There are NO AFFILIATE links here, I’m not getting any personal benefit from sharing these ideas with you (more fool me!) but I wanted to inspire people to stop spending money they don’t have, or only buying from large corporations when you can get wonderful, handmade, beautiful, ethical gifts from small suppliers, local producers and great people. You are likely to come across a charge for postage and packing, but it may be that you live close enough to collect, or will add more to an order for postage to be cost effective. Please remember these are small suppliers making great products to feed their families.
If you have a friend or relative that runs their own business, please do buy from them before a large corporation – they are your friends! Maybe you could ask if they have gift vouchers, if they’ve written a book then buy it…
Let’s make 2018 a real year of LOVE and KINDNESS.
These are not ‘stocking fillers’ or ‘secret santa’ ideas just based on the price, they are simply lovely gifts. Where you choose to put them, and how many you may buy is entirely up to you but please people of Earth take a moment to just think about what you are spending and where – this should be a time of Peace, Love and Family. I see so much stress and anxiety and it makes me sad.
Next week I will be sharing some FREE gifts for children, just as a few ideas to give some perspective. But for today – dive in!
These in no particular order, and all are beautiful in their own way (I have tried to group them for ease….) Many of the makers I know personally or have been in touch with via the wonders of the internet recently so this information was correct when I pressed Publish!
Actually I want these as well, but they are very useful for school lunches – reuseable sandwich bags (£3.75). I love the designs and variety and just the great ecological wonderfulness of them. There is lots of love at WoollaWoolla Handmade including polar fleece neck warmers and cool hair accessories, all in budget.
These beautifully hand crafted wooden spinning tops from Love Heart Wood are just timeless (£4.50). Each one is unique and no need for batteries!
Another great local find for us was KBling Designs, we got our girls a number of hair accessories and a necklace all under £3! There is loads to choose from, and no fuel or postage cost for us.
More handmade hair accessories from Three Little Pickles Craft (£2.00) – can you tell we have three girls?? It was great to meet another working mum, doing her best for her family and such a creative gift xx
We love Stapleford Stones, they are such fun to hide and share – or to buy and keep. Prices start from £2.00 and go up…
As you will already know we love books, and kids books can be under budget – for those reading on their own check out Maddies Magic Christmas (£1.99 on Kindle), Rob Keeley’s Short Stories (£3.99 on Kindle), We also use local charity shops for books and DVD’s.
For the Home:
There is a whole section of gifts listed under £5 at Homebee. There are lovely inspirational plaques (£4,50), and a great Badger riding a bike tin (£3.50) that made it’s way to our basket – along with a cute fridge magnet (£2.50) Mr F will appreciate x
If you sort by price at Moose in the Mint you will see a whole host of items under £5, all upcycled and eco-friendly. We particularly liked the individual wine glass markers at £2.50.
Another whopping great list of items in budget from Hetty and Betty – Mr F has his eye on the beer bottle opener (£4.99) and I would rather like the heart shaped chalk board (£3.99).
For an original and striking piece of artwork you can buy a print from Vision Within Artwork (£4.50) – we love the Manchester Bees and also know some Londoners that would appreciate the St Pauls Cathedral.
We were excited to come across Alexander Fox Design recently – her use of recycled materials to create Christmas decorations was just beautiful, and many under £5. We also love foxes, so her larger work has gone on the Wish List x
If you love recycling, and beautiful bottles then The Tipsy Candle is a really fun company re-purposing beautiful glass bottles into candles. They have an Absolut Vodka for £5, but the larger champagne bottles with up to 70 hours burn time are obviously more. We particularly liked the Nottingham Gin which has gone on the Wish List x
For a less alcoholic approach you could try Tension Takeaway Candles, these are vegan and made in East Sussex with the smaller 100g size all at £5.00.
If you fancy some lovely treats you can’t go wrong with an artisan hot chocolate coin (£1.25) from Pip’s Real Hot Chocolate – from beautiful Wales, there are vegan options and shed loads of flavours, we like the mint ones…
Still on the foodie theme you could try the vegan fudge from Fab Fudge with a whole host of exciting flavours from £2.99. We liked the raspberry and the fruit and nut x
The wonderful Low Tox Box have a great shop, with lots of items in budget – for a festive treat they have an eco-cracker you can reuse again and again (£2.95).
We love everything at Fiona Rob Graphics, but the pocket mirrors (£4) are particularly lovely, and the Penguin felt decorations (£4.50) are super cute as well. There are also keyrings and other cards, decorations and woodland animals in abundance.
For the foodie in the family (or for yourself) you can try some award winning spice blends and new flavours with Spice Sanctuary mixes (£4.99) from Planet Organic.
You can have a pack of 15 teabags delivered to someone via Tea Huggers (£4.85)- perhaps a ‘Good Night’ , ‘TLC’ or ‘DETOX’? They have a mouth watering range on offer and no P&P costs in the UK. If anyone wants to send me some chocolate tea, I’d love to give it a try, but the Sleep one sounds the best…
For something very unusual check out these brilliant ‘slang’ pencils from Hedge and Hog Prints (£5.00) – we love the Ay Up version, but have some Yorkshire friends who will be getting the Bobby Dazzlers!!
One for the creatives – an organic and ethically produced iron on fabric patch from Shenaniganz (£4.99) – Art certainly is my distraction…
I was amazed to find these lovely hand made earrings at Two for Tea – for just £1 a pair!! P&P is £1.00 for up to five pairs and I want the Snoopy ones…
Our love of books is shared on both sides of the family – so you can always get someone a book in our experience, it’s great to support a local or indie author whenever possible – or to use second hand books or share one you already have and give a book review and tea bag with it x There are lots of Kindle books available for under £5.00, ideas to try… Aunt Bea’s Legacy by Jeanette Taylor Ford (£2.99) or The Night Raid by Clare Harvey (£3.99)
One particular book we recommend for the After Christmas clear up is from Less-Stuff and at £4.99 it’s well worth a read and maybe a few for gifts too!
We recently met Helen Domleo – an amazing designer and silversmith on a dog walk! Her work is quite beautiful inspired by nature and often using recycled metals, and some of her pieces are under £5.00… just amazing. I may have treated myself to something – shhh!
One of our favourite artists is Paper Panda – with lots of gifts, templates and accessories for under £5.00 you could inspire someone to a new hobby, and if you cut used paper it’s recycling too, I’m a genius.
If you would like to pamper someone you can’t go far wrong with a range of gifts under £5.00 from Honey and Rose – all handmade and good for you, we really like the filled Christmas Crackers (£5.00) and bath fizz (£3.00).
From the House of Kind you can have a beautiful notebook (£5.00) ready to list your dreams for 2018 – printed on recycled paper using vegetable inks you can feel good while you dream big!
If you’re looking for something with a bit of bite you will like Mean Mail! As the name suggests their cards (£3.50) are all quite mean, but also funny… we like ‘Did you Keep the Receipt?‘ which also seems quite fitting with my earlier rant…
The handmade greeting cards from Ethicological (£3.50) not only look great and are jolly useful, but are made as part of a project to support children who have experienced the hardest of times to become independent – they are also made of recycled papers and embody the whole package of green and great.
We really love the idea that you can make paper out of elephant poo – share the hilarity with a Card Making Kit (£3.95) from The Exotic Paper Company.
Some people have raised concerns that we have nothing here for the pets in our lives – if you follow us you know we have a dog who is loved by some of the family more than others… We have some great ideas for making pet beds, treats and toys over on our Pinterest Board Frugal Family Pets x x
If you still need some more inspiration take a look at our Gifts That Keep on Giving, and next week’s 5 Free Gifts for Kids x
If you are a small, ethical or just lovely producer of something £5.oo or under get in touch and we can update this list xx
Our theme for December is #frugalactsofkindness, you can join in by using our free Random Acts of Kindness calendar with an idea for every day in December to be kind. You can switch them around depending on your situation, but they give you some starting points… We will be sharing our kind behaviour on our Instagram page, on Twitter and on Facebook – feel free to join us on one of those platforms and share with us using the #. I can’t wait to get in the Christmas spirit by sharing some nice around.
Of course, we are a real family and so there will still be arguments and potential throwing of toys… BUT it does give us all a bit of a focus to think outside of our own needs, to consider others and what’s important on a bigger scale than who moved the superhero figures…
You can find the RAK Calendar in our shop to download FREE – enjoy x
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
These are the rules:
Thank the person who nominated you for the Sunshine Award and link back to their blog.
Answer the questions set by the person who nominated you.
Nominate other blogs and give them questions to answer.
Notify your nominees through social media or commenting on their blog.
List the “rules” and display a Sunshine Award logo in your post.
Plan Your Writing for a Year.
So, you are full of great ideas for articles, blog posts and have a bunch of photos on your phone… and the first few sentences flow from you like Shakespeare – until after about a month of writing you suddenly have nothing to say, or someone has just posted the same idea as you, or you just lose your writing mojo.
One great way to manage your website writing is to plan it out in advance. For some of you that may sound impossible but I promise these steps will mean you can have a year of weekly writing to share on all social media all ready to go – so you can get on with the fun bit of actually writing it!
This works for all subjects so I will try to give a variety of examples – I like a challenge so if you don’t feel you can do this let me know and I will walk you through the process. I was a lecturer and coach for 15 years writing and delivering courses on time management, journaling, life planning and perfectionism – remember that procrastination may be the real problem.
- You need a calendar, planner, diary, app. Something with the day/week/month. I work best on paper and then move onto electronic things. I’m also a big advocate of sticky notes and pencils with erasers on. I would also advise some colour coding for an easy way to see ‘what’s what’.
- Divide the year into seasons – this works for fashion, food, gardening, kids activities, weather, travel pretty much everything. By this I mean physically write or colour in the calendar with seasons. This gives you three month chunks (in most countries…).
- Then add any dates relevant to your PERSONAL LIFE – for example I add the school holidays as I don’t work the same times during holidays. Also consider any relevant life events happening that may make a relevant article.
- Then add any dates relevant to your SUBJECT MATTER – festivals, events, award seasons.
- Next take a look at www.awarenessdays.com or something similar for your country. This will show you National and International celebration or awareness raising events. Make a note of any that resonate with your theme, your readers or you feel are interesting. It’s best to make a separate note of them first, and then add some of those to your plan – you will be surprised how many there are! This gives you themes and topics to write alongside, and gives great exposure (for example by using relevant hashtags on Twitter or Instagram) and may lead to collaboration with new organisations.
- Add in the ideas you already have scribbled on bits of paper and stuck around the house. See where they ‘sit’ best and link with any of the Awareness Days or items from no. 4 (SUBJECT).
- Do an internet search for your niche or a subject you plan to write about and see what else is linked to that, find out what questions people have around those issues and that should give you another couple of writing prompts.
- Join a Twitter Hour and Facebook Group around a subject that you would like to write about, engage and get a feel for topics that are relevant and current – there should also be opportunities for collaborative posts either by responding to others or creating one yourself.
- On average, you will be looking to put something on your website every week which means 52 ideas (you may have more by the end of this). Rather than worry about numbers, as you think of something add it in pencil to the calendar, you can also use those cool page sticky things for colour coding if you want. You may choose to keep to the same day of the week for your regular activity for example we have a Thursday Thought as the blog on our website, and then post in addition to that as and when appropriate.
- If you go off writing completely then remember the power of video – everyone’s doing it, so instead of writing you could just speak to camera and post, or do a Facebook Live or Instagram story and direct everyone to it. You may also consider starting a You Tube channel, we have one just as a place to store video that we want to use on the website, but with effort it could become a really engaging platform, and with the information world becoming faster and faster video is the present and future….
If none of these float your boat then I have EVEN MORE ideas:
- Remember good content is the key, so write when you feel the buzz and keep them for a rainy day…
- You can re-purpose old posts with an update.
- Be topical – respond to a news article or story and share on relevant social media.
- Use Quotes to inspire yourself or others, make them beautiful and always credit where/who they are from.
- Review something relevant to your work that you already own.
- Ask for ideas with a poll or questionnaire.
- Encourage Guest Posts to come and add an article to your site for you.
You can read and watch or just do one or the other. As I’m easily distracted the video is likely to be longer than just reading this!
Take your pick – and I’d love your feedback on which works best for you…
Despite living on an island surrounded by water, it’s still an incredibly precious resource and yet we are one of the highest consumers in Europe and seem unaware of the urgent need to start becoming more water use savvy.
So, here are 5 simple ways you can save some water in the Summer – this is still important even if it’s raining!!
- Put lots of water and ready made drinks in the fridge. No need to keep running the tap to get cold water now x
- Put ice cubes in the freezer so you have a good supply for a heatwave.
- Use paddling pool water to water plants, and only water the garden early morning or evening to avoid evaporation. You should also collect rain water to use for the garden with any kind of water butt.
- Ask your water company for a HIPPO or similar device to cut down the amount of water you flush down in the toilet. If it doesn’t freak you out too much, you may also practice the song… ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow. if it’s brown flush it down’ to keep flushing to a minimum.
- Get any dripping taps replaced – this can save as much as 5.000 litres of water a year, often just with a new washer…
We got a bit uncomfortable about the water we used in the paddling pool during the Summer, so came up with this solution which we all feel good about. Think hard about your water consumption during the hot weather, it’s likely to go up and that’s not great for the planet. It’s just simple ideas that can make a big difference. Teach your kids to turn off taps and cover up the paddling pool at the end of the day so that the water is clear and leaf/bug free in the morning, you can do this with a fitted sheet or a tarpauling depending on the size of the pool. We also use an old sieve to clear out any debris, and the water that goes in has the last at least a week.
Let’s hope the weather improves enough to need one!!
I keep singing Elton John songs today ‘Don’t wish it away’ is the line I keep repeating… As most schools in England break up for Summer tomorrow (we are going on until Tuesday!), and I can feel myself start to ‘brace’ for it – I’m also conscious that I don’t want to wish it away, I’m making a real effort to practice parenting mindfulness – in between yelling ‘I’ve asked you to get your shoes on’ obviously – and it seems to be working. Having said that I have the flu and am quite dosed up on medicines so it could also be that that’s working…
My Thursday Thought links with our tip of the day, no. 16, to think about how you will preserve the memories of this Summer? We like to make a scrapbook of each year as a family, I’m running quite a few years behind schedule as the kids are so time consuming, but I do take a lot of photos, and now so do they to capture the moments of their lives and our family adventures. How to arrange them for posterity is a tricky subject as our walls and cupboards are already full and the digital photo frame is already one child out of date! I’ve enjoyed using Instagram (we have a daily pic and spend if you’re interested x) to keep track of what we’re getting up to but that is all digital again. Keeping items that are made is also hard as there is so much, so we have started to wallpaper our loft with the kids artwork, and it should be a while before we run out of space.
Saving for the Summer isn’t all about money, it’s also about saving those memories and experiences. You may remember a precious moment from your childhood, and it will be a unique memory to you – we are trying to find ways to cherish those. Let me know how you save all those wonderful moments in your family x
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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.
We are out! Babysitter paid with chocolate orange and good will…
Date night returns after a year away and boy is it nice x