Friday, November 27, 2015

Five Free or Inexpensive Things to Do With Your Children in the Run-Up to Christmas

There's less than a month before Christmas! My children are excited already! The build-up to Christmas is probably more exciting than the real thing but it can be expensive, especially if you do lots of things. Here are five free or inexpensive things you can do with your children to get you all in the Christmas mood!

Bake Christmas Treats

Look for some quick and easy recipes for Christmas treats, such as:

  • Christmas cookies flavoured with spices and/or cranberries.
  • Christmas cupcakes topped with thick white icing that looks like snow!
  • Mince pies (if your children like them, mine don't!).
  • Peppermint creams.
Set aside some time at the weekend to make one or more of these treats. You could then either save them for Christmas or serve them when you have visitors in the run-up to Christmas.

Another idea is to give them as gifts for teachers. A batch of Christmas cookies wrapped in cellophane and finished off with a red ribbon tied into a bow would make a lovely Christmas gift for a teacher.

Watch a Christmas Movie

In the run-up to Christmas, many Christmas movies are shown on TV. Cinemas, theatres and other organizations such as churches also sometimes show Christmas movies at reduced prices. Look in your local newspaper to find out about these special screenings.

Alternatively, you could just snuggle up under a blanket on the sofa and watch a Christmas movie on DVD while munching popcorn.

Attend Free or Inexpensive Local Events

Many towns have a free event at which the Christmas lights are switched on. In my town, this takes place this Sunday. There will also be a funfair, Christmas market and performances from choirs, musicians and dancers throughout the day. I'll take along an amount in cash, so that we're not tempted to spend too much.

Many schools hold Christmas fairs at this time of year. These fairs are fun for the children and can also be good for the adults because you can often find unusual and inexpensive Christmas gifts. As before, I take along a certain amount in cash so that I don't overspend.

Make Christmas Decorations

It's nice to have some new Christmas decorations every year but they can be expensive to buy. Look online and in magazines for instructions on how to make some decorations with your children. Alternatively, just take out all your craft materials and see what your children come up with.

If your children are young or if you want something very easy to make, paper chains are a tried and tested favourite! You could also make snowmen from cotton wool or snowflakes from pipe cleaners.

Go for a Winter Walk

If your children are restless after being cooped up indoors, go for a winter walk whatever the weather. Wrap up warm and wear wellies, hats and gloves. If it's raining, your children will love splashing in puddles. If there's snow on the ground, they will be busy throwing snowballs, and making snow angels and snowmen. Even if it's just cold, the exercise will do them good. Serve warm hot chocolate when you return home.

The run-up to Christmas is a fun time for children. It's also a busy time for adults so don't forget to schedule some quality time with your children. You'll be creating special childhood memories that will last a lifetime.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Half-Term School Holiday Fun on a Budget!

Here's a round-up of what we did at half-term and how much we spent:


The weather was awful, so we stayed in and made mini blueberry cupcakes. I chose this recipe because I had already had all of the ingredients at home. I bought the blueberries the day before, so when looking through the recipe book, we chose this recipe because I had some fresh blueberries (and no fresh strawberries or lemons, etc, which were needed for other recipes!)

Amount spent: £0


A relaxing day spent at home, doing crafts, watching movies and enjoying roast Sunday lunch of gammon, roast potatoes, roasted carrots and gravy.

Amount spent: £0


My son (aged 7) wanted to go swimming, so we went to family fun session at the leisure centre.

My daughter (aged 12) went into town with her friends to buy things to make Halloween outfits. She had lunch in town.

Amount spent: £16.40 (£6.40 for one adult and one child to go swimming and £10 spending money for my daughter which included lunch).


I took my son to the local museum. It didn't cost us anything to get in as I bought an annual ticket last time we went. I treated us to a drink and cake in Morrison's supermarket cafe afterwards.

My daughter stayed at home, tidied her room, and started making her Halloween costume.

Amount spent: £5 for 2 drinks and cake.


My son enjoyed indoor soft play, including a bouncy castle, at the local leisure centre (which was a special activity for half-term).

I made an apple pie at home with my daughter. It tasted delicious served warm with custard and ice cream!

Amount spent: £2.50 for the soft play session (I also spent about £4 on extra ingredients for the apple pie but this came out of our weekly food budget).


I went to a Halloween craft class with my son. He painted a Halloween canvas, designed his own jigsaw and sewed a hand puppet. We both enjoyed being creative.

We treated ourselves to a milkshake (him), slice of chocolate cake (him but I had a few bites!) and cup of tea (me) afterwards.

My daughter went to an auction with her uncle and came back with a new headboard!

Amount spent: £13.50 (£7.50 for the 2-hour craft class and £6 for the drinks and cakes in a nice independent cafe).


We went grocery shopping and picked up a canvas wardrobe I had bought for my son's bedroom. I was pleased to see that the wardrobe was reduced in price. I also had a £10 voucher so I only paid £7.99 for the wardrobe.

When we got home, we re-arranged some things in his room to make way for the wardrobe. We also sorted out some books that he has grown out of and no longer reads and put them aside, ready to donate to the charity shop. We then assembled the wardrobe and hung up his clothes in it.

My daughter did her homework and finished her Halloween costume.

Amount spent: £7.99 on the wardrobe.


My daughter's friends came round in the afternoon and they all prepared for trick-or-treating. After a quick tea of pizza and garlic bread, they went out trick-or-treating. They came back with a huge haul!

I went out trick-or-treating with my son for about half-an-hour and we stayed in and handed out sweets for the rest of the evening until he went to bed.

Amount spent: 0 (although I did spend £2 on sweets which came out of my grocery budget)


We went out for a nice autumn walk after Sunday lunch. We crunched through leaves, my son jumped in puddles (good job he was wearing wellies!) and we enjoyed looking at the changing colours of nature. We picked up some small branches with lovely red leaves and I displayed them in jam jars of water when we got home.

Amount spent: 0

So, the total cost of half-term fun was £45.40 which I'm really pleased about as I wanted to keep our spending under £50 for the week.

What fun things did you do at half-term?