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 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

Blogmas Day 2 – Christmas Traditions

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Happy Lazy Christmas Sunday Guys. I hope you are well.

Today’s post we are talking about Christmas Traditions.


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I love Christmas and the whole festive season. One tradition I love to do, but sadly isn’t an annual thing anymore is the following – Visiting my dads house back in Lincolnshire, I’d drive up on Christmas eve and with my Sister and Old Man we would have a takeaway – I do too much cooking on Christmas Day. No need to do any on Christmas Eve right.

Then I head out into the sleepy market town to meet up with old school friends where we would go to the pub and spend the night, drinking, sharing stories, catching up and singing badly to Christmas songs. Normally taking control of the Jukebox in the pub and spamming it with Christmas hits, 80’s power ballads, screamo and pure cheese. We cover all bases.


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I have always had the vision of when I’m older having a big family Christmas. Like what you see in the American Christmas films, all generations sitting around a big table with bowls of food and festive table decorations. This is a Tradition I’d like to put together and work towards when I am older. Enjoying Christmas with family.


Another tradition that I have revolves around Christmas films, it’s like a challenge to watch as many Christmas films in the month as possible. Which means lots of lazy weekends with festive snacks and movies. Wrapping presents while watching Elf, having a beer with Die Hard or just a lazy Sunday morning with Miracle of 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life. These moments are what make Christmas Christmas to me.

Another tradition that I usually do a couple of times a year is visit the German Christmas Markets. They are just magical places filled with cute huts, beer, christmas decorations and tasty treats. Sadly they cancelled Northampton’s a few years back and now we have to go somewhere else but that makes for a cute weekend. Nottingham, Birmingham, London.

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Oh and how can I forgot Bixby! My Elf on a Shelf. Yes I am fully aware this is VERY America and aimed at the children. But nevertheless I wanted to start now in preparation for the future. The problem I might find as I hide him and move him every couple of days is the fact my GF HATES him. Not sure why – look at his lovely face, he is a little gem.

I also like the Naughty Elf snaps that people post – proper Sex Drugs and Rock n Roll style. Google them if you are not sure what I mean. Not the Child Friendly option though.


And now as we have just moved into a house I think this is the perfect time to start new traditions. But what? I would really like to know your Christmas Traditions, what is a must over this festive season? I’d love to know.

Happy Holidays!

Blogmas Day 1 – Welcome To Christmas.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls. It is finally CHRISTMAS!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and I love it. I am talking, the music, the decorations, the chill in the air and the magic twinkling in the night sky. It’s all amazing and I get so excited this time of year.

This is our first Christmas in our new house which is a magical feeling. Also it has meant more space to decorate and cover in festive cheer. We even spoke about getting TWO trees – which I think I am winning on.

First thing I did this morning, as soon as I woke up I put Fairytale of New York on and sung my lungs out. That is a Christmas Tradition for me, then I spent the rest of the day buying decorations, seeing family, friends, enjoying the first of December and walking with an extra skip in my step. I am literally like a Who from Whoville when it comes to Christmas.

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Right, down to business. The reason we are here. Today is the first, which marks the start of the festive season and for the blogging world this means “Blogmas”, 12 Glorious Days of Christmas, filled with fun, laughter and some sassy ramblings for yours truly.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next few nights (11 to be exact) I will be posting treats and gems to enjoy over the season.

I can’t wait to share all this with you.

Merry Christmas!