'Tis the season to be jolly but what if you are struggling to make ends meet?
If you are doing OK but perhaps not well enough to support any charities this Christmas how about supporting your local charity shops?
You could volunteer time by helping sorting incoming goods, working in a shop, collecting goods or even having a clear out at home.
As you start your Christmas clean sweep around your home eventually prettying the main rooms up with festive trees, glitz and glamour you are bound to come across unwanted goods..
Books, DVDs, clothes that no longer fit but are in good condition, toys that kids have also outgrown and even old Christmas trees and decorations if you are splashing out on new.
All of these items may be a win win for a charity shop.
The money raised when sold will help the charity The person who buys your old goods should get a very good deal.
Ideal for sale at this time of year in charity shops is kids games and clean, safe soft toys.
Be imaginative and see what you can come up with.
People will also be on the look out for drinking glasses, baking tins, cake tins and goods still in wrappers.
How many times do you buy an item of clothing and never wear it?
Why leave it to get dusty in a wardrobe? Be ruthless and help others along the way.
Follow this link to find your local charity shops
Day 1 - World Aids Day
Day 2 -Food-banks
Day 3 - Shelter
Day 4 - Sponsor a guide dog puppy
As a woman aged sixty plus, heaven knows where the years have gone, what is my perfect birthday or Christmas gift.
All of us are very different individuals and, what someone feels is the ideal gift, may fill someone else with loathing. I suppose some of this will depend on:-
In general it is best to steer well clear of any gifts that are really household items, such as cleaners and washing machines, as these are neither personal nor appropriate for any birthday, let alone a special one. However, I suppose if the birthday girl is really struggling, and in financial meltdown, a large household gift may be appreciated.
Overall though, if you can make the gift very personal and something that you know they have always wanted, you will be on to a winner. Something luxurious such as an extra special perfume may go down a treat.
Finally how about arranging for a spray of her favourite flowers to be sent every week of the coming year? Now that will surely bring some sunshine into her life and help make her year a truly special one.
The best book to give your mom, no matter what your age, is a 'Why I love My Mother book'. Many mums love reading and they might appreciate a romantic novel or even a biography, but there cannot be any mum who would not appreciate her very own, personalised book. This is something which you can create yourself. Even if you are only a child your father, granny or other relative can help you. In fact it could be a joint effort with your brothers and sisters.
The book can be as a simple as loose sheets of paper clipped together or something more substantial created in a journal or notebook.
Here are some ideas for creating such a book. Buy a pretty, large, plain papered book from the store. If Mom likes flowers buy or create a book with that sort of cover. Alternatively buy a plain covered book and turn it into a collage of relevant family photographs.
Begin by writing your name and age, and the date that you are giving this present to your mum. Your mother will have this to look back on in years to come perhaps when you have grown and left the nest.
Start writing from the heart with as much honesty as possible. You could begin this book one year, say just after Mother's Day, and by the time that day came around the next year you would have a year's worth of happy memories, and perhaps comical anecdotes, nicely collated.
Making it a project for the cold dark days of winter is also a good idea. And remember you could do the same for dad ready for when Fathers Day rolls around again.
It would probably be a good idea to jot things down as they happen into a rough book. This way the actual gift can be quite neat and you can organize it whichever way you want to.
You can intersperse your writing with family stories, memorabilia and happy memories plus a great selection of photographs. You will be surprised at how quickly you will fill such a book. The biggest cost in this gift is your time and this will be something which your mother will appreciate more than any expensive gift.
You may also be surprised at the fun you can have putting such a book together; the memories it stirs may be funny, poignant or a mixture of many emotion.
If this book is created with love it will be the best book your mum will ever receive, be re-read over and over again and really show her that you care. Don't forget as well that you will benefit from this gift by remembering lots of instances, which you may have otherwise forgotten, or would not have even noticed as they happened.
And above all you will realise more than anything just how precious your mom is.
Perfect for Mother's Day and Birthdays too!
Unless you are a wine buff you may struggle to know which wine to buy to suit your taste. Some British supermarkets now offer information relating to various wines and whether it is suitable as a dessert wine or to accompany red meat for example. That may help but it will not give you a sneak preview so that you can taste before you buy.
This means that it can still be hit and miss whether you get a great wine or one that makes you grimace. For Christmas last year we thought we would try a selection of small bottles of Black Tower wine, and they proved a huge success.
Each bottle holds a decent sized glass or two. Sizes vary slightly but the white for example contains 25cl or 125ml. This is about a third of the size of a full bottle of wine. Each label holds information such as calories and alcoholic content, These small Black Tower wines are often available as a special offer. We bought four for £5 from our local supermarket just before Christmas. We opted for a full red, a rose, a white and a soft and fruity red.
Our white wine is called B. Whether intentional or not, it implies Blossom Hill the way the label is designed. The label claims that B is a "refreshing easy drinking white bursting with rich fruity flavours. B just like blossom in the Spring"
With only 55 calories in a 125ml bottle B sounds good but what about the taste? Well that was a good surprise also. The taste is soft and fruity, but on the sweet side. It is light and slips down easily, perhaps a little too easily.
After all the praise it has to be said that B is a reduced alcohol wine. That may or may not be good news to you. It does also contain sulphites.
What we really liked was the size. It means you can try different flavours and colours before you opt for a full size bottle. The price was good and a selection of these bottles would be good for a small dinner party or just to keep in for unexpected guests. You could easily slip a couple of bottles into a handbag but may not a good idea, unless it is a low-alcohol option..
Black Tower recommends that B is drank cool but it is perfect as it comes. 10/10
Having used Bunches in the UK for sending flowers on numerous occasions here is what we discovered. The company has been established for more than 20 years and is quick and easy to use online. Here is what we like about their service:
After using Bunches on more than half a dozen separate occasions we have no complaints. We would say if something is not right, as in our missing chocolates, simply let Bunches know by email.
You may think that the flowers could be cheaper but when you cost in travel times and costs involved in shopping locally prices are very competitive
THE Christmas blog
Christmas is always just around the corner