Have you started Christmas shopping yet? How many people do you buy for? My answers to those questions are ‘yes’ and ‘around ten’. To be fair, I haven’t got very far with the shopping. I’ve only bought a couple of things that were on offer recently, but it’s spurred me on to think about getting on with the rest of it. So, today’s post is a sort of brainstorming of stocking filler ideas straight off the top of my head. Here goes:
… bubble bath, shower gel, hand cream, lip balm, moisturiser, make up, hair brush, novelty nail files, make up brushes, nail varnish, tights, earrings, necklace, bangles, cufflinks, tie, gift card, lottery ticket, socks, gloves, earmuffs, mobile phone/MP3 case, headphones, magazine, notepad, pen, diary, fold away shopping bag, novelty tissues, novelty plasters, play dough, colouring book, felt tips, sweets/chocolates, homemade biscuits, hair bobbles, hair clips, woolly hat, scented candle, lavender bag, novel, pencil case, stickers, book mark, pack of seeds, gardening gloves, sewing kit, reel of ribbon, novelty stamper and ink pad, purse, wallet, key ring, small umbrella, compact mirror, USB stick, memory card, rag doll, soft toy, Matchbox car, bubbles, yo-yo, crayons, paintbrushes, puzzle book, mini photo album, £5 note, batteries, mobile top up voucher, homemade chutney or jam, scented room spray, small bottle of perfume/eau de toilette, nice packet of ground coffee, mug, and of course a satsuma…
I had to stop there but I could have gone on and on. Please add to the list – any ideas gratefully received!
It’s that time of year when I begin to feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of gifts that I need to buy. We have three family birthdays this month including M’s which is obviously a big deal. On top of that M has four party invitations on the pinboard and then there’s a friend’s daughter to buy for early next month. And that’s just birthdays. Let’s not forget that the C-word is very much on the horizon and getting nearer. So, to launch Thrifty Thursdays, today’s post is all about how to give gifts without bankrupting yourself.
The present cupboard. This works particularly well when buying for kids. Basically, this is a stock pile of pressies which can be plundered as and when. The key is to build it up as you go and keep it fairly well stocked. In other words, if you’re shopping in the sales and you see a toy or whatever marked down in price, buy two or three of them for the present cupboard. The real bargains are to be had when buying out of season, so you have to plan in advance and it might seem like ages before you actually give some of the gifts, but the beauty of the present cupboard is that it spreads the cost and means that you don’t wind up in a last minute panic buying something over-priced and unsuitable.
Make it. If you’re a crafter then you’re probably already doing this, if not then now might be the time to hone a few basic skills and start making some stocking fillers. These could be anything from home-made jams and chutneys (there are loads of recipes online) to a hand knitted scarf (again, check online for beginners knitting tutorials). You can be as creative as you like and it’s always so lovely to receive something that someone else has pored over.
Offer a service. Do an evening’s babysitting so new parents can have a break or take a load of ironing and deal with it for someone. These are the ultimate thrifty gifts as they basically require expenditure of time instead of money. If you’re going to do this, try and tailor the service to the recipient so they get something really useful or enjoyable for them. No point in offering to mow someone’s lawn if they live in a block of flats. You can make little vouchers for these gifts too.
Put a spend limit on your present shopping. For kid’s parties, I’d say around £7 is plenty, but again, if you shop wisely then you could probably spend a lot less. This tip is best applied when buying for your own children or family members. It’s so easy to get carried away, just buying one more stocking filler or an extra pressie here and there. Set a limit for each person and stick to it.
Cards and wrapping. Bulk buying is the way forward here (see tip one) and again means that you’re never stuck without a card for someone. If you’re ultra organised, you can even start a card file and buy a load of cards then store under the appropriate month for someone’s birthday. Christmas wise, everyone knows that the best time to buy cheap cards and paper was in last year’s post-xmas sales. Too late for buying this year’s stash, but bear in mind for next time. As far as wrapping paper goes, from an eco-thrift point of view, the best thing is to recycle where possible. Failing that, buy large rolls or make your own.
Right, well that was my first thrifty post – I hope you like it. Come back next Thursday for another one! In the meantime, I’ll tweet any newly discovered bargains on the high street or online, so look out for me on Twitter (@living_itlittle).
It’s party season amongst M’s friends. Basically she’s one of the older children in her class and forms part of a group of girls who have their birthdays between September and December. Now, this is all well and good and lovely, but it means that I’ve become a sort of social secretary (like I wasn’t already). We currently have three invitations on the pinboard plus M’s own party at the end of this month. It’s hard to keep up. I find it best to reply almost instantly to avoid any last minute confusion and stick it straight on the kitchen calendar. That just leaves presents to organise. A minefield in itself. Half of the time I don’t know the child who I’m buying for and have no idea what they would like. If you ask the parent you don’t always get a simple response either. I tend to go for a book which is safe but perhaps a tad dull.
As for M’s own party, well I find the whole thing STRESSFUL to be honest. She’s opted for an adventure playground party this year which is great as it means that some other poor sod does most of the work on the day. However, we still had the arduous task of deciding who to invite ( bearing in mind this type of party is charged per head) and then the, in my opinion, cringe-making job of giving out the invites in the playground. I was having palpitations, M loved it.
Now, this brings me on to my main bugbear with birthday parties these days and that is the issue of parents hanging around or, worse still, bringing siblings. I suspect this may be one of those areas where you either think that this is perfectly normal and fine or, like me, cannot understand the need to stay with a five or six year old at a party. We had this last year when M’s party was a DIY church hall affair. I tried to politely but firmly put parents off staying by cleverly wording the invitation with ‘drop off’ and ‘pick up’ times. To be fair, most were quite happy to have couple of hours peace and left their kids, but there were a a few who stayed. I’d made no provisions for parents either, so they just sat there for two hours, chatting. I did offer them a slice of pizza in the end but they declined. I suppose I just don’t get their desire to stay. I’m lucky in that M never wants me to, but even if she did, I probably wouldn’t (I’m mean like that).
Recently M went to another child’s church hall party. The whole class and a few more besides were invited. The child’s mum said it was fine to leave them as they had lots of responsible family members helping, but when we arrived there were dozens of parents who’d decided to stay. I felt sorry for the birthday child’s mum. Not only did she have the stress of running the party, but she also had to make teas and coffees and basically attend to a load of superfluous adults. Honestly. I could go on. It really winds me up.
Okay, I’ve just read back through this rant and realised that I sound like a total party pooper. Tell me I’m not the only one. Please!