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 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 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!