How many sleeps?
Or: How to have a frugal Christmas (and still have fun)!
Over the years that I've been blogging, I've written much about how we live and manage on a small budget.
It's clear - I hope - that we don't avoid fun and laughter; as although we don't spend squids and squids or pounds and pounds on entertainment and food, we certainly don't miss out.
We don't live like misers, even when things are tighter than usual.
(My purse: to symbolise spending!)
I mentioned that I'd be happy to round-up and share my tips for the forthcoming festive season.
Ok. So let's look at this.
It's actually 104 sleeps until Christmas. 105 days.
First, make a list of what you feel you 'have' to do: this could include travelling to a different
address, buying expensive gifts, giving up your time to a cause.
Next to each item write either a smiley (🙂), a liney (😐) or a sad face (☹️): this relates to your feelings about each item on the list.
We all have to do some things we don't want to, but this is your Christmas too, and you are going to feature just as much as everybody else.
Now write down what you'd like to do: this could include having a meal at home, going to Midnight Mass, having a pyjama day.
Include your nearest and dearest in the list-writing, but stress to them that not all items on the list may feature; this is the initial planning stage, but that they will be involved in each stage. (Remember how shite it feels not being involved and having plans made without you..)
Do a little local research: what is happening and when?
When do the lights get switched on in town? What is happening at the local National Trust house?
Plan a rough list of free things-to-do.
This could be: a board games night, watching Elf in your pyjamas eating popcorn, decorating the Christmas tree, making cards together, watching the lights being switched on, going to a Carol concert.
Plan what you want to AVOID this year: for us, this was avoiding the six-hour motorway drive to watch relatives row, which they did every year.
We got out of it by saying to them around this time of year "...oh, we won't be joining you
this year, we're going to do our own thing for a change."
It has led to us being able to make our own minds up about each event as it has arisen, rather than being thought of as a 'dead cert' each time. Very freeing. And VERY money-saving!
My advice, (being the Nannie (grandma) of two, mum of one, step-mum to two, second wife to one, etc, etc....) follows for as stress-free as possible, and I'll have other Christmas posts here on the run-up over the next 105 days!!
1. Write a list of people you'd like to give to.
Gifts, that is.
Don't put an amount, just have an idea of the type of interest they have. (E.g. cookery, golf, reading, their car, jigsaws)
2. Have a plastic stacker box with lid set aside for gifts.
3. As you go about your daily blah, look out for reduced price bits and bobs that you can
add-to, or that would 'do' for the box.
4. Go to the local Post Office. Buy a roll or two of brown wrapping paper. *You can use this for gifts very cheaply and print onto, or stick onto this - I'll be wrapping in brown paper, using strips from a piece of old music manuscript, and tying up with red and white butchers/bakers twine. It's very cheap to buy old music paper from a charity shop, and you can find red/white
string very cheaply on eBay.
(*this recycles perfectly, too, rather than shiny patterned paper; as does the string!)
5. Look at your gift list. Think about your talents. Can you bake a box of choc-chip cookies as a gift this year? Can you knit or crochet a scarf? Can you use a free prints website and get a couple of prints framed in that picture frame you have under the spare bed....
These are all easy to sort-out gift ideas.
6. Where you have someone with an unusual interest, or hobby, or who is hard to buy for: think about buying a mug. Yes, a mug. You can put many things in a mug: from a simple hit choc sachet and some marshmallows, to a new pair of golf socks wound around some 'tees', to a headscarf folded up around a packet of flower seeds, to theatre tickets (that last one is for anyone reading this who isn't strapped for cash, who'd like a nice Christmas present idea!)
More to follow over the next couple of "frugal Christmas" posts!