Here are my Top Tips for finding things to do in the holidays to keep those kids of yours busy without breaking the bank!
1) The Library
There is a summer challenge every year. This year is the ‘Creepy House Challenge‘ where the kids read 6 books by the end of the summer holidays and they get loads of encouragment from the librarians with stickers and the chance to tell them about each book.
This is a great activity. It’s Free. It takes time going to the library. You can do it when it rains! Plus it’s a gentle way of keeping them going on reading.
Take your own food and drink to keep the cost down and give the kids a purse with their money in it so that they understand there is a limit and can choose what they would like to do, but that it’s not an endless supply.
Don’t try to fill all their time, it’s good for them to get a little bored, or to learn to occupy themselves (although you may need to give them a bit of direction or make it easy for them to think about it).
5) How to keep the house together and yourself from going crazy
Take some time out. Swap with another mum. Ask relatives to give you a day off. Or pop the kids into a day’s camp if you can afford it. You’ll come back revitalised and fun to be with, so it’s a win-win for the whole family!
7) Don’t Do Things You Can’t Afford
Don’t put yourself in debt in order to survive the holidays. Your kids don’t need that. A simple rule of thumb is that if it’s going to take you more than 3 months to pay off (i.e. a season), then you can’t afford it.
They won’t be ruined forever if they don’t get to go to Disney World or an adventure park. Look at the free things available instead like museums or community events.
8) Don’t Feel Guilty About Working
It’s a fact of life, some of us have to work full or part-time during the holidays. I’m particularly aware of this as things are going to be really busy this summer with the preparations for my new Salon and Spa as it opens in October.
With the time that you have, be present with them. Create Memories. Have fun.
What are your top tips? (Feel free to add your blog post if you have written one, I don’t mind people adding links).
I was asked to come up with top tips for people worried about what to by for friends and loved ones from Christmas and Birthdays by the lovely Danny Smith from Radio Verulam‘s drive time show (92.6FM).
It’s a tough job to come up with a present or gift that you can afford, and that they love getting. But it’s not impossible! My last post was about presents for children, this one is for the grown ups in your life.
If you prefer to hear Danny and I talking than read this post, check out the link at the bottom.
How to cut costs and still send great presents:
1) The first rule is don’t go into debt for christmas, unless you are sure you can pay it off the next month. No one is worth over spending for; in fact I can pretty much promise you that the present will go wrong if you spend too much.
2) If you are struggling financially, especially at Christmas, then cut all the budgets for presents in half. You can often buy a great present for 50% of what you used to spend e.g. £30 vs £15. It might take some extra effort, but it’s still possible.
3) If things are really bad have an honest chat with your friends and family; no friends who are worth anything will mind not getting an expensive present or not getting anything at all. Just ask if you can skip this year, or do a secret santa with a price limit of £5 or £10, which means loads of thought.
4) Cut postage costs at christmas with a thoughtful email with photos and interesting info (not showing off stuff!) or send online cards. (Some people also make a donation to charity)
5) Hand made presents are still appreciated: some people make lovely candles, cakes, tarts, or a scrap book with photos in it.
6) Do something for them instead e.g. some DIY or fixing something.
7) Don’t over spend on food; it’s not about making sure you become lardy bloaters. I do my shopping online so that I can keep going back and double checking my 2 christmas food shops (one for big long lasting stuff, the other for perishables).
8) For parties or Christmas dinner ask people to bring something; it’s lovely to feel like you’ve contributed to a meal and helped out. It’s easy to, as they could bring cheese and biscuits/pudding/starter/wine/chocolates etc.
9) Don’t get conned into spending lots of money on Christmas decorations; they really don’t have to match of have a theme. Make some if you have none, and then buy them in the sales on Boxing Day for next year. Remember the Pound shops will help you out with getting loads of buck for your money. DONT GO TO THE GORGEOUS GARDEN CENTRE GROTTO unless you have your bank with you!
Important Information For Dads
Yes, you may have talked about not spending money on each other at Christmas or for birthdays, but always buy something. You can get hand creams, pretty bracelets/rings, or a bunch of flowers for £5.
Remember EACH child buys a present for each parent. So if you have more than 1 child, it is more than one present.
If the kids are young make sure that they MAKE CARDs for mum, covered in as much glitter, goo and stuff as possible to show how much they love her (you are looking for time and effort versus beauty here!).
(Don’t feel bad, the Big Hairy Northern One has fallen foul of all of these, so it happens to the best of them; learn from each others mistakes!).
How to buy presents that people like!
Just as in my previous post about presents for children, the rule of something they want, they need, to wear and to read is a good starting point. Remember also something to watch or listen to.
The key is to buy something that people actually want, not what you think they want or like!
Be a detective.
Listen to them.
Remember the lost art of conversation.
1) What do they have around the house
2) What do they spend their money on
3) What do they spend their time on
4) Who do they spend their time with
1) What do they have around the HOUSE:
Don’t add to a collection if already full!
Something that is going to use up like smelly things is great or a treat they can’t afford. Check their cupboards for hints: which bottles are untouched (disliked) and which are nearly finished?
Don’t buy paper books if they use a kindle or don’t read!
Are they smart, minimalistic and modern, vintage, old fashioned or cutsey?
Do they love pictures and have a space? Do they love photos? Are they running out of space, hows about an electronic photo frame?
2) What do they spend their MONEY on:
People generally spend their money on what they like the most. With a Mum you might need to think back to before kids though, and then add a dash of common sense about the fact that some of those things she would still love a chance to do and some are now inappropriate!
Also ignore the fact that a Mum tends to spend more money on herself than her kids and check out what she gives her friends as presents.
What does she need to spend her money on; clothes, PJ’s, scarves, hats, bags, filofaxes (oops sorry that’s me!), boxes (me again!)? What has she forgotten to buy for herself?
(Top Tip: give teenagers vouchers, that way they can buy stuff in the sales and get more for their money)
3) What do they spend their TIME doing:
We again tend to spend our timing doing what is most important to us. Even the boring chores will be different for each person as to how much of a priority they take.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because they do all the cooking, that they want something for the kitchen though! When I asked on twitter, Mummy Barrow told us a great story of how her – mother in law was given a food processor, which got dumped straight back in her husbands lap with a few choice words. Ironically the Big Hairy Northern one is a lover of gadgets, so potentially that wouldn’t have failed for him!
Something clever is a subscription to a magazine as it keeps on giving all year long, or a special posh tea.
I’m part geek and part tree hugger. Pretty much anything that sparkles, or is related to faeries or looks astonishingly like an iPad mini works for me. But be careful. When I say I’m a tree hugger, I’m more your natural cycle type, not into the peace for all the world stuff, so this is where the art of conversation comes in to find out more about the person. Oh and I might be a bit trekky, but the model of the star ship enterprise really didn’t work for me (so sorry Big Hairy Northern one, but I had to share!).
What do they love, but hardly ever treat themselves too? Things they used to do a lot before having kids? Maybe a massage, spa day, day out with the girls?
What do they like reading, watching, where do they like going?
4) WHO do they spend their time with:
The ones that they really enjoy spending their time with, not the supermarket assistants! Who would they like to spend more time with? Maybe a trip for the family to a show? Maybe a national trust membership for the family? Perhaps organise a surprise visit from their best mate?
What do they think about the latest fads, or shops? Are they a Cath Kidston type of woman, or an Apple Mac type of man?
And men remember this all important rule: THIS IS NOT LIKE A MAP,
ask …. unlike when you need directions!
Happy Christmas/Birthday shopping guys!
I’d love to hear your stories of best and worst presents here, or your stories of how these tips helped!