Christmas Jumpers: love ’em or hate ’em?

 

What are your thought on Christmas jumpers?

Do you think they are a waste of money and precious resources? Are they just another example of how the festive season has become all about buying ‘things’ and inventing new ‘traditions’ ?

Or are they just harmless fun? After all don’t we all buy new clothes at Christmas anyway? Surely a jumper is far more versatile than a special outfit only to be worn on 25 December? They can also be a great fundraising tool (see Save The Children’s Christmas Jumper Day here on 14 December)

I have to confess to having mixed feelings about Christmas knitwear. When I walk through the shops I feel inspired by the outfits, jumpers and – yes even Christmas pjs! It’s fun to embrace these little things that can make people smile and show that you, too, can take part in the silly things that make the festive season.

Once upon a time Christmas jumpers were laughed at (remember the scene in Bridget Jones’ diary where Mark Darcey is wearing a hideous, home knitted one?). But in true capitalist style, they’ve been turned into a season ‘essential’.

Slowly I have begun to embrace the Christmas jumper but have been determined to do it in my own way that gives not one single penny to the High Street stores that now churn them out. As these items have become so throw-away, I have decided to rummage through people’s cast offs and buy mine second hand.

Here are some of my tips for sourcing a second-hand Christmas woolie:

1. Obvious one but buying a Christmas jumper from a charity shop means you are donating to that charity.

2. A jumper doesn’t have to be overtly ‘Christmasey’. I bought the gold sparkly top a few years ago and have got so much more wear from it because it doesn’t just have to be worn at Yuletide. I also followed a tip from a post on Barnardo’s The Thrift and bought it in a size far larger than I would have normally chosen. And guess what? It fits really well!

 

3. Likewise how about investing in a Winter Jumper? My latest acquisition (bought for £4.50) will be worn all Winter. While it’s not as glam as the gold jumper it’s a good, solid hard working sweater that is just sooo cosy that I’m practically living in it anyway! I believe the snowflake pattern is more of a Winter, than Christmas, motif anyway.

4. Browse those charity shops that get inventive about Christmas jumpers. A friend pointed me towards a shop here which makes its own seasonal knitwear. Or why not ‘festive-ise’a jumper yourself and add some Christmas trimmings to one you already own? See the instructions here from the Emmaus charity shop.

5. Finally if you really can’t stand the thought of a Christmas jumper how about a good old piece of knitwear that can be worn all winter? Classic knits such as Fair Isle or chunky Arran have a great winter look to them anyway. Anything tartan or red is synonymous with the festive season, or how about a second hand brooch with a classic Christmas theme (angel, deer, star) to add a subtle touch?

Festive Thrifty Finds (11-18 December)

Are you ready for Christmas?

I still have quite a few things to get on my list but, having spent last weekend, travelling to visit family I feel ready to settle down and spend Christmas at home.

  1. We visited family near London and my husband and I got to spend some time browsing the vintage shops of the capital on our own. I picked up this homemade 70s/80s style dress from the Rokit store in Soho for just £9! The material is quite thin but I plan to wear it over the Christmas holidays with layers and tights. I think it’s a really cheerful festive colour!

vintage red dress Rokit London

 

2. I’ve been given a couple of jars of homemade mincemeats from friends, so I need to start making those mince pies!

3. At work we took part in Christmas Jumper Day for Save the Children. My cardigan comes from a second-hand shop in Bath and was bought for me a few years ago by my family.

 

4. I also got to wear that new (to me) green top to our works’ Christmas meal last Friday.

5. Finally, I am really determined to reduce my food waste this Christmas. Lately, I have been throwing too much food away, despite meal planning. This time we have sat down and written a detailed list of all the meals we will be planning for and eating over the holidays. I found this US site here (courtesy of the Zero Waste Chef) really useful for estimating how much you need to cook for Christmas lunch. And I find the UK site LoveFood HateWaste really useful too when planning how to use leftovers.

What are your plans for feasting over Christmas? Do you stick to a meal plan or do you like to have lots of leftovers? (personally I think Boxing Day is the best day of the year for leftovers!)

Wishing you a wonderful, peaceful and merry Christmas!! xxxx

 

Saving for Christmas…Part One

saving for Christmas via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

 

Okay so I’m sorry for mentioning that word when November has just started!

But I’ve been thinking lately about how to finance Christmas this year. We had an unexpected bill to pay last month which has had a knock on effect for the next few months. Suffice to say I am determined to keep the coming festive season as simple, low key and cost effective as possible. With money slightly tighter it’s also a good excuse to re-evaluate what we spend our money on at Christmas and why.

This year I have decided to fund all our Christmas spending (food, drink, presents, trips to family) from a few sources:

  • Dedicated Savings Fund (I put a little money away every month to fund Christmas, family birthdays and a bit of our summer holiday spending. Of course it’s never enough!) £180
  • Tesco Clubcard vouchers. Actually we don’t have any this year as I haven’t shopped there for ages. Normally I turn the points into a voucher for eating out so we can have a family meal at Pizza Express, or somewhere similar. Not this year, though. £0
  • Nectar points. I do have a few points but not more than £10. They will probably go towards food shopping. £10
  • Boots Advantage Points. Every year I save all my points and, with some thoughtful ‘three for two’ purchases can pick up the girls’ stocking fillers from here. £15
  • Quidco rewards. I signed up to the Quidco cashback site last year and, through some careful online purchasing, have made nearly £100 in cashback. I now have a dilemma: do I get these rewards paid into my Paypal account or exchange them (for a higher rate) for Amazon vouchers?  £96.40 £73.82
  • Loose change. I collect all the coppers during the year and, apart from a splurge on the 2p slot machines on holiday, keep the rest. I can then exchange them for a supermarket voucher in the ‘Coinstar’ machine. It may amount to a couple of quid. £3ish
  • Usual food & drink budget. I will try to use part of our usual monthly food budget to buy most of the seasonal food and drink. £150
  • Facebook Sales. I have set myself a target of £50 to earn from selling equipment, clothing, toys and games we no longer need. This also helps to de-clutter the house before the next onslaught of presents from relatives. £50

I have begun to de-clutter and take stock of what I can sell for the latter project. And I have come across an interesting dilemma. You may remember a while ago I wrote this post about whether it’s right to make money from things that were given for free?

It is still something I feel strongly about.

However when a family friend gave us a lot of costume jewellery a few weeks ago I was very tempted to sell it on. The jewellery comes from places like Accessorize, Pilgrim, M&S and Claire’s Accessories and some of it has never been worn. I began to sort through it last week, detailing and pricing it.

But something felt wrong.I know the friend had given it for my girls to wear but they already have a lot of necklaces and bracelets. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if I sold it for profit but I still felt uncomfortable.

So, after some serious thinking, I have decided to sell it online but pass all the funds onto Save the Children. Anything I don’t sell I will donate to the new-look store in Bath when I visit next week.

I’m going to write another post on what I’m going to spend my money on for Christmas this year. I’m also going to use this Christmas as an opportunity to slim down the list of whom we buy presents for (and who buys presents for us, when we don’t really need them).

How are you saving for Christmas? Is there anything you are going to do differently this year?

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A Decision…

Recently I have attempted to sell some things on eBay and similar sites. But I have to admit I am RUBBISH at it! I know so many people who make money this way, even getting more for something than they originally paid for it. However I have barely made a profit because I’m just not wired that way and – to be honest – can do without the hassle of taking photos, weighing things, checking messages etc. For along time I felt a bit of a failure. I almost didn’t want to admit I had let something go for free on freecycle, or given it away when I could have made money. Our financial situation isn’t even flush so I could really have done with making money this way. And after the last Car Boot sale I endured I realised that I am NEVER going to be on the Apprentice!

Then this week I had an epiphany and realised that I DON’T have to sell my unwanted things. I can give them away for free and save ALL the hassle. It’s a personal thing but I feel bad that I haven’t donated much to charity this year (like hardly anything) and I had decided that the money I made from the last thing I managed to sell was going to go straight to Oxfam or Save the Children. So I realised that I could cut out the middle man and just donate the items straight to the charity shop anyway. That way they can charge what they want, I get rid of the item and don’t feel so bad about not giving to charity. I mean I write about charity shops enough AND buy from them. I do wonder how charity shops survive anyway with so many people selling the items they may have once donated.

I guess what this all comes down to is not some great altruistic gesture on my part but:

1) a way of getting rid of things straight away (we have a tiny house and there are a few of us so I am constantly de-cluttering). At present our loft is filled with things that I have put by to sell at some point in the future but this leads me to the next point….

2) saving me the hassle of selling because really I am lazy

3) Salving my conscience because I am – sort of – donating to charity

4) showing my children there is an alternative to just selling. It is a lot of their stuff that we are constantly clearing out (due to a combination of little space and generous grandparents) so it’s good to include them in the decision making process knowing that their donations will help others

And, most of all, I am no longer going to feel bad that I am NOT making money  this way.  I’ll never work for Sir Alan will I?