Five frugal things I did this week #15

Let the great present wrapping commence! 

This week involved juggling birthday celebrations and continuing Christmas prep on top of work.
Mind you, one of the articles I’m writing is a round up of the year, so it’s been interesting adding up what has been spent or saved in 2016.
However, it’s still rather touch and go whether I manage to finish all the Christmas preparations before Christmas itself actually happens…

In the mean time, here is my round up of five frugal things this week:


Apparently, birthdays are better with a scary film

Using a gift voucher to cut the cost of a cinema trip

My daughter’s birthday is really close to Christmas, so we always have a party or other celebration earlier. This year, rather than a traditional party for her 9th birthday, my daughter asked to take a couple of friends to see “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” at the cinema.
I happily promised to take her before they announced the certificate – only for it to be a 12A, so no-one under 12 can attend without an adult.
Never mind, I thought, and double-checked with the other mothers that they didn’t mind their children coming.
Surely a Harry Potter spin off that involves losing magical creatures in New York and rounding them up again can’t be too scary? Turns out – very scary!
Luckily I had my husband and three almost nine-year olds to reassure me, as they were distinctly braver than I was.
Anyway, the frugal side was that I paid for the tickets using a discount gift voucher from Zeek. The combination of the discount and referral credits meant I ended up getting the tickets half price, saving more than £17.
(More about Zeek here, if you’re interested, including a promo code so you can get your own free fiver)


My son keeping an eye on things from above


Playing games at Grandpa’s 80th birthday party

On Sunday, we celebrated my father-in-law’s 80th birthday at a big party for family and friends over at Castle House, home of the Alfred Munnings art collection.
It was a really happy occasion, with lots of familiar faces in a kaleidoscope of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who’d known my husband since he was small, but my children were definitely the youngest guests!
My frugal top tip for entertainment was going armed with my son’s travel Connect 4. Bought for 75p on holiday in Bridport, it kept us occupied for several games sitting on the carpet.
I also whisked both children outside in the garden for a while, where we played some slightly chilly Hide and Seek.


Bright (fairy) lights, big city


Dropping off presents when down in London

On Tuesday, I headed to London for a work Christmas lunch. As mentioned on Instagram, as a freelancer I was very touched to be invited. It was lovely to catch up with some familiar faces and get the chance to meet new people whose work I’d admired for years. I finally left the lunch at about 6pm, paper hat askew, which gives you some idea that I had a good time!
As I was coming to London anyway, I’d contacted a couple of my closest friends from College and made the most of my travel card with a flying visit to Blackheath. It was wonderful to see them too, however briefly, and as an added frugal bonus I could hand over Christmas presents in person rather than paying for postage.


Bargain mini Christmas cards from the January sales

Writing Christmas cards for school friends

At my children’s school, they all seem to send each other little tiny Christmas cards. You can tell it’s December when a small snow drift of cards and ripped envelopes falls out of the children’s school bags every evening.
Luckily, I clocked this last year, in time to buy some small cards during the January sales – a bargain at £1.50 for 60 cards.
Even better, I managed to unearth them from the back of the present cupboard this week, and the children had a mammoth card-writing session at the kitchen table.
I’ll keep very quiet about any card writing by adults however. We bought a pack of the school fundraising cards, but otherwise I’ve only just got round to ordering some extras using Boots Advantage Points. Fingers crossed they’ll show up in our local branch tomorrow…




Investing in a Christmas cardigan

It’s probably no surprise that I’m a real Scrooge when it comes to Christmas jumpers.
I’m not a big fan of clothes that can only be worn for a few days, and then discarded.
Strikes me that all that comedy knitwear isn’t great either financially or environmentally (boo, hiss, bah humbug etc etc).
However, when I was doing a quick scan of the local charity shops this week, I spotted this cardigan. It has sparkly white and cream beads in an icicle pattern round the neck, and my favourite small shell buttons. So for £4 I now have a festive cardigan that can keep me warm at this weekend’s Christmas party and on the big day itself.
I may yet be able to wear it at other times too – unless I spill large quantities of Christmas pudding down the front, given it is gloriously impractical white.

So do let me know any of your own frugal triumphs this week – or share your own views on the wonder or otherwise of Christmas jumpers! I’d love to hear.

I’m linking up with this CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.


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  1. 17th December 2016 / 6:53 pm

    My sister & I wear ugly holiday jumpers every year – the same one (although we call them sweaters). We bought them about 15 years ago for $10 or so. We were way ahead of the ugly sweater trend. šŸ˜‰ We exchange every year. I believe this year it will be my turn to wear the questionable gingham & button version, while she gets the one with the large poinsettias sewn on. I also now get to wear it for all manners of holiday parties, but I don't buy anything new for the holidays. For true "festive wear", I have an Ann Taylor black layered dressy top that has sequins. It's classy and can be worn with jeans for a date night (tonight, with the husband), or dressed up with a skirt or black pants. I wear it over the non-holiday period as well, but consider it my "Christmas top". šŸ™‚

    • 21st December 2016 / 7:15 am

      Inspired idea about reusing and swapping Christmas sweaters, sounds like they definitely get more use right across the holiday season that way. Love the sound of your glamorous Christmas top! Feeling all nostalgic about Ann Taylor now, used to get things there occasionally when I worked for an American company years ago.

  2. 18th December 2016 / 12:43 pm

    that cardy was a great find! I buy half price xmas cards from charity shops in jan

    • 21st December 2016 / 7:13 am

      Glad you like the cardi. Have added "buy more Xmas cards" to my January sales to do list.

  3. 18th December 2016 / 2:26 pm

    Definitely never any need to buy full price Christmas cards as there are always some cheap in charity shops both in january and now, just before Christmas when they sell off any from last year and there are always donated ones too. Our Hospice shop had a whole rack of Xmas woolie pullies earlier this month – Ā£4 each and they soon sold.

    • 21st December 2016 / 7:12 am

      Good point about getting Christmas jumpers for charity shops, could help for anyone participating in fundraising days at work or school. I was a Scrooge on my children's behalf when it was "wear festive non-uniform & Christmas jumper" day at their school, and sent them in wearing existing vaguely festive clothes (tops with silver and gold stars for one, and red and green stripes for the other).

  4. 20th December 2016 / 10:59 am

    I buy teeny cards in the sales for Violet to use too. Just a shame some of them got ruined due to the mini flood last week! Water dripped down from the bathroom onto the dining room table …. where all the cards had been laid out!

    I'm with you on the Christmas jumper thing. I can't buy one just for a few days in December, so I don't. Plus they're always pig ugly. Your cardi is beautiful. x

    • 21st December 2016 / 7:08 am

      Oh gracious mini flood sounds hideous, hope there wasn't too much other damage. Not what you need at this time of year!
      Your comment about Christmas jumpers made me snort with laughter, thank you.

  5. 23rd December 2016 / 9:45 am

    We have loads of cheap games bought from charity shops and car boot sales and they've given us hours of fun!

    Thanks for joining in with #5FrugalThings this week!

    Cass x x

    • 23rd December 2016 / 10:08 am

      Thanks Cass! Glad you and your family have had fun with board games too. I've really enjoyed taking part in #5FrugalThings and reflecting on all the small ways that can help save money.

  6. 27th December 2016 / 3:14 pm

    Ah I didn't know that Zeek offered cinema vouchers. Thanks for the tip.

  7. 30th December 2016 / 1:03 pm

    I simply pack our Christmas jumpers, hats and t shirts, along with all the Christmas Dvd's away with the decorations after Christmas and they come back out again the following year for repeat wearing and using. We did buy a couple of new ones in Asda this year as they were selling them off cheaply, so now we have even more choice šŸ™‚

    LH got mistaken for Father Christmas in the garden centre just before Christmas, he was wearing his new red Santa T shirt and his Santa hat … and of course he has a full white beard. It was lovely to see the little boys amazed face and hear him tell his daddy that he had just seen Santa shopping, he came for a discreet second look and was still convinced šŸ™‚

    • 14th January 2017 / 10:19 am

      Wonderful story about LH as Father Christmas, made me smile. Glad you're getting good use out of the Christmas clothes!

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