It’s an in joke that I totally fail to be thrifty at Christmas; I’m hopeless at working to budgets (Max handles the household money for most elements of our life) and hopeless at not indulging my children. I could blame that on more recent elements of life but it isn’t true or honest to blame it on that. To be honest, I just love the joy of Xmas day and seeing it be magical for them. The run up to Christmas in a house that runs a toy business doesn’t leave masses of time for ‘creating’ magic with baking and crafting and trips to watch the lights turn on- or even decorating the house and reading carefully scheduled and picked Xmas stories and films. And so the magic tends to happen on the day – and as the kids get bigger and the understanding grows, it is harder and harder to weave it.
So if I’m not good at being thrifty, what I am getting better at it is saving the indulges for Xmas only. They are otherwise not overly bought for and they rarely get new clothes or treats outside birthdays. I did learn that lesson. Our Christmas Day might involve lots of lovely things, but I save all year to make it happen now, having been bitten by the credit card bug once too often and I am good at putting things aside, buying bargains and trying to fit the gifts to suit the person really well. This year I posted a list divided into 4, asking them to put ideas on the pad so I would buy mindfully. Three of them gave me ideas, Fran had NOTHING she wanted. *exasperated sigh* This year I used some shopping review experiences to put aside DVDs and games and shopped with TopcashBack to eek out the pennies a little further; I did buy togethers and used up Game card points and started early enough that I could accumulate new points and then spend them another day. And I hunted down discounts and vouchers and asked for them too where I could. It’s not easy to do 5 children incredibly cheaply, but I did manage to spend less than normal, even though the gift pile seemed generous. Another thing I’ve learned to do is ask relatives to give us cash rather than small gifts and put that towards the gift pile. This year 3 sets of relatives, who were more than generous in their own right, contributed to the present stash and the kids know that they gifts ‘in general and overall’ to all their presents, rather than with small opening presents that might or might not suit and inevitably become clutter along the way.
We didn’t do much crafting this year but what we did came from the pre-purchased boxes of crafty stuff in a well stocked cupboard left over from the home ed days. I’ve been busy working away at reducing my yarn stash in a number of ways (this has variable success if you then embark upon a project which requires more of a colour than you own) and I’m swearing to reduce the craft cupboard to manageable proportions this year too. We’ve created a number of be-pompomed, felted and sewn things that haven’t yet made it to the blog, all from supplies I’ve previously entirely over purchased on. Once I set about a new household project after Xmas, some of the clothing that has been replaced with new clothes will get recycled into either craft fabric or money to help pay for the decorating of new rooms for the girls. It takes time though, all that repurposing and selling stuff, which is annoying. Time is often at as much of a premium as money.
One fun addition to the craftiness this year was a card making set sent to the girls as a sponsored post gift. We don’t very often get round to cards, more through lack of time and inclination to be that organised (I’m sorry but just… why?) but it is nice to give something personal to people you actually see or care about. I love the ones I get, though I have no idea how 80% of the people who send them make the time required to do them but I have to hope that the people who send me ones, understand why we don’t send them back. If only Christmas didn’t fall at.. .Christmas. Or if only we sold bikinis. Or something.
The big difference this year of course is school and the girls having people who are additionally precious to them, not us. So they enjoyed creating gifts and cards from what we already had, or was sent to us. I watch the proliferation of teacher gifts happening each year and wonder where it came from – it seems a phenomenally expensive habit to get into and I’m pathetically glad I never had to really.
The kit came as part of the Debt Free Direct initiative and encouraged me to think – and ask you to think – about ways of saving money in these newly money conscious days. Whether or not I am the best advocate of such things is perhaps a moot point 😉 but we did enjoy our crafting this year thanks to the kit and it’s interesting to reflect on how much more I enjoy knowing that I made gifts, decorations and happiness come from more than just a purse of money these days. I can’t imagine (I sincerely hope to be honest!) that I’m ever going to be a thrifting blogger or a frugal liver, but I am different to my old ways – and in itself, that’s a good thing.
Disclosure: this is a sponsored post.