Nativity - knitted.
Hope you had a fabulous Christmas!
My mother has been busy knitting, and sent us a shepherd with staff and sheep to add to last year's Mary, Joseph and Jesus. My mother moved out to Madeira when she retired, so I don't see her at Christmas, but I can still smile every time I see her knitted nativity on the mantelpiece.
We've had a fun if frantic time, packing in Christmas and two birthday during the last fortnight.
Every so often we even paused long enough to enjoy it.
Now I'm looking forward to seeing in the New Year this weekend, and in the mean time, here's a round up of our five suitably festive frugal things.
A tree full of memories
Rediscovering our favourite Christmas tree decorations
The decorations are a motley collection, bought, given or made by the children.
I get filled with nostalgia bringing out the dragons from a trip to Hong Kong, or the wonky salt crystal star made by my daughter. There are a few fragile baubles remaining from the very first Christmas tree my husband and I ever decorated together, a silver bell that's older than I am, a wonderfully carved wooden snowflake and some glam glittery disco balls.
Spending an afternoon together, with the whole family taking it turns to put decorations on the tree, is one of my favourite parts of preparing for Christmas.
Mince pies with a star on top and everything
Making mince pies for 10p a pop
This year I had the blissful prospect of heading to the grandparents for Christmas itself - which meant I didn't have to cook!
However, I did make some cranberry sauce and mince pies to take along, plus the ingredients for my husband's favourite coffee and walnut birthday cake.
One of my daughter's godfathers popped round on Christmas Eve to deliver a present, so I pottered around making mince pies while he and my husband chatted over a cup of tea.
I used an old faithful recipe from the Mary Berry Christmas Collection*, where the pastry gets a lift from adding a bit of icing sugar and the grated zest of half an orange (recipe is also in this article).
I spent £1 on a jar of mincemeat, which stretches to make 24 mince pies. With the addition of Stork, value range plain flour and mixed weight free range eggs, they ended up costing just 10p each.
A big ol' pile of presents
Cutting gift tags out of Christmas cards
Every year, I save some of the Christmas cards we're sent, and make them into gift tags for next year's presents. In theory, I get busy with the ruler, craft knife and hole punch early in the New Year. In practice, I was frantically cutting out tags on Christmas Eve, and attempting to match pictures to the recipients.
I rather like the end result, especially when the wrapping paper cost £99p for a 2 meter roll from QD and the ribbon was £1 for 20 metres from Flying Tiger.
Getting outside for some fresh air on Boxing Day
Heading out for country walks
Despite the accusations of child cruelty, we dragged the kids out for a family walk across the fields on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
I love getting blown about outside in the bright winter sunshine, and returning for some well-deserved ginger wine. My daughter ended up running from one clump of trees to another, while my son hunted for light sabre sticks, and we could all admire the amazing scenery.
Total cost: absolutely nothing at all.
Preparing for next Christmas
Sale shopping for next Christmas
Back at home I ignored the suitcases and boxes of presents that needed unpacking, and headed out to check the sale shelves at Morrisons and the Co-op.
I reckon one of the best things to buy in the January sales is stuff for next Christmas. Glad I managed to get half price Christmas cards for my children to give out to their classmates (£2 for 60!) again, plus a bath time gift set that will be a perfect party present for one of my daugher's friends.
I also loaded up with some marked down goodies including a box of Florentines and a tin of shortbread for New Year. Healthy eating can start in January, can't it?
Spreading the frugal word
I'm also very over excited because I've written about our 2016 month-by-month money saving progress for the Money section of the Sunday Times. Grab a copy of the paper this weekend if you'd like to read it! Hopefully some of the tips on how to cut costs and earn more might help if money is tight in January.
I'm then due back on BBC Radio Suffolk to talk to Georgina Wroe about the article (Sunday Jan 1, about 12.30), and will also be discussing it with Ed Bowsher on Share Radio (Tuesday Jan 3, about 1.50pm).
Fingers crossed I can cut down on the number of times I say "urm" and "I think" and actually get something useful across!
How was your Christmas? Any frugal tip to share? I'd love to hear!
Think the official #5frugalthings blog linky with Cass, Emma and Becky will be restarting in January, but if anyone has any #5frugalthings posts before then, do bung them in the comments below!
*indicates an affiliate link, so anything you buy through them will help support the blog, as I will get a small commission, at no cost to you. Many thanks!