Christmas · Kids

Young Driver: Driving Your Way to a Great Christmas!

Young Driver
Photo by Cory Bouthillette on Unsplash

Sausage is at that slightly difficult age when it comes to buying gifts. At 11, and a first year at senior school, she’s not into toys anymore (Funko Pops aside!) but she’s still a kid, so we don’t want Christmas to be about ‘functional’ gifts rather than fun ones. As a Mum, I finally understand why people hae always said how tricky the ‘tween’ years can be, purely because they really are in between phases.

Just recently, we heard about a company called Young Driver, where kids as young as five can have a driving lesson, and it seemed like a perfect stocking filler for Sausage. They have centres all around the country where kids can drive a real car, with a real instructor, and they even cater for a wide range of physical and mental disabilities and have automatic cars with hand controls for wheelchair users at selected sites.

Fostering a love for driving at this age is a great thing to do – I’ve written before about how happy I was when I learned to drive and how much I loved the freedom, and although driving is an expensive business these days, I think it’s important for people to learn how, even if they chooe not to use a car on a daily basis.

The best thing about Young Driver is that you can buy vouchers for one lesson, or as many lessons as you want, which gives you an option to suit every budget. The lessons are exactly the same as the lessons that they’d have when they turn 17, and there’s a YOUNG DRIVER™ Drive Diary charts your progress and goes with you.

The 30 Minute Festive Lesson Voucher  gives your tween a 30 minute Young Driver™ experience and is available as a postal voucher, which makes it great as a last minute gift. Gift vouchers are valid for 9 months from date of purchase, so they have plenty of time to get booked in for their lessons.

Im so excited about giving Sausage her voucher at Christmas – it’s such a unique idea for a gift and I really think she’s going to geta huge thrill out of the whole thing. I also think that a gift like this shows that we have confidence in her and see her as a very mature 11 year old.

If you want to learn more about Young Driver or the lessons they offer (they also do birthday parties at some of their centres!), follow the link above. There’s still time to buy a voucher before Christmas a they offer an option for email delivery which you can print off yourself at home, for extra convenience, meaning you can buy something right up until Chritmas Day itself!

Christmas

How to prevent unwanted Christmas gifts

Christmas is undoubtably a time for giving and receiving. But how do you prevent receiving those unwanted Christmas gifts? It’s estimated that that over 50% of us receive at least one unwanted gift each year, that’s a whopping £5.03 billion going down the drain. Not only is this waste having a detrimental effect on our environment but it’s having a negative impact on our personal finances too, to the tune of nearly £50 per person.

Prevent yourself from receiving unwanted Christmas gifts this year by being proactive and taking charge – we’ve all got things we want or need, so let your loved ones know!  

Create a list 

The easiest way to prevent yourself from receiving unwanted Christmas gifts is to write a list. It doesn’t have to be long, but make sure it includes items under different budgets, for example gift ideas under £20, around £50 and over £100. This will help people assess how much they can afford to spend, and they’ll know they’ve got you something you will actually appreciate. Check some gift  ideas and  more info here

Ask for experiences

Avoid receiving more stuff and ultimately more things for landfill by asking for experiences. This is great for a group of friends. Instead of buying each other a mediocre gift that is sadly unwanted, why not all club together and buy an experience. This could be each putting in £20 to go to the spa together, going out for a meal at that fancy new restaurant, or even putting money towards a holiday. 

Not only will this prevent you having to fake an enthusiastic smile when you receive an unwanted gift, but you’ll have something to look forward to in the new year that has already been paid for! 

Drop hints

Drop into conversation with friends and family that you’ve seen something that you would love for Christmas. You can be as subtle or unsubtle as you like. If you’ve seen something in a magazine, leave the magazine lying around open on the page, or even better tell them face to face.

The most important thing to remember is that Christmas is about more than things – it’s about spending time with loved ones, reminiscing about the past and looking forward to the future. 

When it comes to buying presents, make sure that you don’t spend beyond your means. You may consider spreading the cost of Christmas with a credit card – which can be a good option, as long as you pay the balance off with your January paycheque.

If you do receive an unwanted gift, see if you can return it, sell it on or better yet donate it to charity. 

 

Christmas

7 Things To Remember This Holiday Season

The holiday season is a fun-filled time where there seems to be something happening every day during the busiest periods. Avoid feeling overwhelmed this time of year by taking these steps to prep for the new year and also take care of yourself.

Tie Up Loose Ends At Work

Before you take your end of year break, prepare your documents so that you can come back and hit the ground running. Settle up all of your projects that have deadlines over the holidays and consider making a checklist with ‘back to work’ you in mind.

Set up an ‘away’ message for your answer phone and email if you don’t need to answer your messages while you are on holiday. Maybe set up a meeting for when you return so that everyone can recalibrate together.

Plan Your Gift Buying

Gift buying can get out of control fast, so make a list of the essential presents you have to buy, then prioritise those gifts.

Set a budget so that you don’t go overboard or overspend on one person (this can get tricky if you prioritise one sibling over another). Go to the mall and tick off the list first, and if the stores are offering gift wrapping then take full advantage of that.

Self-care

With all the family catching up and friends, catering and parties, it can be easy to burn out. Self-care is recognizing when you are burning out and taking some time to recharge. Know your limits when it comes to your energy and listen to your body’s cues to know when you need to have a night in.

A night in can involve a favourite movie and book, or it could be some light yoga and stretches or some meditation. Have a wholesome meal and a good night’s rest so that you are decompressed for the rest of the holiday season.

Manage Your Bills

A tight bank balance can be a huge source of stress for anyone, so make sure that you are on top of your finances this season. Manage your spending with a spreadsheet or figure out the best way to manage your own finances.

If you have annual contracts, such as rent, insurance or medical, then have a shop around for a better deal. Plus, you can search around for things like a cheaper car insurance quote or a better life insurance deal. Making a saving can put you in a good mood for the next year.

Tidying the House

A cluttered home can make you feel busy and stressed, so take the time to declutter your home.

If you live with other people, set a ‘busy playlist’ of some music or a podcast which can be as short as ten minutes to clear the clutter. Once the music stops, everyone can stop tidying. This takes the burden of tidying off of one person and puts a time limit on the chore. There are more tips to get the house in order before the holidays.

 Manage Social Media Time

Everyone goes into holiday hyperdrive on social media and browsing through your friends’ photos is fun, but can be a huge time drain. Turn the mobile ringer off so that a notification doesn’t distract you from being in the present.

The holidays are about making memories, so make sure you have some and don’t get lost in the social media well. However, when visitors are coming over, turn the ringer up in case guests get lost!

Avoid The Tradition Trap

“But this is how we have always done it” is a phrase that can create unnecessary stress around holiday time, even if the tradition is not terribly convenient and even causing you stress.

Instead, rebrand and create your own traditions that work better for you and your family. Try activities that work around your plans, such as morning walks, baking together or just trying something new.

So roll up your sleeves and get ready for the holiday season, the holiday stress does not need to sneak up on you if you take a few steps to prepare for the fun. By managing your mood and your household, this season will be a breeze.

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How to Make Your Christmas Cards and Envelopes Extra Special

Christmas cards and envelopesI don’t know about you, but the one part of Christmas that I find a little bit of a boring chore is sending out Christmas cards. It’s not that I don’t want to send messages of good tidings to our nearest and dearest each year – it’s more to do with how boring the cards are. Every year, it’s a conveyor belt of cards with “Dear XXX, From XXX” written inside, shoved into boring envelopes and the whole thing feels like a damp squib. I’ve decided this year that I’m going to make our cards a lot more interesting, and I’m sharing some of the ways with you today:

Ditch the Boring Envelopes

Plain white envelopes might be functional, but they’re hardly inspiring, and blend in with the daily post and bills coming through your door. We’ll be switching things up this year by using gold envelopes from Bestbuyenvelopes  for our cards so that each one looks like a little bit of magic, sitting on the doormat. They’ll definitely stand out from the other boring post!

Use Rubber Stamps

Another thing we like to do is use a rubber stamp and ink pad to put a lovely festive image on the outside of the envelopes. It makes it look so lovely and takes only the tiniest bit of effort. In fact, I highly recommend you get the kids involved with this bit because mine love doing all my stamping for me (disclaimer: I won’t be held responsible if you kids end up bickering over who gets to use the stamp!)

Include a Drawing

Speaking of the kids, one thing that Sausage and BB love to do is draw pictures. They spend a LOT of their free time with a pen or pencil in their hands and love nothing more than creating something for someone they love. Give the kids a pile of paper and ask them to do a Christmas doodle to put in each card. It’ll make a sweet keepsake that people can look back on when the kids are all grown up.

Make More of Your Message

I know it will take a lot longer, but making your message a bit more personal can really improve your cards. Include a joke you think the person will like, or even joy down a happy or funny memory you share so that they’ll have a smile on their face when they read their card. Just a tiny bit of effort can really spread joy at this time of year.

What do you do to make your Christmas cards special? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

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Christmas Traditions Worth Sticking To

I’ve written in the past about how I feel overwhelmed by certain elements of Christmas. Being a mum in the age of social media means that as soon as Halloween is over, I’m bombarded by images of huge piles of presents, questions on groups about where people are going to see Santa and what people are loading their kids’ Christmas Eve boxes with. Each to their own, and all that, but I do find it all a bit excessive at times. When I was a kid, Christmas was a little more minimal but just as enjoyable.

We do, however, have a few Christmas traditions that we stick to and I thought I’d share a few of them with you.

Christmas Dresses from David Grant

New Dresses

The girls and I always get a new dress to wear on Christmas day. The key features are that it must be pretty, it must be festive and it must be comfortable! This year, I wanted something special for the girls so I’ve been looking at special occasion dresses for children from David Charles. The designs are stunning and I think Burrito Baby would look so cute in them!

Decorating the Tree

This is something that the girls and I do together every year. We set aside the first Saturday or Sunday of December and get the tree and decorations up. We drink hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows, we put a Christmas music channel on the TV and we get properly in the festive spirit while we adorn the house. It’s one of my favourite parts of the Christmas season.

Films

There are certain films that we watch as a family every year – Elf, Home Alone, Gremlins and The Polar Express, to name but a few. Then, on Christmas Eve, Husband and I watch It’s a Wonderful Life once the kids are asleep and share a few hours of peace before bed.

Wrapping

Speaking of wrapping, ours has become a bit of a regular event. I’m a bit of a control freak and love doing all the wrapping myself, so we usually compromise by enjoying a mulled wine while I’m doing it, with Husband delivering me festive treats like stollen and mince pies while I work. It may sound silly, but it’s something I really look forward to.

Boxing Day

Christmas Eve and Day are usually the time we spend with family, but Boxing Day is spent at home, eating junk (we usually buy party food from Waitrose to pick at throughout the day), watching movies and letting the kids play with their toys. Its great to have some downtime after two busy days and I think it’s something we definitely need, as a family.