Gifts that Keep on Giving… Part Two
During a conversation with our lovely friend Lisa at Less-Stuff we realised how frustrating it can be to buy things for people who already have everything they need, so we have collaborated to bring you 10 brilliant ideas for Gifts that Keep On Giving… they help you look amazing, give your friend or relative a brilliant and long lasting gift and most of them also help in others ways as well – charities, education, less waste etc etc.
I’m sure you have enjoyed the 5 great ideas from Less-Stuff, but there are plenty more ways you can give a gift at Christmas that isn’t just a wonderful gift for your loved one, but also has the power to keep on giving… so here are our suggestions:
1. Memberships to somewhere they will love… This is especially great for families and will usually be for a whole year so it’s an amazing gift to give. If you can find a place that is a registered charity, or does some great work you can feel even better about giving to them as well as your recipient. You could also consider an organisation or institution that they might like to visit or be part of, it just needs some thought… Good examples might be:
• The National Trust
• Local zoo/wildlife park
• Local/National Museum or Gallery
• Political or Professional organisation
• Private library or Association
2. On a similar theme you might feel like adopting an animal as a gift – they get all the fun of finding out about their adoptee with none of the poo related work! Several charities run adoption programmes so you just need to find one that suits your budget and their animal preferences, check out:
If you/they are not an animal person you can adopt trees or plants – get creative!
3. We LOVE books, they are just such a wonderful thing to touch, read, share and love. They are a great gift as they will last for many years, and can be read over and over again… they are also perfect for any age and not too expensive. If you want to really up the ethical giving monitor then buy a book with a message you want to share. Our current favourites are:
Duffy’s Lucky Escape by Ellie Jackson
Dreams of Freedom by Amnesty International
Maddie’s Magic Christmas by Sam Maxfield (local author x)
For adults you could think about recipe books, journals, guidebooks, signed copies or ‘mystery bags’ get a few good looking books on a theme from the charity shop and wrap them up x A friend of ours gives their partner (and avid reader) a list of 10 genres to try…
4. We have talked about the organisation Good Gifts before, and we love the variety they offer in terms of how much to spend and the amazing projects you can support. There is something for every budget, and Father Christmas gives one in each stocking in our house. Examples are socks for homeless people in the UK, School breakfasts, Chickens for people overseas to become more self sustaining, Book libraries and so much more… These are also useful for last minute gifts and for people overseas as you can email them the information!
5. For those on a stricter budget or with no budget at all we like to give our time. That may sound a bit sappy, but actually, it’s rather lovely to give someone the gift of your full attention. We create our own gift vouchers for something that person will really value. You can make your own or use ours x This is great as it can be tailored to any age or activity (limited only by your willingness!). Make sure you only offer something you are prepared to give, and don’t spoil the gift by doing it begrudgingly – it’s a gift remember!
Ideas could be:
• A voucher for a walk in the woods
• Help with cleaning for a day
• Mowing the lawn in the Summer
• Taking a drive out to visit something/someone
• A trip to…
• A foot massage
• Cooking a meal for everyone
We have another post coming in December that may fit in with this idea as well – watch out for 5 Free Gifts for Children!
If you haven’t visited our sister post with another 5 excellent and inventive Gifts that Keep on Giving over on Less- Stuff do go there now! You can also check out the wonderful and gentle work that Lisa does by joining her newsletter and following her on…
We were thrilled to be invited to share our story and plans for the future with Kat from Share Impact. The podcast was great fun to do, and it was also an interesting exercise to speak out loud about The Frugal Family – it’s grown so quickly and talking about the future made it seem very real and very exciting.
This week I’ve really struggled to think of something… we’ve had poorly children and not been in our usual routine. However, as soon as I stopped panicking that my ethical frugal life was a sham and actually thought about it I came up with these things…
We sorted out the Winter Box, and donated the items we no longer needed to a local project – and they will be taken to a refugee camp in Syria to help them get through the harsh Winter.
We have also been collecting toiletries, wash bags and feminine hygiene products to make up toiletry bags for homeless women, and those using three local refuges. This is our annual project in our WI – and it’s a great one. I feel truly touched to have been sent items from friends, family and even from people online I have never met. We have so much I’ve had to buy some more toiletry bags from local charity shops! These are only simple items, but as us women know they make up part of our basic needs, and retaining dignity.
What’s interesting is that I’m now conscious of this experiment, and so it’s at the forefront of my brain to consider the impact we can have, in just two weeks I have started to change my thinking significantly – and that’s the power of being a more conscious spender, consumer, member of planet Earth!
We are still not quite sure how best to measure and share our impact… but let’s just start and then tweak as ideas come to us (this is somewhat of a Frugal HQ philosophy of life!!).
This week we have given one bag of clothes to the Salvation Army charity shop.
One bag of boxes to the Reception class at school for a project – reuse before recycle!
We are planning to post up what we have done in the week over the following weekend. The aim of this isn’t to become competitive or to show off – but to share the reality of small changes and the impact they can have. We are just an ordinary family and want to use this as a way to make ourselves more conscious of what we are going, and hopefully inspire other families to make small changes too x
With all the Black Friday chaos around today, it made me realise that so many people (including myself on occasion) feel a compulsion to ‘buy’ to find a bargain, to get a great deal – to shop. I dealt with this many times when teaching confidence building skills; so many students would use shopping to make themselves feel validated, successful or just to get ‘things’ that for a brief moment made them feel good. Of course shopping is not a bad thing, and we can help the economy, support small businesses and do great things with our shopping… but just in case you want a break – here are 10 ways not to shop…
- Do something else! This is a bit cheeky, but actually quite a genuine suggestion. If you shop because you are bored, or it’s become a habit then try breaking your routine and changing things up a bit. If you shop because that’s the way to walk home for example, take a new route one day – we discovered that by just crossing the road a bit further up the path we could go past the shop quite easily… even the kids were distracted enough to not mention all the magazines and sweets they wanted.
- Unsubscribe your Email. You may find that over the years you have given your email address out to lots of companies… and are now in receipt of daily/weekly/monthly messages about deals, once in a lifetime offers and discounts. Some of these are useful as you find out about a free delivery offer, or are for companies you regularly use and the discounts are relevant. However, many of these will just be junk – and an enticement to shop that isn’t good for your pocket and eventually for your self esteem. Spend a hour ditching and unsubscribing so you are not tempted anymore. The number of email alerts today was staggering… my hour will be done over the weekend.
- Make a List. When you see something you really love, or must have – write a list of what you already have that serves that purpose, or does that thing. Being aware of what we already own is a sometimes surprising experience. If you still REALLY need/want that item, give yourself 48 hours to think on it… the urgency for gratification will be over by then, and if you still feel as strongly and it’s within your budget then go for it.
- Sell Something. This sounds completely the wrong way around, but you might want to try a ‘one in, one out’ policy for a short time to see what reaction it brings. This can be particularly useful for children to consider if they want the new thing more than one of their current things… Of course you could give something away but by selling something you raise funds and this can be very supportive psychological switch for people who like the thrill of finding a deal. It also means that you can put any money you raise towards future purchases.
- Write a Wish List. In this modern world we have stopped waiting for things, in the West we live in a high demand and fast paced culture and this means if we see something we just get it and pay for it later if necessary. How many of us have no idea what to give a relative or friend as a gift because they just buy what they need? Start a wish list and when you see something that you would like, just jot it down. If you are asked what you would like for a birthday, festival, treat etc you will have a whole load of ideas in all price ranges! Some major website have a list facility which you can share electronically, there is also Elfster which you can hold a list on or just good ol’ fashioned paper and pen.
- Make a Deal. If you mostly shop for others, you may find that to save money and sanity they would also like to cut back and you could suggest any number of new ways to show appreciation and affection. For example, if you give to other families at Christmas you could suggest not buying for adults but only for kids… or doing a Secret Santa with a fixed budget to everyone gets just one present… or setting a budget for gifts (new under £5 gift guide coming soon!)… or trading skills instead of things e.g. a haircut for a lawn mown, a babysit for a cake.
- Make Something. If your desire to shop is actually about wanting new things in your life, it might be that you can make them yourself, or join a group that could teach you, or help you or you could take part in a creative community event. The thrill you seek from owning new things doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It may be that you already have an item you could upcycle or recycle? You may have a skill you can re-kindle, or it might be fun to learn something new? Creativity is an important expression of who we are – that may be in the traditional sense of artistic output or in the form of music, dance, reading, gardening… whatever gets you going.
- Check a Deal. If you really do need/want to shop for a specific item, make sure you do some research – a ‘bargain’ deal today was in fact still £9 more than in my local shop (this was a children’s toy) – amazing deals are not always what they seem. Make sure you shop around and also look at cashback sites like TopCashBack to see if you can gain from your purchase in any way. Also remember if you have any loyalty cards to check if the benefit of the points or rewards change where you purchase your item.
- Have a Budget. This is a real essential and as you move to a more frugal life generally the idea of a budget will get less boring! There should be a hierarchy in the budget, so essentials like the roof over your head and food come above a new TV… yes Mr F they do!!
- No Regrets. Mostly the things you buy should give you joy. If you hide them, regret them, go without something you love to pay for them then they are not good purchases. If you never wear or use the item – that was money you could have spent on a trip out, a take away or whatever a treat would look like to you. I always ask myself ‘how would I feel about buying that in 5 days time?’. You can certainly have lovely things, and enjoy shopping but make sure you feel in control and get to have fun with it.
Did you get anything in the Black Friday chaos today?
We were so delighted to be nominated for a Sunshine Blogger Award by the wonderful Sabine at From Scratch, who offer writing and workshops to improve your business and customer service – and the feedback from clients says they are 100% helpful! We are both proud members of the Ethical Hour Growth Network, and the Sunshine Blogger Award is aimed at sharing all that is happy, joyful, interesting and positive on the web.
So, here are the questions we were set – and our answers:
Tell us a bit about yourself.
We had to make a big decision about our family and money at the end of 2015 – based around me wanting to leave the job I had loved for 15 years… and the major change in our income if I did. It turned into a much wider discussion about our family values, what we wanted, what was important to us etc. So, I started a blog to think about how to save money and live on a budget, while also incorporating stronger values such as our environmental concerns. The blog became very popular as it seems lots of us have these competing elements in raising a family on a budget!
The blog is now incorporated into our website which aims to support families and share the knowledge we have gained. As we are now a business, we’ve also added our expertise in the Frugal Office – to support other small operations that want to be ‘green’ but don’t have unlimited budgets.
2. Does your blog represent ethical values? If so, which ones are most important to you?
I hope it really does represent our worries about the environment, our concern for children around the world, and families that don’t have the luxury of our choices. For us being frugal and saving money couldn’t just be about buying the cheapest things, as they are so often part of the shocking ethical and environmental situation – so we’ve had to find ways to honour those values and concerns, while living on a budget. The great news is that it can be done! We’ve started by sharing our school holiday ideas, and household tactics. In 2018 we will be tackling all of life’s events from the cradle to the grave and how to manage them with both financial and ethical concerns.
3. How often do you blog, and why?
As part of the website we try to do a weekly ‘Thursday Thought’, and we mostly manage it! We also have another theme of ‘Unexpected Parenting’ which we would like to revive; that is more of an ad hoc post. The website itself also has a theme each month so we can share, collaborate and highlight ideas and inspiration in bite-sized chunks.
Here at From Scratch, we help ethical and creative businesses give customer support that’s “on fire”.
4. Do you see a connection between strong ethics and creativity?
I think you could be creative without having any strong ethics – but I do think creativity comes from a place of passion, so it’s likely you feel strongly about something!
5. Apart from blogging, how else do you express your creativity?
6. Can you share a customer support experience which you’d say was “on fire”? If you can’t remember — can you recall a poor experience?
The best customer care I ever had was from Simply Health! I was on statutory maternity pay and also had an 18mth old, and my husband was made redundant – things were tough and we got rid of everything non-essential. When I called to cancel our health policy they said how about you just don’t pay your premiums for 3 months and then see how things go. We could still make claims during that time and we could extend it for another 3 months if necessary. Amazing. My worst customer service was the Tax Credit office – don’t get me started…
7. What’s ethics got to do with giving great customer support? We mainly help businesses by writing great service copy, training their teams, and developing their service strategy.
Just showing human kindness is usually a good starting point, great listening skills and not being so held to a script or computer programme that you can deal with individual needs. The ethics of a company will be expressed via their customer service. I would also imagine the care of the customer service staff is part of that ethical structure – it’s not an easy job!
8. What’s the one word, expression or sentence you never want to hear again as a customer?
Press 1 for …
9. Would you rather have a fast or a personal resolution to your query?
Personal, but I don’t think the two have to be mutually exclusive!
10. What’s your favourite joke?
Why do elephants have big ears? Because Noddy won’t pay the ransom!!
To keep the power of positivity going, and to share some more great blogs out there we are nominating the following excellent and interesting people for a Sunshine Blogger Award, and setting them ten questions of our own…
Pragya Agarwal from The Art Tiffin – an ethical, vegan art subscription box supporting the environment and mental health charities, and encouraging creativity for the whole family.
SS Blake from Earth and Water – helping us all to balance our lives and leave the world in a better state than we found it.
Claire Mulvany from Cotswold Karma – sharing the beauty of the Cotswolds and encouraging us all to take more Mindful Moments.
Here are your questions!
We are a new business – supporting families, here are few questions to find out more about you and your family:
1.Tell us a bit about your blog and how it supports family life.
2. How do you balance time to write and share with parenting?
3. We are trying to practice more considerate spending – what’s your favourite store bought item?
4. Frugal HQ is in the old potting shed! Where do you get your work done for the blog?
We are also striving to measure the positive impact we can have by making small changes to our daily lives…
5. What are you top ‘green’ tips?
6. Do you believe there is a link between conscious living and more positive mental health?
7. What is your favourite ethical or eco item?
8. Do you feel your blog holds you more accountable for your choices – and is that good or bad?!
At The Frugal Family we are also all about saving money!
9. What’s your favourite free family activity?
10. What’s your ‘go to’ luxury or treat?
Thank you so much for being part of this fun and positive part of the internet – the ‘rules’ are listed below – have fun sharing your answers and introducing us to some other lovely blogs x