Easter School Holidays are upon us (at least here the in the UK they are!) – they are a difficult one to plan as the weather at this time of year is a bit unpredictable. It could be anything from glorious sunshine (friend of the frugal) or knee deep in snow – this year the forecast is for the cold stuff…
This can make 2-3 weeks off school hard to plan and prepare for. Here are 10 suggestions that I hope are worth your consideration…
- Visit to a car showroom, lots to look at and ‘play’ with ahem…
- Continue your love affair with a local library
- Visit to the toy shop (bear with me…) to make a Christmas or birthday list. Mine love this – you give them a pad and pencil to write down the names of things they love, and then in the car on the way home they give the list numbers so most wanted is number one etc. For some kids you could let them take photos maybe? You can also grab any free catalogues or similar and make a collage list when you get home. Supermarkets are good for this as well, and you can grab some bread and milk while you are there.
- Wrapping sessions, we try to get gifts for friends and relatives organised in advance and then have a grand card making and present wrapping session on the table, works for us.
- Indoor challenges, – try making an assault course, playing traditional games like pass the parcel (with toys they already have or sweets/treats from the cupboard) or musical statues. If you have older children you can try a board game or jigsaw day.
- Cut up any Easter egg boxes, wrapping paper etc so you have a collection of pictures you can then use to make a collage. You are likely to have things related to farms and Spring so use that as your theme.
- Plant some seeds. This is a good time of year to grow things indoors, easy options could be cress seeds, sunflower seeds and beans. Watching things grow is always such fun and you can sneak in a bit of science too…
- Hunt the ______ games aren’t just for Easter! You could cut up the letters of their name and hide them around the house. Or cut up the favourite characters in a TV show and they have to find the whole gang.
- Collections… these are actually a real pain in the neck as we end up with bags and boxes of weird things we can’t identify all over the house BUT they do keep kids occupied for quite long periods so probably worth it. You can take a walk in the woods (don’t forget a thermos of hot chocolate or soup if it’s cold) and collect, pine cones, seed pods, sticks, stones, feathers, leaves etc. Try not to pull blossom off the trees!
- We have a free download with a week of kids activities you can print off and use – just follow this link and add your email address x
Say goodbye to June…
We are ending June with a cleaning frenzy… not an actual one because I hate cleaning, but all the theory is here on the website. We’ve made a few changes since starting our project, mostly in the products we buy and in the reduction in waste and water usage. It’s great for the environment but also helped with our savings so it’s a win-win. There are some great tips here for greening up your cleaning in all areas of the house – and they should save you some money too. You can find them on here or our YouTube Channel.
Plans for July
- Our free e-book should be out next month with seven ways to start your frugal journey.
- We also have the monthly newsletter starting for those who would like to learn more about us and what we’re up to, it’s not a copy of what’s on here, but all new and exclusive info!
- You can join our community at the bottom of every page xx
- We will be starting the planning for the School Summer Break – Staying Sane in the Holidays with our new page Frugal Events – I can’t wait.
It has been unbelievably hot here over the last few days, and so we have got the paddling pool back out and the kids have cooled off and had lots of fun soaking each other (and daddy!). But, inevitably my new way of thinking caused me to reflect on how easy it was for us to just turn on the tap and use beautiful clean water to just play in… and that didn’t feel quite right.
We always recycle our play water, usually by watering our veggies and it isn’t refilled very often (we use a sieve to get the grass out!) . But I thought about other ways we could ‘offset’ our water usage, and show the kids how lucky they were as a good opportunity to think about our impact as a family. I went to have a look on one of my favourite sites Good Gifts and found a wonderful range of ways to support water related projects across the world… They range from just £8 to £500.We are going to think about which one we can afford, and which feels the best fit for our water usage – I feel better about the paddling pool already.
Things are hotting up over here at Frugal HQ – we have decided our family project will grow into a something far longer, and get bigger than just our little unit.
WATCH THIS SPACE! We are working on a new website and lots of exciting things for 2017.
Following on the recycled theme, and seamlessly matching it to the Christmas theme, I came across these beautiful recycled coffee sack Christmas stockings from Fern Cottage Crafts.
Buying gifts that have a recycled element can be done in all sorts of ways. There are lots of homemade ideas for gifts from children, or you may have a piece of jewellery from a relative that would make a great heirloom piece for another family member. Christmas shouldn’t be about the money we spend, but the thought we put in.
We’ve tried a few ways to extend Christmas spirit for more than just one day of present frenzied chaos and eating ourselves into a stupor. We like to wrap all our Christmas books and DVD’s and have them as treats all through December (re-using last years wrapping paper of course, if you wrap them before they go back in the loft with all the odds and bits you have left, or saved from the big day it’s a doddle!). We also like to make Christmas Eve a special day… take a look at Jam Jar Craft Studio for some great recycled paper ideas. Just a thought 😉
Why I chose to use recycled paper? – C&E Designs – Emma Cottam
At C&E Designs we create bespoke paper craft items, ranging from flowers to buttonholes to framed gifts to cards and tags. As a staple we use recycled paper – that is paper that we collect second hand. We hunt through second hand stores, we receive lovely donations and through that we have developed a massive stock of books, maps and sheet music.
Up-cycling this paper and creating something new allows us to bring life back into something that has been used and quite often discarded. We chose to use paper as creating something from almost nothing is a passion and allows our creativity to flow and re-using and up-cycling is important to us as a brand.
In this modern age we quite often throw something away when we are finished with it or when it doesn’t fit a purpose anymore. Recycling and re-using paper can save trees and help to preserve our environment. Whilst I’m not qualified to talk about environmental issues, for us as a business and for me as a person I feel it is important to recycle and re-use.
Using something that once belonged to someone else I often wonder about the journey that that piece of paper, book or map has been on and whom it belonged to. Often the messages at the front of the book, the markings on the sheet music or the circles on the maps show the journey and we like to incorporate this into some of our designs.
One of our favourite types of paper to use is old maps, the older the better! Especially when they have been taped together, are rugged around the edges and have become discoloured with age. These maps show a life well lived and to be able to creatively re-create this into something for someone else makes this an amazing job!
We love having a scrap paper drawer at Frugal HQ. It’s made from all sorts of things – old letters and printer mistakes, a clear out of old paperwork, damaged book pages, unwanted order forms and catalogues… and when it runs out we just let people we know to save their unwanted printouts, especially people that work in colleges and offices.
I particularly love the weird and wonderful array of things the kids create, they are happy for hours at the table with scissors, gluesticks and staplers (under supervision :)) This week Daddy got a new hat, we made some snowflakes for the windows and a few paperchain experiments – however these became the army of zombies that the Tsum Tsum Avengers were fighting so didn’t last long…
Our interest in recycling and creativity means we often come across far more talented people at these things than we are – look out for a GUEST POST tomorrow from the amazing Emma at C & E Designs about why they love to recycle paper – and of course the beautiful and unique things they make.
Just this week we ‘met’ Ekra, another map recycler on Instagram – it’s what all the cool kids do!
It’s been a much calmer week all round, and so ‘we’ have started to consider what we are buying for Christmas and lists have been created – presents, food, cards etc. One strategy we use is to stick to one supermarket and use their points scheme, this means we have a nice sum to use for our Christmas Treat Foods.
A new strategy is to use TopCashBack for items we buy online (we also order things via this for family and friends). I am totally amazed by how much we have saved over the year by using TopCashBack and when I was checking how to actually get the money out I realised that you can get an extra 6% more money FOR FREE by having your money on a shop card instead of straight to your bank. This could be used as a gift card for someone, or in a shop we are likely to be getting presents from anyway – with four kids every penny counts.
I’m aware it’s now Friday – but sometimes things don’t go to plan! I was thinking frugal thoughts yesterday… our local soft play centre is just £1 on Thursday!
One great way to support local business people is to shop locally, particularly in the run up to Christmas. I will be doing a post about that in more detail next week, but here I wanted to focus on the great power of holding a ‘party’ at home and inviting one or more local sellers to come along.
These are usually very informal gatherings that are useful on lots of levels
- your friends get to meet up for a day/night out,
- they get to shop easily without queues and carrying heavy bags,
- they also get more unusual gifts or discounts,
- The benefit of being the host is that you will either get a ‘thank you’ gift, or a heavy discount on your own purchases, as well as the loveliness of having friends over for a catch up.
We have done this to support local businesses with lots of mutual benefits, those people have become lasting contacts and it’s a really nice way to shop. There are loads of different parties you can host, from cosmetics, kitchen wares, books and clothes. Our favourites are Phoenix Trading and Arbonne both offer a very personal service, have great products and people really enjoy seeing and buying them.