Thursday, 15 November 2012

Avoiding the hell of December on the high street.

I want all my Christmas shopping done by the 1st December if possible, not that I have a huge amount.
I can't bear the shops in December and I am determined to avoid them all together if possible (who am I kidding, I hate shopping 12 months of the year and generally would rather eat sawdust). The hardest people for me to get things for are the little people, my 5 nieces and nephews. Well I went with the option of books this year. They all seem to accept that they often get something slightly odd from their mad uncle Dan, so this year, I am trying to encourage the joy of reading. For me books are a huge part of my life, I always have a book on the go and it gives me the greatest pleasure. I can't possibly compete with people who buy the kids x-box games, nor would I want to, but I am more than happy to encourage a good reading habit.
I know a great website for very cut price children's books, and they often have whole sets of 5 or 6 books for under a tenner. Also, if you are signed up to them, they regularly have free postage events, so with a bit of patience I have all but one of the children sorted for very little money and with good books that I think they will enjoy.
Everyone else in my life is getting some sort of home made present from me this year, I need to sit down and make a plan of the food/drink/chutneys/jams that I wish to make. I don't believe in leaving myself broke at Christmas like so many people seem to and I am firm believer that a well thought out, well made present goes down very well, I always enjoy something like that if it is given to me.
Christmas is an odd time, after the initial thrill of being a child at Christmas wore off, I went through a stage where it just made me cross. Now I feel like I have found a way to enjoy it, switch my brain off when any of the Christmas adverts come on - especially the sofa adverts (what is it about needing a new sofa in time for Christmas?), keep the idea of a fun and frugal Christmas well in my head, and look forward to sharing nice home cooked food and home made drinks with good friends and family to celebrate this happy season.
My mum is a bit of a difficult one, because she deserves something really nice and I haven't decided what yet. It is also her birthday on New Years Eve and I am sure that she has suffered many times over the years with people forgetting it until the last possible moment and then rushing out to buy a bunch of flowers, although I have always tried to do something special, funds allowing.
I am looking forward to decorating my house for the festive season for the very first time. I have sourced a few holly bushes, although none with berries yet (I don't know if they come later in the season) and I am going to try and make a wreath for the door, something like the one in the picture above would be nice.
So, this weekend I am going to make a final definite list of what, if anything, I still need to get in order to prepare for the festive season and avoid the hellish madness that is the high street in December.
I hope all your plans are going well.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. what I wanted to say is that most kids hate books for christmas
      so I hope you chose well!

    2. ps as for holly
      I have seen too many local holly trees decimated by locals who want to decorate their homes
      leave holly alone
      cut down common ivy for your house it grows much more

  2. All the children in my family love books and would be put out if there were none at Christmas. As for holly if you are growing it yourself it is fine to use, we sometimes have one in a container instead of a fir tree at Christmas. I will finish my shopping tomorrow, most of my gifts will be homemade. I will be going no further than my local co-op until January I hate crowds.

  3. I've just completed my first Christmas present - a jumper, hat and mittens knitted with wool bought for £1 at the carboot sale.I'll be starting the next present tomorrow. I made my own door wreath last year using stuff from the garden - moss raked out of the lawn, bits cut off the fir trees, and some ivy and skimmia.It lasted well and only cost 20p for the wicker wreath ( bought at the carboot).I have holly in the garden, but as John says, it grows quite slowly and I'd rather enjoy it out there than cut it down to use in a wreath.

  4. Every year I have good intentions of making wreaths from grapevines and greenery from the property and every year I leave it too late.
    Jane x

  5. buy kids books, they need them

  6. Over the years relatives ave asked what should they buy for my youngest, I always say book tokens and they say really and I say yes she loves books. Happens every year, same question. These book tokens are not necessarily spent immediately but sometimes held over until a 'special' book is released. I am so glad you are sharing the joy of reading with your nieces and nephews.

  7. I have always loved receiving books, and I am happy with second hand books. For me it is the tale not the pages that matter.
    Now ... as your career centres around music why not start a regular custom of giving children/families something to do with music??? There are story books and films about famous composers. There are funny cheap instruments. Sometimes shops have interesting instruments from other countries and cultures. World music CDs are great gifts. Pieces of music to learn. Could you perform some hilarious unsophisticated piece in front of all the children as a gift? Something silly like Gilbert and Sullivan? Arrange for the parents to film you singing with a child so that the child could take it for Show and Share?
    At Christmas time it is good to share our talents, and you have many talents. Reading, cooking, writing, singing, gardening, etc. The most valuable gift is a piece of you.

  8. Re, Holly, duly noted. Didn't know that about holly so will avoid using it, not that I was especially attached to the idea, just was following traditional route. I will use any other evergreen I can find when the time comes. I am finding it unusually difficult to find fir cones at the moment, which is odd, guess I just don't know where to look in my new area yet.

  9. Doing more on line shopping is my plan this year in order to escape the Christmas excess, that you have described, on the high street. Also, I refuse to do it too early as I don't want shopping to take over my life. Hope you get your plans sorted this weekend.

  10. Such a great idea to give children books... they will outlive the plastic gadget that children loose interest in after the initial excitment (that generally lasts 5 minutes at the most).
    As for holly, they don't all have berries as there are male and female species, so you need to have both planted if you want them to bear fruit. I guess ivy and misletoe can be just as festive - unless you have a holly bush in your garden and you cut just one or two branches.

  11. Have you asked your mum what she wants for Christmas? I have said year after year that I'd like a bar of Pears soap or a homes magazine - neither of which would break the bank but I always receive something else. It does no harm to ask and I'm sure she would either say 'nothing at all' in which case give her a great big hug and tell her you love her, or she would ask for something small and low cost. Just a suggestion.
    Love from Mum

  12. I can't think of anything better to receive than books - and I felt just the same as a child.

    The whole sofa thing leaves me utterly bemused. What on earth does a sofa have to do with celebrating Christmas? Tree, turkey, sprouts, paper hats....all that I can understand. But a sofa? Really???

  13. Holly has separate male and female plants, so if you are very unlucky you will have found some male ones that won't produce berries! I do find that holly berries often come quite late in the season though, so you might find they start producing them soon! :)

    I loooove homemade gifts! Not only do I like making them, but I really enjoy receiving them! It doesn't even have to be handmade, maybe just a collection of food items in a nice arrangement or something!

    What sort of things are you going to make this year? I want to try my hand at making jam! My parents would like that! Other things I am doing are a card-making gift set for my sister (she loves that kind of crafty stuff, and I managed to get lots of bits for it from ebay!).

    My Nana has the same problem as your Mum; her birthday is on Christmas Eve! She was telling me that she never had a birthday present as a child! We like to go round and visit on her birthday as well as Christmas!

    My plan is to set a budget and stick to it! So far it's going well!

    It's halfway through the month and I've got around half of the presents I need to get! Running out of ideas for the remaining few though... :-S

  14. You know what they say...books are a present you can open again and and receiving books is a tradition in my matter what the age...

    My freezer is full of quick breads...pumpkin, chocolate, orange cranberry baked in fancy paper pans...ready to be wrapped for gift giving...I'm handy with needle and thread so make patchwork potholders or woven mats to go along with the loaves...

    I hook primitive rugs for close family members and friends...small quilts for others...wool cat toys for anyone who has's fun making things all year long and filling a basket with gifts...

    Change gets saved all year then is cashed in for gift cards at the holidays...for those who wouldn't appreciate homemade...few and far between...

    the only ones I spend $ on are my elderly parents...mostly items they can't get out and buy for themselves...

  15. Books are a great idea as Christmas gifts.

    I have already sorted all Christmas presents. Not many to give this year. I`m doing a little food shopping just before Christmas, but then I`m all set to leave the shops well alone until in the New Year.