Category Archives: General

Don’t Let your Finances Suffer this Christmas

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It’s nearly Christmas! Everyone’s getting ready to snuggle up around the fire, drink hot chocolate and watch Christmas classics on the telly! When all the festivities commence, the last thing you want to be doing is worrying about money. There are many ways you can save money this season, whilst keeping the Christmas spirit alive! Here are some easy tips to help you have a cost-effective Christmas.

Travel

Planning a holiday this Christmas? Perhaps a trip to see the grandparents, or trying to escape the weather by fleeing to the southern hemisphere? Buying train or plane tickets can get really expensive, especially at this time of year. So it’s a good idea to buy them as far in advance as possible, this can save you big time. The Trainline has a free Price Prediction tool, this can show you how much the ticket price is likely to rise, and by which date, helping you get the best deal. As for plane tickets, using comparison sites such as Kayak or Skyscanner will help you find the cheapest tickets, filtering through loads of airlines so you don’t have to! If you’re heading to a popular resort, booking a package holiday could be cheaper than booking everything separately.

Shopping

Shopping for many of us takes a huge chunk out of our budgets. However, there are some ways that you can cut the costs at the checkout. Making a list is very important when you go shopping, as this will help you to work out exactly what you need and how much it will cost. This will also stop you from impulse-buying, something many of us are guilty of, especially when Christmas shopping!

Money saving deals and vouchers can be helpful but be wary, as they are made to make us want to spend more money. Don’t buy three of something that you only need one of just because there’s a 3 for 2 deal! When buying gifts, another good idea is to shop around, compare the price of the item in different stores to try and get the best deal! If you’re not sure about something, check the reviews of the product before buying to make sure it’s worth it.

Second-Hand Marketplaces

Buying gifts for the whole family can get really expensive. So using second-hand sites such as eBay and Gumtree can help you find great items for an even better price! You can find unwanted Christmas trees, toys that are in great condition, or even gift sets and people’s unwanted gifts from last Christmas! This is a great way to find unique gifts without having to break the bank. Second-hand decorations are also a good idea, and even better, homemade! Get your kids crafting paper snowflakes and have your home feeling utterly festive in no time!

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

Next year’s Christmas might seem a long time away, but preparing early can really help make the difference. Putting a bit of money aside each month specifically for next Christmas will help you build a nice sum to work with, and you’ll be thanking your past self! Set a goal amount of money that you would like to have for next year, and work out much you have to save per month to reach it. This will save you the last minute panic, and will make sure you and your family have a great Christmas every year!

Free Things to do with the Kids this Christmas

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Christmas is the most magical time of year for children, what’s better than no school, Santa Claus, and lots and lots of chocolate after all? Making their Christmas special on a tight budget may seem tricky, but there are actually many activities you can do with your kids that won’t cost anything at all!

Writing a letter to Santa Claus

A great, free activity to do with your kids is helping them write letters to Santa! All you need is some A4 paper and a pen, and you’re away! They can write their Christmas list down (helpful info so you know what to buy! Hopefully they’re not too crazy…), and they could also tell Santa how good they’ve been this year! They can draw pictures and decorate them, and then you can leave them out for Santa on Christmas Eve! Just grab an envelope and write Mr. Claus’ address (Lapland, obviously). This is a great way to get your kids excited for Christmas, and it’s fun without having to tear into your budget.

Festive Films

Why not cuddle up around on the sofa and slap on a Christmas classic! In the run up to Christmas, many TV channels will be showing festive movies around the clock. Make some time with your family to chill out and watch a film, to really get you into the spirit of things. Put on your kids’ favourite, or even show them your favourite Christmas film from when you were young, let the nostalgia ensue! Running out of ideas? There are loads and loads of articles online which rank the best Christmas films of all time. Another fun idea is to have a Christmas sing-a-long, the radio will be jam packed full of classics this festive season, or there are many playlists online to be found. Chilling out with the kids with some festivities like these is a fun free way to conjure lots of Christmas spirit!

Family Fun

Gather the family together to play some Christmas games, such as festive charades! Playing board games is also a great idea around this time of year, and if you bought some for your kids of Christmas, you can play them on Christmas day! This is a lovely way to make the whole family come together and get involved, you could even give a prize to whoever wins (a Santa-shaped chocolate maybe?).

Christmas Bakes

Everyone loves sweet treats, especially the little ones. So why not let them help you make some for the family, or for them to give to their friends when they come over for a playdate! If you’re not the greatest baker yourself, there are many festive food recipes online that will help you get started. Things like mince pies, jam tarts, christmas pudding and yule logs are all great examples! Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, you could try crafting a gingerbread house together. This can be tricky, but incredibly fun (and even if it collapses, at least you have some tasty gingerbread for you and the kids to munch on). You can use icing, and sweets to decorate the outside and turn it into Santa’s grotto! Ho-ho-how festive!

Making Decorations

You don’t have to buy expensive decorations to make your home feel festive! You can make some with your kids as a fun afternoon activity! Just gather some craft supplies that you have laying around, you can go as elaborate as you like, but you only really need paper, scissors and glue to make most simple crafts. For example, making paper snow angels, paper chains, and snowflakes! There are many guides on how to make these online which can help! Let your kids go decorating crazy with colours, patterns or glitter! This makes a cheap alternative to the shop bought decorations, bringing a homemade touch and great memories for you and the children.

Summer May Be Coming to an End: Things to Look Forward to in Autumn

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The air is starting to feel crisper and the leaves are beginning to tumble from the trees which can only mean one thing: autumn is on its way! Summer is coming to an end with sunnier days feeling a little cooler, so now is the perfect time to start planning for next season. Summer holidays may be filled with trips to the beach, hazy and hedonistic music festivals and sunny weekends away, but autumn can bring even more fun as the coming months are filled with exciting events across the country. You may find the beach a bit too cold, so instead swap that for a picnic in a park to admire the leaves changing and falling. Go for long walks through forests, fields and national parks to make the most of the autumnal colours and fresh breezes. Don’t let the lack of sun dash your hopes for an amazing autumn.

BFI London Film Festival

This year is the 61st BFI London Film Festival and it hasn’t lost its momentum even after all this time. There will be film events across London throughout the first two weeks of august with a number of world premieres and film competitions. If you want to escape the cold weather, grab yourself a ticket to one of the critically acclaimed films set to be screened during the festival.

4th -15th October, London (various locations)

Dursley Walking Festival

Dursley in Gloucestershire is a beautiful hilly location in the south Cotswolds. It is the perfect getaway to escape city life and is even more idyllic if you love going on long countrywalks. In October the market town offers up a walking festival in a gorgeous location. You can take a short 2 mile photography walk to experience some stunning woodland whilst local photographer Tim Taphouse gives you tips on capturing the perfect picture. Whether you’re a novice or experienced, this walk is for all photography lovers. If you’re seeking more of a challenge and want to really stretch your legs you can take a 14 mile walk through Lantern Way which includes hikes and some climbs through beautiful rural surroundings. You’ll even be rewarded a certificate on completion, and runners are welcome too.

5th – 8th October, Dursley

Oktoberfest

Nothing warms you up on a cool autumn day like a few pints of Germany’s finest beer. Throw in some hot bratwurst, some music and great friends and you’ve got an excellent weekend planned! Oktoberfest will be taking over venues across the UK throughout October, so no matter where you are there’s bound to be a festival on near you. The locations include Huddersfield, Preston, Derby, Weston-Super-Mare, Maidstone, Newport, Darlington, Rotherham, Ipswich, Boston, Middlesbrough, Bradford and Hemel Hempstead. Drink steins filled with authentic delicious German beer while enjoying the Oompa band and chowing down on pretzels and schnitzels.

6th – 28th October, across the UK

Southport Comedy Festival

Missed the Edinburgh fringe this summer? Don’t fret because the humour doesn’t stop there. Southport offers its annual comedy festival in October to keep you tickled through autumn. Theatres, hotels and rugby clubs across Southport will be hosting some of the country’s funniest talent, so you can laugh away your autumn evenings. You can catch some of the best comedians the UK and overseas, from Jason Manford to Jason Byrne, and Rich Hall to Jo Caulfield.

7th – 22nd October, Southport (various locations)

Callander Jazz and Blues Festival

Scotland’s biggest jazz and blues festival is back this autumn in the picturesque Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The weekend-long festival is home to some of the UK’s most popular jazz and blues solo artists and big bands. You can expect to see the likes of The Revolutionaries, The Kyla Brox Band, The Andy Taylor Group and The Deke McGee Band.

29th September – 1st October, Callander

Lancaster Music Festival

For a fun-filled, musical long weekend, head to Lancaster to keep the summer festival vibes buzzing across the seasons. The acts have yet to be announced, but the festival has had nine years of solid musicians playing so you can expect it’ll be another great year. The festival celebrates the diversity of Lancaster’s music scene and is complete with a camp site at Lancaster Cricket Club for the full festival feel.

12th – 16th October, Lancaster

Hertford Food and Drink Festival

Calling all foodies: this food and drink festival is where you need to spend this particular weekend in autumn. There are a range of cookery classes to partake in in local restaurants, numerous farmers markets to pick up fresh goods, live cookery demos and food stalls. You can even spot a few celebrity chefs showing everyone how it’s done! On the last day of the festival there is the Herford Castle beer and World Food festival where you can enjoy a variety of local and national beers and ales, some delicious grub, entry to the castle and some live music.

6th – 8th October, Hertford

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