Joys of autumn. Less a lawn, more a sea of leaves
This week I have been finally facing up to the “C” word, and acknowledging that Christmas is fast approaching. Gulp.
I’ve also zig-zagged back and forth to London, beamed with pride at my son’s rendition of Samuel Pepys in a school play, and traipsed more than 8 miles in a day on the school run, shopping and shepherding my daughter to Cubs.
Roll on the weekend, I say.
And, without further ado, here’s my round up of this week’s five frugal things.
Stash to stuff stockings. NB Father Christmas uses very stretchy socks.
Snapping up stocking presents
In our house, Father Christmas sometimes needs a little assistance when it comes to stuffing stockings.
Much as I love Christmas stockings, the contents can easily cost an arm and a leg, rather than a mere sockful.
When I was traipsing round Hadleigh on a desperate hunt for Pudsey ears (theme days at school have a lot to answer for), I did at least spot a bunch of stocking presents.
I’ll split the £3 pack of Star Wars light sabre pens and £1.49 Christmas socks between two children, but otherwise everything else cost under a pound a pop from QD Stores*.
As you’ll see, I’m keen on stuff that might keep overexcited children occupied for extra moments on Christmas morning. Check out the fun wooden retro toys like dominoes, Ludo, pick up sticks and 3D dinosaur puzzles, all for under £1.25, in the pocket money toys section on their website*.
If you need any inspiration for cheap and cheerful stocking fillers, here’s a link to an article I wrote for Mirror Online last year.
I also found Terry’s dark chocolate oranges for a mere £1.49 in QD. For some reason, you can usually find the milk chocolate version on offer for £1, but the dark chocolate ones can be rarer than hens’ teeth and much more expensive. £1.95 I paid last year! (Sometimes that OCD spending diary spreadsheet comes in handy).
Nostalgia in a mug
Buying Christmas mugs
One other Christmas purchase was a fetching couple of Christmas mugs ordered online.
I spotted an offer in the weekly newsletter from MoneySavingExpert (if you aren’t one of the millions of people who get it, it’s worth signing up for assorted financial snippets).
I paid £7.99 including postage for a couple of Spode mugs in the 1930s Christmas Tree design, which normally sell for around £13 each. Best I can see elsewhere at the moment is £5.20 each plus P&P.
I’m hoping they’ll go down well with the children on Christmas morning and be used for many years to come.
Over optimistic bulb present purchases
Planting Christmas presents
Now, I’ll fess up right immediately that I suspect I’ve left this one too a bit late.
One idea I had for a nice but money-saving Christmas present was to plant bulbs in pots decorated by the children. Thought it might work as a present for assorted teachers and teaching assistants fed up with yet more chocs, biscuits and bath stuff.
(Mind you, last time my daughter decided to give her teacher an Elvis fan club magazine as a thank you present, so who knows what we’ll actually take in at the end of term.)
While I was in QD I looked for the earliest flowering bulbs, which turned out to be hyacinths. Apparently if planted by end September (cough) they should flower by mid December. I got six bulbs for £4.98 and six clay pots for 80p each, which combined with spray paint, stencils and compost we already have, comes in at just over £1.60 a present.
This year, any recipients may end up staring at a green stumpy thing poking up from some earth, but maybe this post will remind me to start earlier next year!
In the mean time I will go and dig out my copy of The Diary of a Provincial Lady just to remind myself how badly indoor bulbs can go wrong.
Ta dah, newly raked lawn! All ready for the trees to dump a new load of leaves…
Raking up leaves
On my way back from all that shopping, I ended up racing a rubbish van to our door.
The local council charges £40 a year to collect a wheelie bin full of garden waste every fortnight. Well worth the money, I reckon, to cut down on trips to the tip.
Spotting the rubbish van in the High Street made me realise I’d forgotten to put the bin out that morning. I hurried home, shovelled in multiple bags of leaves, and was relieved to see them carried away. Always good to make the most of that £1.50 fortnightly charge…
It also inspired me to rake up more leaves from the lawn, so we’re all set for the next collection too.
Scummy Mummies: I will never look at a catsuit in quite the same way again…
Heading to London on a discount Blogfest ticket
Last weekend, I ended up making a lighting dash down to London for Mumsnet Blogfest 2016.
I’d been havering back and forth about whether to go and feeling plenty of parental guilt about abandoning my husband and children on a Saturday. In the end, I think it was finding a 15% off voucher code the night before that finally swung it, so my frugal point is always to do a quick Google for discount codes. My network railcard also helps with getting a third off off-peak train travel.
Attempting to claw back the ticket price by eating my bodyweight in breakfast pastries was perhaps not my best plan, but it was an inspiring and informative day. I might even get some work out of it!
I’m guessing not many people reading this are bloggers who’d be fascinated by a blow-by-blow account of the day, so I won’t bang on about it, but do say in the comments if you’d like to hear more.
Over to you: any frugal successes to celebrate? Are your Christmas presents all done and dusted, or are you still hunting high and low? I’d love to know.
I’m joining in with the #5frugalthings blog linky. If you’d like to join, or just want to check out other thrifty suggestions, hop on over to visit Cass at Diary of a Frugal Family, Becky at Family Budgeting and Emma at Emma’s Savvy Savings.
*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!