Blogmas Day 9 – Christmas on a Budget

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The Average British Family spends £821.25 on gifts, decorations, food and drink at Christmas. Which is crazy isn’t it. I know people can and do spend more than this and there are cases where people spend less. This post is to help the former become the latter. (myself included, it’s time to follow my own advice)

(Stats from the Centre for Retail Research).

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With this cheeky five step guide on how to save the pennies over the festive period I hope I can help you all.

Part of the reason I have put this together is because Christmas for us this year is going to be CHEAP as chips due to the old house buying.


Step 1. Set Family Present Budgets.

The GF has a big family, she is one of five sisters and there’s a niece in there too. Plus my sister, then parents, friends, co-workers. The list could go on if we really thought about it. So this year between the adult sisters on her side we have decided not to get anything for anyone and just focus on the babies.

In regards to everyone else (Friends and Parents), we are setting a budget to of £10 / £20. While also being THAT guy when it comes to friends with partners. Getting one present for the both of them rather than a present each.

With little cuts like this you should be able to save some money here and there which can be put to other festive use.

Remember though – just because you save money here, doesn’t mean you have more to spend somewhere else. It’s your mission to save overall.

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Step 2. Food. Taste is about taste, not the packaging. Downsize the shop.

What is the point in spending 100’s of 1000’s on food that is either going to be eaten or thrown away. Just because it has the fancy label and the pricey price tag does it actually mean it is going to taste any better than the cheaper ranges? Remember we eat with our mouth not with our eyes and wallets.

Try a different supermarket, or a locally sourced supplier. Shop about instead of sticking with the high end super markets. I don’t want to bad mouth Waitrose, but if it means saving £20 on a joint of meat – Son I’m going to Aldi.

Also think twice before buying. Yes we love Christmas snacks but do we love them that much to be eating them well into February, or binning them mid January because they have gone off.

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Step 3. Decorations.

Yes who doesn’t love those Christmas shops that pop up early November and sell EVERYTHING Christmas related? Yes who wouldn’t love a new fancy tree with built in lights and spinning function? Yes we are all those people really. But we don’t have to be. Especially for something that is only going to be up for 5/6 weeks (or 10 weeks in some peoples case).

Try looking in charity shops or discount stores for Lights or Decorations. Or those clubcard points you have been saving all year – use them. Aim to purchase sturdy decorations that will last a few years. Then box them all up neatly and store for next year.

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Step 4. Days out and Activities

Fancy taking the kids to Winter Wonderland in London? Why not, I mean it’s a cheap day out; with Train Tickets, Tube Tickets, Food, Drinks, Gifts & Santa’s Grotto. It’s going to slowly mount up in cost, especially with the more people you go with.

Even deciding to go out for a meal, as soon as the Christmas Menu comes in the prices go up for a fancy version of Ham, Egg and Chips. This isn’t cool.

So what I am suggesting is the following; Have a Festive Film Feast. Set up some blankets and pillows in the living room, a big bowl of popcorn and work through a selection of Christmas movies. Or check your local town / cities what’s on guide and talk a walk through the local markets after a hearty breakfast at home. Saving the pennies on buying food when out.

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Step 5. The Kids

This point may fit a few nerves but let’s think logically for a moment. We spend a heck of alot of money on kids, because we want them to have everything and want for nothing. Which is cute, kind and a lovely sentiment. But when you are on a budget this might be a bit difficult and it’s really not worth getting yourself into debt over a toy that might go out of fashion in two months.

Ok so first idea. RECYCLE current toys – if you have kids already then you probably have a toy box stacked full of old toys that never see the light of day. Why not try slowly removing those toys, wrapping them and giving them back to the child. This is an age dependant thing though. Don’t try it was your 15 year old. They might notice a bit more.

Try and draw limits in the sand. One big present and a stocking. Or just a couple of mini gifts. Remember it’s not about the gifts and money, it’s about enjoying the day together. And heck if the children are so young (toddler age), just wrap a cardboard box up. Something to unwrap and then play with. Imagination can be more powerful than reality – remember that.

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I do hope this guide has helped, I have aimed to try and cut costs, in reality you might have just enjoyed the GIFs and moved on, or the advice is shockingly bad but hey it’s the thought that counts right?

Good Luck!

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Blogmas Day 8 – Gift Guide for Her.

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Saturday in this festive month. What have you done today? Christmas shopping maybe? Still stuck on what to get the Mrs / GF / Wife / Mum ? Then let me try (stress the word try) and help you out.

I take no responsibility for this list, you follow me instructions on the back of your own free will. Good luck! Also because of the House and the lack of money, me and the GF are not doing presents this year. The house and our company is more than enough . . . cop out right – but it’s going to be fine.

Disclaimer I think this list is going to be a wish list for my GF – I know she wants most of these.


Gift One.

Ugg Boots

Classic Short II Boot

Shoes are always a winner for women. Tough to buy I would say as you need to know sizes and styles. But what a gift if you get it right. Something that she can get a lot of use from and will really enjoy.

They say a woman can never have too many shoes – which I am still unsure if that is a real saying, but hey. I know from personal experience I love getting shoes as gifts because it’s something I don’t like to spend money on. I have a pair of shoes and will make them last as long as possible. So what is nicer than a fresh pair of pancakes. . . . no Crêpe – or Creps, sorry not down with the kids lingo.


Gift Two.

Art

Sparkle Gem Stone Frame

Yet another thing on the GF’s wish list – Artwork, or something decorative for the home. There is nothing the lady loves more than having a nice presentable showroom of a house. Like something from a NEXT HOME catalogue and why not. Of course you want to live in a lovely home and sometimes a nice piece of Art, a set of photo frames or a lush wallpaper will do the job. I am not saying buy her a pasting table and some brushes for Christmas but maybe a Token and a Promise to redecorate. That’s cute.


Gift Three.

Novelty T-Shirt

Mummy Elf Christmas T-Shirt

I have noticed these everything this year, a range of matching family festive tops. Guess what – I love them! I’d love to get the whole family in these at Christmas. Imagine the lady in your life rocking one of these tops or something similar on Christmas Day.

These are a bit of fun and they will go in a bag for the rest of the year under the bed. But it’s always good to have a quirky collection of festive clothes and what a way to start the collection.


Gift Four

Marvel Bag

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Time for something for those dashingly sexy comic book geeks out there who rather something quirky and cool than something pink and glittery – I know that is a horrible jump to the conclusion and I don’t mean it. Everyone can love both.

But yes who cool does this bag look, imagine your daughter, GF or whomever rock up at School, Work or even into town proudly sporting a Captain America Shield Bag. They would look awesome as F. Or something along these lines. I can already think of a few people reading this that would be like “YES, I NEED THIS”. My sister being one and where is Larkin? She here? Fill your boots.


Gift Five

Day Out / Spa Day

Blissful Spa Day for Two

Can’t go wrong with a Spa Day – am I right. The opportunity for her to relax and do nothing while someone puts hot stones on them and covers them in mud. If it’s something they are into then treating her to something like this is always a winner.

And how thoughtful, cute or romantic does it look, treating her to a day out of relaxation and wearing fluffy robes. Think about it.


I do hope this guide has helped, for someone that can usually nail gifts I have struggled to put this guide together. Maybe I am losing my touch.

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Blogmas Day 7 – Gifts for Him

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With two and a half weeks to the big day I worry some of you might be worried, wondering what do I get my boyfriend, dad or strange colleague that I drew in Secret Santa?

Well have no fear – I am here! With my handy guide to Gift buying for Him.

This post should be really easy, it is basically going to be a wish list of things I want masked in an attempt to help you out. (But also if anyone I know is stuck for gifts for me . . . here we go)


Gift One.

Funko Pops.

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If you, the love of your life or that special family member is anything like me (a big ole Geek) then what is not to love about Funko Pops. They are the best stocking filler gift going. A great shout for any fan and the range they cater for is now massive. From Films to T.V. shows, to Disney, to Musicians, to the Royal Family.

Though also if you are like me, then you might be somewhat particular about the collection you have, so shop with caution.


Gift Two.

Grooming Products.

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Us men need some TLC at times too and what better way to do that with a nice grooming gift set. Recently I started using Black Leopard Skincare line of grooming products and haven’t looked back since. Their range stretches from Face Scrubs to Hair Gel, eye cream to shaving cream and even a lovely moisturiser. What is better than having your man, dad or brother feel fresh and smell good. A bit of self-care and loving it always needed and what better excuse, especially at Christmas.


Gift Three.

Google Home.

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This little gem will always hit my guide list and I don’t even own one! This is more of just a want from me. But the more I research the more I wish I could get one. For the techies that want to live their Iron Man JARVIS house dream – this is the start. One day I imagine having a Smart House and a house tablet that can control the whole building. With the ability to answer questions, play music, control the heating and lights. The possibilities will be endless.


Gift Four.

Aviation Gin.

Aviation Gin 70cl

A bottle of something is always a nice gift, especially with the classy quirky boxes and gift sets they come in. If Gin is not his tipple (it’s mine) then why not something else. But I’ve added Aviation because it’s made by Ryan Reynolds. I don’t mean he is making home-brew in his bathtub. But he founded the company and it’s a gin I have always wanted to try.

 


Gift Four.

Playstation Icon Sign.

Now for something a little geeky. This light is perfect for the players! A quirky nod to the PlayStation’s controller buttons will bring light to any gaming setup. As long as we didn’t start the debate as to which console is better Playstation vs XBox we’ll be ok . . . *cough* PS4 *cough*

 


Gift Five.

Sports Team Shirt.

Mens Houston Texans JJ Watt Nike Navy Blue Game Jersey

This one is for the sporty guy in your life, the lad, dad or striker. Sporting merchandise is always a great shout when it comes to gifts. As long as you know their team. The image is the Houston Texans Jersey which can be found along with other teams and merch over on Fanatic Shop. But if NFL isn’t their thing, they do football, rugby or even F1.

In my bathroom at home we have a handful of rubber ducks with the Norwich City emblem on them. Usually the teams own store has some wonderfully quirky and cool gifts. Take a look.


 

I hope this handy little guide has helped, let me know if you use it or what you are getting instead.

 

Blogmas Day 6 – T.V. Specials

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Hello my festive pretties, today we are talking about T.V Christmas Specials because who doesn’t like watching TV on Christmas Day.


Part of the Christmas Day tradition usually involves slumped on the sofa nursing a food baby, partially comatose and watching some T.V. special. Now not reading the T.V. Guide this year I am not sure what there is to entice us all in. From recent years I’ve felt the main top dogs (BBC and ITV) have lacked something special and we have had to move over to the likes of GOLD (or whatever it’s called nowadays) and Dave for a bit of real entertainment. That being said here is my list of Christmas T.V. Specials that I really enjoy and always almost get watched over the festive season.


Gavin and Stacey – The Christmas Special.

What an entry to start with, a festive fun emotional episode which deals with the two families sharing Christmas together, Gavin breaking the news to his side about him moving to Wales and the classy Band Aid cover. It’s just an all-round warm fuzzy episode that is easy going and perfect for that food coma you put yourself in. Giving a realistic look at an average household Christmas; talking about Noel Edmonds, enjoying a festive dinner and have a little tiff with the estranged family members. I for one love it I do!


Only Fools and Horses – If They Could See Us Now.

 Next must-see viewing or classic memory of Christmas T.V. Special would have to be Only Fools – after a good run there were a few episodes to pick from, but I settled on this one. It starts with the Trotters on holiday in Monaco living the cushy lifestyle – but that lasts minutes and they are back at Nelson Mandela House. Then after a bit more heartfelt Christmas esque love, ole Del Boy ends up on a game show thinking he can make his millions back – pure gold. As well as the episode itself the show generated the accolade of “BBC’s Most Viewed Television Programme of the Decade” – with an approximately 21.3 Million tuning in to watch it. – Crazy right, clearly they were doing something right.


Morecambe and Wise – Any Show or Compilation. 

Anyone that knows me will know that I love this comedic duo so much – the phrase “They don’t make ’em like they used to” is so real and appropriate with this duo. Classic wholesome family fun using a smooth mix of acting, comedy, dancing and singing to make the perfect comedy duo. It always seems like a festive go to watch as well –  I promise you somewhere on the box someone will be showing an episode of this pair and laughter will ensue.


FRIENDS – The One With The Holiday Armadillo

Last but not least I can’t go without mentioning FRIENDS – again with a handful to pick from I have chosen the Holiday Armadillo. In an attempt to teach his son about his Jewish heritage, Ross tries to dress up as Santa and encourage Ben (his son) to take an interest – the only problem being, he can’t find a Santa costume anywhere. . . leaving him to improvise and become the Holiday Armadillo. It’s a cute yet still comical episode about the Maccabees and the lighting of the Menorah. Comedy comes flying back in when Chandler manages to find a Santa suit in an attempt to help Ross, while Joey goes the other way and bursts in dressed as Superman. It’s a festive fun episode that is such easy watching you will laugh every time.


I hope you have enjoyed my list of festive Christmas T.V. Specials, let me know what you love to watch and the must-see shows you always put on over the Christmas period.

 Much love.

Blogmas Day 5 – Christmas Clothing

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This month is going quickly isn’t it, Christmas will be here in no time.


Today the post’s title is The Christmas Attire.

That’s right we are focusing on the beloved tacky and somewhat horrific Christmas jumper. I don’t know about you but I love dressing up, finding that perfect tacky jumper to wear with pride during the Christmas season and just generally going over the top – so this post is to let you know what my festive wardrobe is like.

Each year I like to buy a new Christmas themed T-Shirt, Jumper, and Shirt; as it stands currently I have a few novelty T-Shirts, a generic Santa body top, a Die Hard themed top and a St Nick Pizza Parlour – advertising Deep, Crisp and Even Pizza Pies. Which is like a dream for me, mixing Christmas and Pizza my two favourite things.

Also for the moments of professionalism in the office at work, I have two festive shirts, something to wear with a tie, jumper or jacket just to bring an itch of festive cheer to the dull working environment of the office. I have a blue one with small Santa heads all over it and a white one with Rudolph heads. What can I say, I’m a classy guy.

Finally of my pride of joys in the Christmas Attire list is my overly tacky cardigan. Imagine Santa, Rudolph and the Gingerbread man all had a night on the gin . . . yes, this is the result. But I love it so much, throw my knitted Santa hat into the mix and I am snug, warm and looking damn festive!

Let me know what you have, what you dress up in and what is a must for the festive season. I wanna see gingerbread dresses, snowmen ties and maybe a onesie or two.

Love y’all

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blogmas Day 4 – Songs for Santa

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One of the best parts of Christmas has to be hands down (or should I say up) the music!

My Christmas playlist is a buzzing with joy and festive cheer and this post is going to explain and share my favourite gems and tunes.

Firstly let me start by saying I love Christmas but the music starts on December 1st. Not before! Just like people putting trees up in November, or the Christmas adverts coming out 6 weeks before the big day. December 1st is the day – the day it all begins and you can blare them tunes and put that tree up and go wild as of December 1st.

Ranty bit over, it’s time to get into the tunes – to share the gems I love, from the classics to the more obscure and unusual ones. Here we go:


My all time favourite Christmas song is “Fairytale of New York”, a jivey up beat Irish American song about the boys of the NYPD choir – what’s not to love. It’s a great sing-along song, especially after a couple of pints at the Christmas party. It’s an all time classic.

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Other classics that I highly rate and frankly love are; “Driving Home for Christmas” – it was a gem that always got blared out in my car on a frosty morning when, yes you guess it, I was driving home to my Dad’s for Christmas. “Mary’s Boy Child” by Boney M, “2000 Miles” by The Pretenders & “Last Christmas” by Wham! are a few more tunes that I love.

But I have to also mention my admiration for Band Aid’s “Do they know it’s Christmas Time” – firstly because it is a musical genius song with all those talents rolled into one. But also because of the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special where we see Smithy and Gavin singing it to each other through their phones. This became such an iconic, loveable moment that every year my friend Tom and I recreate it, usually the same time I am driving home for Christmas. If you don’t know the scene (and come on how do you not) here is the link to it – Enjoy.

Unusual hits that I like also include; “Underneath the Christmas Tree” by Kelly Clarkson, another upbeat jolly tune that instantly makes you want to jive and dance. “Never do a Tango with an Eskimo” by Alma Cogan and “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses.

I think it’s nice to add a few different gems into the mix, rather than just having a Heart style playlist of the same tunes or some list of Michael Buble covers. It’s good to get a mix right.

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Let me know your favourite Christmas song and what you’d hit up on karaoke after a few cheeky jars? 

Blogmas Day 3 – Festive Films

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One of my favourite parts about Christmas – The Festive Films.

Films filled with festive joy, magic and fun, what more can you really ask for from the season. Plus the majority of Christmas flicks are once a year viewing. Which makes them even better – let’s be honest when was the last time you watched “Miracle of 34th Street” – oh wait. 12 months ago. Well it’s about time you saw it again.

So here is my Top 5 Christmas films (in no order) as a guide of things to watch over this festive period.


It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s time to watch this 1946 classic emotional rollercoaster that is “It’s a Wonderful Life”. A beautiful story about an angel sent down from Heaven to help a down on his luck businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he didn’t exist. You’ve probably seen it spoofed and parodied time and time again and I think that shows how significant this piece of art is. I guarantee you’ll be welling up during this viewing and it’s as effective and meaningful today as it was back in the 40’s.

Honestly if you have never seen it – Please make it a must this Christmas time.

 

 

 


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Elf

To be honest I am not sure I need to even give the rundown of what happens in this film – but for you small few who have never seen it; After being raised by Elves in the North Pole, a man heads to New York to find his real family and adjust to human life.

When you put it like that it sounds a bit odd – but Will Ferrell excels as Buddy the Elf – a hyperactive over the top man boy raised by elves. It’s genius. Throw in a splash of Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, a bag of quotable lines and an epic snowball fight into the mix and you have one happy fun-filled family must see. (Wow what a saying)

 

 


The Night Before

This entry is a relatively new film but has automatically hit the top 5 list for me. It follows three lifelong friends as they spend Christmas eve in New York City looking for the lifelong dream of “The Nutcracker Ball” an epic, drink and drug fuelled party.

It’s stuffed full of jokes, gags and references to other Christmas films that you won’t stop laughing for the entire thing. While also hitting home with an underlying message of family, closure and love. I think it’s floating around Netflix, check it out – keep an eye out for a cheeky Christmas Cameo from a pop sensation (it just works nicely).

 


 

 

Christmas with the Coopers

Like the number 3 this is relatively new to the world of Christmas movies but nonetheless I think it captures the magic of the season beautifully. It’s a set of intertwined stories revolving around a family as they build up to Christmas Eve. It’s just a feel good enjoyable watch, with a star-studded cast including; John Goodman, Ed Helms, Olivia Wilde and the beautiful Marisa Tomei.

Critically I am not sure it did very well. But it means a lot to me – I took my GF to see it when we first started dating and it’s just an ideal little movie. You might see it floating around Amazon Prime and if so, click it, pop your feet up and enjoy this gem.

 


Die Hard

Now time for the crown jewel, the cream of the crop, the BEST Christmas Film of all times (as voted by Empire Online – 22nd Dec 2016), That is a Fact!

So lets break it down (as if you don’t know) Die Hard is about a cop from New York who tries to save his wife and other party guests from a German terrorist during a works Christmas Party in Los Angeles.

HOW MUCH MORE CHRISTMAS DO YOU NEED TO GET – I can’t express how much I love this movie and even with its problems (Green Vest) it’s still a brilliant must watch festive film.

 

 


 

 

So there’s my Top Five Festive Films. (And that was hard to break it down to just 5 as there are some greats out there). Check them out, or re watch them – enjoy the holidays and let me know what you like to watch, what is a must see and what makes you feel all warm and magical inside.

Honourable mentions also have to go to: Home Alone 1 & 2, The Snowman, The Grinch, The Santa Claus, Scrooge, Office Christmas Party and Love Actually.

Merry Blogmas Y’all