Sunday, 9 August 2009


Yes, Christmas! Well, what were you expecting?I know it's only August, but I'd really like to get in ahead of the supermarkets!! So, while they're all crowing about their "Back to School offers" (when the kids only broke up 3 weeks ago) I'm going to talk frugally about Christmas.
At the moment the telly, the Internet, magazines, forums and newspapers are all full of advice on how to shop for food; we are being advised to plan our week's meal menus, check our store cupboards, make a list and then buy only those items needed when we visit the supermarket. I'm going to let you in on a secret - this advice can also be used and applied to your Christmas shopping.
Firstly - make a list - who MUST you buy for? I have a personal rule - I don't buy for more people than I did last year, (unless of course they have been born or married into my family since last year!). This keeps the upward spiral of gift giving in check a little.
Secondly - check your cupboards! If you bought anything last year that you shoved in the back of the wardrobe and found at Easter, or you were given any presents last year that you, your kids or your partner can't use, then think hard- who can you re-gift them to? (Making sure, of course, that it is not the person who gave it to you in the first place- or any of their close relatives!). Assign each re-gift to someone on your list.
Thirdly - make a shopping list of people left to buy for. Keep this list with you (I use one of the note pages in the back of my diary) and keep it up to date as you buy your gifts. Before you buy your first gift - decide on a budget. How many people do you have to buy for? How much can you afford (in total) for gifts - bearing in mind there are potentially several other costly Christmas items to buy (food, decorations, new outfits etc.). Divide this total gift figure by the number of people you have to buy for - and there you have your budget, per person. Of course I know you may want to spend more on your husband than you do on his nephew, for example, but now is when you make those adjustments to your budget.
Fourthly - start looking in the charity shops now- there are already plenty of "new" gifts to be had - this week I've seen a soft toy kit (£1.25 and unopened), a lovely Rowan knitting booklet (25p and looked new) and several gorgeous chunky bangles in wood and metal (all 75p each and looking like new). Just keep visiting your local charity shops once a week and you're bound to pick up some bargains.
In this way some of the last minute stress is taken out of gift shopping and, when we get stressed and in a flat panic that at the last minute we won't get anything at all, we spend much, much more.
Be warned- to fail to plan is to plan to fail - to give yourself a frugal Christmas!

Thursday, 6 August 2009


Let's Draw Cartoons is a free downloadable book by Tina Mation. Get the kids drawing and keep them occupied for a while this holiday!
Details HERE.More things to do in the school holidays!


Many of English Heritage's sites are open, unlocked and, yes, free!Just check out their Free Sites Unlocked web page and click the map to find the area you want to visit. You are then presented with a list of free sites and quite a few of them have free audio tours to download to your (or the kids') ipods - making your visit that much more interesting and informed.More things to do in the school holidays!


The National Mills Weekend website has a list of windmills (and watermills) that are open to visitors. Just look up your county and find one near you. Most mills are either free or very cheap to visit, many can be seen working and have special events planned for the summer.

More school holiday ideas HERE.


The National Trust have got together a list of more than a hundred different events and activities all over the country that you can try out in the school holidays - and they're all free! Choose from mountain climbing, surfing, standing in the steps of movie stars or watching an historical re-enactment, and more. There's loads of different activities for everyone.
Just have a look at NT's Things to do for Free page!

Take a look here for more school holiday ideas!