I often feel this time of year can be stressful especially when you have children who get hyped up by the school, their friends, the adverts on television, just to mention a few stimulus. This is not just direct finances of buying to send to Santa but school parties/discos/panto trips all add significantly to feeling stressed. Some expenses can be lessened, I buy my Christmas cards in January every year and I managed to get a box of twenty for five pence, definitely the right time to buy them especially if you have children at school that want to give one to everybody in their class.
I know what it is like to feel it is all too much to afford but it does not have to be, your child, especially the under eights will not realise there is no cellophane wrapping on the game you bought from the charity shop, after all the elves do need to check a certain amount for quality control purposes! They will have just as much fun playing with it.
How many of you buy your child a brand new outfit for Christmas Day and it is worn once or twice? This fills the charity shops with amazing quality nearly new clothes the following year that you can buy for your child, much less of a worry if they spill something down it at the school disco when it has cost you ten percent or so of the price of new.
It also gets to the point where the magic has gone out of believing for your children and ours were more than happy to just have a few small things to open on Christmas Day and then we would go shopping with their allotted budget in the post Christmas sales getting them much better value for money.
But I feel the pressure is less now as a grandparent which lets me enjoy the season more than I use to do.
On Sunday I took the older two to the pantomime as part of their Christmas. I much prefer to give them experiences than physical presents, they get plenty of them at home.
|before the panto started|
I like to add to my feel good factor at this time of the year and I always organise a collection for a local food bank. This helps out some of the people seriously feeling the pinch at this time of year. Have been close to it myself in the past. So on Wednesday I dropped off over £200 worth of items generously donated by some local people as well as a collection round a retirement complex that I do holiday relief cleaning in.
|from the retirement complex|
|the local food from neighbours and villagers|
More being jolly and joining in with the spirit of the season, on Thursday there were six of us met up for what has become an annual family and friends Christmas colouring competition. This started off quite by accident about six years ago and despite the fact the eldest granddaughter is now sixteen she still loves to come and have a mad time for a few hours. I think it is a lovely thing to look forward to. Next year we will need to find somewhere different as we will need bigger tables as the younger ones will be old enough to join in and my SIL is jealous and she wants to come next year.
|concentrating on colouring.|
|hubby's picture, top RHS won this year.|
On Friday I took the gruesome twosome along with one of their friends to see a live show in Glasgow as part of their Christmas, a very nice competition win has made this possible.I won four tickets shame to waste the fourth one and Spud is just too young yet to go.
|Minky, E and Dinky|
It started with one penguin, went to two, then ten, then dozens. It was well done and a lot of fun.
|Mr and Mrs Popper with some of the performing penguins|
We were sat under the snow machine when it snowed....this produced a lot of hilarity and some of the children from other areas of the theatre came to get snowed on.
|let it snow|
If you are planning on doing things like this it is a great way to budget for the expenses as tickets can be bought in advance and then you just need money for the actual day and like a lot of people we took our own snacks and juice. My panto tickets were paid for back in August. I got a good price on them as I bought them through my Unison membership. I also save through my work credit union, the money comes off my wages and I don't even miss it and it help out not only with Christmas but if anything goes wrong with the car or other unexpected bills. .
A lot of people can run out of money at this time of the year. it is very easy to do, and then for a lot of us that get paid early you have six weeks until pay day at the end of January. If you find yourself a bit short there are companies like CashLady.com that can help out.
Christmas loses the last of its sparkle when there is just the two of you left to stare at each others ugly mugs on the big day.I do not see the point of doing a big dinner for two of us, to start with it can be an expensive thing to do and I cannot justify spending a large amount of money on one days meal so we have not bothered doing much the last few years.
We took the decision last year to help make a difference to those less well off than us. Some people have no company at Christmas and will spend the day alone, but there are many agencies that provide a meal and a nice party afternoon complete with a present off of Santa and all for free. We had a great time, well I did anyway, hubby spent all day washing dishes, going along to a local one last year as volunteers. We also get given a free Christmas dinner with a doggy bag to bring home. a win win all round. You can read about our great day last year here.
So there you have it....my attempts to enjoy the season by bringing pleasure to other people. How do you get round your feeling of bah humbug?
This is a collaborative post but the thoughts, feeling and events are all true.