Frugal Father Christmas - Presents

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I am not a scrooge. I love to spoil people. But I also like a bargain more than I like nice pretty packaging.

My tips for Father Christmas if he's feeling a little frugal this year

  • Search Netmums nearly new pages for a local bargain.
  • Visit an NCT sale. Be warned get there MEGA early!
  • Check local facebook buy, sell swap groups and join in.
  • Search eBay for bargains now, the closer we get to Christmas the more last minute desperate high bids will be made!
  • Discuss a TOY SWAP with your friends. I bet everyone is looking to get rid of a few things that weren't as big a hit as expected. Think of friends who may want to pass down toys to your younger ones and pay them for them.
  • Set BUDGETS. Be upfront. What is wrong with wanting to buy a thoughtful gift but one that doesn't cost the earth making you resentful you felt you had to buy it. With 2 sets of our best friends we have set a £1 limit and I guarantee we will get more thoughtful presents because part of the fun is the challenge of finding a perfect pound present.
  • ASK! Especially with younger children, check with their parents and then keep on the look out at local car boots or charity shops. My Mum has a children's hospice shop which exclusively sells second hand toys, clothes, equipment, books and puzzles. My closest friends would be more than happy for their little ones to receive a second hand present and I actively encourage my friends and family to search for something on a second hand website before going to the shops. Last year I packaged up a selection of nearly new gifts for each boy to suit Auntie's and Uncle's budgets.
  • Paint the bottom of your coffee table as a road map or grassy farm, instead of buying a play mat. Turn it upside down when it's time to play!
  • Think smarter. Little ones love BIG presents. An easel from Ikea costs £16 but is a very impressive present to find at the bottom of your bed!
  • Take advantage of OFFERS. Boots toys are 20% off or 3 for 2, Tesco's are running a double up on your ClubCard points scheme and use Nectar points to spend in Argos.
  • Stop grown up presents or set a secret Santa limit. How many years have you been given a DVD you didn't want or a bath set of smellies that you recycled to someone else the following year? Wouldn't it be better to set a £5 limit and share ideas and receive something you really wanted?
  • If you normally spend £10, find a gift on offer. Don't feel guilty that it actually cost £4.99.
  • Recycle and UPCYCLE. My Mum used to make new covers for our dolly's cots, which gave an old toy a new lease of life! For tiny babies who you want to have the magic of opening something, wrap up one of their almost new toys. I am sure they will love the ripping part and will be too small to realise they have been playing with that toy for weeks!

Think of how quickly all the plastic and cardboard boxes are thrown in the bin. By Boxing Day the recycling is over flowing. Would your children really notice if you wrapped up their (nearly) new bike you bought in excellent second hand condition? Or more to the point would they really care if it meant they opened the item at the very top of their wish list?

I read an article the other day on Mindful Mum that infuriated me. A survey of parents on how they afford Christmas and answers that include having to take a loan out to pay for their children's presents. If you budget all through the year then you don't end up with an overwhelming bill in December. Nor do children need £300 worth of gifts to open in under 10 minutes. My children may appear to be spoilt rotten on Christmas morning but I assure you, the gifts will have cost a quarter of what some parents will easily spend this year. They just don't all come in the original packaging!

Don't feel under pressure to spend a fortune on the latest must have. We never had a present like an Xbox or Play Station. Quite simply my parents couldn't afford it. But I have the most magical memories of Christmas morning and not one of them features disappointment.

It's about what you do not what you spend. Follow family traditions or start your own to pass down. We only have our stockings from Father Christmas in the morning and then the rest of the presents under the tree are kept for after the Queen's speech. It spreads the day out and you actually get enjoyment from playing with what you opened first thing, instead of just reaching for the next present to unwrap. And yes, we do stand and sing the National Anthem!

Anyone bagged any bargains yet? Here are some of mine ready to stash for Santa! Everything you see was either 50p or £1!

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Me and My Shadow