me see the 20 most recent entries. I've searched all sorts of websites, even highly technical ones, and they all agree that the ONLY way to keep a  full record of everyone who uses the RT button on a given tweet is to note them down as you go along, from watching for them appearing in your mentions, which luckily I did.

There are lots of ways of collecting copy-and-paste retweets. They appear in your @ mentions, they show up in a hashtag search (to my surprise, Retweet button ones don't) or you can use a service like Tweetdoc  to collect them together in a handy (and rather attractive) .pdf document. There are 206 copy-and-paste retweet entries. Oddly, not all of them showed up in either the hashtag search or the .pdf document - I had to combine the two to make sure I had them all.

I've collected all 377 entries together and am about to draw and notify the winner. But what have I learnt from this? What tips do I have for compers and for people wanting to run competitions on Twitter?

First of all for Compers
  • Try to find  out how the winner is  being picked. Some promoters will be collecting RT button tweets, some will be checking their mentions or a hashtag. Many won't know the difference!
  • If they want entrants to use the RT button, leave it until as late as you possibly can before the comp closes, because if they haven't recorded entries as they go along, only the most recent entries will show when they search.
  • If possible, enter twice, once using the RT button and a second time with  copy and paste entry. Don't do this if entries are limited to one per person in case they check both.
  • big companies may have their own systems that collect and record all tweets and retweets. This makes it safe to use the RT button at any time - but we have no way of knowing which promoters are using such a system. Small businesses  won't have anything so sophisticated.
  • If the promoter has a "tweet this" button on their website, for  instance the way T3 do, USE IT. The chances are they are using an app that will collect entries made that way, making them easier to collect than ones done through Twitter itself.
  • Don't get upset if you feel a RT competition hasn't been drawn fairly. The chances are very high that the person running it simply doesn't know what a minefield it is and is only collecting tweets one way.
  • Look out for competitions that are NOT retweet ones, even if you are just asked to tweet a phrase to the promoter. Just that little difference makes it far easier for them to track entries.
Secondly if you are running a competition
  • consider setting some task other than retweeting, to give yourself the best chance of seeing all entries.
  • have a clear set of rules, including a closing date and time. Ideally put them on a blog or website and include a link to them in the competition tweet.
  • use a hashtag to help keep track  of entries. Do check  that it's not being used for some other purpose at the same time  - simply using #competition or #FridayFreebie will result in you seeing hundreds of entries that aren't for you.
  • unless you are a business that uses their own software to collect and record tweets, you will need to make note of retweets done using the RT button as they come in
  • don't run your competition over a long period of time, because older entries can vanish from Twitter search
  • look out for people who set up systems to automatically retweet your competition every few minutes - something that really ought not to be possible if Twitter is doing its job properly. One entrant to my competition  entered around once every five minutes, 24 hours a day. I can't believe they stayed awake all week, fired up by the excitement of potentially winning a prize worth around £30, so they were breaking my "No bulk, automated or third party entries" rule.
  • make it clear whether you are only accepting entries from a certain country or all over the world. Although my rules said "UK only" I had quite a lot of entries from the USA. Goodness knows why they wanted some books  about the UK driving test!
  • You could really make life a lot easier for your entrants if you make it clear whether you want them to use the retweet button or a copy and paste retweet!
And how has my research affected my own comping? Well, after hours and hours of collating entries I can safely say that I am NEVER going to run a retweet competition again. It is practically impossible to do it fairly without devoting  your self to monitoring the entries full time. When it comes to entering competitions, I will still click the RT button as soon as I see a competition, not for MY benefit but for YOURS. I know that hundreds, possibly thousands, of my followers only  follow me because of the number of competitions I retweet, and I want to still do that for you. But for my own comping, I'm going to look out for ones that don't need to be retweeted, or that will accept more than one entry so that I can schedule a copy-and paste retweet to reach the promoter close to the closing time.

Saturday 19 January 2013

Using Tweet Deck to tidy up Twitter

If you are a long term Twitter fried of mine, you'll know I much prefer using Tweet Deck to the main Twitter page (on the PC, at least - I don't find the iPad and phone versions anywhere near as user friendly).

If you don't already use Tweet Deck, you can find it here - it's free, and you can download it as an app to run separately from your browser, or simply visit it just as you would any other web page. Then you can have columns running across the page with your main Twitter stream, your @ mentions, direct messages, and many other things like lists, searches and interactions so that you can see what's going on in several different places at once without having to go to a new page each time.

But the most powerful tool of all in Tweet Deck is the Global Filter. When your Twitter stream fills up with things you don't want to read, yet you don't want to unfollow the people who are talking, you can simply filter it out! Very often when there's chat going on about a TV programme, a Twitter party or a business networking event, there will be a hashtag which everyone in the conversation is using. To remove every tweet containing that hashtag, go up to the top right of your Tweet deck display and click on the cog wheel then select "Settings" from the drop down menu and click on Global Filter. A box will open up on your screen

Choose "Text content" from the drop down filter menu, copy the hashtag into the space below and click the "Add filter" button and hey presto! All the tweets  containing it vanish from your sight without affecting the enjoyment of those chatting. There doesn't have to be a hashtag, either - so if  Twitter seems to be full of talk about a particular subject and you no longer want to read about it (for instance as I write this, I'm getting bored to tears with Lance Armstrong) simply filter it out! You can use the text filter to temporarily remove things you don't feel like talking about at the moment but easily delete the filter when you are in the mood  to join in.

The option below "Text content" is "author". If you filter somebody out, bear in mind that it will filter them out COMPLETELY. Not just their tweets but every mention of them and every retweet by other  people. It will even filter out any @ messages they send to you. So only use this if you are absolutely certain you don't want anything at all to do with that user.

The final option is "Source"and this can be the best of all for compers,  especially if you have non-comping friends and family who complain about your comping tweets. You have  probably already told them how to hide your retweets, but they will have still had to bear up with all the tweets you make through apps. For instance if you enter comps through magazine websites or a retweeting service such as Twitaculous, they look like normal tweets from you but they can still be filtered out! As can all those horoscope,  "The fred bloggs  daily is out" and "3 people followed me and 9999 people unfollowed me" tweets,which are also sent through apps.

To filter out all tweets made through a particular app, use Tweet Deck to view the tweet then click on "Details" at the bottom. The name of the app - for instance Twitaculous Retweeter, Mari Claire - share and gain!,  Twittascope or fllwrs - will show  and you can past it into a Source filter.

Result - peace and quiet for your family and as much tweeting as you like for yourself!

Friday 18 January 2013

Win a Kindle Fire

Girl in the Lens is giving you a chance to win a Kindle Fire. To enter, pop over to her blog  and follow it then leave a comment. You can gain extra entries too - there  are several ways to do so  listed on the blog.

The competition is open worldwide and closes on January 31st.

Thursday 17 January 2013

A fun way to win £100

Travel Supermarket have a great new competition with £100 to be won every three days until January 30th.

To enter, you need to visit their Holiday v Holiday page  and see which "fixture" is currently being voted on, then choose which of the places you would prefer to visit and use the pre-prepared tweet box at the bottom of the page to tell them which of the two places you would prefer to visit and why. And don't forget to follow @travelsupermkt

 A great competition for those of us who like to be a little bit more creative,  even though the winner will be drawn.

The current fixture as I write this is  NewYork v Las Vegas  - what a tough choice, two amazing cities! Which would YOU prefer? I'll be looking out for your tweets!

Your chance to win a Solar DAB radio.

Green Reviews are giving away 3 Roberts radios. To enter simply email   with your name and address. For further information and T&C’s visit  their web site  Competition closes 06/02/2013.

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Win some chocolate themed greetings cards

If you read my other blog, Onions and Paper, you will know that I make all my own greetings cards. So you might be worried about what kind of a card to send me on my birthday (August 13th - put it in your diary now!) - you ARE planning to send me one  aren't you? Well, Chocolate Log Blog have the answer - a set of gorgeous retro style greetings cards with chocolate themed slogans!

For a chance to win these fun cards, pop over to their competition page and fill in the simple Rafflecopter form - you can get up to 8 entries straight away, plus extra entries for daily tweets.

The competition closes on February 12th.

Win £1,000 to spend on men's suits at M&S

Marks and Spencers are running a Twitter competition with an amazing prize of £1,000 to spend on men's suits at M&S.

All you need to do to enter is follow them on Twitter and retweet the following Tweet

 You have until January 23rd to enter

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Win £250 of Ellis Brigham vouchers

Mark Warner holidays are running a Twitter competition with a prize of £250 worth of Ellis Brigham mountain sports  vouchers. All you need to do to enter is to follow them on Twitter and then retweet this tweet:
The competition runs until 10am 25th January 2013. Further information and T&Cs can be found here

Win £100 to spend at Ledlights

Ledlights stock an amazing array of  LED  bulbs, spotlights, striplights and accessories. I'm very glad to have discovered them - the company that fitted our kitchen used four different types  of bulbs in the lighting, and I have spent many hours  combing DIY stores  for the right ones - usually coming home with a multipack of the wrong type. Now I can simply search by the reference code and order my bulbs online.

They are giving away £100, £50 and £25 to spend on their site  in a free prize  draw - all you need to do to enter is head over to their Facebook app, Like the page and complete the form. One entry per person and the competition closes on February 14th.

Sunday 13 January 2013

Win a book that gives you a chance to win a great prize!

This year's DSA books  are out, and two of them contain super competitions!

First of all the Theory Test for Car Drivers book contains an entry form for a tiebreaker competition to win a car, and the Theory Test for Motorcyclists book contains an entry forms for a tiebreaker competition to win £1,000 of bike gear such as leathers and a helmet.

The ONLY way to enter each of these competitions is  with an original form  from the book, and each book costs £14.99.

But I am giving you a chance to win them BOTH! You will have plenty time to work on your tiebreakers for the competitions, as the competitions don't close until December 31st.

So what do you need to do to enter? Simple, all you have to do is retweet the following tweet:

Terms and conditions

1. Competition closes on Sunday 20th January at 11.59pm and the winner will be chosen by random draw.
2. Entrants must retweet the original tweet as shown.
3. Entrants must be following @janesgrapevine on Twitter.
4. Entrants must live in the UK and have a Twitter account.
5. No bulk, automated  or third party entries.
6. Prize is as shown and no alternative can be offered.
6. Winner will be notified by direct message within 48 hours of the closing date and will have a week in which to respond. If no reply is received, the competition will be redrawn.
7. Any details you provide will be used for the administration of the competition only and will be destroyed after the prize has been awarded.

Saturday 12 January 2013

Three new competitions to enter

It's a horrible cold, wet,  sleety, windy weekend here, the perfect weekend to stay at home and catch up on comping. So instead of spending the afternoon glued to TV repeats, how about trying to win yourself some treats?

First up,  you can win £250 to spend at Wholesale Clearance, where the £250 prize could buy you up to £800 worth of goods. Go to the app here  and enter by email or through Facebook. Once you've registered your first entry, there are ways to gain extra entries, by sharing through G+, Twitter and Facebook. Closing January 31st.

Next, a very easy to enter Twitter competition with a £80 Amazon voucher to be won. You can read all about it here  along with the full terms and conditions, but basically you need to follow Frugaller Forum on Twitter  and then retweet:
Yes, you can actually follow them, if you need to, and retweet using the embedded Tweet above without even leaving this page. Isn't technology wonderful? (When it works). You can enter once a day until the closing date of January 31st.

 Finally, for now, a chance to win a pair of Fit Britches Skinny Shorts.  Visit the Facebook app , Like the page, Allow the app and hey presto, you've entered. It's as simple as that! And you have until March 31st to enter.

I'd like to share news of a lovely win of my own with you. I was told yesterday that I have won the top prize in the Origins Advent competition  - £1,000 worth of skincare products EACH for me and a friend. My skin needs all the help it can get, and  I love Origins products,  so I'm having a great time choosing my prize. I've nominated one of my daughters as my friend - on condition she shares with her sister!

Friday 11 January 2013

Win £20 to spend with Ohh Deer

Askherfriends has teamed up with Ohh Deer to give away 5 x £20 voucher to spend on the site. Ohh Deer produce gifts, homewares, t-shirts and more all illustrated with quirky designs.

To enter the competition, visit the competition page  and fill in the simple Rafflecopter form. You can get up to 10 entries depending on which tasks you complete. But hurry, the competition closes on January 17th!

I love this bookazine, which at £14 wouldn't even use up the prize!

Thursday 10 January 2013

Win some ceremonial Matcha tea

It's all tea today isn't it? This morning I told you about the competition to win a twisting tea ball and now  I'm bringing you the latest competition from Chocolate Log blog, where they are giving away a pack of Ceremonial Matcha Tea with a whisk and scoop so  that you can create your own cup of real Japanese tea.
To enter, pop over to their blog  and use the simple Rafflecopter widget to submit your entry. You have until February 5th to enter

Win a Twisting Tea Ball

A Twisting Tea Ball? No, I'd never heard of one either, but it's a great way of using loose tea without the mess, making it as convenient as popping a tea bag in a cup. And Oxo have FIVE to give away.

To enter, pop over to their Facebook app and tell them what your favourite type of tea is. One entry per person, and the competiton closes on January 15th.

I'm sure this will be an excellent gadget. My kitchen drawers are packed with Oxo products, some of which I've been using daily for over 10 years. They are always well designed, practical and durable. And those of you who follow me on Twitter will know just howe much tea I drink, so you won't be surprised to hear that I've entered this competition!

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Another chance to win zulily vouchers

Another competition from zulily, and this time it is just for bloggers. The prizes are zulily vouchers - £100 to the winner and £25 to two runners up.

The task is to create a blog post, linking to zulily, giving your best tips for photographing children and of course to include one of your own photos. You can read full details of the competition here and it closes on January 31st.

Do let me know if you enter, I'd love to see your posts. I need all the photography tips I can get!

Win a Kindle Fire with My Social Radio

The latest competition form My Social Radio  has a super prize - a 16 Gb Amazon Kindle Fire HD.

To enter, pop over to their Facebook app , Like the page and leave your details. You can gain extra entries for getting friends to enter either by sharing the competition.

It closes on January 19th and winners will be announced live on air.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Win an iPad mini with a short essay

I know that lots of you love writing - just dropping in to the lovely blogs some of you produce is proof of that - and even more of you are bored with just filling in your name and email address or clicking "Like" or "Retweet" buttons and yearn for something that is a bit more of a challenge.

The latest competition from 1st Choice Spares will appeal to you then - they would like you to write an essay of around 300 words on the subject of Why people should use recycled car parts.

You can read all about the competition, and get some ideas for your entry on their website  and then submit your entry through their Facebook page

The prize is an iPad mini and you have until February 14th to submit your entry.

Monday 7 January 2013

Pruning your Facebook Likes

If you are a comper, you will inevitably end up liking hundreds of Facebook pages, even if you never enter "Like and share" competitions. And if you are happy to Like and Share, you could end up liking the maximum number allowed which currently stands at 5,000.

The trouble with liking so many is that you don't get chance to interact with them. Facebook decides for itself which updates you see, however carefully you try to make sure they are allowed, and even if you manage to set it to show them all, there are so many that you only see the most recent few at any given time. So it makes sense to check through them regularly and unlike those you are not currently interested in. The fewer updates that appear in your new feed, the more chance you have of seeing those that you DO want to see.

I've written before about how to prune the pages you follow, but Facebook seems to change every few weeks so here is the current way to do it.

First of all, go to your own Facebook page by clicking on your name at the top right of the screen. Now click on the "Update Info" button below your cover photo,  and use the  "about" button to select "Likes"  (clicking on the photo will enlarge it to make things a little clearer)

Now  click on "Edit" which you will find to the top right of the "Favourites" section and scroll down to the bottom of the Favourites section, just below "Inspirational people you like" (You HAVE all got me listed there haven't you? ....... Oh. ) and you will see "Other pages you like" in the margin at the bottom of the box. Click on that and a pop up appears listing ALL the pages you like.

Now you can go through the list and click the Unlike button against any page you are no longer interested in or simply don't recognise. You will probably find lots that you liked just in order to enter a competition, or worse still  in order to see the details of a competition you chose not to enter.

When you have finished your pruning, click the close button then make sure you go back to the top and click on the "Finished editing" button at the top. And hey presto, that's the first and, for a comper, most important bit of your spring cleaning done!

I've been pruning my own at the moment and I'm being ruthless! After all, it's easy enough to Like a page again if you miss it. But take care not to unlike any that you've entered a current competition with.

Sunday 6 January 2013

Get snapping for zulily's January competition

I'm sure some of you are now regular entrants to zulily's monthly Instagram competitions,  and are eagerly awaiting this month's which is now open.

The theme this month is "Give us a grin" and as usual you need to enter through Instagram.

Full instructions are here

They’re looking for the biggest grin possible! Their favourite photo wins a £100 zulily voucher, storage boxes from Feather and Black (for all those Christmas prezzies) and a Juicy Couture clutch for Mum.

How to enter:

  1. Upload an Instagram snap of your little cutie in January giving a grin.
  2. Make sure your profile is public, so that they can see your photo.
  3. You need to follow zulilyUK on Instagram (@zulilyUK) and tag your picture with three things:

  • #zulilyUKJanuaryCutiesCompetition
  • @zulilyUK
  • and either: #zulilynewbie (if you’re new to zulily) or #zulilian (if you’ve already joined zulily)
The competition closes on January 31st, and the winner will be contacted through Instagram comments, so don't forget to check those comments!

Friday 4 January 2013

Two ways to win great prizes!

The University of Roehampton has two great new competitions - and you don't need to be a student to enter.

The first competition is being run through Facebook. You need to upload an image and tell them about your most exciting resolution for 2013 (note to a certain blogger who shall remain nameless - overcoming a fear of cheese sandwiches may not be quite exciting enough for them!). One iPad prize will go to the entry judged to be the most creative, and the other to the entrant whose personal link, which they can share after entering, results in the biggest number of new entries.  This closes on January 31st.

The second is a Pinterest competition. Follow the instructions pinned to their competition board  and  create boards that represent their values. There are two Nikon DSLR cameras to be won, one for the board judged to be most creative and the other for the most popular board. And all entries will also go into a draw for an iPad mini. You have until February 28th to create your board.

I know that lots of you have resolved to try more creative competitions this year, so these two could be a great way to start your year!

Thursday 3 January 2013

Lost Without Loquax - what now?

Many compers were surprised and shocked by the announcement yesterday that Loquax will no longer be listing competitions - myself included. Loquax was the very first website I visited when  I first got online in 1999, and I have stayed loyal to it ever since. That's a long time - I'm  used to it and the way it works, and it's going to take an old diehard like me a long time to get used to using a different competition listing service.  Many thanks to Jason and Kirsty for all their years  of hard work and their unstinting support of the comping community and best wishes for whatever direction you are planning for Loquax in the future.

Why, you may be wondering, would the editor of a competitions magazine want to use a listing service? Well, Grape Vine is primarily about competitions that are actually FOUND off line, even if the entry method is online. I spend many hours every week combing shops, so that I can give full entry details of as many competitions as possible. That means that if no purchase is needed, readers can get all the entry details from Grape Vine, and if they DO need to make a purchase they know exactly what to look out for. In general, competition that are promoted exclusively online are not included in Grape Vine - and yet online is where I do the bulk of my own comping. So yes, for many years I have been in the habit of visiting Loquax for half an hour every morning.

Several people have asked me if I will now be providing comprehensive listings - oh dear, if only I had time! There is just one of me, and I already work long hours producing Grape Vine, so that wouldn't be possible. Also this blog doesn't generate any revenue. The competitions that I list here, at the request of the promoters, are done free of charge as a service to all of YOU, whether or not you are subscribers to Grape Vine. My only income comes from the Grape Vine magazine (at this point I'll insert a little advert - why not consider subscribing? The more subscribers I have, the better the service becomes, and that includes the blog! And as described above, you will find LOTS of competitions that aren't covered by online listing services)

With the plug over, lets get back to Loquax. And the good news is that the forums are going to continue. Many competitions  are shared there among the Loquats, as well as lots of help, support and chat. But if you prefer less chat and more competitions, there are lots of other sites that list them. Some of them are currently quite small, but an influx of new compers may well help them to grow. Others are well established and already popular.

I'm not a regular visitor to any of these sites, with the exception of Prizefinder which is probably the biggest and longest  established, so I'm not going to give any personal recommendations - have a look around them and try a few, before deciding what suits you best.

They take several forms; conventional websites, forums where members contribute the competitions themselves although in most cases non-members can read the listings, and a newsgroup which is similar to a forum but open to the public, not just to registered members. There are also a number of private, invitation-only email groups, but these are not publicised and if you want to join one, you'll need to be lucky enough to find a member who will invite you.

I hope these lists will help you to find a great comping tool that will help you even while you are suffering from "Loquax Withdrawal Syndrome"


The Prizefinder

Big Purple Moose

Competitors Companion

UK Competitions

UK Wins

Competitions List

Competition Hunter

Competitions Today

Only Cheaper

Prize Bug


Free TV Competitions (specialises in the competitions  shown on TV programmes such as Daybreak)

Comp Retweet -  despite the name, isn't restricted to Twitter competitions

Competitions Time


Win Prizes

Money Saving Expert

Hot UK Deals

I'm Worse Off Than You

Female First


Wednesday 2 January 2013

Tweeting to win - a beginner's Twitter guide for compers

This article first appeared on The Competition Grape Vine website in December 2009 but has been updated to bring it into line with current Twitter versions.

Twitter is a social networking craze that has become very popular over the last few years. It is also proving to be a rich source of comps - I first wrote this in mid-December 2009 and for the previous two weeks I had won an average of more than one prize a day through Twitter.

Getting started

So how do you join in? First of all you will need to register with Twitter. Go to and sign up. When you choose your username, bear in mind that the messages, or “Tweets” sent through Twitter are limited to a maximum of 140 characters, and if somebody sends you a Tweet, your username is part of the count, so try to make it short and snappy. I didn’t realise this when choosing my own name of @janesgrapevine so anyone who Tweets me has only 125 characters to play with.
Once you have your username it becomes part of the address of your Twitter profile page so mine is - this is where you can tell your friends to find you. At the top of the page you will see headings - Home, Profile, and Settings are the ones you need for now.
The Home page is where all the Tweets from the people you follow will show, as well as your own. So that is the page you will need to look at most. On the Profile page, only the Tweets you have sent will show. The Settings page is where you can put a few facts about yourself, and when you are used to Twitter, add a photo or a background to personalise your page.
Go to the Settings page before you start thinking about trying any comps, and make sure “Protect my Tweets” is NOT checked. Why? Because if you protect them, your Tweets don’t appear in public and that means if you enter a comp by Tweeting, the promoter won’t know you’ve entered so you won’t be in the draw.

Tweeting messages

Now go to the Home page. You will see a box near the top that says “Compose new Tweet”. This is where you write your messages. They must be no more than 140 characters long, and there is no limit on the number you can send but if you send several identical ones close together, Twitter thinks you are a spammer and might block your account.
When you Tweet a message, it will show up in your “Timeline” - the messages on your Home page. It will also show in the Timeline of everyone who is following you. If you want to send a message to somebody who is not following you, start it with @ immediately followed by their username (no space) eg @janesgrapevine but if you want your followers to see it as well put something before the @ - popular choices are a . or a * . If you want to reply to a message from somebody else, hover the mouse at the bottom right of the message until the Reply button appears.
The messages which show in your timeline are:
all those you have written, ReTweeted or replied to
messages to all their followers from people you follow
@ messages to you from anybody, whether you follow them or not
@ messages from people you follow to other people you follow
ReTweets (RT) from people you follow
You will soon find that there are more messages in your Timeline than you can keep up with, so you can make sure you haven’t missed any messages mentioning you (for instance saying you are a winner) by clicking on the @connect header at the top and selecting "Mentions" from the left hand menu.
If you want to say something that doesn’t appear in public, such as sending your address details when you have won a comp, you need to send a Direct Message (DM) which will only go to them. You can only send a DM to somebody who follows  you. To send one, click on the cog wheel at the top right and select “Direct messages” from the drop down menu then click the "New Message" box at the top and type the person's Twitter name into the top space and your message into the larger, bottom space  . You can set Twitter so that you receive an email when you receive a DM.
A ReTweet is a message from somebody else that you send again so your followers can see it too. For instance if I get a message from Fred telling me he is running a competition, I can click on the ReTweet button at the bottom of his message and send it, so more people can read it, This way, comps (and other messages) are quickly spread throughout Twitter.

Following and followers

Almost as soon as you send your first Tweet, you will start to get messages from Twitter telling you that people are following you. Don’t feel obliged to follow them back - click on the link to their profile that will come in the message and see whether you are likely to want to read what they have to say. If it looks at all pornographic, choose the Block option. There are automatic robots out there trawling Twitter accounts and following them in the hope that you will automatically follow them back so they can send you ads for porn services.
So who should you follow? If you want to find as many comps as possible, the best thing to do is find another comper and follow them - you are welcome to follow me. When you visit their profile, you can look at lists of people they follow and who follow them - you may well find more compers on these lists, so follow them too. Compers are also likely to be following Twitter feeds of businesses that run regular comps, so you can follow them too. Don’t be afraid to follow lots of people - you can always Unfollow them if they turn out not to interest you.
You can find a list of compers, comping websites and businesses that encourage compers to follow them at
Many businesses make it a condition of entering their comps that you follow them, which makes it easier for them to monitor entries and to contact you if you win, so you will soon build up a long list of followers and people you follow.

Finding and entering comps

Once you are following a few compers, you will have no problem finding comps, as a lot of comps are entered by RTing messages and most compers are generous about RTing other comps to their followers too. This is the best way to go about finding comps, even if you are used to using Google to find Internet comps. Twitter comps tend to be very short lived and the Google robots don’t visit most websites regularly enough to pick up on comps that might be only open for a matter of days or even hours.
When somebody RTs a comp you are interested in, go to the profile of the user actually running the comp and decide whether it is the sort of business you want to follow and possible be followed by. And before clicking the Follow button, check that they are UK based, unless the prize on offer is something like web services or a download. I have noticed a lot of UK compers are Tweeting comps run by American companies, who might be reluctant to send a prize to the UK. Even if they do, you may be asked to pay carriage, and if your prize is worth more than about £25 you will also have to pay duty and a whopping £8 administration fee levied by the Post Office for collecting it. These charges could wipe out the value of a prize.
To enter a comp, you may be asked to RT a message, to send a Tweet containing an answer, or to visit a website or blog. Make sure you do exactly what it says. You may also be asked to include a Hashtag in your Tweet - this is a particular word, chosen for the comp, that starts with a #. Twitter has a system for storing all Tweets containing the same hashtag in one place, which makes it much easier for the promoters to monitor entries. If you are asked to include a hashtag, your entry won’t be seen unless it is there.
And of course, check when the comp closes, how many entries you are allowed and whether there are any restrictions that might rule you out - all the usual things you would check when entering a comp.

Top tips to be a Tweeting Winner!

  • Make sure you are RTing the right tweet! If you retweet another comper's entry, your tweet will show up in their own timeline and NOT that of the place running the competition, so you won't be in the draw. To make sure you are RTing the right thing, click on the name of the sender of the original tweet, to take you to their Twitter page, and scroll through the timeline to find what to RT.
  • You are sometimes asked to tweet a hashtag, and the promoter will use this to seach for entries. In theory, all you need to tweet is the hashtag, but from running my own Twitter comps I have discovered that tweets only containing a hashtag don't always show up in the search, so it's a good idea to write something, even if it is only "hello"
  • Do post some original messages and interact with other people from time to time. Twitter occasionally suspends accounts that do nothing but retweet, and you don't want that to happen!
  • When you win, you may be asked to send a Direct Message to the promoter, with your name and address. Not all promoters realise that they have to be following you in order for you to be allowed to DM them, but a polite tweet to them saing "please will you follow me so I can DM you my details" almost always sorts it out.
Have fun and good luck!