UA-99606640-1Thursday Thought – Welcome to The Frugal Family

Category: Thursday Thought

Plastic Fantastic?
Plastic Fantastic?

There is so much information floating around (a bit like all the plastic…) about the massive and complex problem of single plastic use and disposal… to be honest I got a bit overwhelmed and distressed. Watching Blue Planet I found myself so upset that it was immobilising, but then you feel as if nothing you do will help and consequently end up doing nothing.

Of course the reality is that we can ALL do SOMTHING that helps, but they will be small changes to our everyday living, and most of us with families and sleep deprivation and pasta to cook will have to slowly and carefully make our changes bit by bit. What I hope this site tries to show is that this is a totally ok way to go about things – making life long realistic steps in the right direction is great. You are also having an impact you may not even realise by role modelling to your children, neighbours, friends and family. When you make change, and are positive and happy that message gets sent out into the world, and the impact is like a ripple on the pond.

We have created this infographic this morning – to give just 4 quick fixes you can do TODAY to reduce your plastic consumption and use. There are lots more you can try, but let’s just start simple and move on up! I will add another 4 to try tomorrow, and then we all have the weekend to try things out.

Frugal Family Valentines
Frugal Family Valentines

We LOVE this day, it’s all about LOVE which is the stuff of life… and you can moan about the commercialisation or you can just ignore that and do your own thing – which is how we roll at Frugal HQ. So here’s how we have a Frugal Fun Family Valentines.

We plan ahead –

Family have been drafted in to babysit, and Mr Frugal and I are off to the cinema tonight with free tickets using our Tesco Clubcard vouchers. It’s so nice, and a rare treat for us to go out just the two of us and it’s so essential to have time for being a couple as well as a larger family unit. These outings are truly valued by us, and big thanks to anyone willing to look after our four exuberant children for the night, it’s means the world x

 

We show love –

It’s not about what you buy, but what you DO that really matters. So, we do cards but not gifts – the cards are mostly homemade or very funny and relevant. The kids make cards and various other things at groups and nursery and we collate these to make a lovely collage on our mantelpiece.

 

We play games –

Last year we had a scavenger hunt to win sweets, the year before we put photos of family members and friends around the house and the kids had to find everyone on their tick sheet to win the prize.

We also have some homemade Love Bugs that are used for all sorts of strange games over the years, you can drop things through them, use them for bowling or try to blow them over while laying on the floor… 

 

 

 

We make stuff –

This year we have the new play tray so I had to put that to good use. With  a range of ages to engage we have gone with:


colouring sheets

cards and envelopes to make

games using sweets – naughts and crosses

games using sweets – stacking them until they fall

love hearts – to write something you love and stick it on our collage mirror

a pot of pink and red pens

 

 

 

We eat weird things –

We try to eat pink and red foods, it’s usually easy with some heart shaped pasta that they do at Lidl, but I was too late this year, so we will have heart shaped pudding and red sauce on ‘normal’ pasta, I think I’ll get away with it as there are lots of sweets in the house, all heart shaped of course.

 

This is really just to prove that you can include children and the whole family in discussing and celebrating love, you can show them how much you care with treats, but also with time and shared experiences. You don’t have to spend anything, or a few heart shaped sweets to make it extra special. It’s not about what you spend, it’s about taking a ‘fake’ day and making it your own, to express something you do feel is valuable. If you are looking for some ideas for a more intimate, adult Valentines Day then you might find our post on Adult Love useful x

Adult Love… and sex, committment, relationships etc.
Adult Love… and sex, committment, relationships etc.

There is going to be a flood of posts and articles surrounding Valentine’s (or Galentine’s if you’re trendy) Day, and it’s hard to think of something a little different to talk about! I actually LOVE celebrating Valentine’s Day, I think any excuse to talk and show affection and love to those we care for should be grabbed. We have games we play with the kids and eat heart shaped and/or red and pink foods for dinner, after 24 years Mr. Frugal and I still send cards to each other and have a take away as a treat with something bubbly in the evening.

Love is special, and if you have someone you really feel good around then take every opportunity to tell them. Of course for a relationship to show commitment and longevity you will need to show you care on more than just one day!

I’ve decided to use all this talk of love and relationships to write a post of two halves. 1. Frugal Romance and 2. Sustainable Sex (eco not stamina!).

If you are still looking for love there are a number of dating sites specifically aimed at people with strong eco and ethical values:

www.greensingles.com

www.naturalfriends.co.uk

www.ecolovers.co.uk

www.ethicalsingles.com

www.green-passions.com

www.greenlovers.co.uk

Frugal Romance

So, the shops will have lots of options for you to spend money to demonstrate how much you love someone. I’m here as the voice of reason to say what you SPEND does not demonstrate how much you love someone! Really, it just doesn’t. However  your ACTIONS may well be a huge clanging bell of how much you have thought about/planned for/taken care over the person you wish to show affection. There is a very fine line between saving money and being careful about people’s feelings. A homemade item only works if it’s genuinely made with care and affection, FREE things you could consider creating might include:

  • a card
  • a photo collage
  • upcycling a favourite piece of clothing
  • jewellery
  • a keepsake box
  • a mix tape (or modern equivalent!!)
  • inviting over a treasured friend
  • offering to babysit for an important occasion
  • cook/buy a favourite meal
  • put on clean bedsheets, maybe with some perfume or petals on there?
  • do all the cleaning, and open a bottle of wine…

If there is a chance that you have very different views on the whole Valentine’s Day thing I would encourage a conversation about this in advance to avoid common pitfalls and crushed expectations. Examples of AGREED spending changes could be:

  • Celebrating on an alternative day when everything will be cheaper, flowers, meals, chocolates EVERYTHING.
  • Setting a budget for gifts.
  • Showing love to a common passion instead, so rather than flowers donate that money to a project you both love or buying an item you both agree is needed/wanted.
  • Not spending at all, and have a free date night (see below)
  • Buying one thing that’s really wanted rather than spending on lots of smaller items available in the shops that are red and heart shaped, but will ultimately end up in a charity shop.

For a no spend Valentine’s Day you will have to be a bit more creative, and if you are planning a surprise remember to focus on the LOVE and not the PRICE

– people don’t want to hear that it was cheaper to do X than Y, it’s just not romantic.

 

Here are five ideas for a FREE Date Night, and you can do these on any night of the year obviously – maybe you could have a monthly night of romance instead of just birthdays and anniversaries?

  1. Watch the sunset or sunrise together… this can be a truly peaceful and wonderous experience. NB if you are parents of young children I’m aware this won’t work for you x However, you are probably up for one of these anyway so having a partner to share it with might be nice??
  2. Look over an old photo album together and remember some fun times, you can laugh about your teenage haircuts, see your first dates or a wedding album. Have a laugh and remind yourselves why and how you fell in love… The longer you are together the more hilarious this gets.
  3. Snuggle up and watch a movie. Turn the lights out and grab some snacks or a hot chocolate and just be. Choosing a movie can be tricky – I would go for whatever is most likely to induce laughter, romance or sleep depending on your situation.
  4. Make a Plan – think about the future you plan together, discuss some shared goals or dreams and see how you can support each other to make them happen.
  5. Have an ‘early night’ – wink wink, see below

 

Somewhere in between the Romance and Sex halves of this post I want to quickly mention underwear – there are some really beautiful, ethically sourced and made underwear producers that may cost a bit more than Ann Summers, but will last you a long time are comfortable as well as sexy and offer an elegance and sensuality that may be more to your taste take a look at…www.lbpclub.co.uk, www.luvahuva.co.uk & www.moralfibres.co.uk.

Sustainable Sex

So now we move to the more awkward part of the post – at least if you’re British it will be awkward! – to think about how we allow for frugal and ethical values in a healthy sex life. A quick word of warning from my own recent research if you use an online search engine to find ‘eco sex’ you are likely to come across a lot of articles, books and information about a group who took the term as their own and have a very specialist view of what it means; basically they practice and encourage people to love the Earth in the most explicit sense. If that’s your thing, you have found your people; if you are looking for a more environmentally friendly way to express human to human love then the ideas here will be more for you…

Below are some ways you may want to consider making changes or at least pondering the issues of sustainable sex.

Frugal Sex

One of the great things about sex is that it’s free! But if you want to change things up a bit here are a few more FREE ways to explore:

  • turn the lights off and save some electricity (frugal and ethical!)
  • consider the Great Outdoors as a possible location…
  • save water by sharing a bath together
  • enjoy a sensual massage using up some moisturiser or oil you already have
  • change your ‘usual’ location if things have got a bit ‘same same’
  • borrow a book from the library and try one new position a week/month/year
  • make some cards with sexy suggestions and take turns to pick one at random
  • one partner gets to choose the whole evening’s activities

Sex Toys

If you have or use ‘equipment’ you might consider how ethically they are made, and the materials they are made from. The more natural the material the better from an environmental point of view, however it’s likely most sex toys are made of plastic. You will be pleased to learn therefore that the company LoveHoney can at least recycle your WEEE categorised sex toys. You just give them a clean and send them off, all the details are on the link.

If buying something new, you have the chance to be completely eco-friendly with options that are recyclable (glass, wood) or rechargeable, for example the Gaia Eco Vibrator is biodegradable and can be recycled. There is also a wind up vibrator which only needs you as a power source. You can check out www.lovehoney.co.uk, www.ethicalsextoys.co.uk and www.EarthAngel.co.uk who offer a selection of items for more ethical consumers, including recycled leather whips. There is also a social enterprise offering ethical sex toys alongside educational resources at www.vavven.org.

 

Safe Sex

Condoms are still one of the safest and easiest ways to make sure you avoid unwanted pregnancy and STD’s. However, they are not biodegradable and often end up in landfill or our waterways. The only currently available option that is biodegradeable is made from lamb intestines which aren’t especially sexy. BUT there are ways you can make more ethical choices… some companies offer 100% recycled packaging, and Fair Square off ultra thin condoms from fairly traded latex. At www.babipur.co.uk you can buy vegan, fair trade condoms – it is mainly a children’s site so don’t be too alarmed when you first get there!

Here is also a good point to think about being comfortable – there is a great lube available from lots of places including Boots called YES! Lube, this is organic and free of parabens.

 

Fun Sex

If you have the urge to go all 9 1/2 Weeks, just remember to think about where your food is sourced, and it’s impact… traditional aphrodisiac foods like seafood are often full of unpleasant plastic particles or mercury and that’s not at all romantic. It might be better to go for a safer homemade option like this easy vegan Chocolate Sauce recipe… 

14oz coconut milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup cocoa powder

2tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk coconut milk, sugar and cocoa powder together and then simmer in a pan for 10mins, add the vanilla and oil off the heat stir to blend and allow to cool (or not!)

If you like to dress up, consider getting costumes pre-loved instead of new, and consider the quality and flammability of the materials used! Again, you may want to try a homemade version, you might create your own school days with white shirts and ties, wrap up with toilet roll like a mummy and then rip it all off, recreate a favourite gig with the live CD and wear the gig t-shirts you bought back then…


Whatever floats your boat between consenting adults should be fun and healthy. It can be very difficult in family life to find the time and energy for romance or even the most cursory of sex lives, but intimacy is what makes a relationship different from a friendship so it’s worth nurturing for the long run.

I will be adding some more relationship based articles to the FRUGAL YOU page, after writing and delivering a number of courses on relationships, as well as working on my own for over 20 years I feel in a good place to share the love x

Plans and Projects…
Plans and Projects…

January was a wild mix of ‘getting back on track’  – it seems to have flown by, and suddenly my post about what we’re doing in 2018 feels a bit late… However, better late than never.

I wanted to update you on all the exciting things we are planning, or are already happening for 2018.

I want to have a greater impact on individual families and really move towards our vision of a practical and active community of families looking for ways to save money while also saving the World. To achieve this we have a number of exciting developments…

Winning At Winter Book – this was a collaboration and is a wonderful resource to save money and waste, to keep healthy and happy through the dark Winter months. We are planning to have four books eventually covering all the Seasons, watch this space!

Meal Planning & Sourcing Your Food – this is our first email workshop! Arriving in your inbox over 5 days you will receive videos of me (no filters as you know) as well as lots of resources to help you become a meal planning ninja.

7 Starters to Frugal Freedom – for everyone in our community we have a FREE ebook to get you started on saving money, and becoming a more conscious spender. To get your copy just add your email in the box on this page, or at the bottom of the homepage.

Plan It, Love It, Do It! – our new membership community for people to get support, ideas, inspiration and goals directly from Claire. There are also extra resources based on our monthly themes and EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNTS with some amazing small businesses. February Founding members also get a FREE 1:1 with Claire.

School Holiday Survival Guide – our next ebook will be the complete guide to surviving school holidays, all you will ever need to Spend Less, Use Less and Do More! I’m hoping it will be out in time for February half term…

FaceBook LIVE! – I’m starting a weekly FB Live interview with movers and shakers from the family or ethical world that will help all of us to focus on small changes we can make to live our dreams, within our means

Out & About – I’m also working hard to get our family friendly, ethical message out and about by doing lots of guest writing, interviews and sharing our message with anyone that will listen! February looks like a bumper month with a feature in REVEAL Magazine as well…

I’m so thrilled by these projects and ideas to get real families moving forward to live their dreams. Join our newsletter here and you will get regular updates, as well as your FREE 7 Starters xx

 

Winter Wonders
Winter Wonders

You may be able to see steam coming off my keyboard such is the HUGE amount of work going on at Frugal HQ – it’s just been the most exciting and productive time.  Hopefully you have seen our recent post about the new email course, and now we have this amazing collaboration to help you have the most productive, frugal, healthy, self care Winter EVER!

The book Winning At Winter is now available in our shop at only £6 – that includes the 11 printable resources – yes, really.

Winning At Winter offers:

  • Seasonal Recipes
  • Journal Ideas
  • Upcycling Projects
  • Reading Lists
  • Homemade Beauty
  • Self Care Prompts
  • De cluttering projects
  • Frugal Living Ideas
  • and lots, lots more!

There were five copies at just £1 exclusively for our facebook group members… if you join quick there may still be some left?

 

 

You Asked, We Answered!
You Asked, We Answered!

New Course!

I have been wanting to start our workshops and courses, but with my butterfly brain I found it hard to decide what to do first. We already have our free e-book and free Ta-Dah! course available, but I wanted to do more… I decided to ask what the real issues are for families trying to budget and be more ethical in our Facebook Group – and from that poll the clear winner was Meal Planning.

So – our first email course will be to share how we meal plan and source our food to balance the budget and try to reduce food waste. As with all things in life there are lots of ways to do this, and in fact if you search on line you would find mountains of information – what is special about our course is that’s it a more personal and practical suggestion. It’s about what we actually do in real life! If you have been following us for a while you will know that part of our plan it to be open and honest about what we do and why – and that we’re not perfect or pretending to be. We don’t filter too much here, as parents it’s so demoralising when you see other people who seem to have it all together when you are falling apart.

 

When you buy the course from our shop, you will receive five emails over five days –

  1. Welcome email with description of the course and contents info – with an invitation to a separate thread in our Facebook Group for Q&A
  2. Meal Planning video with Claire – explaining and demonstrating what we do and why
  3. Meal Planning resources and printables
  4. Sourcing Your Food video with Claire – discussing many ideas for how to source good value, low waste food (and a few non-food ideas too!)
  5. Sourcing Your Food resources and printables – by now you will be a meal planning ninja x

We try to make sure that what we do has some value or impact, so you will also receive a feedback email to check  your thoughts about the course and anything you would like to let us know.

 

Remember Members of Plan It, Love It, Do It! are able to receive this course for FREE as part of their membership.

Stop the Press!
Stop the Press!

National Hugging Day!

Who can resist celebrating this wonderful day? We certainly can’t here at Frugal HQ, and with the cold weather and a hibernation sensation cuddling up under a quilt sounds pretty perfect. National Hugging Day is on the 21st January every year, and although it started in the US it’s travelled the world with it’s message of kindness and support.

The message also fits with where The Frugal Family is at currently, I’ve been developing ideas about how to best support families who are looking to become more ethical and frugal in 2018. There are a number of ways it could have gone, I was quite taken with the idea of a magazine… but that didn’t feel personal enough, so I’m going to start a membership group called

Plan It, Do It, Love It!

 

There is already a facebook group (who came up with the name – thanks x)  with daily threads and ideas which will continue as it is, but I wanted to be able to have a more personal impact on families that really want to get motivated and start living in action. So… after much deliberation I’m starting a separate group for people that want the nitty-gritty. I think my 15 years of lecturing and as a qualified Life Coach are going to be a great background for the group.

 

Benefits of joining are:

  • Running monthly planning sessions together online to get your calendar under control and support with finding savings and planning ahead.
  • Q&A workshops relevant to the monthly theme – this will be linked to the main page theme, but more flexible.
  • Exclusive resources.
  • Discounts for members with ethical and frugal businesses.
  • Guest specialists to help us out through the year.

ALL e-books and courses that the The Frugal Family has solely produced in the shop will be FREE to members. This includes the NEW Meal Planning and Sourcing Your Food 5 Day E-course at £25! which will be available next month

I would expect you to save or make the fee each month (and more!), or over the year by working hard and completing your monthly ‘challenge’ we set together.

 

Membership to Plan It, Love It, Do It! will be just £9.99 per month (first month FREE) 

or £99.99 for 12 months (2 Months FREE) paid up front
.

This is a special price to help us get going and trial a number of ideas on these willing guinea pigs!

The first LIVE month will be March, but you can sign up now to grab your place, and access our Resources Bank and some other fun things for our February Founder Members – including a 1:1 chat with me to get you started.

It’s a really wonderful time of year to start your frugal journey, or to up your game if you are already on the road – and a bit of help with ideas, accountability and self care can only help. I’m using my own experience as the basis for the membership – the things that I wished I’d had access to, I’ve also used several polls in the fb group to see what people want and need to become the ethically frugal family they wish to be.

This confidential and friendly space, with some coaching and support will be a really safe place to discuss ideas and solve problems, with other parents and people who will really ‘get’ it. I hope you can join us, and I’m looking forward to meeting you face to face in our first Zoom meeting. If you sign up you will receive a welcome email with all the details you need.

If you would like to support us, but don’t think membership is for you we have a Patreon account you can sign up to for just £2 per month x

We are Starting Something!
We are Starting Something!

See, we do take our own advice!

New E-book!

We are so excited to share our new FREE e-book with you. I wanted to put together a set of starting ideas and goals for living an ethically frugal life, and January just seems the perfect time to do this.

I hope that this is useful to people and contains some practical ways to get going for 2018!

The book is split into 7 ‘Steps’ to challenge all areas of family life, but it mainly falls to the adults to do the work! Some sections might be easier for you than others and you don’t have to complete them in any order, but if you do complete them all you should be looking at having up to £1,000 saved or made – and then you can decide what to do with it!

If you have debts, then they should always be your first concern, although mortgages are a slightly different kettle of fish…

To give you a sneak peek – The 7 Steps are:

1. Check what you have – you might be able to just not buy certain things for a while once you’ve done an audit of what you already have stashed in cupboards, the attic and garage….
2. Change what you can – you need to be changing utilities and other services regularly, or at least checking them annually.
3. Sell what you no longer need – quick fix!
4. Plan and source your food – lots of ideas for this big regular expense
5. Plan ahead – get a feel for what you will need through the months, leading to better use of sales, coupons and wish lists.
6. Household Mindfulness – paying attention to the small ways you can save money and the world, this is where the kids come into their own…
7. Kindness – practicing self-care can reduce lots of bills – honest!

I am also working on making each of the steps into a week long email course, with video and handout support – if you feel that you need some extra help with any of the ideas in the free e-book, these would be the next step. The book should go live in the shop tomorrow, but if you want to be kept up to date with all our exciting news feel free to sign up to our community – we promise not to contact you too much.

I got so excited by the possibilities and opportunities of video that I’m also putting up a number of our workshops as online courses, so that people can access them nationally (or internationally!) – we can’t travel too far as we have childcare and family commitments, but the wonder of the internet means we can still share our ideas and experience. The first one I’m working on (just need a few more hours in the day and some healthy kids!) is the 50 Ways to Save the World... I so love delivering that talk.

 

I’d love to know what your biggest battle is with ethical and frugal family life, we have a poll in the Facebook Group if you would like to join the link is here. You can also email us, or drop us a Tweet with any ideas – I love a challenge x

Welcome 2018!
Welcome 2018!

We are so excited about this year here at Frugal HQ – we have been making lots of plans, some of which are too far fetched… but some are going to be actually real!! There is much more work to be done before we can share them, but to get us going for the year, if you are just starting out on your ethically frugal life, or want to up your game quickly – here are five really easy things you can do RIGHT NOW to get you into your frugal groove:

 

1. Check Your Utilities –

You should really make this part of your monthly or annual plan. More details are in our FREE e-book, but you should be shopping around to get the best deal on your gas and electricity (longer term you should be checking/changing all your regular household bills). We use Switchcraft as they do all the work for us! You just sign up, and then they email you before your current deal ends and give you the best choices to move to – no more forms after that initial sign up. You can specify if you only want to deal with the big energy suppliers, or just green or whatever you feel comfortable with. If you use this link we get a bit of a commission, and £5 of that we give to Charity: Water x.

 

2. List What You Need –

Grab a bit of paper or your phone, and start a list of what physical items you actually need in an average week or month. Then add in special or unusual things like birthday gifts. Then check in with the rest of the family and add their items. You can now have fun finding as many of these items as you can from:

  • what you already have – make do and mend, repurpose, upcycle etc.
  • what you can make for yourself – cards, gifts, washing powder?
  • what you can get on free cycle sites, from friends, skips, schwooping etc.
  • what you can actually do without when you think about it, or do less often
  • what you can ask someone else to get for you – e.g. as a treat, favour, in exchange for babysitting…
  • what you can find in a deal, coupon, voucher, special offer

You will then be left with the items you need to buy, at full price and can make that part of your budget (you have a budget right?). If you know what you are looking for to cover the year, you can make better use of deals and discounts.

 

3. Sell Unwanted Stuff –

After you have listed what you need, and had a good rummage in the cupboards and shed to find things, you are likely to have also come across lots of things you don’t need/want/like/fit and now is the time to get rid of them. You can sell them, give them away, or swap them but clutter isn’t good for ethically frugal living and it’s not good for your mental health either so start working through it gently. If you can re-gift things to cover some of the items from no. 2 above then do so – just remember to keep a list of who gave it to you before you give it to someone else, this can also be useful if you need to donate to school raffles and other events during the year.

 

4. Assess the Leftovers –

 

You can have a cheap food shop in much of January by being more aware of what you already have in the cupboards and freezer and odd tins around the house that you got in the mad dash for Christmas. By using up those leftovers carefully and only buying the additional things you need you should be back on track very quickly. You need to be willing to have a few ‘odd’ meals and we call them UFO’s (Unidentified Frozen Objects), but it’s all for a good cause – YOU!

 

 

5. Start Meal Planning –

If you don’t do this already, or stopped bothering for a bit get back in the habit of planning what you and the family are doing for the week and only buy what you need to cover those meals. Remember with back to school you may need to add in lunch box items or after school snacks. We find in the Winter we do eat differently, so get in lots of cheap veg and make up soups! Think about where and when you shop, and also moving ‘down’ towards the value brands on some items. January is a good month to start new habits and start as you mean to go on.

 

Our theme for this month is to Start Something – January is a great time to gather energy and ideas for the year ahead. Keep in touch using the form below to get inspiration delivered to your inbox throughout 2018 xx

 

 

5 Free Things to do NOW! to get ready for next Christmas…
5 Free Things to do NOW! to get ready for next Christmas…

Yes – I really do have some things I do as one Christmas ends, to get ready for the next one. This may sound a bit much, but you will thank me next December I promise, and there is nothing here that is onerous honest.

1. DVD or Book Advent

Over several years of presents and great finds we built up a collection of family Christmas films. We now keep these separately and use them as a sort of advent calendar, so from 1st December the kids take turns to unwrap a Christmas film most nights after school, and weekends. We used to wrap the books as well but that got harder with the age range of children and the number of books we read each night, so they are now just in a pretty box for the Season.

It’s much easier to wrap them NOW before you put them away in the loft, and using the wrapping paper you have saved from the recycling bin, job done.

You can do this unwrapping idea with anything really depending on what you have (or would like to get hold of…) ideas could be books, or chocolate, wine… whatever you want!

2. Food List

 

Write a basic shopping list NOW while you can still remember what you had and what you forgot!

Or use the shopping receipt to start you off… If you are being super organised you might keep a file with such lists in so year on year you build up a great database of resources. You will never forget the cranberry sauce again…

You could also include any new ideas you have seen or been treated to by others, you could keep recipes here and we also have a list of non-food items e.g. we like to find a colouring in table cloth.

The more organised you are the better to take advantage of any deals you see in the run up to the big day – you can save a lot of money by buying in advance in sales throughout the year, or spreading the cost by adding things to each weekly shop over the Winter months.

 

3. Cut up your Cards

If you received Christmas Cards you can reuse them for lots of things by getting them ready NOW, which also means less going into the recycling; ideas might include:

• Cut up for present labels
• Used to make new Christmas cards (this is what we do…)
• Cut up for kids crafts (sorted into animals or colours?)
• Cut out non-Christmas bits for Thank You cards
• Cut out for hexagon patchwork foundation piecing – New Year, New Hobby xx

 

4. Keep a Present List

 

To save trying to remember what you got for everyone this year, so you don’t duplicate next year jot a list down NOW (if you like the idea of this Christmas Planning File, add this in x) and then you don’t have to remember. Mr F is a bit of a spreadsheet fanatic, so we have all our lists on the computer and then can share the load of thinking, buying, making, organising etc . This is also really useful as my brain works in curious ways and I now have a place to save a good idea that comes to me in April for a Christmas present. Another advantage is that if I’m planning on making things or doing crafts with the children I can add anything I need to buy well in advance of December itself – and like the food list, I can make use of free recycling sites and sales.

If you are a present re-gifter, please keep a note of where each gift you will be ‘re-homing’ has come from. There is NOTHING worse than getting a gift you gave someone coming back to you… we have a family member who doesn’t keep a list – and we take bets on who will get what from last year!!

The year we had baby four on the 21st, I can’t remember much – but luckily I had completed all my lists in advance and could leave Mr F to it – unsure what day we would all be home and when baby might join us!

5. Clothes Clear Out

 

If you have festive clothes, before you put them all away for next year, just have a quick check of sizes and condition. With four children our Christmas clothes have had a good innings, but this year we have given our new baby items to a friend, and at the end of this year anything under age 2 can be given away. It is another quick job you can do NOW that you won’t have to do next December. This might be true of slippers, dressing up costumes, festive hats etc.

Our family really hopes your family has had an amazing break, and that we will continue to support and inspire you in 2018, we have such exciting plans – bring it on!