Thrifty Christmas 2014

I’m a rubbish blogger, I’ve just not had time to run Thrifty Christmas this year as it takes up so much time. This time round I’ve started a Pinterest with all the cool ideas I’ve found from around the internet.

If you’d like some inspiration have a look, there are some lovely, simple ideas there that anyone would love to receive. :

Follow Liz’s board Thrifty Christmas on Pinterest.

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Christmas with John Lewis and Tree Hilarity

John Lewis asked me if I’d like a new Christmas Tree and £50 of baubles to decorate it with…of COURSE I WOULD!!

Our old artificial tree was bought our first Christmas together as I’m allergic to read trees and after 14 years was looking a bit ropey. Also I had to weigh it down with the Argos catalogue, to stop it falling over every year because it never stood right – so classy!. We were thinking of getting a new tree for this year, when John Lewis’s generous offer came along.

I had the choice of a 6ft, 7ft or a whopping 8ft tree. Now I am bit of a small child when it comes to Christmas and I firmly believe that a tree should be much bigger than me or anyone else in the house. I have childhood memories of 30ft Disney Christmas trees at Disney World and I think I’m always trying to replicate that feeling of being small while the tree is massive!   I measured our ceiling and it’s about 9.5ft high, so I thought that the 8ft tree would be a bit too big, therefore I went for the 7ft tree.

Tree came in no time, and we put it up at the weekend. It’s much, much easier to put up than the old one. That had colours and you had to match the colours with the right bit of the tree – a right old faff. This one you just pull out, slot together and pull out the branches to fluff. So simple, and tree was up in under 10 minutes!

Except, I hadn’t measured right! I hadn’t taken the base into consideration! So it was a wee bit too tall!


After much laughter and my family, giggling at my inability to measure anything (I do have a track record for buying things way too big!). We took the bottom layer our and the tree was the perfect height! But when I get my imaginary next house with Victorian height ceilings it’s going to look amazing full size!

The baubles are lovely, I ordered mostly gold and red, as that’s pretty much tradition in our house. But I spoilt myself as this year as there are no toddlers or puppies in the house, I chose some glass baubles as well as non-shatterproof ones.   For £50 I managed to get about 60 baubles, 50 non-shatter and then about 10 more expensive glass ornaments and the tree topper.

I think this is my favourite, it makes me smile every time I see it


Here are a few of my other favourites, a beautiful mercury glass topper



Shatterproof sparklies!



Gold glass, just lovely!



Here’s the tree with the decorations on and our lights, it looks very realistic and so pretty!  Thanks so much John Lewis!


**Full disclosure I received a Christmas Tree and £50 of baubles from John Lewis**



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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Yep we are that annoying family who put their decorations up as soon as well can, but never before the 1st December.  This weekend we had a great time, putting fairy lights up everywhere, the tree went up and the stairs was also prettied, pretty much everything but the front door wreath. I need to get a plain one and then Miss L and I can decorate it to our own taste.

This years tree was purely decorated by Miss L and it’s gorgeous.  All I did was put the fake tree up.  We had been thinking about a real tree this year. But after my escapade last week with the asthma attack and as I was diagnosed by the allergy clinic in the summer with being allergic to trees, shrubs, grass – well pretty much the whole of outside, Paul thought maybe it best we stick with a fake tree. As much as I hate it he’s probably right 🙁

But after the tree was up we decided to start making our teacher’s presents for this year, we’ve gone with vintage tea candles. Dead easy for Miss L to make and a nice pressie to give.  Here’s my tutorial from a few years ago – this year Miss L has pretty much done them herself. I love how my little girl is becoming such an independent young woman.

If you need some more Christmas present ideas, pop over to Thrifty Christmas lots of brilliant ideas from lots of Thrifty Bloggers!


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Budgeting for Christmas

I am rubbish at budgeting, and given half a chance I’m a complete spendthrift that goes mad at Christmas…only I can’t anymore. We work for ourselves, contracts come and go and I can’t go blowing a load of money on Christmas that we don’t have.

So here’s how this year I’m doing my Christmas shopping:

1.  The Plan!

Make a list, re-check the list that everyone you need is on it and kick off anyone you can get by sending a card to.  A little harsh, I know but really think about who you are sending presents to.

Shop as soon as you can, don’t leave it to the last minute when the pressure is on and you feel like you ‘HAVE’ to buy something for someone because you can’t think of anything else – that’s when you end up spending too much.

2. Set a Budget

Now I don’t go for this whole £5 or £10 per head for everyone lark – some people I like more than others!  Some people I can get away with making a present for or getting something from a charity shop and popping it in a pretty box.  On your list put what you are buying each person and if it’s a homemade one put that by their names and then take them out of the budget. It’ll give you more money to work with, and thenwork out what you have left. Make the budget realistic, there is no point in telling yourself you’re spending £50 when it’s really going to be £500 and then being horrified when you’ve overspent.

3. Spending the money.

Ideally either do online Christmas Shopping or go shopping with Cash – it is much, much easier to keep track if you can see it on a screen in front of you or if you have no money left in your purse – it also makes you more ruthless.

My favourite trick is to  put everything you want to get into your online shopping basket, then leave it a day or two and then go back with a clear head. You might see stuff in there that you didn’t really mean to order, you just went a bit mad and then you can delete it out saving some money.

4. Shopping for Abroad?

Are you sending gifts to far flung places? Last year I was sending gifts the the USA and New Zealand, and I found that sending the gifts actually cost more than they had cost!

Thankfully you can send gifts in the USA via Amazon US using a British Credit Card & Billing Address – not all American retailers are so thoughtful though so check before you order. But Pottery Barn and Etsy are both good sources of presents for the USA & Canada as well.

New Zealand though didn’t have a massive amount of online shops and as I was sending British home comforts to some homesick friends so I had to post, but I learnt some handy hints from my local friendly post office lady!

Keep the parcel weight and size down

I had one large 2.2kg parcel to send. The nice post office lady weighed it for me and told me it’d cost (and this is from memory so forgive me if these number’s aren’t quite right) say £60 to POST it!  But if I took it home, re-wrapped it into two smaller 1.1kg parcels it would only cost me £30 for both. So that’s exactly what I did! A massive thank you to lady in the post office.

5. My favourite places to Christmas shop are:

Amazon – but not in December their delivery always sucks if you shop after early Dec.  But you can get pretty much everything here, cheaper than in stores and I tend to use the ‘forget the basket for a day’ trick here.

eBay – a godsend for people you really want to get a present for but don’t want to spend a fortune on.  iPhone cases for £2, Kindle case for £3, cute jewellery for teens, it’s all there and see if you can get a ‘Buy it Now’ with free delivery – perfect!

Homesense or TK Maxx – well they are pretty much the same shop. But Homesense I find is a bit better and less like jumble sale, so I tend to go there.  They have good books for kids and adults, toys, bubble baths etc and other unusual bits and bobs.  If I’m going there I try and take cash with me, it helps me stay in budget.

Online Photo stores – Calendars and photos gifts are always nice to send to relatives or friends especially if you live far apart.  There are loads of offers on at the moment, so I’ll be doing mine in the next week or so.

Other than that anywhere I have Clubcard points, vouchers, Nectar points or can get a discount.  Look in magazines for vouchers, and your e-mail spam folder I always have loads in there that I don’t otherwise notice.

Homemade and *gasp* charity shops gifts

I like to make homemade gifts, candles, soaps, chocolates are about my limit (I can’t sew or knit!), but if you are more crafty pop over to Thrifty Christmas or my Thrifty Christmas Pinterest Board there are loads of ideas from making presents to wrapping them!.

But I have been known to get presents from charity shops…it probably helps I know a lot of people who are into vintage. But this is a £2 gift I found in a local charity shop a couple of years ago:

It was a glass sugar bowl with a silver lid. Doesn’t look like it came from a charity shop, it looks like it came from an upmarket boutique once packaged up with tissue paper and in a shiny box.

Remember to use some imagination when you’re having a rummage, see some cute little vintage glasses, buy them and then pop them with a small bottle of port or a bottle of wine in a shiny box for a present.  My local Cancer Research shop does the most amazing crochet goods which are perfect for a kids room, Miss L loves all the bits I’ve gotten for her from there.  A thoughtful present doesn’t need to cost a fortune.

Above all 

Remember Christmas is supposed to be fun, most people will never remember what you bought them, they’ll just remember you cared enough to get them a little something. Don’t stress!

What are your favourite tips and tricks?  I’d love to hear them 🙂



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Presents Ideas

I’ve been Christmas present hunting this week as my Dad (who I’d bought a lovely pair of headphones for) broke the number one rule of Christmas and bought himself a pair two weeks before Christmas – argh! So I’ve been on the web hunting for him (again!), my Mum and her best friend Pat.

Montezumas sent me some of their artisan chocolates this week and they are to die for – I’ve hidden the Eton Mess chocolates from the rest of the family and Paul is hogging the Salted Peanut!  But you can buy either a box of chocolates as a treat or if you really, really love someone (self treat I think!) a monthly chocolate subscription where you get a box a month of different chocolates to try.

Unique Boutique has some great ideas for the home and garden, I love the cubbies, the gardening table and the cute little bud vases (ideal for my Mum).  The hand knitted chair is insanely expensive, beautiful and snuggly  but with a small child, husband who chucks red wine over the sofa and a black perma-moult dog – probably not the best idea for my house, no one would be allowed near it!


One of my favourite presents to send people if they aren’t local is a magazine subscription, a nice gift which they get year round. Have a look at isubscribe who have a good selection and discounts.  I usually get Pat one of these, but this year she’s become a Kindle convert so I’ve gotten her something for that instead.

For the garden lovers in your life you can’t go wrong sending container roses from David Austin (order before the 22nd December). They come as ready to plant – so no flowers on this time of the year but they will be gorgeous in May/June.

If you’re having a totally blank moment about what to buy your friends, check out Etsy’s  Facebook gift ideas recommendations. Click on the ‘Gift Recommendations’ button on their page and then it links up to your facebook account and tells you what you’re friends would like – it’s amazingly accurate!

Don’t forget you still just about have time to makeup photobooks, calendars and other photo gifts from Photobox, Truprint and other photo companies, but I think their Christmas deliver deadlines are soon.

Happy Online Shopping!




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Decking the Halls

I can’t believe it’s Thursday, where did the week go?  I’ve been finishing off a new blog for a customer and when that’s done I am finished for the holidays yay!!

We put the tree up at the weekend, well Miss L did most of it but she’s fantastic at decorating trees and then she did the hallway as well, so now it’s feeling properly snugly and Christmassy here 🙂

This morning, inspired by the fabulous post by Bye Bye Birdie over on Thrifty Christmas I decided I get my Christmas Wreath done.  I kind of cheated and bought a blank Christmas Tree wreath from the market this morning. Then I broke the glue gun, ribbon, cinnamon sticks and some festive dried orange and made the wreath all pretty – took me about 10 minutes, and I think it turned out ok – well as no one wants to actually use the door knocker!

And to make the entrance perfect for the holidays, I’ve added my new doormat that I found in TK Maxx for a fiver yesterday – it’s soooo pretty! Not super festive but brightens up the hallway.  All I need to do now is get rid of all the post and paperwork that cluttering the hall table, but that’s a much bigger job, for another day!

How are your decorations coming along?


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Christmas Fair

I’ve just spent the morning with my friends Kat from 3 Bedroom Bungalow and Karen from Rubbish Diet at one of the local Christmas fairs.

We had the best time rummaging through stalls and singing ‘Last Christmas’ at the ‘pick and mix’  I’m feeling very festive now!  The stalls were amazing and I’ve bought some fantastic smelling pot pourri, I’ve got stuff in to make my own but I couldn’t resist – seriously look at that below! Kat bought some too which made me feel better 🙂

I loved these little Rudolph cupcakes, what a fantastic idea. They also had sparkly noses.

This sign made me laugh, I need one that says ‘Dog hair is a condiment’ 🙂

Oh and saw this soap which I didn’t buy but I had to take a photo of, it’s not every day you see Violet soap.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend! x

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Christmas Present Pretties

I’m very much enjoying sitting down with a coffee and going through all the Christmas magazines looking at the decorations and wrapping ideas.  A couple of companies have really jumped out for me this year, one being Cox and Cox and the other Belle and Boo  I’ve never bought from Cox and Cox but they have the post adorable bits and pieces, so that might just change this year.  I especially love the ‘Noel’ wrapping tape which is £7.50 a roll which as you can see works brilliantly on really plain paper.  And being the font obsessive that I am the seasonal tags in plain red and white I think are lovely (£6.50 for 24 tags).

Carrying on with my tape fixation is Belle and Boo I love this kids tape and for 66 metres for £4.80 I’d say that was one hell of a bargain!

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{Easy to Make} Simple Flower Buckets

I love making these little flower buckets. They are a nice little thing to make for either a ‘thankyou’ present, to leave scattered about the house or for on a Christmas table.  They only take about 10 minutes to make and really simple but look good.


I’ve bought some inexpensive buckets to make them with this year (£2.80 in Hobbycraft) but you could easily do them in terracotta pots or in a mug – anything you can use as a container really.

You don’t need that many flowers just some with stout steams, I’ve used 7 red roses in this one.  Check out your local market, which will often stock interesting colours and if their anything like mine really cheap – a bunch of roses at mine is £1.50. If you don’t have a market a bunch from your local supermarket will do.

Check out your garden, if you’re lucky enough to have some Holly and other greenery out there use that to fill in any gaps or maybe cinnamon sticks to make it smell extra festive.

What you need:

A Container

Flower Foam (Wilkinsons, Hobby Craft and Supermarkets now stock it)




Extras like ribbon, cinnamon sticks or maybe diamonte’s or pine cones on sticks?

How to make

1. Soak the Floral foam for a few minutes in some water and then pop in the container.

2. Trim the steams of the flowers to a bit shorter than the container, for the mini buckets I did them to 5 inches.

3. Fill the container with flowers, do it so you’re happy with it. Easiest way is to get the heads so they are level with the top of the container.

4. Either leave it as is, or add some cinnamon sticks, diamonte’s or pine cones on sticks in with the flowers, ribbon around the bucket.

5. Pop in a small box with some tissue paper give as a gift.

Check out more simple Thrifty Christmas ideas from other crafty bloggers here







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{Review} Minted Christmas Cards

Sorry this is becoming bit of a reviews blog at the moment, but frankly not a lot else is going on unless you count endlessly hoovering up Betty hair – seriously how that dog isn’t bald I don’t know!. I’m also finishing off a few blog designs and working on Thrifty Christmas – who knew doing a post a day was such hard work? Thanks for all those generous bloggers who have come to my rescue!  I’m off to the new Hobby Craft in Cambridge on Saturday so hoping to find some inspiration there, I saw some little silver buckets on their website that I have an idea for…anyway back to my fabulous Christmas Cards!

For years my American friends (Patricia and Jen!)  have always send us the most amazing personalised cards. I’ve seen similar cards in Martha Stewart and other American magazine and I might have just a little bit lusted after having some of my own.  So imagine how much I squealed like a small child when Minted asked me if I wanted to try their cards this year.

I know it’s a bit sad, but I have a life long obsession with stationery and I’ve still not gotten anything that’s letterpressed so personalised Christmas cards are frankly the next best thing in my eyes.

So off I went to the Minted site with my $100 dollar voucher and trawled through both the Holiday Cards and the Christmas Cards (there is a difference!) I was there a while, like hours actually…seriously I was like a kid in a toyshop!  There are so many types of card you can choose from there are classics, moderns, vintage you name it. You can pop in a photo of the kids or family and see what each one looks like, I pretty much drove everyone in the house mad asking which ones we should have.

I finally chose a picture of Miss L wearing a red top, in a folded card. American’s it seems go for flat cards a lot – makes sense I guess if you are doing a lot of long distance posting, so had I gone for flat I could have gotten a lot more for my money.

I’ve ordered folded 25 cards, I’ve added nine photos on the inside and a plain ‘Happy Christmas’ message.  I could have added a ’round robin’ explanation about our year but nothing that interesting has happened, so I didn’t bother. But it’d be fantastic if you’ve had an eventful year or have a new baby or wedding to announce. I’ve also added a skinny sticker for the outside of the envelopes as these will be going to friends and family who live overseas – a lot of them will be going back to the US as well as Canada and New Zealand.

The whole order came to $93 (£58) so it is bit of a luxury item but not terrible as it works out at £2.28 a card.  I really wish I’d had them the year Miss L was born or two years ago when all my Aunts, Uncles, Paul’s Grandmother and my Nan were still alive, they would have really loved them.

Time wise I ordered them November 3rd from the US, I approved the proofs on the 4th and they estimated for delivery 11-14th November but were delivered TODAY the 10th November! And it looks like they were packed by a nice person called Pat – thanks Pat!


I am honestly and truly thrilled with them, they look fantastic and are of a nice thick paper quality, in fact I don’t really want to sent them now I want to hoard them forever, but as it says 2011 on it I might look a bit stupid 😉

If you are interested in getting your own Minted Cards you can get 15% off using this code READERS16 and that ends 28/11/11



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Thrifty Christmas is Up and Running

Just a quickie as I have to get some work done but I’d like to thank you all for your lovely comments about Thrifty Christmas, it’s really appreciated!

I’ve now got the site up and running and you can find it here  and I’ve done a Facebook site: and a Flickr Page too so you can share your photos

The Linky is at the bottom of the page at the moment if you’re looking for it, and please let me know if you’d like to do a guest post – obviously I’ll be linking back to you and your blog. If you don’t have a blog, just email it to me with some photos 🙂  I’m so looking forward to this and seeing what everyone comes up with, thanks for helping me! x




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